The Aerification Process – November 1, 2013
Below is a slide presentation put together by one of our employees. Enjoy!
Below is a slide presentation put together by one of our employees. Enjoy!
We will be aerifying the golf course greens next week. It will be a new experience for the greens as we have never aerified greens this late in the year. The goal is to allow players the enjoyment of uninterrupted, fast and firm green conditions through the entire golf season. Generally, we target late August for fall aerification. The reason behind this time frame is rapid recovery. Aerifying in late August allows the holes to heal in approximately two weeks. By waiting later in the season, golfers will continue to enjoy true putting surfaces during our beautiful Kansas Septembers. The drawback is holes will take months to heal. Fortunately, this recovery will take place during the winter when we experience very few rounds played.
It has now been almost five months since we seeded our trial varieties of creeping bentgrass. All have performed well under the typical summer stress. Keep in mind this green does not experience near the amount of foot traffic course greens deal with daily. We are looking forward to examining the new varieties after aerification and how quickly the holes heal compared to the Cato Crenshaw blend on the course.
The 10 day forecast looks great for golfing. We hope to see you enjoying the course as the golf season winds down.
None of us thought we would be experiencing a hot September like this considering how pleasant the temperatures were through most of August. Unfortunately, the heat is hitting us during a very crucial time…. fall sodding and seeding season. This week the crew is busting their tails to lay 8,000 square yards of sod as well as spreading 2,000 lbs. of seed. Trying to complete these projects while keeping everything else alive and green requires thoughtful planning and the full dedication of our entire professional staff. With the current high temperatures and low humidity, it will be an extreme battle to keep the sod and seed wet enough for survival. Please bare with us as we do our best to produce great playing conditions while tackling these two projects.
On a lighter note: Even though the days of intense heat and long hours of labor can wear the crew down, there are still little things that can really recharge our enthusiasm for working on a beautiful piece of land called Flint Hills National. See below.
I want to bring you all up to speed on the current course conditions. The bluegrass rough is struggling with a fungus called Summer Patch. It is a tough disease to handle once it gets going. As you know, we have experienced this in the past. It starts due to excessive moisture which we had plenty of this month. Since July 14th, the course received 19.42″ of rain. In a normal year, three preventative fungicide applications applied monthly starting back in April would have been enough. Unfortunately it was not enough this year. We sprayed these areas today with fungicides and ammonium sulfate (fertilizer). Immediately after these products are applied to the grass, we must use the irrigation system to ensure the active ingredient reaches the soil. Two weeks ago, I did not think I would need to buy any fescue seed for the rough, however, that plan has changed. The greens themselves are hanging in there but we are still having some issues. The collars and clean up pass on #9,10,13,14 and 16 are thinning out. We continue to monitor the areas daily and we are following advice from plant pathologist Dr. Lee Miller. It will be nice for us to control water for a while rather than mother nature. On a positive note, seeding time is only a week or two away. We will also be cutting out the treated bermuda grass areas next week and sodding them the following week.
Golf Course Superintendent
Flint Hills National Golf Club
In the last 10 days, we have received 11.18 ” of rain. For the month of July, we have accumulated 12.48″. In July of 2012, we recorded .78″ of precipitation. The course has received more rain to date than recorded for the entire year of 2012. Year to date precipitation total for 2013 is 30.78″ while the year of 2012 was 26.95″.
More rain also means less irrigation. We have used over 30 million gallons LESS than this date last year.
Just some interesting facts we wanted to pass along.
As we all know, Kansas weather is very unpredictable and extreme. The temperatures can reach the sweltering heat of the South during the summer and the sub zero wind chills of Minnesota in winter. Nowhere else in the country can temperatures reach such drastic ranges. Which is why Kansas is one of the most challenging climates to maintain healthy greens while achieving the fast and firm conditions we all love. When construction of Flint Hills National began in 1995, a blend of “Cato” and “Crenshaw” creeping bentgrass was the variety of choice. Now, there are dozens of new varieties of bentgrasses on the market today. Researchers continue to develop better turfgrasses for golf course greens specific to each climate. We believe it is time to test some of these new varieties ourselves.
