August 23, 2011

Top 10 Day today

Today looks like it could qualify for a Top 10 Days of the Year nomination. The thermometer this morning read 20 degrees cooler than the night before and the stars were shining brighter than that have in weeks.
The best part is that the low humidity has the greens in great shape. They are much firmer than yesterday and the putts are rolling out beautifully. This is why golf is so much better in September and October than July and August.
I hope someone stumbles across this message and is able to sneak out and take advantage.

Pete Gorman
Golf Course Superintendent
Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club
Branford, CT

August 18, 2011

Verticut greens today

We verticut the greens this morning to improve green speed and smoothness. We had done a trial run in the practice green on Tuesday and people noticed the difference immediately.
We tried rolling after they were mowed but the belt on the roller was about to break. We have made the repair and will roll the greens tomorrow. The combined effects of the verticut, rolling, and the greens drying out should have them in very nice shape for the weekend.
I have been asked to be kind during the championship qualifier, so hole locations may seem a bit tame over the weekend. I am not making any promises for the championship weekend however, so I would keep that in mind when offering comments or suggestions until after Labor Day.

Pete Gorman
Golf Course Superintendent
Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club
Branford, CT

August 16, 2011

Course weathers storm nicely

In spite of over 3" of rain since Saturday night, the course is in surprisingly good shape.  We are allowing carts today and will have most of the prime playing areas mowed by the end of the day.  The usual spots are still saturated, including the end of the 3rd fairway, the middle of 4, and the entire 6th hole.  Other than that everything seems rather dry.
The rain has released some fertilizer and the cool temperatures have the grass is growing vigorously.  Many areas that were stressed due to heat and drought will begin to bounce back this week, and the rough should provide a significant penalty for shots that miss their intended target.  The greens were cut today for the first time since Saturday so they may be a bit slow for a couple of days, but we hope to have everything in fine condition in time for the qualifiers this weekend.
Peter Gorman
Golf Course Superintendent
Pine Orchard Yacht and Country Club
294 Pine Orchard Road
Branford, CT 06405

August 13, 2011

Back on track

I am happy to report that we have just about completely recovered from the stress endured during the Men's Invitational, and have returned to our regular maintenance programs.  While we are not entirely out of the woods just yet, the nights are becoming longer and cooler, and the sun is riding a bit lower in the sky.  This places much less stress on the turf, and offers a bit more room for us to push for playing conditions.  Generally August 15th is the tipping point where we start to see recovery in areas that suffered damage from disease, drought, or any variety of stresses during the dog days of summer.
The rain that came early this week was much needed, but it prevented us from getting a few things done in time for the 1 Day Member/Guest.  It seems as though most players were pleased with the course, but I feel as though the greens are closer today to where I would have liked them for the tournament. 
Monday we begin preparing for the Club Championships.  I have been asked to keep the course playable for the qualifying, and then push for the Championship weekend.  If everything goes according to plan, we will work on smoothness this week by verticutting and topdressing, and make some applications that will set us up to work on firmness and speed the following week.
I am looking forward to some great weather and even better golf in September and October.  Check back in the next week or so for an update on the greens aeration scheduled for September 6th and 7th.  I have not worked out the details just yet, but it will be more aggressive and invasive than the spring aeration.
Thanks for checking in, and I look forward to seeing you on the golf course.

August 5, 2011

Home stretch

I am starting to get flashbacks from last summer when I thought it was never going to rain again. The current weather trend of bright sun and dry winds is starting to reveal the difference between irrigation and natural precipitation.
We have been trying to keep the course dry and firm, especially heading into the Invitational. The lack of rainfall and the continued warm days and nights are causing some areas to show signs of drought stress. Irrigation is effective for keeping the turf moist, but natural precipitation is required to wet the soil.
Maintaining firm fast conditions requires the upper soil profile to be as dry as possible, while maintaining enough moisture deep in the root zone to sustain the plants during periods of hot, dry weather. If there is no rainfall the entire root zone dries out, and the irrigation system is used to provide enough water for the turf until the next rain event.n if this goes on too long the playing surfaces become soft and wet. Unfortunately the rain events have been few and far between. It is now difficult to keep the dry areas moist without saturating the areas nearby. The result is that the turf in the dry areas begin to go dormant and look brown. The turf is still live, it is just waiting for mother nature to provide a good dose of water.
Generally the tipping point is August 15th. At that point the nights are long enough for the turf to recover from the hot, dry days. Soon we will begin to aerate and fertilize, which will build the root system that will sustain the turf through next summer.
We are approaching the best part of the golf season, Labor Day through Columbus Day, when we can turn off the water without the threat of extreme temperatures and disease.
Every morning I look at the calendar and count the days until the 8/15, and pray that we get a few clouds, and an overnight shower to carry us through the next 10 days. At that point we will be cruising into the Club Championship and I will begin sleeping just a bit better. And with any luck, I will get around to dusting of the clubs and remind myself why I got into this crazy business.

Pete Gorman
Golf Course Superintendent
Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club
Branford, CT

August 2, 2011

Pushing the Envelope

You never know what your limits are until you cross them.  This is as true for putting greens as it is for invisible fences.  All year we have been trying to push for firm, fast playing conditions, especially on the greens.  I have been reluctant to push too hard since there is a lot at risk, and the best part of the golf season is yet to come.
Wilt scar from where
someone dropped a flag stick
This weekend we pushed the greens further than I ever have, and they stood up to challenge beautifully.  Until Sunday at 1:00 that is.  I had planned on the final round of the tournament wrapping up sometime between noon and 1:00, then the course would empty, and we would be able to syringe the greens ahead of the afternoon play starting on the first tee.  It would have worked perfectly except for two things; the weather was hotter and drier earlier than than I expected, and the tournament did not finish until close to 3:00.  It got so bad that I had to break my own cardinal rule of not syringing during a big tournament, and even that was not enough.  If one more blade of grass wilted on the eighth hole we would have changed the name of the putting surface from green to purple. 
Eventually a champion was crowned and I was able to douse the flames, but not before some greens suffered significant wilt damage.  Thankfully the turf was very healthy heading into the tournament, and the greens are recovering nicely after some TLC and a nice rainstorm Monday night.  We will continue to take a less aggressive approach for a couple of days and will begin preparing for the Club Championship and qualifiers next week.
Some people will argue that it is not worth going to all this trouble for a tournament, but I would guess that the people that played over the weekend would disagree.  Our greens were as true and fast as I have ever prepared, and I feel comfortable saying that we showcased every ounce of character they possess.  Most importantly I have now pushed the greens on a few occasions and have watched them bounce back every time.  Over time I will learn more about when to push them, how far to push them, and what I need to do to bring 'em back alive.
I hope everyone enjoyed the golf course over the weekend, and I am definitely looking forward to some cooler weather and fall golf.  The best is yet to come.