Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fairway fertilizer changes

With the purchase of a 300 gallon sprayer I was able to make a switch to a much more pin point accurate fertilization plan on the fairways.  I can now get away from having to apply granular products every time we fertilize.  Three reason I wanted to get away from granular for every application are:
1) The lowest rate I could go with and not get a speckled appearance was .4#N/M
2) Granular fertilizer always gets thrown in places you don't want it no mater how carful you are.  
3) Granular fertilizers cause a flush of growth for a week or two after application creating a need for extra mowing.  

Spraying at a rate of 0.9gpm I can cover 7.7 Acres with one tank.  Five tanks covers my fairways and Approaches.  I can spray these areas in one day now; where as before it would take me 3 days with the old smaller sprayer.  

Another benefit of spraying is my ability to add the growth regulator Paclobutrazol to the tank.  This product provides vertical growth regulation and suppresses poa annua growth more than the other grasses.  Our low mow bluegrass and fine fescue plants now have a competitive advantage over poa.   I am also adding Ferrous Sulfate to the tank for a quicker green up and as another poa irritant.  

Foam blops marking my lines to prevent overlaps or misses in my application.  

The spray line from the approach tank is already obvious from the morning spray.  

Here is a good picture of a spray line on 14 fairway.  The instant green from foliar fertilization is always amazing to me.  This is after only a few short hours.  
The products used to spray fairways are:
Urea (46-0-0)
Ferrous Sulfate
Blade Fe (15-0-0)
Tide Paclo
Total cost to spray all fairways is $1500

Total cost to use a granular product on fairways is $1600

A more accurate application with the benefit of a growth regulator for basically the same price.  
Two applications in and I am very pleased with the results so far this season.  

Grooming Greywalls

Greywalls course grooming:
After the first few years of play on Greywalls we began to establish a 'groom' list.  
This list is prioritized in the following order and outlines locations that:
1) effect pace of play and cause unwanded golfer frustration or has a high potential of golfer injury (hidden rocks)
2) have excessive weed/sapling growth and can not be sprayed with herbicides because of the extreme terrain.  
3) aesthetically need to be cleaned for visual appearance or has a site line issue.  

These areas typically are located on the perimeters just outside the turf areas that get maintain daily to weekly.  Over the years our list has evolved and grown.  

Some of our clients would like to see the course mowed wall to wall others would like more hazardous conditions everywhere; we are left with the task of creating that balance between the two ideas.  
I would like to share pictures outlining our thoughts on grooming Greywalls  

This is the tree location to the left of 1 green.  This area was extremely thick with fescue and was a hot spot for ball hunting. A groom every 4-6 weeks has been very helpful.  
On the other side of 1 green we removed 8-12 trees and extended the maintained rough line about 15 yards.  
Other areas on 1 that we groom are along the rocks that boarder the fairway.  These areas get extra thick because of excess water and fertilizer from fairway maintenance.  Weed growth on the rocks will become overpowering if left alone.  

The right side of 2 is a very popular location for all of the slices coming off the tee.  Mowing this area every 4-6 weeks at a height of 4" with an old rotary mower has really helped pace of play.  Before we started grooming this area a ball entering this jungle zone was next to impossible to find; yet everyone wanted to spend 5+ minutes doing so.  Now a ball hit in here can be identified easily and hit back into play.

The left side of 2 is another ball hotspot and it was slowly being taken over by broadleaf weeds making ball location difficult.  We decided to mow this area down this year so we could treat it with a herbicide.  
The rock dome before 2 green is groomed for safety and aesthetics.  Many miss hit balls end up here and it is nice to see how near the rock is to your ball.  

We groom this area on 3 short of the approach for pace of play.  Excessive growth of many different plants makes it very thick in here yet people want to find their ball and spent a good amount of time looking.  Now it is an easier task.  
By 3 green we groom this thick area back left to help pace of play we also pushed the weekly maintained mow line 8-10 yards back on the right side of the green to fully open that ball collection area.  

The left side of 4 is a very difficult area to groom, loose rock and extreme slope makes it a challenge.  I am exploring the option of a wide areas boomless nozzle for the old spray rig.  With the right set up I might be able to spray this area with a herbicide for weed control.  
For now We do what we can here with hand cutting to keep weed growth under control. 
The center fairway rock is groomed for safety and aesthetics.  
Many areas like behind 4 green are groomed to expose irrigation valves and controls.  
The right side of 4 fairway is groomed along the edge to expose the irrigation heads and to help balls release out and roll onto shorter cut turf.  

