Stow Acres Turf

Golf Course Maintenance News & Live Updates from @stowacresturf


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Golf in the Winter…

Although I posted this last December, it is very applicable to conditions right now. Truthfully, not much changes when winterizing the golf courses. Enjoy.

wintergreen

Wintergreen before and after.

The winter season is upon us, or is it?  We can only hope that the snow falling across the blog screen that you are reading right now would be falling on the actual golf course some time soon.  Both courses are fully winterized, well, minus the snow accumulation.  The irrigation systems have been blown out, drains have been flushed/open, accessories have been removed for refurbishing, snow mold applications have been applied to greens/tees/fairways, Winter Green has been applied to all 39 greens, and two pin positions have been cut on the front 9 of both courses.  Yes, two pin positions.  I got this brilliant idea from Russ Heller,  a fellow Superintendent here in Massachusetts.  Russ also has a great blog seen here: William Devine Golf Course at Franklin Park.  Well, the theory behind it is to divert foot traffic on frozen/dormant greens surfaces.  Closing the greens or providing temporary greens is not something we do at Stow Acres.  This is where snow is helpful in covering the greens, but, in order to preserve playing conditions for the Spring season until snow falls, we cut two pins.  We will leave pins in both hole locations allowing the golfer to pick whichever hole location they desire.  Once on the green, traffic will be split between both hole locations.  We’re doing this primarily because we suffered minor turf damage last season from repetitive foot traffic around one hole location pictured below.

Foot traffic damage during winterThe turf does heal once the weather gets warmer, but as you can imagine, these spots took quite a bit longer to recover.  Our assistant superintendent, Kevin Bracken, had a great idea to place modified greens covers over the trampled spots once we could cut the cup in a new position.  This certainly accelerated recovery.

modified greens cover over hole

Currently, there is no “real” snow in the immediate forecast.  However, with the cold temperatures becoming more consistent, we will be covering both practice greens tomorrow to ensure great putting conditions for the Spring.  If you plan on playing until it snows, please be mindful of the frozen turf.  Greens are most susceptible, so keeping pull carts in the rough and walking on the greens as little as possible will help preserve the surface.  I will leave you with a picture of what even foot traffic/pull-cart can do to fairway turf during a frozen morning.  Stay warm, play well, and have a great holiday season!

frost damage

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

 


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More on Frost Delays… Yes, they are necessary.

While the temperatures have been generously warm so far this Fall, we are entering a significant drop this week, with maybe even some snow mixed in tomorrow morning. The video below is brought to you by the courtesy of Dr. Larry Stowell from PACE Turf. He helps explain frost delays in simple terms to the everyday golfer. Thanks Dr. Stowell! Enjoy!

 

 

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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The first significant Fall frost…

Frost delay is a term that will become common as the season starts nearing to an end.  These delays can sometimes be brief, but can also last as long as 3-4 hours depending on how quick and warm the atmosphere gets.  Frost is something that can be very damaging to grass especially when it is driven on or it sees a lot of traffic.  Frost forms even when temperatures are not necessarily at 32F.  If the sky is clear at night or early in the morning, a process called radiational cooling takes place.  This is when the earth loses heat and moisture trying to balance the earth’s energy.  Through evapotranspiration, the plant also loses moisture to the atmosphere.  If the temperature is cool enough, the cells inside the plant tissue start to freeze.  If the plant is walked or driven on, the cells can burst and potentially kill the plant.  This is why black tracks are typically seen in late Fall going across a fairway, tee, or even sometimes, a green.  Thanks to the GCSAA for this published article.  Please click on the link for more information, GCSAA Frost Delay Announcement

I understand that frost delays can be very frustrating, especially if you typically play early in the morning.  However, I ask for your patience and cooperation during these delays. It is definitely for the health and playability of the turf. We also ask for your cooperation in obeying the signs on both practice greens. I understand that walking is still allowed on the courses during a frost, but the practice greens typically see almost 50x the amount of traffic than regular greens. Practicing on these greens during a frost delay could result in severe turf injury or even death. We aggressively monitor the conditions and allow carts and traffic to resume on the turf as quickly as possible. Thanks for your understanding! See you on the course!

Lower Practice green under a frost delay. Please stay off until the sign is removed. Thank you!

Lower Practice green under a frost delay. Please stay off until the sign is removed. Thank you!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Pin Placements…

Many of you have been questioning the position of some of the pin placements over the last few weeks. Well, the answer is, we like to make it tough! Just kidding…The real reason that some of the pin placements have been in obscure spots is to give the majority of the green a break from repeated foot traffic. Yes, we have finished aeration, and the greens have returned to normal or better condition, but to keep them that way you will see pins being placed on the outskirts of the greens, or on ridges and hills; areas that you don’t normally see a pin. September and October are perfect months for healing turf, so, why not give some of the usual areas a much-needed break from the long golf season? I apologize for three putts and missed greens. Normal pin positions will return soon! See you on the course!

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-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

 


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Greens Aeration Complete!

