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Divot Bottle Use

It is great to see so many of the Club's members taking the time to fill their divots with the sand and seed bottles provided on each cart.  However, please keep in mind that the mix contains Creeping Bentgrass seed, which is intended for use only on the tees and fairways.

Occasionally, we see someone filling a divot in the rough with the mix.  While the effort is appreciated, we ask that you refrain from this.  Bentgrass is a great playing surface when mowed at 3/8" or less, however it's not ideal when allowed to grow to 2".  If you've ever found yourself in a section of the primary rough which has Bentgrass contamination, you may have walked away with a sprained wrist, as it can really grab your club.
(image)Bentgrass makes for some tough rough.
For some additional information on divot repair, check out this brief USGA video:  Divots 101

Again, we truly appreciate the strong work on filling divots.  We are only in May, and have already used over four tons of divot mix sand on tees and fairways this season!
I need your help
This has certainly been an interesting year so far. In this earlier post "tree work" I showed pictures of the right side of three green where we removed a few trees trying to improve the growing environment and playability of the hole. I discussed removing the emotion of trees trying to temper peoples reaction to some tree removal. Then we had 4 nor'easters come through in just a few weeks and the devastation was severe on this hole. From the back of the 3 green to the 2nd green we lost approximately 30 trees. Some were uprooted as earlier posts showed. The clean up has all been done and the repairs have been made to the course. We now need to give the sod and seed a chance to establish to ensure its longevity. Seedlings and new sod have this in common: they both fail under traffic. In fact, most grass fails under intense traffic. This is where I need your help. Eventually we will have to figure out the best way to get carts and walkers from the short turf to the path and next tees. For now it is a temporary path well short of the old path. This is so we can establish grass where it was basically woods.

"Seedlings and new sod have this in common: they both fail under traffic"

Concentrated traffic equals dead grass and a path. Whether drive carts all exiting a fairway in the same spot or push/pull carts all walking on a collar. The grass doesn't know the difference. The ropes on the course are for both. The "ALL CARTS" signs are for both. The "NO PULL CARTS" signs are for push carts also. We have once again put green stakes at the edge of the tall rough to remind carts to stay out of there. I also placed them on the right of 3 to keep carts out of the short rough. This section of rough has never been good from the lack of sunlight, tree competition etc. It took a real beating from all the tree company trucks this spring. It has been given some attention and seeded so hopefully with a break from cart traffic the grass there will bounce back and the seed will germinate. The right woods has also been seeded to repair from all the tree removal and the ensuing damage. Please take care while searching for errant balls. Once this area heals it will be a completely different hole. Below is a picture showing the green area and the traffic pattern.

(image)3 during construction looking down old path to bobcat

(image)3 now mowing week old sod. crazy

(image)looking back towards tee. new bunker
(image)looking back towards tee old bunker during tree work 

(image)spiking rough on 3/ Topsoil being spread on 2 and logs being removed
It has been a busy few weeks trying to get all these projects wrapped up. The weather has been cold but a we are seeing more players every week. The grass is starting to grow and regular maintenance is demanding our attention. Thank you for your patience and understanding while we recover from the storm damage and please help us give you the best course conditions by staying off the damaged areas as best as you can.

Gratitude Changes Everything
A famous Japanese proverb says, “People underestimate their ability to change themselves and overestimate their ability to change others.” Wow, take a second and think about that! We need to remain in a growth mindset, which means having a positive outlook on our life–both every day, and long term. We need to focus on the …

I enjoy this time of year.   Leaves starting to explode from the trees,  Apples, Cherries in full bloom, longer days and the first day I can come to work in a short sleeve shirt and keep the windows down in the jeep. 

(image)Approaches  have been aerified and  top-dressed

We have finished our spring aerification projects.  Just in time for our one day member guest.   In order to keep improving the course conditions we aerified greens, tees, and approaches.   We also top-dressed all the aerified areas.   This will help improve these areas by allowing water and air to better penetrate the soil.  It removes excessive thatch and the sand helps compaction and smooths the surface for better ball roll.   

Freckles Anyone?    Although the construction of our putting green is a distant memory, in the scheme of things it's still a baby.  The light colored grass is called Poa and will eventually take over the entire green.  The good things about Poa:   it can tolerate wear and shade which are conditions just right for our putting green.  Bad things about Poa:   It is very shallow rooted and prone to several disease's.   Give the green a few more years and it will match the rest of our greens.  Sometimes you can't rush Mother Nature.  

(image)First Monarch Spotted this year.   Join us this Saturday for our Annual Bird Count.   Lets see if we can beat our record!!!

