Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pesky Little Rodents

As the snow melted and your home lawn became exposed, you likely witnessed some winter activity from voles.  Damage from vole 'runways' and nesting is an un-welcome sight as snow melts.  Golf course damage is typically found along bunker slopes.  But, occasionally can be found on a tee or fairway. This year, #16 forward tee suffered the greatest vole damage I’ve ever seen.

    Vole Damage #2 Fairway 

 Turf damage is primarily caused by feeding, in which the voles chew the plants down to the crown (growing point) at ground level. Additional damage is caused by wear from vole ‘traffic’, and also from the accumulation of vole excrement along the runways. When the snow recedes and the turf first becomes visible in the spring, vole damage can appear dramatic, especially when coupled with other issues such as low temperature injury or snow mold. As noted above, however, voles feed only on turfgrass shoots and the vital crown tissue and root system are typically not disturbed. Very often, grass plants will re-grow in the damaged areas as the weather warms. However, when the damage occurs on a bentgrass fairway or tee, it’s likely that the main growing point was removed, eaten and possibly killed the plants.

Vole damage to #16 Forward Tee

Grass plants completely eaten
Most areas will typically regenerate growth and heal by mid spring.  For areas like #16 tee, if new growth doesn’t generate, the tee surface may need to be aerated and reseeded or maybe even re-sodded.

The significance of this years damage is likely a direct result of the lengthy snow cover we experienced this winter.  The extent of this damage will force me to manage against in future winters.  It'll be too difficult to protect 100% of the golf course.  But, I can utilize bait traps and strategically locate them based upon this activity.




Monday, July 15, 2013

Different. But the Same

The USGA Handicap System™ enables golfers of all skill levels to compete on an equitable basis. Every golf course receives both a USGA Course Rating™ and USGA Slope Rating® for each set of tees that is rated. The rating established for the scratch golfer is known as the Course Rating. The Slope Rating is an evaluation of the relative difficulty of a course for players other than scratch. The USGA Course and Slope ratings are then calculated and certified by the authorized golf associations before they are issued to the club. These ratings are vital in calculating a person's handicap for that particular course (Course Handicap).  

Over the last few years, we have undergone a tee building and tee marker revision to create a golf course that reflects approx 230-240 yard difference between each set of tee markers (Red, Gold, White/Gold and White).  To help maintain the integrity of the handicap system, I will be implementing a course setup routine that will help produce a relatively consistent total distance for each set of markers.

The scorecard lists the yardage for each golf hole and as well as each hole’s handicap stroke application.  The yardage plaque on each tee lists the distance from that plaque to the center of the green.  This new setup routine is designed to create a (6,6,6) daily program for tee marker locations.  By selecting and alternating forward, neutral or back tee marker locations, per each yardage plaque, we should be able to setup up the golf course to maintain the approximate 230-240 yard difference desired between each set of tee markers.  Occasionally, we will target a ‘neutral’ setup in which all tee markers will be located in the general vicinity of each respective yardage plaque. 

For example: Friday July 12, 2013

Hole #1:      Shorter (all tee markers will be positioned ahead of the yardage plaques).

Hole #2:      Neutral (all tee markers will be positioned at or near the yardage plaques).

Hole #3:      Longer (all tee markers will be positioned behind the yardage plaques).

This rotation would then start over on Hole #4.  On the following day, the entire rotation would be advanced so that Hole #1 would begin with a neutral distance setup. Lastly, when the back tee on #3 is in use, another golf hole(s) will be set significantly shorter to help even out the eventual impact to the total yardage.

I hope I didn’t confuse anyone.  But, I wanted to assure everyone that we are considering all factors when preparing the golf course each day.






Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wildlife Vandalism

As the snow continues to recede across the golf course, the effects of winter become visible. Snow mold can be found in the roughs. Poa annua appears stressed and injured from the winter weather. And evidence of wildlife activity can be found throughout the golf course, particularly on #4 Green. #4 Green suffered a significant mount of deer hoof scraping. I’m not sure what the deer were doing, causing the damage to occur. But, my mind is picturing the videos found on the National Geographic Channel, such as the episodes of fighting males defending their herd or territory.

It’s too early to tell the extent of this injury. Each hoof scrape is approximately 1-1.5” wide. All leaf tissue has been removed exposing our heavy sand topdressing layer. Upon closer inspection, I do see the growing points (Crown) of the bentgrass plants. However, I’m not sure of the extent of damage to the crowns. And will need to monitor through the spring green up.

Once the severity of the injury can be determined, I can create a plan to assist in the healing process. This process will likely include hand spiking and adding bentgrass seed and applying a little extra fertilizer to help the surrounding bentgrass spread sideways and close up the scrape marks.

