Agronomy

Agronomy Weekly

Luckily for us, this week started off exactly like we hoped with a good 2.5 inches of rainfall.  This was the first rainfall we've received in 30 days.  As many experienced during this time, the course was showing signs of it.  The rainfall was able to calm most of the areas on the course, and many will be revived on their own.  In this Agronomy Weekly, I will detail our plans on bringing back the course to a lush green look like many desire.  However, we are still committed to providing you with the best playing conditions over aesthetics.  

Greens:

During this period, the greens have showed no signs of stress.  This is mostly because as water began to run short we conserved enough to ensure the greens would stay in great condition aesthetically as well as playing conditions.

The greens are being mowed at a height of .090.  This height has shown great success over the past two weeks without adding any unwanted plant stresses.  We will continue to utilize this HOC going into aerification, but we'll immediately raise all mowers to keep from scalping after the aerification process is completed.  Part of the healing process is to slowly lower the heights back down to achieve the desired putting conditions.

Fairways:

As stated before, many of the fairways started drying drastically.  In my last Agronomy Weekly, I detailed the causes of this.  Now that we finally received a rainfall, I would like to address what we are doing to revive many of the areas.  In the picture below, you can see three different phases of the plants reaction to heat stress and lack of water.

Hole No. 6 Approach Area

In the top right area, the turf has a slight brown discoloration.  These areas after Monday's rain will begin to bounce back on their own.  The majority of the areas on the course fit into this description.  We will continue to use irrigation, as well as push them with low nitrogen inputs, to speed up the process.

In the bottom of the picture, the turf has turned darker, and the leaf blades have shriveled.  This allows some of the subsoil to become exposed.  However, you can also see much of the area still has green grass.  After further inspection of these areas, you can also see green underneath the canopy of the brown tissue.  As of this week, we started spot fertilizing all of these areas.  These areas will be pushed back to growth by aerifying and vertical mowing over the next several weeks.  This process will take slightly longer than the previously discussed area at the top.  

Also in this picture, you can see some really dark brown areas around the newly-laid sod at the top left.  These areas could respond in several different ways.  The majority of the time, we see them come back, but in some cases, they will not and new sod will be needed.  I plan to push these areas since we have aerification scheduled next week to see if we can revive them before making the call to re-grass.  If we see no improvement over the next few weeks, we will make the necessary adjustment and re-grass.  

Roughs:

In my last Agronomy Weekly, I explained the growth habits of Palisades Zoysia.  Palisades is very aggressive and can be pushed drastically to grow under the right conditions.  All of the areas that browned out in the rough will be aerified and fertilized heavily, and we expect a full turnaround.  We also plan to re-grass behind No. 11 green over the next few weeks to have time to grow in the turf that was damaged during the bridge repair.

Irrigation:

As of Thursday of this week, we had a well company out pulling our existing well pump and motor.  We are installing a new pump and motor that will allow us to supplement our reservoir lake on No. 6 with the amount of water we can irrigate in one evening.  For instance, if we pump 800k gallons out of the well, we will be able to supplement the lake with that amount in a 24-hour period.

As of Saturday morning (7/9), the well pump is still being installed.  During its installation, we cannot actively use the well. Therefore, the lake on No. 6 is dropping and limiting our irrigation supply. During this time, we have to restrict our water until the well is complete.

During dry periods in the future, we will also communicate a new irrigation practice of starting our cycles earlier in the day to provide the course with more water.  Our cycles usually start at 9 PM after play; however, if we feel the need to begin earlier, we will communicate this properly to you.

We were glad to see the rain on Monday.  I have told many that I was surprised how dry the course was already on Tuesday morning.  We were able to spray fairways the next day with a fertilizer without making any marks.  Our course drains excellently, but as we all have seen, that brings its own problems.  We will continue to push it to provide you with the best playing conditions possible.

I appreciate your patience this past month and also the feedback from many of you.  Should you ever desire to speak with me in more depth, please feel free to contact me at (901) 201-0320 or catch me out on the course.  I look forward to the remainder of the year and the results of the improvements we have been able to make this year.

Bridge Update - Understanding the Project

As most of you have witnessed, we had a bridge collapse this year by 12 tee after some excessive rainfall. In time, we have dismantled the remainder of the bridge in order to open up the area so that contractors can review and define the necessary course of action to make the repairs.

To most, the bridge may look like a simple repair. I wish it was that easy, but the reality is there is a 36-inch drainage pipe that daylights underneath the bridge. This pipe empties over 25,000 gallons per minute when the lake reaches its overflow level.

This may seem like it should take some time to accomplish, but the water level rests just below the overflow pipe at all times. If we receive an inch or more of rainfall in a short period of time, this pipe fills up quickly. The water that exits this pipe empties directly underneath the bridge. As you can imagine, that amount of water can almost destroy anything.

The subsoil that once held the pylons in place from the original construction has now been washed away. That allowed the bridge to sag, causing added stress on the support beams. If the erosion issue is not addressed in the rebuild of the bridge, we open ourselves up to this very same thing happening again.

Because the safety of our members and guests, as well as our staff, is greater than the need to make quick repairs, we want to make sure we correct the main problem. Once the contractors have addressed the erosion created by the overflow pipe, the construction of a new bridge will begin. The bridge will be built back to its original style to not only match the other bridges throughout the course, but it also has to be able to support the weight of heavy machinery.

As of this week, we are meeting with more contractors to find the best fit for our needs. Please keep in mind that the safety of our members and guests are the top priority as we move forward in the process. We certainly appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.

If you would ever like to visit the site and discuss, please contact me as I would be glad to explain in further detail. As we move forward, I will continue to post updates and communicate our progress. Again thanks for your patience, and I wish each of you a great day.

Best wishes,

Scott Newman Golf Course Superintendent Spring Creek Ranch Golf Club