Monday, March 20, 2017

Finally Spring!

Celestial wise Spring is a real event but as it relates to the happenings at KGC it is more symbolic since we are still up to our ying-yang in snow and winter. Spring is also the time when we start to consider removing snow off of the greens.  As I mentioned in last post my plan was take if off early and we did start with removal last week. Any idea I had to knock it down to a reasonable level didn't work so we were stuck with trying to handle what was there.

15 Green
I started on 15 because I wanted to get the tarp off the green because it scares the hell out of me. It took me 2 days to get snow and ice off.

Half Way with Ice on Tarp

Good Thing About a Tarp is Ice Breaks Easy!
In the old days we'd be pushing ice with shovels but with just me out there it would have taken forever so I used the plow invention from last winter to push ice and it worked great.

Time and Back Saver
This tarp is old and leaks and that is a concern since its job is to keep moisture off the surface so I was fairly concerned to see this once I started to pull the tarp:

I was surprised to see so much ice under the tarp because if you remember last November I had cleaned off the snow to lay the tarp out and the weather was snowy and cold for weeks after that. Ultimately I was able to expose the whole surface.

Lots of Moisture From Hillside
Good news is there seems to be little damage from disease and no real obvious damage from ice or from when I removed the snow last fall (GO HERE for a reminder). I pulled a plug and its is growing well inside the shop so it would not be unreasonable to think 15 should be fine but we'll have to wait until we get into real Spring weather to be totally sure.

Once 15 was cleared we started in on the other problems greens I identified as having disease issues late in the year after the wet fall (GO HERE for review) and it is slow going with all the snow. As a general rule I've been able to use the bobcat since most surfaces have a very thin ice layer but I'm limited since once exposed the surfaces thaw quickly and I risk damaging turf by driving on it as mention in the "Stupid Winter Choices..." post referenced already. There is another whole post covering some of the other greens we've exposed but you'll have to wait as I need to get back at it! 

Monday, March 6, 2017

There's a Bit of Snow out There!

It seems to be turning itself into a long snowy winter. which is my preference, versus rainy cold winter. However, since I've been struggling through the "100 Day Cold" since January I'm starting to long for some seasonable spring weather!

After the brief warm spell 10 days ago I went out to check snow pack and surfaces.  I get around the course on a ski track I try to maintain throughout the winter but there is so much snow I haven't been able to get out with my machine so I ended up "postholing" my way around to some greens to take a look.

The tape is crooked but you get the idea
To be honest, we've had snow like this before so although the amount is substantial it's not unreasonable.  The problem I have is it's too much to remove with the tools we have.  With the greens surface mostly frozen I could use the bobcat but because of the amount of snow we end up with huge snow banks that take longer to melt.  A manageable amount of snow is around 16".  We have some black sand which I've used before (go HERE) but not enough for all the greens.  I'm working on other ideas to cut the snow but in my experience the sand is the best.  I made mention last fall about getting snow off early to mitigate disease and that is still my plan but I have to be careful since the freeze/thaw cycles that are synonymous with spring are one of the ways to kill grass - especially poa. However, with no real thawing of the surfaces occurring under the snow and no obvious ice to date I believe it is safe-ish to leave the snow on a bit longer.

Brown tips from last fall but otherwise looking good
The only project planned this spring is, hopefully, the replacement of the netting at the driving range.  Environmental factors (U.V. light and wind) create constant wear and tear that ultimately leads to holes.

Big hole at a pole
We've been able to patch holes by knitting together tears but last year we began to see rips and tears develop from holes far outside of our reach. We can try to limp through in typical KGC fashion but there is a 4 week lag time from ordering to having the net arrive on site so if one of the tears eventually takes down the whole netting the range will be out of service until the netting is replaced. Plus we would have to figure out a way to get a bucket truck through to the range which is a somewhat less damaging and disrupting process in the late winter/early spring while the ground is still frozen versus any other time of the year.

Snow wise and project wise we are at a bit of a standstill.  I can't help but think that, based on the weather pattern we seem to be stuck in, that it has the potential to be slow start to the season....stay tuned.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Passing the Buck

We are well over half way through the “off” season with nothing to report, at least nothing negative. The weather has been typically more winter-ish with very few warm stints or rain events. The result is a fairly deep fluffy snow cover and no obvious ice any where on the green surfaces….with the usual exception of the tarp on 15 G.  I’ve been out checking random green surfaces and all are still frozen which should mean good things for keeping disease under control but may mean a slow spring depending on how much spring heat we get.

The colder weather has definitely made me more lethargic and unmotivated and I find myself gravitating to those tasks that are mind numbing and repetitive. That being said I still try review the previous year and come up with ways to stream line things.

