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, September 28, 2011

Electric Storm

Tree on #9 Hit by Lightning
Last night's storm had more electricity in it than anything I have ever seen here at Willow Oaks.  The sky was alive with lightning.  Over the course of both storms yesterday we received about 2 inches of rain so the course is very wet and bunkers are very washed.  We also saw something very rare.  A direct lightning strike hit an irrigation pipe at the range and broke the pipe.  Luckily I saw this on my way out and was able to shut the pumps down.  We sustained very little tree damage but any trees hit by lightning will eventually die and need to be removed.  This tree on #9 (pictured) has received a direct hit this year.  We are busy with storm cleanup and trying to keep up with mowing greens.  They are growing so fast that if we miss a day of mowing, it will be hard to catch up and still maintain a good quality of cut. 
After tomorrow, the ten day forecast looks cool and dry so we will be spraying fungicides and applying fertility on Friday to prevent disease and encourage more growth. 

Pipe broken and wires damaged after direct lightning strike.  There is a burn mark pictured where the red wire is broken.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dry Monday

We are coming out of a wet, humid weekend and might have a few more days of rain this week but today allowed us to get some work done.  We mowed greens, tees, fairways, the driving range, some rough, and the bunker faces.  We also edged bunkers, edged greens, spiked greens and topdressed greens at a rate of 180 pounds of sand per thousand square feet.  The continual topdressing will help the greens grow in and smooth the surface.  The growth of the greens has really picked up in the last few weeks and they are growing in nicely.  We have been weighing the amount of clippings we pick up off of the greens to indicate that day's growth.  This tells us how much to fertilize and when.  
The seed has popped in the fescue areas as well as the overseeded range tees and target greens.  We will be mowing these areas soon.  Greens were sprayed with a fungicide yesterday due to wet, humid conditions over the past 5 days.  Disease samples have been sent to Virginia Tech today to insure disease free conditions.  So far we have been very clean since July. 

We hit our seeding window perfectly for the ryegrass over seeding of the driving range tees and target greens.

#18 Green
Mowing the Driving Range practice green at .225".  Greens are usually maintained between .125" and .150".

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tree Work at Tennis

The large white oak in the tennis patio was removed today.  The tree had the majority of its limbs removed last week for safety reasons.  We will all miss the shade and beauty of the tree but it was becoming a large safety hazard.  Damage sustained during hurricane Irene dealt the final blow to this great tree.  Arborscapes, certified and professional arborists, completed the work today with the help of a crane.  The, tennis staff, the facilities maintenance team and our staff worked hand and hand to help complete this project.  The pictures below tell the story.
The team from Arborscapes climbs the tree to begin the work.

The crane is brought in and set up to safely remove the large sections of the tree.
The crane in action.
This tree was definitely in decline and very hollow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cool Season Grass Projects

Core Aerating the Tall Fescue areas in preparation for seed.
As we head into the cooler time of the year, we take the opportunity to plant cool season grasses.  Today we aerated and fertilized all of the tall fescue areas on the golf course.  Eventually, most of these areas will be transitioned over to Tifsport or T-10 bermuda grass.  But for now we will be aerating, fertilizing and seeding these areas.  We also overseeded the range tees today.  The side tee and the two forward tees were overseeded with Perennial Ryegrass as well as the target greens.  We should see germination in 7 - 10 days.  The ryegrass looks great and stripes out well but you are still hitting off of the dormant bermudagrass.  Since bermuda does not recover during the winter, we will see these divots well into June.  For this reason, we are not overseeding the back range tee with ryegrass.  This will keep traffic off of the back tee and promote healthy bermudagrass next spring.  Ryegrass competes with the bermuda for sunlight, nutrients and moisture and shades the bermudagrass which negatively affects plant health.  The overseeded tees should take us through May 1 and then we will have a perfectly healthy back tee to use while the other tees heal in from winter use.  Today, the greens were spiked, topdressed and fertilized to promote lateral growth.  The staff is also working on mowing and pulling bermudagrass runners in the bunkers.  Have a good week.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Golf Course Update

This is an email that went out to every member today.

