Top of the Food Chain
Among the myriad of benefits of living adjacent to the river and amongst the Lowcountry marshes is the abundance of wildlife. Near the top of the food chain are a group of majestic birds classified as raptors. These birds use their keen eyesight to scour the marshes and the pineland forests hunting for vertebrates including; rodents, small mammals, lizards, fish, and snakes. The American Bald Eagles have returned and are active along the marsh on hole nine of the Nicklaus Course and along the fifteenth and sixteenth holes of the Dye Course. Red-tailed hawks strike fear in the hearts of squirrels on the Borland and have been active along Magnolia Blossom Drive. For early risers, keep an eye out for the Great Horned Owl, who has recently been spotted between Inverness Drive and Merion Way, and a local Barred Owl, who roosts near the duck pond on Foot Point Drive. If you are interested in observing some of these fascinating species, an active group of birders lead by Mark Hyner, Karen Anderson, and Stephen Dickson routinely meet with the Colleton River Birding Club and catalogue bird species in the neighborhood. Both novice and experienced birders are welcomed to join the Birding Club. Expect another great month of golf at Colleton River Club and take time to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us.
Red-tailed Hawk overseeing the bush hogging process.
Barred Owl roosting on Foot Point Road.
Bald Eagle perched on Turnberry Way.
Queen of the South
Whether you are a longtime resident or new to the Lowcountry, take a moment
to appreciate the beautiful camellias that are beginning to bloom throughout the
community. Camellias are members of the tea family, Theaceae. While there are
two members of the family that are native to Beaufort County, fragrant Camellia
japonica were originally brought to South Carolina from China and Japan by
wealthy families who used them to adorn their formal gardens. Today, due to
hybridization, there are thousands of varieties of both Camellia japonica
and Camellia sasanqua to choose from.
When selecting a planting site for camellias, choose an area in filtered sun, with
adequate air movement, and good drainage. Camellias are best used as feature
plants rather than in a cramped foundation planting. Generally, smaller leafed
Camellia sasanqua will tolerate more sun than Camellia japonica, which exhibit
symptoms of leaf scorch if exposed to direct sun. Both species prefer moist but
not constantly wet conditions. In the sandy Lowcountry soils, these shallow
rooted shrubs benefit from the addition of compost at planting and normal break
down of leaf litter to enrich the soil. Selecting an appropriate planting site and
adhering to good cultural practices helps promote healthy plants that are less
prone to insect and disease problems. Happy camellias pay gardeners dividends
with vibrant winter blossom displays while many shrubs are dormant. If you are
interested in these shrubs, there are samples of seven different varieties planted
at the Camellia Garden across from the community dock.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Cleopatra’
As summer comes to an end, Steve Tennant and the Colleton River Club Community Grounds team begin to plan the major flower change-out at the front entrance, clubhouses, and key beds throughout the community. The summer annuals that enjoyed the heat and humidity of the Lowcountry get replaced with cold hardy species including: Cyclamen, Delphinium, Dianthus, Cabbage, Kale, Mustard, Pansies, Snapdragons, Irish Moss, Stock, Calendula, and Foxglove. The seasonal change-out encompasses over 15,000 square feet of bed space and provides a splash of color, unique texture, and added interest against the natural background that defines Colleton River Club. For members interested in rescuing and repurposing the plants we utilize as summer annuals, the Hibiscus, Oyster Plant, Duranta, Coleus and Pentas will be available on a first come, first served basis at the Nicklaus maintenance area toward the end of October. We won’t be providing prolonged care to these plants, so act fast to keep them looking good in the garden. We hope you enjoy the interesting annual displays throughout the community this fall.
As discussed in last week’s Agronomy newsletter, during the Nicklaus course closure, we have begun redistributing the sand in the dunes on holes fifteen through eighteen. Years of erosion have moved the sand from the peaks of the mounds and have deposited it along the base of the dunes. While the cordgrass, Spartina patens, and sea oats help reduce erosion, the exposed slopes are especially prone to run-off. Over the next few weeks, our teams will be mining the sand from the lower edges of the dunes and redistributing it to conceal the exposed subsoil on the mounds. In the event an errant shot enters an area where equipment is working, please play the area as required in Rule 16.1b, Abnormal Course Conditions -Relief in General Area, by taking complete free relief from the ground under repair. For your safety, don’t attempt to retrieve the ball. Thank you for your understanding as we complete this much needed improvement project.
Replacing sand that has eroded from the peaks of the dunes
“The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection,” is a catchy Lexus slogan that the Dye golf maintenance team put into practice this past week. Along with all the benefits gained from the aeration and verticutting of the playing surfaces, Dye Course superintendent Jake Williams and his team completed a laundry list of worthwhile projects on the golf course. These enhancements included: drainage improvements to alleviate chronically wet catch basins on holes nine and sixteen, adjustments to the cart drive-off area on the left of one fairway, improvements to the walk-off at six green, the regrassing of the egress from the white tee on hole ten, and the leveling of the black tee on hole twelve. These projects addressed important weak points in the Dye Course presentation. When we reopen the course on Tuesday, expect the Dye greens to be slightly slower than their pre-aeration conditions. Within seven to ten days we expect things to be back to normal. Thank you for your patience during this process, and I’ll see you on the course.
Adding drainage around the catch basin in sixteen fairway
Widening and irrigating the walk-off to six green
Leveling the black tee on twelve
On hot summer days, Lowcountry menus offer refreshing summer salads with a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Taking note of the abundant summer harvest, the Agronomy Department is employing an additional group of hungry triploid grass carp to help with the smorgasbord of weeds growing in the course ponds. These newest additions to Colleton River Club are true vegetarians that enjoy feeding on hydrilla, pondweed, spike rush, naiads, alligator weed and grass clippings. Grass carp can grow to as much as fifty pounds and can eat as much as their own body weight in a single day. These sterile relatives to the Asian carp will not reproduce but can live for up to ten years and provide a cost-effective means for reducing aquatic weeds. We believe the addition of grass carp as a biological control method, along with aeration and normal treatments will help improve the quality of the ponds at Colleton River Club.
Mature grass carp can grow to as much as fifty pounds
As part of our normal maintenance at Colleton River Club, we measure green speeds daily with a Stimpmeter and post them in the golf shop. Used on a level portion of the green, this tool is designed to release a golf ball from an inclined plane at a consistent height. Taking the average distance in feet of three balls rolled in opposing directions determines the Stimpmeter reading, or green speed. At higher green speeds, more caution is required when putting. In 1978 the USGA adopted the use of the Stimpmeter to provide consistency throughout their championships.
Along with knowing how fast the greens are putting, Stimpmeter readings and surface firmness measurements are tools we use in the agronomy department to help direct maintenance activities. Everything that occurs on a golf course happens in a cyclical pattern. Along with weather, normal sound maintenance practices such as topdressing, grooming, venting, fertilizing, and irrigating all affect green speed and play an important role in producing healthy turf. This week we vented and topdressed the Nicklaus Course greens to address the surface firmness. Immediately following these procedures, the green speeds temporarily take a back seat to the agronomy practices that are required to sustain the playing conditions we all desire. Knowing the speed limit, by prioritizing and managing these steps in a thoughtful, calculated approach is the key to sustaining good conditions. Next time you are in the golf shop and notice the green speed in the tens, consider what the agronomy team is doing to improve the turf health and achieve the consistently smooth and fast greens we have become accustomed to.
Venting to incorporate sand