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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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, 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.  

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