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.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Temporary Tees & Greens For Winter!

We completed our winter preparations on tees and greens! 
We placed a red hazard stake in front of  the tees for players to use. This protects the tees from traffic and divots that won't recover during the winter months.

Red hazard stake in front of #1 tee.

Temporary greens have been painted and mowed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Winter Preparations!

The weather has turned colder and we have had a few days with frozen ground. We are preparing the greens for winter. All the greens have been aerified and plant protectants were applied yesterday. Today we are starting to apply our protective sand coating. Once a green has had the heavy layer of sand topdressing applied, it is closed for the season. Those holes will have temporary greens until Spring. We are trying to do as much as possible before the forecasted heavy rain hits today and tomorrow.

We spent some time cleaning the wooded area between holes number twelve and fourteen. We have removed many large rocks to allow the maintenance staff to be more efficient maintaining the area throughout the season. Larger equipment can be used instead of excessive hand labor.
Staff using backpack blowers to move leaves is not efficient.
Many large, protruding rocks being removed from ground.
Rocks hauled away and scrap sand used to fill the holes. Selective problem trees to be removed.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Drill & Fill Aerification Today!

We are doing drill and fill aerification on a few greens today. This process will help with drainage and the relief of soil compaction. We are only doing a couple of the more problem greens. Hole spacing will vary dependent upon soil conditions. Tighter spacing will be used in areas that have the worst drainage.
The machine drills a hole then fills it with sand as seen below.
Maintenance staff fills the hopper with kiln dried sand. The sand must be completely dry so it does not clog the delivery tubes.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Drainage Project #12 Green

We continue to tackle some problem areas on the course. There is a small area on the back of twelve green that never drains and the turf quality always suffers. We decided to spend time installing some drainage using leftover supplies from previous projects. Solve the problem instead of constantly "band-aiding" the area. Once the topmix has settled we will install sod we strip from our nursery.
Dig the hole.
Fix irrigation heads in conjunction with drainage.
Install pipe and pea stone.
Fill with sand.
Water heavily to aid compaction.
Water flowing from outlet.

Monday, November 7, 2016

USGA Northeast Regional Report!

Here is the latest USGA Northeast regional report. Take the time to stay informed about what is happening in our area. Always a good read!

Trick Or Treat
NOVEMBER 4, 2016

By Paul Jacobs, USGA Agronomist, Northeast Region

Finishing fall projects, managing frost delays and cleaning up leaves are all part of the challenge of golf course maintenance during fall. 
Playing a round of golf in late fall can be a real treat. Brisk air, vibrant colors and healthy turf are all conducive to enjoyable golf. Late-season warming trends have also added to the fall golf experience this year. However, Frost Delays are also part of fall golf and they require patience and cooperation from golfers to avoid unnecessary turf damage. Even on relatively warm days, early morning frost is still possible.
For golf course superintendents, balancing maintenance operations with fall projects can be quite tricky. Fewer rounds played each day means there is an opportunity to perform golf course improvement projects with minimal golfer disruption. However, maintenance teams still must perform the arduous task of leaf cleanup while maintaining the golf course for fall play. Once a project begins, superintendents know that the race is on to beat early winter snowfall. In some cases, staff members must be reassigned from maintenance tasks, such as leaf cleanup, to help with a project.
Fall leaf removal is a constant battle and areas that are clean can be quickly covered with a fresh coat of fallen leaves. For golfers, constantly searching for golf balls among the fallen leaves can make it seem like they were never removed. The feeling of frustration is mutual between golfers and maintenance personnel. Here are two ideas for dealing with the situation:
·         Carefully document the cost of leaf removal. Cost analysis should include labor hours, fuel cost and equipment maintenance costs. Few budgets include the cost of leaf removal as part of a tree budget, but they should because it is important for golfers to know the full cost of trees.
·         Evaluate the trees on the golf course and determine which are worth the extra labor and expense they entail. The costs may be worthwhile for good-quality trees; but if trees are unhealthy or causing agronomic problems, it might be worth enduring the one-time cost of removing them to reduce long-term maintenance costs. Combining leaf removal with the other Hidden Cost Of Trees can make selective tree removals easy to justify. Removing low-quality or poorly placed trees can improve turf health and performance during the summer and reduce cleanup costs during fall.
Maintenance departments often operate with fewer staff members during fall, making it challenging to keep up with course maintenance and fall projects. As golfers race to enjoy their last few rounds of the year, remember that maintenance teams are also racing to clean up leaves, maintain the course and finish fall projects.
Tree removal #2 started!
Frosty mornings are a great time to work on trees in areas where it won't reduce our efficiency during fall cleanup!
Some course supplies being brought in and cleaned for winter storage!
Bunker Renovation #14!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Bunker Renovation At 14 Green Progressing Nicely!

