Islington Golf Club

Course Update for May 18, 2018

By | City of Toronto Sewer Project, Erosion Project, Fertilizer, Islington Golf Club, Mimico Creek, Seeds, Sod

The golf course has come a long way in the last couple of weeks. We are finally getting some pretty consistent growing temperatures. Greens, tees, fairways and roughs are all starting to green up and we are starting to ramp up course playability for the season.

All of the big construction areas have now been sodded. As seen below the 14th hole was the last one to be done. As the sod matures over the next couple of weeks, there will be many newly sodded areas. We ask that you please be careful not to drive through any of these areas as it can cause significant damage and delay the restoration process. Over the course of the last week, we have still witnessed some cart damage within roped areas. All areas will be roped off and marked accordingly.

The new 18th green was seeded last Friday, May 11. Here are some pictures of the step by step process required to properly seed a green. The seed germinated today, therefore over the weekend we should start seeing a bit of a green tinge on it.

Step 1: Float the green with a light weight brush to smooth and level the green
Step 2: Fertilize with starter fertilizer and rake in with a steel fan rake, rake teeth facing down
Step 3: Seed the green with a drop seeder, a properly calibrated seeder is essential
Step 4: Water the seed lightly and frequently to ensure that the seed never goes dry

City Sewer Project
The restoration is almost complete. Some small sod repairs and path repairs are remaining and should be done within the next couple of weeks.

Creek Erosion Project
The plantings are now complete. Only some minor mulching is left and should be completed early next week.

Have a great weekend,

Andre Aymar, Course Superintendent

Course Update for May 4, 2018

By | City of Toronto Sewer Project, Erosion Project, Islington Golf Club, Mimico Creek, Seeds, Tees

What a fantastic opening few days. It was great to see many of you out here enjoying the nice, sunny days on Tuesday and Wednesday. The golf course itself is progressing each day, and we hope it will be a nice weekend for the Ladies’ and Men’s opening events. With the late start to the season, we are playing catch up on many of our maintenance practices, but our crew has been working very hard to tidy up the property and have the golf course playing well.

Over the last week, we have filled many divots on the golf course, but seed is not germinating yet. Therefore the short game area will remain closed until further notice. The chipping area by the 5th hole is open in the meantime.

8th/10th Tee
With the new bridge location on the 10th hole, the general flow of traffic around the 8th/10th tee has slightly changed. Golf carts will have to use the driveway to access the new bridge. To make traffic flow as smooth as possible in that area, our plan is to designate a specific route for walkers along the front of the 10th tee so they can get to the new bridge without having to walk around the entire tee complex. This route will include a small, walk-only path on the hill that goes down to the bridge. Until the path is installed and sod is established on the hill, all walkers will have to walk around. We hope to be installing the sod and the path next week.

Creek Erosion Project
As required by the TRCA, plantings along the creek and other select areas of the property will start on Monday. The plantings will include perennials, shrubs and some trees. We were able to negotiate with the TRCA to prevent tree plantings that would impact the wonderful vistas from the clubhouse towards the 10th green.

City Sewer Project
The restoration team has been doing a very good job prepping all the construction areas for sod. The prep work is an important process that has to be done correctly or it will compromise the quality of the turf long term. Weather depending, they will start laying sod at the beginning of next week. During the sodding process, we will be using temporary tees on some holes, when needed for the safety of the workers and to make the sodding process much more efficient. We will post at the first tee the expected changes for each day. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation and patience during the restoration process.

Have a great weekend,

Andre Aymar, Course Superintendent

Course Update April 20, 2018

By | City of Toronto Sewer Project, Erosion Project, Islington Golf Club, Mimico Creek, Snow, Weather

It is still too early to forecast a course opening date. With some encouraging weather coming our way, we will have a much better idea of where we stand by early next week. Below are photos that show a comparison between April 19 of last year (one day before course opening) and this year. At the moment we are several days behind last year’s conditions.

This week has been a challenging week. In preparation for the start of the season, our “TO-DO LIST” is quite long and it has been difficult to sit back and wait for the snow to melt. However, that is the best we can do at the moment. Trying to do too much in wet conditions can often make matters worse. Fortunately, the ice storm last weekend caused no major damage to the golf course. We lost a few big limbs and a tree behind the 3rd green. The majority of the work will come from the extensive small tree debris that we will have to rake up. Clean up will start this weekend.

The Practice Facility will open on Wednesday April 25. However, the Short Game practice area will remain closed, as in previous years, until seed is able to germinate.

Creek Erosion Project
The golf construction on the 18th and the 10th holes has unfortunately been on a complete standstill since last weekend. Work will resume once the snow melts and the construction site is dry.

City Sewer Project
Over the past seven days, the City has managed to make progress even in light of the bad weather. They have removed the bridge and bridge abutments as planned. They have finished the manhole on the 15th and the 11th holes, and are close to finishing the manhole on the 18th hole. They will soon be removing the last section of their access roads. Restoration and sod availability has been delayed due to the weather and will resume as soon as the course dries, which we hope is early next week.

Have a great weekend,

Andre Aymar, Course Superintendent

Course Update for April 6, 2018

By | Erosion Project, Islington Golf Club, Storm, Trees, Weather

Golf Course
Another week has gone by, and we still haven’t received any decent weather to initiate turf growth. We are hoping that after the cold temperatures expected over the weekend, the weather will take a turn for the better. Wednesday afternoon we experienced severe wind gusts throughout the city that left thousands without power. The golf course held up well through the storm. We lost one big spruce tree by the 5th green (see photo) and a smaller spruce tree by the 4th green. Otherwise, the damage was limited to branches and small debris.

