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.

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

Welcome to the Willow Oaks Country Club Golf Course Management Blog

We will be posting weekly and monthly golf course updates.

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