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.


Navigating this Webpage

Maintenance Calendar, Follow us via Email or Social Media, and ways to find more information


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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Digging Out

I trust that everyone had a great Holiday Season and I hope you join our team in looking forward to the start of a New Year.  Over the weekend, we received between 3 and 4 inches.  With warm weather coming the rest of the week, I assume the snow should melt off by Thursday or Friday.  We look forward to warmer temperatures and some golf in January.  Have a great week.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The USGA Green Section and the Putting Green Performance Pyramid

The USGA Green Section was formed in 1920 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the USGA in an effort to provide impartial and authoritative agronomic information to golf course officials.  The USGA Green Section is the foremost authority on golf course management and is the largest contributor towards university-based turfgrass research in the world.  As part of the USGA's Turf Advisory Service, the Director of the Mid-Atlantic region of the Green Section, Stan Zontec visits Willow Oaks twice a year to bring a wealth of information and an impartial yet concerned perspective regarding turfgrass growth requirements, how these requirements might best be managed for golf, and ideas that other golf courses have found to be beneficial.  Stan is the longest tenured employee of the Green Section and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to every site visit.  Every week, the USGA Green Section sends out updates and articles that can benefit golf courses.  Here is a great article from the USGA Green Section concerning Putting Green Performance. 

You can find a lot more information at

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow covered Golf Course

The golf course has already received close to an inch of snow with more expected throughout the day.  With high temperatures forecast in the mid-30's until Friday, we could be covered with snow for a couple of days.  Our staff will utilize this time by rebuilding, painting and staining golf course amenities such as benches, birdhouses and on/off posts.  Our Equipment Manager, John Anderson, is also receiving some much needed help with our winter maintenance program.  I hope that you enjoy the snow, drive safe and have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Bunker Work

The arrival of December has already brought us freezing temperatures, a little snow and winter projects.  As we look forward to next season, an area that we can still improve on during the winter months is our bunkers.  We will work steadily through the bunkers, checking depths, replacing liner, and adding sand as weather permits.  Yesterday, we began work on the right fairway bunker on number Eight.  Contaminated sand has been removed, new, thicker liner has been installed and the bunker has been edged to create an ideal sub-surface for new sand.  Bunker liner is a fabric that is installed on the subsurface of the entire bunker, below the sand, to help keep sand on the sloped faces and prevent contamination.  Playability out of the bunkers is affected by a number of factors, including but not limited to irrigation frequency, sunlight, wind, traffic, severity of slope and most importantly golf course design.  The goal of bunker management is to rake every bunker with the same consistency and to maintain consistent sand depths on every bunker slope and base.  We will continue our efforts in this area until the bunker sand completely freezes.  Please feel to stop and ask questions when you see our team out on the course.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snow covered Sunday

We arrived this morning to a snow covered golf course.  The light dusting of snow created great pictures and views of the golf course.  The snow is starting to lift but is still quite heavy in some areas.  It will be a very difficult day to play golf with all of the snow on the ground.  The greens have a heavy frost and play should be delayed until 11:00 a.m.  Contact the pro shop for more information.  Have a great week.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunny, Cold Morning

Ginny earning her Kibble
No frost delay this morning.  After .35" of rainfall over the past two days, the fairways are still too damp for handicapped flags.  Please contact the Pro Shop for more information.  With temperatures dipping into the upper 20's tonight, we could see a long frost delay tomorrow morning.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Irrigation System Blowout Complete

The draining and winterization of the golf course's irrigation system has been completed.  The system is drained and essential elements, subject to freeze damage, have been removed from the pumps and pump controller.  Systems that cannot be removed have been filled with anti-freeze to protect them.  This winter shutdown protects the club's investment in our irrigation system and allows us time for maintenance necessary to keep our pumps and controller under warranty.  Our golf course management team wishes you a happy holiday season and we hope to see you on the golf course soon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Regional Update from Stan Zontek

Stan's articles are always insightful and interesting.  

Mid-Atlantic Regional Update

We have had some beautiful fall color, however, we have had some tree decline and early leaf fall as well.  Only time will tell how this season will affect the long term health of our tree population.

Good News and Bad News

The good news is that we expect a much needed rain tonight through Wednesday morning.  The rain will help protect the turf from dessication as it goes into dormancy and allow us to finish up all fertility applications today.  The bad news is that rain usually leads to cart path restrictions.  This time of year, we have to be especially careful in regards to traffic as the turf is going into dormancy and cannot recover.  On Monday, November 22 we will go exclusively to carts on path in order to protect the dormant Tifsport fairways and our membership's investment in the golf course.  Please click on the links below to read about exceptions to the cart restrictions and why we restrict carts to path.  The other good news is that despite a few cold mornings, this week looks to be unseasonably warm for late November.  Next week, I look forward to Thanksgiving Turkey, family, and football.  I hope you enjoy your holiday season and every thing Willow Oaks has to offer during this time of celebration. 

