Stow Acres Turf

Golf Course Maintenance News & Live Updates from @stowacresturf

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Appearance is everything…

Yesterday morning we began demolition on the “flower” garden next to the pro-shop.  The garden has been there for a very long time and needed a little love. 

After assessing our options and brainstorming some ways to improve it, we settled on a plan and began construction.  We will start by tearing out the existing railroad ties that were used as the retaining wall. 

To replace these, we are going to construct a stone wall built out of colonial wall stone.  If you are familiar with the property, this will match similar to the stone wall on the brick patio on the side of the clubhouse.

Once the railroad ties are removed, the area will be prepared with gravel and lined with Mirafi 140N.  This is used as a silt screen for the retaining wall. 

After the wall is constructed, we are going to build and install a perennial garden with some annuals used as border plants.  The design will look something like this.

Please check back, as I will post a slide show from start to finish when the project is completed!  See you on the course soon!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Projects For The Fall…

Even though most of the crew has wrapped up their summer and headed back to school the remaining crew is still working hard to bring premium course conditions to you for the remainder of the season. The crew may be smaller now but there is no  shortage of work to be done this fall. With the long periods of high heat and seemingly endless stretches of time without rain, the courses were certainly put through their fair share of stress. Now that temperatures are beginning to gradually decline and growing conditions are becoming more favorable, we can start various projects to improve the aesthetics, playability and overall health of the course. Tree removal projects are planned to 12 and 13 North. Greens aeration, selective fairway and tee aeration, and a healthy amount of overseeding is planned for both courses.

Here’s a list of what’s on tap for the fall season at Stow Acres Maintenance:

October 4th & 5th- North Course Greens Aeration

October 18th & 19th- South Course Greens Aeration

Late September through October- Extensive Tree Removal( 12 + 13 North) Green Surrounds

Late September through October- Fairway Overseeding and Selective Aeration

Mid September through November- Transition Area Cleaning and Renovation

The below video shows Harris carefully cutting a tree down behind the shop.

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Send in the Reinforcements…

In addition to not only being an industry that is dictated by the seasons, the golf course industry is one that is highly influenced by a much younger work force than you would see in most other industries. Aside from the core management staff, there is only a handful of workers that work in the earlier part of the season mainly from early March to mid May. The same can be said for later on the season, particularly after September and into the end of the season. While the youthful work force is good in a sense that it helps develop knowledgeable and dedicated workers later on in life for those that decide to remain in the industry, it is also somewhat of a handcuff on what the staff can accomplish when it’s working with small numbers.

Every spring is a bit of a struggle to get the course in shape for the busy summer months. However now that college semester is wrapping up and soon high schools will be closing up shop for summer break, we find ourselves with a quick and very welcome increase in staff members. The early spring staff has gotten the big things out of the way such as spring aeration, course cleanup/setup, and developing a mowing schedule. With these things out of the way and a beefed up staff at our disposal we can now focus on the smaller things so that we may bring you, the golfer, the best possible golf atmosphere available. Tasks that we may have struggling to get done with a smaller crew will now will done on a regular basis.

You can expect all areas of the course to be mowed often as part of our full-time summer mowing schedule. Detail work such as weed-whacking, course cleanup, and bunker maintenance is also now on a much more routine schedule. We will also be partaking in a few course improvement projects. Bunkers are having sand added at an aggressive pace now and our senior horticulturist, John Gibson will be adding mulch to needed areas as well as exercising his green thumb in an effort to perk up both courses with some plants and flowers. The renovation on 4 North is now fully complete and the previously bare areas next to the 6th green and behind the 7th green have been hydroseeded. The staff is working hard and projects are being completed in rapid succession. We are striving to bring golfers the best possible conditions for what will hopefully be a beautiful sunny summer. We look forward to seeing you out there.

~Andrew P. Lanigan, Turf Intern~

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4 North Part 2…

The greens complex renovation on 4 North has been completed!  As our previous post stated, one new bunker was built in front of the green, and the two bunkers on the right side were dug up so we could install drain lines, liners, and new sand!  The complex was sodded with 7, 500 sq. ft. of two types of sod.  The approach/fairway sod is a blend of bentgrass and annual bluegrass.  It is maintained at a height of 0.5″.  The rough sod is a blend of Kentucky bluegrass and 20% fine fescue.  It is maintained at a height of 3″.  Rooting and recovery should take approximately 2 weeks.  Thank you for your patience while the new sod takes root and the new sand settles.  The before and after pictures are posted below.  See you on the course!

              4 North Before                                        4 North After

               4 North Before                                       4 North After







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4 North…

As some of you may have already noticed, a significant renovation has been undertaken on the fourth hole of the north course. As a result of the incredible amounts of rain we received this spring, the pond on 4 North had risen far beyond what could be considered a “comfortable” level. Because of this, the turf, mainly the approach and greens surrounds, had suffered some damage from being under water for so long.

To solve this problem we decided to take an aggressive approach to the situation. We have made an extensive drain line for the pond using 10 inch PVC drain pipe that ranges all the way from under the 3rd hole tee complex to the far side of 15 north. This will insure that the pond never reaches such an intolerable height again. We have also began to restructure and resurface the 4th approach, greens surrounds and bunker surrounds. The grounds crew renovated the two right side bunkers and also created a new shallow bunker which will be in front of the green on the left side. Drainage lines will be installed in the bunkers and liners will be put in to make sure that the bunkers are in top condition for a very long time. Later on this week we will be sodding the entire newly renovated area.

During work hours a temporary green will be in effect to allow for quick and efficient work to be done on the area and after work hours the green will be re-opened with a free drop available should you hit into any unplayable areas. We will keep you up to date with all progress this week regarding this project and will soon be putting up pictures detailing the process from start to finish. We thank you for your cooperation while we work hard to bring you a beautiful new greens complex.

~Andrew P. Lanigan, Turf Intern~

Get that water out of here…

Yesterday, we started the first of a few drainage trenches that are going to be installed over the next couple weeks.  The excessive rain amounts we received last month helped us identify where we need trenches to help maintain water flow and dry conditions.  As it  was pretty obvious, a few holes on the North course definitely needed some help.  Holes 3, 15, and 18 North will all receive new drain lines by the end of next week. 

Hole 3 North is connected to the pond that splits the fairways on 3 and 4, and it also protects the 4th green.  The trench that we have dug is to increase water flow from the pond and regulate the water level during rain events.  The trench will be filled with 2″ stone on the bottom and capped off with 1″ on the top.  In the middle of the trench there will be a 10″ diameter PVC pipe that will run from the pond into the woods just off the 3rd tee complex.  On the pond end of the pipe, we are installing a regulating elbow with a grate cover to catch debris and regulate the pond to the level we desire.  The grate will allow for easy clearing of debris when needed.  The water flow will then empty into the woods running down through and past the 16th tee North and stop in a catch area to the right of 15 North approach.  Here, we have dug another smaller trench that has similar stone, but only has a 2″ PVC line as water flow has decreased once it gets to this point.  The water will eventually end up in the large body of water that borders the 15th hole.  This was definitely a weak point in the drainage here, and this recent massive rain event helped us identify what we needed to do to fix it. 

Hole 18 North is also another weak point in the drainage.  As seen on 18 from about 130 yards from the green, the turf has suffocated due to excess water and moisture.  Our plan is to install another drainage line similar to 15 North and empty the water and hill runoff into the small pond by the pine grove on 18.  Once the drain line is installed, we can then begin to repair the damaged turf in that area.  Our two options are seed or sod, and they are both currently being evaluated now. 

The South course also has drainage issues of its own.  Holes 2 and 4 continue to give us trouble each spring season.  On hole 2 South we plan to install a french drain in the valley, (  This should allow the rope fences to finally be removed the fairway will play normal soon.  By now, I’m sure most of you that have played the South are wondering about the drainage on hole 4.  Because it is level with a peat bog (, it makes it difficult for us to find a place for the water to go.  Continued field capacity with water is something very hard to manage without major renovation.  Hole 4 is also currently being evaluated, and a long-term solution is being worked on. 