TOCA Award for Solheim Cup Coverage
Recently, I received the news as part of the TurfNet team, that I was the recipient of a TOCA Award (Turf and Ornamental Communication Association) for my video work during the 2017 Solheim Cup. What a great honor to receive this award as part of the TurfNet team. You can read the entire award coverage HERE

My experience at the Solheim Cup was one I will never forget. A big thanks to both TurfNet and Rick Tegtmeier, Director of Grounds, Des Moines G&CC for allowing me to cover this great event. You can view all my 2017 Solheim Cup coverage HERE  I also would like to give a shout out to my sponsors, without them this wouldn't have been possible. Thanks to Tru-Turf, WinField United, GRIGG, DHR Construction, Frost Inc., Toro, Larry Rodgers Design Group, Pro-Angle Sand, Tee-2-Green, Bayer Golf, Aerification FX, and Swingle Tree.

(image)Proud to Receive this Award!.

Practice Tee Status
Typically we open the practice tee grass up between the 3rd week in April and the 1st week in May.  The zoysia is bouncing back very slowly, but the bermuda is not.  Unfortunately bermuda has taken over most of the tee in the past decade.  This was a devastating winter for bermuda in our area.  I'd like to give the turf another week to see if it comes back before we open it up for use.  If we end up needing to re-grass because we opened up too soon, we'll be right back on the mats.  I know the mats are not ideal.  

(image)From Friday May 4...bermuda and very slow zoysia

National Golf Day 2018
National Golf Day 2018 is in the books and was a huge success.  The event started with over 175 superintendents and other golf industry professionals completing a service project for beautification of The National Mall.  This volunteer service project completed in 4 hours what would have taken the National Mall maintenance crew over 6 months, …
April Showers bring May Flowers?

Here's hoping for some average weather in the Ohio Valley, below normal temperatures and well above average precipitation including multiple measurable snow events in April has been a challenge on the course and for the Legacy project.

On the course; the putting surfaces have been aerified, we choose to use a less intrusive method this year to help with faster recovery. So far, this was a good choice considering the lack of growth of the grass plant due to low soil temperatures. It won't be long until they are healed!

The Zoysia grass fairways continue to lag behind with the cooler temperatures limiting the cart traffic on the fairways. Zoysia grass, being a warm season grass requires warmer soil temperatures to grow and recover from any damage. Cart traffic and wet soils are a perfect combination to damage this slow growing Turfgrass. With a little help from Mother Nature It won't be long until carts are consistently off the path.

Damage from cart traffic

Another sign spring is finally here is Bryan is hard at work in the garden at Hyde Park with many spring selections for Chef. Stayed tuned!

The Spring also signifies the arrival of our seasonal staff including our Turfgrass Interns. James Quinn, is the first to arrive, from England part of Ohio International Intern program at Ohio State. James will play a key role in our Turfgrass team, preparing him for his future in the Turfgrass industry.

Here is a little about James!

Hi, my name is James. I am from Cheshire, England and I am an exchange Turfgrass intern here on the Ohio State Program through the Ohio State University. I have been a greenkeeper for 4 years at both a 9 &18 hole golf course in my home country. I have studied music my whole life and I have a degree in music production from Leeds Met University. Then when I finished my degree I got a summer job at one of my local golf courses and never left. After 6 months of work there I started my Sports Turf Maintenance course and 18 months later I gained my level 2 qualification. I have always wanted to live in the U.S.A and when I found out about The Ohio Program it seemed like the next logical not only for my life in general but for my new career too.

Welcome James.


The weather, once again has been the story, considering these challenges the construction of the practice facility continues to move in the right direction. The golf course contractor, Golf Preservations and Golf Course Architect, Tim Liddy will be onsite in early May to begin fine shaping, bunker construction and drainage installation. My fingers are crossed for dry and seasonal temperatures!

For more information on the Legacy renovations please follow us along on Twitter @pobrienhpgcc


Pat O'Brien

Grounds Superintendent


(image)Posted with Blogsy
Another Messy May

May in 2016 and 2017 were soaking wet with nearly 8" of rain.  This May got off to a great start but quickly changed gears.  Last week's wind and rain made Fawn Lake a messy place.  The wind last Monday night took out roughly 20 trees on the course (many more around the neighborhood) and left the course littered with debris.  Rains that followed the rest of the week made it too wet to get equipment off the paths for clean up and mowing.  Eventually we'll get back to normal, but it's going to be a tough golf course until things dry up. 

