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.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wrapping Up the Wire Install on #4

The wire on #4 has been installed and our trench and installation have passed inspection from the city.  Our team is now in the process of backfilling the trench, tamping the soil and relaying the sod.  This process should be finished by Monday afternoon.  The team from Farmer's Electric will be back on site this week to make the electrical hookups at the fan and the electrical panel adjacent to the fourth tee.  Once their team is finished, the project will be subject to a final inspection from the city and then cleared for use in 2013.  We will have many of these types of projects this winter, but this long run on #4 will be the most invasive.  Thank you for your patience.  The weather looks great for golf this weekend.
Once the wire was installed and passed inspection, our team replaced the soil and used this 'jumping jack' vibratory tamp to compact the trench.  Caution tape was also installed.  The remainder of the soil will then be plate compacted and the sod will be placed back.  Kevin, Ryan, and Dan all played very large roles during this project.

Soil is placed back in the trench and then tamped.  Above that, this Caution tape is installed to prevent future projects from damaging the wire. We also ran a locator wire in the trench so that we can find the exact location of this wire in the future.
Large gauge wire was needed for the long run of single phase power to the fan on #4 green.  Many thanks to our great team for doing this project in house.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Running Fan Wire

If you play the golf course this week and for the rest of the winter you will see signs of our team installing wires across the golf course for the installation of fans.  The first wire will have to run all the way from #4 tee complex to the back of the fourth green.  This is a 1400 foot run and will take a few weeks as every section has to be inspected by the city.  Our team is doing the work while our electrician is overseeing the work and hooking the wire to the electrical panel and the fan.  He will also be responsible for all splices.  The wire has to be at least 2 feet in the ground but the most interesting part is dodging all of the in ground irrigation and drainage pipe.  This existing pipe was installed with the project in '07-'08 and is very well documented in both GPS and hand drawn as-builts.  We find the exact location through wire tracking.  This process is timely but consumes much less time than hitting a pipe or wire with a trencher.  Please excuse us while some of the trenches remain open for inspection.  As soon as all of the work on #4 is inspected and complete, we will move on to other projects.  All of the fan wire will be installed by March 1, 2013 so we can install all of the fans before the season.

As a reminder, the golf course will be cart path only beginning next Tuesday.  Handicapped flag information is available through the golf committee or the pro shop.  We do this to protect the dormant turf and provide better conditions in the golfing season.  At this time, we will also be switching our tee markers to the old shields to bring in the new wooden markers for maintenance.  We will also bring in benches, hazard stakes etc. for maintenance.

Enjoy the holiday season,


Before we trench, we remove the sod and expose any existing pipes to prevent damage to the existing irrigation and drainage systems.
We trenched about 425 feet on Monday and still have a long way to go.  The most time staking part is avoiding the irrigation system and removing/replacing the sod.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Preparing for a busy Winter

The final winter preparations have been made to the irrigation system and all other electrical components on the golf course.  Our team has covered the fans and disconnected all irrigation satellite boxes.  We are beginning to replace missing or damaged yardage caps on sprinkler heads and have drained the system to prevent freeze damage.  The professionals from ProPumps and Cannon's Service were on site last week to break down the more complex components of the irrigation pumps and control panel.  They remove any components that are prone to freeze damage and inspect the pumps.  This can be a very cold process.

One of the divers from Cannon's Service went under water to inspect the irrigation pumps.
The system is drained to prevent any freeze damage.
The rest of the golf course is changing as the temperatures drop.  The bermudagrass is going dormant and our focus has really been on leaf removal.  This will continue until the leaves are gone.  Our main goals this winter will be to trench in the power lines needed to run new fans on the golf course.  Fans will be installed on #3, 4, 6, 10, 11, and 13.  This will greatly improve air flow and turf quality.  This work will begin next week.  Our goal is to have the fans installed and operational by April 1 so our wire goal is to have the wire completed by March 1, 2013.  The fans on #1, 4, and 15 have already been covered for the winter.  The small fan on the on deck putter was very successful this year and it has been removed for winter maintenance.  Our other winter projects include drainage, plant installs, and tree work.  The tree work this year will really be limited to dead trees and undergrowth.  Removing undergrowth helps improve air flow through the golf course. 
The new fans must be operational for next season.  The benefit from the current fan on #1 has been huge this year.  This easily went from our worst green to one of the best greens.  The fans have been covered for the winter.
This is the first reminder that carts will be limited to the path starting December 4, 2012 through the winter.  This helps protect the turf as it is not growing or recovering from traffic during dormancy.  Contact the golf or green committee for information regarding handicapped accessible flags.  Another email will be coming out with greater detail.  

