Once the course closes for the season the question “What do you do all winter?” usually comes up. It’s a valid question because if there are no golfers on the course what could the grounds department be doing? Actually many things still need to be done in the off season to prepare for next season. Our first priority is making sure the appropriate plant protectants are applied to the greens, tees and fairways to prevent snow mold. Snow mold as it’s name implies is a winter fungus that can damage grass throughout the winter with or without snow cover. There are two types; Pink and Grey. Pink can occur without snow cover in cool and damp conditions, Grey needs snow cover to get started. We finished our last application yesterday and it should help protect the grass through March.
Our next priority before the snow blankets the ground is course clean up. It is vital to the health of the grass to make sure leaves are mulched or removed. Also fall cleanup helps with spring clean up, the more leaves and debris we can get cleaned up in the fall will in turn save us time in the spring. We usually will be performing fall clean up most days on the course until we are unable due to snow.
Also before the snow comes we will put a final coat of sand on the greens to help protect them from the cold winds that winter brings. We also spend time buttoning up any projects and if the weather cooperates we sometimes are able to start new projects.
Many winters most of our time is spent working on trees. With either removal or pruning. This winter will be no different. We have many Ash trees to remove because of the destructive Emerald Ash Borer insect. This insect has been responsible for the destruction of most Ash trees across the entire state and our golf course. Ash removal will take most of our time, but we also need to address other problem trees as well due to safety concerns, decay and any other problem trees.
Other winter responsibilities include; snow removal, planning for the next golf season, equipment repair/upkeep and continuing education.
As you can see our winter schedule is filled with activities to help ensure we provide the best possible golf course for the next season. Thank you for another successful year at Bucks Run and we can’t wait to see you in the spring. Have a great day.
A good thing about the fall season is you can mark items off of your “to-do” list and you know that you won’t have to perform that task until next season. In the last two weeks we were able to mark off two items; greens aeration and irrigation winterization.
Last Monday and Tuesday we cored greens. We were a little more aggressive this year so we could help increase drainage in the summer months. We used a little larger coring tine and we were able to affect 4.5% surface area, punch 464,000 holes, remove about 1845 cubic feet of soil and replace with around 55 tons of straight sand. That is large amount of material that we removed and it will help the greens next year filter water through the profile faster. It is very labor intensive, all of the cores are shoveled into utility vehicles by hand and hauled away. One great thing about Bucks Run is we are a team and we not only say that we practice it. The Pro Shop staff helped with shoveling all of the cores, without their help it would have been a monumental task for the limited staff that we have on grounds at this time. Thank you to Jon and his staff for the help.
Yesterday we blew out the irrigation lines to prepare them for winter and prevent any breaks from freezing. This is another long day and usually a cold day. The weather yesterday was not too bad and we were able to finish right at dark. To save money on compressor rental we work with The Pohl Cat and Mt. Pleasant CC and rent the large compressor for the week. We split the cost of rental and it works out great for all involved.
Leaves are our main focus right now. It takes a full day to get through the course and we start over each morning, it seems like Ground Hog day over and over, but it’s a critical task for playability and general course upkeep. The leaves are taking their time falling this year but this week I expect a majority to fall with the cold temperatures that we will have.
There are still many good golf days ahead and I hope to see you out on the course. Have a great day.
It’s been a great couple of weeks for golf at Bucks Run. I hope you have been able to stop out and enjoy the great weather with a round of golf.
I have played in the Wednesday night men’s league since it’s inception in 2008. Also I have played in the Wednesday fall league the past few years when time allows. I play in the leagues for a few reasons; build relationships, see the course from the golfer’s perspective, work on my game (it’s a work in progress) and have fun. I can say that I am able to accomplish every goal each week. By playing the course I can see and get feedback on areas of the course that we can improve. I usually take mental notes and work on improving any areas that need it in the coming days. I was fortunate enough to play with two members this past Wednesday. We had a lot of fun and it was one of my more enjoyable rounds of the year. We were able to relax, play some good golf and just had fun. We were also able to take time to talk about course maintenance and I believe I was able to give them a better understanding of how we do things and how it impacts play.
