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, December 4, 2013

Fan Research Update

This year has been full of weather anomalies and tomorrow's forecast high of 74 is no different.  One thing that helps us control the temperature of our putting surfaces is the use of large TurfBreeze fans.  These fans come with years of anecdotal evidence and the proof has really been on display here at Willow Oaks.  With the addition of fans on greens with poor air movement such as 1 and 4, turf quality has never been better.   Over the last few years, Dave McCall, turf pathologist at Virginia Tech has been studying the use of fans here at Willow Oaks.  Dave and his team measure root depth, soil moisture, surface and soil temperature as well as plant health to determine the true efficacy of the fans.  Without boring you with the details, Dave has proven that the fans decrease canopy and soil temperature and allow for healthier root systems.  The below pictures serve to be the best evidence I have seen that these fans are working and greatly benefiting our greens here at Willow Oaks.
This is some infrared technology that Dave McCall has been utilizing to measure the canopy temperatures of our putting greens.  This is number 11 green at 1:30 p.m. on August 12, 2013.  The high temperature that day was 91 degrees.  This picture was taken with the fan off.  You can see the areas in blue are the trees/shade behind the green.  This fence/tree line blocks a lot of air movement as well.  The green surface temperature is anywhere between 94 and 96.5 degrees.  The plotted point showing 109.1 is actually the fan itself.  The metal fan obviously gets pretty warm.
This infrared picture was taken at 2:35 p.m. once the fan was allowed to run for 45 minutes.  With the fan on, the area of the putting green farthest from the fan has dropped 6 degrees while the ambient air temperature increased.  You can see in the green colored area around the fan that those surface temperatures have dropped any where from 13 - 18 degrees.  A cooler surface certainly promotes a healthier bentgrass plant that has the ability to transpire and maintain a healthy root system.  Air movement is very important in our business either through tree management, fan installation, or design.
This picture was taken as the fan had oscillated towards the back of the green.  It shows that the area directly in front of the fan is cooled the greatest amount.  This proves the importance of the oscillation.  In the short amount of time that it takes for the fan to turn, the area that was 75.9 degrees has increased to 86 degrees.  As the fan oscillates back and forth, it maintains a much cooler surface temperature than without. 
Many thanks to Dave for the constant support he gives our team through his research, outreach and University extension.  Enjoy the warm weather and have a great holiday season.

Jordan Booth

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Changing of the Seasons

The cool weather has finally arrived and this morning we had the first frost of the season.  The golf course is really maturing well and will soon be headed into dormancy.  This time of year is dedicated to daily maintenance, readying the course for winter, and leaf removal.  Our team does a great job of keeping the golf course clean of leaves especially when we are dry.  Above average rainfall has made leaf removal difficult but has caused other problems.  Earthworm castings have been abundant on fairways and can lead to mud on your golf ball.  High soil moisture drives the earthworms to the surface for oxygen.  Our team was finally able to get out and blow/mow these areas this week.  Please continue to enjoy the course as the golf season draws to an end.  Soon, the golf course will be changing colors, going dormant and golf carts will be restricted to the path.  Reminders will be sent out via email as well as the handicapped flag policy for golf cart use during winter months.

This winter, our team will focus on normal winter projects such as irrigation installation, dead tree removal, underbrush clearing, drainage installation, and bunker renovation.  This year, we will also be clearing a few more trees between 13 and 14 as well as installing fans on holes 5, 14, and 17.  The wire for these fans will be trenched in from our maintenance shop which is right of #10 fairways.  Needless to say, this will be quite an undertaking.   We look forward to the challenge, the upcoming season of improvement, and seeing you on the golf course.

Have a great weekend and holiday season,

Jordan Booth

This picture of #7 shows the beauty of the golf hole but also highlights the natural buffers around the water.  These buffers are not only native and beautiful but help protect our water and the James River.

Number 15 is certainly a difficult par 3.  We don't want to make it any more difficult so we keep the low maintenance, native areas out of the path of play.  These areas cut down on mowing, chemical applications, and fertilizer applications while beautifying the course and providing a wildlife habitat.  
A few deer had too good of a time on the back of #9 green.  Our team was quick to repair any damage but you will still see the signs for about a week. 
Fall is the best time of the year for grooming practices.  These brushes help stand up the grass for a better quality of cut.  Groomers in front of the cutting units also help stand up the grass.  A lot of double cutting and grooming is employed to improved surface texture and smoothness. 
The final application of spring dead spot control went down this week.  This should prevent the widespread outbreak of spring dead spot on the golf course next year.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

First week of Fall

The Fall season is here with cool, dry weather.  The golf course received a wonderful, slow soaking rain Saturday night which helped some turf rebound from the dry conditions.  Irrigation will never 100% make up for rainfall.  Our team has been busy readying the course for tournaments and the Fall season.  Right now our main focus is on playing conditions and putting the bermudagrass to bed for the winter.  It won't be long before leaves are falling and the bermudagrass is dormant.  Right now, our fairway, rough, tee, and approach applications are focused on prevention of spring dead spot and winter weeds.  The following pictures detail a few of the events taking place around the club.

Enjoy the perfect weather.  Go Golf!

Jordan Booth

You can tell how the trees affect turf conditions during drought situations.  Irrigation is supplemented with hand watering as necessary but this picture illustrates the on-going battle between trees and turf for water, sunlight, and nutrients.  Larger mulch beds may be the solution in some areas.  Dry conditions allow us a great opportunity to diagnose and adjust irrigation deficiencies.  Our team has been busy making adjustments to perfect our irrigation coverage.  The above average rainfall earlier this year gave us some great insight into needed drainage as well.
A new artificial tee surface was installed at the driving range.  Half of the concrete pad was covered with the artificial tee.  The tee will be used during the winter months to take traffic off of the dormant bermudagrass tees.

There are many benefits to this type of surface:  You can place a tee in the ground at varying heights.  The surface gives to imitate 'fat' shots or miss-hits.  It is a continuous surface that allows for more variability in setup and less wear and tear.  Everyone has seen the an old rubber range mat somewhere that is worn out in the dead center.  This surface is a great addition and will promote better turf conditions in the spring.
Our team over-seeds the front range tee, side range tee and target greens with perennial ryegrass for a better look in the winter.  Winter traffic will be kept on these tees and the artificial surface to promote a great middle and back driving range tee in the golfing season.

Pansies and Mums were installed around the club for great seasonal color.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Successful Aeration Week

Everything lined up well for this week and the weather continued to impress.  With perfect weather, our team was able to complete the double DryJect and Core Aeration scheduled for this week. We also applied dolomitic lime and potash to the fairways to help balance soil pH and other deficiencies.  Overall the week was very successful and we are thankful for the closed days to complete these essential agronomic practices.  We will only be closed on Mondays for the rest of the year.

The DryJect was a great option for us this fall because it will help relieve compaction and improve water infiltration and thatch dilution while healing very quickly for our fall golf season.  The fall is beautiful in Richmond and we want to maximize your playing experience.  We expect the greens to fully heal over in the next 7-14 days.  The course will open to normal tee times tomorrow morning, Friday September 6.

This weekend, the first tee time goes back to 8:00 a.m.  Between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend, we provide 7:30 a.m. tee times on weekends and holidays.  Due to the loss of seasonal staff and a later sun rise, tee times between now and next Memorial Day will begin at 8:00 a.m.  With less staff to get the work done, we need more time to provide the same conditions.  Later tee times also provide a safer, more efficient working environment in the daylight.  The main reason we prefer to work in daylight is to prevent big mistakes such as a staff member not being able to see a very wet area or a hydraulic leak. 

Thanks and have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth

The DryJect injects a channel of sand into the green.  This process requires very little cleanup and heals over very quickly.  It still improves water movement and helps to dilute thatch.  We performed this process in two different directions at two different depths to maximize efficiency.
After the double DryJect, our team topdressed and core aerated greens with small tines.  This helps to relieve compaction and remove thatch.  Once all of this was cleaned up, soil amendments were added based on soil tests and everything was watered in. 
This is what the greens looked like before (right half) and after the core aeration(left half.)  The cores are then blown off and picked up.  The greens will be soft and wet through the weekend.