Greens/Golf Committees: Policy on Exceptions to Cart Path Restrictions during Turf Dormancy
Frost Delays and Cart Path Restrictions

Friday, November 12, 2010

Frost Delay and Winter Maintenance

A little frost out there this morning but it looks to be a beautiful day. Winter maintenance of our equipment fleet has begun and we are working diligently to finish our Potash applications before we shut down the irrigation system. During winter maintenance, every piece of equipment has to be power washed, inspected and repaired as necessary.  The inspection, preventative maintenance, and sharpening of every essential part of equipment includes reels, bedknives, rotary blades, bearings, rollers, grease fittings, tires, safety switches, and hoses.  Winter maintenance also includes the changing of oils, filters, and fluids.  Our fall Potash application helps the turf overwinter and thrive during dormancy.  Enjoy the beautiful weather and your weekend!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A season to forget

The oyster bowl brings us to the end of a 2010 golfing/growing season that few golfers will forget but even less will want to remember.  Our golf course faced flooding, record snowfall, drought, excessive heat, and torrential rains.  Overall, I am very proud of our staff and the golf course this year, despite our challenges.  There is always a silver lining and we turned these challenges into opportunities by rebuilding 19 flooded bunkers, renovating the area between #3 green and #4 tees, draining and renovating the area between #9 and #18,  and renovating the areas to the right of #10 and to the right of #14.  We followed through with commitments to change grass lines based on playability, traffic tolerance, shade tolerance, and irrigation requirements.  2010 reminded us to always be forward thinking and encouraged us to change some vital maintenance practices to lessen our dependency on water, reduce our impact on the environment and reduce our mechanical impact by eliminating the use of large equipment on our putting greens.  We will continue to to surge forward and with your support and a little help from Mother Nature, 2011 will be a year to remember.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First Freeze

Expect freezing temperatures tonight and frost in the morning.  There is a freeze warning from 2:00 a.m.. - 9:00 a.m. Daylights saving time is also tonight.  Have a great weekend and good luck at the Oyster Bowl.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beautiful Friday

This morning we received the last small amount of rainfall from this weather system.  Overall, the golf course received 1.5 inches of a nice slow rain.  The bunkers and greens held up tremendously but carts are restricted to the path on every hole today.  We should get close to 60° today so please enjoy the golf course.  Our crew is  working hard removing leaves, mowing greens and raking bunkers.  This weekend looks nice and dry but expect frost delays with lows near freezing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wet Thursday

We arrived to work this morning in a light rain with a 1/2 inch already in the rain gauge.  So far it has been a nice slow drizzle but we expect rain all day.  We will work as long as we are productive.  Pins will be in location 3 and carts are restricted to the cart path on every hole.  Drive safe and have a great day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Greens Venting

We will complete a venting of the greens on the golf course today.  The three putting greens as well as 1-9, 12, and 16 were finished Monday.  The rest of the greens will be completed today.  Greens venting allowing gas exchange, water infiltration and air movement.  This process will help extend our growing season and allow the greens to dry out.  Nitrogen, Phosphorus, a phosphorus enhancer, and Potassium were applied to the greens following venting to promote root growth and plant health.  The greens will be rolled and mowed following this process to ready them for play. 
Please view our Glossary of Employed Agronomic Practices for more information.

Frost this Morning

November is here and with it the frost.  Frost delay this morning.  Play will be delayed until front lifts.  Carts are restricted to the path of #3.  Have a great Election day.

Maintenance will begin at 9:00 a.m. so golf can begin at 9:30 a.m.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Its a Beautiful Halloween Day

No Frost Delay this morning.  Carts restricted to path on #3 and #9.  With the high temperature expected around 70°, today might be the last great weather day of the season.  Have a great Sunday!

The four letter words of Golf: Frost Delays and Cart Path Restrictions

I am sure that you have heard the joke 'How did Golf get it's name?....All the other four letter words were taken.'  Golf provokes every emotion and sense one has.  As in life, there are highs and lows, birdies and bogeys, 90 degrees and Cart Path Only, 8:30 a.m. Shotgun Starts and 11:00 a.m. frost delays.  All of these scenarios have ideal situations and situations that golf enthusiasts, like myself, despise. 
At the end of the growing season, just prior to dormancy, turfgrass growth has slowed to a minimum.  The process of dormancy (when the grass turns a beige color) is an attempt to protect the plant from freezing temperatures, frost, snow and other winter damage. While the plant is still alive and well during dormancy, it is not able to recover from damage.  Raising our mowing heights, limiting traffic, and implementing the correct agronomic practices can maintain plant health and protect the club's investment.
 -Damage can occur from cart or foot traffic in frost or frozen conditions-

