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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Power Restored, Hurricane Cleanup Well Underway, and Lots of Pictures

Electricity was restored to our building and more importantly to our irrigation system last night.  The rest of the club's electricity was returned today.  Many thanks go out to John Gillenwater for getting us a generator to run the irrigation and allow us to water greens.  Thanks also go out to our Facilities team of  Wes McIntyre, Brian Bingham, Brandon Moore, and Jeff Sanford. (I apologize in advance for misspelling any of these five names.) John brought us a generator within an hour of getting off the phone and the facilities team had the water pumping shortly thereafter.  This allowed us to hand water the greens.  The facilities team also provided power to our gas pumps that allowed generators to run and our equipment to keep working.  I must also thank Chris Welles for watering greens following the irrigation being brought back on line as well as the team at Smith Turf and Irrigation for grinding some bed knives for us while the power was out.  Thanks and Great Job!

This week has been trying but overall we were lucky to dodge a lot of damage from the hurricane.  We lost 5 trees in play and a few in the wood lines but no damage was done to tees, fairways, greens or irrigation.  The greens received no erosion damage mainly in part to the barriers that were installed in anticipation.  The rain has done wonders for all turf areas and the quarry is very full.  Our staff has been diligent in cleaning up the trees and all of the debris left behind from the storm.  We have still been busy focusing on greens and readying the course for Friday's opening.  Greens have been mowed four times now and are really growing in nicely.  Fungicides have been applied weekly as well as before and after the hurricane and fertilizers have been applied once a week to keep the greens aggressively growing in.  The hurricane has thrown a few curve balls but we are pushing forward and crossing our fingers for the rest of the storm season.  The club will be open for business tomorrow and I hope you have a great labor day weekend.
Half of this double tree fell on #3.  We will evaluate the health of the tree to see if we have to remove the rest of it.

The large pine to the left of #2 Green barely missed the bunker and the green.

Erosion barriers were installed to prevent damage from heavy rains

#15 green is really taking shape

Lots of debris to clean up following Irene

Kevin Mark, our new Assistant Superintendent, is mowing #12 green under the watchful eye of our Equipment Manager, John Anderson. 
The third cut really starts to make the green look good.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane damage

After receiving 4.5 inches of rain and heavy winds the course is in good shape.  The bunkers held up relatively well and we only lost 5 trees.  The pine tree pictured barely missed #2 green and the left rear bunker.  All greens are in great shape.  The quarry is full of water and the course is draining well.   All of our new drainage is working well and the sod from last week held up great. Our focus will remain on the greens but it will take the next few days to cleanup the golf course and club grounds.  Greens were mowed for the first time last week and are progressing nicely.  Another application of fungicide and fertility were added Friday to beat the rain.  Once things slow down, I will post more pictures and updates on the greens. Power is still out to the club but the driving range and outdoor tennis courts are open at 10:00 am.  Have a good day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A few more Projects

Yesterday we worked on completing two great projects.  We are going to re-grass the first hole's tee surrounds and are working on draining the cartpath edge on the third hole.  Everyone knows that this hole sees the most cartpath restrictions so we are trying to fix those soil moisture issues.  We are laying sod tomorrow and spending the rest of the week prepping for Irene. 

Adding drainage to the first 75 yards of the third fairway

This is a view of the drainage work looking back towards #3 tees

Finishing the last details of sod prep for the first tee surround

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Good Rain

As this line of storms passed through, the golf course received just over .20 inches of rain.  This is great for the greens and all turf surfaces.  Bunkers did not wash so this will eliminate the need for us to waste time in them tomorrow.  We did not have any wash of seed or seedlings that I could find.  The landscape edging, pictured below, helps prevent water from rushing down our sloped green surrounds and washing out newly seeded areas.  Water is flowing into the quarry and we should see a real flush of growth on tees and fairways tomorrow.  Greens are getting closer and closer to being mowed and will be fertilized again this week. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wrapping Up a Good Week of Recovery and Improvement

   It has been a painful process but seeing the new seedlings grow has really re-energized our crew. We applied another application of fungicide to the greens to prevent disease and spiked and re-seeded a few areas that washed during last weekend's rain.  The seedlings on the greens are growing nicely and will be fertilized again this week. 
   Our team worked hard to wrap up a few projects and get ready for next week.  We completed four separate drainage projects on 12, 14, and 3.  These projects will aid in turf health and reduce cart restrictions.  We also worked on the right greenside bunker on 1 as well as prepping for sod next week.  A new assistant, Kevin Mark, starts this week just in time for a truckload of sod.  This sod will wrap up the fescue conversion to Tifsport on #9, the bunker face on #14, the green tee on #12 and the tee surround on #1.  Different bermuda grass types will be utilized depending on the area. 