Lime and Potash were applied to fairways based on soil tests.  The lime provides Calcium and Magnesium and raises soil pH.  The Potash provides Potassium which is essential for root production and helps the TifSport prepare for dormancy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nearing the End

Fall aeration marks the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of the fall season.  Aeration is scheduled for next week, Tuesday, September 3 - Thursday September 5.  The golf course will be open on Labor Day and then closed Tuesday - Thursday for this necessary agronomic process.  The driving range will be closed until noon on Tuesday for maintenance.  During this time, the new artificial tee surface will be installed on the concrete pad at the driving range.  This will help limit wear and tear on the driving range during the winter months when the bermudagrass is dormant.  It will also provide great playability when ground conditions are frozen or too wet.

Fall is easily my favorite time of year.  Football season, great golfing weather and playoff baseball mark some of my favorite parts of fall; not to mention the upcoming holiday season.  One of my absolute favorite parts is pulling cores out of the greens and beginning the great growing season that is the Fall in Richmond, Virginia.  We have had a very successful season but the greens will still benefit from this necessary agronomic process. 

We are not just aerating the greens.  We learned some hard lessons last year regarding the drill and fill process in the fall.  The drill and fill will still be used in the Spring but takes too long to recover in the fall.  This year, we will be DryJecting the greens in two directions and pulling small cores to minimize disruption of play while maximizing the amount of new sand we put into the greens.  This will improve surface firmness and water infiltration while removing and diluting thatch.  The greens will be heavily topdressed and soil amendments will be added based on soil tests.  The golf course will open back to normal play on Friday, September 6.   Thank you for your patience during this time of improvement.

The DryJect's water-based injection system blasts aeration holes through the root zone to fracture the soil, while it’s patented vacuum technology simultaneously fills holes with sand.  The benefits for our team include reduced clean up and stress while relieving compaction, diluting thatch and improving drainage.  The playability of the greens will be much greater than last fall.
Our team has had a very busy season and we are very proud of the golf course.  Multiple improvements have been made with drainage projects, the renovation between holes 12 and 13, and the renovation of the entrance road into the club highlighting our accomplishments.  I would be remiss if I did not thank Kevin Mark and Ryan Johnson for their hard work and dedication this year.  Through record rainfall and a busy schedule, our team persevered to have a successful season.  Thank you for a job well done. 

Five years out from the renovation, the golf course is really maturing and developing into a great test of golf.  We continue to face new challenges but relish the opportunity to keep finding new solutions.  Over the next few months, the golf course will play very well and begin to slip back into dormancy.  With the changing seasons and great weather, our team looks forward to seeing you on the golf course.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Improving Your Experience

'Improving Your Experience' is our guiding principle behind every golf course project the Green Committee approves and our team executes.   Renovating the tree line between holes 12 and 13 was one of our main priorities this year.  I think it is safe to say that the renovations to the tree line between holes 10 and 12 as well as the large areas left of 6, left of 11, and right of 12 tees have been very successful.  All of these projects included the turf propagation method of sprigging. 

Sprigging involves turning sod into small shreds of stolons and rhizomes (bermudagrass plant parts) for the purpose of planting these pieces.  These shreds of grass are much easier to transport and cover much more square footage than the original sod that produced them.  The sprigs are planted and then over about 2 months grow together to form a consistent turf surface.  

This method of planting turf  is a great option for large areas in the rough as it is about 7 times less expensive than sod.  Trees were removed and mulch beds, irrigation components, pine needle beds and sod were installed prior to sprigging.  It takes longer to create a great playing surface but the financial benefits allow us to cover a lot more ground.  We still have to sod areas along cart paths and around mulch beds to end up with a good finished product.  This is the heaviest sprig rate we have ever gone with and we expect to have a good stand of turf heading into the fall.  The area will be very wet under and around the sprigs as we have to heavily irrigate to grow everything in.  Please play the entire staked area between holes 12 and 13 as ground under repair.  In the next few months, the sprigs will grow together to create a great playing surface and hopefully "Improve your Experience."