Over the past few seasons, the TifSport bermudagrass collars have struggled coming out of dormancy.  Heavy traffic, wear, and compaction are the driving factors affecting the poor performance of these areas.  Our team has made great strides to improve these areas this year and one of the new ways of reducing traffic will be the implementation of riding mowers on greens during the winter months.  These tire driven machines will greatly reduce the PSI and the amount of traffic on the collars and really help reduce wear and tear.  This maintenance change during the off season coupled with multiple aerations and other agronomic practices will greatly improve the collars.  The finance committee approved the purchase of the necessary reels for the change of mowers and these parts have already been ordered.  We will be mowing the greens with riding mowers from December 3 - the beginning of April.  Putting quality should remain the same throughout the winter.

As traffic slows on the course, keep your game and fitness sharp with a golf lesson, fitness class or through the use of the new indoor fitness courts.  The club will be very busy over the next few months with holiday celebrations and I for one look forward to the upcoming events.

Have a great weekend and Thanksgiving,

Jordan Booth

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

The golf course and the club held up very well throughout the last 48 hours of storms.  No trees fell and the golf course really handled the 1.75" of rain very well.  It has still been raining all morning but it appears that the worst is past us.  We should all be very thankful as many of our northern neighbors suffered greatly during this storm.

Monday was productive but today is really to wet to do too much work.  Our team is busy cleaning up from the storm and will be doing so for the remainder of the week.  The golf course is soaked but playable.  I would be surprised if cart traffic will be allowed on fairways this week.  Here are a few pictures from last week and yesterday.  Stay safe out there.

This picture shows the team laying out the plant material for the installation of the butterfly garden at #8 tee complex.  All of the plant material is native and will make a great improvement in this area.

This is the butterfly garden at #12 tee.  All of the plants are native with varying size and color.  The tree is a native Choke Cherry and the plant material consists of native Bee Balm, Black Eyed Susan, and Tickseed. 
The staff was able to mow greens ahead of the storm yesterday.  This was well worth it as mowing will not happen today.
Dan and Ryan applied gypsum and a balanced fertility package to the greens yesterday.  We were able to take advantage of the rain and the gypsum will help mitigate any extra salinity that may be in the rain water associated with this storm.
Danny Golden was here yesterday to grind the large stump at the first tee.  If you need a stump ground, he is your man.  Our team will be cleaning up the area this week.

Have a great week,

Jordan Booth

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Preparing for Sandy

The forecasts are still varied but it looks like Hurricane Sandy will hit the DelMarVa peninsula and greatly affect the Mid-Atlantic.  Flooding of the James River is not a major concern right now but obviously this is subject to change.  We anticipate downed trees and power outages and we have prepared all of our equipment, chain saws, fuel storage, etc. for such an event.  The club is undergoing preparations to have power for essential operations and will always make every effort to operate as normal.  We will be updating the blog and twitter once the storm arrives.  Prepare yourself for the worst and stay safe.

Thank you,

Jordan Booth

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Fall Golf Swing

We are currently in a busy time for golf, outings, and tournaments.  Our workload and staff size is shrinking and with shorter, colder days the bermudagrass has more or less stopped growing.  Our main focus this time of year is golf course preparation and leaf removal.  Projects are kept to a minimum for the most part and our real focus is on golf course maintenance.

The holes from the drill and fill process are starting to disappear.  They have been a real eyesore and took longer than expected to fill over.  This process will not be performed in the fall moving forward.  We had to make a decision.  Over fertilize the turf and see quicker recovery but diminished putting quality.  Or maintain the turf with normal, balanced fertility and provide good putting quality minus a few bumps.  We chose the latter.  Doing this process in the Spring of the year will allow us to be more aggressive and grow the holes over must faster.  This is still a great process and we have already seen improved drainage and firmness.