The right greenside bunker renovation on hole 14 is progressing nicely. Assistant Superintendent Chris Berry did a great job running this project!
We removed the old sand and fabric. Step two was the repairs to the drainage system. We also added some new pipe to the left side to reduce potential washouts during heavy rain events. The third step was the addition of screened topsoil to re-contour the base and get prepared for the sod which will be installed next week.
Once the sod "liner" is installed, we wait until spring to complete the job. For more information on what happens in the Spring, refer to a previous blog entry showing the process...
"Bunker Renovation On Hole 14 Complete"
Obviously the bunker is being played as Ground Under Repair until Spring completion.
Pipe repairs and additional section installed to catch extra flow which enters the bunker during heavy rain events.
Drains complete and ready to begin adding topsoil. Notice how steep the greenside lip is in this photo.
Topsoil base being added.
Base complete and ready for sod.
Notice the reduction in the "lip" height on the greenside edge!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fairway Aerification Starts Today!

The parade of aerifiers, run by Shrewsbury Landscapes, began on hole number one this morning.
While they should have the coring process on all eighteen holes completed by tomorrow morning, the cleanup is what takes time.
 The cores must dry before our team starts the cleanup. First we drag the cores to knock all the soil off. That leaves us the work of cleaning up the thatch laden remnants. We use a few blowers and a sweeper-vacuum to accomplish this. While the coring goes quickly it normally takes us most of the week to finish the cleanup. Please refrain from playing on holes where there are workers. We will do our best to keep inconvenience to a minimum while we accomplish this very important maintenance practice. Thank you for patience!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Ryder Cup 2016! Behind The Scenes!

The Toro Company has put together a great Blog which goes behind the scenes at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota! Spend time with the course superintendent, Chris Tritabaugh, staff, volunteers and more! Yes you will see some Toro equipment but it truly is more about the preparations and more.
If you love this tournament as much as I do and want to find out more about what happens behind the scenes then check out this Blog...

The Ryder Cup at Hazeltine!

Other Links...
Official Ryder Cup link

Hazeltine National Golf Club

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Green Aerification Complete!

Green aerification and aggressive overseeding was completed last Friday. Everything went according to plan and our seed has germinated and is growing extremely well! During the healing process we are keeping the greens on the moist side to give our juvenile Creeping Bentgrass its best chance to take hold and thrive. We are mowing the greens every day now and playing conditions are improving quickly. Remember, our intention is to get the most agronomic benefit from this important maintenance practice while trying to get the playing surface back to premier condition. Normally after two weeks the greens are very close to the conditions you are accustomed to. We will see where we stand next Saturday!

I have re-printed the latest USGA Green Section Northeast Report below. Take the time to read this informative report.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2016By Jim Skorulski, agronomist, Northeast Region
Damaged annual bluegrass is a common sight 
on golf courses in the Northeast this August. 
Roberto Duran's famous phrase "No mas" that ended his brawl with Sugar Ray Leonard, and essentially his career, comes to mind this summer. Enough is enough already! Whether dealing with season-long drought or the effects of heat and humidity, this season has pushed turf and many turf managers to their limits. Courses in the northern half of the region continue to hope for rain while those in southern half wish the rain would stop for a while.

Drought conditions in parts of the Northeast have not improved and in some areas have worsened. As a result, golf facilities have had to reduce or eliminate irrigation to fairways and nonessential areas. The drought has drained water from irrigation ponds and energy from maintenance staffs, which have been busy with hoses far too long to remember. Courses that have significantly reduced, or eliminated, fairway irrigation are anticipating some turf injury, especially where cart traffic is heavy. The extent of drought-related injury is difficult to determine until we begin to see some regrowth. However, we know there will be overseeding ahead once the drought breaks and there is enough water available to initiate that work. Weed encroachment has been extremely high in areas that have experienced both drought and rain events. Drought thins the turf and then rains promote weed germination and growth.

