Welcome to the Greens and Grounds Department Blog for Oconomowoc Golf Club. Our team intends to educate, inform, and update members about golf course maintenance procedures as well as post timely information throughout the year.

Friday, September 13, 2019

September Rain

Right after Labor Day, the Southeast part of Wisconsin has been hit with generally normal rainstorms but they have happened at the worst times.  Typically on Monday's and Tuesday's which has not been good timing for our aerification goals.

September 3rd      .25"
September 4th      .06"
September 9th      .06
September 10th    .71"
September 11th    .13"
September 12th    .94"
September 13th    1.34"

Total to date:        3.49"


Nonetheless, our team was hard at work showcasing the fine layout... Check out our teams mowing... Fantastic!

Aerification Update

8th Hole Final

Aerification Update

Dear Oconomowoc Golf Club Members,
If you've been trapped, under a rock, or even recently in Italy, you may even know the weather hasn't worked in our favor for our greens aerification. Yesterday, we aerified and sanded the greens on the front nine including the putting green. Last nights rain has halted our plans to close the back nine and finish the greens aerification.
We have rescheduled the back nine greens aerification for this coming Monday or Tuesday. For an educational background on the process, see the fantastic photos taken from our photo journalist.

Deep tine aerification of putting green

Blue flag inserted into one aerification hole...

Creepy hand in picture or reading the tape measure ~9" down

Sanding the greens...

Result after brushing sand and ~0.75" rain. Looks great!

Aerification Dates

Tuesday after Labor Day begins the process of aerification on the course.  We aerify for many reasons, but the most important reason for the membership is that it continues to make the course consistent and healthy, the way you’d like to play a golf course.  Aerification ultimately improves the health of the plants and without healthy turfgrasses, we don’t have a golf course.  Our turfgrass team plans to begin aerification this coming Tuesday, September 3rd, weather permitting. The tentative plans are as follows:
·       Greens Aerification – September 3rd and 4th (Deep Tine Aeration)
·       Tee Aerification – September 5th and 6th (Hollow Tine Aeration)
·       Approach Aerification – September 9th and 10th (Hollow Tine Aeration)
·        Fairway Aerification will be determined throughout early September based on how the weather cooperates.  We plan to notify you on those times, so you are aware of what is happening on the golf course.  Generally, other than greens aerification, the other parts of aerification are less intrusive to the game.  We plan to accomplish our goals to strengthen our turfgrasses.
#16 Naturalized/Native Area Renovation

Recently, our team has been preparing the site around #16 tees for a turfgrass renovation in hopes to change the turfgrasses/weeds to a more natural fescue area.  To fully accomplish this task, it may take a few years, but our goal is to create fine fescues that do not get 7’ high as some of the turfgrasses currently in that area.  The next step on #16 is to spray to eradicate some of the noxious plants.  Once safe to seed, we plan to seed the area with fine fescue and allow time for establishment.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Early August Notes

It's Invitational Week... Here's a (quick) note...

What's different about this picture?
a. the fountains are not on
b. no flagstick or pin on the green
c. half the green looks to be darker than the other
d. the blue sky looks photo shopped
e. it's a bird, no a plane, rather just some storm damage in the woods (sometimes they fall where you'd prefer they fall... yikes)
answer: all of the above!

Early August Notes:
The repairs on #11 Approach are coming along nicely.  You may ask, what happened?  Well, as I've become aware of, the course has this phenomenon of having old abandoned irrigation pipes every so often heave/stick out of the ground.  This happened to be the case on #11 approach which happened to cross the entire fairway. :(  Our team decided to pull it out of the ground as it was only 2.5-3" below ground and as evidence (pic 4), the old pipe was also receiving some aerification holes from past years aerifications.  As a result, we wanted to take it out on #11 so that we don't have equipment problems on that area anymore.  Unfortunately, the sod we took off didn't cut well so we ended up using some sod from our turfgrass nursery.  We purposely "crowned" the area as we know it will settle given the pipe that was in their originally.  We plan to fully fix it this coming fall if we need to slightly adjust it.