This morning, we were scheduled for a preventative fungicide application that needs to be watered in.  While we were doing this we took the opportunity to fertilize the turf.  A granular product consisting mainly of Calcium, Phosphorus, and Potassium was applied ahead of the spray.  The fungicide was coupled with a variety of nitrogen sources to continue recovery and maintain healthy turf.  We spiked the greens ahead of this process to break the surface tension and allow for water, chemical and fertility infiltration.  The greens get very dense and tight this time of year so the spiking helps a lot.

The yellow oval in the upper portion of the picture indicates a void left from the spiking process.  This allows for the water, fungicide, and fertilizer to easily penetrate the turf and enter the root zone.  The smaller circle is an example of the turf growing laterally over an old drill and fill hole.  Some holes are totally covered while a few are further behind. 

Kevin applied a 1-7-10 fertilizer package that provided calcium, phosphorus and potassium.  Nitrogen was applied with a preventative pythium fungicide and watered into the root zone.
This is a great time of year to enjoy the golf course and I look forward to seeing you out there.  Have a great week.

Jordan Booth

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall is Here

Fall is here and with it the typical projects, weather, and surprises.  Yesterday morning at 8:00 a.m., half of the large willow oak between the clubhouse putting green and #1 tee fell down.  This tree is very old and had a significant amount of work performed over the years to allow it to stand as long as it did.  Thank goodness no one was underneath it.  Arborscapes was quick to survey the damage on Sunday and their crew was out this morning to help with cleanup.  Over half of the tree was gone and the remainder had to be removed.  Their team started the take down today and will finish next Monday.  This is a great loss and a lot of consideration will go into how to renovate this area.  Hopefully new trees will be planted to replace this great old willow oak.

We are all very lucky that no one was underneath the tree when it fell.  The falling tree shook the ground in the clubhouse and at neighboring houses.
You can tell that about half of the tree fell at once.  The remainder of the tree was no longer structurally sound and had to be removed.  All of the wait was leaning in one direction.
The fallen branches had grown together over time and created one huge mass of weight which combined with rot, took down this tree.
Arborscapes made this tree a priority and were on site first thing this morning.  Our staff will clean up and Arborscapes will be back next Monday to finish.

The front, side, and back range tees have been overseeded with ryegrass for winter color.  We are preserving the middle tee as much as possible so it is in good shape next spring.  Even with the ryegrass, divots are still taken from the bermudagrass base.  This does not recover in the winter and early spring.  The target greens have also been overseeded and should take shape soon.

The holes on the putting greens from drill and fill are slowly creeping over.  We are about 4 weeks out from the process and the greens have honestly been slow to recover.  This aggressive process takes time to heal.  It takes the greens about two weeks to recover from a 1/2" aeration so it makes since that it would take much longer with these much larger holes.  We are working to provide quality putting conditions in the interim and the long term benefits of the drill and fill will outweigh the short term inconvenience. 
The holes are filling over and some of them have already healed completely.  Some holes still have a ways to go.

Fall is upon us and with it leaf removal, drainage projects, and underbrush removal.  Tree work will be limited this season and our team will focus on other areas of the course.  Enjoy the weather while it lasts. 

Have a great weekend,


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Successful Divot Party

Many thanks to the members that came out and filled divots on the golf course last night.  Our group was able to fill all of the fairway divots on the top 9 golf holes.  I would like to recognize the members who came out last night because I failed to take a picture.  Thank you Chuck Ditsler, Joe O'Hare, Lee Parker, Mike Mikeska, and Tom Cavanaugh for coming out and helping make the golf course better.  Many thanks as well to Richard and Tammy White for their hard work filling divots.  Overall, we are seeing more filled divots and many more repaired ball marks on the course.  Our golf maintenance team will finish up the bottom 9 divots this week. 

We have a lot of great events and weather to look forward to and greens are recovering from aeration and drill and fill.  We fertilized greens again this morning to help speed recovery.  The rain that we are currently getting should help as well.  While the drill and fill holes are still visible; ball roll, surface smoothness, and green speed are all in good shape.  This will still improve once the holes fill all the way over and we can more aggressively groom the greens.

