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Friday, December 21, 2012

                                          Milorganite in the ice on the edges creating air pockets
                                          Ice on #15 Green Greywalls
                                          View of the Ice on #15 Green in the low areas

I was able to get out and check the golf course on Wednesday before the snow storm arrived.  The melt down last weekend did create some solid black ice pockets in the low areas on some of the Greywalls greens.  The Heritage greens looked good as the ice on those greens was very porous and was more of a hard crunchy snow type.  I always worry more about solid black ice cover on the Heritage course because the amount of poa annua growing within that canopy.  In previous years I have seen the bentgrass on the Greywalls greens survive almost 4 months of solid black ice cover.
It is always good to know the ice covered areas so I can determine the type of winter damage or winter kill when the snow melts away in the spring.
I did not see any fungal damage on the surfaces that were treated in October/November.  Once again our spraying worked very well eliminating that early round of snow mold growth.  The big kicker will be that fungal growth spike during the last month of winter during snow melt.  I am worried that the lack of early snow and open canopy caused some photo-degradation of our product reducing its length of protection.
Time will tell but for now lets enjoy the WINTER!!!!!!
                                         Ski tracks left on #14
                                         Ski tracks on #8 Green
                                         Ski pole damage on #5 Green
                                         Ice left on the Green from ski tracks
                                         Ski tracks on #5 Green
                                         Ski tracks around #5 Green
                                         Ski tracks right across #4 Green

Well we finally got enough snow to start enjoying some outdoor winter activities!
For an unknown reason someone decided we had enough last week to cross country ski on the Greywalls course.  This disrespectful individual also skied across the roped off greens damaging the turf below because there was not even close to enough snow for that kind of activity on a golf course.
The Greens are roped off for a reason please keep your winter traffic as far away from these areas as you can plus please be patient and wait for enough snow cover before enjoying the MGC property.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I repainted the parking lines in both shops this week.
This is a critical step completed every winter to assure our equipment is parked properly during the season every day.
Proper parking creates structure in the building and allows access around every mower to perform daily maintenance checks.  Equipment parked properly is safer (no climbing over) and saves time because there is no longer a need to move everything in order to perform routine daily checks on a unit that is parked in the middle or back.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I took my assistant Andy and our Greywalls mechanic Bob down to a Grinding seminar in Milwaukee yesterday.  The focus was on reel science and optimum cut technology.  It was a great class and we were able to gain valuable knowledge from the 'pros'.  The technology and saftey in this area has increased dramatically over the last 10 years.  It was a long day that started at 2:30 am but it was worth every mile of the drive.
The staining/sealing/painting and refurbishing of our signage and other course supplies is underway.  Andy finished most of it the last few weeks.  I hope to get the rest of it completed before the holidays so I can move my focus to the mechanical work and reel grinding at the start of 2013.

I completed soil sampling on both golf courses before the snow settled in.  I took samples from all 36 holes and divided them into sections.  Front 9 - Back 9 Greens, Front 9 - Back 9 Fairways and then Tees on both courses.  This gave me 10 sample bags that I sent to a lab to be analyzed.  
These comprehensive results will be my new baselines for comparision.
I will be able to compare the results to previous tests completed on our soil and see how things have changed plus I will also have the ability to test potential problem areas on a micro level by sampling and comparing.  This is just another way to better manage the growth of our turfgrass.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Many of you do not get to see our incredible white sea of birds but Seagulls take over the Heritage course during the night time hours in the spring, summer and fall.  They occupy the property to feast on earthworms within the fairway soil profile.  When we enter the course on our maintenance equipment before day-break they fly off towards the lake shore.  Seagulls are a biological control of a potential pest, the earthworm. 

As stated above earthworms can be a ‘potential pest’ yet I view worms as a desirable addition.  Worms aerify the soil plus reduce our thatch levels by feeding on it and mixing soil with micro-organisms into that layer providing further breakdown and dilution of fairway thatch levels.  A negative aspect of worm activity is the fact that excessive worm castings on the turf surface will cause our mower reels to dull quickly and can even clog a reel or stop it from turning; further damaging the mowing unit.  This problem only seems to be an issue in late-winter/early-spring as earthworm activity is completed un-checked.  Worm castings accumulate in excess after and under the melting snow on the fairway surface.  Dragging that fairway surface with steel drag mats on dry days after snow melt (prior to our first mowing of the season) knocks down the castings and mowing the fairway turf can then be accomplished.  The return of the Seagulls at that time puts the earthworm population in check or within our threshold levels and beneficial activity continues. 

