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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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Navigating this Webpage

Maintenance Calendar, Follow us via Email or Social Media, and ways to find more information

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Spring Aeration

Golf Course Closed March 27-31

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February Golf Course Update

Winter Projects, Bunker Maintenance, and Greens Aeration Schedule

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Air Movement and Fan Video

I took this video to show the efficacy and performance of our new Turf Breeze portable 50" Fan.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Equipment Day, Winter Prep and Cultural Practices

Our team has been busy this fall on the golf course.  Leaf removal is always a large part of our Fall task list and the seasonal color has been outstanding this year.  It has truly been a beautiful end to a wonderful season on the golf course.  That season looks to be coming to an end this Thursday with cold temperatures moving in.  Make sure you enjoy the golf course on Tuesday and Wednesday if possible.  Highs look to be near 70.

One of the ways that our team participates in club-wide family activities is through a hands on equipment day.  Our team brings 4-5 large pieces of golf course maintenance equipment to the clubhouse for children and parents to climb on, experience and learn about.  Yesterday was a beautiful afternoon for a fun, exciting equipment day.
Our General Manager, Chris Welles CCM, was on hand at Equipment Day to give Loader/Backhoe operating lessons.  A good time was had by all.  
The need to mow most of our surfaces has come to an end with the warm season turf heading into dormancy.  This frees up a lot of our labor hours to be dedicated to small projects and preparing the course for the winter months.  Our team has done a great job adding concrete and stone edging to high traffic areas around cart paths.  We are currently wrapping up the winterization of the irrigation system to make sure that none of the irrigation or pump components are damaged from freezing conditions.  Removal of course amenities will continue this month so they can be refurbished this winter.  Applications have been made to remove and prevent winter weeds such as poa annua on the golf course as well as applications to prevent spring dead spot and other winter injury.  Our team shrinks down to our very skilled, experienced full time staff which makes project work more efficient.  With the onset of more frost delays our attention will soon turn to shop, equipment, and amenities maintenance as well.
These pictures illustrate some of the equipment used to blow and remove leaves from the golf course.  There are still a lot of leaves left on the trees.
This picture is one example of the stone curbing that is being installed around the course in high traffic areas.

I have received a lot of inquiries about the aeration that took place on the putting greens last Monday.  This was a scheduled, contracted deep tine aeration.  The solid tines used during this aeration were on a 3" x 3" spacing and did not pull a core out of the green.  They did relieve compaction to a depth of 8" or 9" which will encourage water infiltration and deep rooting.  The aeration was scheduled for November 3 to allow enough time for the greens to heal over while minimizing our disruption of play.   We bookend the golf season with early and late deep tine aerations to take advantage of the aggressive rooting that the bentgrass greens are capable of in late fall and early spring.  The goal is to impact lower depths in the green soil profile much like the drill and fill process.  The benefits of a solid, deep tine like the one performed last week are quick recovery, minimal impact to putting quality, and more holes per square foot when compared to drill and fill.  The obvious benefit of drill and fill is the removal of thatch and the "fill" of creating a sand channel in the green.  Both tools have been very successful for our team to create firm, healthy, deep rooted putting greens.
The deep, solid tines relieve compaction in the green to a depth of 8-9"  This encourages deep rooting which takes place in the fall and spring months.
These pictures attempt to illustrate the depth at which the deep tine aeration impacts the green and the surface of the green after the aeration and rolling.  The greens were impacted about the length of a golf grip or 8-9"
This is a friendly reminder that this time of year brings changes to the rules of golf and the club.  Playing winter rules make the game of golf more fun and enjoyable when the course is out of season.  Playing by the rules of the club including carts on path and the use of the artificial range tee protects and preserves the turf quality of the golf course and driving range for the entire membership.  As posted in the golf pro shop, the golf course will be cart path only with handicapped flag exemptions starting next Tuesday, November 18.  At this time we will also be moving to the artificial teeing surface on the driving range and moving to our winter set of tees.

Make sure to play Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of the cold weather.  Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org

Monday, October 13, 2014

Questions and Answers

Over the last few weeks, our team has received a lot of questions about some of the work on the golf course.  We are headed towards the dreaded time of year when we start to see frost delays, cart path restrictions, and a lot of leaf work.  Hopefully this blog post can answer these questions, a few more, and serve as a reminder of the changing seasons.

What is the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program?

'The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program is an education and certification program that helps organizations and  businesses protect our environment while enhancing their bottom line. The "plan-do- check-act" approach of the program offers information and guidance to implement an environmental management plan that improves efficiency, conserves resources, and promotes conservation efforts. Audubon International awards certification to publicly recognize and reward the environmental achievements and leadership of program members.'  

