Stow Acres Turf

Golf Course Maintenance News & Live Updates from @stowacresturf


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Greens “watering”…

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. However, overhead water can sometimes cause more harm than benefit. When temperatures get hot, and even more importantly the humidity increases, overhead is too much water and plays a significant role in disease pressure. Another downside to overhead water is that it isn’t able to really focus on the tiny little micro climates all over the greens. The hoses allow us to carefully monitor the moisture level and surface temperature level. We are proactively monitoring soil moisture with our TDR 100 moisture meters and constantly surveying the greens. 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. You will also notice us changing cups frequently throughout the afternoon. This is another proactive solution to minimizing foot traffic and turf stress. Please watch this short USGA video on hose watering:

The staff does not spend any longer than 3 minutes on a green surface. If you happen to be waiting to hit your approach, please wait just a few seconds 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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Where’s the rain?

Since March 1, we are currently 5.0″ below the average rainfall to date. Absolutely perfect for golf, but very difficult for plants. You are starting to see dry spots appear in fairways that typically aren’t seen until late June or even early July. With the extremely below average rainfall total and the complications of starting the irrigation system this season, we are healing back in from the winter months slower than expected. However, now that irrigation is fully functioning and we have warm nights, we will start to see seed germinating. Once germinated, it will still be slow process before 100% recovery. So far, we have only over-seeded greens, but we plan to over-seed tees and fairway spots next week. Bunker work is also underway, and you will see a gradual improvement over the next few weeks that will include sand cleaning and fresh sand added. Please click here for a more in depth look at sand cleaning. Most of our typical spring startup projects have had to get done at much slower process while we try to keep the turf green, healthy, and adequately hydrated. We truly appreciate your support this spring! Please take a minute to read the following. It is a very well educated summary on winter damage by USGA Northeast Agronomist Jim Skorulski. See you on the course!

Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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The Holes From the Road…

It’s that time of year again when the sun comes out for 2 hours in the middle of the day, and you are briefly reminded of what warm weather feels like. Grass is visible for the first time in almost 3 months in some parts. The majority of us have not swung a golf club in five months, and we are getting eager to get on the course. Well, I’m here to update you that you’re going to have to wait just a little longer. After walking the golf courses Friday, approximately 20% of the course still remains covered in snow. Yes, I know fairways 1, 9, 8 South and 1, 9, 18 North look great from the road. And maybe you have noticed the practice greens are even clear when you came in to pick up your re-gripped irons. But, unfortunately 100+” of snow takes a little longer to melt than your average snowfall in an average winter. However, the forecast does look promising for this week. Please stay tuned into the next 7-10 days because you may be able to get out there to hit the ball around!  

I am happy to report that, even though we had a lot of snowfall this winter, nature was pretty good to us. There is minimal debris on the course (only debris caused by our tree removal on 12 & 13 North), and minimal gray snow mold formation in some fairways and roughs. The turf looks extremely healthy. And, unlike the March of 2011, there is minimal flooding on the North course. The usual overflowing pond on 17 North causing a pond near 2 tee and a stream running across 1 fairway are the only excess water areas on the property. This is all very uplifting news because once we can get maintenance vehicles on the course, the cleanup will be pretty quick. Check back often, as I will try to give a regular update as to when we will be opening! See you on the course soon!

Happy Easter!

Tune into the Live Feed South 9/10 to watch the snow melt!

-Jason VanBuskirk,  Superintendent


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A Necessary Evil… (Not aeration)

Last week, you saw a process get done to the putting greens that was done this time last year. In simple terms, we dethatched the greens. Although the concept is similar to aeration in the spring time, it certainly doesn’t take the place of it. In fact, it removes more surface material than a traditional aerator would. It allows for each putting green to be treated with sand and it gives the sand a little slit to nestle into. The machine is called a Rotadairon. A very detailed explanation can be seen here on their website. The service was provided by Mike Parks from Hillcrest Turf Services (http://www.hillcrestturfservices.net) located right here in Massachusetts. The purpose of running this machine over all 39 greens is to remove the “thatch” layer that builds up over the duration of multiple golf seasons. Although we aerate the greens every year, that machine only pokes holes and removes material 2″ on center (process can be read about here). Sand is then applied to fill the holes in. However, the Rotadairon cuts into the surface approximately 0.5″ – 0.75″ over a 53″ width. It collects and removes all of the thatch material allowing for immediate air exchange to the roots and improved surface drainage. During the process last week, we mowed the greens, ran the Rotadairon, mowed the greens again to remove the very little debris left behind, blew off the collars, rolled the green, topdressed, fertilized, and watered-in. The topdressing sand is a 1mm sand. This is used because it has a much larger pore space than thatch or traditional soil. The sand will allow for the bent-grass plants to continue to creep and become more dense. This week, we are topdressing again and fertilizing again with a slightly different material. Overall, the achieved result is a firmer, faster, healthier putting green. With the right weather, the greens will be near perfect again by the weekend. Apologies for the short inconvenience. Below, are a few pictures and videos of the machine in action! See you on the course!

The attachment is a PTO driven attachment with over 100 blades!

The attachment is a PTO driven attachment with over 100 blades!

An underneath view of the machine.

An underneath view of the machine.

An up close  look at the green surface after the Rotadairon has passed.

An up close look at the green surface after the Rotadairon has passed.

Clip from 1 North green

Clip from 1 North green

-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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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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