Monday, January 10th, 2011

Course Conditions
Frost continues to throw the proverbial screwball at us and has made it difficult for us to keep things open. Luckily we had some warmer weather by Friday and were able to mow some fairways and cut the greens. I am very pleased at where the greens are right now except for the amount of Poa annual that we are seeing. It is certainly hard to get used to after managing mostly bent greens over the past 9 years. The putting quality will not change but we will have to be more diligent in disease control in that Poa annua is a host to many more diseases than bentgrass.

Friday we were unable to open fifteen due to the layer of frost that was still evident when we tried to change the cup. As the greens come out of the hard freeze it is critical that we watch how much moisture we receive and how fast the frost layer thaws. The frost is literally an impermeable layer which doesn't allow water to drain through the profile, thus creating a saturated layer at the surface. In the photo to the left you can observe the frost layer between the scratches. When we this occurs we run the risk of creating sever damage to the plant by literally turning the surface into a wet sponge that will turn to mush with excessive foot traffic.  We like to call it root shearing so please be patient during these times when the greens look thawed from the top and we still have them closed. From what I see from the weather forecast, this week we are due for another round of freezing and perhaps a couple days of snow.

In many parts of the country, mainly in the northern climates, golf courses shut down their irrigation systems and blow out there lines to prevent freezing. Here in the Willamette Valley a lot of courses don't since our frost layer generally doesn't go deep enough to cause concern. One of the advantages that we have found is that during these periods when the temperatures are below freezing for a few days it is easy to spot irrigation leaks or in this case a really bad spring. This photo (right) demonstrates what we will typically see when one or the other is observed.

This week we continued to prune the many small firs around the course. Steve Pearce has been doing an exceptional job shaping them up and staying busy even during the frosty periods. 

Stone Creek Trees
Friday Damon Schrosk of Treecology and Terry Flannigan of  Teragan & Associates, Inc. came out to take a look at our Douglas firs. Terry is a consulting arborist and is working with Damon and me in developing a management program for our large Douglas firs. Terry was encouraged by what he saw of the trees that we performed the air knife under. He feels that it would be well worth our while to invest in this to help save some of the failing trees. He is going to follow up his visit with a report that I will share with everyone in March. Below are a few of the photos that I took during our walk that demonstrates the thinning that we are starting to see and some of the dead ones that will need to be dealt with.

I have Treecology scheduled for our regular winter maintenance in January. This year we reduced our pruning budget and will not be able to get around to as many trees as we used to. Our priority will be safety, addressing a couple dead trees and removing widow makers and some dead tops.  

Lets keep our fingers crossed in that the snow they are predicting (or should I say guessing) doesn't materialize. Have a great week!

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