An inside look at Windermere Turf Maintenance. Our goal is to provide you with up to date information about course conditions and ongoing projects.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tee and Fairway Aerification...

With the course being closed this week for fumigation of the Greens, we took full advantage of the opportunity to aerify Tees, Fairways, and Approaches. We have been very fortunate this Spring to have some great playing surfaces and we decided to further enhance them by reliving compaction through an aggressive aerification. On the Tees, we used our Toro ProCore 648 and used a .625" inside diameter tine on a 2.5" by 2" spacing. Once we aerified the Tees, we used metal drag mats to break up the cores and allow the river sand to follow back into the holes and also smooth out any imperfections in the surface while leaving the thatch on top of the surface to be blowed into the Roughs. We try to aerify Tees every year but this year we made a strong effort to finish them in one day, it took our staff approximately one and half days to complete Tees. We have a goal of aerifying the Tees one more time prior to the opening of the Greens, probably around the week after the 4th of July.

Our Fairways have been amazing this Spring and we decided to pull the trigger and get them aerified this week also. It still amazes our staff that the Fairways have not been aerified in at least 5 years, yet they still look great and drain fairly quickly considering the clay soils. We aerified these with a PTO driven John Deere 1500 and we went with a .750" inside diameter tine on a 3" by 3" spacing. The tine we used is called a "Green Bay" tine, as it is designed for the frozen tundra and other extremely dense soils. it has a wall thickness of .25" and is extremely durable. We have approximately 25 Acres of Fairways and our staff managed to aerify and clean up all of these surface in two full days. We used a metal drag mat on these surfaces as well, but once we separated the thatch from the clay we used a Toro 4500 with mulching blades to mulch and disperse the remaining soil. It was a very dusty and dirty job but it should help our Fairways out immensely.  We are planning on aerifying all Fairways again in early July and hope to make this a annual practice and not a special event.

Here is a picture of Israel beginning the aerification process on #1 Tee.

Here is a close up of the material that was pulled up on Tees. You will notice that the majority of the material on the surface is thatch as the river sand base has already fallen back into the aerification hole.

This is the two tractors in the beginning process of aerifying #4 Fairway. The yellow flags that you see are for marking irrigation heads or valves, drain basins, and granite yardage markers.

Here is an example of the common aerification core that we removed from the Fairways, it is easy to notice the clay soils at the bottom of the core and the thatch at the top of the core.

Here is our staff pulling the metal drag mats behind the carts to help disperse and break up the material.

This is the product prior to being blown off, with the forecasted rains and our fertility application next week we should see full recovery from this aerification in 10 to 14 days.

With the short grass verification completed, we will focus our efforts on aerifying the Roughs in between the cart paths and the Fairways and Greens. These are always so compacted due to the volume of carts that move through the property. We hope to finish these by Friday afternoon. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments. Thank you for taking a moment to read about our efforts to improve the conditions of Windermere Golf Club.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Strippers Bare All on the Greens...

I am not sure what you were expecting to see, but I am talking about stripping the thatch layer off of Greens in preparation for Mini Verde sprigs in less than two weeks. Our process evolved as the week progressed with our initial plan of a Deep Tine Aerification, followed by a double aerification using a 5/8" tine, then aggressively verticutting to remove as much thatch as possible, and finally rolling to smooth the surface. Everything was going great until we began verticutting and literally chunks of our 5/8" thick mat of thatch were coming up and other sections were still intact. After lengthy discussions about the cause and what to do going forward, we decided it was best to completely remove the entire thatch layer with a Sod Cutter and shovels.

Here is a picture of the sunrise that greeted us on Tuesday morning and we thought we were in store for a great week.

As the sun crested the horizon we began our process of deep tining to alleviate any layering within the soil profile that could create drainage issues over time. We used a tine that was 3/4" X 10" on 4" centers. Here is the machine on #1 Green.

Once the above process was finished on a green we began our double aerification of Greens using the Toro ProCore 648 with a Turfpride Core Collector, this combination may be the biggest improvement in our industry in many years. We used a 5/8" inside diameter tine on 2" centers, but going two directions allowed us to effectively remove 31% of the thatch layer. Our staff is aerifying #1 Green the second direction in the picture below.

For optimal effectiveness we try to offset our second direction by 35 degrees. Here is a picture of the greens after the deep tine and two directions of aerification.

Once we reached this process we rolled the Greens with our Salsco Roller and then used a 3 ton steel drum roller to firm the surface as we were about to verticut the remaining thatch layer. When we began the verticutting process our goal was to remove as much of the material as possible without have any voids in the thatch layer. The voids would create a large variation in the playability of the Greens as certain areas might be firmer or softer than other areas. Here is Zach Abernathy verticutting #3 Green, this is where we decided we have to do something drastic to fix the issue for the short and long term.

Our solution, strip the sod with a Sod Cutter and let all see the Greens while they are completely bare of a thatch layer. This was a very grueling task as we measured the weight of several 1 square foot areas and the average weight per area was 20 ounces. This does not seem like much but when you multiply that by 117,000 square feet, our staff shoveled 234,000 pounds of thatch off of the greens. This will allow is to begin the renovation process with 100% of the thatch removed, which is the most ideal situation for our club and the Greens for the future. Here is #13 Green prior to running the Sod Cutter.