The weather has really changed and with colder temperatures looming , we are beginning to groom the TifSport and T-10 bermudagrass for winter dormancy.  The height of cut has been raised on all tees, collars, fairways, and approaches.  We will be switching over to ride-mowing greens to take wear and tear off of the collars starting in November.  The collars have been historically weak in the early spring and we have made an aggressive effort to strengthen these areas all summer long.  The collars of TifSport directly around the greens have been core aerated 4 times this year and topdressed in an effort to improve the soils and relieve compaction.  They have also been fertilized with 5 different applications of organic fertilizer to encourage growth and promote stronger soils.  These efforts, along with ride mowing greens will improve these areas.  

Finally, I would like to recognize our staff for all of their hard work this season.  We still have a long way to go and a lot of great tournaments but we have started shrinking our staff size.  We have retained a great group of team members to help finish the season.  Our Lead Assistant Superintendent, Kevin Mark, and our two Assistants-in Training, Ryan Johnson and Dan Smith put in long, hard hours this year to help us provide a great golf experience.  Thank you to our entire team for all of your hard work and dedication.   

Ryan Johnson (left) and Dan Smith have proven themselves this summer through hard work and dedication.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Divot Party Monday September 17, 5:30 p.m.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You are cordially invited to participate in our seasonal divot party.  The course walk and divot party will take place on Monday September 17 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.  The goal of Monday's event will be to fill divots on fairways and tees on the top 9 golf holes.  (Holes 1, 2, 18, 9-14) The event should take about 2 hours and will be rescheduled in the event of bad weather. 

Thank you and we look forward to the event,

Course Care Committee
Joe O'Hare
Lee Parker
Paul Sinclair
Richard White
Eric Frazier
Jordan Booth

Over 50 members attended the event in the spring.  These events are a great way to learn about the course and help improve conditions. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Drill and Fill

The Drill and Fill process was completed over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday.  Luckily, we finished late last night after two very long days because most of today was a rain out.  The process went overall very smoothly and we learned a lot of lessons for next year.  The machines consist of 24, 1 inch drill bits that drill down into the green and pull out the old material.  The sand then fills the new holes with fresh sand.  Any holes that were not perfectly filled, our team filled with funnels.  It is a very labor intensive process but is one that will benefit us for years to come.  Moving forward, the drill and fill will be performed in the spring along with our normal core aeration.

After the drill and fill, our team core aerated the greens with 1/4" hollow tine.  These create very small holes but help smooth the surface, remove thatch, and drag the sand into the drill and fill holes.  All of the remaining material was cleaned up and the green was blown off and rolled.  Soil amendments and topdressing were the last step in the process.  We began rolling and mowing greens today but were cut short due to rain.  The remainder of the greens will be rolled and mowed tomorrow ahead of play and the golf course will open tomorrow morning as scheduled.

The remaining pictures and video really show the process well.  Many thanks to our staff who worked from 5:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. both days to accomplish this important process.  The weather also held up great.  I didn't want to talk about it because it would be like talking to your pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter but the weather was perfect. We dodged a lot of storms to make this process happen in two days.  Have a great weekend and we look forward to cooler temperatures and lower humidity starting Sunday.

Jordan Booth
Harmon Turf Services was contracted out to perform the Drill and Fill.  The holes are between 9-11 inches deep and are back filled with fresh sand. 
Our team filled any holes with funnels that the machine did not fill to the brim.  

Using only two machines is not ideal for this process.  We will bring in 3 or 4 machines in the future.  Every green takes about 1 hour with two machines.  That is not terrible right now with about 13.5 working hours of sunlight but in early March, it won't cut it.
Our team pulled 1/4" cores right behind the drill and fill.  All of the material was then pushed off the greens and cleaned up.  The green was then blown off and rolled.  The core aeration smoothed the surface, removed thatch, and helped drag the sand into the holes.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Loss of a Friend and Mentor

If you are a consistent reader of this blog, the name Stanley Zontek should ring a bell.  Stan has been our USGA Green Section Agronomist for the past 4 years.  Stan has been a friend, mentor, and overall support system for our team over the years and specifically last year.  Stan has made countless visits, scheduled and unscheduled to consult, advise and just generally check on things.  On Tuesday morning, Stan passed away after a massive heart attack.  He will be sorely missed and I for one feel fortunate to have learned a lot from him.  Stan was always just an email or phone call away if you ever needed a second opinion or had a question.  He was a true ambassador for the game and his service to the game of golf will be greatly missed.  Stan's last visit was two weeks ago.  I received Stan's last Turf Advisory Service report on Tuesday morning, the day he died.  I believe this is fitting and a reminder that his legacy will be represented through the people in our industry for years to come. 

