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Plenty to do every day...

Unless you happen to live on the golf course--and spend a lot of time looking out your back door--you might think that when the course is closed, little maintenance takes place. In reality, days when we are closed can often be as busy and productive as when we are open for play.

For example, this past Monday, we finally had a chance to lightly topdress the greens, applying an average of 200 pounds of sand per green.  Any practice like this, which may be somewhat disruptive during play, is best accomplished when we are closed.

(image)Scott topdressing #6 green
Additionally, the grass doesn't know if it's a day when the course is open or closed.  Especially this year, with all of the rain, if we have a window of opportunity to mow without causing damage, we need to take advantage of it.   When it comes to the greens, they get their morning mowing seven days per week, whether there is play or not.
(image)Selvin mowing #17 tee
  It now feels like someone finally flicked the switch, and we have been abruptly thrown into fall.  You will hear no complaints about cooler temperatures from the Grounds staff!  However, we can now add one more task to our daily list:  leaf cleanup.
(image)Jim (and a helper) blowing #15 fairway

PGA Tour Set Up, Bunker consistency and Fall Maintenance
PGA Tour Set Up
(image)
























I had the great pleasure of helping out on the maintenance crew at Silverado last week for the PGA Tour's Safeway Open. Working for former Sonoma Golf Club Superintendent Mat Dunmeyer is always a treat and last week was no different. I especially enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones from all around the turf industry. My job assignment for the week was Back 9 bunker crew and I wanted to share an "inside the ropes" view of PGA Tour bunker preparations.
The vast majority of course preparations are spent in the weeks and months leading up to the event. Once tournament week arrives, the course is expected to be prepped and ready so the crew can get out and perform routine course set up without skipping a beat. When we arrived early in the week it was obvious the staff at Silverado had done well to meet their goals. The course was in fantastic condition and more than ready. This was especially true in the bunkers. Edges were crisp. Sand depths perfect. Ready for the big show. Then, leave it to Mother Nature and her ability to change even the best of plans. Rain fell Tuesday and while totals were low, it was enough to wet the bunkers and change conditions somewhat. Thankfully the rain let up early in the week leading to sun and perfect Napa weather. By the weekend, winds had picked up resulting in very dry bunker conditions and lots of debris clean up. My point here is...
The bunkers were prepared perfectly throughout the week and yet still, perfect consistency day to day and bunker to bunker was an impossibility. The preparation of bunkers was consistent each morning. The bunkers looked and played beautifully but conditions differed. A snapshot of reality for the tour and for day to day set up at every golf course. Please take a look at the below article from the USGA on bunker consistency.


























Bunker Consistency - FIVE reasons why bunkers are not consistent - by the USGA

Despite the best efforts of any agronomic team, maintaining perfectlyconsistent playing conditions in every bunker is not possible.
Althoughgolf course maintenance teams may spend more labor hours attending to bunkersthan greens, golfers will still find that bunkers are inconsistent. Maintainingtotally consistent playing conditions in bunkers is not achievable, nor is itnecessarily desirable. Here are five reasons why the playing conditions inbunkers will never be perfectly consistent:

1.    Sanddepth –The depth of sand on the bunker floor has a profound impact on playability. Ifthe sand is too shallow, bunkers may be wet and firm. However, too much sandyields soft conditions that increase the probability of buried lies.Inconsistencies in bunker sand depth develop on a daily basis from events suchas normal play, raking and wind exposure. The recommended depth for bunker sandis 4-6 inches but varies depending on factors such as the physicalcharacteristics of the sand and the properties of the underlying material.
2.    Sunexposure –Bunkers that receive more sunlight will dry faster and play softer than thosethat receive less sunlight. For example, east- and southeast-facing bunkers dryfaster in the morning than bunkers oriented to the west or the north, causingthem to play softer.
3.    Windexposure –Bunkers facing the predominant wind direction will dry faster and play softerthan bunkers that are shielded from the wind or face the opposite direction.
4.    Playvolume –Bunkers that receive more play will be softer and less consistent than bunkerswith very little play. Why? Golf shots, foot traffic and raking disturb bunkersand and soften conditions.
5.    Irrigation – Many golferswonder if irrigation systems can be designed to avoid adding water to bunkers.Unfortunately, such a design is impractical due to the shape and strategiclocation of many bunkers. Uniformly irrigating irregularly shaped playingsurfaces such as greens, green surrounds and even fairways often places adjacentbunkers in the line of fire of sprinklers. If bunker sand is shallow, containsfine materials such as fine sand, silt and clay, or has been contaminated withorganic matter, bunkers will retain moisture. Wet sand plays firmer than drysand, so bunkers that receive more irrigation and retain more moisture willlikely play firmer than those that are well drained and out of the way ofirrigation. In the Southwest, where there is little rain and high water demandduring summer, bunkers are often wet and firm due to frequent irrigation.
Thebottom line is that golf is an outdoor game with inherent variability. Forexample, no two lies in the rough are exactly the same and, like it or not, thewind blows on some days while other days are calm. Sometimes the wind evenblows from one direction in the morning and the opposite direction in theafternoon. Golfers are encouraged to embrace variability in the bunkers andthroughout the golf course as a welcome challenge. Remember the wise words ofthe late Payne Stewart, "A bad attitude is worse than a bad swing."For additional information on bunker consistency, please review the GreenSection Collection, “Managing Bunkers,” or contact a USGA agronomist.

 Fall Maintenance 



























This fall our maintenance routine has changed from years past. A sure sign that the work we have accomplished over the years has paid off. Greens were aerated with a solid tine and given a medium amount of sand topdressing. Fairways and approaches were slit-seeded with blend of Fine Fescue seed. Tees were aerated with a deep tine. No cores pulled. Less surface disruption and less impact on play. This work was complete in just over a week despite a few equipment breakdowns and being a bit short on staff. As always we do everything we can to minimize disruption to the membership while performing these important "preventative maintenance" tasks. With the first rains of the season falling last week the greens are growing at a good pace and we should be back in shape come this time next week. 

My hat is off to the staff in the Turf Department for their efforts this season. Their work over the year and especially the last few weeks will ensure a strong finish to 2018 and will no doubt set us up for a fantastic 2019. We hope you enjoy the golf course this fall and we appreciate all the support in doing what is right for the health of the golf course. 