In August, Willow Oaks Country Club became a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.  As one of only 900 golf courses around the world to become certified, our team and membership have made the commitment to be true stewards of the environment.  Does this mean that we didn't do everything in our power to protect the environment before?  Of course not.  What it means is that through the education provided by Audubon International and the implementation of programs and systems since the renovation, Willow Oaks continues to provide an excellent golf experience as well as a fantastic habitat for native wildlife.

Willow Oaks has taken great pride in environmental stewardship since the club's inception.  As only the 39th golf course in Virginia to certify as a Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and one of only a handful on a major river, Willow Oaks takes every step possible to ensure that our golf course is making a positive impact on our environment.  Look for more information in the November/December club magazine on this exciting certification and what it took to achieve certification.

What is happening on #7 and #15?

The tall, wispy fine fescue areas on holes 7 and 15 are being restored to their original intent.  These areas had become overgrown with invasive species and had begun to reforest themselves.  If open areas on golf courses are solely left to their own devices, they will do their best to become a forest.  This was the case on both 7 and 15.  The high vegetation was venturing from its original purpose of tall, wispy fescue and our team, along with the green committee made the decision to restore these two areas.  The areas were mowed down and tilled under to provide a good seed bed.  The areas were then seeded with hard and sheep's fescues which will produce the intended tall, wispy look.  The seed has experience a great 'catch' and will continue to grow throughout the fall and mature next spring.   
This picture shows the young seedlings on #15.  This grass will mature into wispy fescue to restore this area to its original intent.
What is the green product that has been applied to those two areas?

The green product applied is a hydro-mulch consisting of recycled newspaper and a green dye.  The paper retains moisture during the seeding process and prevents erosion.  This is advantageous when compared to straw as straw can be contaminated with weeds.  The green dye makes it clear where the product has been applied and allows for a consistent, thorough application.  
Ryan Johnson, Assistant Superintendent is seen here applying Hydro-Mulch to #7.
This was the finished product on #15 of seed and Hydro-Mulch.

Why do we cut down the high grass areas and buffers every year?

Mowing down these high grass areas is a form of weed control and grass management.  Once again, if left to their own devices, these high grass areas and buffers around the ponds would reforest themselves and would be infested with countless invasive species.  Mowing these areas down allows the grass to flourish while controlling weeds without the need for intensive chemical management.  These buffers and high grass areas are paramount to protecting our water ways and providing a wildlife habitat.  This 'low input' management is just another step in our Integrated Pest Management approach to maintaining the golf course.  

This year we met our threshold for invasive species and woody plant material on both holes 7 and 15.  That is why the decision was made to renovate these areas as opposed to simply mowing them down.  
Why does the staff wear white suits while working?

Our team wears Personal Protective Equipment during all jobs on the golf course.  This includes ear plugs, eye protection, hats, gloves and many other items including protective white Tyvek suits.  These suits are made of similar material that is wrapped around new houses as a moisture barrier.  Our team wears these suits for many purposes.  The main purposes are to prevent chemical exposure and to keep our uniforms clean during applications.  The green dyes used during walking application of fertilizers and chemicals  can be especially difficult to get out of clothes.  Only certified pesticide applicators make applications here at Willow Oaks and we take great pride in applicator safety as well as the safety of others around us.  

What else is happening on the golf course?

This time of year is primarily focused on golf course presentation and leaf removal.  Leaves began falling in large numbers this month but will continue to escalate through early December.  This is a huge undertaking every year and our staff does a great job with leaf and acorn removal.  Our team has been busy with course setup and tournament preparations this month as well as the installation of concrete/stone curbing around cart paths.  We have made 90% of the final preparations for winter.  Our team will be wrapping up spring dead spot applications and preventative winter weed applications this month.  The mowing of tees, fairways, rough, and approaches is coming to an end and we should start to see frost delays in the next 2-3 weeks.  Around the first week of November, carts will be restricted to the path to protect the fairways from cart traffic while the grass is dormant.  Our first priority is to promote the golf experience for the entire membership.  Thank you for your patience and understanding during the winter months.

Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fall 2014

One of the best times of the year in Richmond, Virginia is here and I could not be happier.  The Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors, play golf, and enjoy Willow Oaks Country Club.  The golf course had a great summer and as scheduled we aerated greens the week after Labor Day.  The greens were dryjected in two directions and core aerated with 1/2" coring tines.  We are currently 12 days post-aeration and the greens are healing in nicely.  Our goal over the last 2 weeks has been to heal over from aeration as quickly as possible.  This had led to sandy, poor putting conditions but the greens are growing very well.  We are double mowing greens dry in the afternoon this week to achieve a better quality of cut.  When the greens have dew on them in the morning, they tend to hold sand on the leaf blade which can dull the mowers.  When dry, the sand falls off of the leaf blades for a higher quality of cut.  Greens will continue to improve and I expect them to be in great shape by Friday.

