Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beginning the Recovery Process


This week some of you may have noticed that we have begun the recovery process to get newer and better grass to fill in where the winter had taken it's toll. The reason that I stress NEWER and BETTER grass is because as with most things, technology is helping develop grass varieties that can withstand stress better. They are more disease resistant, require less fertilizer, and can handle extremes in temperature better which leads to less winter damage. The greens here at Kenosha Country Club are mostly poa Annua or Annual Bluegrass, this is a very opportunistic plant that has an amazing ability to fill a void in weak or dead turf. Nobody did anything wrong that resulted in the course being comprised of mostly poa Annua, it is just what happens over time and until very recently there was no real way to get rid of it short of killing the green and starting from scratch. Now there are chemicals as well as fertility programs that will encourage the stronger bentgrass while discouraging the weaker poa Annua. A newer course like Strawberry Creek is able to take advantage of this and along with the newer chemical technology can virtually guarantee that the weaker grass (poa Annua) will never intrude into the pure bentgrass stand. The other way to accomplish this is like Westmoor CC did and shut down for a number of months to kill the greens and start over.

Starting now with the practices that we are taking on, my goal is to increase the population of bentgrass to the point where our winter injury is minimized because there is a stronger plant there. We will be doing a number of things to accomplish this and the first step started a week ago with spike seeding and continues with slit seeding on Monday April 19.

This image shows the small holes left by a small hand seeder, the process was to spike the area, spread some seed, then spike the area again to work the seed into as many holes as possible.

This shows the vertical mowing or verticutting that was done on Monday. This is the best option for wide area seeding at this point in time because it allows the turf to remain smooth while creating channels for the seed to drop into.

All of this is to start a seed bank that will be ready to go when the soil temperature gets up to the necessary 55 degrees. The trick is that just hitting the magic 55 number isn't the all, we need that to sustain over a period of a week or more for the seed to remain viable. Given this, we will continue to seed these areas as frequently as once a week until the greens are fully recovered and at that point we can get into our standard maintenance practices and work toward perfect putting surfaces. Until then rest assured that we will do all we can to maintain smooth surfaces until the greens have recovered.

Keep your fingers crossed that the weather warms up, the faster that happens the sooner the golf course will be pristine.