Growing up one of my favorite games to play at the arcade was Wack-a-mole. The game consisted of moles popping out of random holes and the player would try and "Wack" as many moles as possible before time expired. Every time you thought you whacked them all, inevitably another one would surface. Currently, the grounds department is playing their own version of whack-a-mole called whack-a-project. Every time one project is accomplished another one will pop its head.
First up for the WHCC construction team has been phase 1 of the driving range projects. I'm happy to announce that after 1,284 in-house man hours, the opening of phase 1 is only days away. The chipping green, approaches, and new driving range tee all look healthy and are ready for daily play. However, the putting green expansion, especially the transition area, needs more time to heal in. The late seeding date combined with many washouts have caused uneven drainage pockets that have held on to water leading to some scorched areas along with mower damage from mowing over the uneven surface. We are trying to decrease the wear patterns by skipping the cleanup round in the transition area and using rubber mats for turning but I do think we may have to address the unevenness with some excavation this fall. In the meantime, the transition area will have to be roped off until the grass can completely heal in. We plan on opening the bottom half of the putting green for bump and run shots on the June 15th opening date. Please understand that both the new putting green expansion and chipping area will take some time before they begin to roll as fast as the rest of the greens on the golf course. The turf is still in its infancy state and cannot take the lower mowing, continuous rolling, frequent topdressing, and heavy plant growth regulator applications like the older greens. Eventually we will get them there, but the grass will dictate how aggressive we can be in the short term.
|The transition area of the new putting green expansion. We are decreasing the topdressing applications and keeping wear patterns down to try and help it heal in.|
Innovation zoysia grass has been installed on the target greens in the driving range. This grass was selected because of its drought tolerance, disease resistant, and heat loving attributes. Also, it is a newer variety with the coldest hardiness of all southern type grasses. Zoysia grass does not have the aggressive creeping nature of Bermuda grass so there are no worries about it taking over the entire driving range floor. During the colder months the target greens will be a light brown color that should be very noticeable against the green backdrop of the cool season grasses.
Sodding is the best way to establish this turfgrass and there are only two local companies that have it available. One is in Evansville, Indiana, and the other is the Southeastern Turfgrass Research Center in Lexington, KY. We went with the Lexington distributor and Dr. Mike Harrell is the owner. They are on the front lines of new and improved turfgrass varieties. 15,000 sqft of innovation zoysia sod was delivered over the weekend. It was a day and a half project in between monsoons, but we did get all the target greens stripped and resodded. The new zoysia grass will take some time to root in and once it does, we will be mowing it at tee height and this should enhance the target green perimeters.
|The innovation zoysia field in Lexington KY|
|Section the new turf was cut from|
|Innovation zoysia arrives-43 rolls.|
|Stripping of old target greens|
|Laying out new zoysia|
|New target greens after installation. The target greens will be mowed at tee height once the sod is established|
The chipping green surrounds have many wet pockets because of cutting into the existing hillside. We have fixed two of the 5 wet areas with new perforated drain tile and backfilling with sand. Some of the wet areas may need the work of an excavator and will need to be accomplished during phase 2 this fall. Any wet areas that we do not rectify will have signs to notify golfers.
|Miguel and Raymond taking on a wet area|
|Miguel digging a new drainage trench|
The old cart path on #5 has been eliminated and Russ Mackee used the excess dirt from the new golf cart building to fill it in. It has been seeded and is currently filling in.
The new patio expansion is complete and will be a great addition for outdoor dining. The drainage work done around the putting green left a good size trench that needed to be filled in and sodded. We completed the finishing work a couple weeks ago and we are now trying to keep the sod watered and alive in the summer heat.
|Jason and Mark leveling out the old soil.|
Next up will be the landscaping on top of the chipping green hillside. We will be choosing plants that will block golf shots from hole #6 without getting too tall to shade out the new chipping green.
|New landscaping to be installed in the next weeks|
Meanwhile, on the golf course we have been in full spray mode trying to stay away from the summer time diseases. The mowing crew is out in full force and it has been a challenge to keep up with cuttings in between the rainstorms. Also, the annual bluegrass weevil has reared his chewing head again and we are making insecticide applications to minimize its impact. We will spray a couple more insecticide applications to kill off future generation that will try and emerge this season.
|ABW larvae found by #7 green|
|Close up of ABW|
Zach Nicoludis, the regional USGA agronomist, dropped by WHCC for a consultation. Many topics were discussed including, trees, putting green and tee maintenance, bunker management, the new driving range project, thatch reduction in the fairways, and labor. He will write a report about recommendations, and I will share it with membership once completed. The visit went very well and many of his past recommendations have been followed. In particular, his recommendation on frequent and light topdressing has yielded positive results with firmness and green speeds.
|Light topdressing of #3 green|
On the horticulture side, the installation of the summer annuals is almost completed. There are a few new annuals that were used this season. The back patio pots have, as their focal points, majesty palms and one gardenia. The gardenia is a southern plant that is very fragrant, and the majesty palms give off a tropical feel. Birds of paradise were used next to the oak room entrance and celosia should give a different look next to the putting green.
|Gardenia flower. Very fragrant|
|Birds of Paradise|