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, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

The Holiday season is finally here.  Thanksgiving gives us a chance to enjoy family, food and a little football.  The golf course has seen a wet, warm autumn and most of the leaves have fallen.  Due to the wet conditions, our staff is having a difficult time with leaf removal.  It is impossible for us to use large blowers and leaf removal equipment so we must stick to smaller equipment.  This obviously slows down the process but we are working hard to keep tees, landing areas, bunkers and greens leaf free.  This is an impossible task.

The staff is busy with several other projects outside of leaf removal.  The team has finished removing undesirable plant material from around the ponds and has begun removing the invasive aquatic plant, pennywort.  We want to encourage a natural stand of cat tails, sedges, rushes and wispy grasses around the ponds but we still have to manage these areas to prevent contamination of invasive species.  The pennywort is removed by hand and if left unmaintained would quickly take over the ponds.
Pennywort is the invasive aquatic weed pictured above.  The plant floats and will quickly take over a pond.  The sedges and cat tails pictured are desired but have to be managed as well.  I am glad to capture native bird species in this picture including ducks and blue heron.  We encourage a habitat for these species while trying to discourage the invasion of non-migratory Canadian Geese.

Last night's storms brought us a considerable amount of rain and even though the golf course held up well, the surfaces are very wet.  Even with a windy, sunny day today, I wouldn't expect to see cart path restrictions lifted for a few days.  The recently saturated turf will take much longer to dry out due to these factors.  
  1. Shorter days (less sunlight)
  2. Lower Sun angle (longer shadows, less sunlight) 
  3. Colder temperatures (less evaporation)
  4. Dormant turf (far less water uptake than active growing conditions)
Please bear with us as we take our time to clean up the golf course during these saturated conditions.  Cart path restrictions are designed to protect the playing surfaces, not to disrupt the golfer's experience.  Thank you for following the restrictions and our goal is to always provide the best experience possible.  If you hit your ball into an area of leaves and cannot find it, please continue playing without penalty.  The leaves will be removed as quickly as possible.  Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Continuing Education and the Results of a Heavy November Rain

Bobby, Kevin and I traveled to the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association Education Conference and Trade Show.  We each took three classes between Monday and Tuesday covering a wide array of topics associated with our industry.  The Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association does a great job with their enrolled classes, general education and trade show.  The three of us brought home a lot of good ideas that will be implemented on the golf course.  We are very thankful for the opportunity to study under some of the best professors in our field and to network with our peers and industry leaders.

Stan's regional USGA update...very timely:  The Value of Education 

While we were away, the course received 2.4 inches of rain.  The result is normal; washed bunkers, wet conditions and a lot of downed leaves.  With the wet conditions and cold weather reports, expect frost delays and cart path restrictions this weekend.  The turf will not dry out very fast this time of year.  The staff has worked diligently and bunkers will be put back together this afternoon.  The staff will work on hand raking bunkers and continued leaf removal this weekend.  Our entire staff will be in this weekend to make up for lost time due to rain.  Due to the wet conditions in the fairways, we cannot use our large equipment to blow leaves.  Removal will have to be done with back pack blowers and rakes. 

Heavy rain and wind brought down a large volume of leaves this weak.   Wet turf conditions eliminate the use of large leaf removal equipment which slows progress.  We will be focusing on landing areas and green complexes.
Before bunkers can be repaired, the leaves have to be removed.
Even with fabric liners, the steep slope of our bunkers make them prone to washouts.  All of this sand has to be replaced with rakes and shovels.  This is a labor intensive process.

Sand that has eroded from the faces of the bunkers has to be replaced by hand.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shutting down the Irrigation System

Today, we began the task of shutting down the irrigation system.  We winterized all essential pieces and parts of the system.  We will still be able to use the system for a few more weeks until we get consistently low night time temperatures.  At that point, we will drain the water out of the entire system. 

This is a picture of the control panel for the irrigation system.  In the analogy of the irrigation system being the life blood of the golf course, the pumps in the quarry are the heart of the system and the control panel is the brain.  This panel controls which pumps run or if both need to run based on demand of water and the amount of hours each pump has run.  It also limits damage by shutting down the system if there is a leak in the field or a low pressure situation.  This control panel has many functions and a lot of expensive pieces and parts that have to be winterized every year.  We can run the system manually without it for a few weeks until we get into deep freeze situations.

