Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Hand watering is not just important it is imperative. It is imperative to providing championship caliber conditions on a daily basis. It is imperative to having healthy and vigorous turf. It is imperative for providing fast and firm playing surfaces. Hand watering is imperative for meeting our members’ and guests’ expectations and allowing them to play challenging, fair and enjoyable rounds. Hand watering is imperative on a top 50 golf course in the transition zone.
                It is common knowledge that grass needs water to survive the summers and stay healthy. However, it is not common knowledge for how that water needs to be applied on golf courses. Victoria National is a beautiful course but with that beauty comes challenges. The hills and undulations cause a headache for water management. We cannot rely solely on irrigation as the slopes will dry out but the valleys will collect water and become wet and soft. Because of this we can only use automatic irrigation as much as our wet areas allow us to. Hand watering must be used to supply the dry slopes and hilltops with enough water to allow the bent grass to grow healthy and survive the hot summers in the transition zone. Another area that we hand water frequently is the rough. The rough requires more water than the fine turf but we cannot run the heads to supply that amount because the same heads water the rough and the fine turf. Due to this reason we must add extra water to the rough using hoses and hand waterers.
                A more meticulous method of hand watering is that which is done on greens. Victoria National members and guests expect fast and firm greens. The best way to each this is keeping your greens dry. However, there is a fine line between keeping them dry and keeping them too dry. Allowing your greens to dry out not provides championship playing conditions it also provides the plants with a healthier growing environment. During the hot and humid days the plant will begin to suffocate and the drier they are kept it allows the roots and the leaf tissue to breath and exchange freely transpire and exchange oxygen. Again, there is a fine line between healthy dry and being detrimentally dry. A tool that we use to determine this is a moisture meter. Many will see our staff checking moisture levels on greens using these tools throughout the day. They tell us when, where, and how much water we need to apply to greens to provide them with the optimum moisture level from both a health and playability stand point.
                One last watering technique that we use is that of syringing. On greens this is done using a hose where the turf is lightly and quickly watered. The reason behind this is to cool the canopy of the turf while not adding any water to the soil. This will take place on hot and humid days where the soil moisture level is not moving because of the humidity but the heat of the day stresses the turf out. On fairways and tees we will use our automatic irrigation. The irrigation heads will run one full revolution applying enough water to cool the turf canopy and give it a break from the heat while not saturating the soil.
                It is a simple concept that grass needs water to survive, and during the heat grass needs more water to survive. But on a golf course, especially one, designed like Victoria National, with Championship expectations, and placed in the transition zone, supplying this water is more than just being straight forward. Watering this course is an art form that requires knowledge, precision and more than anything dedication.

Written by: Senior Assistant Gerald Smith

Friday, July 8, 2016

What will be changing in your budget for 2017?

In the next month most superintendents will begin losing a little more sleep with thoughts of turf loss due to unforeseen circumstances.  Combine that with sales representative ready to talk about early order/ capital purchases and you have a full plate.   So I ask you to finish the sentence:  I could not do my job without….. Did you say your irrigation system or what about that new greens mower purchased last year? 
Depending who you ask it seems there is a different answers from each department to what their #1 asset is.  Golf course management today has now become only a small portion of the complexity that superintendent’s face.  The first thing that SHOULD have come to everyone’s mind first should be your staff.  Without a good team built around you, your equipment is basically useless.  You need a team that can safely mow, keep the turf alive, fix the equipment, and prepare the course for daily play.  Some may say well that is all me….  Well you are considered staff as well. 
This next season consider setting a line item in your budget for staff.  Finding staff nowadays is already difficult, and by taking the time to train, re-train and retain good staff will show great dividends to your course conditions.  If you look at most common budgets there is always money set aside for your other assets.  Equipment has a repair and maintenance line item, right?  Your irrigation system has a line item for repairs and maintenance.  Why should there not be a training/safety line item for staff in every budget?
Simply three hours a month to do training with your entire staff present will not only be educational for them, but can also open your teams eyes to safety issues or bad habits that can be detrimental to turf in the heat of the summer.  For Victoria National this is vital because we are an 18 hole golf course that sits on over 420 acres of extreme terrain shaped by coal mining. It is unlike any course you have ever seen.  Simply getting around the course safely is difficult enough, yet alone trying to manage it.  

I hope most superintendents’ have a great Owner/Membership that is willing to send you to GIS or other shows to further your education.  But are we doing the same for our staff? Here are a couple examples of items that can fit in this category: Training day, team building (Bowling?), Safety Glasses, Earplugs, Dust masks to prevent Silicosis, Safety consultant, McCord Safety Videos, Skin Cancer screening, and purchasing bulk sunscreen. 
In another article we will also discuss about how your “break room” is being utilized to its fullest potential.

Victoria National Slideshow