The fall is a good time for projects and we have tackled a few this month.  The team from Homescapes was here this month to renovate the sidewalks in front of the Old House and main entrance.  The sidewalk locations were physically moved to align with the path in front of the pro shop.  The new path was then leveled and re-set with the original brick.  Very nice work but it meant that we needed to change our turf and irrigation in this area.  Our team did a great job to knock this work out while the course was closed for aeration.  We look forward to renovating the landscape beds in this area and others around the club this fall.

Another area of renovation are the natural, out of play areas to the left of holes 15 and 7.  These areas have been cleared and sprayed.  Soon, we will till the areas under and seed to fine, wispy fescue.  This will be a much cleaner look while providing lower maintenance areas.  I look forward to see these areas maturing.

Finally, we have received some questions regarding the chlorotic, yellow blocks of turf around the golf course.  These areas have been spot sprayed for weeds and the herbicide, while to killing the desired turf, does temporarily off color the turf.  These areas will recover quickly while the weeds will die.

I look forward another great Fall and tournament schedule here at Willow Oaks.

Have a great day,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org

The team from Clear Vision did a great job working around our schedule to complete both directions of DryJect.  This picture illustrates the second direction.  These machines blast sand into the greens to provide sand channels and allow for water movement, gas exchange, and firm surfaces.
Following core aeration and topdressing, the greens are brushed and rolled to move all of the sand into the aeration holes.  At this time, soil amendments are added to improve grow in and balance the soil profile.

Homescapes moved and leveled the sidewalk while our team installed new turf and relocated/installed irrigation.
                       
We took the opportunity to upgrade all of the irrigation components while we were in the ground.  Our Facility Maintenance Team also upgraded conduit to all of their light poles and electrical services.
 
The finished product turned out quite well.
The tan colored area to the left of #15 has been cleared and sprayed.  It will soon be tilled and seeded to fine fescue.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Utilizing Closed Days

Some of the most important days of the year for our team happen when the golf course is closed.  Last week and today are a prime example of that.  The golf course was closed for planned maintenance days last Tuesday and Wednesday and there were no events today or last Monday.  This allows our team to accomplish a ton of work and perform some applications that would not be possible otherwise.

Last week was our second scheduled tee and green surround aeration and greens venting.  Our team also installed a load of sod around the golf course.  All tees, fairways, green surrounds, and rough received lime and potash applications.  Tees, green surrounds, and the short game practice area were core aerated with 5/8" tines, fertilized, and topdressed with sand.  These practices are crucial in maintaining a healthy stand of turf, and relieving the overabundance of compaction on collars.  We will be continuing to work the sand in on tees and collars this week.  The rain makes it difficult to move the sand down into the aeration holes.  Our certified pesticide applicators made our first pre-emergent application for Spring Dead Spot.  We will make two more applications before Halloween to help prevent the disease.  Greens were vented and topdressed last week as well.

Today, our team edged and mowed bunkers, fertilized bunkers, topdressed greens, and mowed down the native areas left of 15 and left of 7.  Mowing these areas down is the first step in re-establishing these out of play areas to a mono-stand of fine fescue.  We will spray out any plant material currently in these areas and till/seed them to fine fescue in September.  This will still allow for a 'low maintenance' area while greatly raising the aesthetic value of golf course.  It will also allow for more visibility left of #7.  Our team greatly appreciates the closed time and look forward to our next closed days in September for greens aeration and dryject.  This is scheduled for Tuesday September 2 - Thursday September 4. There will be a 10-14 day window of recovery following these two practices.  We will also be seeding the fescue areas at this time.  Over the next few weeks, there will be a great deal of work done directly in front of the Old House.  Our team will be installing new irrigation while the brick sidewalks are being leveled and replaced.

Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org

This rented tractor implement is known as a Bush Hog.  We have used it to mow down all of the native areas.  Fine fescue will be reestablished into the areas.  The stands of fine fescue between 3 and 8 and behind the nursery will be allowed to grow back naturally while the areas left of 7 and 15 will be totally renovated.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Water Management

Every season brings different weather challenges and 2014 has been no different.  The winter of 13/14 was a hard one and since we have transitioned into summer of 2014, the golf course has seen very little rain.  Over the week of Men's Member Guest in early June, the course received about 5.5" of rain.  Since then, the course has seen very little.  Thursday brought some reprieve with a nice slow .3" of rain.  This really perked the golf course up but signs of drought are still very evident.