Crows and ravens are also biological control partners of ours.  These winged friends probe the ground all summer long feasting on cutworms.  Cutworms are a caterpillar species that feeds on the turf surface at night then burrow down during the daytime hours.  Cutworm feeding activity becomes a problem on the closely cut putting green surface.  Channels and frass piles left behind by night feeding will disrupt smooth ball roll. 
Vertical mowing on the greens during peak cutworm activity will also control the cutworm population.  This additional mechanical control has worked for us and reduces the need for a chemical application. 

Now if there were only a biological value to the Canadian Geese (we need our coyotes back) 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

USGA states it well

Two really good short reads below.
I encourage everyone click on the links and read.

This one is about golf cart use on a golf course
http://gsr.lib.msu.edu/article/white-buddy-11-30-12.pdf


This one is about an irrigation issue called the donut effect.  We currently have this issue on the Heritage course.  We are going to replace all of our fairway head nozzles next season to help provide a more uniform irrigation distribution of our already limited water supply.  The current nozzles in the fairway heads are original to the heads when installed in the 80's.
http://www.usga.org/course_care/regional_updates/regional_reports/northcentral/The-Dreaded-Donut---November-2012/

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This early December warm up has lasted long enough to melt all of the snow off the greens for us.
The worst thing for our greens is an early winter a warm up that only partially melts the snow and leaves freestanding water on the surface which freezes solid.  Ice on the turf surface for extended periods (greater than 60 days) is our leading form of winter kill at MGC.

I made round four of snow fence repairs today.  This time only #4 Heritage had to be fixed and after the extreme high winds yesterday, I would say the other areas are good to go.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The wind was so strong last week it actually bent some of our metal snow fence poles about 70 degrees.  We were able to bend several of them straight but others we had to cut off the lower bent section.
We will finish the last repair on number 18 Heritage toady.
Repairs complete

Monday, November 26, 2012

The snow fence was finalized on Wednesday in our strategic locations before the snow came on Thursday night.  The high winds on Friday already took some of it down so we will be out today making the repairs.   
We also worked late to get the shop water line winterized before the colder temperatures settled over our area.  Snow cover until spring would be perfect.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Taking advantage of the weather

 We re-routed cart traffic entering the fairway on #12 Greywalls.  If left for another season the bare area would have been pushed into the fairway itself.  We will now direct traffic to the right and provide several locations to enter the fairway.  We will now have options available to spread out the wear and provide recovery time to the turf.  Vegetation was removed, the ground was smoothed out and a gravel mix was laid down.  The beat down and worn out area was filled with topsoil and seeded.
We have a worse situation on number 13 by the green.  The solution there is a path into the woods.  Something we will look into more during the 2013 season.
A reminder to everyone.....slow down in those carts, this is a golf course not a race course.
We removed around 15 maple trees behind number 8 Tee and several more behind number 8 green that were in serious decline and losing branches weekly.  We have around 20 more trees in this high traffic area that need to be removed.
 This is a picture of the outlet drain tile on #2 Heritage, the drain was installed in 2011.  This season was proof that it is working very well, number 2 fairway is now much drier after snow melt and a heavy rain.
We are blessed with good soils that drain very well but there are still several areas on both golf courses that would benefit from added drain tile work.
Pond Management
Years ago Algae growth became a major issue in the Heritage irrigation pond and peaked out around 2003.  At that time an errant ball entering the pond stayed on top of the surface held in place by a surface algae mat.  This was an unpleasant situation; it became even more of an issue when we had to complete weekly irrigation intake pipe removal and cleaning as the algae growth was clogging the screens.
A solution had to be found and we wanted the solution to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
As you can tell by our current 2012 pond conditions it is working.
-Several changes to the fertilizer application, timings and rates were made and a buffer zone was allowed to grow around the pond edge.
-Physical removal of algae on the banks is completed in the spring.
-Monthly applications of several bacteria strains are made.  One bacteria strain out competes the algae for nutrients in the water and the other strain feeds on the dying algae.
In 2011 we had a revival of the algae towards the end of the season.  I feel the excessive growth was caused by an increased nutrient load from our ability to use more Orianna creek water than before to fill the pond (because of improvement we made to our retention area).  We were able to combat that problem in 2012 with the additional use of an Eco-sock.  The Eco-socks contain the same bacteria as used before but provides a consistent slower release of the bacteria strains.
As pictured above one can see that our environmentally friendly management continues to work in our favor!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

