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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Very Busy, Very Productive Monday

We packed as much into today as possible.  Arborscapes began "crown cleaning" all of the trees in the parking lot and behind the clubhouse.  Crown cleaning is the process of removing weak or dead wood from the canopy of the tree to promote a healthier, safer tree.  Arborscapes also manages the fertility and pest population for our trees and treats accordingly.  Chuck, Greg, Gerson, and Ruben removed 5 difficult trees and cleaned up the limbs that Arborscapes removed.  Edgar, Ergidio and I installed close to 250 feet of irrigation including 3 heads.  That project will be buttoned up tomorrow.  Bobby, Kevin, Ryan, Reynol, Jorge and I applied a post emergent herbicide around all of the green complexes and about half of the fairways and tees.  The rest of that application will finish up tomorrow as well.  You should notice some green tracker dye around the greens that we use to mark our spray pattern.  If you haven't seen a weather forecast lately, Tuesday and Wednesday look great for golf.  Get out and play or at least practice.  We will be mowing and rolling in anticipation of a busy tee sheet.   Handicapped flags should be OK on most holes.

Arborscapes' team of certified arborists removed dead and decaying wood from the canopies of the trees in the parking lot.  Our staff cleans up the wood to save time and money.
Chuck removing large dead pine tree from behind #7 Green
Laying pipe between #12 and #13.  Do you notice the large piles of rock to the left of the trench?
Edgar working hard to trench in the rest of the irrigation between 12 and 13.  This Mini-Excavator was rented due to all of the rock in this area.

Jorge and Reynol hold this board and walk around the green to prevent any chemical from being applied to the putting green surface.  Bobby and Ryan then sprayed a post emergent herbicide with these special back pack applicators while Kevin and I tied in the rest of the green complexes, tees and fairways with the big sprayers.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Morning Shade and Putting Greens

Oil and Water, Superman and Lex Luthor, Morning Shade and Putting Greens.  They just don't mix.  Not only does morning shade prevent photosynthesis and in turn growth, it also keeps the leaf surface of the grass cooler and prevents frost from burning off on cold winter mornings.  This morning, while most of the greens were clear of frost by 9:15, #2 and #7 were still holding on to a good amount due to shade from nearby trees.  The back of #2 green is shaded until 10:15 in the winter and the entire seventh green stays shaded most of the day.  Not only is this unfavorable for frost lifting, but it encourages wet conditions that have hampered the bermuda grass around #7 ever since construction.

Can you see the defined line of frost directly beneath the shadow of this tree?
 Afternoon shade can benefit the plant and putting green in the summer by helping to cool off the putting surface so it is a difficult line to walk.  The angle of the sun also plays a huge part in shade issues in the winter.  Trees play a wonderful role in golf and our environment but they also play a role in frost delays.  Today will be a beautiful day so make sure you squeeze in a few holes or at least a pyramid of range balls.

While the pine trees between #2 and #18 create a nice buffer they also shade the back of #2 green and prolong frost delays.

Friday, January 27, 2012


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Thanks and have a great weekend.

Still working on New Format

I am still figuring out the new format but this is the foundation.  The blog is better in Mozilla Firefox which is an internet browser just like Internet Explorer.  Websites just look different in different browsers.  I will check on Safari, etc. later tonight.  I am still working on Mobile view.  This will be a fluid process and may still change but I am excited about the new look and features.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Format

I apologize for the blog being in and out of construction.  I am working on a new format.  Love it? Hate it?  Let me know.  We will get it very user friendly, very soon.

Irrigation installation at #12

The second of our three irrigation projects this winter is well under way.  We are working between 12 and 13 in the newly sprigged area.  The area is full of rock spoils left behind by the quarry mining operation.  This has made trenching difficult but not impossible.  Another difficulty has been that the signal wire we need is in a different place than the pipe that we planned on tapping for water.  Once again, not impossible, just more time consuming.  The signal wire that we needed was closer to #10 fairway while the pipe we going to tap into was directly in front of the silver tee on #12.  All in all, the last day and a half have been productive and this project will be buttoned up next week.  We are bringing in a different tool on Monday to help with the trenching due to the rock and weather permitting, the work should be completed on Tuesday.

