Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chipping Green Renovation Finally Complete

We have been working this summer to renovate and improve our short game practice area and today we were able to put the finishing touches on it.

This afternoon we removed the area at the bottom of the green and sodded it with new 419 bermudagrass.  We had hoped to carry the putting surface farther down the hill but the slope created issues with drainage and traction of the equipment used to maintain the green.

Since we have not had the greatest grow in weather this summer for the turfgrass we have a few thin areas on the green.  Willie and Jonathen took viable plugs from the area we were removing and placed them in the greens surface.  This will help the putting surface heal in quicker and be better for practice.

Once all the plugs were moved and the sod laid the area was cleaned up and watered.

It will take a couple of weeks to get the new sod and plugs to knit together and then we will have a vastly improved short game practice area from what we did just a few short months ago.

Special thanks to all the Bear Trace staff for all their hard work and for our friends at Champion Turf Farms for providing us with the sprigs.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The TOUR Championship 2013

 I once again this week had the privilege of volunteering for The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.  The hospitality shown by Ralph Kepple, CGCS and his staff, including assistants Kyle Johnson and Shaune Achurch was great.  They genuinely enjoy having the volunteers around and are more than willing to answer any question thrown their way.

This year was my fourth year volunteering and it was made even better by my good friend Gary Weller of Council Fire Golf Club, who I worked for for several years, join me in the fun.  Everyone works hard but we still have a great time. 
I have always loved being on a golf course early in the morning when the sun is rising and being at East Lake early is no different.  Everything is so well maintained and manicured, it is just amazing to see in person.

 Here is an early morning shot of the bunker raking crew getting a tutorial on how to properly rake bunkers the way the Tour officials want them done.

Great pains are taken to get the bunkers just right with some of them raked several times so that you don't hear the dreaded, "RERAKE ON HOLE #12" come over the radio.

In the afternoons the bunkers are watered down and packed with a squeegee roller to make sure they are firm and consistent.  The caddies at East Lake take care of the bunkers during the tournament and they did a fantastic job of making sure the bunkers could pass the test of the world's best golfers.

One of the best parts of volunteering at East Lake, besides getting to eat Allen Weed's gourmet hamburgers, is the new people you get to meet.  I had the pleasure of working with Billy Bagwell of Callawassie Island Club in Okatie, SC for both days.  Billy (in hat) is talking with a gentlemen from the Turfgrass Department of The University of Georgia as he is taking firmness readings of the green. 

Of course Tour players like the greens to be firm and fast so they can sink those 30+ foot putts.  One of the determining factors in how well the greens perform for the players is the amount of moisture in the greens surface.  Too much moisture and the greens become soft and slow, too little moisture and they turn into bricks and even the best golfer can't stop a shot on them.  To the right Assistant in Training Ben Thompson is checking the moisture of the greens with the TDR 300 moisture meter.

The desired amount of moisture in the greens varied from day to day depending on the weather forecasted and what the tournament officials wanted.  Based on the desired reading Ben used different numbers of marking flags to pin point areas on the greens which needed additional water.  With this marking technique, which we are going to incorporate into our process, only the areas that need water get it.

After Ben had checked all of the green and flagged it so he wouldn't have to remember exactly which area of the green needed how much water he went through and watered only those areas for only a specific amount of time.

End result...firm, fast, beautiful greens.  Not all thanks to Ben's handy work but he did his part.

The afternoon cleanup of the golf course consisted of mowing the fairways and walkways as well as rolling the greens.  The fairway mowers are set with a slow forward speed to increase the clip rate giving the zoysia fairways a super tight cut.  Line them up and let them eat.

This is a close up picture of some of the turfgrass mowed at East Lake.  If you think it is a picture of a putting surface you would be incorrect.  This is the fine cut of the fairway grass following the afternoon cut.   So sweet!!!

I loved this shot of the head equipment technician setting the heights and contact on all the greens, tees, and approach mowers during the mid morning break.  Looked like a row of soldiers all lined up getting their marching orders for the next day.

At a golf club like East Lake it is all about the fine details of the property.  Although the turfgrass gets most of the glory on the course I was very impressed with the landscaping and the attention to detail in the out of the way areas.  No stone is left unturned and no bed is left unmulched to produce the championship product.  Details. Details. Details.

