Thursday, December 18, 2014

Course Update

Here is a picture of the first tee after a recent storm that had ice coating everything.  As you can see in the picture the only tee that has any standing water is the white tee and most of it is in the back of the tee.  Adding drainage to this area has been on the to do list for some time now.
With the help of some really nice weather on Monday December 15 th we pulled the trigger and decided it was time to get this project going.  We first painted a line where the sod cutter would remove the sod and laid it next to the trench so it would go back in the same spot as before. 
After the crew spent a few hours digging a trench and a mighty good one at that we installed some drainage gravel and pipe.  Once the pipe was covered in gravel we went ahead and put some topsoil and then replaced the sod.
We also had the tree company back in to remove 5 more trees.  Why are removing these trees you ask?  These trees are Austrian Pines and have been diagnosed with diplodia tip blight which have made them decline over the years.  I also would not recommend planting them.  After about 8 years old these trees are very susceptible to diseases and are very costly and tough to control.
The trees that were removed where on holes 1 and 9.  There was one to the left of the path and two past the fairway bunker on hole 1.  The other two were to the left of the left fairway bunker on number 9.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Course Update

 So far it seems that the best golfing days are on Monday's and if it is good for golfing it is really good to get some more cultural practices done before the deep freeze really sets in.  We took advantage of the warm weather on Monday and deep tined the practice green using the "Soil Reliever" to aid in drainage through the winter months and also the 12th fairway.  Even though no carts are allowed on the 12th fairway we still get compaction from mowing.  We were using solid tines that can reach down 6 to 8 inches and even deeper depending on the length of the tine so there was not much disturbance to the surfaces but the roots in the subsurface will greatly benefit from this practice.

Using the soil reliever on the practice green
 This week we also completed our last winterization project by blowing out the irrigation system with an air compressor.  I always try to do this during days when the course is not that busy because it can be noisy and distracting as we move the compressor from hole to hole activating the irrigation heads and listening for air to push any remaining water out of the system. 

We also have made some changes to the tee marker placement on the par 3's for the winter.  We are only keeping the red and white tee markers out and putting them together around the senior yardage since this is an area that does not get that much play in season.  We are doing this so the other areas get a much needed break during the winter.  Also we will be putting out the cupless markers out on the practice green so we can still move them even when the green is frozen and cutting cups cannot happen over an extended period.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Seasonal Changes and Prepping the Course for Winter

We have had some really great weather this year and the fall has been no different. Already there have been some frosts this year and some blasts of really cold weather we are encountering now. These recent cold blasts has put tell us when we need to get certain things done and also when to stop doing others. There are so many things that we have to do to prepare not only the course but also the clubhouse and grounds for the winter. Up to this point we have been busy mulching leaves and trying to keep the playing surfaces free of debris, the tees received a heavy application of topdressing, patio furniture has been stored, the ice and water machine on the back patio has been winterized, the irrigation system has been drained but not blown out yet, the coolers have been brought in during the really cold snaps, the greens received a fungicide application for winter diseases like snow mold and the last cut on the tees, fairways and rough was completed. Even though we are experiencing some unseasonable frigid weather we will not be frozen for long which will allow us to continue to knock out some small projects. We have also cut back on our staffing levels for the winter which brings up some things to consider during this time of year when normal maintenance practices are limited by staffing. One of the most important items to address is raking the bunkers. There are times when the sand in the bunkers is frozen from the really cold temperatures but we always try to keep them raked during the off season when we can. You can help us out by just making sure to rake your footprints after hitting your shot. This picture below is what I do not want to see, after only 3 hours after raking this bunker on the first hole are footprints leading to where this golfer hit their shot and leaving his foot prints not raked.

If you look close you can see footprints starting below and walking towards the center of the bunker.

The sand based bentgrass tees were core aerified again this fall and topdressed and the other tees were just topdressed.  Our main focus was to first do the tees with a high population of bentgrass to help firm them up and dilute thatch.   
During some high winds the old netting on the driving range ripped.
Phil and Mike securing the netting back up.
Tree work on the driving range tee.  The two locusts on the driving range tee had to come down, they were dead and a hazard to anyone hitting balls.

