Stow Acres Turf

Golf Course Maintenance News & Live Updates from @stowacresturf

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Opening day…

It’s official, the South course has 18 holes open today. The staff has been working vigorously to get debris cleaned up and removed from playable areas. Cups have been cut, bunkers have been raked, tee markers placed in position, and trash barrels put back on the golf course. Currently, there are only two small adjustments from the normal course setup. The tee markers on 4 have been moved up to the 200 yard marker and plays as a par 3. This was done to avoid the wet end of the fairway for now so the hole is a bit more playable. Also, there is a temporary green on 10. The left side of the upper portion of the fairway and the left side of the green are still covered in snow causing very wet conditions. We hope to open this green as soon as weather allows. Both golf courses came through the winter extremely well. The North course still has snow in some areas not allowing us to open just yet. Holes 3, 4, 5, 11, 14, and 15 all have some snow and its up to the warm weather pattern to move in and melt it off in order for us to open. The staff is out in full force today and tomorrow continuing to clean both courses. We are mowing the front 9 greens on the South today and the back 9 will be cut tomorrow. You will also be excited to see the extensive tree work done on the right side of 10 fairway. This will allow for a more forgiving tee shot to be played down the right and actually give you a shot to get around the corner and up the hill. We are excited to be back outside, even though it is still a little cold out, preparing both courses for regular play. Other extensive tree projects to note are 7 North behind the green and 17 North to the right of the green. These trees have been removed for safety and playability, but will also add aesthetic value to both holes. The golf season is here! We look forward to seeing you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

First cut 040413

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Google Tips from the field…

Thanks to the team at GCSAA.tv for coming to the property in July. This short segment is a quick glimpse on how we utilize technology in the Turf Department at Stow Acres. If I can be of any assistance to you, please contact me at @uriturf or jason@iturfapps.com. Thanks! Hope you enjoy!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Aeration delayed due to rain…

I know most of you don’t hear me say this often, but unfortunately, we received quite a bit of rain this week.  Totals came in at 1.12″ from Monday night until Wednesday afternoon.  This obviously made aeration North greens  impossible and we had to delay until October 8-10.  Some have been inquiring about the South greens and those are scheduled for October 22-23.  Although I know most dislike the process, I cannot emphasize the necessity.  Instead of trying to explain it myself, I am leaving you with two great articles written by David A. Oatis, USGA Northeast Regional Director.  See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Hot, hot, hot…

Surface temperature taken on a green at 1pm.

It is finally that time of year again where maintenance is becoming routine. We have reached a point in our maintenance schedule that has allowed us to get caught up with many areas on the two courses. While you will definitely see some projects that are ongoing; both courses have reached a maintenance level. This is all thanks to the extreme effort that our staff has put in over the last two months!

Over the next few weeks as the temperatures become consistently warm, you will notice staff members syringing the greens with hoses. Yes, we do have sprinklers and yes, we do water at night. These hoses allow us to carefully monitor the moisture level and surface temperature level. We are not actually watering the greens, but simply cooling the surface atmosphere right above the plant. This practice, although labor intensive, ensures firmer, faster greens and less disease pressure. Please watch this short USGA video on hose watering:

The staff do not spend any longer than 2 minutes on a green surface.  If you happen to be waiting to hit your approach, please wait just a minute longer to avoid hitting into them.  They are paying attention to you, but they are diligently working to keep the green surfaces alive and playing well.  Thank you for your understanding and patience.  See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Ondina Sand and Bunker Cleaner

Here at Stow Acres Country Club, our bunkers are perpetually invaded by stones.  The primary cause for this issue is the age of the bunkers, as they were installed before bunker liners became common practice and soils in our area are typically pretty rocky.  The liner keeps the rocks from permeating through the base layer into the playable sand.  See why the bunkers are in the shape they are in here for a more detailed explanation on this phenomenon.

With adding sand being a losing battle, this year we looked into alternatives to remove the rocks that our golfers were coming across with their sand wedges.  Enter the Ondina Sand Cleaner.  It was imported from Italy by H. Barber and Sons in CT to deal with the tar balls from the Gulf Oil Spill.  This machine digs up to 4″ into the sand trap and vibrates the sand through a screen, filtering out any rocks, acorns, pinecones, or debris it comes across.

