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, 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.

Friday, April 5, 2013

USGA Green Section Update

USGA Mid Atlantic Update:  Maintenance Programs Already Require Compromise

It has been a very slow start to our spring golf season.  It is hard to believe that on April 5, 2012 we had been mowing TifSport for about 2 weeks.  Currently, on April 5, 2013 we are still quite dormant.  The good news is that we are warming up and just starting to see very early signs of the TifSport breaking dormancy.  Greens are recovering slowly from aeration but are firm and healthy.  Fan installation is complete and the electricians are currently hooking everything up.  Drainage projects will continue for the next few weeks and we were dry enough this week to complete a project on 3 and 17.  I look forward to the warm weather and seeing more people on the golf course.

Draining the end of #17 fairway
Draining the cartpath edge on #3.  Should allow more access to the fairway after rain events.

Sometimes you need a helping hand.  Fans were installed on #3, 6, 10, 11, and 13.  Dan Smith (the Helping Hand) has been an Assistant in Training for us for the last 9 months.  Dan's degree and career goal is in the field of golf course architecture.  Dan is leaving WOCC this month for a new job in golf course design and construction.  We wish Dan the best of luck and I hope to play a D. Smith Signature golf course very soon. 
Have a great weekend,


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