Saturday, July 23, 2016

Morning Thunderstorm

A storm rolling in this morning, as viewed from Sage Woods Dr. in Highlands.  Thank you, Mr. Ratliff for sharing this!  

USGA article on approaches


Click above for a nice article on approaches by the USGA.  For the last number of years, this has been a primary focus of mine and one that we've made a lot of improvement. It will remain a priority into the future.

USGA Green Section

Five Things To Know About Water Management During Summer
July 15, 2016 
By Pat Gross, regional director, West Region
Hand watering places water only where needed, helping conserve water resources.
Water management is a major focus at golf courses, especially on putting greens. Turf naturally uses more water during summer due to long days and high temperatures, leading some to believe that applying extra water to greens is the best way to keep them alive. Is that true? Here are five things to know about water management on greens during summer:
1. Water conducts heat, so don't over water.
Plants need water for cooling and to translocate nutrients. However, water also has a tremendous ability to conduct heat. When a putting green is saturated with water, the soil heats up and roots can cook. Keep in mind that too much water can be just as harmful as too little.

2. Soluble salts in soil can limit the ability of plants to take up water.
Water often contains mineral salts that are deposited in the soil when rain or irrigation water evaporates.. As salt levels increase, they can harm turfgrass by inhibiting water uptake through the root system. If a golf course has a history of soil- and water-salinity issues, it is important to use a handheld electrical conductivity meter to monitor salinity levels. Periodic deep watering will help dilute salts and flush them out of the root zone.

3. Make sure soil moisture in the morning is sufficient to get turf through the day.
The best time to water is early in the morning. This allows water to enter the soil when it is less susceptible to evaporation while minimizing leaf wetness that can cause disease. Turfgrass plants can use the moisture reservoir in the soil to remain cool throughout the day. Find a morning moisture level that is right for your greens and then monitor soil moisture status throughout the day. There are various devices that can be used to make sure there is enough water in the soil such as soil probes and moisture meters.

4. Syringing only temporarily cools turf surfaces.
Syringing is the practice of applying a light film of water on turfgrass leaves to help cool the plants. As water evaporates it absorbs heat energy required to change from a liquid to a vapor from its surrounding environment, causing a cooling effect. The same principal applies to syringed turfgrass or sweat on a person’s skin.  However, it is important to note that the cooling effect of syringing lasts only a few minutes. Repeated syringing combined with the use of fans will maximize the cooling effect. The video Keeping Turf Cool With Technology from the University of Nebraska explains syringing in more detail.

5. Hand watering is not a waste of water; it conserves water.
Some golfers wonder why greens are watered by hand  when golf courses have sophisticated, automatic irrigation systems. However,  turning on a sprinkler that covers 12,000 square feet to water a small, localized dry spot doesn't make a lot of sense. When done properly, hand watering applies water to only the areas that need it, maintaining healthy turf and excellent playing conditions without wasting water.

Friday, July 22, 2016


There are a couple small trees on the golf course that are showing signs of what appears to be fall webworms.  One several occasions, I simply cut the branch off that has the moth tent.  I've seen these before in Highlands but never to the point it harmed a tree. Therefore, we do not treat these trees with any kind of insecticide.  Here is a link to a fact sheet:


Great morning to host Dr. Jim Kerns (NC State University) and Dr. Brandon Horvath (University of Tennessee) at Highlands CC.  It is fun being able to pick their brains during a round of golf on your home course.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Daily Tasks

This is a schedule of what our daily maintenance practices look like.  CSU stands for Course Setup and involves setting pins and moving tee markers.  This schedule sets the standard for what you can expect each day and uses up all of our staff members.  So if a member were to suggest we change the way we do something, we certainly could but it would have to replace one of the practices above on a given day. 

Ballmark Campaign

Great campaign from Dunwoody CC in Atlanta!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lawns 101

I probably get more calls in a month about looking at member lawns than I do about the anything to do with the golf course. I enjoy helping when I can and assembled this quick post that highlights the main topics I'm asked about. The key to a suuccessful lawn in Highlands is:

1. Spring fertilizer with a crabgrass pre-emergent chemical.
2. An insecticide applied the first week of June for white grub control.
3. A fall fertilizer application.
4. Spray broadleaf weeds on a 2-3 week basis. 

It really is that simple. Above, are the results of a meticulously maintained lawn. If perfection is desired, a good systemic fungicide on a 3-4 week interval always helps.  Here are a few examples of less than desirable lawns and the reason for their challenges:

This is a great lawn, however, lack of sunlight is the limiting factor. If this lawn is able to get more sun, it would be perfect. You can see the turf is less dense and has a water soaked appearance. Sun and air movement make all the difference. It's no different than a golf green. If sun isn't realistic, consider alternatives because you will never have a nice lawn. It's that simple. 

Above is green lawn, however, it has very coarse textured grass. This is the result of a landscaper using cheap seed during establishment or even inter seeding. You get what you pay for, grass seed included. If you want a nice lawn, don't inter seed it with a 50lb bag of Kentucky 31 Tall Feacue that cost $8 at Lowes. Good seed isn't cheap and can cost $5 or more per pound.  The grass above would not be suitable for a horse. 

Just like the challenges we have with roughs, are also seen in lawns. Due to our damp environment, creeping bentgrass thrives in roughs. However, when it gets dry, it is the first grass to head south. During rainy periods it's fine although it is more prone to turfgrass diseases and may require more fungicide use if the yard is predominantly made of bentgrass.  

Above is wilted, dormant turf infested with nutsedge. Yellow nutsedge is something people call all the time about. It's easy to kill and can be selectively be removed from the grass without hurting the desired turf. You see this in a lot of low lying wet areas. Members who over irrigate their yards usually have bad nutsedge issues. The lime green sedge grows 2-3x the rate of Kentucky bluegrass which frustrates those wanting a nice lawn. 

All too often homeowners hire people to maintain lawns who have absolutely no idea what they are doing. It's a business where owning a pick up truck and lawn mower qualifies you for a career. Consider hiring someone who knows what they are doing. Let me give you one example.  Last year on Pipers Court, there were about 4 lawns that were turned upside down by raccoons, skunks or wild hogs or a combination thereof depending on who you ask. Literally, turned upside down, as in the sod was brown side up.  What happened you ask? Wild animals dig for white grubs, the larval stage of several Beatles.  Did you know a $20 insecticide application on June 1st would have prevented this, 100%? If you prevent egg hatch, no  grubs form and thus nothing for animals to dig for.  There is no secret to a great lawn, just simple science. Think about the costs associated with re-establishing your lawn! Sod is $1/ft2 or more or seed can be painfully slow to establish. Again a $20 expense and it's a non issue. If your lawn care company doesn't understand turf science, you missed it. If they miss egg hatch by a week, it's too late, you don't get a second chance, not this year. If your lawn care service skipped this, you are at risk of the same damage.  Hire a responsible, educated company that will make the most of the fertilizer and other products, using them to benefit your yard and not harm the environment.