The greens have fully recovered from aeration and are in great shape. They recovered very quickly from aeration, which is a testament to their great health. The greens have also been very consistent in their playability and performance.
The tees have fully recovered from aeration. You may have also noticed that we are bringing back the forward tees. We are hoping that this will encourage more people to play golf and play it forward, if needed. We are also bringing the black tees, where possible, into play so that we can also challenge the longer hitters and lower handicap golfers. Year-to-date we have leveled 3 tees and are in the process of leveling the Blue/Black and White tees on Hole#7. We also plan to level the tee on Hole #9
The fairways have been our biggest issue this year in regards to overall health and playability. Many factors contributed to the poor health of the fairways. First, the lack of rainfall has been a major factor. We have had below average rainfall levels for the past two years and this has taken a noticeable toll on the turf quality. Our normal rainy seasons benefit the golf course in many ways. Besides the consistent coverage of water throughout the golf course that rain gives, the rainy season also gives the course time to recover from the previous summer and golf season. Without the rain, the fairways have really suffered and have not had the time that the rainy season affords for them to fully recover.
Of course we were starting to see the fairways recover with the increase in water use and the cooler temperatures. Then, we aerated and the process of aeration caused the fairways to stress again. This has been a frustration for many golfers. But, let me reassure you that the short-term stress caused by the aeration is well worth the long-term benefits that aeration does for the overall quality of the fairways.
Another issue we are experiencing in the fairways is the skunk/raccoon damage caused from the presence of grub worms. We chemically treat the fairways annually for grub worms. However, since we have had pretty good grub control in the past, we went with a lower rate this year. Next year, we will be applying a grub control chemical at a higher rate in order to minimize, if not totally eliminate, the grub worms. This will, in turn, minimize or eliminate the skunk/raccoon damage we are seeing now.
The roughs are recovering from the summer heat and are beginning to become more challenging for the golfer as we get into the cooler time of the year. Perennial Ryegrass loves the cooler temperatures and is at its healthiest during the fall and the spring.
You may have noticed that we core-aerated some of the roughs, especially the high cart traffic areas near the cart paths. This will help relieve the compaction in the soil that the golf carts cause. We also took the opportunity to seed and sand these areas to help keep these areas thick and healthy.
As for the roughs that we have not been irrigating over the past few years, we are working on a turf conversion plan that will replace what was Ryegrass with a more drought tolerant blend of Fescue. This will enable us to have turf coverage wall to wall without using the amount of water that Ryegrass requires. We are hoping to be able to convert the turf in the rough in the fall of 2014. We seeded a section of land between holes #2 and #3 with a blend of four different Fescues as a sample plot to see what we can expect the rest of the golf course to look like along the perimeter roughs and out of play areas, if/when we seed with this blend of fescue.
Sand bunkers are an area that a Golf Course Superintendent has a difficult time pleasing every golfer. Depending on the skill level or even just the personal preference of the golfer, they may want a wet, dry, firm or soft and fluffy bunker. Not only that, the golfer wants every one of the bunkers on the golf course to be exactly the same.
Attaining bunker consistency is a huge challenge. First, we check the bunkers to make sure they have the right amount of sand in them and replenish the sand, when needed. We rake the bunkers 4 to 5 times a week during the season depending on our workload each week. My irrigation technicians are constantly adjusting sprinkler heads to minimize the amount of water that gets into the bunker. They are also very aware that when they are watering the turf around the edges of the bunker that water will drain into the bunker. So, they try to minimize the water runoff as well.
However, due to factors that are out of our control, bunker consistency will always be a huge challenge for every Golf course Superintendent to attain. With that said, the bunkers are in pretty good shape. They drain well and are not contaminated with rocks, clay or other soil type materials. They are compacted enough to minimize the amount of plugged lies in the bunker, yet soft enough that a golfer can get a club under the ball, if given the proper stroke.
Although the fairways and roughs have not fully recovered from this summer or the recent aeration, the golf course conditions are improving and will continue to improve. The dedicated and hard working Golf Course Maintenance Staff will continue to work at providing you with the best possible playing conditions. We will do this by looking for ways, everyday, to improve the quality of work that we do. We will also try to make your golfing experience the best it can be by keeping you better informed on our maintenance schedule and other projects we might be working on. I am always available to answer any questions or concerns regarding the golf course conditions. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Golf Course Superintendent