Following Monday's wind storm and knowing that a lot of rain would arrive soon, we picked up sticks and got three laps of rough mowed around each fairway.  If you hit it off line by more than 20' you will be in deep grass.  We mowed greens daily until the rain got too heavy on Friday and Saturday.  Today (Sunday) we are cleaning out debris and mud from bunkers, mowing greens and collars, and continuing with stick pick up.  This theme will continue until we get things caught up. 

Dr. James Beard and Traverse City Golf & CC

It was sad news to hear yesterday that Dr. Beard had passed away.  As everyone has said, he was a true legend in the turfgrass research field.  Dr. Beard has a great history with northern Michigan as well as with Traverse City Golf & Country Club and I got to fit into that his history a few times and find out what a kind man he was.  

I met Dr. Beard when I was an assistant at Crystal Downs Country Club.  He was in contact with Mike Morris the superintendent about conducting some green speed research for him, I think the year was 1992.  I was lucky enough to perform that research for Mike and Jim every morning for two weeks on our nursery green.  Jim had a summer home in Leelanau County and was also a past member of our local chapter, The Northern Michigan Turf Managers Association.

In 2001 the chapter gave Ed Karacheski the Distinguished Service Award.  Ed was the golf pro and superintendent at TCGCC for over 30 years and was a founding member of the NMTMA.  Ed's son Jim accepted the award as Ed had died a few years earlier.  Dr. Beard sent a letter to the chapter describing the history he had with Ed, MSU and Traverse City Golf & CC.

Jump back to 1963 when Dr. Beard planted his first test plots for Michigan State University in Traverse City.  Here is a link to that letter Beard History at TCGCC

(image)Dr. Beard at TCGCC during the MSU Field Day in 1972.  Our tennis courts currently reside there now.
(image)The first snow mold research trials  (image)Fine fescue treatment trials near 15 tee and not pictured to the left of this were the first glyphosate research trials in the country.

(image)Seed mixtures trials

Now jump ahead to 2008.  After attending one of Dr. Beard's seminars, I introduced myself and invited him back to the golf course because you could still see the rough bluegrass trials he planted with Dr. Rieke in many fairways and I thought he might like the tour.  Jim contacted me in 2010 and wanted to see the course and was wondering if his son and granddaughter could play golf while we toured and had lunch.  She played golf for Texas A&M and shot 74 that day.  It was a really bad summer patch year on two of my worst draining fairways so although I wanted the place to look perfect, I took this time to talk about my issues and challenges.     

(image)Dr. Beard and Ed Karcheski 1972
(image)Dr. Beard and me in the same location 2010Rest in peace Dr. Beard and thank you for your time.

Steve Hammon
Hello Spring. Nice of You to Show Up...FINALLY
After a winter that seemed that it would never end, the sun is finally out and shining, and the course is coming back into shape, albeit about a month later than we are used to.  The extended cold temperatures and excessive rainfall that we experienced in the months of March and April delayed the green up of the bermudagrass and have caused the delay in some of our maintenance practices that we would normally have performed by now.

The delay in the normal springtime temperatures has caused delays in the green up of a few areas on the course and we have been asked about these, why they occurred, what we could do about them, and how long will they be this way.  Dr. Jim Brosnan, Associate Professor University of Tennessee, recently wrote an article about the delayed greenup that we are experiencing in the transition zone and I thought I would pass along his excellent explanation.

To be honest a few weeks ago, as I examined the golf course, I was fearful we would have to sod several areas on the course.  Since the weather has taken a turn for the better in the past week, with full days of warm sun and little to no rain, the turfgrass has also taken a turn, and one for the better.  We are seeing substantial growth and recovery in these areas and will be doing a few cultural practices over the next few weeks to help the turf along.  The first practice, which started this morning will be to vertical mow the weak areas to remove any crusting of thatch and algae and expose the underlying turfgrass to the warmth and benefit of the sun.

The next practice will be to use our Aerway shattertine slicer to solid tine aerify the weak areas to allow a void for any water that falls or is applied to be removed from the surface as to not drown the new plants as they grow or allow any algae to reform and to allow oxygen into the soil to promote root growth and recovery.  We will follow the solid tine venting with mowing of the fairways to smooth out the surface.  Following this we will apply some extra fertility to these areas to give them a little boost.

Your agronomy staff has worked very hard over the years to provide the high quality conditions that you have come to expect.  We understand questions arise when things look out of place and we will do everything we can to answer those questions and concerns. The golf course is quickly coming back to form, now that Spring has finally decided to show up, and we are confident these weak areas will be filled in shortly.  As always if you have any questions, concerns, or comments about the course or any practices we perform on the course please don't hesitate to let us know.  We will do our best to answer them.
Coaching & Mentoring
Coaching and mentoring are fantastic ways to give of yourself in many different settings depending on your strengths and passions. Very often, the terms coaching and mentoring are used interchangeably. In essence, they use the same skills and approach, but coaching is short term task-based and mentoring is a longer-term relationship.  Both involve trust and commitment, which are …
Why Happiness?
There is a book called Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins & Jerry Porras that makes a rather profound statement about companies that are built to stand the test of time.  They make the connection that, “Rather than succumbing to the tyranny of the OR, they embrace the genius of …
They nailed it!

