Sunday, October 5, 2014

Golf Course Update

The crew has busy out aerifying on the golf course.  Starting on September 22nd we aerified the greens.  We had a great stretch of sunny weather and were able to finish all of the greens and fill in the core holes with sand in 2 days.  Capitalizing on the great fall weather we moved right into finishing the tees on Wednesday and started our journey on the fairways over the following days.  Generally 2 fairways are aerified in a day including busting of the cores and blowing off left over debris.  We currently have 3,4,5,6,7,8 fairways to finish which should be accomplished next week.  We have had good success and have seen very good recovery in all aerated areas as greens are playing fairly smooth and the core holes are shrinking daily.  Limiting factors in aerifying late fall include amount of sunlight and fall rains that leave soils saturated.

Greens aeration #14
Core cleanup #7 Tee
On October 6th we will start construction on hole #17. The greens committee has prioritized the surrounds and greens complex as an area that needs improvement.  Due to the loss of several green side Norway Spruce as well as a large corpse of White Pines the character and attractiveness of this golf hole was compromised.   With the help of C.W. Golf Architecture, a plan was developed to improve this signature Par3 hole.  Major improvements will include fairway extension up the left side of the green, a pot bunker on the left side to frame the golf hole, a small greens extension on the left side, smoothing out the ground and contours, cart path rerouting and relocating irrigation control boxes.  The project is estimated to take 2 weeks to complete.  The 17th hole will be removed from play for the remainder of the year.

#15 White Oak
#3 Green (2008)
Over the last few years trees have been a major area of focus.  Several mature Spruce and White Pines have been removed from the property.  Also we have experience several storms, including late July this season which has contributed to tree loss.  One of the greens committees main focus is planting new trees in key locations on the golf course.  Although trees are attractive and can add functional improvements and challenges to the golf course, it is important to understand the relationship trees and turf have between them.   Trees need space and as they grow they start creating challenges such as shade, roots, air flow and create debris.  They directly compete with turf for water and nutrients in the soil.  As shown in the bottom right picture of  #3 green in 2008.  Shade played a significant role in the quality of turf for this green, as well as limited frost from burning off and moisture being trapped in the greens surface.  Also as these trees shed their needles it littered the greens surface with debris.  This is 1 example where trees in this area were not beneficial and offered little value.  The large White Oak on #15 is an example of a tree that was planted in a place that defines the golf hole.  Not only does the stateliness of this tree show up from the tee box, it also protects the right side of the golf hole.  The grouping of Norway Spruce that used to be in this area blocked this trees full beauty, as well as created thin turf full of surface roots.  As the greens committee moves through the tree selection and planting process simple examples of past planting successes and failures will be used as guidelines. Our current goal is to identify areas on the golf course and tree species to be planted in Spring 2015. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Golf Course Update

With in a blink of an eye we are in the last week of August, summer sure flew by.  It was not to long ago in early July when we were managing expectations of our resent regrown greens.  We entered into a busy golf calender with new seedlings which we just hoped would survive through daily play.  Forecasting best case potential greens speeds to be 10, and mowing heights left above our usual standards for the season, boy were we wrong.  Mother nature provided us with a relatively mild temperate summer with significant rainfall, this coupled with the greens crews hard work, the putting greens improved in density and thin areas disappeared quickly.  The greens, tournament after tournament became stronger and greens speed improved from 10 up to 12 for events.  Heights of cut have been restored very close to tradition and the impact of frequent mowing and rolling has shown minimal set back.  The greens crew have received many great compliments on the course.  Thank you for showing your support!

On July 27th we experienced one of the worst storms to hit our property.  Forest lake Country Club was right in the epicenter of straight line winds which reached 70mph.  The damage to the trees was so extensive that the course was closed for 4 days.  We have numerous amounts of pictures and debris littered through the golf course. Below are a few

#9 Tee box with Oak limbs making this hole impassible
Silver Maple between 12/13
Spruce Tree left side of #18
Little Leaf Linden #15/16, snapped off at the base
3 Silver Maples down on the left side of #11
Our main focus was to create a safe environment by removing hazardous trees and limbs, while trying to tackle the damage in a systematic manor to resume playing the golf course. In total 62 storm damaged trees blew over or were severely damaged, along with several smaller limbs.  We have removed 54 of these to date.   The effort of cleaning up storm damage of this magnitude is not accomplished alone. Special thanks to Schilbe Tree care for their quick response and hard work.