All of our protective fungicide applications are now complete.  It always feels good to have that finished this time of year.  I work around mother nature's schedule when making these critical applications, many times I spray well into the night.  Climatic conditions must be proper; light/no winds with no rain so the product can dry and be taken up by the plant.  This time of year those conditions can be rare.  

Pictured above is our spray-pro 1250.  This is my most important tool in the shed.  It is a very accurate rig that I use year round to fertilize - apply wetting agents - apply growth regulators - and apply pesticides when needed.  We purchased this unit in 2006 and it just turned 1000 hours while cleaning and winterizing it this afternoon.  This unit probably has played the biggest roll is the improved conditions of our golf courses over the last 7 years.  
This is our only usable spray-rig for all 36 holes.  The 175 gallon tank is perfect for maintaining small acreage areas like greens-tees-approaches but it is under sized for fairway applications.  
One day I hope we can purchase a 300 gallons spray-rig and build a better mixing site.  Regular spray applications of nutrients during the season is much more efficient and would reduce product use plus turf conditions would improve with the addition of a wetting agent and growth regulators to the tank.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

With Sandy coming in last week and giving us mega winds with rain I fell behind on my winter fungicide applications.  I am playing catch up this week to get the Heritage course protected for the months of winter ahead.  I have to finish the fairway applications next.
The Greywalls course has been winterize.  The greens will be roped off today then the only thing left will be putting snow fence around the putting green.  I will have one more staff member left next week on Greywalls and I hope to finish up the washout  repair work left after Sandy screamed through.
Winter is on its way.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The rainy/windy weather today had us shift gears a bit and complete a relocation of the Greywalls back nine waste depository unit.  

We cleaned out and smoothed out a location in the native area between number 13 and 15 tees.  This will allow access to the unit from two different holes.  You can now use the unit while waiting to tee off on #13 tee and #15 tee.  The location is also more private and in the shade.  
The pump truck can still get to this location and we feel it is a much improved site over its previous spot by the front tee on #15.  

Still waiting on the day that we have two permanent bathroom facilities which are much more inviting.  
Until then we will try to make the best of what we have to work with.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

1.75 inches of rain this morning in about an hour had our water ways moving today!
The waterfall by number 4 tee was beautiful.
In 24 hours we received 4 inches of rain.  Bunkers and paths were washed out everywhere.  Paths will need to be fix this fall but the bunkers can wait until spring.  This is the bunker on number 8 Greywalls filled to the top.  










Number 5 Red Tee on the Greywalls course has now been leveled.  An over-site in the construction process left this tee with 20 inches of fall from the front to the back.  The tee felt more like a launching pad than a tee off zone.  
We completed a total face lift.  The sod was removed, 4 inches were shaved off the front and 8 loads of fill were added to that material to lift the rear of the tee.  
Some heavy spring topdressing and rolling followed by aerification after the sod roots down into the soil and this tee will be back in business by early to mid summer 2013.


Here are a few pictures from the 8th Fairway on Greywalls last week before I sprayed them.
Those pink fragments are the fruiting bodies of Pink Snow Mold (Microdochium nivale).  Unlike Grey Snow Mold, which is only active under prolonged snow cover, Pink Snow Mold is active under moist conditions when the temperatures are 30-60 degrees.  
This pathogen gets started early and it is this initial growth that I target with my fall fungicide applications.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Tomorrow (October 20th) will be the last day to play Greywalls for the season. 