This is a link to the communication from the U.S.G.A. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Drill and Fill Q & A

Next week (September 4-6) is the scheduled time for fall core aeration.  This year we are adding a second process to core aeration known as drill and fill.  The green committee sent out this Q and A letter this morning addressing the process and purpose.

Have a great day,

Jordan Booth

Q:  What is Drill & Fill?
A:  Just like conventional core aeration, the Drill & Fill process removes sand and thatch from the green.  The process drills a 1 inch hole 8-10 inches deep.  As the drill bit is removed, sand and thatch are removed.  This column is now filled with larger particle sand that helps relieve subsoil compaction and improves drainage and air exchange.  These deeper, larger columns allow for water to move through the greens profile faster which improves the overall health of the green. 

Q:  Why are we performing this process?
A:  We are adding this process to our aeration program to address the issue of drainage/water movement through the greens.  When a golf greens is constructed, the sand is broken into five categories ranging from very coarse to very fine.  A better explanation is to think about a large box filled with basketballs.  The basketballs represent very coarse sand, baseballs represent average size sand particles, and marbles represent very fine sand particles.  In an ideal situation, there would be a balance of these particles that allow for water and air to move freely down through the profile.  The sand that was used to construct our greens has more of the very fine sand, or marbles, that clog up the open space and prevent this free water and air movement.  When water and air cannot move, the greens stay wet, thus preventing the development of deep healthy roots and quality putting conditions.   Poor rooting leads to deteriorating conditions during periods of stress.  Drill & Fill will improve water and air movement by incorporating larger (basketballs) size particles.  This is the same principal that we have employed during the core aeration process.  The Drill and Fill is more beneficial than a classic aeration in the sense that more sand is incorporated deeper in the green.

Q:  Does Drill & Fill replace normal core aeration?
A:  No.  We will still perform fall aeration; however, smaller holes will be used after the Drill & Fill process has been completed.  During the three closed days in September, all greens will be Drill & Filled, followed by small ¼” core aeration.  The purpose of this small aeration is to provide additional columns for gas exchange and to help smooth the surface after Drill & Fill is completed. 

Q:  How long will it take the greens to recover?
A:  Recovery will take about two weeks.  This process is being performed at the time when we are taking advantage of good growing conditions that will allow for a quicker recovery.  Our fall golf calendar is very busy, and we do not expect this process to interfere with any of the scheduled events.

Q:  How often will the Drill & Fill process be performed?
A:  Currently we are scheduled to perform the Drill & Fill process this fall and next March in conjunction with our normal spring aeration.  After the second time, we will evaluate the process and perform on an as needed basis moving forward. 

Attached is a link to the Drill and Dill process.  This video gives a good explanation of the process and what we can expect to see as a finished product.  More information before, during, and after the process will be posted on the Golf Course Management Blog.  If you have any additional questions, you can forward them to Eric Frazier, our Director of Agronomy. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What Happens on Closed Days?

Today was a scheduled closed day for maintenance and fairway topdressing.  This scheduled fairway topdressing was cancelled and the funds slated for topdressing were reappropriated for the drill and fill process next month.  We still made the most of the closed day.

First and foremost, we took the opportunity to spray our winter weed pre-emergent herbicide.  The pre-emergent herbicide prevents winter weeds and specifically poa annua on tees, fairways, and surrounds.  You may see some off coloring in the tire tracks of the sprayer.  The tires lay the grass blades over and those leaf blades take up more of the herbicide.  This is normal and the grass will grow out of it quickly.  We also sprayed selected areas for the fungal pathogen that causes Spring Dead Spot.  This will be a three application process and if it works, we will utilize this method in the future.  Both of these products must be watered in and spraying them while we are closed is much more efficient.