September 16, 2011
Dear Willow Oaks Member,
Today marks five weeks since seeding of the greens was completed.  The greens are progressing wonderfully and we are currently mowing at .240".  To put this in perspective, our normal height of cut is .125" (1/8 of an inch) and we began mowing the newly seeded greens at .450" (slightly less than 1/2 inch).  The lower mowing height will encourage lateral growth and allow the creeping Bentgrass to tiller out and improve turf density.  The cooler weather that has arrived is great for the Bentgrass.  We are continuing to lower the mowing heights while focusing on plant health.  Greens were topdressed and vented this week.  Topdressing not only aids in smoothing the surface, but provides protection to the plants as we continue to lower the mowing height.  The venting provides channels for water and air to move to the roots.  We are about where we would have expected to be at this point in the grow-in process when greens were seeded in August.
Other projects have also been completed on the course and others are in the process of completion.  The majority of the last two weeks have been focused on Irene and Lee cleanup. Tree and debris removal, along with bunker repair and general cleanup have been our major focus.  Drainage has been installed behind the forward tee and along the cart path edge in two locations on hole #3.  Pre-emergent applications were completed to prevent against winter weeds.  This application is the first step in controlling weeds the course experiences in the spring.  Drainage will be installed in other locations on #3 and #13 tees, and a foot bridge will also be constructed between #16 green and #17 tees. 
During the last three weeks the course has received 8.2 inches of rainfall.  Irene and Lee have deposited more water over the golf course than we have seen all year.  The rain has filled the quarry and provided enough water for the remainder of the season.  The course drained beautifully from all the rain and all new sod, seed, and sprigs stayed in place.  In total the course lost ten trees due to Irene but only three that were in play: the pine tree left of #2 green; the oak tree right of the second fairway bunker on #3; and on oak in the cart parking area at #10 green.  Other trees lost were in the tree line on #14 and one by the entrance road.

As happy as we are to see the cooler weather, we still have a lot of work to do on the golf course. Fall projects such as leaf removal, fescue aeration and seeding, overseeding of the range tees and target greens, and bunker depth adjustments will begin next week.  We look forward to seeing you around the club in the upcoming cooler months.

Current information about work on the golf course as well as educational materials dealing generally with turf grass managment issues are always available at the Club's Golf Course Management Blog.  To receive an email whenever a new article is posted on the blog, subscribe from any page within the site. 
If you have questions, please feel free to reply to this email.  We respond to all questions and comments as promptly as possible.

Willow Oaks Country Club Green Committee

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Projects

We are knocking out a few big projects today.  The group from Arborscapes is here removing the limbs from the large white oak in the tennis patio.  This tree was damaged during Hurricane Irene.  Kevin is applying pre-emergent herbicides to prevent winter weeds and Bobby is applying fungicides to greens to prevent disease and promote turf growth.  The rest of our staff is busy mowing, working in grounds, and applying lime and fertilizer to different areas of the course.  Have a great week.

Pre-Emergent Herbicide Application

Spray Hawking Greens to prevent disease and encourage turf health

Crack left from Hurricane Irene Damage:  This tree was too dangerous to leave standing.
Arborscapes begins the difficult task of removing the tree with no heavy equipment.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

During the month of August, we prayed for rain.  We wished for water to fill the quarry.  We celebrated over .15" of rain and were on the edge of our seats as Jim Duncan predicted even the smallest chance of rain.  Well, the rain dances can stop.  We have received over 8.25" of rain during the last two weeks.  Irene and Lee have deposited more water over this golf course in 10 days than we have seen all year.  The rain has filled the quarry and saturated the golf course.  The bunkers washed, trees fell and rivers rose but all in all we made it through OK.  The good news is that the course drained beautifully, all new sod, seed, and sprigs stayed in place and we are no worse for the wear.  The ten day forecast looks fantastic for growing grass and next week, we look forward to pre and post-emergent herbicide applications, drainage projects and greens topdressing.  

We avoided any real rain last night and as a result, we were able to get some real work done today.  We mowed the range tees, the short game practice area, the tees, green surrounds, greens, some rough and the newly sprigged areas.  We also solid tine aerated greens surrounds and fertilized greens, green surrounds and the newly sprigged areas.  The greens are progressing wonderfully and we are currently mowing at .300".  To put this in perspective, our normal height of cut is .125" (an 1/8 of an inch) and we began mowing the newly seeded greens at .450"(slightly less than a 1/2 inch).  We are about halfway through the lowering process.  The lower mowing height will encourage lateral growth and allow the creeping bentgrass to tiller out and improve turf density.  We will be playing catch up on mowing this weekend due to the wet conditions.  All of the fairways may not be able to be mowed until Sunday.  Have a great weekend! 
#17 Green looks great.

