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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Quick August Update

The golf course finally got a reprieve from a hot, dry July with 1.5" of rain overnight Monday.  We were in desperate need and great color is already returning to the bermudagrass surfaces.  July was the 10th hottest on record and despite the heat, greens held up very well and continue to perform at a high level.  Cooler temperatures, shorter days, and projected rain are always a welcome sight.

REMINDER: THE GOLF COURSE IS CLOSED AUGUST 21-25 for putting green aeration.  The greens will be dryjected and a small core will be pulled.  During this closed time, we will also make our first preventative spring dead spot application as well as fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide applications.  Irrigation is going to be installed to the left of 13 fairway and tees and collars will be aerated.

Our team has been very busy with projects this summer.  All of the tall fescue between #1 tees and the fairway has been replaced with T-10 bermudagrass sod for a more uniform look.  The tree line between 13 and 14 has been renovated, irrigation installed and sprigged for the final piece to the puzzle.  The fescue on 9 and 18 has been replaced with T-10 sprigs and that grow in is going well.  Bunker sand has been added to select bunkers and raking methods have been adapted to provide softer green side bunker conditions and firmer fairway bunkers.  All of this while maintaining a very busy golf course.  Our team has performed at a very high level and are committed to carrying this effort through the busy fall season.  We are excited about the golf course conditioning and the upcoming fall tournaments.

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth CGCS 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July Update

This week has brought very high temperatures to our area.  Our team is busy playing defense against heat and drought damage as well readying the course for summer cultural practices next week.  The golf course will be CLOSED next Tuesday, July 18 and Wednesday, July 19 for fairway, tee, and collar aeration and verticutting.   While the golf course is closed, our team will also be converting the fescue areas on 1, 9 and 18 to bermudagrass with sod and sprigs as well as a few other select areas around the course.  The tree line between 13 and 14 will be completed as well as the hill to the right of 15 cart path.

Playing defense and protecting the course from high heat and humidity takes a lot of hard work from the staff as well as sound watering practices.  Fans are on every green and portable fans are in use on holes 10 and 16 while we sort through some electrical issues.  Parts are on the way and the fans on 10 and 16 should be repaired very soon.  Greens are mowed as needed, not daily, during this high temperature and soil moisture is meticulously managed to prevent heat and drought stress or conversely disease and stress from too much water.  Healthy turf is the goal in July and August.  Thank you for your patience while our team waters in the afternoon.

Fairways and tees are in great shape and growing well.  While they are growing this well, it is the perfect time to aerate and verti-cut them to allow for fast recovery.  This allows these surfaces to stay healthy year round.  Sand topdressing will be heavily applied to smooth the surfaces and allow for firm, healthy playing conditions.  Verticutting is the practice of using blades to cut through the top inch or so of the turf and remove thatch.  Similar to aeration, it is more effective on bermudagrass to promote a healthy surface.  The grass can get very puffy and thick this time of year so these practices improve playability as well.  Our team verticut the middle range tee and core aerated the short game practice area and collars on the practice greens this past Monday in preparation for next week.  Now that all of our team and equipment is prepared, it will make next week a lot smoother.  It also gives you an idea of what will be happening on the course.  I have been very pleased with the care of the course and have noticed a lot of filled divots and repaired ball marks.  Thank you!

Our team stays busy this time of year with details such as tree trimming, edging of bunkers, cart paths, and sprinkler heads.  There is a lot to do and detailing the native areas around the water ways is high on our to do list.  The large native areas on 15, 7, and 8 have been cleaned by hand and our team will continue work around the ponds.   Stay cool and hydrated this week and we will see you on the course.

Have a great day,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Here is a picture of Andres core aerating the short game practice area.  This will be the same practice on tees and collars.  Once cleaned up, these areas are topdressed and fertilized.  

Another picture of core aeration. 

