Saturday, July 26, 2014

#12 Fairway Update

The 12th fairway has been reopened for limited play after about 8 months of closure for aggressive renovation.

What caused the closure?

Salt. Salt in the soil that makes it difficult to grow or maintain grass.  The high water table in that area of the course is a big contributor to the problem and will always be there.  Capillary action will pull the salt up into the root zone and the irrigation water also has salt in it which builds up over time.
We combat the problem several ways.  The first of which is by applying wetting agents to the soil. They essentially make water wetter to allow it to penetrate and move through the soil better.  The wetting agents allow the heavy irrigation or flushing to move the salts lower in the soil away from the roots.  Secondly, we applied a material that exchanges with the sodium on an atomic level.  Sodium ions likes to bond with soil particles and does not want to let go, so we have to help it by applying something that it will happily change places with.  In our case we apply calcium in the form of gypsum to facilitate the exchange.
Once we had the sodium levels reduced in the root zone, we needed to aerate the fairway and then seed it with perennial rye grass.  We applied starter fertilizer to give the seed a good jolt and then watered frequently to ensure the seed never dried out.

So now what?

Well, we have opened the fairway to play on Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday's.  The fairway will remain closed to play on Monday's through Thursday's.  During this time we will be closely monitoring the turf quality on the fairway.  I will also be using an instrument that the club owns called an EC meter. EC stand for electro-conductivity and is a measure of the salt build up in the soil.  The meter tells me if the salt levels are going up or down and allows me to make management decisions based on science.
In the meantime, we want you to enjoy the newly opened fairway, but please adhere to a strict 90 degree rule to help us keep the turf as stress free as possible.


Rejuvenating the hazard stakes

Marking of the golf course has always been a very important part of the game. One of the ways it is done is with hazard stakes to define water hazards, which we have an abundant supply of, or OB. The red and yellow stakes that we use on the course are not painted but are, in fact, made out of a recycled plastic product that has the color impregnated throughout. Over time the sun bleaches out the color on the surface. 
We purchased an electric hand planer to shave off a little bit of each side to reveal the fresh bright color underneath.  The results have been fantastic and this will be an ongoing process.