We have had some incredible weather in the last month for the beginning of fall golf season, and hopefully everyone has had a chance to take advantage. Leaves are beginning to change color, and even begin to fall in areas. As I write this, we are experiencing our first frost of the year this morning. The arrival of frosty mornings serves as a good reminder why we delay tee times when there is frost. On mornings where the temperature will be below 40 degrees (like this weekend!!!), it is always best to call the pro shop for the latest availability of the course. The new push notification system with Clubhouse Online will also communicate to you this information.
Frost is essentially frozen dew. It can form when the temperature approaches near freezing. The ice crystals that form on the outside of the plant can also harden or freeze the cellular structure of the plant. When frost is present, the normally resilient plant cells become brittle and can be easily crushed internally or pierced like a knife from the outside ice crystals. When these cell membranes are damaged, the plant loses its ability to function normally. Think of this like cracking an egg: once the shell is broken, it cannot be put back together. Although damage will not be immediate, the proof will emerge within 48-72 hours as leaves turn brown and die.
As the picture above shows the typical foot traffic of a normal foursome on a green, damage could be extensive if played or mowed during frosty conditions. Recovery from frost damage can take several weeks depending on weather. For more information on frost delays, below is a great USGA video explaining them.
This week is quite the busy one for the Grounds Department. While we are closed for maintenance today, tomorrow is our Ladies Closing Day, and Wednesday is Elcona’s annual Men’s Hole in One Stag. Both events are fun to set up for and ones that I look forward to each year. Hopefully everyone participating feels the same way!
Greens aerification will occur on October 6th (Front 9) and 7th (Back 9) using a solid 5/8” tine. As you can see from this video I made in 2019, both before and after poking these holes, a generous amount of sand will be applied to incorporate into the surface. We will then use brooms and blowers to get that sand into the holes, and finish off with a roll. Fairways will be aerified the week of October 10th, using a solid 5/8″ tine. Both processes will involve no plugs being brought up, which is how we aerify them in the spring. All of this is of course, weather permitting.
While a short term inconvenience to ball roll and playability, aerification is the foundation of proper soil and turf health and a critical component of any agronomic program. It provides new channels for root growth, oxygen to the rootzone, additional avenues for drainage, and relieves compaction. The USGA has a great video that I embedded above further explaining the benefits and importance of aerification. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this busy and quite necessary time in our maintenance schedule!
Related: Tips and Tricks to Speed Up Your Golf Course Maintenance
A reminder that weather permitting, improvements on 9 greens will begin on October 11. Sod will be removed on the right side of the green and 1-2” of soil be transferred from the back to the front, utilizing in house labor and equipment. The resulting grade work will take the entire back to front slope on the green from 5.5% to 3%, within USGA guidelines, while leaving the left side and middle undisturbed. Given the large amount of settling with last year’s practice green construction, we believe there will be much less chance of settling due to the much lesser amount of disruption to the subsoil. The work can be completed within 7 days, weather permitting. The left side of the green would reopen for play after work was completed, with the right side open for play late spring 2023. 2 flags will be placed on 18 green for you to get 18 holes in. This improvement has been discussed for a few years now, and I look forward to completing it this month!
Another project we will be undertaking this fall is a renovation of 3 pond. This pond over the years has become overrun with undesired vegetation, mainly cattails, along its eastern bank. These cattails have caused several key issues affecting the health of the pond, including lower dissolved oxygen levels, clogging the waterfall pump intake, and destabilized the pond bank by creating a desired habitat for muskrats, who in turn have burrowed holes in the liner and led to a daily need of 15,000 gallons to be pumped in to maintain proper levels. The goal of our project is totally restore this pond back to a beautiful native habitat and reduce our footprint and impact on water resources. As you can see with the above map, we will be digging out the muck and old liner after draining the pond, replacing approximately 2/3’s of the rock edge with a grass slope, lowering the land in front of the pond to allow more visibility from all sets of tees, and create better surface drainage in the surrounding area while creating a visually stunning buffer area with pollinator landscaping. This project will be broken up into 2 phases, this fall we will be performing all the excavation and rock moving, and in the spring of 2023 a new liner will be installed, along with the new landscaping.
Elcona was very fortunate to receive a grant from the Fairways Foundation to help cover costs of this project. The Fairways Foundation directly funds local and global projects that advance the conservation of our natural resources. These projects will help to preserve the environment we live and work in whilst encouraging education and stewardship not only within our own industry but also within wider communities. I was introduced to this foundation in 2019 and over the last few years have followed their wonderful support of projects like our opportunity. I am very appreciative of their support of our club and look forward to achieving the final results of our project next April.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I enjoy talking shop and turf with all of you. I hope that everyone has a great week and hope to see you out on the golf course!