Welcome to my blog!
It is my intention to give the readers a better understanding of what we do to maintain The Farms Country Club's 18 hole championship golf course and grounds.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Maintenance Staff Performing Winter Duties!

The maintenance staff is busy cleaning, repairing, sharpening and servicing the equipment inventory. We do all of our own preventative maintenance and repairs to over seventy pieces of equipment during the winter months. Winter maintenance not only increases the equipment life but reduces “down-time” during the playing season.

In addition to equipment maintenance, course supplies such as benches, water cooler houses, ball-washers, tee markers and the like, are repaired, cleaned and painted.

Besides the time at the maintenance facility, we also do tree pruning and removals and handle all the club's snow removal duties.
Never a dull moment.
No, we do not have the winter off.

Sidewinder on lift being serviced

Ed Smeriglio installing all new hydraulic hoses he fabricated "in-house" 

Chris Berry disassembling all green and tee reels

Chris Sabino putting a fresh coat of paint on cooler boxes and other supplies

Carl Milano  Using Cedar shakes to put new roofs on water cooler boxes

New roof completed on this one

Tee markers sanded and fresh epoxy clear coat applied

Dead Maple tree removed on left side of hole #9

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Final Winter Preparations... USGA Northeast Update

Below is the latest Northeast regional update from the USGA Green Section about winter course preparations. It is informative and sheds light on our preparations for the normal impending turf stresses we encounter during the winter months.
We applied our last application of sand to the greens this past week, finalizing our protective blanket which insulates the crowns (heart of the plant) on putting green turf. The insulation the sand provides has served us well in years past. We apply an average of 3 tons of sand per green, obviously relative to green size. The sand is not dragged into the surface because the abrasion would compromise turf health. Another plus to the sand application is that when spring arrives and new growth starts, we just perform a light dragging and the greens are firmer and smooth when opened. Soft spring greens would not allow us the opportunity to use the heavy, sand-laden equipment for fear of root damage and the depressions it would cause.
Notice in the article the removal of sod and re-grading on fronts of greens which allows for better surface drainage. We have done this on a few greens over the past few seasons with great success.
One more point... Tree issues. We continue to improve turf by reducing tree competition in primary turf areas by pruning, very selective removals and hopefully some root pruning this year (to be explained in subsequent blog entry). We love trees too! We exhaust every option before a tree is removed.


By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region
December 2, 2014

Golfers and superintendents are hoping to avoid a repeat of the severe winter injury that was widespread across the region last year.
Last minute winter preparations are underway at many golf courses throughout the Northeast Region. Severe winter injury occurred at many courses last year and everyone hopes a re-occurrence can be avoided. The Green Section Record articles “The Greatest Challenge and Winter Damage” are excellent references to learn about winter injury mechanisms and best management practices for prevention of winter injury.
Courses have scaled back mowing operations dramatically to save on labor and improve turf health as winter draws closer. Raising the putting green mowing height is a key factor in reducing winter injury potential. Many superintendents have raised their putting green mowing height to 0.150 inches or more (variable based on mower type and setup) to help reduce winter injury damage potential. Although the putting conditions may be altered, this program is in the best interest of the turf for next year.
Temporary greens have been installed in approaches at facilities that remain open throughout the winter. Golfers may not enjoy temporary greens, but they protect the turf on the putting greens so their use is encouraged. Any turf damage associated with playing on slow or non-growing putting greens is cumulative, and it may not be easy or fast to repair next season.
Winter injury is more severe on shaded turf; so many courses have removed trees that cast shade on putting greens. Trees may be important to some golfers, but when they create shade on putting greens they can cause severe turf decline. Donald Ross, famed golf course architect of Pinehurst and many other golf courses around the world said it best. “As beautiful as trees are, and as fond as you and I are of them, we must not allow our sentiments to crowd out the real intent of a golf course, that of providing fair playing conditions. If it in any way interferes with a properly played stroke, I think the tree is an unfair hazard and should not be allowed to stand.”

The elimination of collar dams or areas where surface drainage is blocked is another late season program being executed at many courses. If melting snow or ice cannot flow off the putting green, crown hydration injury potential is increased significantly. Correcting surface drainage problems could be an easy fix with a sod cutter and a digital level. In some cases however, a major facelift may be necessary to re-contour the putting green so water can drain off rapidly.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winter Weather Arrives Early!