Over the past few months, a few members of our staff have been focusing some of their attention on establishing a new nursery green. Through analyzing university reports, I believe we have found the best new varieties of creeping bentgrass available today suited for Kansas weather. We have seeded three plots with 2 different varieties of creeping bentgrass: “Tyee” and “007″. One plot is pure 007 while the other two plots are different blends of both varieties. We are looking forward to discovering the results of our research and we will keep you updated on the findings.
(Note the trees breaking winter dormancy in the next two photos.)
Well, it seems the Kansas summer weather has arrived. We were fortunate to have great temperatures and plentiful rains the last few months. We are working daily on fast, firm, and dry playing conditions. With that in mind, you will see areas of the course looking a little more brown than green. Although the course won’t be as green, the playing conditions will be great. When we set up to water over 100 acres of turf, the main objective is to keep the turf alive in 100 degree weather and not have any wet areas. Easier said than done. Daryl Clayton, my first assistant, has done a great job in adjusting watering times to individual sprinkler heads. These adjustments are done several times a day to fine tune the irrigation system. Taking the topography, wind, and turf type into account, this is a daily challenge. We will continue to do our best to keep the course playing firm and hope you will enjoy these conditions.
On a side note, we are spraying Bermuda grass in the zoysia fairways. It is a combination of Acclaim and Turflon Ester herbicide. The areas we sprayed will turn the zoysia lime green for approximately ten days. We will continue to spray these areas on a 28 day schedule.
Golf Course Superintendent
Flint Hills National Golf Club
The crew has been working extremely hard these past few weeks making sure no detail is overlooked for the Dower Classic. Between the tireless efforts of our crew and the perfect weather conditions, the golf course is in fantastic shape. We hope you all find time to play soon if you haven’t already. Enjoy!
Unfortunately, today is another day of spongy, wet conditions due to rain. I know many of you, including myself, are eagerly waiting for the rain to stop long enough that we can produce fast and firm greens. But lets not get ahead of ourselves. In the long run, this rain is truly a blessing. Our ponds haven’t been filled to capacity in years but most importantly we are saving money.
Although this year began extremely dry, Mother Nature caught up very quickly. Including this morning’s rainfall, we are more than 4″ above the annual average. Compared to last year’s water usage on May 8th, we have consumed 72% less water this year and 80% less than 2011. Not only are we saving thousands of dollars in water costs, we are saving even more in labor costs. Generally, our watering crew consists of up to four crew members checking the greens for dry spots then dragging the 150′ hose across each green to water each individual spot. Depending on weather conditions, the crew may be monitoring greens for 8 hours or more each day. This year, it has not been necessary to send anyone out even once to look for dry spots. Those two line items combined add up to some serious savings in our budget.
What a crazy spring we are having. About the only good thing I can say is that we needed the precipitation to fill up our lakes. Man, have we gotten it. It has been over three years since we had a rain event that caused portions of #9 fairway to be underwater. We received 2.50″ Monday night and for the year to date we sit at 9.82″. It has not only been a wet spring but, as you know, colder than usual. Waking up to a dusting of snow this morning sure is not the norm for us.
The cold spring has obviously set the turf back. At this time last year, which was warmer than most, we already had applied three treatments of herbicide 10 days apart to kill the bermudagrass in the rough. This year the bermuda still has not broken dormancy to even apply the first treatment. The greens were delayed one week from the scheduled aerification date and they still are very slow healing. The poor Zoysia doesn’t know what it should do; go back dormant (which we do not want to see) or tough it out until we warm up. As I stated in an earlier post, I can’t believe I am saying that I cannot wait for the summer heat, but I think we are overdue for warmer weather. I am thankful for the recent rains however we have lots of work that needs to be done under dryer circumstances. When my kids were younger, I would come home after a rainy day and they would ask, “Daddy, was it a good rain or bad rain?” Well as you can imagine they’ve heard me at times talk about what all we could not get accomplished because of the rain and also heard times when I had been praying for it. After the last several dry years, I find it hard to have a bad rain.