If you have not noticed, there is a new Twitter Update section on the right side of the blog.  This will give you the twitter feeds that I send out concerning frost delays, cart path rulings, pin placements etc.  It makes the blog a little more dynamic in the fact that I can easily post quick bits of information.  It will be of great help through the colder months with frost delays.  I hope this helps.  Have a great Veteran's day and weekend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cleaning up Around Ponds and Bunker Work

The staff has been busy this week with leaf cleanup and the removal of undesirable plants around the ponds.  We want to encourage a natural buffer of native aquatic plants around our ponds including sedges, rushes and cattails.  All of these plants have to be managed and any hard woods have to be removed to stop the ponds from re-foresting themselves. 

We are now trimmed down to our winter staff.  We have eight full and part time employees that will work through the winter months on the golf course. With a smaller crew, all of our time in the morning is devoted to golf course set up with the afternoons being utilized for project work.  Next week, we will begin the work of adjusting bunker depths.  Our team will check all of the bunkers for the proper sand depth and add, remove or move sand accordingly.  This is a labor intensive process that has to be done every year.  Sand is constantly shifting in and out of the bunkers due to play, wind, rain and the removal of contaminated sand after heavy storms.  Please bear with us as our goal is to finish this work by January 20, 2012.  Once bunker work is complete, tree work, drainage installation and other winter projects can commence. 

On a final note, the club was kind enough to host a lunch for our staff today to thank them for all that they do.  Our team greatly appreciates it and the staff loved the opportunity to eat a great meal prepared by the culinary team.  A special thanks goes out to Mrs. Bliley, Mrs. Hable, and Mrs. Williams for all of the wonderful desserts.  We didn't let any of your hard work go to waste.  Thank you for lunch and thank you to all of our Veterans.  Remember to thank a Veteran for everything they have done for this Country.  Happy Veteran's Day.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Frost Delays and Bridge at #16 Green

It is the time of the year for early morning frost.  When the temperatures dip into the 30's we are prone to frost.  Frost (frozen water in and on the plant) settles on the taller grasses first as they are more exposed and the leaf moisture is further from ground (air cools faster than soil.)  Tighter surfaces such as greens, tees and fairways stay insulated a little longer by the soil.  Once temperatures get into the low 30's we will see frost on these areas as well.  As long as the greens do not have frost on them, frost should not delay play.  Carts are restricted to the path until the frost thaws in order to prevent damage.
Here are two blog posts from last year regarding frost.
USGA Turf Twisters  
The Four Letter words of Golf: Frost Delays and Cart Path Restrictions

The new bridge from 16 green to the tees at 17 was completed last week and has been well received so far.  We look to have a few showers tonight and into tomorrow morning.  These showers are always a nuisance but they lead to other issues.  With any sloped walkways like the area leading to the bridge or wooden surfaces/bridges, please watch your footing when walking.  We will be improving the walk ways to this bridge next year when we can plant actively growing TifSport bermudagrass sod. 
Stan Zontek, our USGA agronomist, dropped in today and was very pleased with the putting surfaces.  The turf is holding up well to play and the membership is doing a great job fixing ball marks.  Thank you and have a great weekend.

Cart damage from driving on frost covered turf.  When the water inside of the plant is frozen, cart and/or foot traffic can literally shatter the leaf blade.

You can already tell that the taller bermuda is going dormant (turning off color.)  The frost has been heavier in the rough so far and has led to the rapid change of color from vibrant green to a khaki/green blend.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Deer Activity on #18 Green

Well its that time of year.  Frost, falling leaves and active deer.  This is the damage that we found this morning on #18 green.  Bobby is working quickly to fix the disturbed area and the green will be ready by the time play gets to it.  No long term damage to the green, just part of being in nature.  There is a heavy frost on the taller grasses but nothing on greens so the golf course is open this morning.  Carts will be restricted to the path until the frost lifts but then we should be 90 degrees the rest of the way.

Deer hoof and antler Damage to #18 Green.  This will be fixed before mowing and play.

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