There have got to be a dozen or more captions we could come up with for the picture below, but you can use your own imagination.

If you guessed that this is a group of frat boys in a kiddie car race, you need to try again.  In reality, this is how the lines are installed on the har-tru courts each spring.

The lines are nailed down, and given the thousands of nails required, this job would be a real back-breaker if you were hunched over, hammering all day.

It may not seem like this has much to do with turf.  However, when working on the golf course, we are often facing unique situations, which require a little outside of the box thinking.  It's good to see that we're not the only ones!
Rounds 4 Research Auction 2018--Support the Game You Love

The annual Rounds 4 Research auction kicks off on Monday, April 30 and runs through May 6.  The R4R auction is a great way for golfers to help support turfgrass research by purchasing donated rounds to some of the nations best and some of your favorite courses, and some courses that you might not be able to play on a daily basis. The Rounds 4 Research program is the brainchild of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association where they helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support research and education.  The program was moved a couple of years ago to the GCSAA Environmental Institute for Golf which administers the program and allows other states throughout the nation to benefit from this amazing program as well.

The program works by courses donating rounds of golf which are then listed at and are available for preview now, with the actual auction beginning Monday, April 30. Interested golfers can then go to the auction website and bid on rounds from courses all over the nation.

The Tennessee GCSA has worked hard to gather a great collection of over 100 rounds from courses throughout Tennessee and some surrounding states for this year's auction.  The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay is proud to be participating in the Rounds 4 Research auction this year, along with the other 8 courses that make up the Tennessee Golf Trail.  Tennessee golf courses participating in the program this year can be found at Tennessee Rounds 4 Research Available Golf Courses.

(image)Research results being presented at UT Turf Field DayWho benefits from funds raised from Rounds 4 Research? Well, ultimately you, the golfer, benefits.  All the proceeds raised from the R4R auction, at least in Tennessee, go to support turfgrass research, like that performed at The University of Tennessee-Institute of Agriculture, help to provide scholarships to the upcoming next generation of turfgrass manager, and provide education for current golf course superintendents and turf managers at local association meetings and special events like the UT Turfgrass and Ornamental Field Day.

(image)A lot of golfers get excited about the Masters Tournament and with good reason, but ALL golfers should get excited about the Rounds 4 Research program.  I encourage every golfer that reads this blog to visit  and preview the over 1,100 rounds across the nation available this year and be ready to start bidding tomorrow morning.  This is a special opportunity for golfers all across America to help support turfgrass research and education, and play some of the best courses available at some very special pricing.

So visit

 Rounds 4 Research 

this week and bid on amazing rounds at amazing courses and help do your part to provide the much needed funding for turfgrass research, scholarships, and education.  
We all win through this great program.  

We have done our part in gathering these rounds for the auction
---now do your part and get to bidding!!!
Yesterday's storm has us scrambling today just to get the place playable.   With so much to do, this is just what we don't need.  Forecast is not good.  Fingers crossed we don't get too much rain tomorrow.  
(image)Lost a nice tree between 6 and 7.  (image)Large limb down between 13 and 12.  

 Tree at Range.  Will not be missed but will take time to clean up.  

Spring clean up all over again!!  Staff working hard to get the place cleaned up ASAP.  

It's with a very heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of Buster this week.  From the time Assistant Don Holgersen adopted Buster 15 years ago, he has been part of the Grounds Department team at Laurel Creek.

Buster was a true ambassador of goodwill between the maintenance staff and Club's members.  He was a "mascot" of sorts for the staff--a hard worker, who was not afraid to dig in, and get his hands  (paws) dirty.

Even after becoming a celebrity of sorts, as Mr. April, 2006, in a golf calendar, Buster remained humble.
In his youth, Buster was amazingly athletic, and was often seen leaping and bounding through the Fescue.  He was also extremely loyal and obedient.  Don could leave Buster unsupervised on his cart, and his faithful friend would always be there waiting when Don returned.

Undoubtedly, one of Buster's favorite events was a cookout with his coworkers.  Over the years, he definitely ate his fair share of Kielbasa cooked over a steel drum.

The challenges we face when working on the golf course can be trying at times.  However, regardless of what we were dealing with, we could count on being greeted by Buster, who came to work every day with his tail wagging.  He will be greatly missed by all.   
Mindful Exponential Leadership
Another speaker for the World Happiness Summit was Ismael Cala.  He focuses on writing, speaking, and teaching to share his philosophies on happiness, mindfulness, and leadership. He wants to help people transition from the V.U.C.A. world (V.U.C.A. stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) to the C.A.L.A. life method: Constant, Awareness, Leadership, and Action. We …
Green Speed

It seems that in life, we rarely question things when they are really good.  Few people leave a restaurant actually wondering why their meal was delicious.  This pattern seems to carry over onto the golf course as well.  With never-before-seen green speeds last month, not one person asked, "Why are the greens so fast?"  However, now that the greens are no longer rolling in the teens, many have questioned why they are slower.  (Only one person that we know of has used the term slow.)

This certainly could lead to a long discussion about negativity bias, but we'll stay on course, and stick to the subject of green speed.  Whenever this topic comes up, it's important to keep in mind that green speed boils down to one thing:  friction.

In first looking at the unasked question, of why the greens were so darned fast, remember how miserable April's weather was.  Last month was one of the coldest Aprils on record, with 18 days below average.  Courses that aerified in March or April this year have dealt with some real challenges in trying to get the holes to fill in.  A simple equation for what we saw on the greens during the cold early spring, might look something like this:  cold temperatures = little foliar turf growth = little friction = ludicrous speed.

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise then, that the answer to the second question (Why are the greens slower?) is also weather related, and yes, friction related.  With warmer temperatures, we are finally seeing some turf growth, however it is still minimal.  Pictured below is Friday's clipping yield, after mowing over an acre of green surface.

The primary cause of friction on greens now is definitely not from excessive fertility leading to foliar growth.  A quick look at a spot which inadvertently received a good shot of fertilizer, shows how lean the greens really are by comparison.

No, the big friction factor now is coming from Poa annua seed production, which we deal with each and every spring.  While Poa provides a very good putting surface throughout much of the year, one of its drawbacks is the "cauliflower" factor we are now seeing.

In an effort to minimize Poa seed production, we make a series of plant growth regulator applications to the greens, now starting in late fall.  Given the greens' microclimates, and huge  variety of Poa biotypes, seedhead control will never be perfect.  However, by leaving check plots, you can clearly see the tremendous difference between the amount of seed on an untreated area, and the rest of the green.  The pale yellow-white square is an abundance of Poa seed.  Without carefully timed applications, you'd be putting over this bumpy surface on every green.

To take a step back and look at the subject of greens speed, we're taking the glass half full perspective.  When we start hearing comments about the greens being slower as soon as they dip below 12', we know the bar has been raised, and look forward to meeting the challenge!
Aeration Time is Here

The golf course will be closed next Monday and Tuesday so that we can aerate the greens.  Wednesday and Thursday we will have nine holes closed each day in order to complete the topdressing, brushing, rolling, etc....  

The greens are putting well at the moment, but the top few inches of the profile are not healthy enough to survive summer.  Water is not moving through the profile fast enough and there is not enough air in the soil to support strong roots.  We use a lab to test the soil physical properties every other year.  The results help us make better decisions on what steps to take to get as many years out of our greens as possible.  As the greens age, properties like air and water porosity, infiltration rates, and organic matter, become areas of concern.  We are focused on getting as many years out of our greens as possible.  Aeration is a critical step that cannot be overlooked.  

We will be using 5/8" diameter coring tines spaced roughly 1.75" apart and to a depth of about 2.5".  The holes will be filled with sand and then brushed and rolled.  Recovery will depend on the weather as always, but we will be aggressive in our efforts to smooth them out as quickly as possible.  

Bobwhite Quail Chicks are Busting Out
We have done a lot of environmental projects at Harrison Bay over the years but our Bobwhite Quail Restoration project has turned out to be one of the most fun, and it culminated today in the release of the chicks from their brooding chamber.  The project started back in April and you can review its beginning here Southern Bobwhite Quail Restoration project. We have had the chicks for 36 days and they have been in the brooding chamber for the past 24 days.  Today they were released to fly free.

The chicks started out about the size of a golf ball, if that, and have grown considerably in size over these last 36 days.  They have gained about four to five times their size and have grown in their flight feathers so it was time to let them loose into their new environment.  Our project started with 125 Bobwhite quail chicks and as of today 86 have survived and are thriving.  According to Bill the survival rate of most quail clutches is between 12-15% so our 68.8% survival rate is incredible.

Here is a video (turn on your volume) we put together of the 
Bobwhite Quail Restoration Project at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.   
(Videos are courtesy of Willie Hamby.  Photos by Paul Carter)

The release party was one of the coolest things I have experienced in quite some time.  To see the quail chicks take flight and/or strut around in the native grass areas was entertaining, inspiring, and gave us all a sense of satisfaction that the project had turned out so successful.

The project is far from over and we have more in store but it makes me think back to a classic episode of The Andy Griffith Show "Opie the Birdman" (Season 4, Episode 1) and a saying comes to mind.

The box seems sort of empty now...
but don't the fields sound nice and full.

Again we can't thank Bill Greene for his dedication and passion for our environmental programs.  The Bobwhite quail restoration project has been fun to implement.  We are proud to have a golf course with the natural habitat specially suited for these birds and we can't wait to watch them grow up and begin raising their own families on the course.  This group of birds should lay their first clutch of eggs toward the middle of July and will hopefully over the years cover the course.

If you are interested in introducing Bobwhite quail onto your golf course and if we can help in any way please contact us and we will be happy to put you in touch with the quail breeder, let you borrow the brooding chamber, or answer any questions we can.

Welcome to The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay 
Mr. and Mrs. Bobwhite Quail.  
We hope you enjoy your new home for many years to come.

More Repairs, What's Next, & Important PSA!
Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, May 16th and it's time for another update to our winter injury repairs.  Also, we are currently between our two largest spring tournaments (Member-Guest and Member-Member) and believe it or not we will be aerating greens in just two weeks.  I know, that last statement is a little hard to swallow considering March and April were unkind to growth and recovery, but I will explain so please stay with me.

The last time we were together I shared where we utilized 20 pallets (10,000 square feet) of new turf.  Exactly one week later we acquired another 20 pallets and continued the process of "erasing" the unsightliest areas.  The team prepped all areas selected for repair on Maintenance Monday, making quick work of the installation when turf arrived early the following day (last Tuesday).  
(image)Prepped Area No. 18Twenty pallets of new turf takes up considerable space.  We were able to immediately load four into haulers and we do our best to store as much as possible in the shade.  We quickly installed all the prepped areas from the day before wrapping up repairs on holes 1, 9 and 18.  

(image)Repairs to tees No. 9Repairs to No. 1 fairway continued where we left off the week prior.  We had three areas in No. 18 fairway we strongly felt would not heal in a timely fashion and installed new turf.  Hole No. 9 saw repairs made to the three most forward tees and the collar adjacent to the front right portion of the green.  

We had approximately 3,000 square feet (6 pallets) remaining and we repaired an area on the slope between the club house and cart storage building and we turfed the steep area adjacent to the pool where the three large poplar trees were removed last year.  All remaining turf was then installed at the Back Range Tee.

At this time you may be asking yourself what about some areas that still appear thin or nearly void of turf.  True, we haven't completely replaced 100 percent of all injured areas, but I believe we have replaced those on the course that do not possess the capacity to heal themselves given more time now that winter is finally over and they're receiving a little TLC (water and fertilizer).  As for the Practice Range, we will wait until after the conclusion of the Member-Member and greens aeration, then reevaluate what's in need of repairs before acquiring any new turf.

It's important to realize we experienced a morning low temperature in the 30's just two weeks ago.  The Member-Guest was contested during the warmest stretch of the year (four straight days of 90 degree plus temperatures), and although it has cooled somewhat, the moisture in the atmosphere and constant threat of rain the next several days is just what both new sod and thin areas trying to recover need.  In other words the course will continue to improve with each passing day.  

I referenced above we are scheduled to aerate greens in just two weeks.  If you were in attendance at the Annual Meeting in January I addressed how we would be taking a different approach to greens aeration this season due to our involvement with co-hosting the U.S. Mid-Am.  The good news is we will not be aerating in early September per our normal schedule.  The first round of competition begins on September 22nd and to provide proper conditions it will be necessary to forego aerating near the championship.  Also, I do not want to aerate immediately following the championship because I want you and your guests to enjoy the remainder of the fall golf season without disruption.

That means we are essentially performing our normal fall aeration three months early, immediately after Memorial Day (bad news).  Now we have always aerated immediately after Memorial Day but the process has been on a smaller scale with the objective of bridging the gap between spring and fall.  With no fall aeration this year, it's imperative we aerate aggressively enough to carry us through the entire summer and into fall without worry.  So, although you will once again be encountering freshly aerated greens (cores removed, sand topdressed) in a couple weeks you can take solace knowing it will be March 2019 before you have to endure it again.  Also, I'm certain you will be pleasantly surprised at the quicker recovery this time of year compared to spring with soil temperatures now at levels conducive for turf growth.