Please enjoy this beautiful weather,

Jordan Booth

Our sod supplier shreds their sod into sprigs and delivers them the same day to keep them healthy.  This is what an acre of sprigs looks like before they are planted.
Our team spreads the sprigs by hand.  We use a very heavy rate to speed up coverage.  The only way to achieve this rate is by hand.  Our team pegs the sprigs into the ground with the discs on an old sprigging machine.  The sprigs are then fertilized and watered aggressively until they grow together.  This area will be very wet for the next few weeks.  Please observe the stakes and ropes and keep the golf carts out of saturated areas.

This is the current finished product.  The real finished product will reveal itself in a few months.
Our goal is to always improve the player's experience.  I hope this improves your aesthetic experience while you play your ball from the fairway.  If you happen to get a bad bounce into the finished product, it will provide a better lie and more shot options.  This area is currently staked off and should be played as ground under repair.  Remember that casual water and sod seams qualify for a drop under most situations.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Preparing for a few closed days of Project Work

The last month has been wet to say the least.  Over 11 inches of rain in the last 5 weeks has changed our management practices quite a bit.  On a positive note, we pumped 6.6 million less gallons this June than we did in June of 2012.  In fact, we have not run the irrigation system at night in over 5 weeks.  Our team has been busy topdressing venting and spiking greens to help keep them dry and performing well.  Venting, coupled with rain leads to softer than ideal conditions but is necessary to keep the greens dry and performing well.  The wet conditions have also caused us to tighten our chemical windows i.e. spray more frequently as well as add more nutrients that continue to be washed away by the rain.  Frequency and quality of cut on fairways, tees and rough has been reduced as well.  Everything is being mowed as often as possible when we are dry enough to get out there.  Overall, we have been very pleased with the course's performance.  It was a great decision to drill and fill, dryject, add fans and add drainage this past season.  All of these practices are paying huge dividends right now.  Any drainage weaknesses are showing themselves this year.

The golf course will be closed on Monday, July 15 and Tuesday July 16 for scheduled maintenance.  Greens will be vented, topdressed and receive soil amendments.  Fairways will be sprayed to slow down growth, improve turf quality and produce a better surface.  Our team will be installing a truckload of sod and a truckload of sprigs around the golf course.  A few areas will be improved but the main area of disturbance will be between holes 12 and 13.  Trees were removed this winter and this area will strongly resemble the project that we completed last year between holes 10 and 12.  I am excited to renovate this area and continue to improve the southeast corner of the golf course.  The area between holes 9, 13, and 14 is scheduled for renovation next year. 

Next week looks to be drier and a bit warmer.  I hope the course continues to dry out so we can provide more consistent playing conditions. 

Have a great weekend,


The Turf Pathology department has been on site a few times this year.  Dave McCall (blue shirt) is studying the affects of fans on root health, soil temperature and soil moisture.  Anecdotal evidence show that the fans work but Dave and his team are working to prove how and why they work.  It is always great to have a great relationship with these guys and borrow from their expertise.

Monday, June 24, 2013

While We're Young

My last post, 'The Beginning of Summer' was written the day before my second son was born.  William Crawford 'Ford' Booth was born on June 6 at 2:21 p.m.  He was 23 inches long and 9 lb. 13 oz.  My wife Erin and the baby are both doing well.  Needless to say, it has been a busy couple of weeks around the shop.  Men's member guest, the RGA City Championship, and 6.5 inches of rain have all come and gone since Ford came into this world.  The golf course has held up beautifully and obviously our team has put in long hard hours for everything to run smoothly.  Thank you to our staff and management team for the hard work.  The golf course is drying down nicely and we look forward to normal summer maintenance for the next few months.  The drainage work this winter has paid great dividends and the greens have performed very well thanks to the DryJect and Drill and Fill work.  We have been very aggressive, as always, with venting and preventative fungicide applications during these hot, wet periods. 

