Removing snow from putting greens February 2014

Removing snow from putting greens February 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Greens Update

This winter was definitely not kind to our putting surfaces and we have a encountered a severe amount of damage on all 19 greens.  The primary cause, was a layer of ice that had developed on top of them starting in early January and lasted for 55 to 85 days.  Coupled with the tremendously cold winter and significant snowfall, many South East Michigan courses are suffering winter damage.

Last week we started on our journey to recovery.  We have decided our best approach is to regrow our playing surfaces from grass that survived the winter, Annual Bluegrass (POA) seed that exists in the soil, and incorporating a newer variety of Bent grass seed.  There are many steps to our recovery, with the foundation of it being time and patience to achieve positive results.   Our first step in our process at Forest Lake, was incorporating the Bent grass seed into the existing green.  Below is start to finish of seeding the greens;

Verti-cutting double direction to create channels for bent grass seed to fall into
Depth of first verti-cut slice

Cleaning up thatch and debris from verti-cutting
Several cartloads of material were collected through this pocress
Spiking the greens 3 different directions to allow more slits for seed to fall into
Drop spreading seed in 2 different directions
Bent Grass Seed
Topdressing to cover seed and to help for good seed/soil contact
Applying starter fertilizer to boost nutrition to provide food during seed germination
Rolling to also help with seed/soil contact
Water, Water, Water.  Very important to keep seeds and young plants moist during establishment
Covering all of the greens to increase temperature and humidity during germination
We are hoping to see our first results of germination after 7 days.  We have already seen some positive results in new active growth from the existing turf.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Course Update

Spring is officially here!  Even though at times the weather still has that end of winter chill.  We are definitely going to have a late spring warm up, which will slow greening of the turf.  This severe winter has offered many challenges on grass wide spread through Michigan. Rough grass areas and bunker faces are matted down and snow mold is apparent in many areas.  The extended period of snow cover, creating slow cool and wet melting conditions all played major factors.  Most of these areas are very resilient and will bounce back after some raking and the first few mows this spring.

Receding snow bank on #18 Right side bunker
Some of the bigger challenges at the start of this golf season is "Winter Kill" damage we did suffer on shorter mowed areas.  Tees and fairways that have winter scars on the golf course, will rebound fairly quickly with some spiking and warm weather. Our main focus over the next several weeks will be inter seeding our putting greens to help stimulate growth in thin areas and areas of turf loss.  Covers will be used on our greens to help raise the temperatures and to create a "greenhouse" effect to accelerate the recovery process during cooler temperatures.

Covering the putting green

#8 green
Finally it would not be spring without cleanup.  Special thank you to the maintenance crew in working very hard at cleaning up branches, leaves and sticks wide spread across the golf course. 

Typical scattered sticks coming out of the winter
Cleaning up the corners of the course

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Greens Committee Winter Damage Report

Winter Damage to Turf in South East Michigan

There have been many reports and news stories about the severity of the winter Michigan residents lived through in 2013/14.  It has been labeled the “worst winter in modern times”.  Record totals for snow fall as well as sub freezing temperatures were amongst many records that are close to being broken.  Temperatures ranged an average of 6-10F colder for the most of this winter.

As many area golf courses and their superintendent’s look to open up the doors to the 2014 season, there are still many hurdles in their way.  Snow banks are apparent on north facing slopes and in shaded areas by trees.  The deep frost layer is still trying to make its way out of the ground providing moist soft conditions.  The playing surfaces have a very inconsistent look from tan to lush green.

On April 1st, Forest Lake sent 5 representatives to an educational session at Oakland Hills C.C. regarding winter damage.  This event was attended by over 200 people from club board of directors, greens committees, superintendents and golf industry representatives.  The panel of speakers consisted of Dr. Jeffrey Andresen (climate specialist) MSU, Dr. Kevin Frank (Turf grass specialist) MSU, Dr. Trey Rogers (Turf grass professor) MSU, Robert Vavrek (Agronomist) USGA, and Steve Cook CGCS (Director of Agronomy) Oakland Hills C.C. All of the attendants shared 1 thing in common, their concerns of winter impact on their golf courses.  The seminar outlined; how winter damage happens, where we stand as a region and some solutions on how to recover from potential damages.

Ice layer accumulations started developing at Forest Lake early January ranging from ½” to 3” on our putting surfaces, with snow 18” to 30” on top of that.  What does all of this mean?  The winter hardiness of Annual Bluegrass “POA” which make up our greens, tees and fairways at Forest Lake can start declining at 45 days under ice.  With the brutal temperatures and no melt conditions our ice layers remained on our greens for 65-75 days, despite the efforts of our greens crew removing snow and trying to accelerate melt.

Due to very cool temperatures in late March, and similar temperatures forecasted through late April, traditional spring green will be delayed up for 2-3 weeks.  Our biggest fear is the potential for some “winter kill “damage, where the grass fails to grow after warming conditions.   If we do experience some damage, it is the extent and where the location of the damage occurs, that will dictate how we get the course in playable shape.

Our first goal is to assess any problems that may of occurred this winter, and figure out the best management practices to re-establish grass where needed, and to open our course for members.  Proactive steps we take to grow grass in the spring will lead to healthy turf and great playing conditions.    Using ropes to direct cart traffic, painted ground under repair areas, and provisional greens may be solutions if we encounter areas that have turf loss. 

Information will be available daily at the First Tee and Pro shop regarding rules of conduct on the golf course this spring during recovery.

Greens committee

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Greens Update

Spring is in the air! What is that white stuff still doing on the ground?

#18 fairway March 22nd
It has been a record breaking winter throughout the Midwest.  Below freezing temperatures, and snow storms this winter have nearly rewritten the historical data record book.  There are definitely signs of warm weather ahead in the trees as new buds form and snow banks have begun to rapidly recede.  It's getting close to time to trade those snow blowers and shovels, for a golf cart and putter!

I would like to thank my winter staff; Shannon Storey (Assistant Superintendent), Jim Lough (Spray Technician), and Jose Marcaida (Equipment Technician) for all of their hard work this winter.  At the start of winter we were able to make some significant shop improvements.  A new parts room was created, and our warm storage area  was opened up to better facilitate equipment parking and repair.  This group of employees have put in a tremendous amount of work in servicing, repairing and painting our equipment fleet to "like new condition", which will be ready to go this spring.  Also their efforts are recognized in braving the freezing cold temperatures to remove the abundance of snow and keep our club house grounds open.

This March, 27 trees were removed from the property.  These trees were in extremely poor health related to Imprelis injury.  In April, 54 arborvitaes will also be removed and replaced at #14 tee, #16 tee, and #11 green.  The greens committee continues to focus on all trees on the property, and are creating plans to plant new trees in areas of need at Forest Lake.

Keeping things Positive!
Finally, this harsh winter may have some effects on our turf and playing surfaces.  At the moment about 50% of the golf course is still covered in snow and ice.  In exposed grass areas the appearance is a very dormant tan state.  Green grass will not start to appear, until temperatures warm up into the mid to high 50's.  Turf buried under ice and snow for long durations of time can lead to turf loss commonly referred to as "winter kill".  Our region will experience some level of damage from these conditions, though it it is too early to tell.  I have provided a link to the MSU turf team's most recent report (below), to provide some insight on this winter's effects on turf.

MSU Winter kill Letter 2014

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Course Update

Northern Pin Oak
This May the greens crew planted 31 new trees on the golf course.  One main goal, was to plant trees that would be hardy and add species diversity.  Overall the objective was met and the new trees are surviving well in their chosen locations.  One concern that we have been monitoring is browning of leaves on the Red Oaks and Pin Oaks.  We brought in a nursery tree specialist to help us determine the health of these Oak's.  Upon inspecting the trees there is green tissue throughout the tree and signs of new leaf buds developing.  It was determined that transplant shock lead to this condition. Some trees will adapt quicker to their new environments while other trees will regress slightly while they struggle to adjust to new conditions.  The good news is that most of our Oaks have started to show a significant amount of new growth.

Red Oak growing new leaves
Planting trees can produce varying results.  There are many factors to consider when planting, such as;  mature size of tree, characteristics of the tree, soil conditions where it is being planted.  To best ensure success, make sure to ask questions about the planting process.  This will give you techniques to make sure the tree ball is planted at the correct level and back filled with out voids. Finally making sure the root systems of newly planted trees have sufficient water, to allow roots to grow out from the root ball into the surrounding soils.

Tufted Fairway grass
Lateral grass on fairway removed
The summer of 2013 has to rank up there with one of best seasons to grow grass.  In a typical year there is usually a period during the peak of the summer where the growth of grass slows down.  With plentiful rain and cool overnight temperatures  the conditions have remained favorable for aggressive growth.  Our roughs seem to grow right in behind the mowers.  As well we have dealt with grass clumping during early morning mowing. 
      Shorter mowed turf (greens,tees and fairways) that are mowed daily have a tendency to lay over and grow laterally across the ground.  Picture on the left shows fairway grass that we tufted up.  Even though this grass is mowed under 1/2inch high we can pull up plants up to 3 inches long.  With the cooler temperatures we verti-cut 5 fairways to remove these runners and to create a playing surface that would have upright grass plants.  This process is going to be short term pain for long term gain process.  On the fairways that were verti-cut there is mechanical injury to areas that had significant turf laying over.  You will notice over the next few weeks these areas recovering, and they will provide a desirable playing surface. We will resume verti-cutting the remaining fairways in the next few weeks.

Old Lakefront area
The lake front area has been under renovation for the last few weeks.  We have been working hard at reviving the appearance and usefulness of this area.  If you have been at the pool and tennis areas or enjoying an afternoon on the patios you have witnessed the transformation.  Not yet complete this area will offer sitting areas as well a fire pit.  Landscapes including trees, shrubs and mixed perennials will be added this fall and next spring .
New Lakefront area in progress

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Storm Update

On June 27th at 5:00 we experienced a severe storm that moved through Forest Lake and surrounding areas.  Although the storm was short, the winds were extreme and we received over 2 inches of rainfall in about 30 minutes.  It has been almost 5 years since we have experienced a storm like this.  The club lost power service for 2 days.  On the course we lost 2 trees (a Basswood on #16, and a Little Leaf Linden in front of #18 green), and many branches that were scattered from corner to corner of the golf course.  Water from the storm created many ponds on fairways and roughs. Below are a few pictures from Thursday evening.

#16 fairway
#16 fairway from 15 Tee

Basswood #16
#9 fairway
#15 fairway
#18 green
#16/#17 Basswood row

Silver Maple #7
Power lines down across Club Drive
Friday morning the greens crew started working at cleaning up branches and removing the fallen trees, as well as fixing almost every sand trap on the course..

Cleanup begins!

Chipping branches
Fixing Bunker washouts
Most of the water found its way into the network of course drains.  The course remained open Friday for walkers and was opened for golf carts on Saturday morning.  We are still dealing with flooding in the driving range, (picture on right) because of the excess water from Forest Lake moving through the course.  Although Forest Lake will be draining for the next couple of weeks we should be able to catch up and remove the excess surface water.
Pond over flowing #2 cart path
New lake on the bottom of the range
Pumping excess water out of the driving range

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tree planting

Trees in our parking lot after delivery
Over the past 10 days the greens crew has planted 34 new trees on the golf course.  These trees were hand selected by the Greens committee at a local nursery.  The trees were picked for many different reasons;

- To provide the right sized tree for strategic locations determined during master planning
- To add tree diversity to FLCC.
- Unique colors and characteristics of leaves and flowers through the season.
Planting an Autumn Blaze Maple
- Hardiness and adaptability to environmental conditions and varying soils on the  property.

The new trees will take a few years to establish their roots into the native soils on the property.  We will typically see signs that trees have adapted well in year 2 or 3, as the trees will start showing a fuller canopy.  The trees we plant today will take many years to reach maturity and serve their desired function.

Below are some pictures of the trees and locations on the golf course

Eastern Redbud (CERCIS c. 'Forest Pansy)

- 3 Planted at #3 tee
Autumn Blaze Red Maple (ACER x 'Autumn Blaze')

- 2 Planted left side of #1 fairway
- 2 Planted left side hole #9
Pink Flowering Crab apple (MALUS 'Prairifire')

- 2 Planted right side of #1 green
Kentucky Coffee Tree (GYMNOCLADUS dioicus)

- 2 Planted in behind #3 green
Northern Red Oak (QUERCUS rubra)

- 1 Planted between #3 green and #5 fairway
- 1 Planted left side #9 green
Northern Pin Oak (QUERCUS ellipsoidalis)

- 2 Planted right of #5 fairway bunkers
- 3 Planted between holes#16 and #18
Vanderwolf Limber Pine (PINUS  'Vanderwolf')

- 3 Planted between #7 green and hole #13
Autumn Gold Maidenhair Tree (GINKO 'Autumn Gold')

- 3 Planted between holes #11 and #12
- 1 Planted left side #5 Tee
Multi-stem Autumn Blaze Red Maple (ACER x 'Autumn Blaze' MS)

- 1 Planted beside #13 Ladie's Tee
Tricolor Beech  (FAGUS s. 'Roseo-marginata')

- 1 Planted at #15 Tee

Crimson King Norway Maple (ACER pl. "Crimson King')

- 1 Planted in behind #15 Green
Gold Rush Dawn Redwood (METASEQUOIA 'Gold Rush')

- 3 Planted left side #17

Norway Spruce (PICEA abies)

- 3 Planted left side #17