I got a good laugh out of the distance the marketing people went to brand everything on the course with the Coke logo. After all the tournament is presented by Coca-Cola.

My last job for this year at East Lake was to put, what I think are some of the coolest tee markers in golf today, out.  What better way to brand the tournament than with these great tee markers.
Thanks again to the East Lake Agronomy Staff!!!
See you next year!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 University of Tennessee Field Day

The University of Tennessee Turfgrass Research Team put on a fantastic Field Day on Thursday at the East Tennessee Experiment and Research Center just up the road for The University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus.  The research center is used to experiment with different chemicals and fertilizers as well as new plant species while using various techniques and practices to find out what works best.

They had a great turnout with around 500 attendees from Tennessee and surrounding states coming to see what the UT Turf Team has discovered.  This was my first year being able to attend the Field Day or go to the research center and I have to say I was incredibly impressed.  Dr. Jim Brosnan and all the people involved in the Field Day did an amazing job.

Here is Dr. John Sorochan, UT Turf professor, giving a detailed description of an experiment he is working on to determine the best possible distance behind the center of the reel that the bedknife should be located to get the proper cut on turfgrass.  As always it is the details that set us apart from others and Dr. Sorochan is trying to find that one extra thing.  Very interesting concept.

Here is my very dear friend Dr. Tom Samples, another great UT turf professor, getting ready to discuss the native grass trial they have been working on to find new ways of reducing the amount of turfgrass maintained on golf courses and to eliminate the cost of doing so in both fuel and manpower.  Dr. Tom gave us many great examples of native grass species which work great on golf courses.  Expect to see some of the popping up at Harrison Bay in the near future.


Dr. Jim Brosnan, detailed the new herbicide treatment trials they have been working on and discussed the various rates and timing of the products as well as how the height of the cut of the turfgrass worked to influence the effectiveness of the application.  It is great to be able to see how certain weeds are controlled based on the amount of product used and the different products which are out there.  Without research centers such as the ETERC the new chemical technology and the new practices or application timings would not be available for us as superintendents to make the golf courses better.

It wasn't all play at the Field Day for us though.  The Tennessee Turfgrass Association was in full force at the Field Day where we were trying to raise money through our on-site raffle to support the UT Turf Foundation.  We are very grateful to all our vendors and sponsors who donated products or services which were given away during lunch. 

Here is Mr. Bob McCurdy, TTA president, presenting Dr. Brosnan with a check for over $1,300.00 from TTA from this years raffle proceeds.  Thanks to all of our friends who came by and purchased a raffle ticket.  You have really helped out the UT Foundation with your generoucity. 

I would be remise if I didn't tell you about the TTA social at Barley's pizzeria the night before the Field Day.  We had a great turnout with around 50 people showing up.  Great pizza and great conversation was had among friends and new acquaintances and we hope to continue to grow the TTA Social each year just as the Field Day grows.

If you missed the 2013 Field Day for some reason then you really missed a fun and informative day.  I was pleased to see Bill Brown, CGCS at the Field Day since we had not had any time to get together since our days on the GCSAA Certification Committee several years ago.  Bill has recently left the dreary, dull world of being a golf course superintendent and has launched his own company Turf Republic which specializes in social media and technology to help get the word out about what people in the turfgrass industry are up to.  For those who missed the Field Day or need a way to justify why you are wanting to go next year, Bill has a great website developed 2103 Tennessee Turf Field Day where you can see some of what all went on. As I said the UT Turf Team did a great job of putting on the Field Day and I will most definitely return each year from here on out.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Venting Aerification Planned for Next Week

We will be performing our monthly venting aerification of the putting greens on Tuesday and Wednesday of this upcoming week.  It will be the same process that we did in August but we will apply a light coating of topdressing sand directly following the work so they will be even better.  The results of the solid tine venting were great last month with extremely minimal disruption to the putting surface.  We will be using the same tines as last month which are 1/4" solid tines, about the size of a regulation tee. 

The USGA has created a great video webcast detailing the importance and procedure of venting aerification and I encourage you to take a look at it.