Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring Activities

 This past winter was tough for all of us and most Minnesotans, no matter how hardy, could not wait for winter to end.  If you thought it was a hard winter for you, I'm sure you've noticed many of the evergreen plants had an even tougher winter.  Yews, arborvitae and pine trees show significant signs of winter desiccation throughout the region.  The trees and shrubs on the golf course were no exception.

 It's obvious from the photos both the yews and arborvitae endured significant winter damage. The weather showed no mercy.  It didn't matter if the shrubs were young or mature and established, it was all susceptible to winter injury. Damaged plant material has been removed and will be replaced with hardier shrubs that are not as susceptible to winter desiccation or are a favorite for the deer buffet.

Following the restoration 11 years ago, it's been our goal to maintain the original design and intent of the bunkers designed by architect Ron Prichard.  Mr. Prichard stressed the importance of maintaining a laced edge appearance to the bunkers which provide a classic architecture design.  In order for us to ensure we follow through with this objective, we have never in the past 11 years, mechanically edged the bunkers.  In fact this is only the 6th time in the past 11 years bunkers have been edged.  Based on the design and our method of edging we only need to implement this task every other year.  

What's also interesting about our process and they way the bunkers were designed, even after we edge, the edge of the bunker doesn't appear that we did anything.  Using only a four pronged pitchfork, the individual edging simply finds the soil line and rips the sod from the edge.  One of the goals in the process is to completely avoid edging too deep outward from sand, which would place the pitchfork into the soil.  If that happens, we have just contaminated the sand with soil and that would be a big mistake.  Additionally there are many bunker lips on the face side of the bunker that have never been edged as the grass is not creeping into the sand.  These areas are not to be touched and would only ruin the edge of the bunker and ultimately create contamination.  

Aeration of playing surfaces is now complete.  Fairways aeration was completed just little over 2 weeks ago. This spring fairways were once again solid tine aerated.  This marked the 6th consecutive year when we have not needed to core aerate fairways.  Solid tine aeration, like core aeration, reduces compaction and allows for oxygen to reach the roots.  It also provides excellent channels for water infiltration.  Over the past 6 years we been able to convert our fairways back to predominately creeping bentgrass.  Since creeping bentgrass favors a less disturbed surface, this process has been instrumental in the conversion .  

The bentgrasses on our fairways consist of a wide variety of old grasses that probably date back as much as 80 years.  These old varieties do not require much fertility and since we keep fertility rates low, the plants also do not create a lot of thatch.  If and when we feel we have reached a level of thatch that needs to be removed, at that time we can certainly bring core aeration back into the mix of cultural practices. Until that time arrives we will continue to solid tine aerate the fairways.  

 This past Monday and Tuesday greens and tees were also aerated and topdressed.  The process went extremely smooth and the staff did an outstanding job completing the process in just two days.  I expect the greens to be fully healed by next week. At that time we will begin to lower the height-of-cut on greens, bringing them into summer playing condition.

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