Project Update
Early in the week, the drainage and liner for the new 18th green were installed (see photo below). However, due to the rain on Tuesday, the installation of the gravel layer was delayed. In the interim, we were able to install the main drain for the new fairway bunkers.

The City of Toronto sewer relining project is wrapping up, and they will start disassembling and removing equipment next week. The restoration work has begun on certain areas and has been carried out very efficiently. We await warmer weather for the availability of sod, which hopefully isn’t too far off.

Have a great weekend.

Andre Aymar, Course Superintendent

Course Update for January 15, 2018

By | Bentgrass, Islington Golf Club, Poa, Pruning, Snow, Winter

Happy New Year!

Hopefully everyone had a cheerful and safe holiday.The first few weeks of winter have brought us some interesting weather with significant snow cover and very frigid temperatures, and the latter part of last week delivered record-breaking spring-like temperatures and rain to melt the snow.

Some of you may wonder how all this impacts the golf course.

Fortunately, our new Bentgrass greens are very well equipped to withstand the challenges of this weather. Bentgrass is much more tolerant than poa. It can handle both direct cold temperatures and ice cover. The blanket of snow we’ve had on the ground has also been beneficial by creating a nice buffer of insulation for the turf.

We started some tree pruning as part of our annual tree maintenance program. This year we are trying a slightly new technique: instead of transporting all the tree materials to designated staging locations before they are processed, we will be chipping the tree materials where they have been cut. We will do this by chipping them directly into a trailer and then hauling the woodchips away. Our goal is to make the process more efficient. Our team is rigging up the trailer for the woodchips. (see photos below)

Our team has also been busy in the shop, taking advantage of the really cold weather to work inside to get most of our course furniture painted and ready for the spring. (see photo below)

Have a great week.

Andre Aymar, Course Superintendent

Course Update for October 27, 2017

By | Bentgrass, Islington Golf Club, Winter

Reminder: The golf course will close in Mid-November. An exact date will be decided within the next couple of weeks.

The short game will be closed for the season on Sunday, October 29.

Once again it’s that time of the year when we start talking about the end of the golf season. I thought it might be a good opportunity to remind everyone which factors impact the closing date. There are two major factors that play a role: (1) protecting our greens and (2) recovery and winter preparation.

Protecting our Greens
What makes bentgrass such a great choice for putting greens in this part of the world is not only does it provide a fantastic putting surface that we enjoy throughout the season, but it can also survive our winters without any major risk of ice damage.

Bentgrass goes through a systematic process to prepare itself for winter. When the day lengths get shorter and the temperatures drop, bentgrass effectively stops vertical growth and uses all of its energy to store carbohydrates for winter survival. This process starts in early November. It then hibernates for the winter months and comes out of dormancy in the spring. Staying off the greens after they have stopped growing and allowing them to go through their natural process ensures that they will be healthy going into the winter and healthy coming out in the spring.

Recovery and Winter Preparation
Wear and tear on the greens, tees and fairways caused by late fall golf will not have time to recover. This sets us back for the spring.

Product Application for Winter Disease Protection: Greens, tees and fairways all have to be sprayed for protection against winter disease. The timing for this application is critical, and the window for this application is often very narrow due to weather. Our team must have an appropriate amount of time without disturbance in order to get this done correctly.

Hopefully this helps everyone understand why we have to close the golf course when we do.

Have a great weekend,

Andre Aymar, Golf Course Superintendent

Course Update for September 1, 2017

By | Islington Golf Club

The golf course will be closed Tuesday, Sept. 5 and Wednesday, Sept. 6 for our scheduled aerification.

I thought this might be a good time to briefly review why we aerate and why it is essential for us to do so. As turf grows through the season, it continually generates new shoots and roots to replace the older ones that aren’t effective anymore. This creates a layer of decaying organics at the surface. This organic layer becomes problematic very quickly.

Photo: This subsurface image of the green profile shows accumulating organics in the top inch.  It has a slightly darker color.

The organic layer acts like a sponge and retains moisture at the surface. The plant can no longer breathe or grow properly. The greens can become soft and bumpy and the problem can progress rapidly. Aerating a minimum of twice a year in addition to many other agronomic strategies ensures that the greens remain structurally sound and allows us to provide quality greens throughout the majority of the season.

This is an informative video posted by the USGA about aeration:

Fore The Golfer: Why Aerate The Greens?

Good luck to all who are competing in the Club Championship.

Have a great long weekend.

Golf Course Superintendent

Course Update for June 30, 2017

By | Islington Golf Club

With all the rain we’ve had lately, the requirement for irrigation watering has been minimal. In fact, I don’t recall a year when we have had to use less irrigation water this far into the season. On a positive note, the reservoir pond is completely full.

On the other hand, this quantity of water does bring its fair share of challenges. There are days when we haven’t been able to cut fairways and roughs. This significantly affects the playability as it takes a couple of days to catch up, and roughs can get pretty long.

It also makes it harder to maintain bunkers. Luckily the bunkers were well built, so washouts haven’t been a concern. However, with heavy rainfall some of the sand does slide down the slopes and has to be pushed back up. (photo below)

This means there can potentially be small pockets of fluffy sand on the top faces. Our team spends countless hours trying to make the bunkers as consistent as possible for playability. We regularly add sand, move sand around within bunkers, and mechanically plate tamp the sand to ensure its firmness. Nevertheless, there is always the odd time when a ball might land softly, and a golfer may get unlucky and be left with the proverbial fried egg lie. Although it is always our goal to have perfect bunkers, (photo below) this is a good article written by a USGA agronomist explaining why maintaining perfect bunkers is virtually impossible.

Happy Canada Day!

Andre Aymar
Golf 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