The title of this post comes straight from a question I was asked by a long-time member a couple of days ago. His interest was in what was “the plan” heading into this winter. Given the ice and snow mobile damage we incurred this spring I thought I would provide a short highlight as to what the next month to six weeks has in store from a maintenance standpoint.
While we have made great strides to past couple of seasons in increasing our bentgrass population on our greens. I am not that big of a fool to realize that the Poa is still there, and, on some greens is still the dominant turf species. We have made large strides this season with our practices (smooth rollers, regular light top-dressing, managing water, fertility and disease tolerance). We still need to protect the Poa going into the winter. Here is a great read via Michigan State University and their turfgrass department on winter preparations http://t.co/u7yGWHczGl.
Today was our first time mowing greens since Sunday. We raised the mowing height from our in-season height of .120″ to .140″. Increasing mowing height may not protect the turf from winter damage, but it may allow it to go into winter under less stress;
The Tuesday after Thanksgiving (October 14th) we will be performing our 2nd aeration of 2014. This process will include a 1/2″ solid tine aeration with a walking aerator (3 inch depth), followed by a 2nd 1/2″ aeration with our deep tine aerator (8 inch depth) at a 37 degree angle (thanks to hard work in finding the best angle to do a second aeration by a former US Superintendent Jerry Kershasky) from the first. By doing 2 at once we will be able to add more sand to our profile without the disruption (see the August post on aeration http://wp.me/p1ufSX-sY) of a core aeration. Fresh sand channels produce new roots, and double the holes will provide some surface drainage over the winter. Here is a look at the deep tine work we did earlier this week in a few spots;
We have tentatively scheduled our final greens spray to take place (weather permitting) Monday November 3rd. We will be using the same Premis/Insignia mix of products we used last year. Once this application is completed, a week later we will bury the greens in sand top-dressing. Why bury in sand you ask? Protection is the one and only reason;
A couple of newer measures we are planning on this year include tarping of 3 greens and snow fence around 4-5 greens that have been regular snow mobile targets. While I detest tarps, there are some merits to them. Particularly Midlands 7 and 8 green and the new green at Southern Uplands 2 based on the fact these three greens are the last to melt off all the snow every year. We have three tarps and we incur no expense by using them. Below is a look at a tarpped green for winter protection purposes;
The snow fence will be used on Highlands 4 – 5 and 6, Midlands 6 and possibly Uplands 9. Quite simply the fence will be a visible barrier against anything that attempts to make its way over these greens. Below is a picture from another golf course and their snow fence;
Once again we will also be removing some selective trees around greens this fall. We have contracted out this process to M.C. Tree and they will be starting this process in a couple of weeks. Why more trees? While we have made amazing strides the last 3 winters (Uplands 1 green is the testament of this work!!), there are still shade issues that are affecting greens. This was taken last Saturday afternoon at 2pm;
Above you can see that 3 trees are blocking afternoon fall/winter sunlight to this putting surface. To put it in simple terms, these trees “need to go” to promote healthy turf on this green.
Sadly, as much as many of you are likely sick of hearing this from me. The greatest issue we still face heading into the winter is Mother Nature and the unpredictability of the weather. It is such an unknown and as much as we have planned and tweaked the plan. Chances are we will face some challenges come April. Fingers are crossed that we won’t have issues (the realist in me has a hard time typing this cliché).
As much as we are winding down, in some respects we are really just getting started. Once you factor in this work with our regular maintenance (blowing leaves, once a week mowing, irrigation blowout and cart services). Our small crew has a full plate heading into this 6 week run to the finish line.