What does this mean?
1.  Water conservation and management are as important as ever and consumes most of our time and energy.
2.  Our team has been busy hand watering every turf surface on the course in order to put water where we need it and conserve what we don't.
3.  We have limited our water to greens, tees, fairways, and drought stressed turf.  We are always very judicious with water but we have stopped watering non-essential turf such as the driving range fairway and rough.
4.  There are a few details that we are missing right now because our main focus is on managing water.  We will remedy that this week.  
5.  We will provide firm, fast conditions while we can.  The turf will be managed based on turf health and not aesthetics.  This will not be a lush, green golf course until we get substantial rain.  This might be a good thing.
6.  We will not be able to lay sod or spray herbicides during the drought stress.  This means scheduled sod will have to be delayed until August when we next have closed time.  Sod requires a ton of water and we cannot afford to waste water on new sod at this time.  Any rogue weeds that are popping up will be managed by hand pulling them.  We cannot afford to stress the turf any more at this time with herbicide applications.  Our team is always hard at work managing undesirable plants on the golf course.
7.  It allows us to manage the water on the greens which is fantastic.  This is a lot of hose work but the greens have performed beautifully this year.  All of the aggressive aeration programs in place have really showed dividends this year and the greens are draining well and very healthy.

Rain will come and for all intents and purposes the water in the Quarry is still at a manageable level.  For now, our team is focused on turf health and golf course preparation.  Small projects are ongoing such as installing cobblestone around cartpath edges and edging bunkers with shovels where necessary.   The drought really helps us identify and remedy irrigation needs and allows us to provide firm, dry playing surfaces for cart access and play.

I look forward to seeing you on the golf course,

Jordan Booth
jbooth@willowoakscc.org

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

First Days of Summer

This past Saturday was the official first day of summer or the summer solstice.  This marks the longest hours of daylight all year.  With the longer days comes heat and the golf course is loving it.  The tees, fairways, and roughs are soaking up the heat and recent rain and growing wonderfully.  Our team is taking full advantage of the heat and longer hours.

Over the last few weeks, we have been focused on golf course setup, tournament prep and recovering from rain storms.  This week, we are more focused on turf health and maintenance.  Between yesterday and today, our team has accomplished quite a lot to promote and maintain turf health.  All of these are normally scheduled maintenance programs that are quite beneficial to turf health and playability.

1.  Greens were vented, spiked and topdressed
2.  Green surrounds, approaches, fairways and driving range fertilized
3.  Back range tee, short game area, and golf course teeing grounds core aerated and received sand topdressing, fertilizer, and lime applications.
4.  Bunker depths checked and sand added (This is a constant practice after heavy thunderstorms)
5.  Bunker faces fertilized and sprayed for weeds
6.  Golf course and driving range spot sprayed for weeds
7.  Fairways sliced
8.  All surfaces mowed

We do all of these practices to the warm season, bermudagrass approaches, tees and fairways now during their growing season to promote a healthy, hearty stand of turfgrass.   Bunker work has been an ongoing process.  Two weeks ago during men's member/guest, the course received over 5 inches of rain, most of it coming in short violent storms.  Our team worked quickly and sometimes into the night to repair bunkers, clean up storm damaged trees, and ready the course for play the following day.  Lightning wreaked havoc on the golf course trees and irrigation system.  We greatly appreciate all of the kind notes, emails and words from many members and echo the thank you to our team for a job well done.  When repairing bunkers, our team must remove contaminated sand and redistribute sand that is washed throughout the bunkers.  This is the reason that we have so much work directly after and for weeks to follow heavy rain events.  

Heavy rain and high heat have also forced us to be very conservative with greens.  We have made multiple applications of preventative fungicides and have vented greens to allow gas exchange and air movement.  Overall, we are very pleased with how greens are behaving and are starting to feel the impact of multiple years of aggressive agronomic practices to promote a healthier root zone.  The greens reacted very well to the heat last week and are draining better than ever.

The course is really taking shape and our team is doing a tremendous job of not only providing a great golf experience but promoting a very healthy turfgrass playing surface.

