Course Update for October 2, 2015

By | Aerification, Ballmarks, Greens, Tyne, Verti-Cutting

October 1 is here and it seems to have brought the cold weather. The last couple of days have felt like fall: cooler temperatures and windy. The long range weather forecast looks good for golf and even better for the turf department to complete some fall cultural practices.

October is a great month to complete aerification and verti-cutting of fairways followed by sand topdressing. Yesterday we began solid tyne aerification in the valley on holes #11 and #17 and applied a good amount of sand topdressing to the top half of #17 fairway. This will reduce compaction, increase air exchange to promote a healthier root system, and provide a void for sand topdressing to fill in. The sand will help with thatch management, producing firmer fairways for better playing conditions, wear management, and, hopefully, reduce the worm castings in years to come. The same practice will be completed on approaches and tees over the next couple of weeks. This is not invasive and will produce better playing conditions moving forward.

Over the next several weeks our goal is to get the greens as dense as possible going into the winter. Every week during October there will be days when the greens will not be mowed after certain cultural practices. I do try to complete these tasks early in the week but sometimes tournaments and weather affect our program, pushing us into the middle of the week. I will have to approach the greens in different ways this fall to help them mature. First, we will begin a weekly foliar fertilizer program that will help with growth during the cooler temperatures. Second, we will solid tyne the greens on Monday, October 5 with a small tyne followed by a good amount of sand topdressing. We will continue applying sand on a weekly basis till the end of the season. The sand will protect the crown of the plant and help create a mat layer, which in return will firm up the greens and reduce ballmarks. Third, we will raise mowing heights to alleviate some stress on the plant. This will mean some inconsistent greens throughout October. For the most part the greens are doing great, with a few small wear spots on a couple edges the greens have held up to the approximate 30,000 rounds so far this season. So as the old saying goes, they just need some tender loving care.

Overall, the course is doing great as we approach the end of the season. I want to remind everyone that during the cool wet weather the turf loses its ability to withstand wear. Please be mindful of wear patterns, try to avoid any low areas with carts, exit fairways at the post, and spread out the traffic left of the greens by #8 and #11. This will help minimize damage for next spring. And, as always, especially this time of season, please repair ballmarks on the greens.

Have a great weekend!

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for July 24, 2015

By | Ballmarks, Greens

As we make our way into August the course overall is playing and looking great. Tees, fairways, and roughs have all filled in nicely and are showing minimal signs of wear. In a few more weeks it will be the middle of August, when night-time temperatures stay cool and daylight hours are shorter, allowing stressed turf to finally recover.

Over the last week I heard numerous members wondering if #10 green is going to survive. I didn’t think installing a fan on a green would cause this much discussion, but I am happy to tell you everything is fine. When trying to balance the fine line from maturing a green with minimal play to maturing a green with significant play, areas that have the slightest bit of shade or inadequate air circulation can slow down the maturing process of the turf. As you can see by the photo of #10 taken in June at 8:00 a.m. (photo 1) and the photo of #10 at 5:00 pm (photo 2), significant shade is covering the right side of the green. I completed some minor tree work in July, and as you can see by the photo, I have corrected the problem created by the morning sun. Shade isn’t the only factor for #10 (photo 3); by moving the green closer to the creek bank we have reduced the air circulation to the turf canopy. I am being proactive by using the large fan to create air circulation during the warm days of July. Then in the winter we will complete the necessary tree work to create the needed airflow. Here is a photo of #10 green today (photo 4) showing the health of the green. Over the next week the corners of the approaches on #2 and #10 will be repaired, so please obey the directional posts.

As I have mentioned throughout the season, the greens are maturing nicely. It takes a long time with seeded greens to create a mat layer that gives the turf the protection to withstand wear and ballmarks. I have included links to the USGA and Club videos demonstrating the proper way to repair a ballmark. Please repair your ballmarks and help minimize the recovery time on the new greens.

IGC Ball Mark Repair Video  USGA Ball Mark Repair Video

Have a great weekend!

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for July 10, 2015

By | Greens, Wear

I know most of you don’t want to hear this but we are almost halfway through the golf season. It was a great spring for the course, and I hope that you are figuring out and enjoying the new greens. The weather brought drought in May, showers in June, and July has been unusually cool at night and average during the day. Even with all the weather fluctuations, the one thing that I have noticed is the amount of play the course is getting. This year has shown that the golf course gets a significant amount of play, and with this play all sorts of challenges come to mind. When the Club averages 250-300 rounds per day, wear issues throughout the course become noticeable: tee block areas become beat up, fairway landing areas and approaches get riddled with divots, cart enter and exit points get worn down, and greens get hammered with ball marks. These wear issues are signs of a golf course that is getting well played. To combat this wear we all need to work together and be diligent with seeding or replacing divots on fairways, driving carts in the fairway where possible, paying attention to cart directional posts, and, most importantly, fixing ball marks.

