February 28, 2014

Phragmites project update

The contractor has completed the cutting portion of the phragmites control project. We will continue working on a permit to spray the areas with an herbicide this summer. 

February 26, 2014

Phragmites management project: Part 1

View of the work area from the
9th/18th tee area
Click on photos to enlarge.
All Habitat Services has been hired to begin controlling the phragmites that have overtaken the inland and tidal wetlands throughout the golf course. Our staff cut most of the invasive weeds surrounding the 7th green at the end of last month, and now we are focusing on the source of the material near the 9th tee.
We are working with the town to secure permits that will allow us to kill the emerging weeds later in the summer, followed by another round of cutting next winter.
I will continue to consult other golf courses that have successfully implemented a long term management plan to see what will be involved in the future. The short term succession of native plants takes a few years to completely recover, but once it does the wetlands are much healthier, act as a natural filter for water moving in and out of the watershed, and provide beneficial habitat for native birds, insects, and mammals that are often excluded by the dense phragmites.

February 20, 2014

The enemy below - News - News - TurfNet.com

A recent article from a superintendents' online community that discusses some of the issues we focus on as we transition from winter to spring. 

Sent from my iPad

February 19, 2014

What's going on under the snow?

1" Ice layer on 5th green.
No cause for alarm at this point.
Looking at the forecast and the thick blanket of snow I decided to strap on my snow shoes and take a peak under the snow this afternoon. I wanted to see if there was any ice buildup on the greens and see if I could expose a couple of drains to handle the runoff from the melting snow.
The first stop was the edge of the 6th hole to uncover the collector Darin at the edge of the property. The downstream portion of the system was upgraded this fall, and we wanted to do everything in our power to make a fair determination of how those changes will impact the capacity of the entire system. I also exposed the storm drain in the middle of the fairway. Hopefully this will take some of the burden off the smaller collectors and effectively act as a vent to facilitate flow.
The second stop was the 5th green. The lack of sun at this time of year can create significant problems, but thankfully there is not too much ice beneath the snow. I found about 1" of granulated ice, which indicates that there is still gas exchange and sufficient oxygen for the turf. I found a small drain on the back right corner and exposed it in case we end up with significant melting this week.

Exposing a surface collector on the 5th green

February 15, 2014

Jim Skorulski: Ten Things I Wish my Golf Course Superintendent Knew

It's never too easy to start thinking about the golf season. We are spending a lot of time this winter evaluating our current programs, planning projects, and establishing priorities. One of the most important aspects of a golf course maintenance operation, or any organization for that matter, is how priorities are established, communicated, and executed. This involves trust and effective communication among the Green Chair, committee members, and the superintendent.
Thankfully I feel that we have achieved that at Pine Orchard, and I appreciate the support and candid feedback I receive from the committee members.

I think this video from a 2011 USAG/MGA Green Chairman seminar offers some valuable insight on how superintendents and committees can improve their relationship, and make the operation more effective.
Feel free to add your comments if you have ideas that would add to the conversation.

Check out this video on YouTube:


Sent from my iPad

February 13, 2014

Damaged trees removed from 9th/18th holes

The grounds staff removed the trees on the 9th/18th hole that were damaged in the storm surges. The Green Committee is in the process of developing a plan to select replacement trees and restore the character that the damaged trees added to the hole.  They were not specimens trees, but they did screen the view of the range fairway from the 18th fairway, and could come into play for an errant shot off of the 9th tee.
As we begin the replacement process we will:

  1. Determine what, if any, value the trees added to the hole
  2. Identify the value of the remaining trees and their contribution to the hole
  3. Define how the trees should contribute to the hole in the future (framing, penalize poor shots, safety)
  4. Use Google Earth to take measurements to determine who is more likely to be impacted by the replacement trees
  5. Consult with USGA agronomists and local arborists for replacement options
  6. Contact suppliers to determine cost and availability of suitable replacement species.

The link below describes some of the characteristics that should be avoided when selecting trees for use on a golf course.  Too often committees opt for rapid growth over long term stability.  Support for this can be found in the white pines that were planted throughout the course, and now have damaged or missing limbs due to snow or wind storms.  A better approach is to examine the health and long term viability of the remaining trees.  This information can be used to design a replacement plan that will provide an attractive, functional planting that will add character and strategic interest to the golf hole.  This might involve a short term planting plan combined with future phases of removal and replacement as the desirable trees mature and fill the space.
We will post updates as we get closer to a solution.


A Guide for Selecting and Planting Golf Course Trees

February 7, 2014

Golf Industry Show - Orlando 2014

I just returned from the Golf Industry Show in Orlando. This event brings most of the top professional organizations, associations and individuals together annually to help improve and grow the game of golf. I participated as a member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and a board member of the Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents (CAGCS).

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) put on one of the best education conferences I have ever attended. I was able to listen to and interact with some of the top minds in turf research. Each year I try to select education focused on a certain topic, such as agronomics, budgeting, personnel management, or professional development. This year I selected two seminars focused primarily on plant health. I won't even bore you with the titles, but they centered on creating an environment where the plants would be healthy enough to tolerate the stress associated with producing firm, fast playing conditions, and how to use this stress to your advantage to create a more sustainable system. In addition to the paid seminars I attended a number of free group sessions, including one that featured the superintendents from Medinah and Merion sharing their experiences preparing for the Ryder Cup and U.S. Open. The talk was originally supposed to discuss aeration strategies, but it quickly evolved into a more general conversation about topdressing, rolling, and a host of other topics that contribute to satisfying golfers at the highest level in golf.

There were also hospitality events and celebrations that brought turf professionals from around the world together in relaxed settings where relationships could be developed and experiences shared. It has been my experience that we find more value in this part of the conference than we do looking at bar graphs and photos of dead grass in a seminar. I was watching the Super Bowl in a restaurant where Bayer Environmental was hosting forty of the top turf researchers from around the country. Over the course of the night a few of them ventured over to our table and shared ideas about hot topics in turf research, the potential of new products, and even a few laughs about past dinners and seminars. Over the years I have learned that the conversations that take place beyond the walls of the conference center provide the most value in the long term, as they often lead to support and advice that helps us save money or improve conditions back at our clubs.

While visiting the trade show I saw a number of exciting new products ($$$) and ideas that I will try to utilize this year:
  • I saw the latest model sprayers from TORO, and was given the rundown from a former classmate who pointed out the most improved features and how they had improved his programs.
  • I found a vendor that was selling mini-golf kits that could be used to engage kids and improve their ability to develop into avid golfers, which is critical to the future of the game.
  • The vendor that sold us our roller and grinders introduced me to a company whose product claims to improve irrigation efficiency and reduces water use through magnetism. I am very skeptical but it is definitely worth a free demo and some further investigation.
  •  I met with one of the contractors that is being considered for our fairway renovation project. I updated him on the status of our project and inquired about their schedule, and inquired about their availability in the future. I was pleased to hear that the number of bids was increasing indicating that the golf industry is recovering, but was a little concerned by the fact that they were busy enough to be more selective in the projects that they would consider.
Overall it was a great trip and I learned a lot, but I am glad to be home, and am eager to incorporate everything I learned into the coming golf season.
I hope you find an opportunity to steal away from the "Polar Vortex" and get to enjoy some sun, and maybe even sneak in a few holes while you're at it.