An old pine tree behind 17 blue tee that snapped years ago needed to be removed as well.
This is the pine tree on the left side on 17 fairway.  Finally after removing a dead leader a few years ago the rest of the tree died an needed to be removed. 
White lines painted on the surface roots that need to be removed.



Friday, October 24, 2014

It's starting to look a lot like Fall!

I know it has been a while since my last post but we really did not have a lot projects going on.  With our hands full just mowing grass I wanted to wait until the Men's Member Guest was over before we started do a lot of the cultural practices that we typically do in the fall.  During October we have groomed and topdressed the greens twice after an application of a granular fertilizer.  The tees have all been aerified and select ones were seeded with perennial ryegrass.  The tees that have a lot of bentgrass were verticut in two directions. We were doing well seeding fairways and almost got through the ones that we wanted to seed before our tractor that pulls the seeder had to have a repair done, so we are still waiting to get that back.  The fall annuals were planted around the clubhouse earlier in the month.     Following our second frost of the year we have started to see the leaves really change colors.  This past Wednesday with nearly .8 inches of rain a lot of the leaves and pine needles that are shedding have started to fall.  This is just the beginning of about a 4 to 6 week leaf cleanup season.  While the grass is still growing and our efforts are still focused on mowing which is our first priority and leaves are second, we will do our best to keep them mulched up as best we can.
If you look closely you can see lines of new shoots emerging after grooming the greens.  This is just another tool we use in trying to get the grass to stand up before we mow the green.  Brushing and topdressing are other practices that aid in this as well. 
Here you can see lines of the newly seeded perennial ryegrass growing.  Typically at first until the new grass matures some grows taller than the existing stand of turf.  This will go away as the grass matures and after a few cuts.
Newly planted pansies on the back patio
Some mums added as well
This picture was taken on October 22nd on the 4th green.  I'm not quite sure what has happened here but I know it is not oil or gas.  We are going to keep an eye on this area and plug out any necessary areas that need it.
Here we are verticutting the tees that have a lot of bentgrass growing in them.  We verticut in two different directions to help thin out the thatch which we have a lot of.  After this is completed we mow the tee and back ready for play.  In the near future we will topdress these tees to help firm them up.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bees, Bushogging, Toilets and More.......

Here is a look at the what was causing the toilet to lean in the ladies bathroom.  The joists and wood sub floor is very rotted.  The contractor placed new blocking around the toilet flange and replaced two layers of plywood and a new layer of cement board on top to get ready for tiling.
All complete and back open for business!
Here is a picture of some maintenance we are doing to the sand filter at the back of the driving range.  We have continued to see the filter work correctly since the work was completed.  Our job is to keep it looking as good as we can between inspections and to do the necessary work that the county requests when they perform the inspections which are done every three years.  Our next inspection is scheduled between January 1st 2015 and March 1st 2015.
Here is a look at a good size bald face hornets nest we had to remove from the bushes along the stairs leading to the green on hole 13.  Bald face hornets are actually a beneficial insect but because of the location of the nest it was necessary to remove it.
The naturalized areas are starting to be bushogged throughout the course.
About 2 weeks ago we were able to have all of the lights in every building changed over to LED.  This program that PEPCO was offering will help them lower their energy needs and lower our own electricity consumption and hopefully our bill!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Greens Aerification Update

This week we have completed our second aerification to all of the greens.  The weather also held up well for us with some cloud cover that keeps the stress levels of this operation minimal.  We started on Monday August 18th and went ahead and completed the practice green to get that one out of the way and to give the new guys a chance to see what this operation is all about.   We also used a smaller hole or tine size this time on all the greens which will help with the healing process.  Even though every Superintendent has different methods they use during aerification and constraints here is a brief list of the different steps we perform during our aerification. 
 1. We apply a granular fertilizer about 5days prior to aerification to get the grass growing.
 2. We spray the greens four days prior with plant protectants, bio-stimulants and wetting agents. 

