Monday, April 20, 2015

4/20/15 Golf Course Update

Spring is upon us and I am long overdue for an update on the golf course, its conditions and how we are transitioning out of winter.  Spring is a very busy time of year and sometimes I forget to make time for the communication that is vital.


On April 6th and 7th we aerified all the greens on the golf course.  As is typical for the spring aerification, we dodged raindrops almost the entire process but were able to get everything accomplished in the two days.  The finished product turned out very well and set us up for a quick recovery of the holes.

This year we stopped our aerifiers short of going into the collars in an attempt to put less stress on the bermudagrass collars that struggle every spring from the cold of winter.  After all of the greens were aerified, cleaned up and rolled once, we verticut the greens to stand up any laterally growing bentgrass before we topdressed.  This process helps to control grain and keep balls rolling true once the green is healed up. 
As of today, the greens are healing slower than we had planned.  This can be directly attributed to the cool, cloudy and wet weather that we have been experiencing since the greens were aerified.  The sunlight and warmth that we have been lacking would certainly have stimulated growth and we would be farther along in recovery.
We topdressed again this past Monday with a finer sand to smooth the surface in preparation for the upcoming tournaments.  Our next step is to begin to work the mowing heights down and get the green speeds up!
Irrigation Breaks
This spring we have been plagued by a number of mainline breaks in our irrigation system.  These are very time consuming to repair and often very messy.  When these breaks occur along our mainline, it typically will shut down the water supply to at least that hole and often several others.  Because of this, it is very important to get them repaired quickly and correctly.

Tifsport Bermudagrass and the Driving Range Tee
The most frequent comment that I have been hearing over the last week is concern over the bermudagrass in the fairways and on the driving range tee.  There are many areas that appear to not be coming back from dormancy.  It is still a bit early to make the determination on whether or not those areas are going to green up.  To date we have had one day at Hasentree where the temperature has been over 85 degrees.  Most days have been in the upper 60's to low 70's.  On top of that we have had extended periods of cloudy, cool and rainy weather.  All of these factors affect soil temperature.  Soil temperature is the biggest driving force in bermudagrass green-up. 
For TifSport bermudagrass (the cultivar of grass on much of our fairways, tees and rough) growth is initiated at a soil temperature of 65 degrees.  This morning I took several measurements of the soil temps and they were in the mid 60's (65-66 degrees).  The exposure of the slope that the grass is on has an effect as well.  Southern facing slopes are heating up faster than those that face the north.  The pictures below illustrate that very well. 
These pictures were taken from the same spot at the bottom of the approach on hole #18.  The picture on top is the southern facing approach, while the one on the bottom is further back toward the tee by 50 yards.  That slope faces north and does not receive the direct heating from the suns rays as the southern slope does.
The TifSport bermudagrass that we have at Hasentree is very unique to us.  There is only one other course in the Raleigh area (Garner) that has it and beyond that you would need to head toward Pinehurst to find another one.  The major difference between TifSport and the more typical 419 bermudagrass at most other local clubs is the fact that it is 2-3 weeks slower to green up.  While some of the 419 courses (Brier Creek and Wakefield for example) are almost completely green, we are still seeing areas that appear more dormant than not.
There is a dramatic color difference throughout the golf course just from late last week to this morning.  I fully expect that greening trend to continue as the soil temperatures climb in the areas that still appear to be dormant.
There has also been a tremendous explosion of poa annua in our fairways this past winter and early spring.  This is not surprising to me as poa thrives in cold wet conditions and we are not alone as many other local clubs are fighting the same issues.  Typically our pre-emergent spray in January would eliminate any of these winter weeds that pop up as we include glyphosate in the mix since the bermudagrass is still dormant.  This year was difficult as most of January and early February there was snow and ice on much of the course.  This was then followed by cold wet rains that continue to hinder us today.  Because our spray was delayed, I feel that the poa had germinated (thus being unaffected by the pre-emergent) but was still not visible at the top of the turf canopy (therefore being untouched by the glyphosate). 
We have purchased products to spray out the poa annua populations and should be getting that out soon, weather dependent.  The spray must dry on the plant in order to work, therefore rain will delay these applications.
Range Tee
There has been much talk about the range tee and why it wasn't overseeded and whether or not the bermudagrass is coming back there as well.
The bermudagrass is in the same situation as the grass throughout the golf course, it needs warmth and some good dry sunny days.  There is green tissue in most of the areas that I inspected this morning.  We fertilized the tee last week and plan to do so again early next week to continue to push growth and green-up.
As for overseeding, we have not overseeded the range tee in 5 years.  There are many reasons that I feel overseeding is not the right practice for The Hasentree Club.
  1. Overseeding delays the green-up of the bermudagrass in the spring.  The overseeded ryegrass shades the bermudagrass in the spring and inhibits it from being warmed by the suns rays. We have seen that, on average at Hasentree, that the tee greens up several weeks sooner than it used to when it was overseeded.
  2. In order to overseed, the range tee would need to be closed down for 2-3 weeks in September in order to allow the ryegrass to germinate and establish.  At this point in the year, the golf course is at its busiest and the bermudagrass range tee is still actively growing and thriving.
  3. The process of removing the ryegrass in the spring, after the bermudagrass begins to grow, is detrimental to the bermudagrass as well.  TifSport is sensitive to herbicide applications and would be tinged off color during the transition.
  4. During the late fall and winter months, the overseeded tee would require us to shut the tee down for frost delays.  Without being overseeded, we are able to let members and their guests out of the range tee to hit balls earlier while the frost burns off the rest of the course.
We are beginning to map out areas where the collars around the greens didn't fare so well through the winter.  These are not new issues that we face on the collars and we have had to do sod work every year since Hasentree opened.  It is a common ailment of courses in the southeast that have bentgrass greens and bermudagrass surrounds. 
Over the past few years we have been able to reduce the areas that were affected by the winter cold, through a variety of management practices aimed at keeping the traffic off the collars once they go dormant.  In the fall we typically implement a greens mowing/rolling plan to take some of the wear and traffic off of the collars.  We stop having our rollers go through the collar but rather have them stop on the green to begin their next pass.  We also reduce the number of mowings to avoid having the mowers turning on the collars.
I am afraid that due to severity of the cold temperatures, frozen precipitation and the lack of warm weather this spring, that we will be looking to replace/re-sod more areas this year than the past 2-3.  When we begin resodding some of these collars it will most likely start in mid-May.  We must wait for the collars that are going to grow out of winter to become strong enough for us to work on the areas that need replacing.  If we start too early we risk damaging more areas than we need to.
As always, please reach out to me if I have not addressed your concerns or questions.  I would be more than happy to add additional information.  I will also be updating this site more frequently as we transition out of dormancy.  I can be reached at