The greens and TifSport collars were aerated between yesterday and today.  We pulled small cores out of the greens and big cores from the collars.  The collars have been historically weak coming out of winter dormancy and this is one of the many management practices we are employing to improve these areas.  This is the fourth time that we have aerated the collars this year to help relieve compaction.  The cores are cleaned up and then an organic fertilizer is applied and the collars are topdressed.  The sand and fertilizer is brushed into the aeration holes to help build a better, more durable soil.  We have been constantly aerating and spoon feeding fertility to keep the collars healthy.  The stronger they go into dormancy, the better chance of good turf next spring. 
Our new Assistant in Training, Dan Smith, leads a small crew fertilizing, topdressing, and brushing collars.  This is one of the techniques we are using to build a healthy growing environment for the TifSport directly around greens.
Reynol topdresseing behind the aeration and fertilizer.  The sand and fertilizer are brushed into the aeration holes.
The staff is also busy edging and push mowing bunkers and cleaning weeds out of canals and pond banks.  Stan Zontek was here today for an official USGA site visit.  Stan was very pleased with the golf course and as always we discussed different management practices to better all surfaces.  We greatly appreciate the closed day to accomplish all of this necessary maintenance 

Have a great week,

Jordan Booth

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fall Aeration and Care of the Course Event

Labor Day is less than a month away and with it brings the routine practice of fall core aeration.  This process will be completed over three closed days, September 4, 5, and 6.  This will really breathe fresh air back into the greens and allow complete recovery from a long, hot summer.  During this time of aeration, another agronomic practice will take place known as Drill and Fill.  This process is basically a large scale core aeration.  Our typical core aeration removes a 1/2" diameter core about 3-4 inches deep.  These holes are on a 1.5" x 2" spacing.  Sand is topdressed on the green and brushed into the holes.  This process removes thatch, increases water infiltration, and improves gas exchange (Carbon Dioxide out, Oxygen in.)  The Drill and Fill removes material and creates a 1" hole about 9-10 inches deep on a 3" by 3" spacing. The benefit to this is to improve water infiltration much deeper into the green cavity and promote much deeper root growth.  Deeper root growth will lead to a healthier, more durable plant.  These larger, deeper channels of sand will function much longer than the typical core aeration.  Drill and Fill will be performed this Fall, next Spring and in the future as needed.  This will be a great tool to help improve long term plant health and playability.  Our thought process is to combine the Drill and Fill with core aeration to minimize disruption of play.  The video below helps show the process.

Another event coming up on the golf course will be our Fall Course Care Party.  We had a great turnout in June and we hope for another great turnout on September 17 at 5:30 p.m.  This date falls right before the Ladies' Member Guest and will help improve conditions heading into the big Fall swing.  We hope you plan to attend.

Have a great day,

Jordan Booth

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sprigs Growing in Well

It is finally August and I felt like July would never end.  July showed its teeth this year as it was the 2nd hottest July on record.  The rain over the past few nights has been well received and the course is responding well to it.  Our project work is wrapping up and by next week, all of the sod that will be installed to the left of #9 will be finished.  Mulch bed installations will continue in that area and over time we will find a balance between a natural area and bermudagrass.  The trees to the east of this area prevent sunlight for the majority of the day.  For this reason, bermudagrass (a sun and heat loving turf) will be used along the cart path and where it thrives.  The rest of the area in the trees will be a combination of mulch beds and fescues (more shade tolerant turf.)  Fescues which are cool season grasses need to be planted in the fall.

The big sprig project between 10 and 12 and 11 and 14 has really taken shape.  The sprigs are growing in nicely and will continue to grow for the rest of this month and the beginning of September.  You can really see our vision coming to life.  Over the next few years, mulch beds will expand or shrink depending on where the turf thrives.  Trees will be planted and removed based on health and this area will continue to evolve.  This project has greatly improved these areas and will be a blueprint of how we will renovate the tree lines between 12/13, 13/14, and 14/15.
This is the before picture from last year with no grass or mulch beds around trees.
The area is much improved and will continue to improve over the next 40 days.
This area will continue to evolve and improve over time.
Other planned projects such as drainage and water cooler hardscaping will wrap up throughout the fall.  We will also be converting out of play areas to the left of #7 and to the left of #15 to fine fescues.  Fruit trees and butterfly gardens will also be planted throughout the property.  The golf course is maturing and the additions of these features will help us blend in with the environment and continue to define the natural identity of the course. 

