Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My Newest Tool

Over the last 5 years, I can count how many times I've golfed on one hand.  In an effort to see the course through different eyes, I'm giving it a go again.  I'll have played three times in the last month and I'm already taking note of things I'd like to see better.  The way my game is going right now,  I see the most improvement being made to the rough!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Graden Verticutter Demo

This past week we ran a demonstration of the Graden verticutter on the bar putting green.  Where a traditional verticutter tickles the interface between soil and plant tissue, the Graden blows through that interface to a depth of up to 1 inch.  In theory it does everything I want it to.  We have a mild build up of thatch in the top 1" which gets removed and then sand is backfilled into the groove that was made from thatch removal and dilutes the existing thatch layer. 

It did what it's advertised to do for sure.  We removed a little over a yard of material at a 1/2" depth and put in a little more than a yard of topdressing sand.  The real test is in how it heels and what the players think of it.  It is a lot of work having never done it before, but if it yields the results that I hope it does than it would be worth the effort. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bentgrass Removal Trial

Last week we sprayed out some of the bentgrass that is in the fairways of Lake 5, Mountain 4, 5, 8 and Canyon 2 approach.  We are trying two different rates and two different products.  In the meantime, the bentgrass will have a bleached appearance. After the second application on the 20th we will verticut multiple times, shave the areas down with a low height of cut mower, seed and topdress.  I hope to have the process dialed in for 2018 and we can remove the bentgrass that has contaminated the fairways on a much larger scale.

Why would I want to remove the bentgrass?  Bentgrass thatch accumulation is very fast and that thatch holds onto water like a sponge.  For the player, this leads to a plugged ball.  For the maintenance department, we can't get water past the top inch and some products we apply need to get into the soil to work.

Roundup on the left with the crabgrass still green on the right.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Plant Tissue Testing

For numerous years I've collected soil samples twice per year to get a snapshot of what's happening in the soil and plan for future soil building fertilizer applications.  I'm a firm believer in feeding the soil to feed the plant.  While I have noticed the benefits to this approach, I've never actually looked at what's happening in the plant.  This year with Fred Astrom and Brookside Laboratories, we did just that and began plant tissue testing monthly since March.

We selected three greens to collect grass from every month.  After collecting the grass clippings, each sample was washed and then strained.  The samples were allowed to dry overnight on the window sill and then wrapped in foil ready for shipment.  In addition to collecting tissue, I also collected soil samples from the three greens to look at plant and soil relationships.

At this point the data isn't telling us anything we didn't know with regards to soil and tissue relationships.  I have been able to see the effect of  products I've used and how well they work in our situation.  I also learned that a little bit of boron goes a long way.  At the end of the season Fred and I will summarize the findings and see what we learned from this trial.  


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017 Core Aeration

Our fall core aeration has come and gone in the blink of an eye.  I've talked in the past of continually changing our strategies based on what the greens tell or show us and this year is no different.  The hole pattern is the same as years past: a core that is 0.4" diameter on 1.5" x 1.25" spacing.  We also use the deep tine aerator that goes 8" deep after the sand was applied like years past.

What was different this year is that we have abandoned using the blower to fill the holes with sand.  While blowing the sand into the holes provides a cleaner playing surface, we lose the opportunity to further dilute the thatch layer by leaving more sand on top.  Instead of the blower we use a metal mat and a mechanical brush to work the sand into the holes.  It does beat the greens up more than the blower, but the extra sand on the surface makes it worthwhile.  

Dragging the sand in allowed me to change our fertilizer strategy as well.  Instead of applying the follow up organic fertilizer after the aeration holes had been filled, we applied while the holes were open allowing the fertilizer to get dragged into the soil.  I also used a new fertilizer that smells much better than the normal chicken manure that we typically use.  The fertilizer is blended locally and is called ProBiotic 1G which is designed with the soil food web theory in mind.  

It's got one of the oddest list of products in it that I've ever used, but it works after 3 years of testing on the practice green.  It is composed of raisin stems, urea, alfalfa meal, soybean meal, rice bran, potassium sulfate, kelp meal, ferrous sulfate, lignosulfonate, humic acid, and a wetting agent.  It's got a nice sweet smell that you know will get the soil biology going.  

The holes are now filled in and we will work on getting their speed back over the next month.  In the meantime enjoy less break in the greens and a low total putt round.  Who knows, you may lower your course best or even break par!

  The pictures above are just 7 days after aerating.