Heat and Humidity
High temperatures combined with rain and humidity has taken its toll on putting greens in the region. Cool-season turfgrass can tolerate heat but is pushed to its limit by persistently high temperatures. Higher soil and air temperatures increase plant respiration rates, drawing more energy than plants can produce. Plants’ energy reserves are depleted; the gas tank is empty. Weakened plants are vulnerable to temperature extremes, physical damage and disease. We have seen weakened annual bluegrass plants fail on greens located in difficult growing environments or in areas with poor drainage. Wet wilt, heat stress and physical damage have caused the greatest injury. Many turf pathogens are still active too. Creeping bentgrass has been holding its own, but it too has been damaged in very hot environments.
About the only grasses thriving in this heat are crabgrass, goosegrass, nutsedge and kyllinga. These weeds are well suited for this type of weather and are taking full advantage of the ideal growing conditions and weakened cool-season turf. Pre-emergent herbicide programs that usually provide season-long control of annual grasses are breaking down early with the elevated soil temperatures.  
The annual bluegrass weevil has also decided to join the party after being conspicuously absent for most of the spring and early summer. Reports of more extensive feeding damage have been observed this month. It is just one of those years!

Going Forward   

The calendar tells us that things should be getting easier with shorter days and cooler nights ahead. That would be ideal for badly-needed aeration and overseeding programs. Let's hope the stubborn pattern of hot weather breaks soon. Until it does, maintain a conservative management approach, especially if turf is very weak. As valuable and necessary as aeration may be, at this time proceed with caution. As they say, it is sometimes best to live to fight another day.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Green Aerification Begins on Wednesday!

The course will be closed Wednesday and Thursday for green aerification and overseeding!

It is that time of year and the turf certainly needs some love. Mid to late August is when our turf, especially Poa Annua, is at its weakest point. The turf has performed well all summer and under the most trying weather conditions, but we are seeing the effects now. You may have noticed thinning turf and brown patches. Our goal is to provide firm fast playing conditions and we have done well reaching this goal.
Poa Annua on greens and collars are showing the late summer signs of stress yet the creeping bentgrass still looks excellent! The scheduled aerification and overseeding will definitely help stressed turf recover. It is also the perfect time to continue our plan of introducing the more desired creeping bentgrass through overseeding.
The greens will recover within the normal two week period after aerifying and we can enjoy the expected fine playing conditions through the home stretch of the season!
Some of the brown spots in fairways are the result of us not over watering turf and allowing isolated dry spots to go dormant. If we over-irrigate to reduce the isolated dry spots, most areas of the fairways would be soaked and playability would suffer. The brown areas are only dormant and will recover as cooler temperatures and better growing conditions arrive in the coming weeks.
I will keep you updated on our progress over the coming days. Thank you for your patience while we perform one of our most important maintenance tasks!
I urge you to catch up on the last couple of USGA Green Section Northeast Updates discussing what they are seeing in the region.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bembix Sand Wasps in Bunkers

Some concerns have been mentioned about the "bees" which invade our bunkers every year. They are actually Bembix Sand Wasps and pose no threat to humans. The are quite docile! I have copied this article I found from another superintendent, Tom Kaplun of North Hempstead Country Club. Remember , our staff maintains the bunkers daily and we are constantly disturbing them. NOT ONE STING!

"For a few weeks every year we have little friends make homes in our sand traps. These fast fliers are officially known as the Bembix Sand Wasp. They dig numerous burrows in soft sand (ie- bunkers) to lay their eggs. Juvenile wasps, known as larvae, emerge from the eggs where they remain in the sand and grow into adults. Adult females congregate together in large numbers when making nests to bait their prey. The higher populations of larvae in nesting sites attract flies, beetles, caterpillars and grasshopper. These insects are captured by the female sand wasp and taken back to the sand burrows to be fed to the growing larvae.
The existence of these critters in the bunkers is a nuisance to golfers but beneficial to the the course as they help to control the population of flies and detrimental turf beetles by preying on them.
The greatest concern for golfers is that they will get stung by these wasps when entering a bunker to play a shot.   Studies have proven that this particular wasp is not aggressive and of no harm to humans.  Both male and females wasps will not sting humans unless they are stepped on or smashed between your hands.  When approached by a human the sand wasp will initially swarm, looking for food, and then go back to their burrows to protect their larvae.

It may be a distraction when trying to play a shot from a bunker but keep in mind, bunkers are hazards and populations will dissipate in September when new adults emerge from the sand."

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bunker Renovation on Hole #14 Complete!

We began our renovation of the left green-side bunker on hole fourteen late last Fall. The bunker is now complete and in play! Below are some pictures which show the process we went through.
The base was cleared of old sand and the "DREADED FABRIC". Then it was sodded.

The sod was killed this Spring and the dead turf was scalped with a string trimmer.

After dead turf scalped and cleaned of debris.

The drain lines being filled with bunker sand so work vehicles could easily dump loads throughout. 

After 45 tons of sand added. We smoothed and packed by watering and using Sand Pro Machine.