I appreciate your patience as these areas appear to be under construction.  We are doing our best to restore these areas to their original appearance soon.  As always, feel free to email me with any questions regarding course projects and updates.  Thanks for your support!  See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

Kevin carefully maneuvers the Ditch Witch to cut a trench for a drainage line on 15 North.


What’s wrong with the sand traps?!?!

I am going into my third season here at Stow Acres CC as the Superintendent.  One of most common questions I get asked is regarding the conditions of the sand traps.  If you have played here at Stow Acres, then you know that some of the sand traps are littered with silt material, pebbles, and, in some bunkers, small rocks.  When the bunkers were originally designed, the technology that we have today, obviously did not exist.  Tools such as permeable cloth liners and sprayable liners were not available.  Some bunkers only received the most basic drainage if any at all.  As you can imagine, to renovate all of the 106 sand traps on the property would be very labor intensive and costly.  While considering these two factors, we begun to evaluate and renovate the bunkers as needed instead of renovating them all at once.  First I must explain why most of the  sand appears to be firm and rocky.

As defined by Wikipedia, “Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.”  But, you are probably saying to yourself, that it certainly didn’t occur naturally in the sand traps on the golf course.  Well, you’re right.  The sand used for golf course sand traps is usually mined from large rock quarries and screened multiple times in order clean the sand of any soil particles and debris.  Once the sand is cleaned, it is delivered to the site and dumped into the awaiting the bunker.  If the bunker was constructed properly, there is some type of drainage line installed, along with a barrier to keep out unwanted rocks and debris from the surface.  The sand is highly maintained to achieve a superior playing condition.  Please watch this short video clip produced by the USGA that further explains bunkers and their playing expectations.

As I mentioned earlier, the sand traps were not constructed properly, which makes our job to maintain them a lot tougher.  Pictured below is what proper drainage would look like in a bunker.

During a rain event, if the bunker has proper drainage, then the water has somewhere to go.  If the bunker does not have proper drainage, the water will pool up and just sit until we are able to go around and pump each bunker free of water.  Once the bunker has been pumped, the bunker is left with a dark brown or reddish soil that appears to be mud or clay.  If you look at the picture below, you will see the difference between high and low porosity. 

Sand having larger particle sizes obviously has a greater porosity allowing water to pass through.  Other soil types such as silt and clay have smaller particle sizes; therefore, having a much less porosity.  In fact, water will help bind particles together if the porosity is low enough.  The diagram below shows the differences in soil types.

Because clay has such small particle sizes (<0.002 mm in diameter), resulting in a very low porosity, water will bind these particles forcing them to the surface in the sand trap.  Once this happens, the new sand that may have just been installed, is now contaminated.  If a rake or even foot traffic carries particles from this reddish area to another area in the sand trap, the contamination process begins.  Contrary to belief, many of the sand traps on this property have plenty of sand.  As recommended by the USGA, sand should be maintained at a 4″ depth in the center of the sand trap.  Unfortunately we do not have barriers or drainage in place to fix this ongoing contamination problem each time it rains.  It is also extremely labor intensive to remove the silt and clay that comes to the surface during a rain event.  The rocks and pebbles also come up through the sand over time because there is no barrier.  We are doing our best to evaluate each sand trap individually to improve playing conditions as quickly as possible. 

I know the easy solution sounds like we should just renovate the bunkers and install the proper drainage and barriers.  We are working on it.  We have installed drainage in some bunkers 7 North and 15 North, and we have plans in the next few months to continue to improve the bunkers.  Some holes to look for bunker construction in the near future are 4 North, 2 North, 15 North, 17 North, and 8 North.  I would like to thank everyone for your continued support.  We strive to bring you the best playing conditions we can each day.  See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent