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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Course Photos

Aerification Updates September 24th


Aerification Updates

Dear Oconomowoc Golf Club Members,
Last week, we finished greens aerification (Sept. 16th). The crowd roars... Thanks for your patience this month and understanding with Mother Nature. We also aerified the green collars on Tuesday and Wednesday which was done to improve the health and reduce the accumulation of sand on the greens edges. Some in the industry call that "sand dams".
This week, we have started fairway aerification. This process will take time and very important to the health of the fairways. Our plan is to aerify early each week (Monday through Wednesday's) if weather allows. Yesterday, our team was able to aerify the practice tees and #1 fairway. Today, we plan to work on #9, #10, and possibly #18 (unlikely). Wednesday most likely #18 and/or #16. We do not plan to close these holes any of the days but we ask to keep carts in Rough to avoid squishing those soil plugs into the ground. I'll post our plans each day on the putting green so you know our plans. Next week we will plan to do a few more if Mother Nature cooperates. Another project update is the work done on #16 tees. We are in the process of converting the naturalized area to a fescue blend. We have closed the upper men's tee for that reason. Our goals are to seed this area within the next week.

Aerification of the Greens Collars


#9 Green and Fairway Vista

#14 Looking Great!

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.

Course Update