Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weather Forecast & Change of Aeration Plans

We have been watching the weather forecast pretty closely in preparation for our upcoming spring core aeration practices. Based on the current forecast we have decided to alter our aeration plans for next week. We had planned on alternating front nine-back nine closures starting this coming Tuesday but the weather forecast is calling for a 40% chance of rain on Wednesday. (Weather Channel 10 day forecast, Saturday 3/31/12 6:30 AM).  Based on this information we have decided to aerate all regulation putting surfaces on the course on Tuesday 4/3/12. All practice greens will be done on Monday.

We still have the alternating front nine-back nine schedule in place for the remainder of the week (see the previous blog entry) but will not be able to take advantage of it if conditions are too wet or if it is raining. The remainder of the weeks forecast is calling for the above mentioned showers on Wednesday, a break on Thursday and another 30% chance of showers on Friday. Of course this forecast can change and if the conditions are right, GCM will jump on getting the fairways done as planned. As I have stated many a time, it is imperative that conditions are dry to properly complete this process and we are not going to set ourselves back by trying to get it done when it is too wet. We will communicate changing plans through the Golf Shop morning update and this Granite Bay Golf Course Update. Thanks for your understanding.

 This is an exaggeration of  the weather that is coming our way next week
however even a little rain makes the process of extracting cores, processing
them and trying to work sand topdressing back into these holes very difficult
and more importantly counter productive to the health of the surface.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring 2012 Aeration

Its that time of the year again when we aerate the playing surfaces at Granite Bay. I have spoken and written a lot about thatch development and the need to mechanically  remove it on all of the playing surfaces here at Granite Bay. Core aeration removes a planned amount of this of this thatch or excessive organic matter ensuring a healthier turf grass enviroment by creating avenues for air and water to freely move within the root zone and by relieving compaction. The down side, as we all know,  is a temporary disruption of the playing surfaces.  Why we get wet in the summer was an entry in this course update from awhile back that does a good job of explaining our somewhat unique situation here at Granite Bay and why core aeration is so important for us not just on our putting surfaces, but for our fairways and green surrounds as well.

Removing aeration cores from the 8th green

New Toro ProCore aerating the
7th Green

Applying topdressing sand #3
When it comes to core aeration of greens, green surrounds (the fringe area directly around the putting surface complex) and fairways they all have one thing in common. These areas are very difficult to complete in a productive and thorough fashion during member play. That is why we have always had alternating closures to aerate greens and decided last year to expand these alternating closures to properly complete fairways and green surrounds.

The following schedule is of course all weather related. The process of core aeration requires dry weather and conditions as we have covered previously. We cannot process the cores or properly drag in topdressing with wet conditions. Currently the forecast is for a couple of dry days leading up to scheduled putting surface aeration which will work just fine. Next Thursday and Friday's forecast are currently not so good so we will just have to wait and see. The Golf Shop morning updates and this blog will update those who are interested in progress and naturally any change of plans.

Aeration Schedule
  • Tuesday April 3rd - Front 9 Greens Aeration     Front 9 Closed. Back 9 Open.
  • Wednesday April 4th - Back 9 Greens Aeration     Back 9 Closed. Front 9 Open.
  • Thursday April 5th - Front 9 Fairway Aeration     Front 9 Closed. Back 9 Open.
  • Friday April 6th - Back 9 Fairway Aeration     Back 9 Closed. Front 9 Open.
  • Monday April 9th through Sunday April 10th     NO Alternating Course Closures
  • Tuesday April 17th - Front 9 Greens Surround Aeration      Front 9 Closed. Back 9 Open.
  • Wednesday April 18 - Back 9 Greens Surround Aeration     Back 9 Closed. Front 9 Open.

Brooming in dried topdressing sand #10 Green

Monday, March 5, 2012

Putting Surface Disease Activity

In mid February we started to notice some small areas on some of the putting surfaces here at Granite Bay that were thinning out and reminiscent of disease activity. Some diseases that effect golf course turf are relatively easy to identify and others not so easy. Thankfully we have many tools at our disposal to deal with the uncertainties that nature throws at us on occasion. One of those indispensable tools are diagnostic labs that provide positive diagnosis of  disease and root zone conditions. 

Sample sent to Dr. Phil Colbaugh from Texas A&M.
Proceeding pictures were provided by Dr. Colbaugh
in his diagnosis of Pythium Root Rot here at GB.

Our first suspicion was that the turf on the greens were a little hungry and needed some fertilizer. Typically we don't want to encourage unnecessary growth at any time of the year particularly in the winter as this has a direct certain disease susceptibility's,  further excessive organic matter development and most importantly putting quality. That being said we knew we were a little on the "lean" side so applied an application of fertility hoping it would cure the symptom's we were observing. To be on the safe side before making this fertilizer application we took a sample of  a suspicious area on a green to send to a lab for diagnostic analysis.
A magnified root showing Pythium spores embeded in the
actual root.

It is a good thing that we did because the sample came back with a positive diagnosis for Pythium Root Rot, a pathogen that starts it's infection in roots and infects other roots below the surface. Root diseases are a lot different then foliar diseases in that by the time you see symptoms the damage is already done because roots have been effected and no regeneration or re-growth is possible from those effected plants. 

These washed roots actually represent a follow-up sample
to make sure we have control of this stubborn disease.

The strategy after a positive diagnosis is to stop the disease pathogen from its continued spread and then do the cultural things required for regeneration. Stopping a root disease is somewhat tricky as fungicide applications have to be applied in high volumes of water to reach the root zone where the disease activity is active. Our applications after receiving a positive diagnosis on Monday 2/20/12 were made on Tuesday 2/21/12 and the following Monday 2/27/12 when we were closed.

At this time in early March we have control of the disease and are starting to see recovery. Recovery strategies include a slight increase in the height of cut on our greens mowers, stepped up fertility regimen, increased spiking to allow air exchange and now that we have achieved control we will add seed to the effected areas on our greens particularly on #1, #5 & #6. Although we have not decreased our greens rolling frequency, putting surface speed have decreased as a result of the above mentioned practices. 

Follow up root magnification showing Pythium
currently under control.

Core aeration is scheduled for the first week in April so we are currently  four weeks away. With the current weather patterns and our recovery strategy we could very well see complete recovery before aeration. The aggressive aeration program we initiated last year has paid off as these surfaces are not nearly as soft under foot as they were previously. However we still have a highly organic layer in our top 2" which definitely contributes to their susceptibility to these types of diseases. Bottom line is we need to continue our aggressive appraoch when it comes to core aeration which will go along way in creating healthy conditions that are not as susceptible to these type diseases and perform in the fast and firm manner which we all desire.