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.

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

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