The middle range tee was verticut in two directions and heavily topdressed to promote recovery and fill in the practice divots.  This turf is growing aggressively and will be healed over soon.   The fairways will be verticut in one direction.

This is a picture of the heavily divoted area about 100 yards short of the part 5 fifth hole.  50+ divots in this area and 95+% were filled with sand.  Thank you for your care of the course.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June Update

We could not have asked for a better couple of days at the end of June than we experienced this week.   Cool nights and low humidity are always welcome and our schedule greens aeration on Monday could not have come at a better time.  Our team pulled a small 1/4" core and then blew the cores off on Monday.  This is as little disruption as we will ever see from a core aeration but will set the greens up well heading into the summer.  If the weather had been warmer, we would have punted on this aeration but we were able to take advantage of the perfect conditions.  Tees were also deep tine aerated on Monday and both surfaces are recovering well.

Our team has also stayed busy with a few sod projects.  Some of our main goals this year include renovating the roughs on holes 1, 9 and 18 as well as the tree line between 13 and 14.  This month, we sodded the perimeter of the rough on holes 9 and 18 as well as walking paths, sprinkler heads and drains in preparation to sprig this rough to bermudagrass.  This process is much more affordable than sod and allows us to grass large areas at one time.  Most of the fescue on #1 was also sodded out this week.  We chose to sod this instead of sprig due to its location.  The remainder of these rough renovations will take place when the golf course is closed for fairway aeration on July 17-19.  The tree line between 13 and 14 has received a lot of attention this year.  Dead trees were removed and pine straw and mulch beds have been installed.  Our team sodded around these new mulch beds today and last week.  Any remaining fescue will be replaced with sprigs July 17-19.  This project has been a great improvement to the golf course and I look forward to tackling the tree line between 14 and 15 next.

An area that has always been poor is the area directly behind #9 green.  It sits under a large 'namesake' Willow Oak and is the walk on/walk off area for #9 green.  The combination of shade, tree roots, traffic, and compaction has caused the area to be a maintenance nightmare for many years.  This week, we decided to start fresh.  We removed all of the different types of grasses and replaced it with Zeon zoysia.  Zoysia is more shade tolerant that bermudagrass.  We also aerated this area very aggressively and added topsoil to provide the best growing conditions possible, all things considered.  The sod looks great and I am very pleased with the finished product behind 9 green.  We also installed zoysia in the most shaded parts of the tree line on 14, the shaded collar on 7 and the shaded collar on the clubhouse putting green.  Hopefully these are good, long term solutions.  Please avoid walking through the sod until we remove the stakes around it.
The area behind 9 green was stripped and aerated to relieve compaction.  
Topsoil and fertilizer were added.
Finally, our team sodded the areas to Zeon zoysia.  Irrigation heads were leveled to minimize impact to play in this roll off area.
The collar on the clubhouse putting green sits directly under the large Willow Oak in the patio. This picture was taken at 11:30 and this area is in full shade.   Hopefully, zoysia is a good solution.   
The area behind 9 green turned out great and the shade is already creeping on to the zoysia by noon.  
Our primary focus this time of year is plant health and playability.  Fans will be running all summer unless we continue to get 80 degree highs and 55 degree nights (fingers crossed.)  Please do not turn the fans off and if you must, please turn them back on when you leave the green.  The golf course is playing well and should be in peak shape for the extended Independence Day weekend.  

Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The golf course has received 3 inches of rain over the last week.  While wet weather is typical this time of year, it still presents challenges.  We have actually fared much better than many courses in the area but the course is very saturated.  All turf surfaces are growing well and the warmer temperatures over the next 7 days will really keep things moving.  Today, our team is venting greens to allow the saturated greens to "breathe",  Venting creates very small holes in the surface that penetrate through the top 3" of the green and allows oxygen in to the roots while helping the greens dry out.  Two appropriate analogies to venting would be: 

1. Opening a window to a stuffy, humid house automatically makes everything inside the house more comfortable
2.  If you put your thumb over the end of a straw, it will never drain.  Remove your thumb and the straw works correctly.  Venting allows an opening at the top of the green so the greens can drain more effectively.  

