Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Vertical Mowing Fairways

We started verticle mowing the fairways this week to groom the turf and mechanically remove seed head stalks that have developed this spring on our Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda fairways. This seed head is obstructing the green grass blades and contributing to the brownish  color of our fairways this spring.  Hybrid bermuda does produce a seed head, as does all turf grass varieties, but like poa annua can produce seed heads at close mowing heights. The seed produced from all hybrid bermuda  seed heads is not viable which is why all hybrid bermuda varieties need to be propagated with either sprigs, like we did last year, or by sod, like we did to #17 in 2019 as our beta for the  hybrid bermuda conversion in 2021.

Its common to see seed head on Santa Anna or any hybrid bermuda in mid May through beginning of June. This year has been different with the alternating  hot & cold & rainy  periods we have been having. Colleagues with whom I've spoken with, that have more Santa Anna experience, are reporting the weather is the likely culprit for more then normal seed head production. I also believe the immaturity of our Santa Anna Fairways  has created a situation for more heightened seed head production. As the fairway surfaces mature, I believe we wont see the volume of seed head we are seeing in year one. 

Vertical mowing of the fairways will definitely help groom the seed head out of the fairways and promote tight verticle growth, which is what we want. We started this process for the first time on our fairways on Monday 5/16/22 and finished the front nine on Tuesday 5/17/22. We will do the same to holes 10-13 on Wednesday 5/18/22 and finish the back nine on holes 15-18 on Thursday 5/19/22. The next time we do this we can likely finish the front nine on a closed Monday, then take a couple mornings to finish the back nine. We are going need to do this 4 to 5 times this initial season and likely 3 times at least in subsequent seasons. As a reminder, all cultural practices such as these will always be done when the Santa Anna is actively growing. None of these types of activities will be done fall through early spring, just late spring through summer. Its a small window admittedly, but hybrid bermuda recovers almost immediately from these activities and needs these practices to tighten up as well as .....

"More Sand"

Old Tom Morris's famous battle cry
"More Sand"

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Close-up of Santa Anna seed head. Seed head stalks don't cut easily, and when stripped of dark purplish seed  turn brown contributing to brownish hue in fairways this spring.

Vertical mowing will groom out the seed head and trim horizontal hybrid bermuda runners 
creating more upright verticle growth. 

Close up of the verticle mowing blades. Currently the depth of penetration when  of these blades is fairly shallow at 1/4" when cutting unit is set down on the turf surface. There will come a point we will need to go deeper but not this year.

After the verticle mowing we have to sweep up the debris 

After sweeping we mow. Mowers are currently set at .400", which is slightly below 1/2". Mowing is necessary as verticle mowing stands leaf blades and seed head stems up and they need to get mowed flat to promote new growth.

After a double cut with the fairway mower,  we need to blow the remaining clippings off of the fairway. So you can see the 4 step process take's 4 GCM EP's 5 hours ahead of member play to complete about 4 holes. You should start to see a difference in fairway texture and color very quickly and combine this with a full course fertility application next Monday we should be looking at some very thick and green conditions come Memorial Day.

I want to remind everyone that  we are still culturing and growing in turf from the renovation of 2021 and a earlier course update addressing Tying Up Loose Ends, from only March said it best at the end. 

It will still take some time to complete what was started in February of 2021 at Granite Bay Golf Club. It's that simple. It needs a couple of birthdays. I believe this golf course will be great in 2022 as many of the establishment and grow-in issues will be a thing of the past. But I also believe this course has the potential to be even better in 2023 and beyond as it matures even further and accumulates yet another years worth of topdressing sand. Everything we need to accomplish this is in place.

  • The right turf 
  • The right plan
  • The right partnerships

All we need now is time. 

Thanks for your patience and support

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