Monday, November 19, 2012

Changing gears...

It's been some time since my last blog post here, and I wanted to give a quick review of where things are at on the turf side of our operations!

After another FUN Mid-Atlantic summer, our superintendents have changed gears from the hectic days of high-stress turfgrass management to the more predictable time of year when grass growth has slowed to a minimum, and our focus shifts to leaf removal and beginning to work on projects that will enable us to continue to improve our facilities.

August and September saw us begin in earnest cultural practices including aeration and seeding of greens, tees, fairways, and rough, and final rounds of weed control, topdressing, and vertical mowing. 

Best large-area aerator in the industry providing some turf relief!
Virtually every golf course in the area, public or private, was affected in late August and early September by significant turf decline in the rough caused by an aggressive disease called gray leaf spot.  (Most people, when asked, just assumed our rough was affected by drought)  This disease typically affects perennial ryegrass, and can take out large stands of turf in a matter of days.  The positive side about what happened in our roughs is that we have been able to introduce a LOT more tall fescue into the stand, which is more disease and drought tolerant year-round compared with Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrasses, and fine fescues.. 
100% tall fescue on the left (sod area); mixed stand on the right where gray leaf spot negatively impacted the rough.
Next year, we will be introducing some additional control strategies that will help us to maintain healthier, more playable turf around greens and fairways amidst the unbelievable summer disease pressure we face annually in this region.

Hurricane (or Superstorm) Sandy brought with her extreme devastation to so many areas locally and especially, of course, New Jersey and New York.  MCG's golf courses were VERY fortunately spared from much of this damage.  We had a few trees come down and some damage to things like roadside netting.  Bunkers were also flooded with about 8 inches of rainfall, but fortunately, the main impact from Sandy affecting playability of the courses was copious amounts of leaves that fell.  With the golf courses totally saturated, large equipment could not be used for a couple of days to remove leaves, so maintenance staffs did a lot of hand work getting the courses ready for play again.
Anyone have a leaf rake?
Now in mid-November, leaves are still falling, but I would estimate we are more than 75% through the leaf drop period.  Hardwood trees like oak, hickory, and some fruit trees such as pear, are still hanging on, and maintenance teams will continue to prepare the golf course for you each morning amidst other work.  While some areas of leaves are simply blown into the woods, we make a point to try to MULCH leaves back into the turf canopy of the rough surrounding greens, tees, and fairways, which has a long-term benefit of providing a food source to the grass as the leaves decompose over time.

Mowing grass has slowed to about once a week at this point, but our goal is still to keep great greens for you, so we continue to roll the greens to maintain surface smoothness and green speed.  We are also running into numerous frost delays, but be assured we are doing everything we can in order to get you on the course ASAP!  More info on frost here, or here (highly detailed article).

Stay tuned for additional posts this week about some of the projects we are starting to work on... greens drainage, tee construction, bunker rebuilds, irrigation upgrades, etc.  Mother nature has slowed down, but MCG teams will be hard at work all winter!!!

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