One thing I want to implement next year is a better record keeping system for fuel usage. At present we do this:
Staff Chicken Scratch
Each fall I interpret my staff’s hieroglyphics and manually enter fuel amounts into a spread sheet that looks like this:
Spreadsheet Showing 2017 Diesel Use
This coming year I want them to take some responsibility and will be asking them to enter information instead of me. I created two forms (one for diesel and one for regular fuel) that staff will fill in. By forcing the staff to choose from predetermined lists and not allowing any line to be left blank I hope the information they provided will be relevant year to year.

Most of my staff is great and will have no difficulties but there is an element that will be unhappy with the change, especially since that change involves a computer.  The other problem is the new process involves using an online form I created using Google Forms (another idea I stole while trolling around Twitter) and not everyone has a cell phone with a data plan that they want to use at work so I still have to figure issue that out. 

Go HERE to see how the “Regular Fuel” form works if you want to see what I set up. At the end of the form you can select "See previous responses" to see graphs of the data people enter. For the 2016 I went back and manually entered information to start to create a data base. The task of entering all the previous years info into the form was my way of testing out the form and to look for problem areas. I also asked Neil L to do the 2015 data so he could provide input and so I could see if it made sense to someone other than me. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Stupid winter choices I feel I force myself to make.....

We're well on our way into winter now. Over the past week temps are getting to low -20's and staying well below zero during the day which is what I wanted to slow any disease development. We had a bit of snow (4 to 5 cm) this past Sunday night which is providing a bit of token cover. However that snow is the sh*tty part and reason for the title of this post. It has forced me to clean off 15 green so I could lay out tarp. 

Anxiety Inducing Snow Plow Job
 I know I said I would clean off snow on the problem greens if needed but in my mind I was only doing that as long as the ground was not frozen.  Once things set up I planned to keep the snow cover. I've been watching forecasts and I have shoveled, by hand, the small skiffs of snow for all the reasons mentioned in the last post. The part I'm unsure of is the type of impact plowing snow on frozen ground will have. Every spring this paragraph from an old USGA article plays in my head:

Traffic damage on frozen turf areas usually occurs during periods of freezing or thawing. The most devastating situation occurs when the grass blades and the upper one-half to one inch of soil has thawed, but the ground beneath their level remains frozen. Traffic will create a shearing action of the roots, rhizomes, and crown tissues at this time. This is comparable to cutting the plant tissue from the underlying root system with a sod cutter. Complete kill of leaves, crowns, and rhizomes can occur if the temperatures soon drop below 20° F. Symptoms from this severe injury include whitish to dark brown leaves that may mat on the surface. 

There was no way the top inch was thawed with a high of -2 for that day but I can tell you there was lots of sheared off grass blades. My hunch/hope is what I saw was mostly leaf tips. 

Neil L. plow did work really well and I believe I would use it again but, depending on results this coming spring, I may want to do a heavy sand top dressing as further protection from the plow blade. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Uncharted territory....

As usual the title of this post is probably more dramatic than it needs to be but, admittedly, I feel somewhat lost.  The weather has been interesting to say the least but my memory is short so I'm glad I have a weather station keeping records.  Unfortunately, I assumed the website I was using kept historical weather but it appears they only go back one year so I've lost portions of weather data pre Nov 1, 2015. Not a big deal but inconvenient to be sure. Luckily, I wrote about the fall weather in a post last December (go HERE) which included some screen shots highlighting conditions. Last year after my last spray we had close to 45 mm of rain but cold temperatures and snow cover by last week in November. For this year we've had plenty of rain (85mm of rain from start of October to middle of the month and another 106 mm since 3rd week in October) and mild temperatures which makes for very high disease pressure.

The main "goto" fungicide application sprayed in late October has seen a good portion of the rain (86 mm) since it was applied and based on last years results we can assume its efficacy has been affected.  I've had to reapply fungicides 2 times already to control developing disease and now I'm hoping for clear cold weather for next couple weeks if for no other reason than to make condition less conducive for disease development.

Because of disease pressure I've been attempting to manage the surface environment as best as I can by removing snow from the greens (which, for some areas, I've done 3X already) with a homemade tool Neil L. created.

1st version - all manual

2nd version - automatic lift!
I am limiting surface moisture and hopefully encouraging the ground to stiffen up. Frozen ground slows disease but can be bad news regarding ice since any rain may very well freeze on the surface if it doesn't run off.

It seemed a bit futile to remove the small amounts of snow we've been getting since they melt within a two or three days so I left some snow from the last skiff to melt on a few greens to see if I was wasting my time. But I ended up with this:
Pink Snow Mold

The fuzz is mycelium and I know it's the bad fungus since it is on the periphery of damage caused from an earlier bout of disease. The interesting part is it only appeared on those greens where I left the snow to melt. That says 2 things to me:
  1. Despite the concern I have regarding any potential wear and tear on the greens by plowing the snow off the surfaces (time will tell) I am having a positive impact on controlling disease.
  2. My initial sprays have lost much of their control
I did re-apply a mix of contact fungicide and so-so systemic fungicide on Sunday so hopefully I can get the control I need to get through the winter. As risky as it is, I will continue to remove the small snow falls to mitigate the development of any disease but I won't be able to do that for long especially if we get any amount of snow at one time.

