Willow Oaks Country Club Golf Course Updates

Our goal is to keep the membership informed about projects, agronomic practices, and upcoming events on the golf course.


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Spring Aeration

Golf Course Closed March 27-31


February Golf Course Update

Winter Projects, Bunker Maintenance, and Greens Aeration Schedule


Air Movement and Fan Video

I took this video to show the efficacy and performance of our new Turf Breeze portable 50" Fan.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Quick August Update

The golf course finally got a reprieve from a hot, dry July with 1.5" of rain overnight Monday.  We were in desperate need and great color is already returning to the bermudagrass surfaces.  July was the 10th hottest on record and despite the heat, greens held up very well and continue to perform at a high level.  Cooler temperatures, shorter days, and projected rain are always a welcome sight.

REMINDER: THE GOLF COURSE IS CLOSED AUGUST 21-25 for putting green aeration.  The greens will be dryjected and a small core will be pulled.  During this closed time, we will also make our first preventative spring dead spot application as well as fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide applications.  Irrigation is going to be installed to the left of 13 fairway and tees and collars will be aerated.

Our team has been very busy with projects this summer.  All of the tall fescue between #1 tees and the fairway has been replaced with T-10 bermudagrass sod for a more uniform look.  The tree line between 13 and 14 has been renovated, irrigation installed and sprigged for the final piece to the puzzle.  The fescue on 9 and 18 has been replaced with T-10 sprigs and that grow in is going well.  Bunker sand has been added to select bunkers and raking methods have been adapted to provide softer green side bunker conditions and firmer fairway bunkers.  All of this while maintaining a very busy golf course.  Our team has performed at a very high level and are committed to carrying this effort through the busy fall season.  We are excited about the golf course conditioning and the upcoming fall tournaments.

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth CGCS 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July Update

This week has brought very high temperatures to our area.  Our team is busy playing defense against heat and drought damage as well readying the course for summer cultural practices next week.  The golf course will be CLOSED next Tuesday, July 18 and Wednesday, July 19 for fairway, tee, and collar aeration and verticutting.   While the golf course is closed, our team will also be converting the fescue areas on 1, 9 and 18 to bermudagrass with sod and sprigs as well as a few other select areas around the course.  The tree line between 13 and 14 will be completed as well as the hill to the right of 15 cart path.

Playing defense and protecting the course from high heat and humidity takes a lot of hard work from the staff as well as sound watering practices.  Fans are on every green and portable fans are in use on holes 10 and 16 while we sort through some electrical issues.  Parts are on the way and the fans on 10 and 16 should be repaired very soon.  Greens are mowed as needed, not daily, during this high temperature and soil moisture is meticulously managed to prevent heat and drought stress or conversely disease and stress from too much water.  Healthy turf is the goal in July and August.  Thank you for your patience while our team waters in the afternoon.

Fairways and tees are in great shape and growing well.  While they are growing this well, it is the perfect time to aerate and verti-cut them to allow for fast recovery.  This allows these surfaces to stay healthy year round.  Sand topdressing will be heavily applied to smooth the surfaces and allow for firm, healthy playing conditions.  Verticutting is the practice of using blades to cut through the top inch or so of the turf and remove thatch.  Similar to aeration, it is more effective on bermudagrass to promote a healthy surface.  The grass can get very puffy and thick this time of year so these practices improve playability as well.  Our team verticut the middle range tee and core aerated the short game practice area and collars on the practice greens this past Monday in preparation for next week.  Now that all of our team and equipment is prepared, it will make next week a lot smoother.  It also gives you an idea of what will be happening on the course.  I have been very pleased with the care of the course and have noticed a lot of filled divots and repaired ball marks.  Thank you!

Our team stays busy this time of year with details such as tree trimming, edging of bunkers, cart paths, and sprinkler heads.  There is a lot to do and detailing the native areas around the water ways is high on our to do list.  The large native areas on 15, 7, and 8 have been cleaned by hand and our team will continue work around the ponds.   Stay cool and hydrated this week and we will see you on the course.

Have a great day,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Here is a picture of Andres core aerating the short game practice area.  This will be the same practice on tees and collars.  Once cleaned up, these areas are topdressed and fertilized.  

Another picture of core aeration. 

The middle range tee was verticut in two directions and heavily topdressed to promote recovery and fill in the practice divots.  This turf is growing aggressively and will be healed over soon.   The fairways will be verticut in one direction.