Enjoy the weather,

Jordan Booth, CGCS 

Thanks to the addition of a second aerator this year, our team was able to quickly core aerate the driving range back tee and short game area.  All of the teeing grounds on the golf course were also core aerated, topdressed and received fertilizer and lime.
Lightning can leave its mark anywhere.  This is in the dead center of #5 fairway.  
Lightning literally blew this tree on the driving range to pieces.  Large pieces of solid oak were blown as far as 250 feet away.  A special thanks to Arborscapes for arriving immediately the next morning to make the trees damaged from the storms safe.  Our team was able to clean up the trees shortly thereafter.   The remainder of the tree at the driving range will be removed next week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Grateful and busy

I have not been busy blogging because we have been so busy on the golf course.  I am very grateful to our staff for the wonderful work that our team has accomplished this spring.  We are barreling into the summer and our tournament season.  I am excited and proud of the golf course and all of the progress we have made this spring.  So what has been going on?

Normal maintenance has included fertilizing and slicing of fairways to promote growth and recover from Spring Dead Spot.  Dave McCall, PhD Candidate at VT is still working on his fan research this year but will also include a new Spring Dead Spot study.  He is GPS mapping the spots on 2 and 16 to quantify the progress we are making from year to year.  We have gotten into a very regular mowing pattern and our seasonal maintenance of greens and bunkers.  We have been busy fine tuning the irrigation system.  As the system gets older, we have more and more work to keep it operating at an optimum level.  The staff has also been through bunkers several times to add and redistribute sand to maintain proper bunker depths.

Our project work has been close to normal.  We sodded the winterkill damage around greens and in a few fairways.  We did use a new variety around greens to try and combat the issues we have every year.  This variety should be wore cold and traffic tolerant.  As normal, we will be on an aggressive aeration and fertility program in these high traffic areas.  We will continue to do some sod work to improve the area between 13/14 this summer.   We have installed four new Willow Oaks this year as well as steps to the 11th green tee and a new butterfly garden on 16.  As of today, the fans on 2, 14, 5 and the Driving Range green will be fully functional.  Our team has been hard at work spreading mulch and pine straw and removing weeds/woody plants from around the ponds.

Mr. and Mrs. Pierce donated this Willow Oak on #18.  Our team has since sodded around the mulch bed.  Many thanks to the Pierce's for their generous donation.
The most unusual/painful experience was a tree falling on #10 green.  I am very grateful to our team for the quick cleanup of the tree and repair to the green.  An unfortunate martyr in this event was the large TurfBreeze fan that took a direct hit.  It may have softened the blow to the green but the fan was destroyed.  Our team has already set the ground pole for the replacement.  We lost a few more trees and large limbs during these heavy storms but our team has been swift to clean up these areas.

The large pine tree behind #10 green fell during a quick, very strong storm.  This is another good reason to keep trees as far away from putting surfaces as possible.  The fan took a direct hit.  Our team had the tree cleaned up in about 2.5 hours.  
                       
The tree's limbs did the most damage when they pierced directly into the green.  Huge limbs made large holes and divots.  Luckily the fan and hillside kept the large trunk off of the green.  Our team had the green plugged and repaired by noon the following day.  A new fan will be installed in the next 7-10 days.
Once again, this has been a very busy spring and one that our team is quite proud of.  The golf course is coming together very well and we look forward to more improvements to surrounding areas this summer.  One reason that we have been so busy is the fact that our lead assistant superintendent, Kevin Mark took a new job in Pennsylvania this week.  Kevin was a real leader on our team and an even better person.  We wish Kevin the best of luck back home in PA at Carlisle Country Club.  Carlisle will be very luck to have him.

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth
jbooth@willowoakscc.org


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Etiquette towards Maintenance Personnel


Our team has been busy this week preparing and sodding collars.  We completed 1 - 7, 9, 12, 14, and 18.  We will finish all work next week.  Please play these areas as ground under repair.  The rules of golf cover sod and sod seams so please take relief.  We will be quickly growing these areas in, lowering the height of cut, and preparing them for play.  The rest of the week will be spent preparing and setting up the course.  

This is a busy time of year for our staff and the golf course.  Play and work are constantly happening at the same time.  The nature of the course places tees and greens very close and there are many adjoining fairways.  Please be mindful of our staff as they are mowing, watering, or performing other essential maintenance practices.  Our team is mindful of pace of play and want to minimize any disruptions.  There are times when we have to work during golf.  Thank you for your patience and caution in these situations.  This video from the USGA is a good reminder about balancing golf and work on the course.  



Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easing into Spring

The long, cold winter of 2013/14 has not quite yielded to spring here in Central Virginia.  Our team has been busy preparing the course for the golf season but mother nature has yet to cooperate.  We are at least 3 weeks behind normal growing conditions.  The fairways are now showing some positive signs of growth after a few warm days but temperatures seem to be headed back down.  All of the bermudagrass has endured a very difficult winter.  We are seeing signs of life but have certainly experienced turf loss in typical high traffic areas on collars.  We also have a few areas that stayed overly wet this winter where we may not have full turf recovery.  Drainage will be installed in these areas and new turf installed to speed recovery.  A few high traffic areas in fairways will need to be sodded as well.  We will wait to pass judgement on these areas.  Northern facing slopes and shaded areas are slow to green up.  We have pulled a few more samples into the shop to heat them up and learn more about the health of the turf.