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Staff/Great Effort after Rainfall and High Temperature Forecast

This summer has already been an adventure.  Afternoon and nightly thunderstorms seem to be the norm with very erratic temperatures.  Today is supposed to be in the high 80s with Thursday and Friday near 100.  What does this mean when we received a storm last night?  It means that our managers are here this morning venting and spiking greens and then applying a root pythium fungicide.  I have to thank our assistant superintendents for putting in the work to protect the golf course.  Ryan was here this morning before 3:00 a.m. to vent the greens and low spots on greens that hold moisture.  I have lost count of how many times we have vented greens this year.  Kevin was here before 4:00 a.m. to ready his sprayer for this morning's spray.  Soil moisture and high heat can lead to nothing but problems so venting and spiking to dry things out and applying preventative fungicides is everything we can do to ward off issues.  I am very lucky to arrive to work before 5:00 a.m. and know that our three assistant superintendents and our equipment manager have already been hard at work prepping for the day and working on the golf course.  Thank you, gentlemen.

The large Willow Oak tree between the Fitness Center and the main parking lot has suffered some real damage from these storms.  We lost a large limb earlier this month and when the arborists inspected the tree, they found some large cracks.  The cracked limbs were removed this Monday.  This tree, like all of our trees, will stand until a certified arborist declares it to be too great of a risk.  While this tree looks different, it is still standing.  Two new Willow Oak trees will be planted on either side of this tree to provide shade and great aesthetic value for future generations.
Arborscapes removed the damaged limbs on Monday.  Thank goodness, no one has been under this tree.  You can see the large scar on the left from the fallen limb.
One real issue that we are facing right now is the rate of growth on the tees, fairways, and approaches.  They grow so quickly that it is difficult to provide a good quality of cut.  The sand from last weeks topdressing has worked in well but it quickly dulls reels and bedknives.  John Anderson, our equipment manager, has already sharpened 39 reels and bedknives and will have many more to go to work through the sand.  Yesterday, we were able to double cut fairways and we are in the process of spraying a growth regulator to slow down the growth.  Continuing to get dry, afternoon cuts will greatly help the situation so thank you for your patience out there.
A second dry cut (without dew) really cleans up the fairways
The summer has been trying and overall the course still looks great.  We have seen thinning on some greens and a few edges of greens have suffered from heat, humidity and high soil moisture following thunderstorms.  This has been documented but I have been very pleased with the greens over the last week.  The recovery has been very refreshing and while they are not perfect, they are disease free and continuing to improve.  Once we get through the next two hot days, the forecast is very favorable for good bentgrass recovery.

Have a great day,

Jordan Booth

Monday, July 16, 2012

Three Closed days for Fairway Aeration and Topdressing

Well the last month or so has been a whirlwind per our typical Richmond summer.  A typical summer to me means to expect anything and everything.  Between a drought, a heat wave and now frequent severe storms, we have been living a little on edge to say the least.  The sprigs have loved the heat and the rest of the golf course has handled the weather decently.  Not great, not bad.  Greens 3, 4, 10, and 13 were core aerated today to help speed the recovery of stressed, thin turf on the edges of these greens.  Very small tines (.25") were used.  Soil moisture and high heat combined to stress these areas but to date, no disease has been present.  We take these situations very seriously and are doing everything possible to protect the new putting surfaces.  The greens are recovering and the past week of good weather has helped tremendously.  Tomorrow and Wednesday look to be scorching hot again but at least the course is closed.  The weather forecast after Wednesday looks very favorable.  A few new cultural practices will be implemented this fall and next spring to help these areas drain better and dry out faster.  This will help prevent stress in the future.  We look forward to cooler temperatures when we can again provide better putting conditions.  In the short run, we will remain conservative.    
Kevin core aerated a few greens this morning that are showing signs of stress.   This process will help the greens dry out and speed recovery.
This large Willow Oak on #12 suffered a huge lightning strike last night.  Large segments of bark were as far as 60 feet from this tree.  Unfortunately, we will most likely lose this tree.  This will be the third tree in a vicinity of about 50 yards that has been lost to lightning during my tenure.
The damage from the strike spirals around the tree starting about 25 feet above the base.
The next few days, our team will focus on projects including sod between 12 and 14, sod to the left of #9, the edging of all irrigation components and bunkers, and fairway topdressing and solid tine aeration.  The tees, fairways, and green surrounds are being solid tined while the collars are being core aerated for the second time this year.  Topdressing is applied before the solid tine and after the core aeration.  These surfaces will all be fertilized following these cultural practices.  While these areas looked great, these practices will allow them to continue to thrive in the future.