My two sons, Jack and Ford (yawning)  He wouldn't yawn if he slept more.  This too shall pass....I hope.
When raising children, you always think about activities that you hope they participate in.  I know that I want my children to play golf for all of the good reasons; competition, discipline, honesty, humility, and above all Fun.  In order for all of our future generations to enjoy this great game, we need to continue to grow it.  I am excited about what the golf professionals here at the club are doing to grow this game through summer camps, junior leagues, clinics and lessons.  We all need to commend Richard White, our Director of Golf, who has developed this program in conjunction with the Golf Committee for helping to grow the game.

The USGA, PGA tour, GCSAA, CMAA and other entities have really been vocal this month about improving the pace of play and in turn growing the game.  I encourage you to try some of the advice from the USGA's website and enjoy the game.  Sign the pledge, speed up your play and in turn, play more golf.  Play 9, 12 or 18 holes.  Our course actually sets up great for that.  I for one, love to Tee it Forward and play a comfortable distance.  Trust me, it doesn't allow me to set course records, but it does speed up play and makes the game much more fun.  If you ever want to shoot par from the championship tees, you sure better be able to do it from the 6300 yard tees first.  One great way to improve pace of play is to improve your game and play ready golf.  To improve your game, ask Richard, Ryan, or Patrick in the Pro Shop about a lesson.  I think you will be very happy you did.  One key element of pace of play is golf course setup.  We try and make the course as playable as possible and believe it or not, we try and keep the golf carts 90 degrees whenever conditions allow.  So please, pledge to speed up the pace of play, have fun, and help us all to grow this great game.  Now.  While We're Young.

Have a great week,
Jordan Booth

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Beginning of Summer

Last week, summer weather arrived in Richmond.  This is great for the Green Surrounds, Tees, Fairways, and Roughs as well as recovery from Spring Dead Spot.  The highs were near 93 but overall conditions were dry and pleasant.  As we get into higher temps and higher humidity, things won't be so comfortable.  The course has really been taking shape over the last few weeks and our team has been busy with a few projects such as sodding behind #18 green and installing irrigation and sod along the entrance road to the club.  Two things that I am seeing on the course are Spring Dead Spot and great rooting on our putting greens.  Both are challenges that we are always working to improve. 
The failure of the tree behind 18 green was a terrible loss but did open up the clubhouse putting green to full sun exposure in the critical morning hours.  This practice putting green has never looked so good.  Please utilize this green for putting, chipping, and pitching.
Our team is finishing the sod installation behind 18 green today.  The mulch bed and fescue under the large Willow Oak have now been replaced with TifSport bermudagrass.

Some people may have noticed the fox family around 10, 11 and 13 greens.  Please do not feed or disturb these animals.  We are lucky to work and play in such a natural environment.  I see heron, eagles, osprey, ducks, turtle, deer, fox, and squirrel on a daily basis.
The front entrance road has needed a facelift for some time.  Our team installed irrigation and sod along the west side of the road.  More improvements in the form of plantings will be made this fall.

The occurrence of Spring Dead Spot has been high this year.  Cooler weather has slowed recovery especially on the teeing grounds at #17 and the approach to #16 green.  This area, in my opinion, is the worst on the golf course.  Fertility applications and cultural practices are ongoing to speed recovery.  In the past, our fungicide options have been limited due to cost.  This year, we will be making a split application of a fungicide to prevent the occurrence of spring dead spot next year.  We should still see these areas in the first year but recovery should be much faster and by the second year of applications, the affects of spring dead spot should be limited by 60-85%.  Last year, we used the front half of #16 fairway as a test plot and sprayed three different applications of fungicide in the fall when the disease is active.  We have seen a great reduction of spring dead spot and very fast recovery on this area.  We also learned a lot about application timing, rates, and method.