With fall comes a reduced work force on the grounds. We employ many students full time in the summer and when school starts back up they have to scale back their work schedules. We have many part time employees this time of year that may only work one or two days a week or just mornings. We have to adjust our maintenance based on available labor for a given day. We are able to get the basic maintenance done everyday like mowing but are not always able to do the extras. We are not able to double mow or roll as much as in the summer and bunkers are not raked seven days per week in the fall. When we see green speeds drop below our threshold we will forego another maintenance activity and either double mow or roll to get the greens up into our target area. Also golfers can do their part by always raking out the traps behind them, like I stated earlier the hazards will not be raked everyday so golfers need to leave the course good for the next golfer.
A couple of quick fall lawn tips. If you have received rain like we have over the past week or so and you have good soils it’s probably a good time to stop watering your lawn. No need to have your system winterized yet but shutting it down until the grass shows signs of drought stress will help provide a healthier lawn going into winter. It will also save on your water bill as well. Also moles are really active right now and I have spoken to a few home owners about the little varmints. A common theme I hear is “we have moles so we applied Grub-Ex to the lawn”. I usually follow up and ask if they still have moles and the answer is “yes”. Moles do eat grubs but if you have moles you don’t always have grubs. Moles eat earth worms, roots and just about anything else they find underground. If you have grubs you will know it and moles will be the least of your worries. We use traps at the course, it takes some practice but you can have pretty good success with them. We use the Nash Products “Choker Loop” they can be found on line for around $15.
Have a great weekend and as always fix your ball marks and replace your divots. Go Green! and Fire Up Chips!
It’s been quite an interesting week. On Tuesday we experienced three different storm cells that dropped a total of 4.15 inches of rain. To put that into perspective our average rainfall for the month of August is 3.33 inches of rain. To put it mildly we were wet. The first cell that occurred in the early morning hours brought high winds and the course was littered with debris. It took all day Tuesday to get the course cleaned up. As we were leaving the course around 5:00 pm the second cell moved in and then a couple of hours after that the third cell moved in. The two storms in the evening brought heavy down pours but little wind. No wind was a relief because Wednesday was a day to repair all of the bunkers that had washed out. Thursday we were getting closer to normal and it was nice not to have any cart restrictions. Greens were slow but that is to be expected after rainfall like we experienced. Today the course looks great and the greens are back to normal.
There are some positive things to take away from this week. We didn’t need all the rain at once but we did need it. The greens flushed, meaning the high volume of water flushed through the profile and into the drainage system. When the greens flush it takes salts and other bad stuff with it. On Wednesday you could tell the greens perked up a bit. We will flush greens 2-3 times in a season with our irrigation system but nothing compares when mother nature does it for you. Having no cart path restrictions 36 hours after the last rain drops fell is pretty impressive as well. I really admire the vision and planning that went into the construction of this course, and that can be attributed to Jerry Matthews and the Fisher family. And last but truly not least our grounds crew really came together and worked their tails off. Raking debris for ten hours one day and the next day another ten hours of shoveling sand is no easy task. To have the course back to normal on Thursday and looking great on Friday is a testament to the hard work of your grounds crew. If you see them on the course give them a thumbs up or a thank you.
Have a great Labor Day weekend and I hope to see you on the course. Go Green! Today’s prediction MSU 36 The Ol Grey Mares 3.
Over the last few weeks we completed the reconstruction of two nurseries located at the back of the driving range. Both were seeded to bentgrass and will be cut at tee/fairway height. The nursery grass is used for repairs on the course and special projects. We used the last of the nursery sod last season as we expanded #6 white tee and reclaimed a championship tee on #16. We seeded the nursery to a newer variety bentgrass named T-1, we chose this variety due to it’s aggressive nature. Our hope is to have the sod ready for late fall when we will strip and level #17 white tee. It is a relatively small tee for a short par three and has taken some abuse over the years. We are hoping the newer variety will recover much faster than the existing stand. While we are stripping the tee we will also try to expand the tee as much as possible. If #17 goes well we plan to do the same process on #4 white tee.
So it was a successful project. The weather was great for establishing new grass. We will continue to push the grass, with the ultimate goal of being able to harvest sod late fall. If it’s not ready we will be able to harvest sod early spring.
As always have a great day, pick up your feet on the greens and repair those ball marks.