Monday, March 29, 2010

March Madness 2010

( 2010_03_27 - Opening Day 2010 )

How cool is this?!?! The weather has been above average, the course wintered great, and the golf clubs are getting dirty. With about 200 rounds in on opening weekend, IVGC is getting off to a great beginning in 2010. We have plenty of maintenance staff on hand that we are getting a lot done to get things in shape right off the bat. As you make your way around the course in the next few weeks you will see some vole damage around greens, tees, and a fairway or two. Those spots will quickly recover as we rake up the dead turf and the temperature warms a bit. Like I mentioned before, there is some gray snow mold spots around which will also get a good treatment of raking. Aside from the superficial issues, the turf appears to have come through winter in good shape.

What is amazing over the last couple of weeks is how dry it has become. We went from 2 feet of snow, a couple weeks of rain, flooding in certain parts of the state currently going on, and Island View is getting very dry. Hence, we pressurized the irrigation system today and plan on watering things over the next couple of days like it was a summer day in June. And if the temps climb into the 70's this week, despite the brown grass, we are going to think it is June. The irrigation start-up has gone very smooth, almost too smooth and we are waiting for something to blow out of the ground. So far, dare I say it, we have had no issues with leaks or broken parts. I think the fact that we did not have a lot of frost movement this spring, because it went out so quick, helped a lot by not moving the underground pipe and sprinklers around. And with the prolonged snow cover I think we had a lot less frost then winters of recent past, which was averaging a busted length of pipe every spring. So, so far so good it would appear. I wouldn't count out a change in the weather to more "normal" conditions any time soon however.

Get out and take advantage of this unusually early start to the golf season.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Removing The Blankets

( 2010_03_22 - Removing covers from putting green )

We have started picking up the covers today, they are nice and dry and so far the turf underneath looks like it should. Not too long, which is good, and disease free from what we can tell. We should have the rest picked up tomorrow and then the major cleaning begins. Everything is proceeding ahead of schedule if you look at the average times we take covers off, get things cleaned up, and actually open the course for play. April 10th was day one last year and I am gonna guess we will be almost 2 weeks ahead of that date this year. If you were to ask me I would predict sometime next week we will be open for play, we'll continue to clean things up, get the course supplies out, and hope for good weather.

Stay tuned, the day is almost upon us...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Right Around the Corner

( 2010_03_19 - Hole #13 )

It is safe to say about 99% of the snow is completely off the golf course. There are still some pockets on some north facing slopes and a few bunkers, and the ponds are still iced over. If the weather gurus are close to right then we will probably be pulling covers some time next week, getting things cleaned up a bit, and start getting supplies out on the course. I predict we will still see some more snow, but that hasn't stopped IVGC'ers in the past that's for sure. A couple issues with an early opening: there are many places too wet to be playable and the turf is not actively growing so any damage done is not recovering. The more damage done at this time of year really lengthens the recovery time of the golf course as the temps warm up and the roots start growing, which in turns gets the grass blades going. It becomes a balancing act for clubs as to when that golden day is and the gates open for the season. Obviously for some it is strictly revenue driven and getting the money flow going. For others it is about making sure the turf is starting to be active and can start recovering as soon as it is damaged. And for a semi-private to private club, there are always the members needs to consider. There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to opening the doors, but it is unique to each individual club. We at Island View fall somewhere in the middle but tend to lean towards the latter reasoning, turf and members. Since we do cover some greens there is a little delay in opening due to that, from removing them to some extra cleanup because of the debris they leave behind. We do have some low areas that poorly drain which have not yet been addressed with the on going course renovation, and unfortunately those areas are very much in play. And my philosophy definitely leans towards letting the turf get a little active before the traffic starts and the divot flying begins.

In years past Dan and I have communicated with each other and definitely worked together in making sure our opener is timed right for the members as well as the course, 2010 will be no exception. This time of year I am just as anxious to get outside and start working as most golfers are in getting out and playing. So stay tuned, the IVGC opener is right around the corner...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Signs of Spring

( 2010_03_15 - #18 Green Surround - Snow Mold )

Ten days ago I was showing you 2 feet of snow on the greens and throughout the golf course, oh what ten days has done to things. Now we are about 80% open and the rain is falling. So far what I have seen has me very optimistic that the course came through the winter in great shape and we just need the temps up to get things growing. With the extensive snow cover for the entire winter season we have a lot of Gray Snow Mold in the rough areas where we do not chemically treat to prevent it. As you can see from the picture of the 18th green surround, it is abundant. And from what I have seen around town, home lawns are showing the same thing. When things warm up a bit a good hand raking in these areas will bust up the gray cotton looking mycelium and aid in a quick recovery. As for the treated areas, the turf looks healthy and free of disease.

( 2010_03_15 - #13 Fairway )

I have been a little apprehensive all winter wondering how #13 fairway was going to look coming out of winter. Last October was not kind to us at all with regards to trying to grow anything from seed, especially the extent of an entire fairway. We had great germination of both the ryegrass and more importantly the bluegrass, but once the rains and cooler weather moved in the new seedlings really slowed their growth. Much to my relief, it appears we are starting the season better then I expected. The turf is very thin, but even with as wet as it is I was able to walk on it without too much of a problem. There are a lot of areas with a good stand of turf. I have a couple of plans in place for fertilizer depending on the weather, but what we really need is a quick spring with warm temps to get the turf growing and filling in the open spots. Where it is struggling the most is the approach area, the shade from the trees lining the left side really hindered the germination by keeping things cool and wet. A couple of options for the really poor areas would be overseed or sod, as things progress during the next month or so we will make a decision and put the plan into action.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Are You Ready?

(Snow cover middle of #18 green)

Greetings everyone! Long winter? Well, I would guess it will be around for a bit longer based on the amount of snow cover we currently have. This time last year I was out taking sample plugs from a couple greens because there was some worrisome ice cover in areas. This year we appear to be avoiding the ice issues to date, currently there is little to no ice build-up that we have seen. What we do have is about 2 feet of snow cover on greens and most areas. It is a bit deceiving when you look out and see turf around the bases of many trees, but if your not standing under a tree it can be up over your knees in spots. The freeze/thaw periods are still to come, and I am sure we will be out moving some water as the snow really gets to melting. There is very little frost in the ground from what we can tell, so that means as things really start melting the water may move into the soil profile rather then have to run-off via surface drainage. So to sum up the current situation, I would say promising and I am optimistic things should be in good shape as the snow continues to melt away.

On another note: Dave Thalberg, IVGC's Assistant GC Supt. has taken a Assistant job at Prestwick GC in Woodbury and he started the first of the month. I recently completed the search and hired a new Assistant GC Superintendent, his name is Brandon Young. He is a Iowa State grad with a degree in Turf Management, did internships at Shoreacres in Lake Bluff, IL & The Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, MT, and has been the Spray Technician at Spring Hill Golf Club for the past 4 years. I know Brandon is very excited, and looking forward to the new experience and challenges he will have here at Island View. As is Dave in his new postition at Prestwick.

So here we go! Everyone hurry up and wait, the season is almost upon us...