August 28, 2014

USGA: Easing The Pain Of Core Aeration

Everyone is looking forward to Labor Day and the club championship. 
I am looking forward to giving the greens a much needed breather ( and a big drink).

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

August 22, 2014

Fore the Golfer: Use of a Stimpmeter

Check out this video on YouTube:

I am often asked about stimpmeter readings for tournaments or special events, so when I found this video from the USGA I thought it would be a good idea to pass it along. 
Personally I do not use a stimpmeter, because its use has strayed far from the original intent of its creator. The device was designed to provide a means to provide consistent playing conditions throughout the golf course. It did not take long for this concept to be forgotten, and instead the tool was used to measure conditions at one golf course relative to another with no consideration for other factors such as architecture, construction methods, turf species, or operating budgets. 
The use, and misuse, of the device has lead to the growth as well as the decline of the game. The demand for superior putting greens drove superintendents and manufacturers to develop new technology and maintenance programs that made it possible to maintain turf at lower mowing heights that would have been unimaginable twenty years ago. As the height of cut decreased, the cost of maintaining these conditions increased significantly. Increased reliance on designer pesticides and fertilizers as well as increased water use and labor resources have inflated operating budgets that are difficult to sustain as golf revenue declines. 
Aside from the financial considerations, the insatiable desire for "faster greens" has rendered many classic golf holes unplayable due to the severe contours that were common during the early part of the last century. In extreme cases classic greens have been reconstructed with less severe slopes and softened features, again at great expense. 
Perhaps my biggest problem with the abuse of the stimpmeter is that few people understand what the measurement means, and how it relates to the overall quality of the putting surface. First, the concept of "green speed" is a misnomer.  The tool is used to measure distance, not speed.  There are many factors that influence the distance a ball will roll when released from the meter: height of cut, texture, smoothness, turf density. All of these are characteristics that contribute to the quality of a putting surface, but so are firmness, color, and resilience which are not considered when we only consider ball roll distance as the sole measure of quality putting surfaces. 
Many times I have been told that players enjoyed their time on the golf course, and that the greens played had a significant influence on their golf experience. The next words out of their mouths inevitable ask "What are they Stimping?"  I don't measure ball roll distance simply so that I never have to answer that question. There is too much at stake if the answer does not match the number they have in their head. If the ball roll distance is less than the number they had in mind, their perceived enjoyment is instantly diminished. On the other hand, reporting a number higher than what they expect has no impact on their experience
The stakes are increased when there is a minimum standard established (or expected) for daily play and tournaments.  The two main factors that I nfluence ball roll distance are maintenance programs and the weather. Trying to replicate playing conditions from one event to the next can be dangerous if the weather conditions are not favorable for pushing the turf to the limit, especially during extreme heat, humidity, or saturated conditions. 
This very thing occurred one year ago during the club championship.  We executed our typical weekend maintenance (single cut and roll) for the qualifying rounds during a weekend that was unseasonably cool with a steady breeze and very low humidity. Two weeks later seasonable conditions returned for the match play rounds.  Increased heat and humidity caused the turf to become lush and ball roll distances decreased in spite of the fact that we double-cut and rolled four days in a row.   Had I been influenced by the pressure to achieve the same ball roll distance that occurred under ideal weather conditions, I might have been tempted to put the health of the greens at risk simply to satisfy my own ego. 
I prefer to focus on providing the best playing conditions that the weather allows. I rely on the cumulative effect of consistent maintenance, and invest a significant amount of time and energy  to keep all playing surfaces alive, healthy, smooth, firm, and fast.  When it comes to measuring the quality of the putting surfaces I prefer to grab three balls and a putter, and use my eyes to determine if I am satisfied (there's my ego again) with how the ball responds to a sound putting stroke as it rolls toward the hole. I am most interested in how slowly the ball rolls as it comes to rest, and whether or not it stays on it's intended line. According to this concept of "green speed", less is more. 

Sent from my iPad

USGA: Northeast

A few good points to keep in mind as we enjoy one of the best golf seasons in decades.