New Mower and Triflex Demo...
Late in July, we were lucky to demo (try) two newer technologies that would be useful here in the future. The first item was what we call a triflex.  This unit is a precision riding greensmower that would allow us to continue mowing the greens to the highest standards when our labor market is low due to team members going to school in the spring and fall.  The other nice advantage to the unit is that we can schedule a "second" mow to the greens during peak months to give those greens a finer buzz.
The other unit we tried out was Toro's brand new "fixed" greensmower.  We were the first course in the state of WI to try out the mower.  We are the premier Club to beta-test brand new technology, we'll take it.  Regardless, it was nice to see the newest greensmower on the market and if this unit would work at OGC.  Overall, it was a user friendly mower and one that would work great here at the Club.
Sorry Mark Robel (Equip Sales for Reinders... You made the Blog...)
Over the month of July, we casually had a few members ask what Joel, Mike, or I were doing on the Greens with this "Pogo" looking stick.  What it is called is, a moisture meter...  The moisture meter allows us to determine the water content in the soil at a fixed depth.  Once the moisture content is calibrated to what we are targeting, then you could send any other team members to use and water based on what readings they are getting.  Effectively, this tool allows us to Micro-climate (micromanage) the greens and add water to areas that need it and areas that don't.

During the last week of July, our team was able to apply sand to some key locations on the course and hope to continue to do so in August as well.  We targeted topdressing some fairways, fairway landing zones, and tees on the course.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to do these practices on a Monday, as our event calendar has been booked since June for Mondays.  Ideally, having two Mondays a month would avoid having these practices done during normal golf play.  Pictured below, shows the before/after sand being applied to #13 fairway.  We topdress the entire fairway as this fairway is the "worst" drained fairway on the course.  By adding sand over the years, we should be able to improve the drainage or at least not make it worse :)

This month, we had a first for me.  A motorized handicap golf caddie (cart).  This unit allowed someone to play/swing the golf club.  I was a bit worried about the unit on the greens but the operator that was using this on Monday, formerly worked on golf courses and knew to be extra careful turning and moving on the greens. 

The night of August 5th, the course was hit with a storm.  We ended up losing a few big branches and 2 entire trees on the property.  The pic below is from a tree between 9 and 10 that lost a good sized branch, the middle picture is just a Norway maple that has girdled roots and rapidly dying off.  The bottom picture is a tree that fell on that night of August 5th from the base.  Pretty wild to see the tree break off right at the ground level.

Lastly, we are keeping an eye on this strange line on #6 green.  At this point we are unsure what caused this discoloration/line as we don't know if it was self inflicted as it doesn't seem like a natural disease. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Dog Days of Summer

July Course Update

The ole saying... "Dog Days of Summer"... How did they get me resting in those nicely groomed bunkers on #8.
Early in July, we had a few windstorms that were pretty intense.  We lost a few giant tree limbs.  The top picture fell within 30 minutes of a Monday golf outing on #1.  Oh boy...