Spring Dead Spot on 17 tee
You can still see the presence of spring dead spot in #16 fairway where we sprayed fungicides.   These areas are fewer and further apart and are recovering very quickly compared to untreated areas.  Another round of applications this fall should come close to eliminating the issue.  This was by far our worst area last year.
We are also changing one of our fertility applications this year to an organic product that should have long term benefits for the soil to help ward off disease.  When we apply the fungicides, we will also apply a wetting agent to help maintain soil moisture throughout the fall.  One observation that we have made and talked to the USGA about is the occurrence of spring dead spot on high areas and our sand based tees.  These areas are obviously drier.  From talking to researchers and the USGA, no real research has been done about why this is so, but my hope is that maintaining soil moisture will help reduce the occurrence of Spring Dead Spot.  We will have check plots without wetting agent to test this theory.  These practices, performed over multiple seasons, should help eliminate spring dead spot. 

Rooting on our putting greens has been much improved since last year due to an aggressive drill and fill and DryJect program.  Fans around greens as well as proper management practices have helped promote dense, healthy rooting and push the roots deeper.  Getting more sand into the rootzone at different depths has given the roots somewhere to grow.  We will be expanding our cultural practices over the next year to incorporate more sand and at different depths.  The evidence has been astounding, especially in drill and fill holes.  Our methods are obviously working and deeper roots will lead to healthier turf.
Darin Brevard, our new USGA Agronomist noted the great rooting in the greens during his Spring visit. 
These roots came out of the first green when we installed a new TurfGuard soil sensor.
These roots were pouring out of a cup cutter on #11 green.  This is obviously where we have a drill and fill hole.  These roots are dense and healthy down to a depth of about 9 inches.
Another example of great rooting in a drill and fill hole on #16.  We will perform more drill and fill as well as deep tine aeration moving forward.  We will not be drill and filling greens in the fall due to the disruption to the putting surface that this process creates.  We will be DryJecting and core aerating the greens with minimal disruption.

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rolling right along

The season is progressing nicely and we are starting to see warmer temperatures.  The golf course is really taking shape and coming into mid-season form.  A few major things that have happened recently were the river rising and the tree falling behind 18 green.  Today, our staff laid the first and only truck of sod on the collars surrounding the greens.  It only took 6.5 pallets of sod to complete the work on the golf course.  This is a great improvement from the past few years when it would take upwards on 25 pallets of sod to fix collars coming out of the winter. 
This truckload of sod also was used in the backyard and to replace fescue around the large tree that fell behind the 18th green.  We will greatly miss this tree but as one optimistic committee member stated, "It really opens up the view of the clubhouse and the large Willow Oak in the patio."  If you are a glass half full kind of person, the loss of that tree will also do wonders for all of the turf in the backyard as well as the turf on and around the clubhouse putting green. 
The river rose and fell with minimal disturbance to the course.  The seventeenth green was inaccessible for a few days with water cutting off passage to the green.  The course was returned to order quickly once the waters subsided and I am happy to say that we were driving carts off the path just two days after the 2" rainfall.  Prior to the renovation and our on going drainage work, we would not have been able to allow carts off the path for at least a week. 
The club is busier everyday and pretty soon school will be out and the club will be alive with more youth activity.  We look forward to seeing you and your family at the club this year.

Jordan Booth

While the river stayed within her banks, the course's internal drainage backed up causing inland flooding.
When the river gets this high, our water has no where to drain to and in turn stays on the course.  This is a much better scenario than a flood.  The engineering work done during the construction/renovation of the golf course still amazes me.
This large leader fell out of the Willow Oak behind 18 green on Saturday, May 4 around 11:00 a.m.  Thank goodness no one was underneath this tree.  The team from Arborscapes was here quickly to access the damage and make this tree safe.  Unfortunately, the tree has to be removed.  Our team will be sodding this area out over the next few weeks.  

Our team finished sodding bad areas in collars this morning.  Typical shaded areas as well as high traffic areas were sodded.  We used a slightly different bermudagrass variety that should hold up better to the traffic.
This large area behind 18 green will be sodded out as well.  Fescue, a more shade tolerant turf, was originally planted here.  With the loss of the tree behind 18 green, bermudagrass is now the best option.
I took this picture to illustrate two things that I am seeing on the course now.  The first is spring dead spot.  We have had success in our fungicide trials from last year and plan to implement them across the golf course this year.  We have seen a great reduction in occurrence in the treated areas as well as much faster recovery.  The tire tracking around the greens is from a pre-emergent herbicide application to control nutsedge in the green surrounds.  This will grow out soon. 
Our team sodded parts of the backyard out as well as the collar around the clubhouse putting green.  The shade in this picture is from the remaining portion of the tree behind 18 green.  Once the tree is removed, the turf here should flourish.  This will be the first morning sunlight, this green has ever received.  Glasses half full.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