More Drainage work on #3.  This hole has a lot of soil moisture issues and in turn the most cart path restrictions.  We are draining these areas while we are closed.  Two more drainage projects are scheduled for #3 this week.

#2 Green is recovering nicely.  95% of the recovery on this green will be from the original turf. 
The seed on #15 is growing very well.  95% of the recovery on this green will be from seed.

#7 Green will see about 70% recovery from the original turf and 30% from seed.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Today's Projects

The seed has been down on greens 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 15, 16, 17 for a full week now.  The rest of the greens will hit the one week mark tomorrow.  We are seeing great germination and seedling growth on all of the greens.  We will be applying a preventative fungicide tomorrow as well as adding a little more seed to a few thin areas.  Overall, we are very happy with the germination.

Pictures really don't do it justice.  This is #17 Green 7 Days after seeding.  Any thin areas will be re-seeded tomorrow.
Here is a look at some of the projects our team is working on today.
Bunker Work:  Fixing Liner, Adjusting Sand Depths

Spot Spraying Weeds

Liming and Fertilizing Tees

Prepping Area at #9 for Sod

Installing Drainage Behind the forward teeing ground on #3

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


We can really see some new growth on all of the greens today.  I have seen germination on all 22 greens and you can really tell where the seed has settled down in the voids left from dimpling and aerification.  We are also seeing a lot of recovery from the original turf.  We anticipate mowing the greens in about 2-3 weeks but this will be on a green to green basis and very weather dependent.

By the end of the week, we should see a nice green hue across the entirety of the greens.  Our staff is putting up barriers on the sloped green surrounds to prevent against erosion damage.  As soon as we can walk on the new grass, we will begin aggressively pushing the fertility to take advantage of this great growing weather.  Until then, the pre-plant amendments that were applied will support the young turf.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Seed Germination and Project Work

The greens that were seeded on Thursday have germinated.  This is a great turnaround of only 4 days.  The .76" of total rain this weekend has helped tremendously.  The quarry is about 85% full and still filling.  Our team is edging and mowing bunkers, fixing liner in bunkers, squaring tee boxes, watering dry spots in fairways, mowing tees, mowing rough, maintaining the driving range, and prepping for sod.

Seedlings have started growing on the holes that were seeded Thursday.
The new grass is barely visible and will be fragile for the next few weeks.
Xinyi and Tianlong are squaring off tees for proper alignment

Even with .76" of rain, we still have weak dew patterns in the fairways indicating the need for more water.  With the quarry filling up, we can properly water these dry areas.

Edging Bunkers to maintain a crisp clean, weed free edge.  Our team is also push mowing bunker surrounds, pulling bermuda grass runners and fixing liner.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


We finally got some real rain! Close to 1/2 an inch has fallen on the golf course over the last 24 hours. This has been great for all turf surfaces as well as the irrigation pond. As expected, all seeding was completed on Friday so updates will be posted this week on germination. Have a great rainy Sunday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Greens Seeding Update

As of this morning, we have seeded 11 greens and prepped 15 greens.  We are currently prepping and seeding the rest of the greens.  Signage will be posted today but we thank you for not walking on the newly seeded greens.  Seeding will be completed today.  We expect germination in 4-7 days.  We currently have 4'8" of water under the irrigation pumps so we are confident that we have enough water to complete germination.  We are prepared in the case that we do not receive rain and have to use a temporary pump. 

These picture illustrate the prep and seeding process.  Prior to prep we core aerated the greens with 1/2" tines and backfilled the holes with an 80% USGA spec sand/20% dakota peat greens mix.
The greens were topdressed again with the 80/20 mix to fill all aeration holes and to provide a proper seed bed.

The greens were rolled to smooth the surface.

The greens were dimpled to create small pockets for the seed to germinate. 

The dimpling will also protect the seed and hold moisture.  The edges of the greens were then tamped and dimpled to firm up the areas and provide a good seed bed.

Pre-plant amendments were applied based on soil tests, seed requirements and to protect the seed against disease.
The greens are seeded in two different directions at 3/4 lb. seed/1000ft2.  The greens are then topdressed with rotary push spreaders using the 80/20 blend.  This mulches the seed to hold moisture.  The greens were then seeded again in two different directions for a total of four directions and 3 lbs. seed/1000ft2.  Seeding in different directions insures a uniform application with no misses.  The greens are then watered in order to swell the seed coat and start the germination process.  The seed will be watered lightly and frequently to keep it wet until it germinates. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Golf Course Update

The last few weeks have been a trying and difficult time.  The blog has been silent because communication needed to come out in a different way.  Battling disease, heat and drought has taken a tremendous toll on the golf course.  We are now in the process of recovery and the blog will be updated whenever I get a chance.  We are going to be jumping into a lot of good projects over the next few weeks and I want to share all of these things with you.