Solid Tine Aerating the Collars and Approaches.  This does not pull a core but does relieve compaction of the soils. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flooding Avoided

We finally received some leniency from Mother Nature and avoided any major flooding.  After 3.7" of rain this week, the golf course is very wet but draining well.  After a quick rise, the river crested at 10.91 feet and is already going down.  The rain has leached all fertility through the greens profile so we will be fertilizing greens tomorrow.  Today we are spraying both contact and systemic fungicides as well as a preventative insecticide.  We are starting to see some competition on the greens from the new seedlings.  This is normal and while it looks a little rough, the stronger turf is out competing other seedlings and taking over.  We are also dealing with dropping the height of cut so the greens will have to get used to the new, lower mowing heights.  We will begin topdressing greens next week in order to smooth the surface, prevent against scalping, and to protect the crown of the plant as we continue to drop the height of cut. 

We have sampled the greens and are pleased to report that there is no disease activity.  We are all a little gun shy of any imperfections right now but we need to be patient in the grow in process.  Overall the greens look great and are progressing nicely.  Some dry weather will help with quality of cut and reduction of disease pressure.  The 10 day forecast looks very conducive to growing bentgrass. 

The staff is busy today fixing bunker washouts and cleaning up from the rain.  Not surprisingly, there is one bunker that needs very little attention. 

Back Left Greenside Bunker #2 with two year old fabric liner

Right Fairway Bunker #8 with new Porous Asphalt Liner

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

River and Rain Update

As of 6:30 a.m. this morning we were up to 2 inches of total rainfall over the last two days.  We are currently in the middle of a heavy cell of rain so that number is going up.  The river is currently at 8.95 feet and rapidly rising.  The predictions from the National Weather Service are a little off and the river is rising much faster than expected.  As the graph illustrates, the river has risen over 5 feet in the last few hours.  Hopefully the NWS's current crest prediction of 11 feet is close and we will not see water on the golf course.  In my experience, the faster the rise, the lower the crest and faster the fall.  The predictions are merely calculated guesses so we will be closely monitoring the river and acting accordingly. Remember at 15 feet we start to take on water and around 16.5 we start to see real water running across fairways and bunkers and at 18 feet, greens 7 and 17 are under water.
Click Graph for Updated Information from National Weather Service

We are trying to mow greens today in between rain to keep them in check.  The bunkers will take some work to get back in shape and carts will be restricted to the paths for at least the remainder of today. Hopefully, we avoid some storms Thursday and Friday and at least mow tees and greens.  Fungicides will be applied either Thursday or Friday depending on weather. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pile it On

After an earthquake and a major hurricane, why wouldn't we have two more hurricanes and potential flooding?  Locally, we have received just over .5" of good rain so far from Tropical Storm Lee.  The bad news is that Lee has spawned tornadic activity and dumped loads of rain west of town and will continue to produce heavy rains for the next few days.  This leads to a great potential for flooding.  The national weather service is currently predicting a rise of over 11 feet in the James river and a crest of 14.7 feet early Friday Morning.  This is a very early prediction and is subject to change but remember that the point in which we begin to take on water is 15 feet.  We will monitor this closely and act accordingly. 

The greens are loving this rain but we will need a few breaks in the weather this week to mow.  Yesterday we applied fungicides and spiked the greens in order to prevent disease and allow water infiltration.  We need to cross our fingers that Hurricane Katia stays on her predicted path off of the coast.  Drive safe today.

Friday, September 2, 2011

USGA Article and Opening to Temporary Greens

The golf course re-opened today to temporary greens.  The temporary greens are mowed into the fairway about 35 yards in front of the putting greens.  There are no temporary greens on the par 3's and those holes should be skipped.  The pace of play is very fast and should allow for at least some swings and exercise.  The putting greens are progressing nicely and we have mowed them every day this week.  Have a great Labor Day Weekend.

Here is the USGA Mid-Atlantic Weekly update:

Site Search