The Original closing date was Sunday but the weather (rain) has put us behind schedule. 
I will need to take advantage of the weather on Sunday to start making our winter fungicide applications.  Five more staff members will be laid off for the winter this week.  I will need their help blowing leaves on Sunday so I have a clean surface to spray onto. 
Once those applications are completed on the Greens/Tees/Approaches/Fairways we need to eliminate traffic in those areas to prevent any tracking or foot/tire removal of the product.  We have long winters of snow cover in Marquette and we need to take every precaution to ensure survival of our turfgrass over the winter months.  Unlike many areas in the country, we do not have the ability to reapply a product during the winter because of our sustained snowfall levels; it is a one and done application.  We need to make sure it is done and done right the first time around.
Using our one 175 Gallon sprayer it takes me 10 tanks to spray the Greywalls course and I must have light to no wind and no rain to complete the applications.  Prior to spraying the Tees we must fill every divot with our seed/sand/fertilizer divot mix.  Two days after spraying Greens and Approaches we will heavily topdress the Greens with sand and make a dormant application of milorganite to aid in spring snow/ice melt.  The next step is roping off the greens to prevent any winter activity traffic from entering the green surface areas.  We will be winterizing the Greywalls irrigation system on the 29th so that gives me one week to fit all of this in before I have no water source on Greywalls. 
Snow fencing around some select areas is our last step to proper winterization of the golf course. 

When completed on Greywalls I will move the winterization operation over to the Heritage and do it all over again on that course (déjà vu for me).  We have a city water supply line to the Heritage shop so I am able to fill up the rig without a charged irrigation system (that system was winterized this week). 

There is a ton to do this time of year (and I never even touched on equipment winterization procedures) and it all must be completed properly so we increase our chances of having a very successful spring golfing season in 2013. 
We do things now for the future.
Another great find by Mike on a rain day.  The lost drain valve behind #18 Green was eroded over and lost since the grow-in of Greywalls.  
In the picture above you can see how the roots grew into the form and lettering of the cover.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Heritage Irrigation system has once again been successfully winterized.  
This is a 3 day process for us.  We hook a 375 cfm compressor up to the pump-house mainline and blow the water out of the irrigation pipes.  Day one we complete the two zones on the North side of Grove street and day two we blow out the South side zone.  During day three we blow out the pond fill line, hydraulic control tubing's for all of the heads and we then finish by blowing out the bathroom water line.  
Taking your time and completing this job properly can not be overstated.  Winter is not kind to excessive water left in PVC piping.
Above is Clayton finishing up on our last head of the season down on #15 green.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Some moron decided his golf game was not worth a damn yesterday and took it out on the Greywalls putting greens.  This individual first did donuts on #15 and #16 greens with a golf cart then thought it was necessary to gouge and dig into the #17 green with golf spikes.
This is a total Heart breaker at the end of the year for myself and my staff, we work so hard to keep the greens as good or should I say perfect as they are.  Makes us all sick to see this happen.
Only 5 groups played yesterday....we are looking for you!
Heavy leaf fall the last couple of days has kept the GW crew busy.  Pictured above is Mario blowing leaves off #16 Fairway on Greywalls.
After we complete the Irrigation winterization on the Heritage our focus will change to leaf removal on that course.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Native/Natural Areas on both courses have been mowed down, some small misc. areas remain that need to be cut by hand.

Irrigation Blow-out/winterization on the Heritage system started today and will be finished up on Weds.  This also means the Bathrooms on the Heritage will be winterized and closed for the season.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

 The winner of 'the disease of the year award' goes to ........ Fairy-ring
This pathogen has been in full force this season creating many green rings and localized dry spots within our soil profile.
Above is a picture of its activity on Greywalls #10 tee.
I did go out and hand spot spray the Greywalls greens about 3 weeks ago for Fairy-ring.  This worked very well and saved thousands over a typical blanket application to the entire green surface using the fungicide Prostar and the wetting agent Revolution.
Above is a picture of #14 green on Greywalls.  The right side of this green had the worst infestation.  After hand spraying just the infected areas the mushroom growth stopped and our turf is recovering.
We are in the process of mowing down all of the Native/Natural areas on both courses.  Many locations can not be navigated with a riding mower so we load up the weed-eaters to cut down the growth by hand and foot.  
Kyle and Jim are seen above working over the hill side on number 1.

Crew Tourney results
The MGC A-Team shot 61 and 60 took the crown this year.  Looking forward to next seasons battle of the ground crews.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Crew and I are off to Bass Lake Country Club today to defend our title from last year.
Every year as an end of the season thank you I take to troops to play in the NGLGCSA Crew tournament.  It is a great event hosted by our local Superintendents Association and has been played since 1975 at different courses every season.  It is our chapter fund raiser for turfgrass research.

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