 3. We mow the green to get the dew off so it helps with drying the surface.
 4. The aerifier starts to aerify the green.
 5. Cores are cleaned off with blowers and picked up.
 6. The greens are rolled.
 7. Topdressing sand is applied to fill the holes and smooth our the surface.
 8. The topdressing sand is dragged in using a brush towed behind a cart.
 9. Calcium and magnesium amendments are applied.
10. Green is watered.
11. A new pin location is cut ready for play the next day.
 Below is a brief video that explains why we need to aerate.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Course Update

A new fixture has been placed at the stairs by the green on hole 13.  A very generous member brought this to be mounted to let everyone know when the green is clear and they can hit up.  Mr. Pellerite, first off Thank You Very Much.  But I do have one question, I just have to know how long did you sit in front of your computer searching for this perfect bell.
This last project is finally underway at the cart storage building.  Here is a picture of what is left after the old wooden fence has been removed.  The old wooden fence is being replaced with a new vinyl tan fence that will give our curb appeal a big lift.


Wow! What a difference a new fence can make.  Now we just have to hope that the cart staff can keep from hitting it with the golf carts as they are cleaning up the carts.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Course Update

Here is an example of a tissue test that we perform on several greens every three weeks during the summer.  This one is a report of #1 green.  If you look to the left you can see the elements that we are testing and the middle column shows our results and the finally the far right shows the range or target values for bentgrass.  You can see we are only really short in phosphorus by a hair which gets tied up in the soil easily. Potassium is the other we are short in which leaches very easily with rain.  We are constantly spraying potassium or applying granular applications to make sure we are giving the plant what it needs to keep it happy.
You probably have noticed some weeds on the course that are "bleaching" or turning white.  This is happening because of a new herbicide that we have sprayed in the roughs and a couple of fairways to rid the golf course of a couple of weeds that we have not been able to control in the past.  Weeds like dallisgrass, nimblewill, bermuda and goosegrass are just some of the tough to kill weeds that this new product works well on.   This new product came out last year and even though the bleaching is distracting to the eye I assure you that it is doing exactly what it is supposed to do which is inhibiting carotenoid biosynthesis and then they start turning white because of chlorophyll loss.  Soon after this the weeds die.
It is nice to see roots this length during summer.  Now I wish I could say that all the roots are this long consistently every where on the greens but usually that is not the case.  It is also good to see the the sand particles sticking to the root hairs on this profile as well and not falling off.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Finally a Nice Break in the Weather!

        It's nice to see the weather change for the good once in a while and to get the temperatures we are getting now in the middle of July, I don't think anyone can complain.  We have received just over 3 inches of rain in week with some pretty unbearable humidity.  The course overall held up well and we got some much needed rain out of the storms that swept across the Mid-Atlantic states.  Along with the rain came some very cool unseasonal temperatures that allowed us to get some much needed work done.  The weeds in the rough have been a priority of mine for a long time but until last year there wasn't a product on the market to allow me to spray the tough to kill weeds like nimblewill and dallisgrass that I wanted too, and we needed some cooler weather and moisture in the ground to alleviate any injury to our grass in the rough.  Now we are going full speed in trying to "weed out" the roughs.  We were also able to get a light topdressing on the greens this week to help smooth the surface out a bit.  The venting process has continued to occur on the tee box on 14 and the practice green.  With the amount of rain and humidity we encountered the aerifier was sent out to solid tine the new tee and practice green on 1.5 inch centers.  You will have to look close to see the holes but I promise they are there.  The red rock path leading to the back patio had some work done as well.  The second step leading to the back patio was leaning causing a trip hazard so we dug it up and leveled it.  The the red rocks were raked back up that were washed down from the heavy rains we have had.
During the heat and lack of rain when the grass wasn't growing as much we started bunker edging a few weeks ago.  It is a long process but the end product looks great!  We will continue to keep knocking them off one by one until we get them all finished.

Safety first!  Here we are touching up the yellow caution stripes on the steps leading to the back patio.  Our first concern is that everyone is always safe at Montgomery Country Club.
Here we are venting the practice green with a 8 mm solid tine that goes down about 3 inches.  We aerified the  green in a 1.5" x 2" spacing to create lots of little holes for good oxygen exchange.  Since this green is not sand based like the others on the course and does not have any internal drainage installed it is important the we create air channels to promote this oxygen exchange to create a healthier plant.
This tree on hole 7 will be probably taken down in the fall of this year.  The reason is it creates a double hazard from the fairway bunker which is unfair.  Knowing that this locust tree will continue to get bigger and be more penal in the future it will have to be removed.  Not only knowing what kind of trees to plant but also where to plant them is just as important.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A look behind the setup of the fireworks!