Our team mows right behind the vent and the holes are barely visible and should not impact putting at all.  The greens are recovering well from the aggressive aeration programs this spring.  We anticipate being 100% healed over by May 1.  Greens are healthy and growing well, it just takes time to rebound from aeration.  The rains and warm weather have the golf course at least a month ahead of schedule.  It looks like July out there and our main attention is now focused on course setup and maintenance.  After all of the rain, our main focus this week will be to get all surfaces mowed and prep for sod installation next week.  On Monday, we will be installing a few more fan poles, repairing the rock wall on 7, and fertilizing the entire golf course.  

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth, CGCS
Stephen and Tomas vented greens today ahead of the mowers.  We use the same machine to vent greens that we do to aerate greens, just with a much smaller solid tine and a roller attachment to smooth the surface.  

This greens profile shows the value to deep tine aeration.  The roots on the right are growing down, through a deep tine channel.  Deep, healthy roots lead to firm, healthy greens.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Picture Worth Sharing

I thought this picture from Creative Dog Media was worth sending out.  Creative Dog does amazing work and specializes in drone photography with most of their work in and around Richmond.  Here is a link to their twitter feed:  

Greens were rolled this morning and mowed dry this afternoon.  We will mow greens dry whenever possible to avoid picking up too much sand and dulling the mowers.  We will continue to alternate mowing and rolling and encourage a quick recovery from aeration.

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April Update

I feel like the Masters is always the unofficial start to the golf season.  The excitement of the back 9 on Sunday surely inspired most of us to knock the rust off the clubs and get out on the course.  The early warm weather has kicked the golf course into gear.  Greens, tees, and fairways are all growing very well.  Greens are recovering from aeration and fairways are at least 3 weeks ahead of schedule.  We are actively mowing tees and fairways and are finishing the first mowing on the rough this week.  The last drainage project will take place next Monday, fan wire and bases will be installed by the end of the month, and repairs to the rock walls around the property are  underway.  The time of year for projects is quickly coming to a close and we are looking forward to normal maintenance.

Our team wrapped up the renovation of the bunkers on 10 and 14.  Drainage has been installed and new liner and sand installed in the bunkers.  Whenever new sand is added, we have to make sure it gets compacted to prevent plugging.  Our team has been busy compacting, water, and rolling bunkers to provide a firm surface.

This drainage project behind the silver tee on #3 is being finished this week.  We will install additional drainage between this tee and the fairway on #3 next week.  While there are always more drainage projects to do, these will finish our winter list.  Overall, the team installed 16 different drainage projects.  
This past Monday, April 10, ClearVision turf performed the DryJect process on greens.  The DryJect is a machine that injects kiln dried sand into the greens to create channels similar to core aeration.  The difference is that the DryJect does not remove any material.  The DryJect does a nice job of relieving compaction and getting more sand into the greens profile.  This will be our last aggressive cultural practice on greens until August.  Greens are growing very well and will get better and better every day.  
ClearVision provides the machines and operators while our team fills the machines with sand.  The DryJect injects high pressure water into the greens, pulling sand into the void and relieving compaction.
This picture illustrates the benefits of all of the cultural practices this spring.  The dark thatch in the top inch of the profile is the target of these practices.  While the Graden linear aeration and core aeration remove material and backfill with sand, the DryJect simply injects sand into the profile.  All of these practices impact thatch and provide healthier, firmer surfaces.  
Have a great week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Friday, March 31, 2017

Aeration Update

There isn't a better way to finish aeration week than with a day of solid rain.  The team worked hard to cram 5 days of work into 4 long days.  The greens were core aerated and then dethatched with the Graden contour sand injection machines.  Overall, we disturbed about 15% of the greens surface, even if it looks like a lot more.  This article, 'Core Aeration by the Numbers', does a good job explaining percent disruption.  We try and accomplish as much at one time so we minimize the need for disruption later in the year.  I could not be more proud of the staff for all of their hard work.  We are also thankful to Joe Harmon and Harmon Turf Services for getting the Graden work finished ahead of schedule.  