Along with dormancy, frost delays are prevalent this time of year.  We had our first frost delay yesterday.  Frost on the grass blades tells us that the water inside the leaves is frozen.  Water is the primary component of plant tissue. When this water is frozen, traffic on the turf causes the ice crystals in the cells to puncture through the cell walls, killing the plant tissue. Little damage is done to the crowns (growing points) or roots if only a light frost appears; however, when the frost is heavy, cell disruption may occur at the crown, thus killing the entire plant. Frost damage symptoms include white to light tan leaves where traffic has passed.  Even if you do not see frost on the putting greens, we may have frost on a few greens on the golf course.  Shade and location both affect how long it takes for frost to burn off of greens.  Frost delays affect every tee time but overall membership satisfaction, quality of the turf and golf course conditions have to be taken into consideration.  We also have to allow time for maintenance ahead of play so thank you for your patience on these cold mornings.  

Happy Holidays

With the holiday season in full swing, our Golf Course Management Team is tackling leaf removal, bunker improvements, and ornamental plantings. While all three of these processes affect our members and guests, a little education and communication can reduce our impact.
Along with cooler temperatures, the changing of the seasons has brought an influx of leaves to the golf course and club grounds.  Heavy winds and rains have contributed to increased leaf fall and it takes a lot of staff hours to blow, rake and remove these leaves.  Thank you for your patience during this time of transition.
We will continue with bunker improvements until the bunkers freeze this winter.  Contaminated sand will be removed, clean sand will be added and evenly distributed, bunker liner will be fixed or replaced and edges will be trimmed.   The timing of our work allows us to disrupt as little play as possible.  If you see a 'Ground Under Repair' sign in a bunker, please remove your ball and drop within two club lengths, no closer to the hole.  It takes time and a lot of packing for the sand to settle.  With over 60 large, intricate, highly flashed bunkers, our work is never done, so we thank you for your patience while we continue bunker management.
Finally, the Green and Grounds Committee along with our Horticulturalist, Chuck Cassick have worked tirelessly to improve the presentation of our parking lot.  The fall is the best time to plant shrubs and other perennials as the roots are allowed the majority of the plant's carbohydrates to expand and grow.  You will continue to see a lot of plant material being installed and fresh mulch applied in the parking lot islands.  Thank you for respecting traffic cones and directions as our team works to improve this area.
Have a wonderful Holiday season and we look forward to seeing you around the Club.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Environmental Efforts and our Nutrient Management Plan

This year we created a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) to help guide our fertility use and lower our impact on the environment and the Chesapeake Watershed in particular. Nutrient management planning is defined by the USDA as, “Managing the amount, source, placement, form and timing of the application of nutrients and soil amendments.”  Through the VT Extension service and a state grant, our NMP was completed by a certified planner for free.  A few of the steps that we took to become better stewards of our NMP were the more frequent use of organic fertilizers as well as fertilizer extenders and enhancers.  The organic products are all natural and provide a safe, efficient fertilizer source while also raising the organic matter in our soils.  Organic fertilizers naturally breakdown in the soil for a slow feed which reduces runoff as well as provide a constant boost of growth for our turf.  Better soils means better turf and more natural products will help reduce our footprint.  We have borrowed the fertility extender and enhancement products from our farming neighbors in agronomy.  These products have been reducing fertility inputs and runoff into bodies of water while increasing yields in farming for some time.  We utilized the fertility extension and enhancement products this year to provide great growing conditions while reducing the use of both Nitrogen and Phosphorus by 65%.  With our Nutrient Management Plan and these products we have been able to save money, improve turf quality, and reduce our environmental impact. 

Improved Putting Green Chemical Applications

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about one of the many ways that we have lowered our environmental impact and improved our chemical applications this year.   We have started applying pesticides manually through a practice of walk spraying greens.   This process is very efficient and precise.  Our new greens spraying program has allowed us to spray greens in multiple directions, reduce compaction and tire marks on greens, and reduce our pesticide use by 19.3%!  As seen in the picture above, we wear a lot of personal protective equipment when applying these products.  That is due to the fact that we are in direct contact with these products during application.  Once applied, these products are very safe and environmentally friendly.
While fertilizers and pesticides are necessary to grow and promote healthy turf, our precise use and extra efforts have saved money, lowered our impact, and improved our product.  Thank you for supporting us in this cause and we will continue to work towards a healthy, enjoyable, and environmentally friendly golf course.  
Please visit our Glossary of Employed Agronomic Practices page to read more.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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