Thursday, May 14, 2015

Seedhead Regulation

Poa annua is a unique plant in that it can still produce seedheads when mowed at fairway, tee and green height.  To mitigate this nuisance, the staff has applied a chemical that inhibits these seed heads from forming.  The chemical, Embark, is effective but has some side effects.  The main one golfers will notice is the discoloration of the turf from it's normal shades of green.  Seedheads can lead to slower green speeds, bumpy putts and an undesirable white hue to fairways. To negate the discoloration, the staff has applied high amounts of nitrogen and iron but some discoloration will still be visible.  The turf will come out of regulation in 3-4 weeks and the seedhead flush will end around the same time too.  Enjoy. 
Seedheads on a Green

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fairway Aerification

The staff is currently aerifying fairways and we hope to have the task completed as soon as weather permits.  Aerification relieves compaction (particularly important with the heavy clay soils at MCC), encourages root growth and allows for beneficial gas exchange with the atmosphere.  Poa annua will never achieve the same root mass that creeping bentgrass sports but aerifying will help the turf through the hotter summer months.  This will also help the areas on fairways that were damaged over the winter that the staff intends to start seeding soon.  We apologize for the inconvenience this causes and appreciate the memberships patience.
Aerifying the 16th Fairway

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Employee Profile

2015 marks John Drielts 30th year as a staff member here at Meadowbrook Country Club.  Rain or shine, John has never missed a day of work or been late for a shift!  His responsibilities include a multitude of tasks but the biggest are course set-up each day (cup cutting, tee marker placement etc.) and functioning as our irrigation technician. John has changed over 65000 cups and fixed a variety of irrigation lines, sprinklers and valves. 
John was born and raised in metro Detroit, graduated from Catholic Central High School and went on to attend Lawrence Technological Institute.  An avid Detroit sports fan, John can recite from memory a vast amount of statistics regarding the Tigers, Lions and Wings.  The staff would like to thank John for his long years of service and dedication.

John "Iron Man" Drielts

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Opening the Course

Welcome back Members! The past month has been busy preparing the course for the opening so we apologize for the lack of new articles.  The winter, while seemingly long, was nothing like last year and the course is in good shape.  Aerification holes are still somewhat present on greens from late last fall but with climbing temperatures and more sunlight, they are expected to heal over quickly. 

To prepare the course for the opening the staff has a multitude of tasks to complete, as detailed in the list below. 
  • Uncover Greens
  • Roll Greens- Smooth the surface in preparation of the first cut
  • Mow Greens- Generally an easy task but the topdressing sand used to protect greens over the winter has to be worked into the soil profile or used to fill open aerification holes before a mower can be utilized. 
  • Spray Greens- A healthy shot of fertilizer and fungicides with specific activity towards cold- season pathogens. 
  • Mow Tees
  • Spray Tees
  • Mow Fairways
  • Clean chips from stump grinding, back fill the holes, pack and level to grade
  • Prep these stump holes for seed or sod (sodding has already started but due to cold temperatures seeding will be an on-going task throughout April and possibly May)
  • Debris Clean up
  • Rake Bunkers, fix washouts from the spring thaw
  • Pressurize the irrigation system
  • Fix irrigation leaks (almost inevitable to have a couple leaks every spring if the ground has frozen deep enough)
  • Clean mulch beds surrounding the Clubhouse
  • Prune back Rose Bushes (+500 on the property!)
  • Clean and place all golf accessories (flag sticks, tee markers, ball washers etc.)
The list could go on but as one can see, preparing the course for golf after winter is a daunting task.  Thankfully, we have a veteran and very skilled crew returning this year and they are more than up for the task.  See you on the course, enjoy. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Course Update; Mid-Winter

Temperatures plummeting this month have been reminiscent of last winter but overall the season has not been as harsh.  Rain/Thawing events in early January left minimal standing water (read: potential ice) on any shortly mowed surfaces.  Since that time period, few days have been above freezing and only small amounts of liquid precipitation followed.  The potential for an ice layer or formation on greens is slim to none but there is only one way to know for sure.

This week, staff members removed patches of snow on greens to see what conditions lay beneath.  What they found was layers or sheets were almost non-existent on greens, and when ice was observed it appeared to be permeable, allowing for air movement.  Also of note, minimal ice was observed on top or underneath the permeable covers the staff used this year on certain greens.  These observations are in no way conclusive but the crew is optimistic for the spring. 

4th Green Note: minimal ice formation
15th Green Note: Evergreen cover devoid of ice in a problematic area

The snow has slowed the Tree Management initiatives set forth for this winter but the staff has still made excellent progress.  Tree removals are nearing completion and while that is the largest portion of the task; stump grinding, cleaning and prepping these areas for seed/sod still remain. 

In-House Honey Locust Removal next to the 11th Tee
Contracted Hickory Tree Removal behind the 5th Green

Equipment and golf course accessory maintenance continues as well.  With equipment so readily accessible and not in use, the winter is a perfect time to perform preventative maintenance on carts, mowers, etc.  This is an effective way to extend the life of equipment and minimize the chances of a breakdown mid-season. 

Utility Vehicle Maintenance

Refinishing and re-staining Tee benches

Friday, January 23, 2015

Continuing Education

The Michigan Turfgrass Conference was recently held at Michigan State University.  This annual conference offers an informative educational schedule geared towards increasing awareness, learning and general interest in the turf management industry.  It also provides a great environment for networking and allows for a direct line of communication between researchers and turf managers out in the field.  Education doesn't stop upon receiving a diploma and the staff at MCC would like to thank the MTF for again putting on this conference.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tree Management Program

The tree management program, set forth by the Tree Inventory performed by our arborist Julie Stachecki, is now in it's 3rd year and the crew has started some of the removals scheduled for this winter.  The reason for these removals is not aesthetics or shot strategy but is instead based upon tree health, agronomic health and safety. 

The vast majority of the removals are in poor health and/or pose a safety risk.  There are multiple ways a tree can decline but a prevalent reason the staff has noticed here at MCC is the formation of cavities (hollowed, rotting sections) within the trunk and large branches of our trees, as depicted in the picture below. 

These cavities negatively effect the structural integrity of the tree and are therefore in danger of falling on their own.  By removing them in a controlled setting they won't pose a danger to members during the golf season, particularly trees in high areas of play. 

Another common health problem among our evergreen trees is chemical damage by the herbicide Imprelis.  Even though applied 3 years ago, this chemical mutates the new growth (in the picture below), causes discoloration, needle lost and in most cases leads to the death of the tree.

Members have probably noticed the worst of these trees around the course.  Another issues that these trees pose is, as they decline, they release pheromones that insects can sense and will congregate (and feed) on that tree.  This isn't directly bad as the tree is already dying but these insects will then move to other trees in the vicinity, possible healthy specimens. 

Trees and turf compete for the same things; water, nutrients, etc...When trees are small and immature the turf can still be vigorous, healthy and aesthetically pleasing around them.  However, as trees grow and there root systems develop they can start to out compete the turf.  Mature trees cast large amounts of shade too, obviously limiting the photosynthetic rate of grass.

The majority of trees at MCC are classified as semi-mature, mature or overly mature so they have reached or are approaching their full size.  Although stated in a previous article, this is very troublesome when large trees are near shortly mown surfaces (i.e. greens, fairways and tees).  In an effort to give a consistent playing surface, improve vigor and therefore improve the turfs ability to withstand periods of extreme environmental conditions, multiple trees around greens were removed mid-Fall as members have probably noticed.

We hope that your holidays were enjoyable and encourage the membership to stay tuned for future articles throughout the winter regarding the golf course.  Enjoy.