I should point out that the certain greens like 3,5,10,11,13,16,17,18 and both PG's are 95 to 100 percent good and have not seen any new disease development since the last spray in middle of October. However, 2,7, front portion of 8,9,14, and 15 are the greens that are being quite troublesome.  15 is a real problem since all the "new" disease occurred under the tarp and now I'm concerned about putting the tarp back on. I know that green gets ice every year and ice kills outright so the tarp has to go down but I'm sure when and how that will happen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Month Long Post...

... believe it or not but I haven't been able to do more than a line at time but, although some comments are dated, I think the following info is still valuable.

It's the last week of October and I've officially wrapped up the fall treatments today by treating the last fairways on my list.  The last 3 weeks have been very wet (over 100 mm of rain since the start of the month) which has made timing the treatments tricky. Rain events after the treatments may have an impact on efficacy but we'll  have to wait and see next spring.  With respect to the treatments on the greens my last spray was this past Sunday and I have one more spare so depending on the weather and incidence of disease I have the ability to do one more spray.  That being said, a spray may not solve all our problems as last year all my sprays went great and some of the greens experienced some of the worst bouts of disease I've seen in a long while. As mentioned in the Sept. post I'm working on the hunch that last falls fertility was too low.  This year I went back to my old methods and used granular fertility as the backbone and augmented nutrition with foliar sprays.  Going in we had very little disease with most occurring in those areas I missed.  As it stands now there is small thumb sized disease spots :

(which developed before my last spray) that have me concerned but I'll keep an eye on the surfaces and see what, if any, progression occurs.

The last remaining task is to tarp #7 and #15 greens.  I am waffling on #7 mostly because I am disappointed with the outcome over the last couple years. Also, the removal of trees has increased the spring sun so it seems to bare off sooner than it had in the past.  The concern with that green is if it gets hit with ice damage, despite the increased sun, it will take a while to come back and sodding, especially now, is not an option.

Ice is a definite on 15 for a multitude of reasons including the obvious facts that it is surrounded by trees and is located in a depression at the base of a slope.  What I need to figure out is why the Enkamat is exacerbating the disease (Go HERE).

With all staff finished except for myself and Neil L. we find ourselves cleaning up loose ends.  We cleaned up the mounds in the parking lot (removed mulch and all the weeds) and needed to haul all the material away. I was able to borrow a dump trailer from TCR which is speeding up the process and while Neil hauls I'm picking away at edging cart paths which haven't been done for a number of years.

As the year winds down I will spend the next weeks reviewing and compiling numbers from this year and keep you updated as I glean information.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Final Weekend Wrap Up

We shut down for the season this coming Monday and as early as it seems it is pretty much time as very few people are out golfing, especially with the the icky weather.  Preparation wise I've started applying plant protectants at the beginning of September and my deliberate and not so deliberate, i.e. misses, check plots let me know that disease is definitely around and would be causing havoc if not for those preventative applications.
The Browns Spots are Bad Spots
As good as the preventative sprays worked I suspect the past weeks weather has created plenty of disease pressure so we need a change so I can get out keep the bad fungus at bay.

As has been the case for what seems almost over a decade, we haven't had the opportunity (mostly do to finances) to plan any major projects to update/modernize areas on the golf course, especially as it relates to the layout.  So in an effort to keep motivated and because we didn't need to do any major river work this fall I decided to address one of the numerous deficiencies in our almost 40 year old irrigation system.  As boring as it may sound, adding extra sprinkler heads makes a big difference to me and my staff by redistributing resources especially as they relate to labour. The area I chose to add extra irrigation was the rough between 6 and 18 fwys.  Again, a seemingly out of play and unnecessary location for water but what you may not know is number of times we run hoses and sprinklers at that location overnight throughout the season to keep it green.  Also, and somewhat ineffectively, I tend to run the irrigation stations on 6 and 18 fwy at a higher run time in an effort to stop the moisture stress from creeping into the fwys which has a tendency, especially on 6,to make the fwys gooey.  When we re-built the driving range a few years back we needed to run control wires from the controller on 10 fwy so I took that opportunity of having an open trench to run extra wire as far as 18 green with eventual idea of addressing the irrigation at the green as well as adding zones for extra irrigation around that green. We are making use of that forethought to run two extra wires over to the left rough on 18 near the green and install 2 new irrigation zones.

Trenching, Laying Pipe, and Backfill all at once

With no play and bad weather we focused on installing 4 heads and 300 feet of pipe in a couple days. The back fill and sodding are a little sketchy, admittedly, but things tend to settle over winter so we can fine tune if needed in the spring.

Next week sees us winterizing the irrigation, collecting all the on course accessories, aerating greens, cutting some trees, and spraying - hopefully!