Course Condition Update; overseeding & aerification

September 19, 2010

Now this is more like it!  As I’m writing this blog, it is hard to imagine there could be a nicer day weather wise.  Temperatures in the low 70’s with a light breeze and nary a cloud in sight.  Hope you’re enjoying your round of golf at Hilldale…thanks for coming out.  As I mentioned in the last update, maintenance practices can really be intensified this time of year due to such benign weather conditions.  Green speeds are running just over 11′ this morning as the putting surfaces had no problem handling a double cut and rolling. These practices will continue as we head into the fall golf season.  It is a pleasure to manage poa/bentgrass greens when you combine cool temps., light moisture (.25″ of rain yesterday morning), and no seedheads.

Overseeding work has been completed on tees 11 & 13 and fairways 2, 11, 18.  A newer generation of bentgrass seed was planted this year, and so far germination has been excellent as #18 fairway is completely filled in, with the tees and #2 fairway not far behind. #11 fairway was just completed two days ago, and because the new seed only takes about one week to germinate, you should see significant progress…if not complete fill in by mid-October.  Just a note about the newer generation bentgrasses; they have a much denser growth habit along with a great ability to handle heat stress.  Today, many courses in the southeast part of the country are using these new bents because of that ability to tolerate high heat.  The older bentgrasses that were planted on golf courses forty and fifty years ago, simply don’t have the “makeup” to withstand the kind of summer heat that hit the Chicago area this year and the southeast part of the country just about every year. 

We will delay greens aerification plans for at least one more week to allow our customers the benefit of putting on undisturbed greens.  Please remember that when we do aerify, only half of each green is done at one time with the hole location put on the non-aerified half.  Following recovery of the first half (2 week period),  the other half of each green will be done. We’ve received very positive feedback at Hilldale by using this method…obviously the idea is to give our golfers a large area around the cup from which to putt w/o rolling over a recently disturbed surface.  Needless to say, if aerification wasn’t such an integral part of producing high quality greens, then it would not be done.  

Please share your opinion if there is something the Hilldale Grounds Department can do to better your golf course experience…comments are always welcome.

Sincerely,

Bryan Widmer, CGCS

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One Hot Summer-Course Condition Update

September 3, 2010

The middle of August has always been considered a kind of “magical date” in this part of the country…to those of us in the golf course management industry.  This time of year is usually when weather conditions soften to the point of much less stress on plants and more specifically…turfgrass plants.  Even though temperatures can still be very hot and sometimes uncomfortable during late summer/early fall, it rarely lasts for an extended period.  Well, needless to say the end of August was a welcome sight this year.  Average temps this summer were the hottest on record since 1995.  A combination of high heat and excessive rainfall put a tremendous amount of stress on golf courses throughout the country.  That combination raises soil temperatures and lowers soil oxygen to what can be lethal levels for turfgrass roots.  I’m guessing you can tell by the way this blog started…it has been a difficult year to grow grass.  Ok, I won’t bore you with more talk of stress and hard times managing a golf course…what’s done is done.  Let’s look ahead. 

I’d be lying if I said I’m happy with the condition of every green, tee, and fairway at Hilldale, but it could definitely be worse.  The greens are in great shape heading into the fall season, and I need to say thanks to all of our guests and regular players for their patience as speeds were a little slower than normal these past few weeks.  Last weekend saw the men play their annual Calcutta event, and with aggressive maintenance practices being employed, green speeds of 11′ were once again the norm. As far as tees and fairways are concerned, you will see some extensive overseeding done to fairways 2, 11, and 18 in coming weeks and par 3 tees will also get our full attention.  Please don’t worry about overseeding efforts impacting your round of golf as this work will take place during non-peak  hours.  I expect complete recovery in what should be a fairly quick timetable and will keep you informed.  Thanks for playing Hilldale and enjoy the beautiful weather…September is a great time to play golf!

Bryan Widmer, CGCS