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