Growing Pains

We were able to get 15 holes over seeded this week and will wrap up the rest next week.  Thanks for dodging us during the process so that we could keep the tractor moving.  It was a big help for sure.  As you know, seeds need moisture in order to germinate and newly sprouted seed will need light frequent water in order to grow.  We will have to water more than we'd like in order to push the new seed to grow.  This may make some areas too soft for carts.  Once the seed germinates it will be important to keep carts off it until the new seed is up to mowing height.  This can be 2-3 weeks if we are lucky.  We're doing our best to make this process as quick and painless as possible.   

(image)September.....21 rainy days + hottest night time temps ever = trouble(image)Mapping out the needy areas for budgeting purposes.  Trees and carts are
the two common themes among the weakest areas.   (image)Same hole pictured above.  Earlier this year
the rough was much happier.  (image)Jimmy at work with the seeder(image)The seeder does a good job poking holes and
drop spreading seed all in one pass.  


2017 v 2018

From our weather station here at the office:

2017 vs 2018
September 8 - 30th

 Last year we waited until the ground softened up to aerate and seed.  This year we are waiting for the ground to firm up.  Both are problematic, but we'll find a way to make things work regardless.  Many of the recent rain days brought very little volume.  However, dense fog, constant mist, and high humidity, kept it much wetter than the amount in the gauge indicates.  

From our gauge at the shop:

(image)2017 (image)2018
Renovations Have Started and my Two Favorites

(image) The two projects that I am the most excited about are expanding the 8th green back to its near original size and building two indoor golf simulators that will be installed in the expanded 19th hole.
(image)Here is a sample of what we'll be building.  Our ceiling size won't have that additional space above the stations like this rendering though.  Diane, Scott and I toured many facilities in Grand Rapids last week and stopped at the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame facility being built at Ferris State University.  


The Michigan Hall of Fame at Ferris State University is planning to have five indoor Trackman simulators and three indoor simulators that you hit to the outdoor range.



Passage of time
Every month it seems the time just flies by since the last blog post. The last was an update on aerification season. We still have not done the greens but managed tees, some multiple times because we had a disease outbreak, collars and some approaches. The rain seems to have returned and with that some improvement in turf quality. We still have some dormant turf from the dry summer but with each storm the grass wakes back up. The weather roller coaster continues however. Is it a shorts day or long johns? Talk about drastic swings.

(image)Practice Bunker
Speaking of aerating. It is near impossible to get a machine on the face of a bunker so it is hard to repair a weak face. Usually they will be re-sodded. I tried to seed the face of the practice bunker earlier this year and the seeds germinated but were quickly buried in new sand blasted up from the constant use. We tried again only this time used an old greens cover to protect it and close the bunker. It worked so well we decided to try it again on the course. Please be aware these areas are ground under repair and should be kept off of to ensure the best chance for this area to recover.

(image)Little Soldiers on a collar
Tee and collar aerification and over seeding worked very well and we saw lots of seed germination. this will help fill in weaker areas and also get newer grass varieties introduced into our turf. Newer varieties will have better disease resistance due to breeding for current issues.


(image)Big Boy 7 tees

(image)Big Girl in the parking lot
(image)Fog is on Fire
Enjoy the Fall days and be sure to join in on the last few tournaments we have on the schedule.

Quadrant I

Those familiar with Stephen Covey's, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, will recognize these four quadrants from his time management matrix:


Ideally, with proper planning, we are able to spend most of our time working in Quadrant II, and try to avoid the "putting out fires" of Quadrant I. 

Unfortunately, even with the best planning, there are some events that are difficult to predict.  For example, when we have irrigation issues involving the main line, everything else gets placed on the back burner.  While there hasn't been much need to irrigate lately, having an entire golf hole with no water, is not ideal.

This past Wednesday afternoon, we suddenly had water flowing across the cart path at #5 green.  After doing some exploratory surgery (aka digging), we discovered that the source of this leak was a steel main line fitting on the 6" pipe.

Once the fitting was cut out, it was pretty easy to see what had happened.  These fittings are epoxy-coated during their manufacturing process, however any scratch or scrape of the paint can allow corrosion to develop.  Once a pinhole is formed, the jet of water at 120 psi will quickly cause it to expand.  You can often judge the scale of the irrigation issue by the hole required to make the repair--and this one definitely required the backhoe. 

With four of us spending the better part of the day working on this problem, we were able to get the repair taken care of from start to finish.  (Of course, it may not really be a good thing that we're becoming quite proficient in dealing with main line fitting failures.)  The lesson here is that Quadrant I is not a great place to be spending your time, but if you find yourself there, some Quadrant II pre-planning can be very helpful in extinguishing the fire.
Intermediates and Rough Surrounds

The Greens Committee and I have been fielding significant questions and concerns from Longue Vue members regarding the intermediate grass (i.e. the first cut and surrounding rough) throughout the property.  Multiple factors have contributed to the decline and turf loss that is evident in this area of the course, symptoms of which began to arise after Labor Day.  The following is my assessment of what has transpired, and my plan of action to address and remedy these conditions moving forward.

The biggest contribution to the decline was a severe outbreak of Gray Leaf Spot on our Ryegrass population within the intermediates.  Gray Leaf Spot is a devastating disease on Perennial Ryegrass during periods of prolonged excessive heat (82-90+), humidity and excessive rainfall.  The disease pathogen is rapid and can easily spread with rain, wind and mechanical traffic.  Although preventive measures were utilized throughout the season with our chemical program (intermediates are included in fairway sprays), the rainy weather leading into the 5 day stretch of heat (above 90) and humidity caused an outbreak.  Once identified, I applied a curative application to the affected areas in hopes of limiting the severity of outbreak, unfortunately, the conditions continued and the rainfall following the remnants of Gordon halting the damage.

However, Gray Leaf Spot is not the only contributing factor to the decline.  No one reading this blog is a stranger to the weather experienced over the region this season.  The record-breaking rainfall has hindered our operations, practices and turf health.  In a perfect world, we are able to manage the water input to promote root growth because a plant under stress will send its roots towards oxygen and water.  The saturated conditions that have prevailed during large stretches of this summer have left the plant suffocating and not growing in is natural healthy state.  Then when you flip the switch and go from those saturated conditions to dry/high heat/humid conditions on grass that is already stressed, only the strongest survive.  The weakest in our case was the Poa.

I'll be completely honest in stating that the stretch of weather around Labor Day and the week that followed was my toughest from a water management standpoint since starting at Longue Vue.  Knowing that our rooting was compromised, it was imperative that we didn't overwater our playing surfaces in efforts to reduce the chance of disease outbreaks such as pythium, brown patch and wet wilt.  With the way our irrigation is setup, the intermediates will only receive true coverage if we water fairways in combination with the rough.  During that stretch, I didn't water fairways at night for 5 days, simply relied on syringing via handwatering or irrigation during the day for playabilty and disease prevention.  In return, much of the poa population in the intermediates (and rough for that matter) suffered.

So there are the causes; disease and the season's weather finally caught up with us.  This is extremely disappointing given the significant progress we had made in developing intermediates since my arrival.  Although inheriting many varieties, we have made great strides in 5 years while developing uniformity, playability and creating aesthetic value.  Outside of purchasing the proper machine to mow and developing a preventive chemical program towards survival and plant health, we simply maintained the multiple varieties (Poa, Bentgrass, Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass) as they existed...the hand we were dealt so to speak.  We did address the uniformity and conditions around greens with the collar/intermediate project by installing low mow bluegrass.  In return, prior to this year we haven't experienced any issues with our intermediates, maybe a few pockets here and there but overall they had remained solid.
Which brings us to recovery.  Regardless of whether this year's weather was a fluke or not, we must do our best to prevent this turf loss from reoccurring.  I believe the answer is to introduce stronger varieties to our intermediates--most notably, the same varieties of Bluegrass that were in the sod purchased for the collar/intermediate project back in year one.  The above picture clearly shows the difference and survival comparison to our existing species.  After a little research, I was able to identify the varieties used and located a blend being sold containing a majority of those in the sod.  In addition to the Bluegrass, a percentage of Tall Fescue will also be added to aid in drought and traffic tolerance.  Work began on Tuesday afternoon with the process of aerifying, broadcast spreading and slit seeding all of the intermediates and surrounding affected areas.  Unfortunately, Bluegrass has a slow germination rate and will take up to 21-28 days to show signs of life.  Therefore, I ask for your patience and try to focus on the big (long term) picture.

In the meantime, it is important despite frustrations that we work together to monitor traffic and play within our intermediates over the next week to 10 days till the seed has established in the soil.  We will keep areas marked and will establish entry and exit points on each fairway.  When playing the hole, I ask that you try to remain and keep cart traffic in the fairway without crossing intermediates.  As we get further along in the process, these restrictions or requests will be lifted.  The main reasoning behind this request is to prevent any seed from making its way onto the fairways.  We spent the first three years eradicating Ryegrass from our fairways with great success and any efforts to prevent contaminating them with a different species will go a long way.  These areas will also be kept moist via handwatering, so please watch for the staff and realize that any cart traffic could lead to rutting.

Outside of intermediates, we will include focus on areas of the rough that have also declined over the recent weeks due to the above mentioned causes.  In closing, I thank you for your continued support, patience and cooperation during a trying and frustrating year.  Every day has seemed to have it's new challenges and struggles, I share your frustrations towards a course we mutually admire and expect only the best when it comes to conditions.  Rest assured, I will continue to address any issues that arise and continue to build towards the future.

As I tell my staff; "We use today to improve on yesterday and build for tomorrow".


Driving Range Tee Renovation
This fall we completed a driving range tee renovation which increased the tee space by over 33%, converted grass species to more a desirable turf, and updated both irrigation and drainage. Instead of having three separate tees that are tiered, the range tee is now all one tier and takes full advantage of space for practice

The ultimate reason behind the renovation was to offer better turf for members and guests to enjoy during the entire golf season.  Maintaining a healthy range tee with good turf coverage for an entire season was not previously possible due to lack of proper size, poor irrigation coverage, and inadequate drainage. 

The construction process took 10 days to complete and the new tee is currently being grown in.  We currently anticipate opening the new grass range tee around Memorial Day 2019. Below are some pictures of the process which help detail the new tee.

(image)Range tees prior to renovation and a few days after a non-selective herbicide application to kill off existing grass
(image)Tilling the old killed-off turf into the existing tee mix
(image)Stripping off the tee mix to shape the sub-soil for the new tee(image)Aerial view of tee mix being removed and saved
(image)Over 1,800 ft of new 6" drain tile installed in the tee
(image)New irrigation being installed

(image)Seeding process: Drop seed, fertilize, hand rake, dimple
(image)2.2" rainfall day after seeding...not in the forecast...
(image)Re-seeded, raked, and dimpled
(image)Range tee covered with permeable covers due to future rain forecast
(image)Great germination of new bentgrass tee surface. Picture is 8 days after initial seeding
Collar Renovation

Over the last few weeks, the staff have been chemically treating our collars in an effort to weaken the bermuda grass that has invaded them. We've made 2 applications of a product called Pylex which is safe to use on collar height bermuda. Today, the guys are renovating the collars and planting some bent grass seed around each collar. The overall process will not be completed until next spring. It will take the bent grass plants time to mature and spread. We wll have to also continue our bermuda grass sprays next spring and will have to work our way off the greens to reduce the amount of competition that enters the collars in the future.

The process we used today is illustrated below and in video as well:


  • Used our Toro Walk behind aerator to place small and shallow holes one pass around each collar.(image)10 small tines per holder. We are using 3 sets on our machine which is about the width of the collar.
    (image)As you can see, my pinkie still dwarfs the tine. The tine goes into the surface no more than about 1/2" which provides enough room for the seed to drop in and be protected from a mower and adverse weather conditions such as high temperature.

    The remaining process will be illustrated in a couple videos below.
  • We then use our walk behind slit seeder to slice some lines into the collar creating a slight channel for the plants to germinate and mature.

  • We then take a drop spreader with some sand and bent grass seed and drop it onto the collar surface. This is to insure we get seeds into the open spaces and the job saver tine holes.

  • The collars are then hand brushed with a stiff broom and they are mowed without baskets to insure the bent grass remains on the green or collar edge.































  • Mid-Am Recap, A Lot of Fun!
    Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Monday, October 1st and although the sting of another Ryder Cup defeat is fresh in everyone's mind, my staff and I are still on cloud nine after successfully co-hosting the United States Mid-Amateur Championship.  Can you believe in the past 15 days we went from enduring Tropical Storm Florence and cleaning up the golf course to grooming and providing championship conditions to test 264 of the best mid-amateurs from around the world.  In a word, amazing.  

    Following Florence* there was much to be done to get Carolina back in shape.  You may recall from last time CLICK HERE I talked at great length about our preparation on the front end in an effort to encourage the golf course on the back end.  I'm happy to report our applications and plans worked to perfection, but we also had extra help.    

    Jerry Morris showed up very early on Monday morning following Florence.  I jokingly told him he should start ball hawking in the irrigation reservoir to save time but he said he wasn't here to look for balls he was here to work and wanted to know what he could do to help.  In fact Jerry showed up and helped remove storm debris each of the next two days as well, and when he showed up again on Thursday morning after official practice rounds had started we had to politely turn him away.  Thank you for everything Jerry!  You were a real trooper and an inspiration.

    John Archer also showed up on the Monday following Florence.  I spotted someone blowing storm debris into piles in the clubhouse parking lot, then realized it wasn't one of my staff members.  John had arrived and started working getting things cleaned up.  Later that same day he and Senior Assistant Matt Claunch made quick work of the large pine tree on No. 5 that fell over during the storm.  Thank you John, that is some level of enthusiasm.
    Not too many places can you take a golf course away from its members for a week due to a @USGA event and still have a few show up the morning after a Hurricane and say “Put me to work”...what a feeling @CGC1929 pic.twitter.com/lwyZoZMf5t
    — Matt Claunch (@MCClaunch) September 17, 2018
    Greens Chairman Ed Oden wanted to help and made the effort to come out and assist where possible.  The storm cleanup efforts were pushing us behind schedule with other things we needed to accomplish in the three days the course was closed for tournament preparation.  Ed's presence and support was a big help and I greatly appreciate him going the extra mile.  Ed continued his support of the greenkeeping team throughout the week volunteering to do whatever needed and he attended our daily Agronomy Meetings with the USGA to get a behind the scenes look at true tournament preparation.  Thanks Ed!

    Of course I am most proud of my staff and the fact they delivered on providing the USGA with true championship conditions that withstood the efforts of the competitors.  Only twelve of the 264 managed to break par and the low round was a three under 68 shot by Medalist Stephen Behr of Florence, SC.  The stroke average over the two days of play was 76.229 with the 397 yard par 4 11th ranking the most difficult with a stroke average of 4.637 (Firm Greens).
    (image)Evening Fairway Mowing

    (image)Number 3
    But one of the things I will always remember about the 2018 U.S. Mid-Am was the "Red Army" lead by General Maffitt and General Cleveland.  I was absolutely blown away by the energy, effort, and enthusiasm of so many members each and every day I was moved to tears.  I spoke with my peer at Charlotte Country Club, John Szklinski and he stated the same thing.  To see the very people that employ us give their time and work so hard to make this the best championship ever was truly awe inspiring.  You definitely made me proud.
    (image)Will Barr (Scoring) and Co-Chairman Ben Maffitt(image)General Manger Billy Cleveland Does It All!(image)All Smiles!(image)Greens Chairman Ed Oden(image)Club President William Smith Directs Traffic!

    What can I possibly say about Brett Boner and Stephen Woodard that hasn't already been stated.  In case you missed it, Julie Williams from AmateurGolf.com did an amazing piece on them CLICK HERE prior to the beginning of match play.  She may or may not have been tipped off by a local golf course superintendent who happens to be their biggest fan not related.  ;)

    Anyway, I couldn't be more proud of both men for qualifying, playing in front of the home town fans and advancing to match play.  Then Brett Boner makes a run so deep that turns a magical moment into one that none of us will ever forget.  It was so cool for me to see so many of you each afternoon at Charlotte Country Club as we walked the fairways with our man to lend our emotional support.  Who will ever forget that semifinal match with 2016 Champion Stewart Hagestad and the resounding fist pump on the last!
    With friends and family on hand, Brett Boner put on a show as the local favorite advanced to Thursday's #USMidAm final and earned the @Lexus Performance of the Day! pic.twitter.com/Q5VGjqQDie
    — USGA (@USGA) September 26, 2018
    One of these days there will be a group of members sitting on the patio drinking cold ones and sharing stories about Carolina Golf Club, and someone is going to say, "Remember that year we co-hosted that USGA Championship and Brett nearly won the damn thing!  That sure was a lot of fun!"  Yes it was, Carolina.  Yes it was!
    (image)Chris Hughes on the Bag!
    (image)WDE!
    See you on the course,

    Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG


    *For a brief recap as reported by AmateurGolf.com on how both tournament courses were impacted by Florence CLICK HERE.
    TurfHead Jam Podcast.....
    Recently, I had the opportunity to team up with my good friend, Dave Wilber for a "TurfHead Jam" podcast for TurfNet.com This was about as much fun as you can have when it comes to talking about the golf course industry. No script, no outline, just pure TurfHeads saying what they think! We talk about Tiger Woods, depression, clipping volume, and just a bunch of wisdom from two guys that have been at it a long time. Take a listen, click HERE and enjoy. 

    (image)Love this Graphic - Thanks TurfNet.com
    FINALLY SOME DRY WEATHER

    Nice to have a few dry days behind us.   The course is finally starting to dry out.   Not a moment too soon.  The Men's Member-Member is underway and we have a busy week ahead of us.  We have been working on fixing a few damaged areas especially around some of the bunker banks.  Spots in fairways were seeded a few weeks ago but we will have to seed some areas again.  We will continue sodding bunkers banks and seeding weak areas in the rough this week.  We are getting close to the time when we can give the place a good shot of fertilizer to help thicken things up.   Fall is the best time to fertilize.   Native areas will be seeded starting in October.  Our annual Bill Moran Fishing Derby is tomorrow.  Stop by if you get a chance.  The pond is a great place to fish.  As you can see no rest for the weary... 

    (image)Glad to finally have these signs back on the shelf.  Hope they stay there for a long time  !!!
    (image)Started sodding a few bunker banks that have been damaged due to the sever summer.  

    (image)Men's  Member-Member under way.  Finally some good weather.   Course is finally firming up and ball roll is pretty good.   All the makings for a great tournament.  
    As I was driving by the 9th tee I noticed this Monarch  looked strange to me.  So I stopped for a closer look.  

    A praying Mantis had it in it's grasp.   Mother Nature is amazing and cruel at the same time.  She takes no prisoners!!!! 


    Intermediate Cuts and Surrounding Rough


    The Greens Committe and I have been fielding significant questions and concerns from Longue Vue members regarding the intermediate grass (i.e. the first cut and surrounding rough) throughout the property.  Multiple factors have contributed to the decline and turf loss that is evident in this area of the course, the symptoms of which began to arise after Labor Day.  The following is my assessment of what has transpired, and my plan of action to address and remedy these conditions moving forward.


    The Biggest contribution to the decline was a severe outbreak of Gray Leaf Spot on our Ryegrass population within the intermediates.  Gray Leaf Spot is a devastating disease on Perennial Ryegrass during periods of prolonged excessive heat (82-90+), humidity and excessive rainfall.  The disease pathogen is rapid can easily spread with rain, wind and mechanical traffic.  Although preventive measures were utilized throughout the season with our chemical program (intermediates are included in fairway sprays), the rainy weather leading into the 5 day stretch of heat (above 90) and humidity caused an outbreak.  Once identified, I applied a curative application to the affected areas in hopes of limiting the severity of outbreak, unfortunately, the conditions continued and the rainfall following the remnants of Gordon hindered halting the damage.

    However, Gray Leaf Spot is not the only contributing factor to the decline.  No one reading this blog is a stranger to the weather experienced over the region this season.  The record-breaking rainfall has hindered our operations, practices, and turf health.  In a perfect world, we are able to manage the water input to promote root growth because a plant under stress will send its roots towards oxygen and water.  The saturated conditions that have prevailed during large stretches of this summer have left the plant suffocating and not growing in its natural healthy state.  Then, when you flip the switch and go from those saturated conditions to dry/high heat/humid conditions on grass that is already stressed, only the strongest survive.  The weakest in our case was the Poa.

    I’ll be completely honest in stating that the stretch of weather around Labor Day and the week that followed was my toughest from a water management standpoint since starting at Longue Vue.  Knowing that our rooting was compromised, it was imperative that we didn’t overwater our playing surfaces in efforts to reduce the chance of disease outbreaks such as pythium, brown patch and wet wilt.  With the way our irrigation is setup, the intermediates will only receive true coverage if we water fairways in combination with the rough.  During that stretch, I didn’t water fairways at night for 5 days, simply relied on syringing via handwatering or irrigation during the day for playability and disease prevention.  In return, much of the poa population in the intermediates (and rough for that matter) suffered. 

    So there are the causes; diseases and the season's weather finally caught up with us. This is extremely disappointing given the significant progress we had made in developing intermediates since my arrival.  Although inheriting many varieties, we have made great strides in 5 years while developing uniformity, playability and creating aesthetic value. Outside of purchasing the proper machine to mow and developing a preventive chemical program towards survival and plant health, we simply maintained the multiple varieties (Poa, Bentgrass, Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass) as thy existed….the hand we were dealt so to speak.  We did address the uniformity and conditions around greens with the collar/intermediate project by installing low mow bluegrass.  In return, prior to this year we haven’t experienced any issues with our intermediates, maybe a few pockets here and there but overall they had remained solid.



    Which brings us to recovery.  Regardless of whether this year’s weather was a fluke or not, we must do our best to prevent this turf loss from reoccurring.  I believe the answer is to introduce stronger varieties to our intermediates -- most notably, the same varieties of Bluegrass that were in the sod purchased for the collar/intermediate project back in year one.  The above picture clearly shows the difference and survival in comparison to our existing species.  After a little research, I was able to identify the varieties used and located a blend being sold containing a majority of those in the sod.  In addition to the Bluegrass, a percentage of Tall Fescue will also be added to aid in drought and traffic tolerance.  Work began on Tuesday afternoon with the process of aerifying, broadcast spreading and slit seeding all of the intermediates and surrounding affected areas.  Unfortunately, Bluegrass has a slow germination rate and will take up 21-28 days to show signs of life.  Therefore, I ask for your patience and try to focus on the big (long term) picture.
     

    In the meantime, it is important despite frustrations that we work together to monitor traffic and play within our intermediates over the next week to 10 days till the seed has established in the soil.  We will keep areas marked and will establish entry and exit points on each fairway.  When playing the hole, I ask that you try to remain and keep cart traffic in the fairway without crossing intermediates.  As we get further along in the process, these restrictions or requests will be lifted.  The main reasoning behind this request is to prevent any seed from making its way onto the fairways.  We spent the first three years eradicating the Ryegrass from our fairways with great success and any efforts to prevent contaminating them with a different species will go a long way.  These areas will also be kept moist via hand watering, so please watch for the staff and realize that any cart traffic could lead to rutting.



    Outside of intermediates, we will include focus to areas of the rough that have also declined over the recent weeks due the above mentioned causes. In closing, I thank you for your continued support, patience and cooperation during a trying and frustrating year.  Every day has seemed to have it's new challenges and struggles, I share your frustrations towards a course we mutually admire expect only the best when it comes to conditions.  Rest assured, I will continue address any issues that arise and continue to improve towards tomorrow.


      As I tell my staff; “We use today to improve on yesterday and build for tomorrow”.


































































    Michael!
    Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, October 11th and the sound of heavy rains from Tropical Storm Michael echo off the roof top of the Turf Care Center.  It has been less than four weeks since Florence dropped over seven inches rain on Carolina Golf Club and caused severe flash flooding in other parts of the Queen City, not to mention the devastation she imparted on the North Carolina coast and places east.  Michael made landfall early yesterday afternoon as a Category 4 Major Hurricane wreaking havoc along the Florida Panhandle.  My heart aches for all those in its path.
    (image)Hurricane MichaelSimilar to Florence, we've known about Michael and his projected path across the southeast and through the Carolinas for several days as indicated below by this tweet from Brad Panovich this past Monday.
    #Michael will impact us Wednesday night into Thursday with gusty winds and heavy rain but it will be in and out fast. #cltwx #ncwx #scwx pic.twitter.com/cxL93NxrH0
    — Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) October 8, 2018
    And we've been preparing the golf course for his arrival to the best of our abilities.  It's just this time the end goal is slightly different.  Florence was arriving prior to us co-hosting a national championship and there were certain parameters we needed to meet for our friends with the USGA (mowing heights, green speeds, surface firmness, etc.)  In case you've forgotten CLICK HERE for the link to my post on the morning she arrived.  

