Last week I was down in East Lansing for the Michigan Turfgrass Conference I had the opportunity to visit the Cheesebrough Wooden golf Course Accesory factory. It is a small family run operation in Lake Odessa Mi. that is turning out the finest products you will ever see on a golf course. I was very impressed with the skill level and attention to detail in their products. I look forward to doing business with them in the near future.
A stack of their raw material, boards soon to be flagsticks
Shop tools used in production
More shop tools used for product production, the racks behind hold the wooden rake handles and raw cut flagsticks before finishing.
Flagsticks on a drying rack
Hazard stakes drying
Putting green stick
Putting green stick
Andy holding a fat flagstick for a Full view
Close up of the quality
My favorite is this flagstick, it is the P84 perennial design.
Another odd season slow to
start then cool moist conditions persisted
Water use was very minimal
36% below our 11 year average
(all 36 holes = 17.8 million
gallons used this year 27.5 million is our 11 year average)
The addition of a walk behind
Field and Brush mower made a big difference in our management of some key
natural areas on the course. Look for
that to continue.
Green expansion started last
fall on the remaining 5 Langford green (4,5,7,10,13). As with the other
expansions in progress these areas will remain at approach height until density
increases and a transition in turf varieties occurs.
Several greens damaged
(16/17-GW) from snowmold were a challenge to recover because of the early cool
temps but once temperatures rose, recovery was rapid. We were able to keep those greens open for
play but with obvious limited pins and 'recovery' playing conditions until
mid-August. We were very lucky to only
have those two areas damaged with the length of the 2013-2014 winter; most
course did not fair so well last spring.
An additional adjustment was
made this fall to our fungicide program on those two greens because it has
become an annual issue to some degree on both those surfaces.
UW once again is running a
very extensive snowmold fungicide trial on our 11th fairway of the
Heritage course. A great deal of
information was learned last season from our site and they are excited that we
continue to host them.
The door shut hard and early
this November with a 3 foot snow storm.
Being weather hounds we knew
this was coming and I had the guys kick it into hyper-drive. Working around wind, leaves, rain and
freezing temperatures my spraying and winter prep program went on every
available moment when condition were proper including several nights of
spraying. October and the first week of
November was a complete blur but the large task of proper winterization was a
The early snow did eliminate
the entire late season project list that I wanted to complete but that is life
Winter conditions right now
look fine as the majority of the snow crunched and settled during the last two
warm ups. I have found ice on several
greens that did not have deep snow pack on them before the two above freezing
event occurred. Winter monitoring will
Looking for an early spring
Both courses continue to
shine and benefit from our long term sustainable management programs.
The Grounds Focus is always
on the game of golf and prioritized to our Greens-Approaches-Fairways-Tees and
playability of those areas as they relate to the game.
Rising costs without rising
budget funds continues to be a challenge and we continue to stretch for more efficiency
within our operation but as time goes on they become more difficult to achieve
because we are so dialed in.
A big thanks to my staff
again this season, they rock!
By spring all the reels will be ready to go with a factory finish.
Set up is critical to get the perfect grind. Measurements within a thousandths of an inch are critical to get the results I demand.
Our number one defense against disease and number one component to plant health is a sharp mower blade. Clean cuts to the turf blades is critical and that can only be achieved when using sharp equipment.
My favorite activities during the season on the course is our cultural control program. I have been doing these tasks on golf courses every couple of weeks for 20 years now yet I still get excited. I think it must be that fact that I know how important it is to a quality playing surface to complete these jobs properly that gets me so fired up.
Topdressing applied every 3-weeks following a vertical mowing or spiking of the surface.
Sand on the surface after spreading
Upside down plug on the Heritage course shows the drastic modification that is happening to the surface as the sand layer increases in depth. This is a very wet plug cut after a night of rain. The 4 inch sand cap is much dryer and firmer than the lower saturated native soil below it. Without topdressing this green would be saturated and unplayable.
The sand cap we are creating increases in depth around a 0.3"-0.4" a season. This plug is from the edge of the putting green next to the clubhouse.
