Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The cooler weather has been nice for both my crew and the turf, although looking at some of my staff you would think it was low 40's instead of lower 60's this morning. A few of them had on their winter stocking caps.

The rough is once again greening up and any thin areas created earlier in the season in fairways are starting to fill in as well. Turf growth is once again picking up the pace which makes me feel better about the upcoming aerification season. See one of my earlier posts for aerification schedules.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fall Aerification

It is often assumed by golfers and non golfers alike that the hardest of the work is over when the Chautauqua Season concludes in late August and Labor Day approaches. In reality, the busy season for the maintenance crew is just beginning.

The shorter days and cooler nights of late summer and fall are a time of recovery for the turf that has taken a beating throughout the summer months, especially in a year like 2010. In order to take advantage of this period, enhance recovery and prepare for next summer's stress we begin many procedures that, while not necessarily fun to play golf through, are a necessary part of our maintenance program. The most notable of course is fall aerification.

Ideally, aerification in WNY is done in the week or two before Labor Day. This allows for a quicker recovery period as opposed to waiting until the end of September when turf growth is slowing with the onset of frosty mornings.

In reality, however, the late August aerifying coincides with the last week of the Chautauqua season and some great golfing over Labor Day weekend. And since we have no desire to ruin the end of summer golf we wait as long as possible on the greens aerification putting it solidly in the middle of September, late enough to avoid some good golfing weather and early enough to still have some decent recovery time. Tee aerification is relatively low impact and we will be starting that shortly. Fairways aerification is a lengthy process and takes several days to complete. We try to sandwich that in greens aerification whenever we get some good weather.

Tentative dates for aerification are:

Tees - Week of 8/30

Fairways - Starting 9/7 as weather allows

Greens - Hill Course 9/14

Lake Course 9/21

If you are playing during or after these dates we apologize for the inconvenience but please keep in mind that it is for the good of the golf course and your golfing enjoyment next season.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

As a general rule, maintaining turfgrass in Western New York is much simpler than in hot humid regions like NYC, NJ, MD, or VA. This year is proving to be the exception. Today I noticed a fungus called Pythium on # 5 fairway of the Lake course for the second time this year after not having a spot of it in my previous eight years here at Chautauqua.

Pythium is a turf disease that, if left untreated, can kill large areas of turf in an extraordinarily quick time. It spreads by mowers, carts, foot traffic, and even rainfall. Fortunately, I was able to get it treated in time and we should have no loss because of it, but now that it has its "foot in the door" it is something we will have to keep a close eye on every year.

What makes this a tougher year than most? Primarily the heat and humidity. Most turfgrass diseases thrive in this weather and this season we've had more of both than we've had in several years. With the heat generally comes dry spells. With dry spells comes irrigation. With irrigation comes a wetter turf canopy which in turn leads back to more turf disease.

Fortunately, we live in WNY and the weather changes fairly frequently. The forcast is calling for some cooler days and nights by this weekend. That is a recipe for some good recovery.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What is our mowing schedule?

I'm frequently asked "How often do you mow?"

The answer, "It depends."

I know, it sounds like an eight year old's answer. But it is the truth. It "depends" on what we are mowing, what time of year we are mowing, how fast the turf is growing, etc., but in general we go by the following schedule:

Greens - daily
Tees - Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Aprons - Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Rough - Twice per week (It takes all week to mow it twice)

This schedule allows us to keep things under control, with the exception of late spring when the rough is growing faster than we can mow. Larger tournaments, ProAm, NJCAA, Member Guests all get the frequency stepped up a little to sharpen the course and increase green speed. You might ask "Why not mow with tournament frequency all the time?" The answer is simple, budget. We simply do not have the resources (manpower and fuel) to keep up with this for extended periods of time, especially in a year like 2008 when fuel prices soared up to $4/gallon. Nor does that give us ample time to maintain our equipment to keep it functioning properly.

We also start as early as we can see in order to get ahead of early morning golfers and out of the way so you can have an enjoyable round. The next question I usually hear is "Then why not mow at night to avoid golfers altogether?" Which sounds like a nice topic for next week.

Enyoy golf!