    In this case we are in a transition as we are attempting to ready the course for the coming winter and subsequent dormant season for our bermudagrass tees, fairways, and rough.  Now don't get me wrong, tomorrow is Men's Guest Day and Fall Member-Guest is next week and we are still striving to produce the best conditions possible for you and your guest's enjoyment, but considering we are nearly six weeks into meteorological fall it's almost past time to prepare warm-season turf for hibernation.  Yesterday we mowed all closely mowed areas and wrapped up a single mow on the rough for this week.
    We’ve been getting after it this morning @CGC1929! Mowing all greens, tees, and fairways & trying to finish rough in advance of #Michael! #CGCturf #cltwx pic.twitter.com/EzkaMTMmhi
    — Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) October 10, 2018
    Assuming the golf course is playable tomorrow barring damage from wind and/or debris it will most likely be Cart Path Only for our Guest Day event.  It will also most likely be the first of next week before some areas of the golf course (I'm referring to tees, fairways, and rough) see a mower again.  Thus we will use these several days in between to raise mowing heights on tees and fairways as we do each and every autumn to assist with plant health as we approach winter dormancy.  

    That's right, every year the height of cut (HOC) is raised on tees and fairways as we exit summer and enter into the fall golf season.  By increasing the HOC we have more leaf material for photosynthesis which in turn means the plant can produce more food for storage prior to hibernation.  Most year's we begin this process immediately following the Club Championship usually contested around Labor Day, but this year we were required to maintain those lower HOC's through the U.S. Mid-Am and with the unseasonable warm temperatures lingering right up until now, we are just managing to find this opportunity to make the transition.  We have managed to recently complete our annual fall pre-emergent herbicide treatments to all bermudagrass areas for the prevention of unwanted poa annua this winter and next up is preventative fungicide treatments to tees and fairways for Spring Dead Spot control, but the soil temperatures are still too warm to initiate treatment as a result of the unseasonable warm temperatures we've endured lately.

    Did you know that September 2018 was the third warmest September in Charlotte and warmest since way back in the 1920's!
    Your air conditioning bill likely agrees. #cltwx #ncwx #scwx https://t.co/49Mvz7SssI
    — Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) October 1, 2018
    Also, the unseasonable warm temperatures continued right into October as we managed to reach at least 90 degrees on October 4th and 5th bringing our total for this year up to 74!
    Day 74 of 90° or higher this year thanks to today. #cltwx #Augtober pic.twitter.com/fjlNMZgsjG
    — Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) October 5, 2018
    Needless to say, the team and I, and the turf eagerly await the arrival of seasonable temperatures.  It's been a long, warm season this year and I believe everyone is ready for a cool down - and lower humidity.  It appears once we escort Michael through town today Autumn is ready to knock on the door.  Everyone please stay safe, pray the power stays on, and I look forward to seeing each of you again soon.

    (image)Brad Panovich

    See you on the course,

    Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

    Not very low

    Ah, October, a month we look forward to, as the heat and humidity of the summer are finally replaced by crisp, cool mornings, and some of the best golfing conditions of the year.  Or, at least that's the way it's supposed to work...

    It truly feels as if a book could be written about the weather we've experienced in 2018.  Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia region hit its annual rainfall average--and we've had over 4" of rain since then.  Yes, there definitely have been countless days this year that were neither good for playing golf, nor for maintaining the golf course.

    In addition to abundant rainfall, we have also had some crazy temperatures the past several weeks.  However, in this case, we're not talking about extreme daytime high temps, but instead, the nighttime lows.  Going way back to August 27, we have had exactly one single night that hit the average low temperature.  Stop and think about that for a second--that is only one day out of the last 40+ which has been "normal" by this measure.

    Through the entire month of September we averaged close to eight degrees above average at night.  The normal low is now 47 degrees, and we have not come close to that.  As you can see below, the lone "cool" night occurred on September 9.


    While people may only consider nighttime temperatures when deciding to turn the A/C on or off, if you're a grass plant, what happens at night can be just as important as what happens during the day.  What do these extended warm nights mean for the turf?  Well, with the persistent humidity, moisture, and warm soil temperatures we’ve continued to experience, a lot of the bad actors that have usually packed their bags for the year, are sticking around.

    On the turf disease area, we have seen more Gray Leaf Spot in the rough this year than ever before.  With regard to insects, the Annual Bluegrass Weevil is still active, causing damage to some areas of Bentgrass.  And annual weeds have continued to germinate and grow vigorously.

    (image)The Annual Bluegrass Weevil has moved on to Creeping Bentgrass.

    It used to be that if you made it to August 15 without issues on the course, you were over the hump.  Now, we are into October and still have the fans running around several greens.  We can only hope that it won't be long before we finally see some frost on the pumpkin.

    Light Reading

    Here is a recent note sent out from one of the legends in our industry.  We've seen most of what he references in this article:

    Misery Loves Company
    Peter H. Dernoeden, Ph. D


    Since spring, the story has been mostly of prolonged periods of overcast and rainy weather –interrupted by heavy downpours. July was for some incredibly hot and dry. It’s been one for the books, and the effects have been on display on golf courses, sod farms, home lawns and other professionally managed turfs. Inability to mow for long periods, and the need to get equipment out before turf has properly drained, has resulted in lots of scalping and mechanical damage.
    Crabgrass, goosegrass and many broadleaf weeds have flourished. According the Steve McDonald MSc. (Turfgrass Disease Solutions), “it has been a major disease year.” In addition to the usual’s, like brown patch and dollar spot, gray leaf spot has been especially damaging since late July. According to Steve, severe GLS outbreaks in perennial rye developed in mid-to-late July, and have continued almost unabated in the absence of frequent applications of fungicides. Gray leaf spot also has been observed in tall fescue sod fields on Delmarva. Maladies favored by long periods of wet and overcast weather, including yellow spot and blue-green algae, are commonplace.  Some mangers survived with less significant problems and thought that the Labor Day turn would be the end, but not quite. The overcast, rainy and extremely humid weather (heat indexes often > 100oF) following Labor Day provided a “coup de grace ” for some.

    To add insult to injury, weeds are now germinating in abundance and soon will dominate poor stands. Although inconspicuous, weeds like annual bluegrass, ground ivy and many others are now “blowing out of the ground.” Renovations, overseeding, new seeding, fertility, pest management and general maintenance will present more challenges, but at least sunshine, and cooler and less humid weather has arrived. Let’s take a picturesque look at the Misery of 2018.
     



    Heavy and cold spring rains ruined seedings, even when erosion control methods were installed; March 2018.
    High winds and wet soils compounded spring problems; March 2018.


    Heavy downpours began in May.
    In July they were alternated with periods of drought as well as very
    high heat and humidity.
    July heat and drought takes its toll
    at this golf club, whose pump house goes down; July, 2018.


    Extreme heat damage in a tall fescue lawn, despite an in-ground irrigation system; July, 2018.
    Scald (damage caused by standing water and heat) in newly laid sod; late May 2018.

    Gray leaf spot became active in mid- July,
    and continues to be damaging. Courtesy of. S. McDonald.


    Brown patch blighted many acres of tall fescue lawns, sod fields and roughs in July and August 2018.
    Goosegrass out-competes spring seeded tall fescue  and was treated too late with  Pylex; August, 2018.


    Blue-green algae in areas thinned by brown patch and mechancial damage in a green; Sept., 2018.
    Scalping and mechanical damage
    to a green when mowed too wet;
    Sept., 2018.

    The lousy 2018 weather even depresssed Turkey's.


    Thanks for reading!

    No Wake...

    It is always appreciated when players observe posted signage on the golf course.  For September, we gave up on using "No Carts" signs, and switched to something a bit more appropriate:



    Yes, the Philadelphia region reached its average rainfall amount for the entire year a week ago.  Since that mark was hit, we had six straight days with measurable precipitation, totaling an additional 4.3 inches of rain for the week.  And with three months left in 2018, it's hard to know what the year's total will ultimately end up being.
    (image)It's been tough keeping up with the rough.It may be something of an understatement to say the golf course is saturated--if you picture a sponge that can hold no more water, that's right where we are at the moment.  Given the warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the month, the grass keeps growing aggressively, and we have had difficulty finding a window when it's dry enough to mow the turf without causing damage.
    (image)Mechanical damage on a slippery slope.There is an old saying among grass-growers:  The best defense against weed encroachment is a dense stand of turf.  Unfortunately, keeping thick, healthy grass this year has been impossible in many areas.  Both golf carts and maintenance equipment have led to turf thinning, particularly around high traffic pinch points.  Additionally, the region has been clobbered by Gray Leaf Spot, a disease which can quickly damage the Ryegrass in our rough.

    Excessive rain and heat led to the breakdown of pre-emergent herbicides earlier in the year, and most courses in the area have dealt with large quantities of Crabgrass and Goosegrass.   Combining the abundance of these plants in the summer of 2018, with the thin turf areas we see now, it seems likely that these opportunistic weeds will be even more troublesome in 2019.

    We often say that weather trends tend to even out over the long run.  However, it's now clear that the long run may need to be looked at as a decade or longer, and not a single year.  When we close the books on 2018, by itself, it will certainly not be average in many ways.

    Schedule Changes and USGA Green Section Update

    We are experiencing a great deal of frustration with the weather.  A calendar that was already booked with plans for course maintenance has now been reduced by at least three, but more than likely 4 weeks.  Aeration has moved from Plan A to Plan B and is now closing in on Plan C.  Unfortunately we don't have a Plan C so we are going to have to wing it.  Aerating greens, aerating roughs, overseeding roughs, fertilizing, etc... have been bumped from the schedule for three straight weeks.  All these tasks need to be performed between Labor Day and early October.  Unfortunately it's rained all but two of the last 17 days and this week looks like another full wash out.  If it stops raining on Thursday as predicted, we'll need several days to dry out before we can get the big mowers and tractors back out.  With that fact, we've decided to put off the much needed core aeration of greens and just use solid tines as a "band aid" for the moment.  We did some of that work today in the rain and will attempt to complete it tomorrow.  Pulling cores and topdressing (much needed) is out of the question with the weather and ground conditions we have.  When things improve we'll need to pounce on catching up with mowing and aerating/overseeding roughs.  We are running out of time to get this stuff done before the leaves start to fall and frosty mornings become the norm.  It's going to take some time for us to catch up from this weather and things will likely be less than ideal for some time following the last rain drop.  Please bear with us and know we are doing all we can to shuffle priorities and keep the course in shape. 

    Click the link for the latest update from our USGA Green Section : When's It Gonna End



    Robert J. Root
    From the membership, staff, and particularly the staff of the Green Department at Tacoma Country and Golf Club, our deepest sympathies are with the Root family as we mourn the loss of Robert J. Root. 

    Throughout the long history of this fine Club, many individuals have fallen victim to the lure of the beautiful grounds.  I consider myself to be one of those as I've spent almost my entire professional career here, and if the good Lord sees it my way I will spend the rest of it in the same capacity. For me there is just something about Tacoma that words cannot describe.  With that said there is still no greater example of a "Tacoma man" than Bob Root.  In 1952, Bob was hired by Tacoma's legendary, pioneering Golf Course Superintendent Henry LandIn 1969 Bob was promoted to Superintendent and held that position for more than a decade.  When I was hired in 1993 as Assistant Superintendent, Bob was still on the staff and I got to know him very well.  He was a wealth of knowledge in regards to anything and everything about this 120 acre slice of heaven.  All said, Bob's employment with Tacoma lasted over 46 years.  His love affair with Tacoma lasted till his last day on earth.  Throughout his retirement he would have his lovely wife Judy drive him to the Club just to look around.  He came by many times to get parts for his beautiful vintage putting green mower which he used to keep his lawn at home in immaculate condition.  I have to say that every time we shook hands, I was always left with an indescribable feeling of respect. After all he and I lived with the same affliction, a hopeless love for the golf course at Tacoma.  He will be missed.
    (image)Bob as night waterman (early 1950's)
     (image)Bob (right) getting ready to cut some grass (early 1950's)Click HERE to see the 1969 Club newsletter announcing his promotion to Superintendent.