A core from the 13th green on Greywalls. These greens were constructed with a 16" root zone of pure sand. Sand topdressing must take place to dilute the accumulation of thatch and keep the surface firm for premium ball roll. The darker surface on this plug is an area filled with sand and roots. If topdressing did not occur consistently and effectively this surface would be soft and bumpy with disease issues and poor playability. We topdress at a rate to meet the growth of the bentgrass plants on the surface.
Having a sand cap on the greens from consistent topdressing, controlling plant growth by not over fertilizing and vertical mowing allows use to reduce the quantity of traditional core aerification on the greens. Instead we can utilize a solid tine program using small tines (as seen above) that does not effect ball roll. We still core (pull plugs) on some areas that have addition traffic or fairy ring fungal growth; but these areas are minimal.
A picture of a nice deep vertical mowing after cleanup. Vertical mowing must take place on the Greywalls fairways starting ASAP as organic matter accumation is at a level requiring management. A machine needs to be purchased that can complete the task efficiently.
Vertical mowing on the Tees
Brushing the approach turf after vertical mowing helps create a more upward growth to the plants and reduce grain.
In September I had the opportunity to travel to Denmark and Sweden with my wife as she presented her research at an international conference.
I took the time to educate myself on local turfgrass management while my wife was busy.
Denmark has strict regulation on inputs allowed on golf courses as compared to our country; because of these strict regulations there is obvious blemishes. These flaws in surface life would be considered unexceptable at many clubs found in the US yet the playability was wonderful with no negative effect on the game of golf.
After studying these conditions and playing on them with local golf enthusiasts I now have an even stronger negative opinion of the 'perfection' image some believe this great game must achieve.
As long as Natural flaws do not negatively impact the game of golf they should not be managed to extinction. Weeds scattered with in the fairways turf has no impact on playability and only add texture to the surface. Dry patches add length to a golf shot and a point of reference while locating a shot. Those two areas in general are over managed in our country and that does nothing but drive up the expense of the game. A lot can be learned by traveling over seas and playing golf on a course that is managed as intended; at one with Mother Nature.
Castle on the Sea
One of the courses that I had the opportunity to play with some local folks.
Everyone walks in Denmark. Golf is a physical activity and a form of great exercise. Even old men and women walk the course while playing; our country needs a big wake up call in this area.
The courses have compressed air blow off stations next to the parking lots so players can clean off after early morning rounds or on damp days.
Practice areas are all built utilizing artificial mats to reduce wear and maintenance of a practice centers. Each golfer actually carries their own rubber tees in their golf bags to use on the artificial mats. When I asked about this I was told by an elderly man "Why would I want to pay someone to fill thousands of divots a day on the practice area when mats are available."
Case and point taken :)
Even the Royal Copenhagen Golf Club had nothing but artificial mats as a practice option. This double decker facility can be used rain or shine.
Raining this day so all practice was being completed on the lower level.
Fine fescue was the predominate species of turfgrass planted on the entire golf courses I was playing. Fairways, Tees, Rough and even the greens were fine fescue; although the green did have creeping bentgrass within the mix.
A clover patch is seen above growing in the fairway, it does not impact playability.
Dandelions also grow within the fairway turf of Denmark.
Poa annua can be found in the low areas of the fairways that stay wet when compared to the rest of the surface.
A low valley filled with Poa annua growth.
Fine fescue growing wonderfully under low input conditions.
A great day to play a round fog followed by drizzle.
An old field stone fence row erected hundreds of years ago could not be moved while building the course because it once belonged to the King. The fence is now a part of the course and becomes a hazard to avoid on several holes.
The old fence row again, it is a very interesting design element.
Fine turf again found in a very minimal input growing environment.
Minimalist design and minimalist management at its finest .
Take-all patch was on fire on many of the green surfaces but it did not negatively effect ball roll when compared to the roll on the rest of the putting surface; which was not fast but it was very firm and true.
Some extreme turfgrass management taking place at the gardens of Frederiksborg Castle. These extreme geometric banks have been hand cut for hundreds of years.
Triplexed putting surfaces with lots of movement and interest made for a very enjoyable rounds . The speed did not matter because the firm surfaces rolled true and consistent from green to green.
Sink holes have been forming on the Greywalls property in areas that were stump burial grounds during construction. These two areas are around the two forward tees on 11 and the hill side to the left of 18 green.
At some point in the near future we will have to get a bull dozer in to drive on these areas and settle them back down.