We groom along the rock edges on 5 so balls do not get lost as often in these thick location.  
Grooming the turf in these areas also helps golfers see the rock below or behind a poorly struck ball.  

The rocks on 6 are groomed for aesthetics and weed control.  We wish we had more time to focus on this hole.

The center fairway rock on 7 is groomed for safety and aesthetics and pace of play.  If left unchecked the turf around it would gobble up golf balls.  
We extended the weekly mow line on the left side of 7 green.  This area was very long and thick; which because a pace of play issue.  We did the same to the right side and pushed the hazard stakes back 5-6' along the green.  

We groom around the rock edges along 8 for safety and aesthetics.  
Behind 8 green is groomed for weed control.  If we can get these weeds cut down before they go to seed we can greatly reduce their numbers the following year.  

The rocks on the fairway line are groomed for aesthetics and a visual aide for tee shots.  
All bunker banks are groomed every 4-6 weeks to minimize balls from hanging up on them.  
9 green surround is groomed for aesthetics and safety.  Many balls get chipped out of here and it is nice to see rock location around your resting ball. 

The left side of 10 is groomed along the rock for pace of play.  
The left of 10 green and around 18 black tee is groomed for pace of play and weed control.  Many long hitter pull their balls into this areas and it was causing pace issues.  Now golf balls can be easily identified and hacked out.  I must note again these large areas are cut at 4" every 4-6 weeks so it is no walk in the park getting the ball out; we just want to eliminate the need to hunt for a ball for 5 minutes and never find it. 

11 tee area is groomed for weed control.  This entire area is a topic of another blog post outlining its issues with stumps buried below.  
The amphitheater bank behind 11 green is groomed for pace of play and weed control.  Lots of balls go long into this hill behind the green.    
The collection area below and to the left of 11 green is groomed along the edge for pace of play.  If a ball misses left with a right to left ball flight it would usually find its way into the fescue edge which was excessively thick.  

The natural patch between 12/13 is groomed with our rotary grooming mower.  This area obviously created a pace of play issue with balls off 12 and 13 tees.  

The valley on 14 and area between 14/16 is marked lateral hazard but is groomed 1-2 times a year for weed and sapling control.  

The front hill on 15 and the rocks are groomed for weed control.  Pace of Play and Safety is also a factor along the rock areas.  

The area off 16 tee is groomed as a site line issue.  When the natural area is left to grow to its full potential height the fairway can not be seen from the tee surface.  By just cutting the area to 4" a sliver of the fairway can be seen on the tee; which gives mental ease to a first time player.  

The area by 17 tee is now being groomed with our old rotary for several reasons.  The weeds were out of control here and a single spring herbicide application would not control them all.  Mowing will allow turf to re-establish after spraying.  The second reason is we need to slide traffic coming off 18 tee over before the path edge there gets worn down to the fairway.  

This middle right area on 18 is now being groomed at the request of our lady members.  It was pointed out that many of them hit into this very thick edge off of their tee and it was causing pace of play issues on many league nights.  
This location is Further proof that member Feedback has a positive effect on course playability.  
Hill left of 18 green pre-mow
Hill left of 18 green post mow
Grooming This areas is all about weed control.  There is a very high population of spotted Knapweed growing here.  Mowing it down before it goes to seed is key for keeping this noctious weed under control on the golf course.  

We do mow the entire course (natural areas) down starting in mid-September.  This complete mowing takes care of many sapling growth areas and keeps the grass under control and alive.  
These are low maintenance areas because we do not maintain them all on a weekly basis but they are not 'no' maintenance areas.  A balance must be reached because our number 1 overall priority on the grounds department is managing the playing surface for the game of golf.  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summer Maintenance Update

It is always a grind to stay on schedule with our playing surface management during a busy summer golf schedule and the unpredictability of our weather.  
We have scheduled maintenance mornings every 3 weeks on each course and we use that time to sand topdress the greens.  All other surface maintenance must be performed ahead of play; which means a 3:30 am start on most of those mornings.  

A new TIP brush has been a phenomenal addition to our management tool inventory this season.  We have been using this unit right after vertical mowing on the Greywalls greens.  Dragging this unit over fresh vertical mow lines knocks any surface sand into the canopy plus it stands the grass upright for a clean cut just waiting for a mower to follow. 