Deer Damage to #4 Green

Closer view of #4 Green

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

OGC Tips and Tricks

Last summer I was approached by TurfNet and asked to share some of my professional tips and tricks that I utilize to care and prepare the golf course. TurfNet is an online professional networking platform where golf course superintendents can share experiences, opinions, tips & tricks, solutions and mistake avoidance tactics. Many of my management adaptations have been a result of information shared throughout TurfNet.
Below are links to (3) Tips & Tricks videos that I fumbled my way through. I enjoyed the process and the opportunity to highlight the Oconomowoc Golf Club. However, I quickly came to realize that I have a face for radio and my acting skills are nonexistent. These videos were recorded and can be seen on TurfNet TV.
Mower Routing Card

Tool Wall

Protecting Bunker Edges

Thank you for viewing and I hope you enjoy.


Monday, August 13, 2012

FORE! It’s more than just a number

Last September I was checking the golf course following a warm, dry day. During my return back to the maintenance building, I was hit in the chest by a golf ball . It was a tee ball from #1 tee. I was not visible to the golfer and cannot blame him for the hit. After 20+ years on a golf course, it was my first ‘hit’. It caused a nice bruise. But it also made me wonder ‘what if’ the ball had struck me 12” higher and in the face.

Earlier this season, two OGC members were victims of an errant golf ball and both suffered head trauma. Every season, I learn of ‘close calls’ from the Grounds and Greens Staff. We train employees to be aware of approaching golfers and to vacate the work area to protect themselves and allow the members and guests to play through. The other day, I came across a blog article from the Grass Goober (author unknown) that I’d like to share. Please take the time to read and understand the concerns. Maintaining the Oconomowoc Golf Club is a wonderful and rewarding opportunity. However, preventing injury from a golf ball is a two-way responsibility. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

This career shouldn't be this dangerous

Having a career on a golf course means many things. Including a certain element of risk. But those risks should only be from pesticides, equipment, and mother nature. As I'm sitting here writing this blog, I'm having to wear sunglasses and type for a few minutes at a time or my vision gets blurry and my head starts pounding. Why you ask. This is about what happened to me on Monday August 6th 2012. The parts I remember anyway.

I remember being on the 4th green scouting helminthosporium with my spray tech Steve Scott when the next thing I know I wake up in his car on the way to the hospital. I got knocked out for almost 10 minutes by a golf ball. Over 48 hours later I still don't remember actually getting hit but Steve tells me that the golfer didn't yell fore nor did he bother to see if I was ok. The ball hit me in the side of the head above my right ear, less than 2 inches from my temple. Which more than likely would have killed me. The golf ball compressed when it hit my head and put a massive bruise on my brain giving me a grade 3 concussion and possibly permanent brain damage.

Here is what I have been going through ever since that golfer decided that I was in his way. I've had 2 CT scans, and scheduled for another next week. I can't go to work because bright lights and noise put me in unbearable pain. I'm talking a lot slower than I used to, sounding like I have a mental retardation. I'm having trouble saying what I am thinking. BUT besides all the pain I'm having, the absolute worst part is the amount of stress and worry this guy decided to put on my fiance. For those of you who know us, AJ has been there for me from the moment she got to the hospital. Staying up all night to make sure she wouldn't have to rush me back to the hospital because my condition worsened. Having to take me to the bathroom and putting me in the shower while I was getting my balance back. The doctors seem to think that after the massive bruise on my brain starts to heal that I will make a full recovery. They are saying that I have a 90-95% chance of not having permanent brain damage. We will find out next week on that.

I've been asked if I'm going to sue this guy or press chargers. No. Once I found out who did it, it made that decision even easier. I know he has 3 children and I'm not going to let his stupidity ruin their childhood. But since I have complete power here, his membership has been revoked from all the properties. And once I start feeling better I'm going to make it my mission to black ball him from playing golf in this area again.

The question that has to be asked is WHY? Why couldn't you yell, whistle, or drive up and let us know you where there? Would you hit that shot if another golfer were standing on that green? Better yet, what if that worker you see was your own child? Would you still hit that shot, or would you let them clear the green? If you answer no you wouldn't hit if I had been a golfer or your child, then why would you hit at me when I clearly wasn't looking your direction? People working on a golf course will get out of your way when given half a chance, but you need to have a little patience as well. I got lucky, I could just as easily not be writing about this right now.

I would like to thank all my family and friends for all their support to AJ and myself. I'll be back to my old self before you know it. FYI it took me almost 6 hours to write this.

Posted by Grassgoober at 3:47 PM