Kent’s Korner – Sands of Time

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

Kent’s Korner – Dye Course Improvements

“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

Kent’s Korner – Vegetarians

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

Kent’s Korner – Speed Management

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

Kent’s Korner – Course Stewardship

Summer rains create soft conditions that promote ball marks when shots hit the greens. Please be stewards of the course by practicing good golf etiquette and repairing ball marks. A wise old pro once said, “A good player understands that it is their responsibility to return the course better than when they approached it.” After hitting a good shot into the green, please diligently inspect the green and repair ball marks or indentations in the surface. Freshly made ball marks are easier to repair than pitch marks that remain unattended overnight. When repairing a ball mark, it is best to avoid lifting or prying up on the indention. Insert a ball mark repair tool or tee at the edge of the indention and heal the mark by lightly pressing down and toward the center of the damaged area. Make several successive nudges toward the direction of the incoming shot, and then tap the area down with the heel of your putter. Next time you enjoy the course, encourage your foursome of friends to assist you with tending to ball marks on the greens. Click here for the video on how to properly repair a ball mark.

A ball mark creates a road block for the golf ball

 

Kent’s Korner – July 5, 2019

When Johnny Miller retired from the NBC telecast in February, greenskeepers around the globe had hoped the term “grain” would fade into obscurity. While the term is generally overused to describe missed putts, it can be an accurate way to describe the lateral growth habit produced by ultra-dwarf bermudagrasses. If left unattended, these stems grow in abundance down slopes creating an obvious surface pattern. While playing either of the courses at Colleton River, from time to time, you may notice small parallel lines running across the green’s surfaces. The fine lines evident on the putting surfaces are a result of recent verticutting/grooming procedures. Rather than cutting on a horizontal plane like a normal mower, these cutting units rotate vertically into the turf surface. Set slightly below the height of cut, these blades penetrate the turf, severing stolons (plant shoots along the surface) and thinning the leaf canopy. Following the grooming, we topdress the greens to fill any voids and further smooth the playing surface. These cultivation techniques optimize putting quality, reduce grain, promote an upright growth habit, alleviate spongy surface conditions, and enhance surface smoothness. Immediately following this process, the greens may slow down slightly and appear scarred from the disruption. These procedures are normally completed during course closures, and in approximately seven to ten days following the process the greens will be smoother, faster, and firmer. We hope everyone enjoys Colleton River Club over the holiday weekend, and I hope to see you on the course.

Grooming short term disruption for long term gains

Kent’s Korner – Protect the Rim

Golf can be one of the most frustrating but satisfying games you can imagine. Billions of dollars are spent annually attempting to put a small white ball in a round hole. At Colleton River Club, the Agronomy team changes the hole locations daily on both courses to provide variety, enhance the golf experience, and to help ensure that well struck putts reach their intended destination. The elusive finishing point on each green is a cup that measures a mere 4.25″ in diameter. During hole changing procedures, an Agronomy team member paces off the green to identify the new pin location, cuts the hole, and recesses the cup 1″ below the green’s surface. Once the cup is set, the final step includes an application of paint around the inner rim of the hole. This paint, or “hole-in-white” application, helps clearly identify the target for the player and protects the integrity of the cup.
 
The USGA and the R&A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews) have recently adopted a new rule 13.2 a-1, Leaving Flagstick in Hole. This allows a player the option to make a stroke with the flagstick left in the hole so that it is possible for the ball in motion to hit the flagstick without penalty. If you opt to take this approach, after finishing each hole, please take care not to disrupt the hole when retrieving your ball. Contact with the painted inner lip or damage to the edge of the hole breaks down the integrity of the hole and can impact your fellow competitors. Thank you for taking care so that everyone can enjoy the golf experience.

