Season ending

It would not be a post without some talk of the weather. Being in New England means it will vary and never be exactly as predicted by the professionals. Overall it has still been nice. We had one real cold snap for a weekend but then it climbed back up to normal temperatures and a few players enjoyed the course. As anyone here knows it is all about the wind. Since the shop closing during the week we have had 19 cart rounds mid-week so the program is keeping a few people enjoying the outdoors and the course. I opened the barn today but at 24 degrees and a wind chill of 8 I cannot imagine any sane person attempting a round, but I have been wrong before. We continue to get rain with our total this year being over 51". My average yearly total over 22 years is about 45".
The staff has been reduced to the Full timers. Prior to that all final mowing has been performed, The final preventative plant protectant has been applied, and all relevant areas have been winterized. Chris and Will continue to clean up the leaves that are down and continue to fall.

Final spray with test plots on 3rd approach
I continued my quest for answers from last Fall and this Spring. I always try to evaluate every practice and determine whether it is necessary or giving us the intended results. As our program to convert the greens to bentgrass progresses, I am questioning the best timing for annual bluegrass (Poa Annua or Poa) seed head suppression chemicals or if they are even needed anymore. You can read the post I did in the Spring HERE. Last year I did not leave any test plots fearing I would have snow mold damage in these areas since our last spray is really for snow mold protection. We add an anti desiccant to protect from the open winter and drying winds and also a colorant to help the plant absorb the lesser sunlight and stay warmer. This year I said what the heck, in the name of science, so there are all these squares and rectangles that are off-color. Hopefully I will learn something about the Fall seed head application as well as our other products in the final spray. I will decide in the Spring whether or not to even do the normal Spring application.

Segregation and biotypes
Same area as above but different day
In the shoulder seasons our course takes on a patch work quilt appearance. This is mostly a function of the different grass types we have and the age of our course. In season everybody is growing at the same rate, relatively, and the colors are more uniform. As the soil temperatures cool some grasses are less efficient at mining phosphorus from the soil and take on a purple hue (a classic P deficiency symptom). This is a good time to evaluate or notice how much Poa we have left. It is often the really light colored, pale green, turf easily seen in the pictures above on the green expansion in the front of 15 green. " Segregation refers to the “sorting out” of individual clones or biotypes with which the grass cultivar was planted. So why does it happen?" That quote was from a USGA article which can be seen HERE for anyone interested in a deeper dive into this phenomenon and Poa invasion.

sunrise 9th hole

Have a great holiday if I do not see you before then or get around to another post. Hopefully you are somewhere warm or heading that way soon as old man Winter seems to be moving in here on Martha's Vineyard.

Fall Update

We survived the tropical storm OK. It was very windy and wet with boats not running for more than a day which always makes things interesting. We lost a few limbs and trees and lots of twigs and leaves but the crew did a fabulous job cleaning the course. Some areas were cleaned several times before the wind stopped. We had our last tourney of the season the Bass Ackwards. Always a fun event. Greens were aerified this week and came out very well. They should be back to 100% soon. They are putting fine this morning as they still grow through the sand topdressing and heal from the procedure. As they get longer and require mowing they will get slow but this is a good thing since it means they are healing.

Jonah & Kelly did a great job on signs this year!!
This week we made some more headway on solving our salt water intrusion issue. We selected two locations within the range allowed for replacement wells and drilled several test wells. Each location had soil samples taken at intervals so we could get an idea of what the structure was and they also help set the screen size for the eventual production wells. Each location had two wells so during the pump testing measurements could be taken. We also drilled an observation well at the pump house so we had data there in case we needed a third production well and also how the pumping on either side influenced that area. All the tests showed positive results. Having multiple wells at more shallow depths than current wells should give us enough water and clean water.
soil cores, well screens, setting second well, well rig
 Another milestone since the last post was Bert had his 10th birthday. He has definitely slowed down since his arrival at 7 months old but he still loves to be on the course and the beach.
Bert turns 10

Fall Season

I cannot believe it has been almost a month since the last post. September has flown by or maybe blown by as the latest storm is upon us as I write this. We have had our share of massive storms this season luckily down south and not up here but our thoughts and prayers should be for those affected. The Caribbean has been devastated and parts of this country have had their issues as well. We are no stranger to wind, rain, and tide damage on MV but hopefully these big storms do not add up to much more than the typical Nor Easters we get.

I went through my phone camera for some of the highlights of the last month:

4th tee before thunderstorm shut us down
almost finished

The trees had started to creep in on both sides of the 4th tees. From the back tee it was becoming a shoot only a PGA Tour player could get through without clipping a branch. Our tree company was going to be at a neighbor's house so we scheduled to sneak them in with the lift to open this area back up.


Every year the trees grow taller and wider. We need to keep in mind that the playability of the course should be our priority. If allowed, the forest would close in and take over. Trees need to be pruned and even removed to keep the course design and integrity intact. This includes shrubs planted as distance markers that now have become full size trees and may be a hindrance to play. They certainly have no distance function anymore as everyone has some electronic device to tell them distance, wind speed, elevation, temperature of the water coming out of the fountains etc.

Fun with fescue mowing
I started to mow some tall grass areas in preparation of the Bass Ackwards. Chris Morse was playing and mouthed to me "can't you leave some?" as he walked by. I too like the definition the tall grass areas give the course but as I posted here mid-summer, this year it is so thick it is unplayable. I started mowing a labyrinth pattern and probably should have left it for a couple of weeks. I found an irrigation leak on the hill so became distracted and decided to mow it all before we fixed the leak. 
Tall grass leak, Bert supervising Murph's glue job.
break at the test head. no thrust block on original. Bag of cement this time

Rotted nipple on 3 and end of a wire spool
The bad luck of irrigation breaks came in 3's with the last being on the 3rd hole. Luckily we caught this one before it was a major blow out. It certainly was ready. We discovered a massive amount of extra wire in the ground. Our guess was they were at the end of the spool so simply hooked it up and buried it. This is never a good idea since while digging up the head it is hard enough to avoid hitting the regular amount of wires in the ground. We cut it out when making the repair. Every hole is an adventure. 
Lastly, I had the pleasure of playing golf with the President of GCSAA Bill Maynard, CGCS. He was invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Cape Cod. We were originally slated to host the Sept meeting but it became the perfect month to have this celebration and New Seabury volunteered. We do not have the facilities and as luck would have it I heard they were the first location 50 years ago. It was a perfect day and the current board did a great job with lots of memorabilia, a slide show of historic pictures, 50th pin presentations and great gifts. The foursome pictured is Bill, Brian Smoot, President GCSACC, Paul Doherty, Past Pres. GCSACC, and me Way past president GCSACC.
GCSACC.org turns 50