A few updates,

1.  Due to a total of .19" of rain over the last 4 weeks, the water is running low in the quarry but we still have 5'3" of water under the pumps.  Last year's decision to move the pumps into deeper water has really paid off.  Temporary pumps will be used in the worst case scenario to insure seed germination.

2.  We have been testing everything to make sure that we are not battling other issues besides heat and drought.
   a.  The quality of our irrigation water is good.  We test this water source annually but wanted another analysis to eliminate any issues. 
   b.  We do not have any insect or nematode issues.  Samples and scouting have both turned up desirable populations well under our very low threshold.
   c.  We have tested our greens growing medium.  The quality of our growing medium (soil) is good.  We do not have an over accumulation of salts or any other negative qualities that could have contributed to the rapid decline of the greens.  We test our greens every 6 months in order to gauge pH, nutrient levels and to scout for any problems. 
   d.  After the initial disease diagnosis, three separate testings of the greens have all come back negative for any more Pythium Root Rot.  Samples from every green were sent yesterday to two accredited university labs to make sure we have eliminated all pythium with our curative fungicide treatments.  No seed will go down until we are positive that we have eliminated any and all disease issues.

3.  The re-seeding process of our worst greens is well underway.  We have core aerated these greens and backfilled the holes with an 80% Sand/20% Peat USGA specified greens mix to aid in recovery and germination of seed.  We have edged the greens to eliminate any bermudagrass infiltration and will begin dimpling the greens tomorrow to prepare a seed bed.  Seed, topdressing, pre-plant fertility, preventive fungicide applications, and gypsum will all go down Thursday and Friday to begin the re-establishment process.  All of the greens will be seeded in an effort to maintain continuity of all of the playing surfaces.  We are anxious to get seed germinated and growing but must do our due diligence in preparation for this process.  I will be blogging and tweeting about this process with pictures and projected timelines, scenarios and conditions. 
Edging Bermudagrass out of Greens

Backfilling Voids left from Bermudagrass

One of the new Interns, Tianlong, aerating #1 Green

Topdressing and Dragging in Sand

4.  A list of upcoming projects:
a.  A complete irrigation audit is already underway.  The system is new and running well but a check of every head will make sure that we are operating at 100% efficiency.
b.  The final sod will go down for the year.  We need to button up a few open areas as well as the green tee at #12.  Multiple applications of lime have been made to adjust the very low pH conditions cause by the poor soils under the tees on 11 and 12.  Previous Blog Post:  Tee Boxes on 11 and 12
c.  We will be leveling sunken trench lines left over from construction
d.  We will be fixing and adding drainage on 12, 9 and 3.
e.  We will be squaring off tee boxes so that they are straight and properly aligned with the fairways.
f.  We will be adjusting bunker depths and fixing liner
g.  We will be core aerifying collars, approaches, and high traffic areas to improve the turf in these areas.

5.  Our two interns from Virginia Tech are wrapping up their time with us this week.  They have worked very hard and have hopefully learned a thing or two.  We are pleased to welcome two more interns this week from Michigan State's International Turfgrass Program.  Xinyi Lu and Tianlong Zhu have come to us all the way from China and are anxious to learn and contribute.  Another team member, Kevin Mark will join us soon in an Assistant Superintendent Role.  Kevin is a graduate of Penn State and is currently employed as an Assistant in Training at the Country Club of Virginia's River Course.     

I apologize for the long post but I am making up for lost time.  Thank you for the overwhelming support during the last few weeks.  I must also take this opportunity to thank our staff who continue to work countless, difficult hours to maintain the golf course.  A big thank you also goes out to all of the other club staff members, consultants, professors, peers and members of our industry who have given their time, support, equipment, advice and resources to help us rebuild.  Please continue to pray for rain and good weather.  

Sprigs 13, 6

The sprigs that were planted on July 13 are coming in nicely.  They were mowed and fertilized today.  Even with the pre-emergent herbicide that we put down, some weeds have germinated.  We will spray herbicides for them as soon as we can.  We are having to be very judicious with our water right now due to a 4 week drought but we have to keep the sprigs growing in.  We are currently hand watering tees and fairways but do have over 5 feet of water below the pumps.  We received under a tenth of an inch of rain last night but every little bit helps.  Cooler temperatures start Thursday. 

Site Search