Left side is Freshly mowed turf----
Right side is Upright turf after a vertical mow and a TIP brush.  

Depending on the surface needs we have two set of vertical blade reels we can use on the greens.  Pictured here is our tighter spaced set.  When using this set we use baskets to collect the debris and we do not go very deep.  Some might call this set up an aggressive surface groom since we are only going 1/8" below our Height of Cut (HOC)
Baskets are typically full and need to be emptied after every green.  

Pictured here is our wider spaced vertical blade set.  These units are set 1/4" or greater depth below the HOC.  
We do not use baskets when using these reels because the amount of debris we remove is tremendous.  A blower crew follows these reels to blow the thatch off the surface prior to a TIP brush.  

Pictured here is the blower crew.  Our new pull behind Toro turbine blower created a new efficiency this year.  Prior to having this unit cleanup was a 5 person job and it took 8 hours.   We now complete thatch cleanup in 5 hours with only 3 guys.  
Vertical mowing is still very labor intensive  so we try to complete that process the week prior to our sand topdressing day.  We utilize a day that we are not mowing fairways and Approaches so we have extra staff available.  

Sand Topdressing is the back bone of our cultural control program.  Dilution is the solution to properly managed putting surfaces and matching organic matter accumulation with sand is vital.  
The only way to have a firm/smooth putting surface is timely verticutting and sand topdressing.  

We use the wider spaced vertical blade reels on our tees also.  We try to complete this process about 3 times a year on the Greywalls tees and once on the Heritage tees.  We plan these vertical mowings before a potential fertilizer application.  

Up and at it early the crew is blowing thatch off the first tee at sunrise.  If we start verticutting tees at 4am we can have them blown off and mowed by noon.  

Fescue is up
High traffic on the Greywalls putting green had it screaming for help by early June.  We core aerified it and over seeded heavy with Chewings fescue prior to a heavy sand topdressing.  6 days later I took this picture in the morning.  3 weeks of walkmowing it at a little higher HOC and giving it some extra fertilizer has it on the road to recovery.  

Foam marker blobs can be seen here on 4 fairway.  
With the addition of a Toro 5800G 300 gallon sprayer this season, I was able to change the way I manage the Greywalls fairways.  To fertilize the fairways before I had to use a granular form applied using a broadcast spreader.  The spreader method works but it is not very efficient.  When spreading granular prills it is impossible to keep it only on the fairway surface.  Excess fertilizer always gets spread into the rough or worse yet the edges of natural areas where it is not needed.  Excessive growth would then occur in those areas increasing our mowing frequency.   
This year I completed one spring granular application fertilizing the fairways and the rough together with about 0.4#N/M
Utilizing the 5800G I can now use a soluble form of Urea Nitrogen mixed with water to spray it onto the fairway turf only and at a much smaller quantity (0.1#N/M).  
This method is so much more efficient I am financially able to add Ferrous Sulfate for color and Paclobutrazol to the tank as a form of poa control.  

Number 4 approach (pictured above).  These areas are also sprayed with soluble fertilizers and Paclobutrazol.

After a single spray application the poa is put in a weakened state allowing our desirable turf species a chance to out compete the invasive poa.  Paclobutrazol is a wonderful Plant Growth Regulator.  

We had some Localized Dry Spots (LDS) form on the Greywalls Approaches.  A solid tine aerification followed by a wetting agent application should remedy the situation.  

Weed control in the natural areas took place in early June on Greywalls.  We usually treat around 10-12 acres a year rotating the areas treated.  This must take place to reduce the broadleaf weed populations from taking over certain areas.  When selecting areas to treat a focus is placed on playability first and then aesthetics.  

We continue to loose trees during wind storms on Greywalls but it is never to much for our Stihl chainsaws to handle.  

A much needed bunker edging is taking place on the Heritage course.  The Green side bunkers are all complete and the crew will now be focusing on the fairway bunkers.  Over time sand accumulates in certain locations from mechanical raking.  When edging the bunkers, sand is moved where needed and new sand is hauled in as needed. 

We purchased two new grooming tools to help us manually groom the course.  Purchasing the top power units by Stihl is the only way to go. Theses units last a very long time and can be fixed/repaired if they ever have an issue.  

Here is a picture of a Couple crew all-stars grooming the rocks on number 2 Greywalls.  

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