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

August 14, 2014

Course Conditions Update

After almost four inches of rain fell yesterday I am pleased to report that the course is not only open with carts, it is surprisingly dry.  The forecast was for 1”-2” which we desperately needed, and the crew was out preparing the course so that we would capture as much of the water as possible to recharge the soil rather than watching it run off into the ocean.

On Monday we needle tined the greens to create pore spaces and reconnect the old aeration holes to the surface.  This was followed up by an application of a wetting agent that not only helps water penetrate the surface; it also helps the turf dry out once the rain stops.  The two steps combined beautifully to recharge the soil moisture and reinvigorate the turf by purging the root zone of stale gases, replacing them with a fresh supply of oxygen. 

We also spiked some of the rough areas that were suffering from drought stress and cart traffic, and the heavy rains seem to have alleviated some of this stress for the time being.  We will continue to aerate the rough and will begin to add seed in the coming weeks to promote recovery and develop a more resilient stand of turf for the future.  There are still a few areas that have remained dormant, but with continued cool weather, a few more rain showers, and perhaps a dose of fertilizer we should see a bit more green return to the course as we head into the best part of the golf season.

Thankfully the course was prepared to handle the extreme rainfall, and we should return to the firm fast playing conditions we had enjoyed over the majority of the golf season.  I have received a number of compliments that the rough is just penal enough, yet manageable, and people seem to enjoy the extra few yards on their drives that find the fairways.  The greens are a different story.  The rough is lush and “aggressive”, which makes chipping to the firm, fast greens a significant challenge.  This provides a distinct advantage to those who find the putting surface with their approach shot, and punishes those who short side themselves. 

We are looking forward to preparing the course for the club championships at the end of the month and I expect to have the course as good if not better than we had it for the Invitational at the beginning of the month.  On Monday September 8th we will be aerating the greens followed by tees, approaches, and fairways.  We will keep you posted regarding days the course will be closed as well as course conditions so that you can schedule matches and bring guests on days when the course will be in the best condition. 

August 11, 2014

Venting greens today

We are aerating the greens this morning using our "needle tines". These are  0.3" solid tines that break through the surface of the Turf that has been sealed off due to the excessive mowing and rolling that we have been doing lately. The holes improve the exchange of gases between the soil and the atmosphere and improve water infiltration. They also extend the benefit of prior serrations by reconnecting the old holes to the surface.   The process will have little impact on the playing surfaces once we resume mowing tomorrow. 
The timing of the process is ideal as we have been trying to slowly rehydrate the greens, and heavy rains are forecast for the middle of the week. University research has shown that the benefits of this process are typically realized for three weeks following the aeration , which will bring us to the end of August, and right up to the club championship. 
I will monitor the condition of the greens over the coming weeks to see if we will need to complete the process once more before we core aerify next month. 

August 4, 2014

GCSAA - Mid-Atlantic Region: What's WOTUS?

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America is one of the most powerful advocates for the golf industry.   Read the brief description of a hot topic in Washington that could have a significant impact on golf courses across the country. 
One letter or phone call to a politician, repeated thousands of times, can have a significant influence on the decisions they make on your behalf. 

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

August 2, 2014

Re: Invitational Preparation


Great job on the golf course this weekend.  Please extend my thanks to all of the crew.  The hard work is greatly appreciated.


On Saturday, August 2, 2014, Peter Gorman <> wrote:

Rick Ross
Westmount Management
36 Park Place
P.O. Box 719
Branford, CT 06405
Ph: 203-483-4375
Fax: 203-483-4376
Cell: 203-687-2033

Invitational Preparation

In order to get the course set up before the rain came we were out well before daylight on Saturday morning. Kelsey and RJ parked their vehicles on either side of the 7th green and used the headlights so they could see their lines. 

August 1, 2014

So True

I saw this cartoon on Twitter, and thought it was perfect for our Member Guest preparation. Weather has been great, course is in great shape, and rain predicted for the 27 hole Saturday.