While we were closed, we also focused on greens fertility, nematode management, fairway fertility, removal of dead trees, drainage and bunker work.  The next few weeks look like great growing weather and the golf course is really beginning to wake up from winter dormancy.  We are excited to recover from aeration and begin the season.  As always, we appreciate the closed time to accomplish these necessary maintenance practices.  

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Drainage and bunker work being done to the right fairway bunker on #10.  The right side of 10 drains into this bunker so the drainage should help prevent future contamination.  We didn't change anything about the bunker, we just reestablished the edge and installed new liner and sand.  This bunker will be played as ground under repair through the weekend. 

After core areation, the greens were deep verticut with the Graden machines.  The machines cut out the thatch in straight lines and replace with dried sand.  Our team is responsible for filling the machines with sand and cleaning up all of the thatch.  Quite a labor intensive process.

This cross section shows the core aeration on the left and Graden, linear aeration on the right.  This 15% disruption quickly gets us close to our >20% goal for the year.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Aeration

Aeration is never a fun process.  It is the definition of a necessary evil. We all know the negatives associated with aeration.  Here is a quick reminder of the benefits:

1.  Thatch Removal: Removal of organic matter buildup just below the turf
2.  Relieve Compaction
3.  Allow for water and oxygen to easily enter the soil
4.  Deeper rooting and healthier plants

For more information on aeration and thatch management, please check out these articles from the USGA.

USGA: Darin Brevard: Putting Green Aeration, It is more important than you think
USGA: Moeller and Lowe: Managing Organic Matter in Greens
USGA: Hartwiger and O'Brien: Core Aeration by the Numbers

We began the aeration process on Monday with a deep tine aeration followed by a shallow solid tine.  The greens received sand topdressing and were brushed to move the sand into the holes.  While we didn’t actually remove anything, the incorporation of sand will help dilute the thatch and create channels to promote water and oxygen infiltration.  This was the first step in an aggressive aeration program designed to address multiple depths of the greens profile with a primary focus on the thatch layer.  
On Monday, March 20, Greens were topdressed and aerated with deep solid tines and shallow solid tines.  The sand was brushed into the holes.
The greens were blown off and rolled and this is the finished product.  We do this a week early to allow the greens to recover before the more aggressive core aeration and Graden.
Next week we continue to focus on thatch removal with a core aeration and Graden linear aeration.  The tools next week not only incorporate sand but remove thatch.  Our goal is to disrupt over 20% of the greens surface to manage the thatch that is always naturally occuring.  On April 10, we will DryJect the greens to incorporate even more sand into the profile.  The DryJect has a minimal disruption to the surface.  

REMINDER: The golf course is closed next week, Monday May 27- Friday May 31.

I want to thank our team for the hard work on Monday.  Our staff was working diligently from 6:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. to topdress, deep tine, solid tine, brush, blow, and roll the greens.  Long days will be the norm next week as well.  Outside of aeration, we plan to finish any remaining tree work.  You may have noticed the large, damaged tree is gone on #18.  We finally had a few cold mornings last week and took the opportunity to drop it.  Our team is knee deep in drainage as well and beginning to staff up for the season.  I hate to see these next two cold days but the forecast is favorable starting on Saturday.  
Drainage being installed in #10 fairway before the left fairway bunker.   The entire fairway slopes towards this bunker and during heavy rains, water enters the bunker and washes out the sand.   
Channel drains are being utilized to capture surface runoff into the bunker.  Most of the bunkers on the course do not have this issue.  Water should never drain into a bunker.  

