Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Greens Drainage and Tree Work

The calendar says that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, but i'm pretty sure I saw golfers in shorts on Monday. Well one thing I am thankful for is that Friday is the final Razorback football game of the year.....what a train wreck!

As the supposed winter begins we are slowly getting into our off-season practices.  Our team will be cutting new cups every 100 rounds or so as well as raking bunkers and moving tee markers.  We have filled the ball washers with windshield washer fluid so they will not freeze and crack.  When the forecast begins to show cold weather really settling in, we will pull the washers and tee markers from the course for reconditioning this winter. During the days that we have had below freezing weather, Manuel and Mario have been detailing our equipment and making them shine like new. These two guys also are the ones who put up the clubhouse Christmas lights which look spectacular. 

Grant has begun to remove some of the dead trees from around the course.  He cut 4 down just past the bridge on #14.  The next area we will get to will probably be behind #11 green, where 4 more trees will be removed in order to allow morning sunlight to hit the green.  I will have to rent a splitter, but my plan is to split all the tree trunks for firewood which I will sell for $50 a truck load once I get a supply built up.  If you are interested check with me later this winter.  

While he has been busy with that, I have been locating greens drain lines to make sure they are working properly.  I have been surprised so far, and most of the main trunk lines have been clear and working well.  That is, except for #11.  The drain line for this green runs into the woods on the left side and was actually crushed back into the ground not allowing water or air to escape.  Turns out that was a great place for a squirrel to hide it's stash of nuts haha.  

The last 8 feet of this drain line was packed with mud, acorns, and walnuts.  I cut this piece off and now the green will be able to drain and breath which I am very excited about.  

I have also used our skid steer to push all the piled up brush behind #12 green down the hill.  This has left a not so beautiful view as all the vegetation was stripped off in the process, but I assure you that the native grass will re-establish itself in the spring and if it doesn't, I will seed it.  

That is about all I have for this month so please have a safe and pleasant holiday season, and keep taking advantage of the 60 degree days when they pop up. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Finally Fall!

      Hello all and welcome to Fall.  It seems that the weather has finally changed for the better after a very warm September.  We have continued to deal with more rain for the first part of October, but it seems that we are going to stay dry for the next couple weeks.....I hope.  With the dryer air and conditions, I aim to have greens and approaches much firmer so plan on hitting more bump and runs.

      I believe the course is in great shape going into the fall and winter, which will only lead to better conditions for the 2020 golfing season.  However, with all the rain this year, Mother Nature has shown me that there are a lot of drainage improvements needed throughout the course.  Almost all the tees are just big soup bowls after a rain event, and in most cases, are not even playable without tearing up the turf with each swing.  Best case scenario when building a tee box is to have it on a 6" sand base for proper drainage.  Our tees sit on native clay soils which just hold the water at the top.  I plan to get aggressive with the deep tine aerifier and pull plugs as deep as I can get them.  After we clean the plugs we will bury the tees in sand and then drag it in.  This will need to happen often because on average, each aerification only affects about 5-10 percent of the surface.  I also plan to install drain pipe and gravel in some of the really bad ones.  #8 blue and black tees will be first.  After those, #12- #15 all need some love, but I will have to wait and see how much pipe and time we have left before we get started.  On #7 white, blue, and black tees I plan on running a single drain line through the native on the west side of the tees in order to catch all the run-off water from the neighborhood and hillside.  This is in the plans for this winter.

      There are plenty of wet valleys in the fairways and approaches that need drain lines and catch basins installed, but due to time and other winter projects I have planned, my first attack on these areas will be with deep, hollow tine aerification and sand in order to build channels for water and oxygen to travel through.  This, like the tees, will need to be a annual attack.  As time allows, we will add drain line.  Some of these areas will be: #1 approach, #2 approach, between 3 green and #4 black tee, and #4 approach both left and right.  Hmmm, seems like every hole will need something. 

      As far as the greens go, they need some drainage help as well.  I mentioned a little about this in my last blog and I have gathered a little more info since then.  The poor turf on 11, 12, and 13 greens and approaches are from poor water movement. If you look closely at these areas you can see good turf popping up in the aerification holes which shows me that these areas need oxygen.  In the following pictures you can see the holes with good turf and then in the soil profile you can see great roots growing down through the aerification channel, but not from right next to it.

