We developed this blog to provide golf course maintenance information to our members. From projects, small and large, to updates on course conditions, we want to provide as much information as possible. Although we hope this blog answers all of the pertinent questions regarding our operation, we always welcome more personalized dialogue. If you have questions beyond the information found on this blog, feel free to contact our golf course superintendent, Trevor Hedgepeth.



Thursday, March 29, 2018

2018 Spring Aeration

Today we are putting the final touches on our 2018 spring aeration. Originally scheduled for March 19th - March 26th, our aeration was extended through March 28th. The golf course officially reopened today.

Before I spend time on the actual process, I want to thank our club membership and leadership for the 2-day extension. The week prior, we received an inch of rain on Tuesday and several inches of snow on Wednesday. Couple the precipitation with frigid nights that were setting up long frost delays and we could not have accomplished what was accomplished without our club's support and patience. So, on behalf of our maintenance team, Thank You!

Our spring aeration has become the bedrock for our agronomic plans each season. We use this time to disturb a tremendous amount of turf. The timing of our spring aeration works well because the weather is conducive to aggressive practices without collateral injury and golf levels are generally very low so our membership experiences minimal discomfort.

Generally, I walk through each turf area (green, tee, fairway, etc.) and explain what we do and how we do it. This summary will still cover our putting surfaces, but focus more on the level of general topdressing across the property.

Our greens are first topdressed with a sizable layer of USGA spec putting green sand. This season, we were able to apply just over 1200 lbs. of sand for every 1000 square feet of surface. Once the sand is applied, our greens are deep tined with 1/2" diameter tines to a depth of 7". These holes are drilled in on 2" x 2" spacing. These deep tines not only create deep and sustainable channels for advantageous spring rooting, but fracture the soil as they move up and down. Following the deep tine, the greens are aerated with 1/2" diameter coring tines to a depth of 2.5" and a spacing of 2" x 2". Following this aeration, the same machine with the same specs makes a second pass at an alternate angle. Once the cores have dried, they are broomed to the perimeter of the green for removal. Following a second blowing, the greens are swept in three different directions to assure that all of the holes and channels are full with clean fresh sand. After the sweeping, the greens are rolled three separate times and then fertilized and watered. The first morning of re-opening, we mow the greens for the first time and we are off and going! 

This is what the finished product looks like. Many holes filled with sand. According to the ISTRC displacement chart, we displace about 15% of our surface area. Considering that the USGA recommends 20% displacement for the whole season, we accomplish 75% of that goal in one aeration. 

There is no question that this is an invasive and aggressive aeration. Yet, we are not only passionate about it, but extremely excited about what it does for our turf. 

As greens mature, the sandy profile that is full of air porosity, infiltration and percolation begins to "slow down" as naturally occurring organic bio-mass begins to accumulate. Simply put, as the profile matures, the plant's ability to breathe is reduced. The screenshot below, shows some data work we did on our 5th green. 

But the maturity of the profile is not all bad. In fact, as the profile matures, its' ability to retain moisture and nutrients increases. Plants need food and water to survive, but they also need oxygen. So the best case scenario is a soil that drains and breathes like sand, but retains nutrients and water like top-soil. 

To achieve this mythical balance, cultural processes can bridge the gap. By removing piles, literally, of old stagnate profile and replacing it with clean fresh sand, we can achieve the best of both worlds. We can maintain a profile that breathes, while still retaining nutrients and water. 

The profile shot above was taken from our 9th green. In the photo you can see the darker material and the lighter channels streaking about. These lighter channels represent the clean channels that are created through topdressing and aeration. Furthermore, if you look closely at the canopy, you can see the topdressing layer that is responsible for thatch suppression, smoothness and firmness. 

Although not as aggressive, our fairways tees and approaches were verti-cut, deep tined and topdressed. This time around, we spread over 2,000,000 pounds of sand. So while it is sandy now, the dividends for the future will be immeasurable. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Select Tree Clearing and Drainage #2 Tee Complex

The following blog was put together by one of our senior assistants, Michael Nowicki. 