Our team started the process of draining #17 approach.  Firm approaches offer more shot options.  We plan to drain #16 approach as well.  Preparation is very important with drainage work to prevent damage to underground irrigation, drainage, and electrical lines.  Even if we 'know' where lines are, we expose them before trenching.  This project encountered a lot of irrigation which led to a lot of digging.  'Measure twice, Cut once.'  In this case, we don't want to cut anything once.

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth, CGCS    

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

March Golf Course Update

Today is a good day for an update.  The course received 1.4" of rain Monday night and another tenth of an inch yesterday.  The windchill was below 10 degrees this morning and we are currently preparing for the upcoming greens aeration.  The cold/wet week has also given our team a much needed chance to finish all inside work.  Golf course amenities have been refurbished, the shop has been cleaned and organized, and we are preparing for an exciting event at our shop on Friday.

John Anderson, Willow Oaks' Equipment Manager for the last 30 years, is hosting an Equipment Manager's education day here on Friday.  John has put a lot of energy into the event and will host over 25 equipment managers from around the state.  The event includes education, networking, and two prominent speakers in our industry; Dr. Mike Goatley, Professor at Virginia Tech and Hector Velazquez, Equipment Management Consultant.  With over 45 equipment managers and superintendents expected to attend, we are excited to host this event and know that the golf course community will benefit from John's hard work.  

Our team has continued drainage installations around the course as well as the renovation of the second left fairway bunker on hole #14.  The bunker is directly shaded by multiple trees and turf quality has struggled because of this.  The bunker edge was in need of definition and we removed part of the nose of the bunker for an easier approach to the green.  The tree line between 13 and 14 is an area of focus this year and this was a good starting point.  The greenside bunker on #3 will be renovated along with the back left greenside bunker on #2.  Our team has also been hard at work checking and adjusting sand depths around the course.  This is an ongoing effort that requires the addition of new sand so please be patient while the consistency of the bunkers improves.

REMINDER: The Golf Course will be closed for putting green aeration March 27-31.  The greens will also be deep tine aerated and heavily topdressed on Monday, March 20.  We continue to be aggressive with aeration and topdressing to provide a healthy soil profile and firm, smooth surfaces.  I will provide updates as aeration gets underway.  

Enjoy the week,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

First, our team established a new, hard edge to the bunker and completed all necessary earthwork.

Second, the team installed new bunker liner where needed to hold the sand on the face and prevent soil contamination. 
Lastly, sand was added and compacted.  This weeks rains will help the sand settle and firm up.
The entire area left of the cartpath at the turn on #15 was in serious need of renovation.  The entire area was excavated and drainage was added to intercept water from natural springs.  Channel drains will line the cartpath to intercept water from the hillside and the entire area will be sodded in as soon as sod is available.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Navigating this Webpage

The Golf Course Updates are intended to be a source of information about the ongoing course maintenance, projects. challenges, and successes at Willow Oaks Country Club.  We want to make the information as accessible as possible.  The updates can be accessed by visiting the club website.  Once you enter your login information, you will find 'Golf Course Information' under the 'Golf' tab.  You can also bookmark this website: because we know it is a handful to remember.  A few helpful tools.

1.  Receive an Email whenever a new Update is Posted

To do this, scroll down on the right side of the Home Page.  You should see this option.

Enter your email on the webpage and hit 'submit'.  This will begin the registration process and you will receive updates whenever they are posted.

2.  Access the Maintenance Calendar.

The Golf Course Maintenance Calendar including major club tournaments, outings, closure for maintenance etc. can be found on the webpage.  The top of the webpage allows for a few selections including FAQ's, Agronomic Practices, Green Committee Materials, Staff Info, and the Calendar.  Click on any of the tabs for more information.

3.  Access more information via Social Media.

While the website is relatively easy to navigate and read through old postings, social media, specifically Twitter is a great way to follow our operation.  When projects or interesting things happen on the course, we try and upload to Twitter to keep members involved.  You can access this Twitter account on the webpage by clicking on the Twitter icon.  You can also email me direct questions or feedback by clicking on the green Mail icon on the right.