Kevin Schilbe clearing out debris on #9 Tee
Over 600 yards of wood chips were hauled off property
4 transport truck loads of logs were hauled off property
 Currently the golf course is in good shape with the majority of tree work completed.  The greens crew will be working on filling in the remaining stump holes and grassing these areas.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Greens Update

It has been an extremely interesting and educational journey the past 3 months.  Reflecting back to mid April where there was little to no grass that survived the winter on the majority of our greens.  Mid June we opened all 18 greens for play and there were still areas of sparse and thin turf but definite signs that the putting greens were going to recover in the near future.  The second week of July was a major turning point for the greens as we were able to put them into tournament form and host our traditional Flat stick event. 

There are definitely more challenges and hurdles in the future, as the greens slowly are being groomed into pristine playing surfaces.  Although the greens are rolling fair and greens speeds continually rise to develop a consistency from green to green and day to day, we are still tentative on how much stress these greens can tolerate.

The one noticeable thing about the greens is the amount of POA seed head that is evident.  In a traditional year we would use growth regulators to interrupt seeds from forming early spring and they would be a minor nuisance for a short period. 

New POA plant removed from #11 Green

POA seed freckled through 13 Green
Seed head in general is apparent on our greens from new POA seeds that have germinated during our recovery and have come to flower (or seed).  POA will also seed, if it feels it is under stressed conditions such as low fertility, low mowing heights, and low moisture.  The mentioned conditions are also all factors that can positively influence green speeds and ball roll.

We may deal with seed heads throughout the season but have been using different mechanical techniques such as top dressing, verticutting and brushing to minimize the influence it can have on a putt.

One question that has been consistent since we inter- seeded bent grass into our greens to help them recover.  That question being is.. Will the greens be bent grass or POA in future years?  The simple answer at the moment is both.  Both grasses are growing on our greens, and both play good when groomed into a putting surface, which we plan to continue to do during the 2014 season.  In the future both grasses varieties have different characteristics and cultural practices that influence health and competitive edge on 1 another.  As we monitor theses characteristics and amount of each grass we have on the playing surfaces we will be able to implement a management plan moving forward. 

Can you see the difference in the 2 grasses below?

Non seeding POA the bottom 1/3 of picture. New Bent grass The top 1/3 of picture

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Greens Update

The greens crew has been working extremely hard to recover the greens areas that were lost from the past winter.  There are a few thin areas on edges of greens, but we have been very successful in growing a lot of grass on the turf surface.  All of the greens have been but in play, but still require significant attention and, many grooming practices to improve how they play.
This week we started that journey.  The greens were verti-cut on Wednesday, to eliminate some lateral growth as well as thinning out some of the dense POA areas.  Many seed heads from new POA that re-established itself was removed during this process.
Cleaning up the debris after verti-cutting
On Thursday we top dressed the greens as well as brushed the sand into the canopy.  The drag brush stood up an abundance of unwanted growth, and we were able to mow quite a bit of this grass off the greens.
Long runners standing up after brushing
POA plant that was stood up from brushing in foreground.   #3 Green in the back ground with tons of grass standing up waiting to be cut.
Mower has arrived
These processes removed some of the puffiness feel out of the greens, and created a better surface.  The greens this weekend have shown a little injury from our maintenance but will continue to improve.   You will see similar processes as above being preformed over the next few weeks as we slowly restore the greens into form. 

Divot Repair

Just a quick reminder that you can help improve the course while enjoying your golf round.

- Repair your Ball Marks and 1 other

- Repair your Divots with Divot first, using sand as a second option

- Keep your Carts on Cart Paths where possible and provided

Improper Divot Repair using sand with divots available
Proper Divot Repair using the divots left beside the hitting location

Friday, June 20, 2014

Greens update

June has arrived and the golf calender is full of events.  We have made tremendous progress on the golf course with the main focus on opening up all 18 greens.  June 14/15 all 18 greens were opened up for play for the member/member, followed by the greens being open for the Lady's Invite.  We are hoping to keep these greens open on a daily basis, as long as their health keeps moving in a positive direction.  If needed we will use provisional greens under certain situations.  There are still some thin spots on some greens, mostly isolated on the edges, which are improving daily.  We are working on increasing plant density in these areas.   Through the month of June we will be doing many things to promote recovery, and are forecasting being able to focus on greens speed in the near future.  As we have found through this recovery process, comparing pictures of progression was helpful in recognizing successes and failures.  Below are a few pictures of #12 green.
April 7, 2014