Next year I plan on putting collars and approaches on their own aerification program and pulling cores each time.  This will be the collar all the way around the green and probably 2-3 passes in front of the green.  Also with these 3 greens, I feel that the drain lines have been compromised by tree roots or crushed sections of pipe.  Once I find the drain line clean outs on the top side of these greens, I can rent a camera snake in order to check the integrity of the line.  Seems very coincidental that each of these greens seems to drain towards a thicket of trees.  I'll go ahead and stick my neck out and say that tree roots have stopped up these drain lines.  You can estimate a tree's root mass by laying it on its side.  From the truck to the tip of the tree is how far the roots have stretched out.  Makes you look at that Sycamore tree left of 13 green a little differently huh?

      These drainage issues with the greens will probably take most of our time for the next month.  In my November blog I will have some more findings and I will run down my list of winter projects I hope to get to.  I'll leave you with a couple more pictures to end this post.  1 is the main line break that we repaired under the cart path at #13 tees and the other is my wife, son, and I in Colorado.  We just got back from a week visiting friends and family and enjoying the scenic outdoors.  Please get out and take advantage of this awesome weather we have now.  This is, in my opinion, the best golfing weather of the year.

Also, I had a member tell me that they were not able to leave a comment on my last blog.  If you are having trouble with this please email me at and let me know.  I will need to fix that ASAP because I want all the feedback I can get from our membership. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Greens Aerification and Lessons Learned

Well greens aerification is done with, but it doesn't quite feel like fall just yet.  Hopefully this week will be the last of the humid 90° days.  I would really like to be wearing hoodies and seeing this course firm up some more.  I feel that aerification went well and we were able to heal the holes in remarkable time due to some changes in our application recipe. The changes are explained below.

Growth Regulator -

           Throughout the year I use a growth regulator on all bentgrass, course wide in order to reduce clippings and keep ball roll up.  Depending on rate of chemical, rainfall, and temperatures, we can expect to get 10 to 21 days control from 1 application.  I use a lower rate on greens due to the lower height of cut and risk of injury, which will typically get us 7 to 10 days.  The bigger rate is for taller turf on tees and fairways, which keeps the growth at a minimum for up to 21 days.  This window fluctuates all year long due to the weather.  I could get deep into the weeds explaining Growing Degree Days, but I will spare you the boredom.  In order to keep the turf in constant regulation, the following application needs to be made somewhere around 170 to 200 growing degree days (GDD) on greens and 400 to 450 GDD on fairways after the previous app.  We have averaged around 27 GDD per day this year.  If we miss our window, then a huge flush of growth occurs and the place looks shaggy.  I missed the window a couple time this year.  If you cheat the window on the short side, you can injure the plant.  All that being said, we removed the regulator from the green's spray the week before aerification knowing that it would have slowed down recovery.  I heard the rumor that members thought I wasn't mowing greens anymore.  That is not true, they were just growing more throughout the day.

Growth Hormone Product -

            I also added into the spray tank, a product that I have become a big fan of.  It is a 3-way blend of plant growth hormones so I can get the plant to grow more without adding extra fertilizer.  I only use this product during aerification time or on new seedlings.  I sprayed it on the driving range tee and Holy Cow It Works!

So there are 2 things that cause me to lose sleep.

1. The Razorback football team going 2-10 again this year
2. Dying turf

The Hogs have found a QB now so we might get to 5 wins this year haha.

I have lost a little turf on green's surrounds and collars, but I am gaining on the cause and the fix.  Most of these areas just got too wet which led to its demise.  Holes 17, 11, 12, and 13 are the ones that are going to require some different management techniques.  On 17, the middle right collar is toast at the bottom of the valley.  I sent some samples to the University of Missouri for disease analysis.  There was some and we have sprayed for it, but the main cause was black layer that has formed due to this area being too wet and not draining properly. I have added a photo of the plug I took. This layer is only in the valley and prevents oxygen and water from reaching the rootzone. You can see the clean sand channel made from our aerification and new healthy roots are growing in those channels.  We are going to perform our drill and fill process on this area to break this layer up even more.