We have all been following the nightly national news about the arctic blast(s) that are overcoming the country. Low temperature records are falling daily and the country-wide, record snowfall events.
We, in the southern sections of Connecticut, have been spared some of the outrageous variations from the norm but are still experiencing unusually low temperatures forcing our hand to have temporary greens this weekend.
Our program to prepare greens for winter has been completed except for the heavy sand topdressing we apply when the greens are finally "Put To Bed".
I am hoping to have several small "weather" windows of opportunity to apply the near 60 tons of sand that finalize our winter protection of greens. Our goal is to give you the greens as long as possible!
Deep-Tine aerification has been completed and plant protectants applied. The last step is to time our topdressing. Heavily topdressing the greens with sand has enormous benefit because it creates a blanket protecting the Crown (heart) of the turfgrass plant. It also provides us the benefit of smooth greens immediately when we open the greens in the spring. A time of year when high soil moisture would prevent us from traversing the greens with heavy, sand laden equipment.

Think about these things affecting fall sand application:

  1. Stockpiled sand cannot be frozen or it impossible to spread
    • Near 60 tons of sand will be applied
      • We have covered our sand supply in an effort to reduce moisture content and reduce freezing. The tarp also holds some heat in.
  2. Greens cannot be frozen when we make sand applications because we damage delicate green turf with heavy equipment traffic. Hence the fact you are not even allowed to walk on them when frozen.
    • Weather dictates our ability to make the sand applications
      • Obviously below freezing "night-time" temperatures cause ground freezing. It takes time for ground to thaw even when daytime highs reach into the 40's. We are hoping to get the opportunity of a 3 hour window to apply sand between 12 noon and 3pm in the coming week(s). That 3 hour window allows us to apply sand to a few greens.
      • Sunset today is 4:32pm and the soil will not thaw. The low angle of the sun at this time of year dictates how much thawing can take place during a day. A good example is #5 green. While it receives early sunlight, the temperatures are still below freezing. When the temperature rises above freezing it is more than 50% covered in shade so most of it does not thaw. This green is just one example.
We will constantly monitor the weather and long range forecast so we can walk that fine line of keeping the greens open without sacrificing turf health. Our goal is always to give our members the finest playing conditions, for the longest period of time, without sacrificing our ability to provide you premium conditions during the true prime part of the golfing season. We will not sacrifice the turf health to accommodate the few at the expense of the majority.
I hope this sheds some light on the end of season maintenance that is critical to next seasons success.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

25 Ballmarks Today

25 ball marks today that were ill-repaired or not repaired at all.
I was pleased to see that most were just repaired incorrectly. 
That means we are trying to get it right!
25 Ballmarkrs on #8 Today
550 Ball marks on #8 Friday
I will continue to enable and increase your ability to use proper course etiquette. After all... It's part of the game 
Thank You!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ball Mark Repair on Hole #8! Did You Know That Etiquette is Included in the Rules of Golf?

We have the perfect opportunity to show you how important this is. We placed orange flags on every ball mark that was not repaired or repaired wrong on the eighth green.

Staff placing the flags on #8 green.
Maintenance staff finishes and there are near 550 ball marks!
Flags mark the spots!
We then sent out two employees to fix all the ball marks.
Mike coring the dead turf out of each ball-mark's center

Brendan uses ball mark repair tool to close the hole after Mike cores out dead spot
Players fixing their ball marks is truly covered in the rules of golf! It is not only important for the health of the turf but the players behind you have the right to a smooth putting surface.
In an effort to improve our putting greens and help you to "do the right thing", I will be available on the eighth green during Saturday's round of the Ryder Cup to answer questions about ball mark repair. I will also hand out ball mark repair tools and explain the differences. 
I will post new pictures of the eighth green on Sunday morning showing our improvement. We have near 120 members in the field. I would be thrilled to see the eighth green become the ball mark repair "bench mark" by which all greens are measured. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Snapping Turtle Lays Eggs Where?

This female snapping turtle decided to lay her eggs in a newly seeded area just to the right of #3 green today.

Close up picture of eggs
Mother done and heading back to pond
Orange flags mark the nest
We will be marking the spot better with the hope that players will respect the area and give the eggs a chance to hatch. The gestation period for snapping turtle eggs is approximately 10 to 13 weeks.
Maybe we'll get the chance to see the babies hatch in September.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

USGA "Fore The Golfer" Videos. All You Need To Know!