 This winter we have been working on an improvement project for the right side of 1 green and 2 tee complex. Historically this is an area of the property that often struggles due to poor drainage, lack of sunlight, and poor airflow. This is one of the most difficult micro-climates at Kinloch to maintain healthy turf throughout the season.
 Our approach to tree management at Kinloch is very unique. We must consider the functionality of every tree i.e. is it a hazard, does it frame the hole, or is it a reference point for the golfer. Our process for removing trees starts with identifying the specimens that we must keep. Then we do a walk through with the golf course architect and select the trees that can be removed. This is a very selective process and every tree is scrutinized to ensure that we don’t change the character of the hole, but also put ourselves in the best position for agronomic success.
We recently applied this strategy to the right of 1 green and 2 tees. This area experienced a lack of morning sunlight and poor airflow that often resulted in turf decline. Much of the underbrush was thinned out during the project but we left the focal specimen trees that frame the area. This also opened up vistas that allow you to better view this portion of the property.

 The subsurface of 2 tees and the surrounding rough were also in need of attention. During construction a silica based sand was used to cap the tees. Silica sands hold more moisture than river or rock based sands. While this method has worked great for most of the tees at Kinloch, it holds too much water on 2 due to the aforementioned microclimate. This coupled with there being no internal drainage in these tees meant our team had to take necessary steps to remedy the problem.
We installed a herringbone drainage pattern in these tees. This is very similar to the drainage design of a USGA green and is the most efficient way to catch water and move it off a site.

The process begins by stripping the sod in the pattern that we want to place the drain tile. These trenches are excavated to a depth of 16 inches to provide ample space for the necessary gravel, pipe, and sand. While the trenches are being excavated we are continually checking the slope of the trench floor to ensure we have a minimum of 2 percent fall throughout the drainage network using a surveying tool known as a transit. Once we have sufficient slope to move water we cover the trench floor with 2 inches of pea gravel. Corrugated drain tile is then placed on top of the gravel and covered up with 4 more inches of gravel. Six inches of sand similar to the silica sand found in the tees is used to cap the project and is heavily compacted to ensure that we do not have any future settling. Sod is then put back and rolled for a smooth finish.

 Moisture management often extends beyond our irrigation system and how much water we apply. Thought must be given to the ability to move excess moisture from playing surfaces along with the sunlight and airflow needs of the turf. These projects will help us better manage moisture and provide the world class conditioning Kinloch is known for.              

Monday, November 27, 2017

Short Game Expansion Project

*The following post was written by one of our senior assistants, Mike Nowicki. Not only did Mike provide the content for this blog, but he was the point guard throughout this entire project. Many thanks to Mike and our staff for a great start to our fall improvement phase.* 

As part of our ongoing efforts to improve Kinloch and ensure that we have one of the best and most unique practice facilities in the golfing world, the decision was made to convert the rough located between the chipping green farthest from the clubhouse and the big range tee to approach height bentgrass. From an agronomic stand-point, the tightly mowed turf will better tolerate the foot traffic and wear this area experiences throughout the season. This will mitigate the trampled look often seen at this location. Aesthetically it provides a clean uniform look and a sense of connectivity between our short game area and the driving range.

I would like to take a few moments to walk you through the construction process. We began with stripping all sod to expose the soil underneath. Roughly two inches of top soil was removed to expose a firmer clay subsurface and to provide room for a sand cap. Once the subsurface was exposed it became apparent that we needed to soften the slope from the green to the tee to provide a smoother transition and easier walk. This was accomplished by dragging soil from the high points to the low points using our box blade and dingo excavator. Once we were pleased with the grade a plate compactor was run over all areas that soil was moved to guarantee that we would not experience any settling in the future as a result of this construction.

Next we used one of our aerifiers set up with solid tines to poke holes in the clay at a depth of three inches. This provides deep channels for sand which is a better medium for root growth than the red clay found on the site and will allow for deep rooting quickly after the sod is laid. Following this a two inch sand cap was added to the entire site. The larger particle size of sand compared to clay allows it to resist compaction thus promoting healthier bentgrass with much better traffic tolerance. Sand was added in two stages, we put roughly one inch down then watered it and compacted it then did the same again. This helps stabilize the surface for when we place the sod making it easier to have a smooth finished product.