The area in the lower part of the picture is where we are accessing a pipe to provide water to the new irrigation components.  You may notice all of the rock in the lower left hand corner.  The pile of dirt about 90 feet away is where we have to access the signal wire.
A tee and a slip coupling allow us to tap into the existing pipe and provide water to the new irrigation components.
This pipe and wire, located 90 feet from our other pipe, is where we were able to make a connection to a spare signal wire.  This signal wire will control the new irrigation heads between 12 and 13.
The sod was lifted and a trench dug to bring the wire across #12.  You can also see where we tapped into the existing pipe at the bottom of the picture.
Once the wire is in place, the trench is back filled with soil.

A power tamper is used to tamp down the soil in the trench and prevent a sunken trench line.  Once the trench line is level, sod will be replaced.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

They don't get much better than Today

The weather was perfect today for any time of year, let alone January.  Our team took the opportunity to clean up leaves, mow greens, rake bunkers, and install two new irrigation components.  A sprinkler head and a quick coupler valve were installed between 12 tee, 13 green, and 14 tee.  This area is set to be renovated this year and the addition of these two irrigation components will allow us to better manage the area.  A quick coupler valve is a component that allows for an easy hose hookup to tap into the irrigation system.  Additional irrigation components will be installed between 12 and 13 and between 10 and 12 over the next month.  This will allow for a better grow in of turf during the renovation of these areas.

You may notice some green dye around some of the greens.  The greens were treated with a fungicide and a growth regulator yesterday and the dye is used as a tracker to show us where we have sprayed.  During the growing season, the dye is not visible in the collars but with the TifSport in dormancy, the dye is very visible.  You will continue to see more dye as we begin treating for the winter weeds directly around the greens.  These weeds are difficult to control in the growing season because herbicides used on the TifSport may trans-locate through the soil and kill the bentgrass putting greens.  When the TifSport is fully dormant we can spray a herbicide that does not move in the soil and do a great job of cleaning up the winter weeds.

Here are a few pictures of today's irrigation install.

Bobby and Edgar install the 2.5 inch pipe that will provide water to the new sprinkler head and quick coupler valve.

The pipe at the bottom of the picture was already in the ground.  We used a tee and a slip coupling to tap into the current system for the new irrigation components.  Landscapes Unlimited did us a real favor when they installed the irrigation and left extra wire in the ground.  This allows us to install new sprinkler heads with individual head control. 

This is the new sprinkler head and quick coupler.  The project will be buttoned up tomorrow once some concrete thrust blocks set up.  The thrust block help prevent leaks and keep the pipe from moving under pressure.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tree 10 CC

This is a video of one of the trees coming down between 10 and 12. One of the planned projects for 2012 is the renovation of this tree line. We are removing damaged, declining, and nuisance trees in order to promote a good growing environment for the desired trees and new turfgrass. Mulch beds will be installed around the remaining trees. Tree roots and shade often out compete surrounding trees and turfgrass and lead to a decline in turf and tree quality. The smaller amount of trees will encourage the remaining trees and new turf to thrive. Additional irrigation will be installed to achieve head to head coverage and to promote great turf conditions. (Read more about our irrigation system here.) The golf course has a great irrigation system but irrigation was not installed in tree lines in order to minimize damage to tree roots. We will trench very carefully outside of tree drip lines to minimize root damage. I took this video on my cell phone and have learned that I need to shoot video from a horizontal orientation and script these videos; "and that's how we drop trees when they are dead" was not a captivating ending. Our team has accomplished a lot this week and are right on track to accomplish all of our winter goals.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Willow Oak tree installed at Tennis Patio

We have all noticed the void at the tennis patio where a magnificent White Oak once stood.  The White Oak suffered damage during Hurricane Irene and had to be removed.  An old blog post, 'Tree Work at Tennis', details the removal of that great tree.  The choice to replace this tree with a Willow Oak is obvious but the slow growing variety will take a long time to establish itself and provide the same amount of shade as its predecessor.  The pictures below document this morning's installation.