Another view. The sand will continue to firm up and level off through normal maintenance.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Soil Temperatures. The Waiting Game.

Soil temperatures greatly effect our turfgrass management on the course. We have been struggling to see afternoon soil temperatures get over 55 degrees. It has been even worse this week with 48 to 50 degrees. There are a few things you should know about low soil temperature...

  • Air temperatures may get warm for portions of the day but soil temperatures fluctuate more slowly
  • Grass seed will not germinate so our project areas are slow to develop
  • Creeping Bentgrass and Poa Annua will not grow evenly due to different genetic characteristics
  • Those yellow rings on the greens will not go away until the grass grows
Soil temperature #1 Green
Air temperatures finally look to be on the rise for next week. With it, the hopes that soil temperatures will improve and we can get this party started! Soon enough we will be talking about green grass and thick rough!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Time To Fill Your Divots!

We have started putting divot mix containers on the course. We should have everything in place by weeks end.

How do I fix my divots at The Farms Country Club?

Let’s keep this simple…
Divot Mix:
  • Only use if it is provided! If it is not provided, there is a reason.
  • Only use divot mix on tees and fairways!
  • You may not see the seed, but it is in there. There are nearly 6,000,000 seeds in one pound of Creeping Bentgrass. They are small.

Replacement of divots:
  • Always replace divots in the rough and first cut!
  • Always replace divots, ANYWHERE, when seed & soil mix is not provided!
Have a Nice Day!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Great Start To The Season!


The last six months have been very good on the golf course! Warm temperatures at the end of last season not only allowed players to enjoy the course longer, but gave the maintenance staff the rare opportunity to accomplish some projects and extra maintenance.

  • Most importantly, we had the INCREDIBLY RARE opportunity to complete our Spring aerification in December! Yes, you read that correctly... 

  • We spent extra time working on our bunkers
  • We did a large amount of tree work to improve turf health and playability
    • We will begin aerifying and seeding the work areas next week
  • We installed a split rail fence along #16 path
  • We made some much needed repairs and upgrades to our irrigation pump station
  • Etc.
A couple more quick notes...
  • Do not be alarmed about those interesting yellow rings on the greens. It is a very non invasive disease that will clear up with our next application of plant protectants next week. There are a few different names for it but most common is "Cool Season Brown Patch"

  • You may notice that our fairways, tees and greens are off color. This is due to our yearly applications for Poa Annua seed-head control. We use special growth regulators to suppress the seed-heads. This practice not only provides golfers with much better playing conditions but actually enhances turf health.
  • We have been allowing the turf to dry out as much as possible so you may see some wilt damage. This is normal and we are trying our best to provide fast firm playing conditions. We are also taking advantage of allowing the Poa Annua to become more stressed on the greens which helps the more desirable Creeping Bentgrass to flourish. We will be overseeding greens in a few weeks and this will only give us better results. Don't be alarmed by overseeding. It is the slice seeder we purchased last year and is non-invasive. The greens recover rapidly.
  • We have begun our weed control sprays and you will slowly see those few dandelions going away. Remember that we try to blanket large areas first, then pay attention to the hard to reach areas like "noses" of bunkers and edges around trees, etc.

Friday, March 18, 2016

USGA Northeast Regional Report For March!

Let's Tee It Up... But Remember It Is Only March

MARCH 14, 2016
By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region

The early spring weather is being welcomed by golfers who are taking advantage of the courses that have opened early throughout the Northeast Region. The early start to the season has allowed many superintendents to complete post-winter course cleanup ahead of schedule. However, most facilities are not fully staffed, so getting course conditions to a level that meets peak-season expectations will be very challenging. The season is roughly three weeks ahead of schedule and, as a result, many superintendents are a few weeks away from having their full seasonal staffs. Remember, bringing staff back earlier than anticipated will have significant budgetary impacts.
Even with ample staff, opening putting greens to early spring play is a tough decision. A significant amount of play on putting greens that are not actively growing, or not growing fast enough to recover from wear, may lead to thin turf and bumpy surfaces. Do not hesitate to keep putting greens closed if they are not growing enough to handle traffic.
Several golf course maintenance practices may need to be examined and adjusted because of the early start to the season. Poa Annua seed-head suppression and weed/pest-control programs may need to be initiated earlier than anticipated if the warm spring weather persists. This may result in a more applications than originally budgeted.
The early start to the golf season may stimulate revenue but it is crucial to acknowledge that staffing and/or potential budget restrictions might limit course conditions at your facility. Golfers should enjoy the early season but must be patient with course conditions. Remember, it is only March.