The last few weeks have been very busy preparing the course for the golf season and finishing our winter list of projects.  From drainage installation and tree work to Turf Breeze fans and SubAir installs, it has been a busy April.  We are certainly way behind last year regarding air and soil temperature and it shows on the golf course.  The old adage, Don't look a gift horse in the mouth really applies here.

While on the subject of weather.  The weather has slowed the growth of the TifSport and T-10 bermuda grass tees, fairways, and roughs.  These areas have greened up well with little to no winter kill.  Growth will really ramp up once night time lows are above 55.  We still have a few collars that are struggling from winter traffic.  These small areas will be sodded once we have good access to healthy sod from our sod suppliers.  The cool weather has impacted the sod farms as well.  Overall, the collars are in much better shape than last year.  Our cultural and maintenance practices have paid dividends and only the collars around greens that we have to walk mow due to design have really struggled.

Another issue that we see this time of year is Spring Dead Spot.  This is caused by a soil borne fungus that attacks only the bermuda grass.  Research is ongoing to learn how to prevent this disease.  We had a few trials of very expensive fungicide programs last fall.  In the areas that we have sprayed, we have seen a great reduction in the occurrence and size of the spring dead spot patches.  We will continue this work on a broader scale this fall.  We expect that in the first year we will see faster recovery from Spring Dead Spot and by the second year, we should have a 85-90% reduction in occurrence.  We are working closely with the Turf Pathology department at Virginia Tech to combat this issue.

While growth may be slow, the weather is outstanding for golf and work.  The following pictures document a lot of the work that has been done over the last few weeks.  Have a great day and enjoy this great weather.  We look forward to seeing you on the course.

Jordan Booth

Arborscapes was on site Monday to take down the large dead oak tree on #12.  Lightning his this tree last year.
Lightning was not the only culprit in the demise of this tree.  The center was very hollow and had to be taken down for safety reasons.  The Green Committee will make a decision on what will happen to this golf hole.

New Willow Oaks were planted in the parking lot to begin the replacement process.  The large, aging tree in the center of this island is starting to decline and has already lost substantial limbs.  The goal of this planting was to establish new Willow Oak tree to replace the great namesake oaks that we are losing every year.
This drainage project to the right of #15 green was greatly needed.  This winter we installed over a half mile of drainage on holes 3, 8, 10, 11, 15, and 17. 
On Monday, a SubAir unit was installed on #11.  The goal of the unit is sub surface air movement.  It can blow clean, cool air into the subsurface of the green or draw air and moisture out of the green.  Once we learn more about the SubAir system, I believe it will be a great tool for us to use in the future.  You can read more about these units and their use at Augusta National here.
The fan and SubAir unit will be great additions to this typically wet green.  As of today, all of the TurfBreeze fans and SubAir system are wired and operational.  We will begin running fans once soil temperatures rise.
This device, an air separator, connects the unit to the existing subsurface drainage.  While we were installing the SubAir unit, our team also installed drainage in front of and behind #11 green.
Dave McCall, the Turf Pathologist for Virginia Tech was on site collecting initial data for his research here at Willow Oaks.  He will be comparing the benefits of the fans and SubAir unit.  It will be great to have Dave on site.
Overall, the collars are coming in well.  High traffic areas between bunkers and at on/off points are still struggling. Overall, our practices have paid great dividend and the collars are much better than last year.
Spring Dead Spot is another issue that we deal with this time of year.  Our trials have concluded that fungicide applications in the fall will help to reduce and eventually eliminate this problem.  This is a very expensive application to make but will be worth it moving forward.  Again, we are working with researchers at Virginia Tech to analyze and defeat this disease.  Spring Dead Spot is only active on bermuda grass and will not impact the putting greens.

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