There are 2 "rough" maple trees that fell from high winds and weak tree limbs. Unfortunately, these will have to come out for safety reasons.  
Wow, most of July has been a test for a lot of us Wisconsin turf nerds.  Daily temperatures nearing record highs for almost 2 weeks straight with mid 90's and high humidity levels = pull hair out = stressful time for us...  I must take a hint from these construction workers next time... 
Luckily, the course fared reasonably well throughout the intense stretch of weather we had through the beginning to mid July.  Generally, when humidity goes up, green speeds go down slightly due to higher water contents absorbed in the leaf tissues and those plant tissues not being able to "respire" (retaining water inside the leaf blades).  Thankfully, on July 18th we finally got some much overdue rainfall.  Our last good rainfall was on July 1st.  We were due!  Overall, the course held up well and we were able to control the main diseases that affect the turf during these high stressful times.
This is the bad thing with rainstorms.  NOOOO.   The bunkers here at OGC are a known problem with inconsistencies with their construction, design, and composition.  We hope to fix these items in a much larger scale restoration/renovation.  Yuck...
Normal Bunker Washouts with Rainstorms = Soil/Rock/Sand Contamination
We did see a few isolated spots throughout the course whether it be from irrigation sprinkler heads or irrigation controllers not working correctly and a few diseases on the banks of the #10 forward tee.  On Sunday of the Ross Cup, Mike and I were out troubleshooting an irrigation controller between each group.  There were 18 sprinkler heads not working.  Sorry for those on #6 tee that had to dodge a sprinkler when hitting.  This was another problem with that controller that day.  The most affected area on the course happened to be on the #9 forward tee.  We believe the irrigation controller wasn't working properly on the forward tee which caused the tee to become predominantly "moisture stressed" and turn the top of the tee stark brown.  We plan to hand water that tee for the next few weeks to see if we can get it to rebound.  You can even see some small footprints from that..  :)   

Irrigation controller not working correctly on #9 forward tee
Never seen this before... Usually I see cart tracking when moisture stressed, but never from walking.  :(

Odds and Ends...
One item we will be looking at in the foreseeable future is to verticut fairways at OGC.  A sales person from Georgia was in town (beating the heat, I guess) and had his verticutter implement to show off.  We ended up trying it on the range chipping fairway.  Works great but debris collection would be the next concern.  Overall, verticutting helps condition the plants to grow healthier and ultimately firm up playing surfaces.  It removes the unwanted "soft, spongy" thatch/organic matter under the turf's surface.

Nearest Lines = blown off turf from vertuctting. No impact to play on fairways when blown off.

Thanks to our handy mechanic, Smokey, he was able to update the #12 counter to a more presentable surface. 

Our team began auditing our irrigation system and turning on sprinklers to see if they needed repairs, what types of parts were in them, and troubleshoot any not working correctly.  The added bonus for Joel, our assistant, was on those hot days he didn't mind getting close to those sprinklers getting him wet as if he spent his day at Noah's Ark. 

Our team did have a few course tee marker setup mistakes but have since been able to correct those quickly by painting some tee blocks half red/half gold and on #9 half white/gold.

One focus in July was to begin squaring the tee boxes on the course.  We noticed coming out of the winter tee edges were a little wavy and wanted to see if we could straighten them out.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do this in the Spring, given the condition of the irrigation system and lack of an assistant, but we are starting to work on these detail items now. 

Another item completed in July, was bringing in an Arborist for a tree review.  Almost every year, OGC has brought this consultant in to take a look at the trees.  The focus in the past was on infected Imprelis trees.  The Greens and Grounds Committee wanted to get a tree assessment specifically the ash trees.  Unfortunately, all of the ash trees are showing signs of Emerald Ash Borer Infection (~30 trees).  The Arborist recommended these trees could not be saved given the infection of EAB.  We've known about Emerald Ash Borers for at least 6-8 years, but even treated trees are starting to show signs of infection.
Emerald Ash Borer Infection  - Left of #15 - were treated here before my tenure.  Didn't work.
Starting in July, we have had a team member begin to prune some much needed trees on the property.  We will be pruning some limbs that our team cannot cut safely in August by hiring a contractor to come in for a day.  Stay tuned for those.  :)
Pruning to be done in August - Bring on the Tree Climbers

New's Flash...  Don't leave your moon roofs open or windows for that matter. :)

I've seen it all now.  A duck on top of a Car!  Must have been checking out the Moon Roof.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

June Course Update

June is in full swing and which is a good time to give some updates.

Wildlife in Full Bloom...