The new greens on the front nine holes have the most noticeable wear, but it’s also on tees and fairways. To alleviate the extra 75-100 rounds the first seven holes receive each day, we will begin more back-nine starts over the next few weeks. Comparing the front nine rounds to back nine rounds is difficult, but there are days when 30-40% more rounds are played on the front nine. So let’s say if the Club has 16,000 rounds year-to-date, that would mean the front nine has received 4800-6800 more rounds than the back nine. Having back nine starts is the only way to alleviate the play on the front nine, and this will help with my philosophy for the season, which is plant health before anything else during the first year of growth.

The rest of the course is taking shape. Over the next couple of weeks we will focus on cleaning up the mulch and garden beds throughout the course and around the clubhouse. This will include edging, weeding, and adding new mulch where necessary. They have been put on the backburner over the last little while and need some attention to tidy up the overall look of the property.

Have a great weekend!

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for June 5, 2015

By | Aerification, Fairways, Greens, Topdressing

The weather this past week was excellent for our annual spring aerification. With the course closed Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday the turf team was able to complete numerous cultural practices to improve health and playability of the turf. Without the course being closed we would not be able to accomplish half of what we did.

The crew aerified greens with a needle tyne “venting” that allows for oxygen exchange promoting rooting and the release of nutrients for growth. This form of aerification is non intrusive, and after rolling a couple times you wouldn’t notice that this was completed. We then solid tyned all the tees and approaches to help reduce compaction and thatch, providing a firmer playing surface. After the aerification was complete, we slit seeded bentgrass in the low areas on fairways to help minimize winter injury from ice. When the aerification was completed we sand topdressed all the greens, tees and fairways. Topdressing greens (photo: below left) will promote a firmer surface to help reduce ballmarks and provide a smoother surface for a truer ball roll. Topdressing fairways (photo: below right) and approaches will provide firmer playing conditions and help minimize worm castings. Light and frequent topdressing will continue throughout the season to enhance the conditions of the greens, tees and fairways.

Topdressing Fairways at Islington Golf Club Topdressing Greens at Islington Golf Club
In all, I couldn’t have asked for better weather conditions to achieve these cultural practices. These management practices will provide short- and long-term benefits, improving the overall condition of the course.

Have a great weekend,

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for October 31, 2014

By | Greens, Irrigation, Winter | No Comments

It has been a long season for the golf course with the completion of the greens rebuild and practice facility. The year started off with severe ice damage to the entire golf course, especially the old poa greens. With the hard work of the construction company and the entire maintenance staff we were able to build and grow-in 20 new USGA bentgrass greens. It is now that time of year where the turf team begins the winter preparation of the golf course. With the cold, wet weather we’ve had over the last week and the long range forecast at our below seasonal averages, the final day of golf will be Sunday, November 16.

Closing on November 17 will allow the turf team the necessary time to finish the required fertilizer and chemical applications on greens, tees, and fairways, while blowing out the irrigation system. The turf department will begin draining the irrigation system tomorrow in preparation for the compressor arrival on Friday, November 7. The irrigation system will be winterized form the 7th to 10th of November, so please be aware around sprinkler heads on the golf course while this is being completed. After this is finished we will begin spraying fungicide on tees and fairways around the 12th of November to protect the turf from winter snow mold, and after the course closes on Monday the 18th we will complete the greens. During the same two weeks will be applying a dormant fertilizer throughout the golf course to promote early turf growth in the spring of 2015. And, finally, around the first week of December—weather dependent—we will begin installing perforated tarps on all the new greens. These tarps allow moisture through the surface, unlike solid tarps, and are put in place to protect the new greens from wind desiccation, not ice like in years past.

Again, I want to thank everyone for their patience throughout 2014, and I look forward to a great 2015.

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for August 15, 2014

By | Bentgrass, Greens, Practice Range, Rebuild | No Comments

The machines have left the property! I am excited to say the construction company has removed all the large pieces of machinery offsite and are now finished. The remaining sod on the new practice facility will be completed today, leaving only the asphalt paving and curbing to be completed sometime in the next couple of weeks. Overall the greens have been growing in nicely, 14 of the 17 greens have now been mowed and are all at different stages of maturity. The crew started removing bunker boards this week and have begun tamping and leveling the sand. The remaining construction work will be completed over the next couple of months to ensure everything is ready for the spring of 2015.

On the course we have been focusing on repairing and seeding the remaining low lying areas in fairways and roughs. The rough has filled in nicely with the timely rains and cool nights, and fairways have improved dramatically since the beginning of the season. Over the next few weeks we will add some drainage to some small wet spots on #14 and #18 cart path that have popped up through the greens rebuild project. These areas are out of play and will not interfere with golf play during installation. In all, the golf course is recovering well and is in great shape going into the fall.

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for June 27, 2014

By | Greens, Rebuild

It has been another busy week on the golf course. The turf team has again been working hard on seeding damaged areas throughout the course and will continue for the next few weeks. Areas that were to be stripped and sodded have been postponed for a week due to the heavy rainfall on Wednesday night. The rain gave us the chance to clean up some over grown brush along the creek banks to open up site lines off tees and fairways. The brush along #17 tee was knocked down to allow a clear view of the fairway and work began on the corner of #11 fairway to maintain the open look. Brush around bridges and over hanging branches are being cut back for safety reasons as well.

