Course Update for July 6, 2018

By | Irrigation, Watering

What a beautiful day to finish off the work week. Some good temperatures and a nice breeze have given the golf course and the staff some relief from what has been a really hot stretch. I’m very pleased with how the golf course has handled the heat so far. The rain last night was good for the course and gives it a nice break from the heat for a couple days.

Through the really hot days, there is no doubt that you have seen our team on the course watering with hoses. An irrigation system, no matter how good, will never emulate rain as even the best systems in the world cannot provide 100% coverage.

After any period of time without adequate rain, hand watering becomes an essential practice.

Here are a few of the key intentions:
• Water areas on tees, fairways and roughs that do not get any/enough water from irrigation
• Morning watering on the greens to water specific dry areas only (keeps greens firmer)
• Afternoon watering on the greens to cool the surface under extreme heat or drying conditions

All of these hand watering techniques help us provide great day-to-day playing conditions while keeping the turf healthy. Here is a USGA video with more details on the benefits of hand watering.

Have a great weekend.

Andre Aymar, Course Superintendent

Course Update for May 12, 2017

By | Irrigation, Islington Golf Club, Poa

The short game area will be officially open Saturday the morning of May 13. This year it took a little bit longer because of the cooler temperatures. Now that the bentgrass seed is germinating, the short game area will be able to recover from the traffic.

With all the rain from last weekend, it has shown where we have deficiencies in our drainage. On an older property like this one, fixing and/or adding drains can be very time consuming and take a lot of planning. We will certainly do our very best to address some of these areas. This week we were able to fix a drain on the bottom part of the fairway bunker on #5. (see photo)

Islington Golf Club #5 Green Drainage

Starting next week, we will be commencing our scheduled back nine starts. Over the past couple of seasons we have noticed that the front nine gets significantly more rounds of play. On the busier days the front nine can get as many as 90 more rounds. This is a 30% increase. Although we have a strategic agronomical plan to manage the turf accordingly, we have still noticed that it causes a lot more stress on those greens. Many more ballmarks are visible and high foot traffic areas become weaker. Both of these make the greens vulnerable to turf decline and poa encroachment. Our goal is to provide exceptional putting surfaces while protecting the long-term viability of the newly built greens. Spreading some of the wear to the back nine once a week will be effective in allowing the front nine greens to recover. We will have back nine starts on a more consistent schedule. It will be on a Monday through Friday rotation. Therefore, if next week is a Monday back nine start, then the following week will be a Tuesday back nine start.

Have a great weekend.

Andre Aymar, Golf Course Superintendent

Course Update for October 21, 2016

By | Fall, Irrigation, Leaves

As we move into the middle of October the weather seems to be changing quickly. The course has received a significant amount of rain over the last week causing very wet conditions.  The greens have the potential to be soft throughout the fall so remember to repair your ball marks and replace your divots as damage to the course now will be visible in the spring.

Leaf maintenance will be difficult over the next few days because the wet turf. The staff is hard at work blowing leaves daily but some areas are just too wet to maintain without causing turf damage.

The fairway realignment on #9 started today with the perimeter rough irrigation being relocated. There are 5 sprinkler heads that had to be relocated to the new fairway edge on both sides of the hole. Once the irrigation is completed the area will be prepped for sod. If the weather permits the new fairway will be sodded next week along with the approaches on #2, 4, and 9. Hopefully, we have some nice weather over the next couple weeks to allow for all the sod to root allowing us to open these areas for play in early spring. The sodding will take approximately a day to install hopefully with minimal disruption to play.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the pin locations for the Pumpkin Scramble!

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for October 7, 2016

By | Fall, Irrigation, Poa

Fall has arrived and that means leaves, leaves and more leaves. Over the next few weeks we will work hard on keeping the playing surfaces clear of leaves. The process will be to blow leaves into wind rows along the tree lines and mulch as many leaves as we can with the rough mowers. During the next few weeks I ask for your patience as the blowers will be running throughout the day. This can be a messy time of year for the turf as we try to mulch leaves and mow the turf during constant wet conditions. To minimize the mess we will reduce the mowing under trees and out of play areas to once a week to help with the wear caused by the mowers. This will mean some longer rough in certain areas for the next few weeks.

As we move into the middle of October we will begin two fall projects. The first project will be a long range program to help minimize poa encroachment in the greens. A significant amount of poa encroaches from the edges of the green and the approach in front. We plan on starting a program where we install new sod in front of a few greens each year where the poa in the approach is beginning to be apparent. This year we will re-sod the approach on #2, 4 and 9. By doing this and adding new bentgrass sod we minimize the tracking of poa on to the greens. Secondly, we will be tackling the realignment of #9 fairway. The fairway has always been lined up with the old tee by #8 green. The plan is to change the angle of the fairway towards the current tees. We will begin with moving the irrigation heads on the right side of the hole. Then we will strip the grass on both sides of the hole and lay sod creating a new fairway lining up with the tee. This will create a better visual of the hole and provide a better angle for balls to land in the fairway instead of the rough like it is now. The plan is to have all the sod work completed by the end of October to give it time to root and be ready for play in early spring. Disruption to play should be minimal.

Have a great weekend!

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for August 12, 2016

By | Irrigation, Islington Golf Club, Summer

Will it ever rain? I stopped asking myself that question a couple weeks ago after I came to the realization that one rain will not be enough. We need a couple days of rain. Until then we continue to water with hoses and stretch our irrigation intervals out as long as we can. The biggest need for the turf is for the humidity to drop for a few days for the turf to get some recovery. When it is this humid for long stretches the turf stays damp at the surface and that is when the wear and tear begins, so a break in the humidity and high temperatures will be better than a rain.

The city averages 14 days with temperatures in the 30s through the summer. As of today, we have had 30 days. It has been a long, hot summer for grass. Take a look at the parks and lawns around the neighbourhood, and you won’t see much green turf. We use a simple analogy for turf: if we are tired and getting worn out in this heat and need the occasional break, than the turf does as well. Over the next week or two and to help manage the turf through this high stress period, we will be monitoring our mowing heights and schedules to give the greens some needed relief.

In all, the course is doing well. We have some small sodium induced stress on a couple of greens and some worn down traffic stress on a few fairways. But, for the most part, the turf is looking great and is setting up for a quick recovery when the weather breaks.

Enjoy the weekend!

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for July 8, 2016

By | Bentgrass, Drought, Irrigation, Poa

As I sit here writing the course update this morning, I’m watching a sprinkle of rain come down. I was hoping for something more like a downpour but, unfortunately, it didn’t come. Yesterday the rain hit north of us and this morning it is hitting west and south of the club. One of these days we will get a nice all-day rain and everything will come alive.

Managing the turf through these dry spells takes numerous staff on hand-hoses watering localized dry spots. By applying the water with a hose you get direct penetration to the area, helping the turf recover. Please be aware of the staff as most of these areas are in play. When it comes to watering greens, you will notice a morning hand watering followed by a late afternoon touch up on wilting areas throughout the greens. Most of the greens watering during the heat stress are done with a hose. We only turn the sprinklers on once every 5-6 days, to do what is called a flush. This is when we irrigate to perch the water table, which causes it to break tension and flush, drawing in oxygen to the rootzone. Deep and infrequent is how bentgrass likes to be watered, compared to light and frequent with poa.

Heading into July you will notice a couple of landscape areas not yet completed. The new designs with perennials and ornamental grasses around the bag drop and clubhouse are completed for the season. Even without a drought the new perennials will take 2-3 years to fully develop into a wave of colour, so some time and patience is needed before the new plant material grows. As we do every year, we will assess all the new plantings and add new varieties and colour to areas that require additional plant material to make the beds flourish. Beds like the ones around #18 tee and #18 green by the new fence are an ongoing process of adding and splitting material from other areas of the property. In regards to the hill going from #11 green to #12 tee, as we mentioned in the spring, this will take time. Originally we said it will be planted by the end of June to the beginning of July, but because of the drought it has been put on hold. The bank is south facing, receives lots of sun, and the area is just too dry to plant. All the plant material has been ordered, and once we receive significant rain to add moisture to the hill, we will then plant.

Have a great weekend!

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent

Course Update for May 13, 2016

By | Ballmarks, Bentgrass, Irrigation, Poa, Topdressing

The weather over the last couple weeks has helped the turf begin to grow through the winter desiccation. The roughs are finally starting to bounce back and the minor winter damage has almost all disappeared. Fairways and tees are filling in nicely and the greens are rounding into shape for a great season ahead. The greens are starting to mature, becoming denser and firmer, but I would like to remind everyone one of the key practices to minimize poa encroachment is to repair your ballmark. By repairing your ballmark you eliminate a void for the poa to establish, this is just one of many ways to keep the greens as poa free as possible. For those of you who are new to the club, and a reminder to everyone else, please use the divot bottles in the fairway only, not in the rough. The seed in the bottles is bentgrass and is meant to be seeded in the fairways only. The roughs are seeded with Kentucky bluegrass which is a completely different grass.

Over the last couple weeks the team has also wrapped up numerous small projects that were started last fall. The drain lines installed on #14 & #15 have now been sodded along with some sod around #1 tee and the clubhouse. We have installed a new catch basin at the back of #10 green to control some of the erosion to the back right of the green. Next week we will sod along the new curb that was installed to control the water, making it easier for the pullcarts to get over. We are in the final stages of tree stump cleanup and seeding and will finish some minor sod work over the next week. The cart path going up the hill from #11 to #12 tee has been paved and the bank will be hydroseeded on Saturday, weather permitting.

During the next few weeks I will switch our focus to cultural practices to provide better playing conditions for the immediate and long term health of the turf. Topdressing of fairways, tees and approaches that began last season will continue. This will provide a firmer and tighter surface to play from. It will also help in the long term with worm castings. The greens will continue to get weekly light topdressings and brushing to smooth out the surface for truer ball roll. All these cultural practices have a short term and long term benefit to providing superior playing conditions.

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 July 5, 2013

By | Drainage, Irrigation

The past week has been productive in the turf department. We have finished sodding around the new cart paths and repaired some wear areas around some other paths. Please follow the directional posts blocking these areas until they have time to root and handle cart traffic. The turf team finished a couple of drainage issues that were occurring on #2, 3 and 4. New pipes were installed on #3 giving the water a place to go drying the area up. A broken greens drainage pipe on the right side of #2 green was repaired and brought further down the hill, new sod was laid and will be ready for play shortly. Finally, the new tee on #10 will be open on Tuesday, July 9. Please remember when playing the hole to observe where the tee blocks are placed; if you are playing from the top deck remember to look below to see if the new tees are being played.

Please keep in mind that due to the wet weather the greens are evidently softer, resulting in more prevalent ball marks. Therefore we encourage everyone to demonstrate good golf etiquette and fix their ballmarks.

Ian McQueen, Course Superintendent