This is a picture of the heavily divoted area about 100 yards short of the part 5 fifth hole.  50+ divots in this area and 95+% were filled with sand.  Thank you for your care of the course.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June Update

We could not have asked for a better couple of days at the end of June than we experienced this week.   Cool nights and low humidity are always welcome and our schedule greens aeration on Monday could not have come at a better time.  Our team pulled a small 1/4" core and then blew the cores off on Monday.  This is as little disruption as we will ever see from a core aeration but will set the greens up well heading into the summer.  If the weather had been warmer, we would have punted on this aeration but we were able to take advantage of the perfect conditions.  Tees were also deep tine aerated on Monday and both surfaces are recovering well.

Our team has also stayed busy with a few sod projects.  Some of our main goals this year include renovating the roughs on holes 1, 9 and 18 as well as the tree line between 13 and 14.  This month, we sodded the perimeter of the rough on holes 9 and 18 as well as walking paths, sprinkler heads and drains in preparation to sprig this rough to bermudagrass.  This process is much more affordable than sod and allows us to grass large areas at one time.  Most of the fescue on #1 was also sodded out this week.  We chose to sod this instead of sprig due to its location.  The remainder of these rough renovations will take place when the golf course is closed for fairway aeration on July 17-19.  The tree line between 13 and 14 has received a lot of attention this year.  Dead trees were removed and pine straw and mulch beds have been installed.  Our team sodded around these new mulch beds today and last week.  Any remaining fescue will be replaced with sprigs July 17-19.  This project has been a great improvement to the golf course and I look forward to tackling the tree line between 14 and 15 next.

An area that has always been poor is the area directly behind #9 green.  It sits under a large 'namesake' Willow Oak and is the walk on/walk off area for #9 green.  The combination of shade, tree roots, traffic, and compaction has caused the area to be a maintenance nightmare for many years.  This week, we decided to start fresh.  We removed all of the different types of grasses and replaced it with Zeon zoysia.  Zoysia is more shade tolerant that bermudagrass.  We also aerated this area very aggressively and added topsoil to provide the best growing conditions possible, all things considered.  The sod looks great and I am very pleased with the finished product behind 9 green.  We also installed zoysia in the most shaded parts of the tree line on 14, the shaded collar on 7 and the shaded collar on the clubhouse putting green.  Hopefully these are good, long term solutions.  Please avoid walking through the sod until we remove the stakes around it.
The area behind 9 green was stripped and aerated to relieve compaction.  
Topsoil and fertilizer were added.
Finally, our team sodded the areas to Zeon zoysia.  Irrigation heads were leveled to minimize impact to play in this roll off area.
The collar on the clubhouse putting green sits directly under the large Willow Oak in the patio. This picture was taken at 11:30 and this area is in full shade.   Hopefully, zoysia is a good solution.   
The area behind 9 green turned out great and the shade is already creeping on to the zoysia by noon.  
Our primary focus this time of year is plant health and playability.  Fans will be running all summer unless we continue to get 80 degree highs and 55 degree nights (fingers crossed.)  Please do not turn the fans off and if you must, please turn them back on when you leave the green.  The golf course is playing well and should be in peak shape for the extended Independence Day weekend.  

Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The golf course has received 3 inches of rain over the last week.  While wet weather is typical this time of year, it still presents challenges.  We have actually fared much better than many courses in the area but the course is very saturated.  All turf surfaces are growing well and the warmer temperatures over the next 7 days will really keep things moving.  Today, our team is venting greens to allow the saturated greens to "breathe",  Venting creates very small holes in the surface that penetrate through the top 3" of the green and allows oxygen in to the roots while helping the greens dry out.  Two appropriate analogies to venting would be: 

1. Opening a window to a stuffy, humid house automatically makes everything inside the house more comfortable
2.  If you put your thumb over the end of a straw, it will never drain.  Remove your thumb and the straw works correctly.  Venting allows an opening at the top of the green so the greens can drain more effectively.  

Our team mows right behind the vent and the holes are barely visible and should not impact putting at all.  The greens are recovering well from the aggressive aeration programs this spring.  We anticipate being 100% healed over by May 1.  Greens are healthy and growing well, it just takes time to rebound from aeration.  The rains and warm weather have the golf course at least a month ahead of schedule.  It looks like July out there and our main attention is now focused on course setup and maintenance.  After all of the rain, our main focus this week will be to get all surfaces mowed and prep for sod installation next week.  On Monday, we will be installing a few more fan poles, repairing the rock wall on 7, and fertilizing the entire golf course.  