2 green 9 green

This week was very productive on the greens rebuild project. Even with the rain, the construction company made great progress. After today, 5 greens will have been seeded; holes #2, 3, 4, 8, 9. With the rain on Wednesday, the crew backtracked for the day and have been able to get holes #1, 5, and 6 ready for sod and seed. Next Tuesday, the sod will be laid around those three greens and will be seeded the following day. By the end of next week, we will have seeded half the greens and construction will have started on the final 4 greens.

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for June 20, 2014

By | 15th Hole, Greens, Rebuild

It has been a busy couple weeks so I wanted to send out a quick update of the progress we have made on a few areas.

The ongoing recovery on the low lying areas throughout the course is moving forward. We have been seeding roughs and fairways daily with slit seeders and/or aerification with drop seeders followed up with sand topdressing. Each step in healing is done numerous times before a full recovery is made. These areas are very persistent and tough to establish but are beginning to get smaller. This process takes time and doesn’t produce a quick recovery like sod, but with the amount of damage we sustained, I am going to stick with this tactic where traffic and haul roads are not a concern. On some areas we will begin to repair with sod when the construction is finalized in the vicinity, and hopefully by the end of July all these areas will be completed. The final tee on #11 was sodded this week, and all the other tees that were repaired in May are now open for play. Overall, the areas in the roughs and fairways that were devastated by winter damage have been recovering, slowly, but these areas have shown vast improvements from the beginning of May.

15 first cut

Hole 15
The final phases of construction were completed the second week of June. The new 15th hole and 16th tee look great, and the overall improvement to this area of the property is outstanding. The green was seeded May 26, and on June 18 we mowed it for the first time. The green grow-in is on schedule. The tees were seeded June 10 and germinated 5 days later.

Greens Re-build
The contractor began bringing machinery to the site May 27 and started on May 31. It always takes time to get the process in sequence, but with the great weather we have had, the project is moving along quickly. As most of you have seen over the last couple weeks, the project is quite elaborate. The process starts by digging out the green and approving grades (1 day), followed by draining the green and gravel installation (1.5 days), after approvals of the gravel layer the new greens mix is installed and grades approved (1 day), and the final step is grading the area and preparing for seed and sod (1 day). That is the process in a nutshell. It takes a lot of machinery and material hauled throughout the property to get this completed, and as of June 18 the construction company has cored out 8 greens, fully completed 3 greens, and in the final stages of 5 others. The first three greens will be seeded by June 19 and should show signs of germination within 7 days. The project has a lot of moving pieces but, at this point, is on schedule.

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for June 6, 2014

By | 15th Hole, Greens, Rebuild

15 Hole

One construction project is coming to an end and another has begun. In December 2013 the start of the new 15th hole began with the widening of the creek, and today it ends with 2.5 tractor trailer loads of sod around the new tees. Even though construction got off to a late start this spring, the overall project has gone very well and the finished product looks great.

With the end of the construction on #15 (see photo above), the start of the greens rebuild is in full gear. By the beginning of next week we will begin seeding the first three greens of the project. The project has gone very well, with three greens approved by the architect, two have been drained ready for gravel and mix, and the fourth green will be approved by the architect on Saturday. The sequence of greens is going well, after #9 we will be moving on to #6, then #1 followed by #5. In the next week the range will close so the company can start to shape the new practice facility. The amount of material that is now stockpiled is from three greens and is enough to get started on shaping the area. This will allow the construction company to start dumping the material in place instead of moving it twice.

Even with all the construction going on I haven’t forgotten about the recovery efforts throughout the remainder of the course. The team began overseeding fairways and roughs again this week. I am using different practices this time on fairways, which includes core aerification, drop seeding followed by topdressing. You will notice on holes #1 and #11 we began slit seeding new varieties of Kentucky bluegrass into the damaged areas of the rough. Repairs to the large areas will be completed when we finish hauling material to each hole for construction purposes. Since we no longer need access to #15, we will begin to repair the roughs around #17, #16, #11 and the fairways on the same holes. Over the next few weeks we will begin finishing repairs to areas throughout the course as construction comes to an end.

As construction continues, the lower parking lot will continue to be used to stockpile materials. This will reduce the number of spaces available for parking. Your understanding and patience is much appreciated.

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for May 23, 2014

By | 15th Hole, Greens, Winter

15 hole

I have been asked over the last couple weeks why the fairway and rough recovery is taking so long. Let’s not forget it was the harshest winter in recent history, the damage to the low lying areas throughout the course is severe and growing them back will take time. The amount of damage is not isolated to numerous large areas but to small low spots throughout the fairways and roughs making it impossible to sod. The turf team has been aerating, slit seeding, drop seeding, and topdressing with sand through the damaged areas, now we have begun watering and fertilizing regularly to promote growth. This seeding process is not a onetime procedure it will be done numerous times throughout the season to aid in recovery. This will be a long recovery process, there is nothing we can do to make seed grow faster, trust me, I have tried! I know you have heard me say it all spring but this year is going to take patience from the membership and the turf department, the worst thing I could do is lack patience during recovery and reseed to quickly destroying all the work we had previously accomplished. Let’s hope spring has arrived and with the warm temperatures the recovery process will continue to move forward.

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent