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.
“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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.