Kent’s Korner – Plugs of Progress

Aeration is arguably the dirtiest word in golf. The mere sound of the term makes both members and superintendents cringe. Just when the greens, tees, and fairways seem like they are at their best, the golf course maintenance team pulls plugs and jeopardizes the prized conditions everyone desires. This temporary inconvenience is created not to aggravate golfers or disrupt playability, but to improve and sustain good playing conditions. Among the many benefits of aeration are improved water infiltration, dilution of thatch, enhanced soil gas exchange, and deeper rooting. Good aeration practices are the cornerstone of championship conditions and are essential to the long-term vitality of great greens. Unlike courses in the Northeast and Midwest, the warm season turf varieties found throughout the Lowcountry benefit from summer aeration.

Both of the courses at Colleton River Club will be aerated twice this summer. The first of these planned cultural practices will begin on the Dye Course on Wednesday, May 29. The Nicklaus Course will follow three weeks later, on Tuesday, June 18. Please see the aeration schedule below that outlines our summer cultivations and plan accordingly. We apologize for this temporary inconvenience, but please understand sound cultural practices are paramount to the goal of sustaining good playing conditions.

Colleton River Club Aeration Schedule
Dye Course Aeration
May 29 – June 7
Nicklaus Course Aeration
June 18 – June 30
Dye Course Aeration
July 23 – Aug 4
Nicklaus Course Aeration
Aug 13 – Aug 26

Kent’s Korner-Birdies and Eagles

May is one of the driest months of the year in the Lowcountry and offers plenty of opportunity to enjoy the course before the summer heat and rains return. If you find yourself short of birdies and eagles on the course, you may consider joining the growing list of bird enthusiasts in the community, including the Colleton River Birding Club. (Contact Karen Anderson: 203.451.5882 or Stephen Dickson: 414.243.1880.)
Birding provides many rewards and offers an opportunity to enjoy nature and heighten your sense of awareness. Birding engages your power of observation, expands your mind, and deepens your listening skills. Consider spending an afternoon locating and documenting some of our resident birds. See how many different birds you can identify using this helpful link https://www.allaboutbirds.org/. While out and about in the community, be sure to enjoy any number of Bluebirds dashing about gathering insects for their newly hatched chicks. Keep an eye out for the red flash of a Cardinal or a Scarlet Tanager. Consider spending a morning trying to get a glimpse of a Turkey meandering through the understory on Whitehall Drive looking for seeds or the Barred Owl returning to roost after a successful hunt. Recently, Red-tailed Hawks have been active on the Borland in the afternoons, while Ospreys can be seen working the marshes looking for fish. The newest member of our Bald Eagle family is creating quite a stir on Inverness Drive as he stretches his new wings despite the objections of numerous black birds and neighboring Crows. Expect another great month of golf at Colleton River Club, and take time to enjoy the natural beauty your wonderful Club has to offer.

The young Bald Eagle has recently fledged and is out of the nest.

Kent’s Korner-Going Vertical

The onset of warmer weather conditions allows us the opportunity to condition the greens more aggressively for upcoming events. If you’ve played in the past few days, you may notice remnants from recent surface-maintenance treatments on the greens. The fine lines evident on the putting surfaces are a result of recent verticutting/grooming procedures. Rather than cutting on a horizontal plane like a normal mower, these cutting units rotate vertically into the turf surface. Set slightly below the height of cut, these blades penetrate the turf severing stolons (plant shoots along the surface) and thinning the leaf canopy. Following the grooming, we topdress the greens to fill any voids and further smooth the surface. These cultivation techniques optimize putting quality, reduce grain, promote an upright growth habit, alleviate spongy surface conditions, and enhance surface smoothness. Immediately following this process, the greens may slow down slightly and appear scarred from the disruption to the surface. Approximately seven to ten days following the process, the greens will be smoother, faster, and firmer.

Ultra-dwarf bermudagrasses make excellent putting greens because they have been bred for their dense, fine leaf texture, and their ability to tolerate low mowing heights. Although we continue to stretch the limits of the grass, it is important to recognize that the natural growth pattern of bermudagrass is to spread and grow laterally. Periodic vertical mowing to further promote dense upright turf is an important part of getting the most out of our grass.