Course Blog

Bermudagrass Prevention – July 30, 2014

For the past few years, we have been treating our rough with a non-selective herbicide program to eliminate all bermudagrass in the rough.   We will complete the final phase of the project this fall on #11 and #18.   Already, we are beginning to see new shoots of bermudagrass spreading onto the course from native areas treated during the first phase in 2012.   Fortunately a new product has come to the market which we can use to control bermudagrass without the expense and hassle of sodding afterward.

Topramezone is a selective caratenoid biosynthesis inhibitor, or chlorophyll inhibitor.   Remember, chlorophyll is the green pigment that allows plants to absorb energy from light.   Since this product is preventing the grass from producing chlorophyll, the bermudagrass will begin to turn completely white.   In less than one week, the bermudagrass is already showing results of the product working.   See below.

Color starting to bleach from leaf blades.

Color starting to bleach from leaf blades.

As the active ingredient stops the plant from producing chlorophyll, it will also fail to produce complex sugars necessary to sustain life.   The dead bermudagrass will then be overtaken by the healthy bluegrass rough.   This process, however, will take approximately 7 to 9 weeks to complete.

This will be a common site for the next several weeks.

This will be a common site for the next several weeks.

Summer Stress Prevention – July 18, 2014

With more days being forecasted in the upper 90′s, we will begin taking stronger preventative measures to help our greens battle summer stress.  We will be venting the greens again on Monday as we have been doing every few weeks.  This process makes tiny holes in the greens which are 1/4″ in diameter.  These open holes allow better flow of water into the soil as well as improve gas exchanges for plant life.  This does not affect the playability.  Within a few hours of venting, a staff member rolls the green to press down any areas that may have been disrupted in the process.

Ramon venting the putting green.

Ramon venting the putting green.

A closer look at the vented holes.  This process is also called Needle Tine.

A closer look at the vented holes. This process is also called Needle Tine.

 

Another measure we take is called root pruning.  Trees and other native plants compete for our irrigation water intended for the grass.  In order to maximize our water retention in turf, we must prune back other plant roots.  In the upcoming weeks, you will probably come across two thin lines sliced in the soil around trees and the perimeter of each hole.  Every year we run our root pruner where woody roots are encroaching into undesirable areas.  Below is a prime example of why we routinely run the root pruner.

2" diameter tree root found under #9 green.

2″ diameter tree root surfacing from under #9 green.

Quickly Catching Up – June 25, 2014

This June has been an unusual weather pattern for us but it’s not a bad thing.  The course is loving these cooler temperatures and always appreciates a natural rain.  Last night we received another 1/2″ of rainfall.  Fortunately, we dodged the storm cell that dumped 3″ in the downtown Wichita area.  We are quickly catching up with our yearly average rainfall to date.  We are currently only 1.41″ behind schedule for 2014.  After yesterday, we stand at 9.5″ for the month of June which puts us 4.3″ above average.  With over 4″ coming down in the past 14 days, the staff members have still managed to keep the greens fast and firm the entire month.  Most of you have made time to get several rounds in to enjoy these conditions.  Thank you all for supporting your club and providing the tools we need to maintain this truly one of a kind piece of land.  Your crew is very proud of the product they’ve made for you this month and will continue to provide these excellent playing conditions.

Course Update – June 9, 2014

We just wrapped up the 2014 Dower Classic.  From the comments we’ve heard from members and their guests, I would say everyone has been very pleased with course conditions this year.  The staff has been doing tremendous work on the course in between the recent rains.  As of today, we have met the average rainfall for June in the Wichita area of 5.20″.  There is still more rain forecasted this week so anymore precipitation would put us even further in the black.  That being said, we are still 5.71″ behind schedule for the annual average but I have a feeling we could catch up very fast this month.

The staff has been working tirelessly to keep up with mowing the rough.  They have done an excellent job preventing problems with grass clippings.   The rest of our crew’s time has been pushing up bunkers from rain wash outs.  I’m sure there have been days where it feels like blowing into the wind to them, but they always give it 110% for members and their guests…everytime!  The crew deserves extra praise this month for all their efforts.  Without them, Flint Hills National would not be the special place it continues to be year after year.

Off to a Dry Start – May 1, 2014

We continue to pump water into the irrigation lake as several storms pass over the greater Wichita area leaving us snubbed of any significant precipitation.  The high winds and dry conditions have left many understanding what it could have been like to experience The Dust Bowl.  In fact, only one year has been drier than our current total of 1.99 inches in Wichita history.  The peak of The Dust Bowl era in 1936 received only 1.54 inches of precipitation during the same period.  Our solution to this lingering problem is to add a soil penetrant to our overnight irrigation schedule.   This product is designed to improve the absorption of irrigation water into the soil.

Although course conditions are improving as the weather warms up, we still have many things to be done.  Many of you are monitoring the forecast for calm weather just as much as we are.  These past two weeks have been brutally windy which kept us from making fertilizer and preventative weed applications.  These products must be applied soon in order to maintain our high standards for course conditions.  Fortunately it appears next week will provide a few days of opportunity for us.

Next week, we will begin our Bermuda eradication plan for this spring.  We intend to remove areas of Bermuda grass from parts of #11 as well as any remaining on #16.  These areas will be roped off immediately after the application to prevent carts from entering the restricted areas.  Please do not walk in these areas until the chemical has dried onto the grass blades.