          Finally we begin to lay sod. Lines were painted to mark where the intermediate cut would go and that was sodded first to give us an idea if we liked how everything was framed. Bentgrass was  then placed inside the intermediate cut. All bentgrass was taken from the far right target green on the driving range. This turf has been at Kinloch since grow in and has evolved to withstand the difficult climate. Using turf that is acclimated to this region gives this project the best chance for success. Immediately after all sod was placed the surface was rolled to smooth out any imperfections. The final step was to replace the sod taken from the target green with sod we bought from East Coast Sod. This turf will be allowed to grow in with minimal traffic stress and will blend flawlessly with the other target greens by next season.

The new approach measures 3500 square feet and provides a seamless transition between our short game and driving range. It was a relatively simple project that adds even more character to an already phenomenal practice facility.    



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

2017 Summer Aeration and Expectations Going Forward

Our summer aeration is concluding this afternoon and the golf course will reopen tomorrow, Thursday, August 31st, 2017. Before I start to cover what was accomplished and what lies ahead, I'd like to recognize our maintenance team, but specifically, our 3 senior assistants: Robert Andershonis; Duggan Cannon and Mike Nowicki. I'd also like to recognize our equipment manager: Terry Kennedy. Although our staff was amazing, as always, the leadership from the guys mentioned above steered the ship throughout.

On putting greens we applied a medium topdressing followed by a deep tine. Once the deep tine cleared the greens, we core aerated with our 648's. After several rolls and some brushing, we fertilized the greens with Hi-Cal Lime, Pro-Mag and Potassium. 10 days later and the greens are healing nicely.

On fairways, approaches and intermediates, we ran a solid tine machine followed by a deep tine. We then applied gypsum and rolled everything to avoid scalping. Like the greens, the fairways and approaches are positioned nicely for a strong fall season.

Our tee boxes were deep tined and then core aerated. We pulled cores on the tees due to some extra thatch accumulation. After a light topdressing and brush, we also applied gypsum to the tees and then rolled them out. The tees looked outstanding this afternoon after their first mowing since the process began.

August can be tricky with respect to weather so we did not aerate our rough. We did, however, install 7 pallets of turf type tall fescue to high traffic areas and areas that will be tough to recover through seed. For August 30th, our rough has had a good a season and like the other surfaces, we are expecting a strong fall season.

Yesterday, we received .75" of rain which cleaned things up nicely. This afternoon, we put the final touches on our detail assignments and mowed all surfaces. All in all, this aeration was fairly smooth and a lot was accomplished.  Once again, thanks to our entire staff and managers.

Now that the aeration is complete, its time to plan our recovery and return of playable conditions. While the fairways, tees and approaches will play well right away, the greens will take a bit longer. Starting today, we single mowed the greens with our floating head mowers. We use these mowers because the floating heads will produce less scalping on the freshly aerated surfaces. We will single mow for the next 7 days. You can expect increasing smoothness and speed as each day passes. However, during that first week, our goal is not to produce tournament ready surfaces but to produce healthy, well mowed grass as we transition to more aggressive maintenance. On our around the 6th of September, we will re-introduce our fixed-head units. These mowers cut tighter than our floating head units so we want to remove any bumpiness prior to their use. From the 6th of September through September 11th, we will continue to single mow the greens. Sometime during the week of the 11th, we will re-introduce semi-regular rolling in conjunction with daily mowing. And by the week of the 18th, our goal will be daily maintenance that produces firmness and quickness. From start to finish, considering the aeration itself, this process takes about 4 weeks. But, these 4 weeks will lay the foundation for great conditions through Thanksgiving and beyond.

Thanks to our membership and management for the flexibility to do the things necessary for the care of the course. We are excited about what has been accomplished, but even more excited about the fall season ahead. See everyone soon...