As for 11,12, and 13, they fall victim to minimal air flow and morning sunlight.  There will be a few less trees around these greens come spring.  The pattern of death around these greens seem to be similar and really makes me question the integrity of the green's drainage system.  I feel like water filters through the green, down to the gravel layer and then just sits there up against the native soil wall of the green cavity.  If this area is not properly drained then it will cause wet wilt and disease in the heat of the summer, especially if the green is closed in by trees. Since there are no maps, I plan on building my own drainage maps using my 3 foot probe to feel for drain line.....yes this stinks. There should be what they call a "smile drain" at the low end of every green which will keep water from building up against the cavity wall.  If we don't find one, then we will have to install one on these holes.  The good thing is that if the forecast holds true, then these spots will heal up nicely in a short amount of time, but that doesn't mean the problem is fixed.  

As far as the rest of the course, I am extremely pleased.  There was a point about 3-4 weeks ago when the course got pretty wet.  I apologize for this as firm is always my goal.  I believe that the sun angle and intensity changed as fall approched and I didn't react quick enough.  Even though we still had plenty of hot weather, our water table couldn't take anymore moisture and we got soft.  I had been lessening my irrigation output, but it didn't seem to help.  It just took me some extra courage to shut the whole thing off completely.  I believe that we have firmed up nicely once again now and that is the game plan from here on out.  I will keep you all informed on my drainage findings and plan in order to fix these issues. 

As always, please feel free to stop me on the course and ask me anything.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

New Bunker Rakes

I would like to write up a small post thanking the Staley Farms MGA for the purchase of a 25ct. box of new bunker rakes.  That shows a good sense of pride that they would take funds out of their organization in order to better the golf course.  That also brought my attention to how poor shape our rake situation truly was.  So I also bought a box of rakes.  I switched to a brand of rake that I prefer that I hope will hold up better than the others.  Now I know that when a rough mower hits a rake handle, it doesn't matter who made it, its going to destroy the handle.  However, on our older rakes I noticed the teeth were breaking off like I had never seen before.  The 50 new rakes were able to get me through #9 fairway and from there on, I culled the best of the old rakes for the rest of the golf course.  I'm big on consistency, so over the winter I will purchase more of these newer rakes so that they will be the same throughout the entire course.  So along with speaking to my rough mowers, I have also placed stickers on each rake handle as I am sure you have seen.  The stickers say," Place Rake in Bunker".  The chance of a rough mower hitting the rakes will drastically be reduced if my bunker crew and each golfer will place the rake on the inside edge of the bunker after use.  I have included a picture of an example of placement.  I have also spoke with my bunker crew about the proper placement. Lets hope this will prolong the life of these new rakes. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Deep Tining and Dying Weeds

Hello everybody and welcome to August.  Seasonal help is heading back to school and we are inching closer and closer to the start of Razorback football season!  I know, I know we aren't very good and there is this whole thing about we live in the state of Missouri, but it at least brings cooler weather to us all.

Today I want to share a picture and some videos from a couple tasks that were completed in the end of July.  I finally wrapped up Deep Tining tees tops which is just the beginning of creating a smoother, more consistent playing surface.  With this machine I was able to pop solid, 6-8" deep holes in all the tees to improve rooting and drainage.  I definitely found a couple tees that need serious water adjustments as you will see in the first video.  The front roller of the aerifier was acting as a squeege as it worked across a few tees.  Finding this is going to help us all moving forward as I will be aware of these areas in the future.  Also in the future, all tees will be verticut, topdressed, and core aerified which will bring us flatter and smoother surfaces.  Here is a video of me deep tining the blue tee on hole 12 and then a second one of the action of the machine.

The following picture shows some crabgrass and nutsedge feeling the affects of the herbicide that we applied to all tees after the aerifying.  We used a three way combo of products in order to kill crabgrass, yellow nutsedge, and goosegrass.  If you have noticed some weeds turning white on the the driving range tee, that is the goosegrass' reaction to one of the chemicals.  All tees will need a second application this upcoming week to truly knock out the crab and goose.  The nutsedge will be done just after 1 app.  We seem to have had crabgrass breakthrough on tees and there could be many reasons why.  Rainfall can play a big part in the breakdown of the pre-emergent, and we had plenty of that this spring.  Divots taken will also create holes in the chemical barrier which will then allow for weeds to germinate.  I believe I will try to split my application next year into 2 and see if we have better success.  