Here you can see the technician dropping the shell into the tube.  The biggest shell we shoot off is 4 inches, this one looks about 3 inches.  The tubes are made to unwind like a toilet paper roll if the shell happens to explode inside the tube so there is not debris that blows up like a pipe bomb.
Here is the setup for the grand finale.  All of these tubes will have fireworks loaded into them.  Each section has about 10 fireworks that are strung together so they light off quickly one after another.
Here is a overall picture of almost the entire show being setup.  The gentleman in the background next to the cart path is getting the fireworks ready that shoot off rapidly about 50 feet into the air. 
Here are the fireworks being loaded into the tubes.  Each one is placed in a tube with the fuse out and are all ignited by hand.
Here they are getting everything setup.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A few thoughts ...........

I think the sign says it all.
It is that time of the year to start putting down your grub control.  Here is a picture of a Northern Masked Chafer beetle looking for a happy place to lay some eggs if she has been mated.  Once she lays the eggs they will hatch after a few weeks if the soil moisture is good.   Then the larvae will start to come up to eat the grass roots.
Here is a picture of a new herbicide that came out last year that we have began to use.  It is called Pylex.  We are focusing our attention to specific weeds that have bee very hard to control in the past like nimblewill and dallisgrass.  Being an old golf course we have a little of everything out here and will be doing spot treatments as the weather allows.  This application was put out before we really started to get dry in the roughs and now we need more rain to help get some more soil moisture in the ground before we continue.  This will allow for better uptake of the herbicide and also limit some of the injury to the turfgrass.  We did the entire left side of the cart path on hole 13 and the right side of 10 cart path.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Course Update

The new tee on 14 has started to develop some black layer in the sod line.  This is limiting air into the root zone and some decline has already started to show in the roots with some yellowing of the turf.  You can notice the red arrow pointing to the black layer just below the sod but the tee mix we used is untouched.  The sandy soil that came with the sod has started to seal off the oxygen to the roots.  To cover all the basis with recovery of we started to aerify the tee box this past Monday and then followed this with some plant protectants to help keep the roots free of any soil diseases like summer patch which bluegrass loves to get when it gets hot.

We stared to aerify the new tee on 14 Monday June 16th after last weeks excessive rain to allow for some air movement into the root zone.  We did it again on Wednesday with some larger solid tines to really get some air in there.  Now we just need to get the air to blow back there and keep it dry.
Here is one of those things that we sometimes just find on the course first thing in the morning.  On Friday June 20th we were making our rounds checking things out when we found this pine tree that had fallen between the 5th and 15th tees.  It looks like the wind just blew it over.  Looking a little closer at the trunk which seemed to be rotten finally gave away and succumbed to mother nature.  After the guys finished bunkers we got right out and cleaned up the debris.
The front entrance work has started.  A stone veneer product is being installed about waist high to the left and right of the front door.  Once this is complete the siding workers will come back and finish installing the siding and trim at the front entrance.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


These little critters that the red arrows are pointing to are called Annual Bluegrass Weevil.  This pest has been around for a few years and been difficult to control because of how may generations they have which is up to five in a season.  This past Sunday I was looking at the poa annua in the 7th fairway and noticed how the poa seemed to be stressed even though the ryegrass seemed fine.  Thinking this was more than drought stress I started to do a little digging.  After cutting out a section of turf they were easily noticeable.  They are currently in the larvae stage that you see now.  Typically in Spring the adults emerge from their winter hideouts and start finding some prime areas to lay their eggs. They munch on the stems and crowns of the plant which cause the turf to look drought stressed unless you look closer.  Now that we know we have them we will be adding additional control measures into our agronomic plan for next year to make sure when get the best control at the best time no matter what stage this bug is in.
On Monday we went ahead and sprayed an insecticide on the 7th fairway and the perimeter to knock down any of the ABW (annual bluegrass weevil) that we could.  Since we are going after the larvae stage of the ABW we to water this product in to kill them.