Here is a photo of the same Green approximately halfway through using the Sod Cutter to separate the thatch layer from the original sand/peat mix that will encompass the Green and Tournament Collar.

Here is our staff shoveling the material during the clean up process, it took on average 1.8 man hours per 1000 square feet to clean up and haul the material away.

Once the material was removed we used our verticutter to smooth any flaws in the surface prior to rolling the Green. The verticutter was set at 1/8" below the surface to aid in soften the surface. Here is Tim Murdock on #13 Green.

We finished off the process by using a 3 ton vibratory steel drummed roller that we rented. This will smooth and compact the surface to ensure there is no settling once the sprigs are in place and we have begun the grow in process.

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and we hope that we did not disappoint you by the title of today' blog. Remember, you can never judge a blog by its title. Please feel free to ask any questions and we will continue to update our Twitter account @WindermereTurf daily so feel free to follow us on there.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

518 Man Hours of...

Last Sunday's rainfall event that totaled 7.1" took its toll on the golf course and on our staff. We spent 518 man hours to clean up silt that overflowed from creeks, restore Bunkers, and remove debris that washed on to our property from who knows where. The entire staff worked extremely hard and diligently to restore the course and to begin prepping for the upcoming week's aerification on the Greens that will officially begin the Greens Conversion. Here are a few pictures that you can compare to last Sundays pictures.

This picture is looking from #17 cartpath towards #17 Tee on the left and #12 Green on the right. This is the standard look that one would see from this view.

This is the same area last Sunday morning during the 7.1" rain event.

This is #6 cartpath as you approach the Green and Bunkers, this was taken on Thursday as we slowly progressed through the course clean up.

Here is the same area from last Sunday, there was approximately 8" to 12" of silt on the cartpath and surrounding turf.

I mentioned above that we began prepping the course for next week's Greens aerification which meant we needed to get the bermuda Tees, Fairways and Approaches under control. We achieve this by spraying a growth regulator that allows the turf to grow laterally and not vertically, thus creating a denser and healthier playing surface. We start by mowing the area to remove the dew and have the turf at its daily playing height, in the picture below we are mowing #1 Fairway at sunrise.

Once the area has been removed we spray the area with a combination of Primo Maxx and fertility to aid in divot recovery. Here is Tim Murdock our Second Assistant Superintendent spraying #3 Fairway. The white dots you see are from our staff using a foam marker instead of a dye, this method is less expensive and there is no staining due to the dye.

Tomorrow is the last day to play on our Greens until after the conversion and this is the only slow thing moving across our Greens in the past few weeks.

We hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend! Thank you for reading our blog and please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Sunday to Remember...

7.1" of rain fell on Sunday morning, beginning around 2:00 in the morning, and the clean up is going to be time consuming. We closed the entire course on Sunday as #6, #12, and #16 were impassable as Dave's Creek had risen to highest level in my 5 years as Superintendent. We were able to open the Front 9 this morning, but #16 was still impassable today due to silt and debris. Today we focused our efforts on clearing Cartpaths, removing silt and debris from turf areas, and going ahead and beginning to edge Bunkers as they are completed washed out. Tomorrow we will finish cleaning up silt and debris  on #15 through #18, then we will begin restoring Greenside Bunkers starting on #18 and working towards #1. Here are a few pictures of the course from Sunday and Monday, this is #17 looking towards the Tees.

Here is #6 on Sunday, around the corner there was approximately 8" of silt on the cartpath.

#7 looking towards the Green where Dave's Creek is 8' above normal flow.

Fairway Bunker, Rough and Fairway on #12 covered in silt and debris.

#16 Cartpath is submerged in water and silts and the Rough is buried in silt and debris. We removed approximately 12" of silt from cartpath near the Green prior to the second bridge.

#15 Fairway Bunker looking towards the Green. Lots of time will be spent properly fixing the Bunkers to ensure the best playability possible.

#17 Greenside Bunkers that borders Dave's Creek is covered in silt that will be removed prior to moving sand.

A Sunday that we will remember for a long time! Thank you for taking the time to look at the damage caused by 7.1" of rain. We will take pictures as we clean up areas and restore the grounds to optimal playing conditions. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Finally a warm Spring day...

After a record low on Tuesday morning, we rebounded with a day in the mid 80's. We took advantage of the sunny and dry weather today by mowing the Native Area to the the left of #9. We typically try to mow this area once a month from May through September to aid in pace of play for that hole. We use a Bushhog attachment on the back of a tractor and mow this area at a height of 6", being tall fescue and slightly wispy gives the player the ability to play out of it, but not allow you to go for the Green in two. We do love the look of the seed heads in the wind, but we also know the difficulties in finding your ball in this area. The picture below is Kellan, our Equipment Technician, using the tractor and Bushhog attachment to make a pass the entire length of the hole, you will notice the distinct difference in height from what has not been mowed to what has been mowed.

