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!
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!
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!
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!
An underneath view of the machine.
An up close look at the green surface after the Rotadairon has passed.
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!
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!
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!
“Frost delay” is a term that can be very common on a golf course in the spring months. These delays can sometimes be brief, but can also last as long as 2 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 radiation 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 or orange tracks are typically seen going across a fairway, tee, or even sometimes, a green. If you are using a pull cart during a frost delay, please be mindful as to where you travel on the course. 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 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!
-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent
This is a perfect picture of what simple foot traffic and a pull cart can do to grass during a frost. These tracks will be seen for 2-3 weeks depending on how aggressively the grass is growing.
Full steam ahead… It’s kind of a weird saying, but it fits for us right now. Both courses are open. There is only one temporary green (10 South) that remains in all 36 holes; all 36 holes will be open by the end of the week. Carts are allowed on the South course right now and likely to be going on the North course by the middle of this week. With only 10 people on staff right now (including myself), we are definitely very busy trying get both courses playing as normal as possible. Tree cleanup is being done on 7 and 17 North; 6 and 10 South this week. Greens have been cut and rolled once on both courses and will be cut at least once more this week before the weekend. Fairways, tees, and approaches will also be cut for the first time this week. We are very happy to report that even with all of the snow this winter, we had very little snow mold formation on short cut turf. You may see some small gray patches in the fairways, but this will grow out very quickly once we begin mowing the turf on a regular basis. Our sand cleaner will begin cleaning bunkers by the end of this week and will work through the rest of this month (please click here for a more detailed explanation of the sand cleaner). We are very excited for another great season here at Stow Acres! Please stay tuned into the blog as I will continue to post course updates. See you on the course!
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!