A couple other items before I go.  The other day the USGA published a Public Service Announcement about golf cars and their use.  I shared it on Twitter but I wanted to include it in the blog CLICK HERE because it contains really good information.  Pay particular attention to No. 4 because whenever I'm asked what is the one thing that could make Carolina Golf Club even better I always answer less traffic.  With an elevated club house and multiple elevated teeing grounds the eye is always looking down at turf stressed by heavy cart use.  I attempted several years ago CLICK HERE to encourage everyone to operate golf cars ONLY in the fairways but the practice has never become widely adopted by everyone from my observations.  

It's pretty simple, if you want to see less stress and more thick, uniform turf then avoid driving over the same areas daily.  We do our best to use short stakes or stakes and ropes to direct everyone away from highly trafficked areas but we can only do so much and your help would be greatly appreciated as we strive to improve course conditions not only as we prepare for a national championship, but more importantly for your daily enjoyment.

And to end on a positive note, I couldn't help but enjoy the site yesterday of this large turtle crossing 18 fairway.  I guess he was ready to go for a swim and he wasn't about to let me interfere with his plans.
We don’t have gators in Charlotte, NC but this guy is pretty big @CGC1929! When it’s time for a swim! #urbangolfcourse #nature
— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) May 15, 2018

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG  
USGA Course Care

Golf Carts: Five Things Every Golfer Should KnowMAY 9, 2018 | LIBERTY CORNER, N.J.By George Waters, USGA

Golf carts can improve access and generate revenue, but they can also have negative impacts on turf health and playing conditions. (Green Section)
Golf carts play an important role at many golf facilities. They provide a revenue source and increase accessibility, allowing golfers who might not otherwise be able to walk the course to enjoy playing. These benefits are not without their costs, however. Golf carts can have very negative impacts on turf health and playing conditions, especially in areas where traffic is concentrated. Keeping these five things in mind will help ensure that you don’t put the cart before the course during your next round.
1. The impact of cart traffic varies.
Many factors influence how cart traffic affects a golf course. Certain grasses are more vulnerable to traffic injury and may require special cart policies. Areas with heavy soils and poor drainage face a greater risk of compaction and other traffic issues. Even the time of year plays a role. When grasses are growing slowly, they are more vulnerable to the cumulative effects of cart traffic. For all these reasons, cart policies vary from course to course, hole to hole and even day to day.
2. Wet conditions and cart traffic do not mix.
Carts can slide, skid and sink when turf is wet, causing immediate and lasting damage. Wet soils are also more vulnerable to compaction, which can have negative long-term effects on playing conditions, even if those impacts are not immediately visible. Avoiding wet areas and respecting cart path restrictions is an important part of being a responsible cart driver.
Driving a golf cart through a wet area causes serious damage. By respecting cart restrictions and avoiding wet areas, golfers help care for the course.

3. Cart traffic during hot, dry weather can also cause problems.
It’s easy to understand that driving a cart through a soaking wet area is likely to cause problems, but many golfers are not aware that driving over dry or heat-stressed turf can also cause issues. During hot and dry weather, cart traffic increases stress on the grass and can leave behind damaged turf and straw-colored tire marks that may take weeks to heal.

Cart traffic during hot and dry weather can also cause turf damage. The tire marks that appear on dry or heat-stressed turf can take weeks to heal.
4. Sometimes it’s better to take the road less traveled.
A single golf cart driving down a fairway has little to no effect on turf health or playing conditions. It is the cumulative effect of many carts that eventually takes a toll on the grass. This is why cart damage is most obvious in areas where traffic is concentrated, like the ends of cart paths. Doing your best to steer clear of high-traffic areas can greatly reduce the impact of your cart.
5. Less cart traffic means better playing conditions.
Walking or sharing a cart goes a long way toward reducing cart traffic and improving turf health. This helps courses conserve resources and provide better playing conditions for everyone.
Reducing cart traffic makes it easier to maintain healthy turf and good playing conditions. When possible, walking instead of riding is a big help. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Golf facilities use ropes, stakes, signs and many other traffic control measures to minimize the negative impacts of cart use; but ultimately, they depend on golfers to be mindful of where and how they drive. Respecting course rules, being understanding of cart restrictions and doing our best to reduce cart traffic can have a very positive impact on the courses we play. Visit the Course Care section of to learn more. 
Venting Greens

The staff spent the last 2 days venting greens. This is a process where we open the greens surfaces with a tine 5/16” thick. We use our tractor powered Verti-drain machine to perform this operation. There are a number of benefits that are created by this process.

