Our Mission: The Golf Course and Grounds Department is committed to providing the best possible playing conditions on a daily basis while being responsible stewards of the financial and environmental resources that we have been entrusted with.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Aeration: August 24-25

The golf course will be closed following the Junior event on Sunday and then all day Monday. While aeration is unpopular among most golfers, the improved health and performance of a stand of turf that results from aeration is very popular, and there are many benefits to employing a regular aeration program on important playing surfaces.

  1. Improved water infiltration. The agronomic practices that are used to create a firm, smooth surface plus the amount of traffic that the golf course receives can seal off the surface and hamper the ability of water to penetrate deep into the soil. By opening channels through the surface, water can move freely into the soil.
  2. Addition of sand to the root zone and surface. Sand topdressing helps to create a firm, smooth surface while increased sand in the root zone improves the ability of water to move through the soil and provides space for increased root growth.
  3. Gas exchange. Exchanging gases, specifically carbon dioxide and oxygen, is important for healthy roots. By opening up channels to exchange these gases, the overall health of the turf is improved and the efficiency with which the plant creates and stores energy is increased. Healthy plants are important in late summer and fall as they prepare to harden off and survive winter.
  4. Creation of a seed bed for seeding. During aeration the greens are seeded with bent grass. The seed is worked into the root zone to add to the overall density and heartiness of the stand of turf. A healthy turf stand over the long term will be of “perpetual juvenility.” Any perennial turf stand is made up of young, immature seedlings, juvenile plants and older senescing plants. The juvenile plants are the most robust, so a program of regular inter-seeding will help to maintain these levels. This is particularly important as the recovery from the winter injury continues. Optimizing the bentgrass populations will help to reduce the risk from ice cover and hydration injury.
An application of fertilizer will be made following aeration in order to begin the process of preparing the turf for winter and to continue to build up nutrients in the soil to counteract the effects of salt in the irrigation water. The greens will be completed first followed by the tees and then the approaches. As usual, fairways will be aerated and top-dressed in the fall.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Lightning


Turf damage from lightning strike
On Tuesday, a lightning strike occurred on the 18th fairway. The alarms had sounded and the golf course had been evacuated. The strike that hit the golf course was the first strike of the storm. The alarm system detects the conditions that cause lightning as opposed to lightning itself and is set to allow for time to evacuate the golf course in most cases. It is important that players evacuate the golf course or seek shelter when the alarms sound as the first lightning strike of a storm could hit the ground.

A damaged switch- part of the irrigation control system
The protection system on the irrigation system limited the damage. 2 decoders and a switch were damaged which is an acceptable level of damage for what was essentially a direct hit.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Winter Injury 2014: Implications

 
Some have speculated that the winter of 2014 can be compared to Hurricane Hazel in terms of the long lasting implications that it will have on the golf industry in southern Ontario. Here at Cutten Fields the severe winter weather and historically cool spring have created damage to the golf course and caused delay in the recovery efforts. There will be many long term implications of the winter injury experienced at the club;

  1. Creeping Bentgrass- the injured areas have been re-established predominately with bentgrass, although some poa survived and some has re-generated from the seed that is present in the soil. The percentage of the putting surface that is now comprised of creeping bentgrass is much higher than at this time last year. Creeping Bentgrass is a sturdier turf that will be more reliable during the high stress periods of summer and winter.
    The amount of Creeping Bentgrass (blue/grey colour) in the stand has increased 
  2. Reduced ball roll- the putting surfaces have a large proportion of young, fragile plants that will be easily injured by the usual practices that are employed to obtain maximum ball roll. Low mowing heights, rolling, frequent brushing, vertical mowing and topdressing all contribute a certain amount of stress to the turf in addition to that which comes from daily golfer traffic. To decrease the stress load these high stress agronomic practices will be employed sparingly, if at all, resulting in reduced ball roll.
  3. Hole locations- as a result of less than normal ball roll, some hole locations that are not normally able to be used during the season will be able to be used on a regular basis. Many of the greens were constructed in the 1930’s, an era when the technology to mow, roll and prepare the turf was quite different and the greens rolled much slower. If a slower than normal ball roll is to be experienced this season, some of these unused, interesting hole locations will be able to part of the regular rotation.
    All of the greens will be back in play next week
  4. Change to winter preparations- the way in which the turf is prepared and protected will be re-evaluated by the Golf Course and Grounds committee prior to the arrival of winter. Protection strategies largely depend on a forecast of the winter conditions. Growing environments, mowing heights during the season and in the fall as well as the covering systems that are employed will all be examined in order to reduce the chance of winter injury and provide the expected standard of conditions while not perpetuating the problem turf (poa annua) that is susceptible to winter injury.
Greens Opening Schedule
The height of cut will be reduced to 4mm over the weekend on the greens that are still closed. On Monday all of teh greens will be topdressed and put into play. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Golf Course Update: June 27


This past week, greens #3,4,6,7, and 12 were put into play and have held up well to daily traffic from play and maintenance. The process continues with regular topdressing and fertility along with sufficient irrigation, however, the greens have been divided into groups depending on the condition of the turf.  Those that require more care are being topdressed and fertilized at higher rates, while the greens that have been put into play are being topdressed/fertilized at a lower rate. While the sand topdressing can be helpful in filling in thin areas and increasing density, there is a limit to how much sand can be present in the rootzone before the sand begins to cause abrasion injury to the plant.

Some of the greens will be topdressed at a heavy ‘grow-in’ rate  for a final time on Friday (27th) in order to improve the density of the surface and fill in the voids that exist. Fertility, plugging and regular irrigation will all continue through the week and the expectation is that all of the greens will be in play on or before July 7.

Aggresive spikes can increase the traffic damage on the fragile turf during the heat of summer
Can the players do anything to help the condition of the fragile turf through the summer? The turf will be tender and fragile through the summer months and be susceptible to injury from traffic and routine maintenance. In an effort to control mechanical injury, the greens will be rolled more and mowed less through the heat of the summer.  This will maintain ball roll but reduce mechanical stress. As a player, you can help to reduce the traffic stress on the turf by using the least aggressive spikes that you can. Not all “soft spikes” are created equal and some can cause significant injury to young turf, particularly in the heat. Flat soled golf shoes or tennis shoes would be ideal, but the less aggressive the spikes, the better it will be for overall turf health and playability.

The less aggresive the spike, the better the putting surfaces will be for all players