Monday, November 17, 2014

Making Our Bridges Safer

One of the most common issues we hear about lately is that the bridges on the golf course are slippery for walkers when they are damp.  We have a total of seven bridges on the golf course and all but one are almost entirely in the shade. Because the bridges don't get a lot of sunlight they will often remain wet well into the day.

All of the bridges are constructed with marine grade treated lumber so the moisture does not affect their structural integrity.  What does happen when the bridges remain damp, however, is that they will develop a film of algae on them.  This algae can be slippery and will also allow dirt a debris to accumulate on the bridge as well.  All of this can lead to a potentially slippery surface, especially in golf shoes.

In researching a solution to the problem I looked into several different materials and methods for creating a non-slip surface on the bridges. One popular material is a 3M product called PEM matting.  This is a product that is commonly used in pool bathroom and locker facilities.  The PEM matting seemed to be the most common material, however the courses that I visited that had their bridges equipped with this material the matting looked faded and frayed on the edges after several years.

Another material that was available was a paint with textured grip mixed in. These products would have worked but I would have needed ideal weather conditions to ensure they would adhere and turn out the way they are supposed to.  We would also struggle to keep cart traffic off the bridges while the paint dried.

The product that I decided on turned out to be the simplest method available.  We decided to go wit a 6"x24" tread sticker that fit perfectly on the 8" decking boards of our bridges.  With close to 600' of bridges, we had to order 850 of these treads.  The material is a rubber sticker with a heavy grit "sandpaper" texture on it.  The adhesive is very strong and should have no trouble sticking to the bridges.

The first step in the process was to pressure wash the entire bridge.  This removed all of the algae and dirt that had accumulated on the bridge surface.  The bridges looked almost new again after pressure washing!  This will certainly become a process that we do more frequently, not just for aesthetics but the freshly pressure washed bridges had noticeably more traction than before.

After pressure washing, we had to let the bridge completely dry before we could affix the treads. For most of the bridges we were able to snap a chalk line to use as a guide because the bridges are straight.  Having that guide line sped the process up considerably.

To date we have about half of the bridges completed (#4, #14 and #16).  We will complete the remaining bridges as the weather allows.  The forecast this week is for wet, followed by extremely cold conditions. We will complete #6,  #9 and #12 as soon as we can.

The tread stickers are very practical as well, if one becomes damaged we can simply replace it with a new one rather than having to patch it back together or replace a long stretch of matting.

I have already heard very positive feedback on how well the treads improve traction!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall Annual Color

As the weather turns colder and the leaves begin to turn and fall, we know that it is time to pull the summer annual flowers that we planted and replace them with fall pansies and violas.  The frost kills the summer flowers but the cold weather has less of an effect on fall annuals such as pansies, violas and ornamental cabbage.

This fall, we decided to go with all violas to replant the beds at the FAC, traffic circle and golf cottage.  Violas tend to stand more upright once we get into winter and not get flattened out by the freezing temperatures like pansies do.  In addition, violas are less prone to being eaten and trampled by neighborhood deer.

We still cover the flowers with black plastic netting to keep the deer away from them.  We want to ensure that the flowers don't get eaten when the deer start foraging late in the winter.

Next year we are excited to add significantly more color and annuals to the front of the brand new clubhouse!  It should be a great addition to the facilities here at Hasentree!

Ladies Member Guest

Last Friday The Hasentree Club hosted our Fall Ladies Member Guest. The weather was fantastic.  We had the largest field we have had to date to make the event even better!

We added potted mums to the forward tees this year to denote the tee position for the ladies event!

You couldn't have asked for a prettier fall day in North Carolina!  Temperatures warmed up into the low 70's and there wasn't a cloud int eh sky!