  • Open surface to encourage oxygen to enter root zone and built up carbon dioxide to escape
  • Allows water to penetrate green surface and excessive water to evacuate through evaporation
  • Even though the channels are narrow, roots can grow in the channel due to a positive growing environment
  • During cooler times, green profile opened up can warm and during hot weather it can assist in cooling by allowing trapped heat to escape
We usually do this procedure every 3-4 weeks during the late spring and summer, 3-5 times per season is the norm based on weather and turf conditions. The holes usually disappear on the surface in a couple of days and create very little disruption in ball roll out. The holes in the profile can last a couple of weeks or more, 
48 tines with spacing about 1” apart. Tines are about 7” long.
Sometimes called pencil tines The hole is about the size of a pencil. We roll the greens after the process to smooth out the hole. We will roll them the next day to reduce the chances of scalping and then mow the third day.

Fairway Aeration - Success!
So yes, we delayed fairway aeration due to the persistent wet weather.  Was that a good decision? You bet! We had perfect weather the last week of April and here's some pictures which show just how well the process went.  
Check out the gorgeous sunshine as we're pulling cores around the 18th teeing grounds.  Okay I keep calling them fairways but really since our fairways and teeing grounds are all connected it's hard to distinguish between fairway and the other short grass areas like tees and approaches.  We treat all the short grass the same and we call all the short grass the "fine turf".
The machine we used to punch the holes is brand new and we just acquired it a few weeks ago.  The main reason for getting this new machine is that it simply is amazing compared to other aerifiers.  It is super fast and the cores come out of ground in fragments.  Check out this close up of the turf right after this machine has done it's thing.
You can see there is quite a bit of soil brought to the surface.  That's really the whole idea.  Bringing up soil and then returning it back into the turf canopy is what in turn makes for a healthy stand of turf.  Yes punching holes and getting air into the surface is important and yes punching holes for better infiltration of water is nice too, but in my opinion it's the recycling of the soil that is the key here.  When soil is recycled there is nutrients and micro organisms that are turned over and this is where the power of nature takes over.  For centuries the "turning over" of soil has been known to be important for growing healthy plants.  We're getting back to the basics by pulling cores and it's working.  Our fine turf is now much healthier and our summer diseases like fairy ring are much more manageable. 
After punching the fine turf and letting the surface dry out a little, we drag the areas with a harrow mat.  This breaks up the soil and knocks it down into the turf canopy.
In this picture you can see the difference between an area that has been drug with the mat and an area that has not.  Pretty cool huh?
The last step is to now pick up that little turf plug which is left behind.  It helps to condense them by blowing them into long rows.
This marvelous time saving machine gathers them up and now we're done.  Waiting for the good weather, and having the new punching machine made this the most successful fairway aerification I've ever seen.  Thank you for your patience. The result is some pretty gorgeous fine turf.  Hope you're enjoying it today.

New Family Members

Last week we welcomed two new family members.  Twin fairway mowers arrived on Monday.  We are anxious to use them and would have done so already were it not for the rains all week.  We will be putting these new mowers to use as soon as we complete fairway aeration.

The course is going through a little rough patch due to the rains and exploding turf growth.  With greens aeration set for Monday and Tuesday things will get messier before they get better.  We hope to get caught up this week.  Thankfully we have two new machines to help us get through. 

Thanks to the board for approving the much needed replacement of our fairway mowers!  Feel free to stop by and take a look if you'd like to meet them. 

Last weekend was a disappointment.  Why?  Because it was our opening tournament and we had enough frost to stop us from getting the course in the condition we wanted.   Things looking a little better for this weekend.  At least no frost.

(image)Greens starting to fill in after aerifing.  Let the good time's roll !!!

 We Aerified all the tees this week but we still need to top-dress them.  Next, we will be aerifying and top-dressing our approaches.  Speaking of which we lowered the height of cut on our tees and approaches by 1/16 of an inch.  In the golf course grass world that's a pretty big difference.   I have to say they look great but have gone a little off color.  Not to worry it won't last long. 

We made great progress in checking sand depths in all our bunkers only a few more remain.  Just in time because the grass is ready to start growing and we will be spending most of our time mowing. 
(image)Mitch did a great job touching up our entrance signs.  You only get one chance to make a first impression.  (image)Had some extra white Rockland stickers so decided to put them to good use by using them as markers for the "white" golf course.  It is a hybrid of the blue and green courses.    

(image)Club House construction is down to finishing up the punch list.  Looking good.  A first for Rockland Country Club  and this one had me fooled for quite sometime.  Probably because its considered rare and I have never seen one before.  It is an Eastern Meadowlark.  A great find.  By the way while your here,  why don't you click on our Face Book page for more of the latest and greatest.

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