Here are some excellent videos published by the USGA Green Section. 
Take the time to watch these short, but informative, videos.

  1. Bunker Etiquette
  2. Selecting Hole Locations
  3. Ball Mark Repair
  4. Cart Traffic
  5. Putting Greens
  6. Etiquette towards Maintenance Personnel
Always take the opportunity to see what is going on agronomically with golf courses in the Northeast by visiting the USGA Northeast Report.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Get Ready For Tough Rough!

I can't believe I'm still getting soil temperature readings in the fifties and it is May 24th!
Don't let this fool you. The turf is finally breaking dormancy.
Especially the rough!
We mow the rough around the greens at a two inch height and the primary rough at two and one-half inches. Don't be fooled... The turf is growing quickly, so what is two inches today might be 25% higher in two days!

Our goal is to mow all rough areas at least once per week. Primary rough and heavy play areas will get mowed twice per week. We also try to "ring" the fairways and greens with a third cut on a weekly basis. Approximately twenty-five feet wide. This cut ensures that a player has a decent lie if they just miss the mark in primary play areas.

Summer is going to come quick. We have already seen signs of wilt (by design) on the course despite the unusually wet Spring weather and high water table.

You may see some greens that look stressed because they are. My ability to stress specific turf varieties, especially Poa Annua, during a "non-stressful" spring weather period, is an opportunity to further improve our chance of surviving summer stress. I know it sounds crazy!
We keep turf as dry as possible while soil temperatures remain cool. The goal is to have turf roots "dig-deep" for water. The enhanced root depth we develop now helps our turf to survive the anticipated summer stress.

THE BETTER THE ROOTS... THE BETTER THE SHOOTS! (shoots are the leaves of the plant)

What You Need To Know!

  • Greens are getting healthy and playing better every day
  • Rough is growing fast!
  • Weed control is almost complete
  • Course fertilization is 75% complete
  • City water project progressing quickly!
    • New irrigation for tennis courts and lawn areas is complete
    • Hydro-seeding on hole #10 is complete
    • 10,000 square feet of sod being laid on hole #10 on Wednesday May 28th, in primary areas, to quickly improve playability and reduce "washouts" from potential heavy rain.
  • ETC.
  • Any Questions??? Let me know!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Rain Keeps Coming!

Two and one-half inches of rain last night has saturated the course yet again! We are back to pumping bunkers and clearing drains.

Roto Rooter clearing root-filled pipe between #17 & #18

#5 pond overflowing its banks into #5 Fairway

Fairway bunker #11 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo! Course Status!

We are finally staring at three days of sunshine! What will happen? The turf is going to finally start growing!!!

We have begun our Spring herbicide applications. I would have started a little earlier, but it has been so wet that the damage from equipment would have been intolerable. Not to worry... We are still right on time!
#5 Pond slowly receding from fairway
Greens are slowly improving after aerification and they look very healthy. Warm days will speed the process. We will start to slowly lower the height of cut tomorrow. This is our standard procedure early in the season. The creeping bentgrass and Poa Annua are not growing much yet and we are mostly mowing sand. Obviously, sand does not help our mowers. The blades dull quickly and must be changed often.

Divot mix is now being put on the course and at the pro-shop. Remember the rule! Use divot mix on tees and fairways only. If divot mix is not available, replace your divot. Always replace your divots in the first cut and rough.

Buckle Up! We have a golf season on our hands!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Condition of Greens. What to Expect!

All greens have been aerified, overseeded, topdressed and dragged.


We also applied our second application for Poa Annua seed-head control.

Here is what to expect:
We need soil temperatures to warm up enough for all turfgrasses to "break dormancy". Poa Annua starts to grow before Creeping Bentgrass. This is one of the predominant reasons green's turf is uneven early in the season.

Complicating our desire to provide you with an early, smooth putting surface, is our use of growth regulators. They are applied early in the season to eliminate near 90% of the Poa Annua seed-heads. Without these applications, we would reduce playability until JUNE! The drawback is that the growth regulator applications also slow the recovery of the aerification holes.

In early Spring, I deliberately play a delicate game of balancing our seed-head reduction and fertilization with aerification and the recovery there of.

