Thursday, April 20, 2017

Looks Like We are Opening....

Probably not news to anyone in the know but the course will open this coming Saturday (April 22) and you know I'm going to funk up the routing so be prepared to play 1 to 5, 10, 11, 16 Green Tee, 17 and 18.  The reasoning, as always, is 12 though to 14 are still wet on the shady side and we really haven't been able to get much done out there. But we've tried :

That is a greens mower that lost traction on the wet conditions that slipped over the bank on 16 fwy and became wedged in and amongst some trees. We used chains and a bunch of come-a-longs and were able to extract it without too much problem and luckily no damage.

The reason 6,7,8,9 aren't in the loop is those greens, mostly 6 and 7, would benefit with more time off before we go and get them ready for play.  We have been aerating and top dressing each day the weather allows and have 8 greens left to do.  As I've said before (GO HERE ) this is not the best time of year for that type of aggressive maintenance but more and more I seem to have fewer options to do what would be ideal.

I've not had any time to plug out disease spots like I did last year but with the exception of 2 green there is plenty of areas to put a pin that don't show winter damage. Good news is the greens are growing but the bad news is they are shaggy and bumpy because of aerating and dragging in the sand.

I could go into my usual song and dance/whine and complain about not having everything ready for play but I hope, as is mostly the case, players are just happy for something to do other than spy on their neighbours.....

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Traditional April 1st Photo & Update

Here take a look:

March 31st
Go HERE for the background and previous years photos. Generally, the weather has been slightly below normal but not too bad. The biggest impact has been the lack of sun so the melt is a wee bit slow. My guess is last falls rain, this winters snow, and the "frozen-ish" ground have made areas that have opened up or areas where we ploughed a road extremely mucky. Conditions have dictated that we need to get around the course and I know we've caused lots of rutting and ripped up turf but, as you'll see, it was a necessity.

As mentioned in the last post we began removing snow from the greens and finally completed the task this past Tuesday with minimal mechanical damage to all surfaces.  There is disease again but not as severe as last year but still, IMO, way more than there should be. Realizing last fall tipped the scales in favour of disease development I was still hopeful that tweaking fertility would benefit the turf. Its a believe I still hold but I may need to start earlier.

I was always curious when disease started under the snow. I figured by removing the first couple snows last fall (Go HERE) would help limit the impact of moisture as well as potentially freeze the ground and slow disease.

2016 Fall Weather Data From KGC Weather Station
If you click on at the weather graph from last fall you can see the temperature really began dropping on Dec. 4th which was the same day it snowed. I didn't clean that snow off greens except for 15 green (Go HERE) so I could lay down tarp. Before the snow I went to select greens showing disease and marked the periphery of the disease so I could reference the size of the spot once spring came. A quick reminder - I applied a panic fungicide treatment at the end of November because of new disease popping up everywhere as referenced in the "Uncharted Territory..." post mentioned earlier.

Copy of My Spray Record - Note the "Spray Notes" Section
Not necessarily the best spray combination but it was all I had.  I think the spray may have helped control the disease but I should have removed that Dec. 4 snow from all the greens not just 15.  If you read the comments I made on the spray record you'll see I specifically referenced 2 and 15 having active disease. This spring, disease wise, 15 green came through in good shape while 2 green has a fair amount and because I marked the edges of the disease last fall I'm confident in saying the disease developed over winter. Take a look:

Disease on 2 G this Spring
Hindsight is 20/20 I know but I'm thinking that I may try to manage the snow this coming winter depending on amounts and, I guess, depending on disease conditions.

One concern I had about keeping the greens open and freezing them was ice which, as everyone knows, can be bad. However, take another look:

Ice on 11 G - Note the X/C Ski Tracks from Some Ding-Dongs
More than a few greens had ice but it was thin and melted quickly but still thick enough for us to use the bobcat to clear snow. Ice at the right time is not too terribly bad but if I saw this at the beginning of December last year I would be panicky. 

This is some of what I'm seeing out there. Last year when we had problems I suggested the problem was not one thing and I stand by that statement this year as well. I haven't even touched on some cultural practices we've neglected to perform all in the name of not impacting daily playing conditions - a short sighted approach but sometimes easier than constantly having to listen to the B&C from the "better golfers". Also, I haven't even mentioned the shade...that is definitely another post. Oh and what about turf species? I got some great info on some messing around I did this year on our nursery where I ploughed the snow off a portion of that green until the end of January.

As I've said before, I right this blog mostly for myself as an exercise in record keeping. What 
everyone really wants to know is when are we opening but, again, if I had the power to be accurate when making those predictions I'm not sure you could afford me.....lets just say soon....

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.