    Recovery Update

    ROUGH

    Sunday morning there was fresh new grass popping out of the ground just 5 days after planting.  We still have a little more to plant, but it's very encouraging to see results so quickly.  Lots of TLC will be required for the next 2-3 weeks in order to get this new grass to survive and mature.  We'll need to water lightly and regularly over the next few days (if the hurricane doesn't hit us) and will gradually back off as the grass grows.  Carts will need to stay on the path until the new grass has been mowed a couple of times.

    GREENS

    Monday and Tuesday we completed verticutting, aerating with 3/8" solid tines, and lightly topdressing greens.  They will putt a little slower for a day or two since brushing and verticutting pull up some of the excess leaf tissue.  We are still working to recover from the summer as we were washed out of core aerating in September and the weather has been so unpleasant for bentgrass.  Typically at this time of year the greens have been aerated and experienced a few weeks of fall weather.  This year they were saturated for most of the past month, did not get aerated, and have endured the highest nighttime temperatures in September history.  They are not ready for winter and we are pushing them to get healthier before winter kicks in.

    (image)New fescue popping up in just 5 days

    (image)Foggy start on Monday 
    (image)Verticutting is lightly mowing with vertical blades.  It helps to promote new growth.
    We hope to see some lateral growth in the weaker areas
    (image)
    (image)The aerator with small solid tines followed the verticutter
    (image)We lightly topdressed and brushed greens following the verticutting and aerating.  
    ONLY 1.65" THIS WEEK --ALMOST A DROUGHT
    Well a long way from a drought but its better than the 4+ inches we got last week.  This week we concentrated on----

     Phase two of our native areas:    This week we seeded our "new" native areas.   I am sure you know where I'm talking about.  Between 4 &5.  All down the left of 5 and behind the green and between 7 and 8.   These areas were deemed to be some what in play.   Our goal is to use native plants to provide a cover that will allow golf balls to be found and if luck you will be able to advance the ball.  We want these areas to be penal but not too penal.   If you think about it, it's a tall order.   With the help of Dave Kaplow our consultant we picked 4 different species.  Two will act as a cover crop.  They are picked because they will germinate quickly and hold the soil but will not persist over time.   They are Festuca (Vulpia) Myuros or Zorofescue and Hordeum brachyantherum or Meadow barley.   Both are native to the west coast but as I stated they will not last more than a couple of years.   Our Main Species we seeded are Agrostis pernnans or Upland Bentgrass and Panicum sphaerocarpum or Round Seed Panic Grass.  

    Okay,  even I had to look these up to see what they were all about. 

    The Upland Bent  is a perennial grass about ½–2½' tall that develops either individually or in loose tufts and can be mowed if need be.  

    The Round seed Panic grass is a grass that grows from 6 to 20" and has a flower that extends above the leaves by 1 to 3 inches it also can be mowed if need be.  

    (image)areas had been sprayed with a non-selective herbicide.  We cleaned the area as best we could with blowers and mowers to ensure good seed to soil contact.  


    (image)seeding the areas with our slit seeder.  



    (image)this is a picture of the seed.  It is very small!!!

    (image)Close up view of the seeding.  

    What's next:  We should get some growth before the end of the year.  This will make the areas green again and should hold the soil in place over the winter.   These areas will take a few seasons to fully mature so patience is key.  In the mean time they will still be attractive and will look like a thin lawn. please do not drive carts in these areas as any soil disturbance will reduce germination.   Feel free to flag me down if you have any questions or shoot me an email   I'm more than happy to fill you in.  









    A CRAZY BUSY, WET, FISHING WEEK!!!

    Last weekend we held our annual Member-Member tournament.   Considering the weather we have been getting we were lucky to get two days of no rain and carts were able to scatter.  The Tournament went very well. Congratulations to all the flight winners and ultimate champions.  Glen Watson and Ryan McGrath. 

    (image)Ryan's approach to the 18th green. 

    (image)A great chip by Glen helps seal the deal. 


    We also held our Bill Moran fishing Derby last Sunday.   A lot of fish were caught and everyone had a great time.   This day is in honor of  Mr. Bill Moran who was instrumental in our becoming Audubon Certified and continuing all of our environmental efforts.   

    (image)Everyone had a good time.  The pond has plenty of water this year.  

    (image) TOO CUTE...  Unfortunately this week was really a tough one.  We had 3.75 inches of rain on Tuesday. followed up by another Inch + yesterday.    Carts on paths again.  UGH.......  

    (image)All the bunkers were washed out.  It took us a day and a half to get them back in shape.  
    (image)The water feature on 4 is back up and running.  The forecast for next week is good.  I hope it stays that way we need some good weather to help get the course back in the condition we have come to expect.  



    Curiosity & Opportunity
    Curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn something. It is a thirst for seeking knowledge and growth. Opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. Curiosity and opportunity have such a symbiotic relationship.  Curiosity is the drive to discover and opportunity is what we discover through our curiosity. …
    Greens Construction Amendments......
    When it comes to USGA greens construction, the addition of rootzone organic amendments can certainly make a major difference during the grow-in/establishment phase. Many times, superintendents are under tremendous pressure to establish new greens as fast as possible and get them ready for play. The use of amendments is a great way to help accomplish this. One organic amendment, Milorganite, has been one of the most used and successful amendments for greens construction for many years. I’ve personally used Milorganite as an amendment in greens construction throughout my career and have seen excellent results. I would personally not perform any greens construction and grow-in without the supplemental use of Milorganite.


    (image)Adding an organic amendment such as Milorganite during greens
    construction can enhance establishment dramatically. 

    Research was conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison using various organic fertilizer amendments showed some very interesting results. All plots treated with amendments showed more rapid grow-in than the control plot. The study also found that adding additional organic materials to the rootzone mix increased firmness and stability, improved water retention and water infiltration rates, enhanced color, increased rooting depth and reduced phosphorous deficiency symptoms.


    (image)This photo shows the incredible rooting and establishment of a USGA
    green I constructed a few years ago with the use of Milorganite. 

    As you can see in the graph below, Milorganite amended plots rated numerically higher or, at minimum, equal to the highest treatment, in all categories. Adding Milorganite to the original off-site mix or as an on-site supplement increased the establishment and performance of the new greens construction plots.





    As fall golf course renovation hits full stride, consider adding an organic amendment such as Milorganite to your rootzone mix for superior grow-in and establishment of USGA greens construction.
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