This machine will allow us to address the bunkers that need the most attention first, and remedy the current situation faster than we could by renovating and installing liners.  The down side to this approach is, it’s certainly less of a permanent solution.  Each bunker that is cleaned will have to be routinely inspected and re-cleaned when necessary.  Having this piece of equipment on the property will certainly make it easy to keep up with the demand though.

We are very pleased with the efficiency of the Ondina.  Here you can see just how many rocks were removed from the bunker behind 1 North Green.  This gives a slight idea of what we’re up against in trying to properly address the sand quality in our bunkers on both courses.

Currently to date, we have been able to use the Ondina in all 56 bunkers on the North course.  There are certainly some that will need to be done again before the summer hits, but we are well on our way to cleaner bunkers.  Next week, we will be starting to add a fresh coat of new sand approximately at a 1″-2″ depth where it is needed.  We will also be placing a heavier emphasis on hand raking green-side bunkers to help filter out any stones that may have been left behind.  Thanks for your understanding during this timely process!  See you on the course!

This short video shows how the Ondina works:

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent 

Justin Parker, Project Manager


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Golf School Construction…

The past few weeks have been very busy in the Golf School short game area out on the North course.  If you are familiar with the North course, the short game area is that “weird” opening out by 7, 11, and 12 North.  It has always contained a fairly decent green complex, but it has always been overgrown, unsightly, and never really contained a playable bunker.  Well, this year we have made a commitment to making it a playable and pleasing short game facility. Our project manager, Justin Parker, started by leveling and grading most of the soil and bare areas.  This project needs to happen in three stages.  First, grading needs to take place and prepare it for hydro-seed.

Second, he started digging a bunker next to the green and putting in proper drainage and liner.

The last thing to complete the second stage is finish grading and shaping the bunker and get it ready to sand.  Hydro-seed has been scheduled for the week of April 9th.  As the project nears completion more pictures will be posted.  See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Post Vegas…

After spending nearly a week in Las Vegas at the Golf Industry Show, we are aggressively beginning the 2012 golf season.  Temperatures here in Massachusetts are almost 15 degrees above average right now and it is quickly bringing excitement to the golf community.  As a maintenance team, we have never been this busy this early in March, but it is definitely refreshing.  Vegas got the mind thinking, and now this immediate need for course opening is putting those long 8 hour seminars to good use quickly.  Believe it or not, we had about 2 inches of snow still on the ground in some spots this time last week.  So in only a couple of days, we have managed to clean and make 36 holes playable for golf.

The South course right now has all 18 greens opens with only a few “wet” areas to be concerned about.  The North course has 15 greens open and 3 temporary greens (4, 9, 15).  The frost layer in these greens has not completely thawed causing the surface to stay fairly saturated and unplayable.  Monitoring these conditions daily is the only thing we can do.  We are beginning to mow this week as well.  The South course fairways, approaches, and collars are being cut today and the North course tomorrow.  The greens on both courses will be rolled Friday, and potentially cut next week.  Bunkers are being cleaned out and raked completely and will be finished for weekend play.  We are finishing the install of some isolation valves for the North irrigation system and then we will be charging the system as soon as those valves are complete.  As a maintenance team, we call the start of the season official when the irrigation system is in operation.  Once the course is prepared for everyday play, we will begin to clean each bunker with our sand cleaner and add a fresh coat of sand to all 103 sand traps, 3 traps were already renovated on 18 North in November 2011 (http://stowacresturf.com/2012/01/02/bunker-renovation-complete-and-post-christmas-work/).  We will also be attacking many other minor spring projects as we ready for the MA Four-ball in May.

The valuable information learned in Tuesday’s 8 hour seminar with Dr. Milligan was instrumental in getting only 9 staff members to prepare 300 acres for play in a short amount of time.  The title of his seminar was “Developing a High-Performance, People-Oriented Golf Course Maintenance Staff”.  We covered hiring, firing, and everything in between.  Although it was 8 hours, it didn’t seem that long.  Dr. Milligan made it fun and engaging creating role-playing and group discussion.   At the end we even evaluated ourselves and what our leadership style was like.  I have been able to take what I learned from him and apply  that here at Stow Acres in ways that work for us.  The Golf Industry Show each year has such great information that can provide golf course employees with new tools, concepts, and ideas to help develop their departments.  As one person put it on the show floor, “It’s no longer a trade show for just looking at new tractors.”  For more information on the seminar or spring golf course work, feel free to email.  Otherwise, I’ll see you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

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