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.


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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, 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

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The first real test of the Summer

This weekend was quite a test for the golf course and most people in the Metro Richmond Area.  People across Virginia and a lot of the east coast have been hammered by oppressive heat and heavy thunderstorms.  The golf course experienced a great deal of high temperatures and two heavy thunderstorms.  Course cleanup, water management, and syringing dominated our team's priority list this weekend.  On top of all of these normal challenges, the club lost power for over 24 hours.  This presented many challenges and the largest in our department was the loss of power to our irrigation pumps.  Without the ability to pump water, managing green moisture and cooling greens during the heat would be very difficult.  We were able to maintain the ability to pump water by using a generator to power our pump system.  Many thanks to Dusty at Hertz Rental and Scott and Donnie Farmer with Farmer's Electric for getting us the generator late on Friday night and for connecting the generator to the pump system.  Farmer's electric is also wiring all of the fans on the golf course.  To date, the fan on #1 is operational and the fan on #15 is wired and waiting for a few key components.  These components are hard to come by because they have to be rated for flooding.  That fan on #15 is temporarily running off of a generator.

The greens held up extremely well.  They are slow and soft but this is all preventative measures to protect the greens during this period of high stress.  The speed or lack thereof comes from raised mowing heights and a reduction in double mowing or rolling.  The softness comes from a lot of greens venting, the June core aeration, and the overnight thunderstorms we have been experiencing.  We are employing measures to maintain the long term health of the greens and during the cooler months, we will use firming methods to provide firm, true putting surfaces.  The rain has been great for the other surfaces and has filled the quarry.  This is one less thing to worry about.

This week looks to be hot and may have a lot of afternoon or evening thunderstorms.  This combination of heat and moisture could lead to disease or wet wilt.  Wet wilt is when oversaturated conditions heat the water up in the green at cause the plant to over heat from the ground up.  We are approaching this week very conservatively but will be aggressive with our drying and disease prevention techniques.  Greens will be tested again for disease tomorrow morning.  To date, we have had no disease.  The low areas in greens that tend to hold water will be vented and then greens will be sprayed with a preventative fungicide and turf screen.  I am very happy with how the young turf handled this first real test of the year.  Temperatures of 106 could have been very detrimental but with our proper management techniques and preventative measures, everything handled the stress wonderfully.  Thank you to the entire club staff and specifically our management team for the long hours in the heat and for making it work this weekend. The power has been restored to the club and our pump station.  Every one of us should be very thankful for the hard work Dominion Power and their crews are doing to get everyone back on line.  Those men and women are also battling long hours and heat to make sure that we can all live with the normal comforts that we are accustomed to.  I am glad to get over this first hurdle and am excited moving forward.  We still have a lot of summer left, but the greens have shown that they can handle the stress. 

Have a great holiday week,

Jordan Booth

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