May 23, 2014
June 14, 2014
 The pictures above show a story of the of POA that survived the winter, or has rebounded with warmer soil temperatures.  On June 14th you can clearly see distinct color differences between the POA that survived and the Bent grass grown from seed that has filled in the putting surface.  We have also noticed a lot of seed head being produced through the month of June.  This can cause chattering of putts, which is more noticeable during afternoon rounds

POA seed on #13 green
A couple of photos taken over the last couple weeks;

Morning of June 19th, looking East from 11 green
1 of 4 Snapping Turtles hanging out on the Driving range during high water
Coopers Hawk by #14 green who just caught a Sparrow

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Golf course update

It's an exciting day for Ladies and Men's league at Forest Lake.  As we turn the corner in the recovery of our playing surfaces we have introduced 6 greens into play.  Although not perfect, these greens have recovered significantly to handle routine play.  As June moves along we will start introducing others once ready, and will look forward to move away from the provisional pins in the near future.  The mowing heights for the greens will be mowed higher then traditional years.  As the canopy becomes denser and the greens remain in good health, we will slowly lower our mowing heights to improve greens speed.

2 Green April 3st
2 Green open for play June 5th
We have been updating weekly on the situation of our greens, but the greens crew has been quite busy everywhere on the golf course.  Flowers have been planted all around the club, and the crew is starting to move through the mulch gardens through out the property. Grass has been jumping out of the ground and rough areas have been very difficult to keep under control.  Also we would like to share some photos of a few tree and planting projects that are close to being complete.  Thank you for supporting the greens crew's hard efforts .

15 Green
15 Green Cedars removed
Locust Trees #7
Locust Trees #7 removed
16 Tee

16 Tee New Arborvitaes planted

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Golf Course Update

A tremendous amount of things are happening all at once on the golf course. Soil temperatures have started to warm up and have caused grass to start growing rapidly.  While trying to keep up on mowing roughs and other areas, our main focus is still on greens recovery.  It is very tough sometimes to judge progression when you are looking at the same green everyday trying to pick out the positive advancements.  We have been taking periodic pictures of the greens better monitor this.  Shown below are pictures of #2 and #13 greens, with the first photos from April 7th, and last on May 23rd.  Our recovery is very much related to the damage that a particular green has received. There are additional factors such as moisture management, percent of seed germination, algae and fertility that also playing  a role in recovery. We are addressing these hurdles as we run into them.  The greens are moving along, but are not perfect, that will come in time.  We are looking at introducing some greens in play at the start of June and progressively be playing others as the turf canopy becomes dense enough to support daily play.  Although these putting surfaces will be played, expect to have slower greens speeds, and some bumpy ball rolls at first.  As the surface matures and we are able to put into effect more maintenance stresses the greens will consistently  improve.

2 Green April 7, 2014
2 Green April 31,2014
2 Green May 12,2014
2 Green May 23,2014
13 Green April 7,2014
13 Green April 31,2014
13 Green May 12,2014
13 Green May 23,2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Golf Course Update

We are going to hit 30 days after seeding our greens this coming weekend (May 16,17 and 18th to be factual).  Even though we have encountered some frustrating cool weather, we have been able to make some significant progress especially from the warm rains over the past 7 days.  All of the greens are showing significant recovery but will remain out of play at the moment.  At this point we have a very mixed bag of greens in our recovery process, which range from looking very fairly close to being put back in play to a handful of greens that it is too early to make that determination.  This is too be expected, where in general, the greens that are closer to play had less winter damage and grass that survived, where the greens with excess of 80% winter kill will be recovering from almost all seed.

Pictures of a couple examples from both ends of the spectrum.

#9 Green - Approximately 1/3 of this green appeared alive in mid April.  Also there were signs of other grass in a dormant state making a recovery.

9 Green Mid April
9 Green Mid May

#18 Green - 90% of this green suffered winter kill.  There has been a small portion of this green that was dormant and trying to rebound, but a large part of this greens recovery is relying on new seedlings.
18 Green Mid April
18 Green Mid May
As the pictures show, 9 green will be ready for play earlier then 18 green.  Not to be discouraged.  As we have started to mow all of the greens, we continue to see positive improvements, where the seedlings are becoming dense and starting to fill in the voids between them.  

As we look at these pictures of the greens on weekly and monthly comparisons we notice very positive results. We will continue to show progress pictures of the greens weekly.