Wednesday, August 24, 2011

US Amateur

I realize that I have been absent from this blog for most of the season but I thought this was worth mentioning. Yesterday after work my Assistant Nate and I went up to Blue Mound Golf and Country Club to watch the second round of stroke play for the US Amateur (two days of stroke play are used as a qualifier for the match play that will ultimately determine the winner). The stroke play was split between Erin Hills (the title host of the tournament) and Blue Mound Golf and CC in Wauwatosa, WI.

Since I am a bit of a golf architecture geek, the opportunity to see a Seth Raynor designed course was an easy decision to drive an hour, and it didn't disappoint. I wish I could post pictures but all I had with me was my camera phone and with overcast conditions that camera didn't do justice to any of the pictures I took. After seeing that golf course my constant reaction to the golf course and greens complexes especially was WOW! Incredible movement across the putting surfaces, awesome bunkering, just amazing to see a great course that has been restored and maintained to near original design. This trip was a treat indeed.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Cultural Practices!

Days like today are without a doubt some of my favorite days of the year. I was already smiling at 5:30 this morning when I saw a clear sky awaited us for the day, but there was more good news to come... this was a day of some of my favorite cultural practices on our greens.
We started the morning by brushing the greens to stand up the longer grass that is laying down below the reels on the mower. Right after they were brushed we mowed with our regular walk behind greens mowers to cut off all the grass that is now standing upright, this usually results in removing at least twice as much than if we had not brushed them. This is evident in the picture at the left where you can see the right half has yet to be mowed and the left side is much lighter in color after removing a LOT of extra growth. This is a practice that we will continue to use through the season to maintain smooth greens free of too much lateral growth.

The next step in the process was to verticut (vertical mow) the greens, this again is to remove excess lateral growth. This is a process that has been used here at Kenosha CC for many years, however, this year over the winter we purchased new blades which make the practice much more effective. Last year with the old blades we were simply cutting a line in the green but not effectively removing any material, this year we needed a cart to follow the machine to continually empty the clippings from the baskets. After the verticut mower went across the green we mowed it again with a riding greens mower to remove any standing debris and blew the rest of the remaining clippings into the rough.

At this point we are about half way done with the process... next was to topdress liberally with sand. There are a few reasons for this, one is to smooth the surface from both the verticutters as well as any ball marks or other imperfections. After we spread the sand we drag it in with a brush pulled by a utility cart. Finally we spread fertilizer to encourage new growth and an overall healthy plant and water the greens for 10 minutes to help the sand settle as well as wash the fertilizer into the turf canopy for uptake by the roots.

It was a long and busy day but in the end very successful. Great day to be a Golf Course Superintendent!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How about this weather!?!?

I know by now that I shouldn't be surprised by the weather patterns that we experience here in the Upper Midwest but low and behold it happened on Monday, April 18. Below is the photo proof.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Farmlinks Experience

At the end of March I was offered the opportunity to attend an educational opportunity called The Farmlinks Experience ( It is hosted at a property owned and operated by the Pursell family and is located in Sylacauga, Alabama. This property is a functioning golf course open to limited public play but more importantly is used as a research and education facility for Golf Course Superintendents from across the country and around the world.

Our trip began on Wednesday March 23 and we arrived on property at about noon. We were taken to our humble cabin seen in the photo below situated behind the 17th green.

Wednesday we had class for about 3 hours before having some leisure time to enjoy fishing or golfing.

Thursday was a full morning of education including both classroom time as well as a course tour with Agronomist Mark Langner who told us all about how the property was build as well as the how's and why's they use certain products. After education on Thursday we were given time to play golf and experience a course that is fantastically designed into the existing landscape by the firm of Hurdzan and Fry.

This is really an amazing experience and I was fortunate to be invited. It's a great opportunity to spend some time with other superintendents, asking them their thoughts and ideas and how's/why's of their programs. We had time to relax and recharge but also spent upwards of 10 hours in the classroom over 3 days as well as an on the course tour. Lots of good education, meet and reunite with colleagues from around Chicago and come back with new ideas.

