Greens Team Closing News
Preparations for winter are well under way. Greens height has been raised to .140” from our summer height of .115”. We give the greens a little bit of a beard for the winter months to help protect against desiccation. Greens, Tees, and Fairways will be provided protection against winter snow mold and this protection will be applied around the week of November 12th. The irrigation system will be drained on November 1st. Some of the open Greens will receive heavy topdressing as added protection or a perforated, breathable cover.
We have just started blowing leaves this week and will try to keep the course as clean as possible for play and going into winter. It is important to get as much work as possible completed this Fall and get the course clean heading into winter. This will aid in controlling winter injury and reduce our Spring workload when conditions are much more difficult to work in due to wet conditions. We will also be replacing some tile in traps to reduce the amount of labour required to pump them out after every rain event. We will prioritize the traps and fit repair in our normal work schedule.
Our aeration went quite well, except for the weather which was not friendly. My team dug down deep and got the job done despite poor weather conditions. I must say, our Greens root-zone is very, very good. It is consistent throughout with no layering, very little thatch and our organic matter content is less than 3%. I know this may not mean a lot to most of you, but it excites me. I have never seen a better root-zone and I have cared for USGA spec’d Greens in the past. Because of the factors I’ve listed above, we do not have a requirement to pull a core for the next couple of years unless we have some winter damage or other unforeseen damage. We will monitor our organic matter content and thatch layer and pull a core as it approaches 5%. What does this mean to you? Well, we will aerate with solid tines which is a much smaller hole. Greens will heal much faster and will use much less topdressing at aeration time. Aeration will hardly be noticeable and you will get back on the course much quicker. It’s a win win for everybody.
As you are aware, this fall has been very wet. I guess we’re getting all our rainfall now that we missed during the summer months. Since September 26th we have received 160mm (6 inches) of precipitation. This has resulted in very wet and slippery conditions on our gravelly clay soils. Evaporation and transpiration at this time of the year is very slow so the course is not drying out at all. Just when it starts to dry out a bit, we experience another rain event and it goes back to being wet. Each window of opportunity we attempt to get our fairways cut, but it has been difficult this October. Mowing turf when it is wet is very injurious to the plant and must be avoided. This is a rule that I have followed judiciously throughout my career.
The same goes for cart traffic on fairways or rough during wet conditions. The damage and scars caused by carts is expensive to repair (labour), doesn’t heal going into winter, and ruins the aesthetic value of our property. This is the reason for restricting Carts to paths only. If it were summer we could get away with a lot more because of the firmness of the course, but those conditions are gone. I have a responsibility to protect the asset for you and the Owners of Osprey Ridge. Restricting carts to paths is not an easy decision for me to make and I feel your pain. Each morning I go out and assess conditions and make my decision based on this assessment. In this post are examples of cart damage. This is what our fairways would look like if we allowed carts on them at this time of the year. Two days ago there was grass right up to the interlock.
As stated in the previous newsletter, we have installed one additional irrigation head on the 12th hole and still have another to install next season. We have also developed a plan to install additional lines and sprinklers where we have no coverage and will fit this work in our regular work schedule when we can.
It has certainly been a busy year for my team and a learning experience for me getting to know the nuances of a new golf course. This is, and will always be my passion in life.
Enjoy your winter and I look forward to seeing everyone back on the links next season.
Jim Riopelle Course Superintendent