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.


Navigating this Webpage

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.

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

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