Try attempting to fix an irrigation satellite to almost have a heart attack as you almost stepped on a baby fawn.  Fixing the satellite didn't mean much after seeing the joys of our wildlife here at OGC.  In addition, we have seen so many fury critters all around this season from the Turkey Trotters, the monarch butterfly caterpillars are abundant, to the deer herd/population, to the turtles laying their eggs in fresh sod on #13 (thanks!), the red tail hawks, and i didn't forget you, to the hundreds of frogs in the pond on #13.  We even had our famous cranes strolling the property this Spring too.  Here at OGC, you are never alone with the wildlife that uses the property as their home and sanctuary! 

#10 Landscaping...
Early in June, a landscape company was able to complete the project on #10 which will mature as the plants establish and flourish for years to come.  The crane sculptures will also continue to be accented in this perennial bed.  The outcropping of stones too add a dynamic touch, I just couldn't figure out where the waterfall should have went (Sorry the Legends Clubs...)

Sodding of Tree Areas...
After the first few weeks of June, our team worked hard laying down the rest of the sod and repairing the remaining tree areas and miscellaneous spots to improve the quality of grass in the rough.  In total, we purchased 24 pallets of sod which is around 12,000 sq. ft.  The weather wasn't fully cooperative as our second batch of sod came during a dry spell with very little rain.  With all the sodded areas scattered throughout the course and not concentrated in one area, it has been a challenge to keep these areas wet to allow for the sod to establish smoothly.  Some areas that don't survive, I plan to swap out with some new sod rolls in late June or early July.  Soon, we will be taking off the ropes and stakes and be able to use these areas for normal play.  With some extra rolls of sod, we were also able to fix up the fairway bentgrass areas that needed a few adjustments by utilizing the front part of the 17th fairway.
Look at that completed hillside right of the Green (w/a Magnifying Glass)!!
Range Bushes...
In May's newsletter, I discussed the bushes between the parking lot and the range tee.  With no better reason other than that some survived the brutal winter and some didn't.  Our team held out hope for a few more weeks that the bushes would decide to fill in, but unfortunately, they did not, so we ended up cutting these bushes down to where the growth was and see what will happen with the re-growth.  If the re-growth isn't favorable, we will know what to do towards the end of the season or early next year.

Bunker Work
Here in June, the Greens and Grounds Team has been working on some of the bunkers.  Some members have been edging the bunker faces to give them a crisp clean detailed look while some of the other team members have been working on fixing some of the troublesome bunkers that had a poor liner material or minimal sand amounts.  The most noticeable bunker will be the left green side bunker on #8 where the team carefully removed the white liner from the entire bunker and then added fresh sand to increase the amount of material there and provide better playing conditions.  Right after adding sand to this bunker, it may play a little differently to the other bunkers but will settle down more as the season draws on.
Nice new Edge on the Bunker!

Nice work Sam!

Jake, Jacob, and Sam Working on Peeling the Bad Liner Out.

Jake, Jacob, and Sam Working on Liner Peeling

Removed Bunker Liner Material from #8 Left Green Bunker

Pumpstation/Satellite/Irrigation Work
This Spring and early Summer we have really worked hard on repairing the irrigation system to replace sprinklers that were damaged towards the end of last year and also replacing certain components that have been worn out.  In total, I have replaced around 20 entire sprinklers, 75 internal sprinkler bodies, and about 125 or more retainer rings that are a part of the fairway sprinkler system.  In total, the irrigation system has ~807 sprinkler heads.  Also, I've had a veteran contractor help me from time to time to work on an aging irrigation system that is 25+ years old.  We are starting to see more wear on the entire system and will need to plan accordingly in the future to address this key "heart and artery" infrastructure that keeps this course what we all call OGC.
Those Ugly Green Boxes in the Rough.. This is what the insides look.  ~25yrs ago these were state of art.  Things obviously changed since then....  The pieces inside are not readily available and make watering a challenge without working properly (I brought the only available parts from the company which they call "Refurbished" parts and the part that was supposed to be good was actually worse than the part that needed to be replaced in the satellite).  Sigh  

Remember, when laying sod, the green side goes up!

September Rain

Right after Labor Day, the Southeast part of Wisconsin has been hit with generally normal rainstorms but they have happened at the worst tim...