Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ball marks are a pet peeve of many superintendents and golfers around the world.  There are different reasons that this is the case, but we’d like to take a few minutes to express some of the reasons why they are a pet peeve of ours.  First of all, we’re in the business of creating the best possible course conditions while operating within a given budget.  When our staff has to spend time repairing ball marks, it is taking away from other tasks that they could be completing.  To us, it is difficult to justify spending man hours repairing ball marks that should have been fixed by the golfers that created them.  Therefore, when we send a crew out to mow greens, it takes longer to complete the task because they must walk the entire green fixing marks prior to mowing. 

Since the grounds staff is typically the first ones on the golf courses in the morning, we must set up the golf course as quickly as possible to prepare for the day’s golfers.  While we are out there, we can’t help but think about the last group out from the day before.  Imagine what the greens looked like for that group if even 1 person from each group didn’t repair their ball marks.  Sometimes it’s hard to find a line to the cup without a ball mark in it and that’s a poor product for the afternoon golfers!  These ball marks will always leave a scar, but fixing them properly will greatly reduce the recovery time.  We’d like to include an excerpt from the February, 2006 Golf Course Management… “Proper use of a ball mark repair tool resulted in smaller scars and better surface quality and required nearly half the recovery time of an unfixed or improperly fixed ball mark.”  We work hard to keep the golf courses in great shape and we need help from the golfers to “pay it forward” to the groups that come behind them.  Like the old saying goes, “leave it in better shape that how you found it!”

 One last reason the turfcare department doesn’t like ball marks stems from creating a place for fungal diseases to incubate.  The soil profile is a living, breathing environment that we as turfgrass managers must assess, monitor, and modify if necessary.  The extremely low heights at which we mow golf greens coupled with the high traffic volume these greens are subjected to can create less-than-ideal growing conditions for turf.  With these added stresses, the ever-present fungal pathogens in the soil are allowed to grow and thrive if not suppressed.  I was out walking the greens this morning and found a perfect example of fungal mycelium growing in a ball mark.  Fungi  are some of the most common turf pathogens and can create poor playing conditions if left unchecked.  Repairing ball marks won’t keep diseases from infecting turf, but reducing areas where pathogens can survive may limit the number of infection sites on a golf green.

As always, if this email creates any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank You,

Mike Turner, Director of Agronomy

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

                                             What the heck happened on 15 South?

I just stepped in from looking at a catastrophic event that occurred on #15 South green.  Our operator was out rolling a clean-up pass on the green with our Smithco roller when a hydraulic hose underneath ruptured.  During a clean-up pass, the operator is looking forward, so it is very difficult to notice the oil spraying from the hose onto the turf.  Had the operator been making his back-and-forth passes, he likely would have noticed the leak after a single pass.  Unfortunately, this was not the case!

 Smithco Roller

As superintendents, we often discuss ideas on how to limit the extent of damage from petroleum products on turf.  There has been research conducted on hydraulic fluid spills and turfgrass, dating back to the late 70s, with little to no solutions to limit the damage.  There was research that evaluated treatments such as activated charcoal, calcined clay, and a detergent and water solution.  It was reported that activated charcoal will absorb oil from spills but will not increase breakdown, resulting in an unsightly, messy black residue within the damaged turf. Calcined clay had no impact and detergent was the only treatment found to increase recovery in an overseeding application.  However, the detergent actually dispersed the oil, causing injury over a greater area of the green.  So, if the plan is to re-sod the area, using detergent will only increase the amount of area to be replaced.  As a turfgrass manager, it is sometimes difficult to sit on our hands and do nothing, but that is in fact what needs to be done to limit the extent of the damage!


 It has been speculated that the primary cause of damage from hydraulic fluid on turf is not from the oil itself, but from the heat of the fluid when it is at operating temperature.  These temperatures can range from 160 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is disastrous on actively growing turf.  The next question needs to be, “What is the best way to fix the damage?”  We have already decided that due to the sheer square feet that are affected by this spill, re-sodding the green will be our next move.  It seems that in most cases, the turf injury is greatest one week after the spill.  So, by waiting a week to assess the damage, we should be able to decide how much turf to remove in order to re-sod.  Luckily, we have two nursery greens from which we can harvest sod as this repair will be a large one!  Also by waiting a week, we can make it through the upcoming hot weather without worrying about freshly-laid green sod.


Hydraulic oil spills have a disastrous effect on poa annua and bentgrass golf greens.  And without laying new sod, recovery can take from four weeks to  two months or longer.  If the leak were small or just a fine line running across a green, we may be able to utilize a different approach.  However, with the long-term health and playability of the course in mind, we will be spending many hours removing, regarding, and replacing the sod from #15 green.

Thank You,
Mike Turner, Director of Agronomy

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bunker Project Update

We are finally getting to spend a little time working on the bunkers, so we thought it would be a good time to give a quick before and after picture of the first bunker on #1 South....

Bunker before renovation
Bunker after renovation

***Note the lack of flashed face and removal of the bunker "nose."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

As I sit down to write this, the crew is out on the South course aerifying the greens.  We are working to break through a layer that has formed due to our small-tine aerification regimen.  We are committed to removing as much thatch as we can from the green surfaces, while still trying to keep the greens rolling smooth longer into the fall.  We have been very satisfied with the amount of thatch we have removed from the greens over the past three seasons, however, this practice is not without a down side.  By punching the greens more often with a smaller tine, we create a “plow pan,” which is a compacted layer below the surface where the tines stop on their down-stroke.  Our plow pan is approximately 4 inches below the surface of the greens.  We do vary the length of our tines to try to limit the compacted layer, but unfortunately, it still forms over time.  The process we are performing on the South today and will be performing on the North next Tuesday uses tines that are 11inches long and slightly larger than the diameter of a pencil. (see picture)


These tines penetrate the greens to approximately 7 inches and “kick” slightly, which leaves a pencil-sized hole at the surface, but creates an oblong-shaped hole below ground.  This process helps to break channels through the plow pan in order to allow air and water further into the profile, which in turn, will create stronger, healthier greens.


