Thursday, July 20, 2017

Today will be the beginning of a very stressful 4 day stretch at Victoria National.  We will make a daily decision on what is best for the players, staff and golf course in regards to cart traffic.  

With minimal rainfall and our average high temperature well above 90°, our team has worked diligently to maintain championship caliber conditions for our members and guests.  During prolong heat and drought stress the plant declines in turf quality that is associated with root growth, photosynthesis, carbohydrate accumulations (Salts), and turgidity of the plant. The next 30 days will be crucial for the agronomy department in maintaining turf health.  By minimize this stress at the right time can ensure healthy turf for the remainder of the season, we may have to make the decision  of keeping carts on paths between the hours of 1:00p.m.-5:00p.m. or simply keep carts ON paths for the entire day.  To combat this stress, the Agronomy Dept. does our part as well by mowing everything that we can before 10a.m. and focuses on hand-watering the next 6-8 hours of the day.  We also ask our staff to leave their carts under a tree where applicable and pull the 100’ hose up and down the  entire fairway to minimize addition traffic on the course.  This hose when full of water weighs approx.. 100 lbs.    Cart traffic is always our last option.   Wear damage caused by vehicles can be influenced by the speed of travel, the amount of stopping, starting, turning, and the amount of moisture in the soil.  Wear symptoms include leaf tissue matting and a subsequent exposure of underlying thatch. With additional traffic, leaf blades become bruised.  The ruptured cells eventually give turf a dark, water-soaked appearance. Wilt sets in as water is lost from the leaves, eventually causing a loss of chlorophyll and cell death.  This is accentuated when we have minimal areas for carts to enter and exit the fairways combined with the lack of moisture.  In Lehman’s terms:  It’s asking someone who is in the middle of running a marathon to run sprints with no water.  The past 45 days we have received 2.6” of rain with nearly half falling in a 3 day stretch.  Our average moisture should be 7” at this same interval.

 By minimizing the cart traffic in the afternoon or the entire day we will be benefiting the turf by not adding additional stress.   Simply scattering cart traffic throughout the season will also reduce the amount of stress put on the turf. Please continue to fill divots on tees/ fairway and remove pelts as they will not grow back during the summer.   If you have any questions regarding this decision please feel free to call me directly, my cellphone 317-654-4913

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why are my new white shoes stained yellow?

Spring is arriving and leaving soon, much quicker than last year. Proper timing of pre-emergence herbicides is critical to successfully suppressing summer annual grasses like goosegrass, foxtail and crabgrass. These grasses need the proper soil temperature and soil moisture to germinate and establish. Eighty percent of the germination will occur when the 0-2 inch depth soil temperature is consistently reaching 60-70 degrees F. Pre-emergence herbicides need to be applied before the soils reach this optimum range.  The herbicide that we have found to be most useful is called Pendulum. This herbicide has a yellow color to it that will stain white shoes and pants. We will begin spraying this on the rough this week. We will continue the application throughout the next two weeks as we will use the timing of rain or irrigation to water it into the soil.
A tool that we use to help determine when it is the best time to spray is Growing Degree Days. Growing Degree Day (GDD) is a method to track the heat units that have accumulated and are needed for plant growth and development. A website that we use to track GDD is created by Dr. Ron Calhoun. Using this website and data from our weather station we know that soon will be the optimum time to apply our pre-emergent herbicide and get the most effectiveness from it.  The target range for this model attempts to predict when the 0-2 inch depth soil temperatures consistently reach 50-55 degrees F and therefore provided adequate time for the pre-emergence herbicide to be incorporated before germination occurs. If we decided to apply it any sooner to accommodate golf there would lose some of it’s efficacy in suppressing weeds.
Please advise all staff, members, and guests of the applications being made and the risk of staining clothing and shoes while in the rough. If there are any questions or concerns regarding this procedure please reference this email. Thank you.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why can’t we play on the greens? It’s almost 60⁰ outside…

Winter weather patterns change from year to year dependent on where the coldest air is located on the planet.  Transient weather patterns in the winter months can be the worst nightmare for turfgrass managers and the best thing for the golfer who wants to pull his clubs out.   On a 60⁰ day in the middle of January golfers don’t want to hear that “greens are frozen”, “temporary pins only”, or “carts on the paths”.  The region of the golf course will determine the frequency that these statements can be heard.  In the northern regions courses remain closed during winter months.  Most Midwest courses battle with the tough decisions of whether to open greens or close their course, dependent on the soil conditions.  Despite what the high temperature for the day is in the middle of January, golf course operators must make the appropriate decisions for the short-term as well as the long-term impact on course conditions in the spring and summer.
Every course must make decisions about winter play at some point.  Species of the plant, location of the region, and seasonal changes are a few examples that directly impact the complexity of the decisions for turf managers.  Planning for Mother Nature is one of the most difficult aspects of golf course management.  Soil temperature can trigger a lot of physiological effect in turfgrass.  Temperature variations change less rapidly in wet soils than in dry soils, because water has a large capacity to resist temperature changes compared to soil particles.  This explains why it takes several weeks of persistent cold weather to form an ice layer on your lake and vice versa on warming the lake. 
The 60⁰ day that pins are placed in temporary locations.
Previous cold temperatures and moisture in the soils will cause temperatures to rise significantly slower than the ambient temperature of the air.  As the frozen green thaws, not only does it become soft, it becomes very “squishy”.  Adding traffic during this phenomenon causes a “rutting” effect that takes additional maintenance and wear on the turfgrass that is not needed during non-growth conditions.  The other scenario is having a green that has thawed a few inches from the surface, but remains frozen beneath.  Bent grass roots are fibrous and have a weak tensile strength when sheered off or pulled.  Imagine, taking carpet from a living room and only having tack nails holding it to a sheet of ice underneath.  In a short matter of time the carpet will slide on the ice pulling the “tack nails” out as it moves.  This is the concern that turf managers have when allowing golf during winter months.  The opportunity for immediate turf injury is high in this scenario, but (like most issues with turfgrass) the damage may not be expressed until the spring or during stressful times in summer months.  Appropriate aerification and topdressing in the late fall can assist with reducing the moisture held in the top surfaces of the soil but is not a cure for extremely wet and cold conditions.

Living in the transition zone can give golfers a few bonus days in the winter months for golf.  However, these bonus days are not always going to be the first day that it turns 60⁰ plus degrees.  Turf managers do understand that golfer simply want to enjoy the course on a bonus day in the middle of winter, but must consider their membership needs and expectations for the entire year.  Smoothness of greens is the most common discussion among golfers during the season.  Maintaining the expectation is a 365 day process

Victoria National Slideshow