Flooding across #9 fairway
Impassable cart path on #9
Flooding and debris on #13 cart path
A snow dusted trailer from the night of April 23rd
This week we finished aerifying the greens just before the cold storm hit the area. The crew was literally finishing up 18 green as rain began to fall. Greens aerification is a demanding process that is well worth the benefits as a turf manager as well as a golfer.
Below, the crew begins blowing the turf plugs into rows for removal.
Once the plugs are removed, the crew double checks the green to insure all holes remain open. Any holes capped off from old soil are blown open again to collect the new sand for topdressing. Once the green is prepped for topdressing, the crew begins spreading a special grade of sand. We also distribute fertilizers over the green that will be worked into the aerification holes. We use a heavy drag mat attached with soft carpet to keep from being too aggressive on the grass blades. Below, you can see Ernesto dragging the sand in until it is evenly spread across the entire green surface.
Once each green is completed, we use the irrigation system to further water in the sand and give the green a little “sigh of relief” that the process is over. Fortunately for us, mother nature took over and gave us 1.4 inches of rain. Next week, we will begin aerifying tees and fairways as soon as the golf course is dry from the rain.
Here is a video documenting one of our most exciting equipment purchases for 2013….an Imants Root Pruner. This machine is tough. Slicing through four inch roots with ease. We are using it to help maintain a balance between tree health and turfgrass health. Over time, tree roots are spreading laterally in the top layer of soil. They grow in length as well as diameter. The bigger they get, the more water they require. By severing these roots, we are keeping the tree from stealing too much moisture from the grass. Don’t worry about the trees. This affects less than 10% of a tree’s root system. The rotating blades only cut through roots less than 12 inches deep which is where most of the grass root system exists.
Not only does this improve the health of our turf, it also saves us money. Our old method of managing invasive tree roots required the entire crew. Each year, only a few holes could be done. Now with the new root pruner, two people managed to finish the entire front nine in only two days.
We received some much needed moisture the past month. Although most of it came in the form of snow we were glad to have it. Moisture total for the year is 3.65” last year at this time 6.70”. The extended forecast is still looking for cooler than normal temperatures the next week. I thought I would never say this but, we need it to warm up. Although the greens have been fertilized we need the soil temperatures to climb in order to get them growing and break dormancy. We are currently about three weeks behind where we were at this time last spring. Currently the turf team is working on #11 relocating sprinkler heads. Similar to the work we did on #12, this will allow us better control to water the blue/fescue rough separately from the zoysia fairway. We still plan to stick with the schedule for aerification of greens on April 1st and 2nd. Thank you for visiting our new blog. We are committed to keeping you informed on the activities associated with golf course maintenance team.
We hope everyone had a pleasant winter. We have been very busy while you were away. Here is what we have been up to:
One of the first things you may notice is the missing water garden. Due to increasing water treatment costs, we have replaced the water feature with an inviting landscape design.
Hole #12 received much of our attention this winter. Due to poor water drainage and inefficient irrigation coverage, it was difficult to keep the fairway dry. We have since relocated irrigation heads to utilize a more efficient irrigation design and allow more control of where water is applied. During our extreme summer heat, we now have the ability to water the rough without adding excess water to the fairway. These improvements will not only benefit the health of our turf but provide a more firm landing area and add distance to your drives.
Below are images from the process of installing drainage pipe in the landing area and approach.
And here is what our final product looks like:
Every morning during the winter, it is too cold for the crew to be working on the grass. During the morning frost delays, the staff has plenty of indoor projects that need their attention.