My primary goal is balancing turf health while providing you with outstanding putting conditions for the longest continuous period of time until August when we aerify the greens again.

What we do now for turf health, sets the tone for the entire season's playability!

In short, regardless of the crazy Spring weather we have seen, our greens are healthy and they will get better every day!

Let's root for warmer soil temperatures! I'll do the rest!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Everything Happens At Once in Spring!

What is the Superintendent talking about? Everything happens at once in the Spring?

  • Get greens in shape as soon as frost gone by cleaning, rolling then mowing and getting those pins in!
  • Stop the rain and warm up those soil temperatures!
    • Every time we get the slightest bit of rain, the ground is saturated and limits our ability to use larger equipment (mowers, rollers, sprayers, blowers, sweepers, etc.) which optimize our maintenance efficiency.
  • Make our Poa Annua seed-head suppression applications.
    • Many of you may not remember what it was like when we did not do this.
      • I may skip a few small spots in fine turf areas to help remind you.
        • Obliviously very small spots with limited impact
    • Imperative we do at right timing or playing conditions and Poa Annua health will suffer!
      • 1st application on greens slated for tomorrow.
        • We will not mow the greens again until next week because we want to achieve maximum efficacy by letting product remain on leaf blade for maximum absorption. We will roll Friday in preparation for ABCD tournament on Saturday.
        • If weather permits (expecting rain Friday night), we will whip dew off greens Saturday AM for the 9:00AM Shotgun.
    • Tee and fairway applications will be completed early next week as weather allows.
  • Pre-emergent Crabgrass applications on tees and fairways will begin as soon as the first mowing is complete. Estimated timing is next week in conjunction with seed-head prevention applications.
    • There has been concern about crabgrass prevention applications being counterproductive to divot & seed mix germination program. This is untrue. Preventative crabgrass applications work by creating a barrier that juvenile crabgrass seedlings hit as they sprout. As they pass through the herbicide barrier the seedlings are killed.
    • When a divot is taken by a player, the barrier is physically removed in the "chunk" of turf.
    • We replace the divot with a soil medium that is sterile (no weed seed) and is designed to hold moisture so the expensive seed we use has the best chance of germination. 
      • All this said... remember that we do not over water tees and fairways during the season for the sake of seed germination in divots. Our primary goal is a fast firm playing surface. Replacement of divots at that time would be worse because they dry out and die and then the mower rolls it out of the hole. All that is left is a player facing a shot from an unfilled divot.
  • We are aerifying greens beginning Monday April 14th!
    • We are using the same size tines as always, one-half inch diameter
    • We will proceed as quickly as possible to accomplish the process including overseeding and topdressing.
    • How fast the greens heal is truly dependent on soil temperatures. The warmer the better! More seed will germinate and existing turf will fill in. 
Lets get this season going!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Bump in The Road!

Three inches of rain and three inches of unpredicted snow is just a bump in the road. It's going to be wet, but before the weather hit, the frost was coming out of the ground quick. I was able to extract some sample plugs from a few greens.
Samples from greens #4, #11, #13 & #18. Some already breaking dormancy. 
It's hard to tell in the picture that all of the plugs are looking good so far. Some plugs have less sand on their surface than others. A few more days of simulated Spring will tell the tale of winter survival. That said... I like what I see so far.
The crazy weather may have slowed our efforts on the course but we are busy in the shop finalizing our winter equipment overhaul and doing some overdue housekeeping.

Clear out the equipment!
Clean out the inside of facility and re-organize!
Marshall giving the bay doors a well deserved cleaning!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Has Sprung! Well... Almost

We are almost there! The weather for the next week looks promising. The key to the course opening full steam is a good thaw. In the mean time, temporary greens are available for walkers.
The course survived the winter well. Some snow mold in the untreated areas but nothing to be concerned with.
Snow mold in rough on hole #6
The greens look good except for a few suspect spots. As soon as these spots thaw, we will remove test plugs to bring inside simulating spring conditions. The growth results will determine if we need to adjust the spring maintenance plan. Again, no cause for alarm. This is a standard practice.

March has been unseasonably cold, but it has afforded our staff the ability to do some "in-house" tree maintenance. We have spent this entire week doing some pruning and debris chipping.

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Soon enough the staff will be trading in the wood chipper and rakes for a greensmower. I know I can't wait!