One other small note. We have begun mowing the native down.  It will take a while to finish this project, but I am hoping that we can spray a broadleaf herbicide behind the mow and control all the weeds now that they will be susceptible.  This should create a clean look as the grass grows for the remainder of the season.  We will mow it again once we are most of the way through fall. 

Well that is about it for this entry.  Please continue to stop us and ask questions whenever you'd like.  Hope you have a good time out on the course and thank you for all the kind words and support we have been receiving.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Summer is Coming

Well now that Stampede is in the rear view mirror we can all take a breath.  From what I could tell everyone had a great time.  I feel like the course responded well to the break in weather and should have been playing fast with the drop in humidity.  My team did exceptional and put in some long days to prepare the course for the event and I can't thank them enough for that. 

It looks like the upcoming 5-7 days will be bringing us some extreme heat with no rain in sight.  The fairways are starting to show signs of drought stress even though I have been watering them every night.  This morning I began applying a wetting agent to select fairways in order to hold in moisture, and I will finish tomorrow morning.  This will make the water I put out at night a lot more efficient, and with no rain in the forecast, we NEED efficient water.  This, in turn, has a chance to make the fairways a little softer in these areas which I know is not desirable.  If the result is unacceptable in my eyes then I have a different product that I can turn to.  My goal will always be to provide a golf course that I would want to play on myself, but my number 1 must have will always be living turf.

With the heat that is about to set in, I feel it is a great time to bring up the subject of ball mark repair.  The greens are now under a lot more stress and would really benefit from a higher percentage of correctly repaired ball marks.  I have added a link to a video produced by the USGA on the proper technique.  Please take a look and implement when you play your next round.  Poor #3 and #12 are getting annihilated.  I know that scalped plugs have been causing a lot of blemishes on the greens as well, and I believe that I have gotten to the bottom of that issue so those hopefully will be a thing of the past as well.

Try and stay cool and hydrated out there these next couple of months.  As always, stop me or Grant on the course anytime if you have any questions or concerns. 


Friday, June 14, 2019

Putting Green Drill and Fill

As many of you have seen, Grant and I were doing a project on the upper putting green in the month of May.  We created a template out of a sheet of plywood and drilled holes in a portion of the green with a 12" long x 1" wide auger bit.  You could call it "a very aggressive aerification".  We were mimicking a process called Drill and Fill, but spending a mere percentage of the cost.  The area of the green we worked on was the driest part of the entire golf course due to the high clay and pea gravel content of that green's root-zone.  We removed as much material as we could with the auger bit, and then funneled in a new, clean material to help retain moisture and nutrients.  The product we used is a porous, ceramic granule that is commonly used in greens construction and aerifications.  We have already seen a positive change in the moisture levels of that area and I have added a video that shows just how much water those channels take now compared to the surrounding area.  Now if we could just tear off the second story of the clubhouse to alleviate the shade issue ha ha ha.

This is the process we are mimicking:

The Natives

In the month of June I finally found some time to begin spraying the native areas on the course.  So far I have completed the front nine and most of 18.  I am using 2 different types of broadleaf herbicides as well as a pre-emergant, and spray enhancer.  Goodness gracious that Milkweed is one tough cookie!  I know that my timing is late as far as controlling all the broadleaf weeds, but I am making an impact I believe.  Snowfall, ground moisture, and my start date all played a role in that, and going forward it is my plan to get the entire course pre-emerged much earlier in the year.  I also plan to attack the natives come fall and winter.  Every tree out there needs to be limbed up and freed of suckers.  I know this will make a big impact on the overall aesthetics of the course for the years to come.  We plan to mow all native areas once Stampede is completed, and then once again in the fall.   
 So there is this month's peek into my head.  Please continue to stop me and ask questions as you see me on the course.  I am really enjoying my time here at Staley Farms and lets try to keep Mother Nature on our side.