April/May 2019 Maintenance Blog
Well, here we go again for another season at Mountain woods, and the crew and I have been working hard trying to get things back into shape, or usually what I call putting Humpty Dumpty back together again! The Fall of 2018 and the Winter of 2019 was not kind to the golf course. The wind storms and wet conditions led to hundreds of trees breaking and leaning and left a debris field just about everywhere. Also, there was a lot of freezing and thawing that led to layers of ice and mixed snow that led to an extensive amount of turf damage all over the course. I have actually held off writing this blog, because it was extremely difficult to figure out if the damaged areas were alive or dead. It seemed to show some signs of life but would recede during dry cold weather. At one point I thought we have to spot seed over 20 acres of damage. Just over the past couple of days, there has been a break out of new turf on all areas of the course, so my optimism has just increased by 100%. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of damage from Moncton up to Fredericton, and this is due to fluctuating temperatures during the winter months, and during Spring Thaw. I am hoping that this is not going to be a long-term trend with this area, but I do have a thick head of hair so I can stand tearing out a little bit every year!!!
We currently have 8 temporary greens, of which five (10,11,13,17,18) sustained extensive damage, and three (4,7,16) sustained large, multiple spot damage. All of the greens were over-seeded the first week in May with 007 bentgrass at a cost of $500 per green, however, the cold and dry conditions delayed germination. Over the past few days, the over-seeded areas started coming in fast. We just need a little heat, and things should fill in, but it is weather dependent. In a perfect world, we will be opening all or parts of greens in the next few weeks. Thank you for your patience concerning this issue. Also due to the lousy weather, we have not been able to do some key greens cultural practices, but as the weather improves, we are ready to go at any time to improve the surfaces.
-15 Green: Greg and I met with the owner of the course back in February to discuss a major renovation of the hole to increase visibility, and to raise the green and surrounds around 4 feet. After doing a cost analysis, it was going to cost over $65000 to do this project. Because of the market in the Moncton area, the project has been put on the back-burner, but I have been approved to try to improve the drainage and water movement patterns around the green. At some point, if it ever dries enough, we are going to put drainage into the green, and a couple of drainage basins. This will at least improve the playability of the surface, just not the look of the hole.
At one point it looked like over half of the tees were severely damaged, but as the rains started, a lot of vegetative germination started, and it looks like only a small amount of over-seeding will need to be done. The tees were heavily fertilized last week, and are starting to grow nicely. We will be putting out the divot boxes shortly when our sand dries out a bit.
Probably one of the most frustrating parts of the Spring, so far, was trying to figure out if the damaged areas in the fairways were alive or dead. It looked like there was life but then it would go backward for days. Just recently, over 99% of what looked dead has sprung back to life, so we should be ok. There are a few spots on 1,3, and 4, but they are getting smaller and smaller. Last year we implemented a new fertility program on the fairways and had amazing results when used in conjunction with the aeravator, which is an aggressive vibratory soil loosener the course bought a couple of years ago. We just put a new set of tines on it that will allow the unit to dig-in 3 inches deeper. The fairways will have the first application of fertilizer when we can drive the tractor on them. Please follow the cart rules so the newly growing areas will have a chance to fill in.
I am already seeing a huge amount of young juvenile weeds coming into many areas of the course, and we will be spraying soon. The reason for a large number of incoming weeds has to do with the drought and ice damage over the past few years followed by a really wet Fall. All weeds need is a place to grow, and grow they will. A marking system has been added to the sprayer this year which gives us the ability to spray during times when the morning dew disappears. So, if you see a line of foam balls, that is the marking system. Prostrate Knotweed was a huge problem last year and is already starting. Spraying will be done earlier to take out the juvenile plants, in order to decrease the populations. This weed has become a huge problem in a lot of courses in Atlantic Canada, and it is called an indicator weed. It lets you know that the turf is thin, and the soil is dry and compacted. Its also lets you know you have poor drainage. Thanks, you miserable weed for the education!!!
European Chaffer and Animal Damage:
This Spring, there has been a lot of animal damage to a high point and hill areas. This is basically the result of different animals digging for European Chaffer grubs. Over the past few years, and because of climate change, the insect has been able to move into Atlantic Canada, and just take off like crazy. We will be treating the greens preventatively and will start spot treating this week, if the weather permits, the damaged areas. The damaged areas will also be over-seeded and rolled shortly. We can not afford to spray the whole course since it would exceed $30,000.
The only way to control Geese from using the ponds is to fence the ponds off at a high point, which will make the course unplayable around the pond areas and look awful. This will not control the large flocks from coming into the course in August, and it will not stop the breeders along the stream, and in the woods. Until we are allowed to take drastic measures at this course, we are always going to have geese! We could have one staff member with a dog who does nothing but drive around and chase geese all day, and because the course has a lot of water habitat spread over a large area, the dog would probably quit. I will always look at methods of control that we can try, but from what I have been told, only shooting them is a more permanent solution. As much as the crew and I would enjoy this, it is illegal, and not universally popular with the entire membership.
Over the next few weeks, the course is going to continually improve, and the crew is going to be working hard. The newsletters will be coming in mid-month this year, so please read them!!!! I will have some pictures for the next issue that will show the before and after. Like always, you can contact me anytime, so please feel free to do so, even if it's about your home lawn. Till next time, hopefully when it stops freaking raining!!!