The turfcare department is committed to creating the finest greens possible, but in order to do so, we must perform tasks that create less than ideal conditions in the short-term.  Our aerification program has worked very well to create greens that are more consistent throughout the playing season.  We are constantly looking for low-impact solutions to some of the issues that arise from the maintenance that is required for consistent greens.  We will continue to work hard to manage our maintenance practices with as little impact as possible to the member-designated golf course.   We really appreciate people’s understanding of the “necessary evils” of maintaining high-end turf and we are happy to say that this will be the last aerification procedure until we punch with quarter-inch tines in October! We will of course, remain on our standard verticut and topdress program throughout the remainder of the season.


As always, if this email creates any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank You, 
Mike Turner, Director of Agronomy

Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter Weather

We just came in from slogging around in the slush outside and decided that a Reserve Reminder article was in order.  We have been blessed with some great weather this winter, but have also seen some conditions that would only make a penguin happy!  We have been completely closed or intermittently closed most of the past week and we figure the golf shop has been fielding a lot of calls regarding golf course playability.  We thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss some of the factors that determine whether the golf courses will open for play. 

As we’ve stated all along, the long-term health and playability of the golf courses is the most important element of our decision making.  As I’m sure you all know; no two days on the golf course are alike.  Some days a hard, heavy frost will break quickly, while other days we can arrive at the golf course, get the crew going, and then have frost stop us in our tracks.  These variances in weather patterns can also lead to some confusion regarding the playability of the courses.  For example, two days may be identical as far as temperature and humidity, but have two entirely different impacts on the golf course.  I’ve spent many hours trying to determine why the results vary and have only decided that Mother Nature is fickle! 

With all the subtle differences aside, ultimately, we must determine whether golfer and/or maintenance traffic will create negative impacts on the courses.  The main area of our focus is obviously our putting surfaces.  We are conservative with our decision making when there is potential for damage on the greens.  We feel that this preemptive approach has helped create the wonderful putting surfaces we’ve experienced this season.  We’d like to address just a couple situations that keep the golf courses closed when some feel they should be available.

The worst scenario from our standpoint is when the greens are frozen solid in the morning, but begin to thaw out throughout the day.  When the roots are frozen, but the top of the plant is thawed out, it creates an opportunity for the leaf blades and thatch to slip under foot, which in turn, causes “root shear.”  Another similar scenario is when we receive rain after a freeze event.  This situation creates a “bath tub effect,” where the ground is frozen and the rainfall accumulates on the surface until it has the chance to thaw the soil profile and percolate through the greens.  This phenomenon also creates traffic damage due to the excessive moisture in the soil profile.

As stated earlier, we want to provide excellent course conditions throughout the entire year.  Sometimes we need to make sacrifices in the short-term to ensure long-term plant health.  As always, if this email has created any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Thank You,


Mike Turner, Director of Agronomy


  Tis the season for drainage projects!!  “There can never be enough drainage on a golf course,” is a statement we often hear, and this is the time of year that exacerbates that issue.  We always start the “off” season with grand aspirations of putting in miles of new drain lines, but Mother Nature and limited man power often keep those plans in check.  Maintaining the golf courses for day to day play is always our priority, so adding drainage is something we do when we have the necessary time.


  As stated in previous reminders, we try to focus on areas that are “in play.”  Some of the drainage systems we work on require 3-4 days to complete, while others can be finished in one day.  Regardless of the size of the drainage system, all of these projects will greatly improve playability, both in and out of season.  Currently, on the North, you will see a lot of work taking place in the collections, while on the South, you will see a lot of work taking place in the fairways. This will help to dry these wet areas up in the winter, as well as maintain consistent firmness and playability throughout the golf season.  Obviously we won’t be able to get to it all, but we will continue to prioritize and improve the most problematic areas. 


  I hope that this has answered any questions you might have.  As always, if you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know…….we are always open to your comments.  On behalf of the entire Turf Care department, we hope that you have a safe and happy New Year! 



Gabe Hughes

South Golf Course Superintendent

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

From The Desk of Mike Turner:

Tree Removal 2012

Split Trunk Cross-Section

Split Trunk w/ Rot

The turfcare department has taken advantage of the less than ideal weather we’ve been experiencing to perform some much needed tree removal.  The weather has kept a lot of the golfers at bay so we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get out into some of the “bark areas” between the holes on the South Course and remove some of the most dangerous trees.  All of the trees we’ve removed have been alders that are well past their useful life.  Each one selected for removal has either had visual rotting, a precarious lean, or possessed a “widow maker” up in the canopy.  These “widow makers” are dead and broken tops either from the tree it is in or from a neighboring tree, and are extremely dangerous.  They are unpredictable and could come crashing down at any time.  Our plan is to reintroduce some coniferous trees in the areas where a large enough space is created.  As always, if this email has created any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Rot on a Mature Double-Leader

Thank You,

Mike Turner, Director of Agronomy