Currently, the worst eyesores are the collars and the spring dead spot as fairways break dormancy.  The damage around the greens is, as usual, in our highest traffic areas.  We will begin to sod these out on the week of May 5.  The long winter has hurt everyone and even sod farms do not have sod ready until May.  By May 5, we will also have a better understanding of what needs to be replaced.  We are using a new cold tolerant, more aggressive turf in the collars to try and combat this issue.  The leaf texture and playability will be consistent with the TifSport collars already in place.  Please excuse our disturbance during May 5, 6, and 7 as we prepare for and install the sod.  We will quickly transition the sod into a maintained collar height.
You can easily see the damage in this picture to the collar behind #9 green.  This area is shaded and the entrance and exit point for this green from the cart path.  Most of the damage occurs in on/off points and highly traveled areas between the greens and bunkers. 
 As fairways and tees break dormancy, we are seeing signs of Spring Dead Spot.  Spring dead spot is an issue on bermudagrass in this area and is a disease that affects the turf in the late fall.  Dead or weakened spots of turf about the size of basketballs present themselves this time of year.  The fungicide applications that we made last fall as well as our cultural and fertility programs will continue to combat this issue.  Like we stated last fall, we will see smaller patches this year with quicker regrowth.  Moving forward, with multiple years of fungicide applications, the spring dead spot occurrence and damage will become less and less.
You can obviously see the basketball sized spring dead spot.  The encouraging sight is the green grass already growing through.  There are certainly spots on the course without green inside of them but this is a positive sign that our programs are working.  
While the winter has been hard on the bermudagrass, the putting greens have thrived.  The greens are currently healing over nicely from the Graden, Drill and Fill, and core aeration.  This was an aggressive process and the cold temperatures in March, slowed recovery.  The dry, warmer weather as of late has been great for growing in the greens and providing firm, fast putting conditions.  Our team is in our normal routine of rolling, mowing, vertical mowing, topdressing, and managing moisture to provide the desired putting green characteristics.  We have not begun to regulate the growth of the greens as we still need to fully heal over from the drill and fill.
This is a picture of the drill and fill process followed by a 5/8" core aeration.  The aeration holes recovered quickly while we can still see the drill and fill holes.  We have seen great improvement from these aggressive cultural programs.  
The greens aeration program was followed up with a deep vertical mowing with a sand injection.  This process and really the machine itself is a Graden.  The Graden creates a 2mm channel in the green, removing thatch and replacing it with sand.  This will help with surface firmness and water infiltration.  We have quickly healed over from the Graden as well.  
This is a picture taken today of the Clubhouse putting green.  You can see four distinct drill and fill holes in different levels of recovery.  You can also make out the darker green lines running diagonally from the top left to the bottom right of the picture.  These are healed over Graden sand channels.  Warmer weather will help the greens recuperate quickly.
This time of year is an ugly one on the golf course.  Pollen, inchworms, spring dead spot, and winterkill leave us ready for warmer weather and Memorial Day.  We are doing everything to quicken recovery and prepare the golf course.  Sooner or later, the golf course will green up and we can start to provide better and better playing conditions.  Please be mindful that the turf does not operate on a calendar but more on soil and air temperatures.  Thank you for your patience.

Our team has been busy with course improvement projects, Audubon Certification and fan installation.  One of the biggest things that happened were fan installations on 2, 5, 14, and the driving range putting green.  There is a lot that goes into these projects and we have finally gotten the fans mounted and ready to go.   A few big upcoming projects include repairing the entire driving range net and renovating the tree well around the large Willow Oak in the patio.  As always, a big thank you goes out to our team for a very good winter despite the tough conditions.  We look forward to seeing you on the golf course.

Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org

This butterfly garden was planted around the restrooms on the golf course.  The flowering dogwoods are a welcome addition to the course.  Many thanks to members of the Audubon Resource advisory group who helped install the plant material including Mary Bliley, Alan Padgett, and Tom Walls.
We have seen a lot of bird activity on the course this year.  The bluebird boxes are beginning to fill up with eggs.  This picture was taken on Monday.  The bluebird box initiative has produced over 75 hatchlings.  Special thanks to Dr. Alan Padgett for organizing and leading a bird walk this past Monday.  The group saw many great birds and the positive impact our course and the Audubon certification process has on the environment.   
The club has committed to improvement through the lease of three new fairway mowers.  These mowers will provide an excellent quality of cut and are equipped with groomers and new reel technology to manicure the fairways.
This is the first mow on the driving range fairway.  Our staff walks the fairway before mowing to remove any rocks, golf balls, and debris. 
You have probably noticed white lines painted on the teeing ground.  We have been adjusting our tees and squaring them up to the golf hole.  All of the tees have now been mowed and readjusted 
Our team has been busy firming up creek banks.  Rip Rap has been added on 3, 4, 18 and the river to stabilize these banks and prevent more erosion.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Updated Aeration Schedule

After monitoring the extended forecast, the scheduled greens aeration has been delayed one week, and is now scheduled for Monday, March 10th through Friday, March 14th.  We are still scheduled for the deep vertical mowing on Tuesday March 25th.  During this time, our golf course maintenance staff will undertake routine agronomic practices that cannot be performed while golfers are on the course.  Greens aeration, Drill & Fill, vertical mowing along with sand injection will be the focus of this closed time.

On Monday of this week, the greens were deep, solid tine aerated.  This solid tine goes down 8-9" and provides the soil and plant with great benefits.  Improved water infiltration, rooting, and soil oxygen as well as reduced compaction are all benefits of this process.  The real goal of this process is to go deeper than traditional aeration practices.  Arborscapes was also here on Monday to prune the large Willow Oak tree behind the clubhouse.  This yearly process helps take unnecessary weight off of the tree while also removing any dead or damaged wood.  Our team has also finished installing the electrical and mounting components for the fans on holes 14, 17, 5, and the Driving Range Green.  We will be working on getting all of the components ready for the fan on #2 in the next few weeks.  Fans are scheduled to be installed on holes 2, 5, and 14 by April 15.  Thank you for your patience during the fan installations and putting green aeration.

The finished product is great after this machine.  All 21 greens were finished in about 10 hours.  The greens are simply rolled and soil amendments are added to get nutrients deep into the greens.
Arborscapes skillfully and carefully climbed and worked on this great tree.  Every cut had to be carefully lowered down onto the patio.  We rely on their expertise and skill during these large projects.  Thank you to our staff for quickly cleaning the debris up and putting the patio back together.





Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org




Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Preparing for Spring Aeration

It is hard to imagine with this winter's weather but the 2014 growing season is getting ready to start here in central Virginia. The first week of March really kicks off the 2014 growing season for our team.  The golf course will be closed March 3-7 and March 24-25 for aeration.  The rest of March will be dedicated to fan installations, stump grinding, drainage installation, irrigation installation, and above all healing over from aeration. 

Weather permitting, our team along with Harmon Turf Services will perform three aggressive cultural practices to our greens during the month of March.

1. Our team will Core aerate and backfill topdress with .55" holes on a 2" x 2" spacing. (March 3-5)  (Aeration Blog Post)
 This process that we perform every spring pulls a core from the green and the holes are backfilled with sand.
2. Harmon Turf Services will be performing the Drill and Fill with 1" holes on a 7.5" x 7.5" spacing. (March 6-7) (Blog Post: "Showing the benefits of Drill and Fill with a Camera")
This is the same process that was performed last spring.   
3. Once this begins to heal, Harmon will be coming back to perform the Graden work with 2 mm blades 1 1/4 inch deep and sand injection. 
This is a picture of the Graden with sand injection.  The Graden cuts 2mm wide channels into the greens surface and backfills it with fresh sand.  This removes a large amount of thatch, improves surface firmness, and improves drainage.  It does a great job of getting a large amount of sand into the putting green surface.
These three processes will combine to incorporate over 120 tons of sand into and onto the greens.  This will be a great improvement for our greens and sets us up well for a successful 2014.  We have already seen great improvements from the drill and fill process performed last fall.  Much deeper rooting, firm surfaces, and better drainage are a few of the noticeable differences.  We will be drill and filling this year in a different direction to minimize hitting the same holes as last fall.  We expect to have everything healed back in by mid to late April, depending on weather.  There will be a lot of disruption to the putting surface so expect bumpy, sandy conditions.  We perform these processes early in the season to minimize disruption.  Short term pain will lead to long term gains this year.  I will have a lot of pictures and videos from the processes as they happen.  We hope for good weather beginning next week and for the entire 2014 golfing season.

Stay safe this week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Course Update

This winter has brought a lot of precipitation and cold temperatures.  This morning was 5°F when we got to the shop.  We have received a couple of good snowfalls that have stuck around and impacted not only the roads but our ability to work on the golf course.  Our team has been busy with winter projects, refurbishing golf course amenities, tree work, winter weather cleanup, and preparing for the installation of 4 fans on the golf course.