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
Stephen and Tomas vented greens today ahead of the mowers.  We use the same machine to vent greens that we do to aerate greens, just with a much smaller solid tine and a roller attachment to smooth the surface.  

This greens profile shows the value to deep tine aeration.  The roots on the right are growing down, through a deep tine channel.  Deep, healthy roots lead to firm, healthy greens.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Picture Worth Sharing

I thought this picture from Creative Dog Media was worth sending out.  Creative Dog does amazing work and specializes in drone photography with most of their work in and around Richmond.  Here is a link to their twitter feed:  

Greens were rolled this morning and mowed dry this afternoon.  We will mow greens dry whenever possible to avoid picking up too much sand and dulling the mowers.  We will continue to alternate mowing and rolling and encourage a quick recovery from aeration.

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April Update

I feel like the Masters is always the unofficial start to the golf season.  The excitement of the back 9 on Sunday surely inspired most of us to knock the rust off the clubs and get out on the course.  The early warm weather has kicked the golf course into gear.  Greens, tees, and fairways are all growing very well.  Greens are recovering from aeration and fairways are at least 3 weeks ahead of schedule.  We are actively mowing tees and fairways and are finishing the first mowing on the rough this week.  The last drainage project will take place next Monday, fan wire and bases will be installed by the end of the month, and repairs to the rock walls around the property are  underway.  The time of year for projects is quickly coming to a close and we are looking forward to normal maintenance.

Our team wrapped up the renovation of the bunkers on 10 and 14.  Drainage has been installed and new liner and sand installed in the bunkers.  Whenever new sand is added, we have to make sure it gets compacted to prevent plugging.  Our team has been busy compacting, water, and rolling bunkers to provide a firm surface.

This drainage project behind the silver tee on #3 is being finished this week.  We will install additional drainage between this tee and the fairway on #3 next week.  While there are always more drainage projects to do, these will finish our winter list.  Overall, the team installed 16 different drainage projects.  
This past Monday, April 10, ClearVision turf performed the DryJect process on greens.  The DryJect is a machine that injects kiln dried sand into the greens to create channels similar to core aeration.  The difference is that the DryJect does not remove any material.  The DryJect does a nice job of relieving compaction and getting more sand into the greens profile.  This will be our last aggressive cultural practice on greens until August.  Greens are growing very well and will get better and better every day.  
ClearVision provides the machines and operators while our team fills the machines with sand.  The DryJect injects high pressure water into the greens, pulling sand into the void and relieving compaction.
This picture illustrates the benefits of all of the cultural practices this spring.  The dark thatch in the top inch of the profile is the target of these practices.  While the Graden linear aeration and core aeration remove material and backfill with sand, the DryJect simply injects sand into the profile.  All of these practices impact thatch and provide healthier, firmer surfaces.  
Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Friday, March 31, 2017

Aeration Update

There isn't a better way to finish aeration week than with a day of solid rain.  The team worked hard to cram 5 days of work into 4 long days.  The greens were core aerated and then dethatched with the Graden contour sand injection machines.  Overall, we disturbed about 15% of the greens surface, even if it looks like a lot more.  This article, 'Core Aeration by the Numbers', does a good job explaining percent disruption.  We try and accomplish as much at one time so we minimize the need for disruption later in the year.  I could not be more proud of the staff for all of their hard work.  We are also thankful to Joe Harmon and Harmon Turf Services for getting the Graden work finished ahead of schedule.  

While we were closed, we also focused on greens fertility, nematode management, fairway fertility, removal of dead trees, drainage and bunker work.  The next few weeks look like great growing weather and the golf course is really beginning to wake up from winter dormancy.  We are excited to recover from aeration and begin the season.  As always, we appreciate the closed time to accomplish these necessary maintenance practices.  

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Drainage and bunker work being done to the right fairway bunker on #10.  The right side of 10 drains into this bunker so the drainage should help prevent future contamination.  We didn't change anything about the bunker, we just reestablished the edge and installed new liner and sand.  This bunker will be played as ground under repair through the weekend. 

After core areation, the greens were deep verticut with the Graden machines.  The machines cut out the thatch in straight lines and replace with dried sand.  Our team is responsible for filling the machines with sand and cleaning up all of the thatch.  Quite a labor intensive process.

This cross section shows the core aeration on the left and Graden, linear aeration on the right.  This 15% disruption quickly gets us close to our >20% goal for the year.  

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