550 tons of sand have been brought in to topdress fairways, tees, approaches, and collars. 
Harmon Turf Services performs the solid tine aeration of tees, fairways, and approaches.  Our team core aerates the collars and does all of the topdressing.

Have a great day,

Jordan Booth

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Heavy Rainfall Leads to a Day of Bunker Repairs

The course recieved a much needed 1.2 inches of rainfall last night.  If you played early this morning, you noticed standing water in several areas.  These areas have drained throughout the day.  Most of the course accepted the rainfall well, only bunkers suffered.  The crew has spent the day removing silt and replacing sand on the bunker faces.  Tomorrow we will remove the remaining silt after water has completly drained from the bunkers.

The final electrical conncections have been made to the fan on #15.  This allowed the generator, that had been powering this fan, to power the fan on #4 green.  We will use the generator to power the fan on #4  until the installation of  the underground electrical connections are completed. 

Below are pictures from the course this morning.

Standing water in greenside bunker on #16
Left fairway bunker on #12

Standing water in #3 Approach

Have a Great Day,


Friday, July 6, 2012

The Heat is On

Here is an article from Stan Zontek, our USGA Agronomist talking about turf management in the heat.  We follow these guidelines in our cautious maintenance of the turf.  The heat has taken its toll on the course and will not let up until Monday.  Greens, tees, and fairways are hanging in there but the exterior roughs are very stressed.  We have to focus on the top priorities.  A few greens edges have begun to show signs of stress.  This is not disease or anything catastrophic.  We have sent in multiple samples and the pathologist from VT will be on site today.  This is a direct result of the stress of the last few weeks.  We are carefully making water applications and doing everything we can to protect the turf.  Bottom line, we need rain and we need a break in these temperatures.  We are close to or over 100 everyday and the lows are in the upper 70s.  While the course can take a lot of this, it needs a break.  Speaking of break.  This large limb fell in the parking lot yesterday.  Thank goodness, no one was under it.  Arborscapes is going to evaluate the health of the tree and make a decision for management moving forward.

Zontek Article

Have a great day,


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

What a great day.  Independence day is easily one of the best days of the year.  The golf course is holding up well and the greens are handling the heat very well.  The fans are definitely helping as is our conservative approach.  Greens will be soft as they have still have holes in them from Monday's venting (solid tine aeration.)  You will notice a blue tint to the greens.  This is a combination of few fungicides and turfscreen that all have a blue dye to them.  These products are great at protecting the turf but do have an unnatural look at times.  You can see the initial color of the spray from this picture.  The color dissipates over time but the efficacy of the products lasts 7-21 days based on rate and weather. 
Outside of losing power, another battle during storms is the fun game of finding just how much the lightning has destroyed the irrigation system.  This week, even with lightning and surge protection, lightning has impacted 4 sprinklers, the irrigation computer, the base station which communicates to the satellites and one satellite.  It  is always fun to come to work and find that heads have not run or are still running as was the case on #12 today and #16 Sunday.  Lightning travels through the electrical wires and destroys key components which make the head stick on.  For this reason a head in the dead center on #12 fairway ran for about 6 hours last night and that fairway will play cart path only today.  We have already received a replacement computer and a loaner base station.  I repaired the head on #12 and #16 this morning and the satellite on #11.  Luckily we have great support from Smith Turf and Irrigation and Toro NSN.  Thank you to Bobby Mason with STI for getting our computer and base station back up and running very quickly. 
Lightning found this tree between 16 and 17 and the current found a head nearby.  This head had to be repaired before the entire fairway could function properly
This picture is nuts and the best reason that I can imagine to get off of the golf course during a thunderstorm.  Lightning can strike anywhere just as it did here in #10 fairway.  You can see the current running out from the strike.

This reminds me of a great quote from Lee Trevino; "If you get caught on the course during a thunderstorm, hold up a 1 iron.  Not even God can hit a 1 iron."

This is a quick reminder that the course will be closed on July 17 and 18 for fairway aeration and topdressing.  Enjoy the golf course over the next few days but remember that it will be very hot.  The temperature looks to break by Sunday or Monday but the foretasted highs between today and Saturday are 98, 101, 98 and 103.  Stay cool and protect yourself from the heat. 

Have a great holiday,

Jordan Booth

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