We also took advantage of the weather and decided to mow our Tees and Approaches. We are currently maintaining these areas at .300" and our goal is to maintain them at .375" throughout this summer. With the weather pattern that we have been in for the past two months, we have been able to mow these area just twice per week, as the weather becomes more seasonal we will increase our frequency to three times per week. Mowing this often allows the grass to appear more groomed and smooth, which is similar to someone who shaves daily versus weekly. Here is a photo of Olegario mowing the Tees on #11 with one of our Toro triplexes.

Once we mowed the Tees and Approaches we sprayed these areas with fertilizer and a wetting agent to keep them thick and green. We sprayed a quick release fertilizer that should last approximately 14 days and provide excellent playing conditions. The wetting agent is a combination of Humic Acid, which aids in soil microbe activity, and a penetrant that allows water to break the surface tension of the soil and be absorbed versus running off. We spray this wetting agent monthly from May through October and we have seen excellent results from this product. Here is Israel spraying the Tees on #10 with the fertilizer and wetting agent, you will notice the white foam on the Tees, we use this to mark the areas that have sprayed versus a dye that will tint the turf either blue or green.

We also began our program of spraying a selective herbicide in the natural areas so that we can restore these areas to weed free areas that thrive with the native grasses selected for this area. This is a very time consuming project and we are staying committed to improving these areas to ensure a more uniformed mono stand of turf versus a collection of assorted weeds mingled into the turf. Here is Tim Murdock, our Second Assistant Superintendent, selectively spraying weeds in the native area in front of #17 Tees. We will hopefully finish up these areas this week and continue to monitor the areas to make additional herbicide applications as needed.

Thank you for reading about our activities and progress on improving the conditions of Windermere Golf Club. We hope that you will contact us with your questions or comments.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Record Low and Driving Range Aerification...

We set a record low temperature of 37 degrees this morning for this date, not exactly what we would have predicted for the middle of May. We know that warm humid weather will be here very soon, thus we decided to get started on an overdue aerification of the Driving Range. We were testing our equipment this morning during our maintenance hours on the Driving Range, which took a little longer than expected as there were a few kinks to work out. Everything is running fine now and we were able to aerify approximately 15% of the floor of the Driving Range. Once we aerified the area, we tried to drag the aerification cores to shatter them but unfortunately the clay was so compacted that we had to eventually use our Rough mower with mulching blades to chop of the cores. Finally we blew the excess clippings and thatch out of the area with our blowers and the area was open at 1:00 PM. We will continue to work on the range over the next few weeks during our maintenance time and we will make it a priority every year going forward to ensure a better product for our members and their guest.

Here is a picture of an area of turf prior to the aerification process.

This is a picture of the same area with our John Deere 1500 aerifying the turf. We used a 3/4" tine with a 2.5" x 2.5" spacing which should alleviate some of the compaction on the Driving Range.

The following picture shows the cores on the same area of turf that was in the original picture. The clay is easily seen and part of the issues in the compaction.

Here is our Rough mower mulching or aerification cores to help pulverise and ease the clean up process.

This is a picture of the initial area after being aerified, pulverized, and blown. We will continue this process over the next couple of weeks until the Driving Range is completed.

Finally, here is a picture taken from the White Tees on #3, a downhill then uphill dogleg left Par 5. The TifGrand bermuda grass on the Tee and as you can see from the clippings in the Rough, from our late afternoon mowing, the bermuda was has not been set back by the cold temperature the past few mornings.

Thank you for reading our blog and we hope that you gain some insight to the daily maintenance of Windermere Golf Club.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tournament Browns...

As we approach the middle of May, we set a record low this morning of 40 degrees, which is 18 degrees below average for this date. Not exactly what we would call ideal temperatures for warm-season turf, such as bermuda and zoysia. We are still looking at transitioning Roughs that are waiting on warmer soil temperatures before becoming completely active. Our Tees, Collars, Approaches and Fairways are green, tightening up and getting into mid-season form. Our Greens on the other hand are smooth as glass and lightning fast, the only problem is that they are not green anymore, more of a "Tournament Brown". Here is a picture of #17 Green looking back towards the tees, there is a stark difference between the Approach and the "Tournament Browns".

This is #10 Green looking toward the cart path.

Here is #18 Green looking across one of the Bunkers towards the Clubhouse and #10 Tee.

With our conversion officially starting in 15 days we have begun the process of preparing our Temporary Greens. We will be scalping these areas down, aggressively verticutting, heavily topdresssing and fertilizing these areas to provide an acceptable putting surface until we re-open Greens in early August. Here is a picture of AJ Benefield, who is an intern from ABAC in Tifton, Georgia, he is learning how to use our John Deere 220B Greensmower on the Temporary Green on #15.

Once we mowed the Temporary Greens, we started out topdressing program on these areas. Our plan is to apply a 1/16" thick layer of sand to these areas 2-3 times per week for several weeks to ensure smoothness. Here Tim Murdock, our Second Assistant, is showing our intern AJ how to operate our Turfco Topdresser.

With the cooler than average temperatures that we are still experiencing, our bermuda turf at the Clubhouse that is overseeded is still looking phenomenal and striping wonderfully.

Thank you for taking a moment to read our blog and we would love to hear your feedback about the course and answering any questions you might have.