Yesterday afternoon was the completion of Fall greens aeration here at Stow Acres. Although very relieved to have the process over with, it marks the start of an exciting Fall. Getting greens punched this early in the season will allow us to carry out more improvements on the facility than usual. As a reminder, the North greens were aerated last week on Monday (August 26) and Tuesday (August 27). They are healed in and getting double cut today. South greens and both practice greens were aerated Wednesday (September 4) and Thursday (September 5). I know some are questioning why we don’t aerate only one practice green at a time. The answer is quite simple in that both practice greens operate off of the South course irrigation. It is much easier to control them together with the same watering program than to split them up. With this current weather pattern, we are sure to have the South greens healed within a week. Thanks for your patience. I know I’ve posted this multiple times, but the procedure doesn’t really change. Click here for an in-depth look at the process. Featured below are some pictures from this Fall’s aeration. See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

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A look into the greatness of Cascade…

It was only a few posts ago (Treating the soil) that I explained about treating the soil with “rinse-in” sprays. These sprays are the backbone of our program throughout the year just like the soil is the backbone of the playing surfaces. Without strong , healthy soils, the plants up top don’t do very well. This summer has been quite the test, but with the help of some fantastic products, we’ve been able to deliver nutrients and water to the roots in a quicker and more stable route. Thanks to GCSAAtv for filming this short segment and especially thanks to Precision Laboratories for manufacturing products that we could not live without!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

[youtube https://youtu.be/UtKkt63_o60]


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Don’t let your guard down…

Well, it seems as though the worst of the summer is behind us. Here is a snapshot of the crazy roller coaster of July weather. Yes, it is very evident that we live in New England.

July 2013

But, it is only July 30th. Even though we’ve experienced some crazy summer weather with heavy rainfall, hot daytime temperatures, warm to hot night-time temperatures, followed by cooler days and heavy rainfall, the current weather pattern that we are in is pretty refreshing for person and turf.  Both golf courses have battled extremely well given the circumstances, and even though this is a nice break for the turf, it doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. You will still see us out there in full force keeping greens syringed (hose watering) on the surface. The air temperatures are significantly cooler, but the humidity is also low, causing evapotranspiration to take place at a higher rate. You will also see us taking advantage of this cooler weather pattern to get some necessary summer treatments done to the greens. We will be needle-tining (poking pencil thin holes in the surface) most greens surfaces and rolling the green immediately following. We will also be lightly topdressing and pro-seeding (dropping new seed) on most greens surfaces. This is done to help increase turf density as some of the older plant tissue dies off, the seed will be incorporated to take over. Thank you for your continued support. We will continue to work hard on providing great playing conditions until snow fall! See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Treating the soil…

This morning, you may have seen the greens being sprayed and then immediately getting watered. This is an effort to treat the soil with a few different products. By watering the greens right after the spray, not only does it hydrate the plant, but helps move the necessary bio-stimulants, soil nutrients, and wetting agents down to the roots and into the soil profile. We try to stick to a schedule of once a month with the same spray ingredients, plus or minus some soil nutrients. This whole process allows the roots to be fed during the summer heat stress and it allows water to move off the surface and into the root zone. A phrase taken from a wise mentor, “Standing water heats, moving water cools.” This helps summarize the reason for today’s spray, even when the high will be in the low 90s. Stay cool and hydrated, I know my greens certainly will be!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

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Merion gets ready…

As Merion Golf Club’s superintendent Matt Shaffer gets ready for the U.S. Open, he takes a minute to show GolfTalkCentral his amazing shop and operation. Good luck to him and his team this week!

Merion Golf Club’s maintenance facility

Also featured is a bit of history between Penn State Turf and Merion Golf Club. This was created by TurfRepublic.com‘s founder, Bill Brown.

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Getting ready for summer…

This warm weather stretch over the next few days is certainly going to make it feel like summer. This spring, the staff has been diligently preparing the turf for the summer heat with the varying cultural practices and products applied to the turf on what has seemed like a daily basis. Our latest process, de-thatching, provides immediate surface drainage. This, combined with a rinse-in spray yesterday will help stabilize the moisture in the soil allowing distribution evenly to the entire root zone. Although April and most of May were dry, nature definitely caught up and provided us adequate precipitation over the last two weeks.  We had only 30% of the average rainfall two weeks into May,. By looking at this chart, you can quickly see that we are right on pace for average. May 2013 weather

Rain is great for the course in the spring months, but it can certainly play an effect on ball roll. There are many factors one must consider when talking about green speed.  Factors such as type of soil, soil moisture content, weather, morning dew, time of year, fertility, height of cut, grass variety, amount of topdressing, and rolling the green can all contribute to how far the ball will roll.  However, the biggest factor that is sometimes uncontrollable is the weather.  Unpredicted rain events can sometimes make managing the soil moisture content very difficult.  To fight against these weather events, research and science has provided the turf industry with products such as wetting agents.  Wetting agents have multiple purposes, but the most important role is drawing the water down in the soil profile, firming the surface, and providing a re-wetting factor for the soil and turf.  For more information on the wetting agent products please watch this short clip:

From approximately Memorial Day to Labor Day, we try to maintain the green speed at a very consistent level; only changing consistency to make the greens faster for major events.  There a few ways to increase speed, but the most important factor is making sure your turf can handle this change.  Root stability, overall plant health, and the right amount of moisture everyday will help allow for the turf to be tweaked during the time of an event.

Thank you for your patience as we slowly climb out cultural practice season. The turf will soon regain its near flawless playability. See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent