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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cart Restrictions Lifted as Tifsport Fairways are Greening Up

During the late fall, winter, and early spring months we restrict cart traffic to the cart paths in order to maintain a quality playing surface and limit winter damage to our Tifsport bermudagrass fairways.  Today, we lifted these restrictions due to the warm weather and the growth of the fairways.  Here is a brief article from the USGA concerning this topic.

We will also complete our bunker work today.  We have successfully rebuilt 10 bunkers this winter and now we will begin on other improvements.  We are very aware of the large amount of work that still needs to be done everyday to get our golf course in good shape for the summer.  Winter weeds will be sprayed out now that the Tifsport has begun to grow, any winterkill in our tees, fairways and collars will be resodded and improvements are to be made to the area to the left of #9, the area to the left of #6 green and to the right of #13 green.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dodging Storms and Wrapping up a long week

We have successfully dodged the storms so far today.  We received a little rain but nothing to speak of.  The lack of storms will mean that we wont have to spend all day tomorrow fixing bunkers and the greens should stay firm and fast for the weekend.  There is still a chance of storms this evening but with luck we will have a great tournament prep day tomorrow for the 'Meet me at the Rock' tournament on Saturday.  The National Weather Service predicts that the James River will stay well below flood stage so nothing to worry about.  We are wrapping up small projects and mowing for the weekend. 

On Monday, we are getting involved in a great project to re-grass the area around the Clubhouse Putting Green.  This area will consist on new rough-height turf as well as a chipping area for pitch and chip shots onto that green.  The new irrigation that we installed a couple of weeks ago will insure this projects success.

On Tuesday, we will re-grass the surround and part of the tee top on the first tee.  This area has been tall fescue and has been unsuccessful due to the large amount of traffic that this walk on, walk off area sees.  The new grass should be ready for traffic and play in a couple of weeks.  Thank you for your patience during this time of improvement.

Monday, April 25, 2011

VSGA One Day Outing and Regrassing area at Tennis

This morning, we set up the golf course for a one day VSGA event.  Since the golf course is so busy, we are taking the opportunity to sod the area around courts 5 and 6 at tennis and in front of the fitness building.  The areas at tennis were disturbed this winter during the installation of overhead lights on courts 5 and 6 and the installation of a new sidewalk and patio at the hard courts.  The areas at fitness are being regrassed and irrigation and landscaped beds are being reorganized for a healthier, more organized landscape.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

River back down, Project on #9 Wrapping Up

The river has crested and started its decent.  We are currently right below 12 feet which puts us back in the Action Stage and out of the Flood Stage.  We never really took on water but our drainage system was not able to flow into the river so water backed up and out of the canals on 15, 16, and 17 making 17 unplayable today.  I hope that the 17th hole is open tomorrow.

We are currently finishing a project that will soften the knob in the center of the ninth green over the next couple of years.  We core aerated that area once the green healed over from the original core aeration.  We rolled the knob with our greens roller five times after we aerated the area.  This technique lower the top of the knob .25 inches.  The goal is to lower the knob and level that back portion of the green to allow for more hole locations.  Over the next few years we will aerify that green an extra time in the spring and the fall to help soften this feature.  This afternoon we will backfill the aerification holes with sand and the grass should heal over these holes in 2-3 weeks. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

River Set to Crest at 15.1 feet at 8:00 pm

The river is currently at 14.55 feet and should steadily rise to a crest of 15.1 feet at 8:00 pm tonight.,1,1,1,1,1,1,0
We should avoid any damage but will see internal flooding and a little extra water on the golf course.  The good news is that we are able to accomplish a lot today with the good weather.  We are starting to mow fairways and we have applied a growth regulator to our greens to help stabilize growth.  We are also doing a lot of work at the range and topdressing greens.

The river should stay within its banks on #5

Starting to take on a little water on #4

Bridges under water with some internal flooding

Sunday, April 17, 2011

River Predictions

The last 24 hours has been devastating for parts of Virginia as well as many other States.  This storm system has produced tornadoes and heavy rain.  As of this morning, the National Weather Service in Wakefield is predicting that the river will crest at 14.8 feet.  This crest is very similar to the one that we experienced earlier this year.  At 14.8 feet the river should not come onto the golf course.  We will see internal flooding and the bridges at 17 and 15 may be under water.  The river will be rising very quickly over the next 24 hours so please, be very careful around water features.  We dodged a huge bullet by avoiding a tornado.  I hope the National Weather Service is correct and we will dodge another tomorrow with the James staying in its banks. I will frequently update Twitter and the blog concerning the river level.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wrapping up our USGA Site Visit and a very busy week

I haven't been actively blogging or tweeting this week and I apologize.  Honestly, I haven't sat down long enough to type.  This will become easier as I transition into the new world of the smart phone.   We started with an action packed Monday and will wrap up today with three interviews for our vacant Assistant Superintendent positions.  Let me give a weekly update today and then try and dive into our USGA site visit this weekend.

Monday:  We installed 300 feet of irrigation between the patio and the clubhouse putting green.  This will allow us to re-grass this area as well as install a chipping fairway for short game practice.  We also took the opportunity to irrigate some of the landscaped beds as well. 

We maximized our closed Monday by  topdressing and flushing greens.  Flushing Greens:  The practice of watering the putting greens until the greens soil or mix reaches field capacity (all of the available pore space is filled with water) and breaks the perched water table between the greens mix and the subsurface gravel and drainage.  This completely flushes all of the water through the drainage as well as flush the greens of any gas buildup, sodium, or  copper and bring oxygen into the root zone.  

Tuesday:  We started to work on the leaf texture and quality of cut on our putting greens.  After core aerification, the greens have to recover and must receive heavy topdressing and fertility to properly grow in.  During this time, the greens are sandy and growing very fast.  Because of this, we get a very poor quality of cut and the leaves get a little too big for our liking.  We started the process on Tuesday to begin grooming our greens.  These groomers located between the front roller and the reel will stand up the grass to allow for a better quality of cut.  We also dropped the height of cut .005" to .115" which will help us obtain a tighter cut. These changes and a lot of double cutting have shown results this week with a gain of 1.75 feet of greens speed on the Stimpmeter.  

Wednesday/Thursday:  Concluded all bunker work except for the first three fairway bunkers on #18.  These bunkers will remain ground under repair while we finish installing liner and sand.  We hosted Stan Zontek, our USGA Green Section consultant and enjoyed two informative days of site visits, technical information, management ideas and camaraderie.  Mr. Zontek is the director of the USGA Green Section's Mid-Atlantic region. He is the longest tenured USGA employee, joining the USGA staff in 1971.  Stan will be very busy over the next two months in preparation for the US Open at Congressional Country Club.   Once we receive his report, I will speak more about his visit. 

Friday:  Today, we are continuing to groom and double cut greens.  We are spraying some plant health products to aid in recovery from aerification.  I know that everyone has seen our team in full Tyvek suits spraying greens.  This is a necessary safety measure for our applicators.  All of the products that we spray are very safe for our golfers and are sprayed in accordance with their labeled rates.

Our team is cleaning up the golf course and weather permitting on Monday, we will begin mowing tees, approaches and fairways.  The golf course is greening up and we couldn't be more excited to see Spring.  While our team is very busy on the golf course, Eric and I will be conducting three interviews for our vacant Assistant Superintendent positions and one for a summer intern position.  We are very excited about our candidate pool and this summer we will have five managers with Turfgrass Management Degrees as well as four interns that are pursuing degrees in the field of Turfgrass Management.  

It has been a long week but a very productive one.  The course is dry and greens are in good shape for the weekend.  We are bracing for storms tomorrow but Sunday should be nice. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fore the Golfer: An article from the USGA

Fore the Golfer
Ball Marks - An Old Nemesis
by the Green Section Staff 
Pitch mark - the dent
The "Pit"
Ball marks are always a hot topic with golfers and superintendents so this week we are offering a variety of resources to help you encourage others to take better care of the greens.

The animation also can be downloaded from the USGA website. This allows you to insert it into a newsletter, blog, or other electronic communication. Or, you can simply link back to the USGA site or to this issue of the Record.

Videos and Animations

Link to the USGA site where this and other animations can be downloaded

Video on ball mark repair extracted from the USGA's DVD entitled, Spirit of the Game I

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring Tedium: Bunkers, Mulch, and Leaf Texture

Its that time of year again; The golf course is greening up, winter projects are wrapping up and greens are recovering from core aerification.  The small details of the winter projects are coming to a close and weather permitting, the bunkers on 3, 8 and 9 will all be open and ready for play by the end of the week.  We have spread 30 yards of mulch on the club grounds and we are moving out onto the golf course.  Mulch should be finished by April 22.

The real focal point right now are the golf course putting greens.  They are recovering well but now we need to focus on ball roll and in particular leaf texture.  Due to extra fertility, a large amount of sand topdressing and the goal of filling in our aerification holes, the leaf texture of our putting green grass has been long and fat.  We are in the process of double cutting and grooming the greens to return the leaf texture to a desirable tight putting surface.  This will allow for better ball roll, predictable breaks and faster speeds.  Thank you for your patience during this time of recovery.
Root depths of up to 6 inches.

On a positive note, our root density and depth look great moving into the warmer months.  The better our roots are now, the better our greens will be in July and August. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Willow Oaks Country Club hosts Golf and Government Relations Summit

Willow Oaks Country Club in conjunction with the Old Dominion Golf Course Superintendent Association (ODGCSA) presented a Golf and Government Relations Summit yesterday concerning nutrient management plans, best management practices and other current and future events that are affecting our industry.  The goal of the summit was to help educate golf course owners, general managers and superintendents on the recent legislation passed during this year's Virginia General Assembly that will affect golf courses in Virginia.  Eric Frazier, Director of Agronomy at Willow Oaks as well as the president of the ODGCSA, planned and hosted the event.  

Guest speakers included Dr. Mike Goatley, Extension Turfgrass Specialist and Professor at Virginia Tech, Donna Johnson and Katie Frazier of the Virginia Agribusiness Council and Chava McKeel, Senior Manager of Information and Public Policy for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

The information discussed was both informative and time sensitive.  The Virginia Golf Course Superintendents Association has pledged that every golf course in Virginia will be Nutrient Management planned by 2017.  We are proud to say that we are ahead of the curve and have been Nutrient Management planned for two years now.  These documents are our planned inputs of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and other materials onto the golf course.  We are doing our best to be leaders in environmental stewardship, government relations and the golf course industry.

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