The cold, wet weather can really take its toll on the turf in the long run.  We have had 6 nights with lows below 10°F, over 11 inches of rain and 5 inches of snow since December 1, 2013.  Extended low temperatures and saturated conditions can damage the bermudagrass tees, fairways, and roughs and lead to thin or dead areas of turf.  This is called 'winter kill' and basically encompasses any damage to the warm season bermudagrass during the winter.  This damage is intensified in poorly drained or shaded areas and really puts a premium on drainage installation and shade management.  More information on winter kill can be found in the links below.  The second link "Winter-Kill and Responding to it Now" really does a great job of defining the ways that turf can be injured and parameters influencing susceptibility.

USGA Regional Update: Darin Brevard, Winter Injury Fears
Dr. Bert McCarty and Dr. Grady Miller: Winter-kill and Responding to It Now

We routinely test different portions of the golf course to get an idea of potential damage heading into Spring.  Unfortunately, we will not know the full extent of damage, if any, until the bermudagrass breaks dormancy.  Once dormancy breaks, we can then begin the process of making any necessary repairs.

Following the renovation in 2007/08, the young turf was more susceptible to winter kill.  Since then, the age and strength of our turf as well as shade management and drainage installations have contributed to less and less winter kill.  Our team does everything in our power to reduce the soil moisture, traffic, and stress that contribute to damage during winter dormancy and will work quickly to repair any damage that may occur.  The severe winter does not guarantee winter kill but cold, wet conditions are the major factors contributing to weak turf coming out of dormancy.

As always, we appreciate your patience during the winter delays and closures.  We certainly cannot play golf when the course is covered in snow or frost.  Only time will tell how the turf responds to the "polar vortex" this winter.  In the mean time, lets all pray for an early spring.

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org

The first storm of the year brought 2" of snow and lasted for about 7 days due to low temperatures.

The recent storm brought over 3" of snow with most of it lingering for 4-5 days.
 
When we have been able to work, the staff has done great job of preparing for fan installations and performing tree work.  Brian bit the bullet and got in the creek on 17 to help run conduit under the bridge.
This is the only time that I can remember large portions of the river freezing over.  My dog, Ginny has been able to walk across every pond and creek on the golf course.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Course Update

Welcome to 2014.  We are starting this year the same way we finished the last.  2013 was an above average year for rainfall at the club and I feel like the course has been saturated for months.  For the record, our annual rainfall in 2013 was 58" which puts us 16" above average.  It is currently raining and our staff is busy cleaning drain lines and pushing water off of turf surfaces with squeegees.  Our temperatures will be steadily dropping today with a forecast low of 9°F tonight.  This makes it very important for us to make sure all standing water is removed and all parts of the golf course are ready for the deep freeze.  Things seem to be getting back to normal after tomorrow but more rain is in the forecast which will keep the golf course very wet.  This time of year, our days are shorter (less sunlight), the temperatures are lower, the turf is not actively growing or taking up water, and the sun is lower in the sky (longer shade exposure.)  All of these factors contribute to the course staying wet for extended periods of time after rainfall.  Drainage projects, topdressing, and tree removal (opening up sunlight and air flow) are planned as usual to continue to improve quality and firmness of our turf surfaces.

This time of year is great for education on new products, industry trends, and university research.  Our team attends local and national conferences to improve our knowledge and skill sets.  There are not as many opportunities for our Equipment Manager, John Anderson as there are for the rest of our team.  This year, the club has invested in new fairway units.  John looked for information on these units but couldn't really find what he was looking for.  John took the initiative to work with our local Toro representative, Smith Turf and Irrigation to host a seminar on the new fairway unit as well as new reel technology and other equipment.  STI was kind enough to sponsor the event and provide a great equipment educator.  John invited other Equipment Managers from around the area and 20 other individuals came to the shop today for a great networking and educational event.  There are over 600 years of equipment experience sitting in our shop today discussing new improvements and asking great questions.  This will greatly benefit John as well as the entire industry.  I want to congratulate John on hosting this event as well as taking the initiative to educate himself on the new fairway units that the club has invested in.

We look forward to the new year and seeing you on the course.  Have a great week and stay warm,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
jbooth@willowoakscc.org

This is one of the three new fairway units that the club invested in this year.  We do everything in our power to take great care of this investment and maximize their operation and quality of cut.
John's organization of an equipment manager's seminar was a huge success.  Attendance, networking, and education were all excellent.  After 27 years at the club, John still embraces continuing education.

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