Have a great weekend,

Jordan Booth, CGCS 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February Golf Course Update

2017 has brought warm weather and a great extended forecast.  Our team is busy balancing golf course setup and finishing our winter project list.  We don't schedule or budget for 75F weeks in February but we will certainly take them.  The bermudagrass is breaking dormancy and greens are just starting to grow.  It will be a while until we are in full form but the golf course is waking up from its winter nap.

I am very proud of the drainage work our team has accomplished, despite a very wet January.  To date, the team has completed 8 drainage projects with one more finishing tomorrow.  We still have a long "to-do" list of winter work and our team is working hard to transition from projects into course maintenance.  One of the maintenance items you may have noticed around the course is the way we have been raking bunkers.  Our team has been rolling the faces and raking the floors.  This technique is shown in pictures below but the goal is for balls to hit the smooth, firm faces and roll down to the floor of the bunker for a safer, more manageable shot out of the hazard.  We are still fine-tuning this process and I expect many more improvements to be made that will streamline the process.  Bunker rakes are being refurbished, along with other golf course amenities so there aren't quite as many on the course.  We apologize for the inconvenience and will have them back ASAP.  

You will also notice a dark coloration to the fairways, approaches, tees, and collars.  This results from an application of Ferrous (Iron) Sulfate.  This dark color attracts more sunlight, raising the temperature of the canopy and encouraging the plants out of winter dormancy.  I was recently asked about this and normally we don't make this application until mid-March.  Mother Nature doesn't work on a calendar, so that is why we base applications on soil temperatures, long range forecasts, natural indicators like Forsythia bloom, and growing degree days.  Iron is a natural soil nutrient and allows us to add some color and nutrition at the same time.

The next 6-8 weeks are extremely busy for our team.  We have a few more dead tree removals, 5 more planned drainage projects, a large mulching project between 13 and 14, the installation of fans on holes 9 and 18, the renovation of the back, greenside bunker on 3, and putting green aeration.  We also have work waiting approval along the river and lake/stone wall work on holes 7 and 17.  We work very hard to have all winter projects finished by late April so we can begin normal maintenance and focus solely on course conditioning.  

As noted earlier, spring aeration is planned for March 27-31.  The golf course will be closed for the greens to undergo cultural practices on March 20, March 27-31, and April 10.  We expect conditions to be back to normal by mid-late April depending on the weather.

Monday, March 20: Deep Solid Tine Aeration: Medium Disruption to the Putting Surface
Monday - Friday March 27-31: Core Aeration and Graden Linear Aeration: Heavy Disruption to the Putting Surface
Monday, April 10: DryJect Aeration: Minimal Disruption

Have a great week and enjoy the weather,

Jordan Booth, CGCS

Our team has spent countless hours this winter clearing areas of underbrush like this area between 15, 16, and 17.  There is a large Sycamore, covered in vines.  We will remove the vines when we bring in a lift this March for another project.
You can really begin to see the green grass emerging as the bermudagrass breaks dormancy.  The dark color provided by the Iron Sulfate (Left) will encourage spring green up.  

You can notice a difference between the coloration of the fairways and the roughs.  The fairways have been sprayed to promote spring green up.  

This is the finished look of our new bunker maintenance program.  The rolled, firmed, smooth edges promote the ball rolling back into the raked center instead of plugging into the face.  We have been managing the green-side bunkers this way and are transitioning this practice into the fairway bunkers. 
This picture does a nice job of illustrating the process.  Our team smooths the faces, waters the bunker to promote firmness, rolls the faces, and then rakes the centers.  
When raking your foot traffic in the bunkers, we would ask that you use the back side of the rake to smooth the edges that we have rolled.  As always, please enter and exit the bunker at the lowest point for your safety and to maintain the firm faces.

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