Our team positioned plywood to protect the patio during installation.
The team from Watkins' wrestled the new Willow Oak into place.  The installation includes a one year warranty on the tree.  Our Horticulturalist, Chuck Cassick, oversaw every aspect of the installation and will manage the grow in of the new tree.
The Watkins' team leveled, staked, watered and mulched the new 4" caliper Willow Oak.
Finished product.  This is a gift to the next generation of Willow Oaks' Members.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tall Dormant Rough and Winter Projects

Over the past few weeks we have had an inordinate amount of good weather/golfing days.  This has been great for our staff and for the golfing membership.  A few concerns have been voiced about the length of the rough and these concerns are warranted.  We made the decision to stop mowing the rough in October per the normal weather conditions in Richmond, Virginia.  Due to a long, warm fall season and limited cart traffic from August - October, the rough continued to grow and in turn is a little longer than desired.  This leads to a condition in which an errant golf shot can be difficult to find, let alone advance.  Our USGA consulting agronomist, Stan Zontek, confirmed my thoughts on mowing the dormant turf with this response; "Let it go.  If the canopy is removed and it turns windy, dry and cold, you wouldn't have any insulation/canopy to break the wind and prevent desiccation.  I assume that it will eventually get cold. You guys had a great fall and early winter for grass and golf!"  The fairways are also a little longer than desired but once again this protects the turf from winter desiccation. 

The staff has been working diligently to prepare the golf course for play, adjust bunker depths, remove trees, remove aquatic weeds, manage bird boxes, edge sprinkler heads/yardage plates, and clean up the golf course.  The staff has done a great job with bunkers and is almost finished adjusting depths.  The new sand will be a little soft until it compacts.  This winter has been a nice change from the normal winter weather but the staff still has some inside work to accomplish such as painting hazard stakes and staining benches.  We have been able to accomplish these types of projects on frosty mornings.

The golf ball can be hard to spot in certain parts of the rough.  Adding to the problem is the fact that the dormant, khaki colored turf provides very little contrast against the white golf ball.
In other parts of the rough, the ball sits up cleanly but can leave a flier lie. 

Bluebirds, Purple Martins, Barn Wrens, and Mallard Ducks are all encouraged on the property through the placement of species specific bird boxes.  These boxes must be removed, cleaned and restored every winter.

The invasive aquatic weed, pennywort, must be removed by hand before it takes over the pond.  The tall broom sedge around the ponds is being encouraged to provide a natural buffer around the ponds. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Goose Damage #7 Green

We have received a lot of feedback from the membership regarding damage to the seventh green.  The damage is from non-migratory Canadian Geese.  The geese are pests and pick at the green and leave their droppings behind.  Normally, our staff can blow these droppings off of the green but the geese have a different diet in the winter.  This is a constant job and with less golf traffic on the course, the geese have more access to the property.  Our biggest job is to discourage the geese from being on property.  When the geese are molting or changing their feathers, a team from the Department of Natural Resources have been hired in the past to remove the geese from the property.  This program will be continued in the future but with the constant influx of geese, consistent harassment will be our best option. 

The goose droppings are unsightly and affect playability.

The greatest damage is done by the geese picking at the greens.

When streaked with a mower, the droppings appear to be oil or grease from a mower. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pictures from this morning's tree work

This morning we were able to remove 5 dead trees from 3, 4 and 8.  We are very careful in the felling of trees and in our personal safety.  Where the trees fall is very important as to not damage tees, greens, irrigation, cart path or drainage.  Cold mornings like today work best because the ground is frozen.  We wear hard hats, safety glasses, ear protection, steel toe boots, and chainsaw chaps or protective pants.  These pictures illustrate the dropping of the dead sycamore to the left of the cartpath on #3. 

The dead tree is leaning towards the cart path so logs are put down to protect the cart path.
Logs are positioned to cushion the fall of the tree.

The front of the tree is notched in the direction we want the tree to fall.
Then a flat back cut is made and wedges are driven into the cut to help push the tree in the desired direction.
When we do our job right, the tree falls right where we plan.
The logs worked perfectly and protected the cart path from any damage.

Starting a new year

Over the last few weeks, our team has been focused on bunker depth adjustments and we are beginning to wrap that work up.  Since the ground and the bunkers are frozen this morning, we will be dropping a few trees around the property.  These trees are dead and need to be removed safely before they fall on their own.  I will post some pictures this afternoon.  Have a great day.

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