Monday, March 7, 2011


The USGA recently published a great article that outlines the importance of greens aeration that serves to explain just why this is still a necessary part of a good greens maintenance program. Each year we try to get more and more out of our putting greens while reducing the inputs that can temporarily disrupt play such as aeration. This article explains why we can't cut back on this necessary program.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow Melt, February 2011

This could be considered an addendum to my post from a few weeks ago (Snow and Ice Management from January 31) and I will treat it as such. Through the week of February 14-18 we experienced a considerable warm-up and melting of almost all of the snow that had accumulated this year. The downside to what we experienced is that as the snow melts it obviously leaves behind water that at times has trouble leaving putting surfaces. To aid in the water getting off of the surface we have been attempting to move the snow out of the lower portion of the greens where the ice tends to form. Below is an example of that from our 8th green.

As you can see from this picture, as I pushed the snow to the higher part of the green it drains to the low then off the front of the green. The low areas are where we experienced damage last year and those are the areas that we want to prevent ice build-up.

As the snow melts, it drains down the front of the green and at times hits a bit of a problem at the front of the green where there is a slight rise in the grade of the green running into the approach. In the fall of 2011 we spend a lot of time stripping sod from the edge of the green into the approaches to gain this surface drainage back that had been lost from years of topdressing.

In many of those areas the green is draining very well and in others a small amount of sod work will need to happen going as much as 6" to 1' onto the green to get the grade sloping down the entire way onto the approach. In areas where the grade isn't steep enough I have taken a shovel and cut a trench in order to get the water to move more quickly off of the surface. In the image above the trench was cut on Thursday when there was a large puddle sitting on the green, the picture was taken on Friday and as you can see all of the water has drained off. I realize that these are unsightly and will be for a few weeks into the golf season, I think it is a small price to pay if we are able to keep the putting surface alive as a result.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Snow and Ice Management

In an effort to prevent the damages that we experienced in 2009-2010, my Assistant Nate and I have been spending quite a bit of time on the course monitoring the greens specifically and taking preventative and corrective measures to minimize the possibility of damage like what we experienced last year.

Starting on November 19, with the help of two assistants from the Merit Club we were able to get non-permeable covers installed on greens 10 and 12. These covers began in Minnesota where numerous people install hockey rinks in their yards and the cover was used to prevent the death of the yard under 4" of ice. From there they grew into successful covers for greens throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin where large ice accumulation can occur.

The photo at the left shows the final stakes being put in place to hold the cover in place for the winter. This is a big process which requires a lot of manpower to get accomplished not only due to the size and weight of the covers but also the foam matting that goes underneath the cover. Before the cover goes down, we first have to unroll 9 foot wide rolls of packing foam across the entire green before the main cover goes down. This is to allow some cushioning and allow for gas exchange underneath the cover. On top of the foam layer, we ran a flat vent tube with holes every 3 feet that we can attach to a blower and circulate air under the cover.

Up until the end of December, the year had been going along almost exactly and we would prefer with cold temperatures and frozen ground underneath a blanket of snow. December 29, 30, and 31 brought us a new challenge however when the temperatures warmed enough to melt nearly all of the snow that had fallen to that point in the year. On December 31, Nate and I spent the day going from green to green to squeegee water off that had been left behind from the melting snow. The day was going well until we reached number 5 green and found snow cover with approximately 1" of water right at the surface of the green... we knew this would freeze by the next morning if we didn't remove it now.

The picture at left shows the water logged center section of the green which we were able to push off with the squeegee, the rest of the snow we had to push off with shovels in order to assure that further melting didn't cause ice problems.

After we cleared nearly all of #5 green of snow and water it was beginning to rain so we hurried to #4 which is suspected may be in similar condition with snow and water covering the surface, unfortunately I was right. Below are photos of # 4 green from December 31 and then from January 5 and you can see the benefit that clearing the snow and water had, on the right side of the green there is no ice accumulation, unfortunately as you can see there is a bit on the left side from the rain that fell later in the evening on December 31.

At this point on the last day of January, we appear to be well ahead of the position we were in a year ago. There is a small amount of ice on #4 and 5 greens which we have attempted to melt and remove and ultimately we resorted to puncturing the layer of ice so the Carbon Dioxide can escape. Now we hope that the snow that is on the way doesn't melt and refreeze anytime before March and we should have a much better start to the 2011 season.