Watering Alert (Watch Out For The Greens Checkers)

Battling the Summer Heat on Bentgrass Putting Greens

By Rob Dreesen, BVCC Golf Superintendent

As the temperatures continue to rise, you will notice our attention to greens rising as well. You will often run into “greens checkers” as you play your round. Contrary to popular belief, we are not trying to get in your way and ruin your round! We are simply just protecting the plant from dying. It is a complex process that is much more complicated than just watering the greens at night. We have to maintain adequate moisture throughout the day and also cool the plant when necessary.

Some of the courses throughout the POA use moisture meters to help determine what amount of water the plant needs. You will see the greens checkers carrying devices that look similar to a pogo stick. Other courses have different techniques that they use to determine what needs to be watered and what doesn’t. But we all have a common goal in that we strive to keep the greens as dry as possible without causing stress to the plant.

Another similar technique is “syringing” the greens. Syringing can also be called, misting. When we mist the greens we are simply keeping the plant cool. Research has shown that when you disperse a very light layer of water over the surface, it cools the plant by 10-15 degrees! Think of a misting fan or machine at outdoor restaurants or on the sidelines of a football game. These are there to keep people cool. This is the same approach we are taking on the greens, which can have a huge effect on the health of the plant.

By spot watering and misting greens throughout the day, we prevent the greens from being overwatered. If we only used our irrigation heads at night, we would be overwatering the plant which would lead to the following effects:

  • Plant Health
    • Roots shrink, causing the plant to be stressed
    • Areas with excessive water are warmer than areas with adequate water, causing the plant to be stressed
    • Greens are soft causing the mower to scalp, causing the plant to be stressed
  • Golf Playability
    • Greens are soft, causing more ball marks
    • Greens are soft, causing slower and inconsistent speeds

As you can see, hand watering and syringing throughout the course of the day is necessary for all of us to achieve our goals of having firm, healthy, and smooth putting surfaces. Please keep that in mind on the next round that you run into a greens checker. It is our goal to have the healthiest and best putting surfaces than we can, while also staying out of your way and letting you enjoy your round. However, time is critical, and sometimes we will need to get the green watered before you hit your shot into the green. We try our best to not disrupt the same group over the course of your round, but in the case this does happen, we apologize and it is certainly in the best interest of keeping our turf healthy. Thank you for your patience during these hot and very critical days.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to talk to us while on the golf course. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Thank you!

Summer Weed Control

Weed cleanup on golf courses is continually a work-in-progress. It is especially a problem on golf courses that were previously overseeded. When courses are overseeded, pre-emerging for weeds can be very difficult since pre-emergents keep not only weeds from germinating but grass seed as well. So often, pre-emergents are not applied at all. This proposes a major problem for golf courses in future years and that is what we are now dealing with.

I am relatively certain that most of you remember how “weedy” BVCC was last summer. The crabgrass was out of control on many holes. We decided this spring to switch herbicides for our spring pre-emergent to a chemical that would better keep the crabgrass from germinating and encroaching our fairways. The good news is, our plan has worked so far. There are very few crabgrass plants on the course where we sprayed our pre-emergent. There are, of course, crabgrass plants that are in areas where we did not pre-emerge. On the other side of the cart path, opposite the fairway, are good examples of where we do not pre-emerge. We do not typically pre-emerge these areas as we try to spend most of our chemical budget on areas that are played more often (around greens, tees, and fairways).

The bad news about our change in pre-emergent herbicides, is that while the crabgrass is under control, the goose grass has gotten a little out of control in some areas. Did you know that a single goose grass plant can produce 50,000 seeds!? When a plant produces that many seeds, it can be very difficult to control once it is established. Therefore, as turf managers when we see goose grass we will make every attempt to kill it before it spreads, particularly to greens. We have made some attempts to kill the goose grass without discoloring the Bermuda, but so far, the goose grass has refused to die.

In recent years, the EPA has outlawed many herbicides, most notably is Illoxan which was the best goose grass herbicide on the market. Since we are “handcuffed”, so to speak, on what we can spray to kill the goose grass, we are forced to take measures that will discolor Bermuda grass. You will notice several areas around BVCC that will be an unsightly yellow or brown color. This happens when we spray the goose grass that is intermingled within the Bermuda grass. This chemical will only kill the goosegrass. Although it may appear that the Bermuda grass is dying, rest assured, the chemical only discolors the Bermuda temporarily.

As turf managers, we are continually striving to provide better playing conditions. Unfortunately, at times we must take a step back (discolor Bermuda) to take two steps forward (kill the weeds). This is part of the process to clean up the course so that our pre-emergent herbicides will work better for us in the future. We thank you for understanding and hope that you continue to enjoy your rounds even if every blade of grass is not always green!

 

Rob Dreesen

Golf Course Superintendent

Bella Vista Country Club

Scotsdale GCM Update

I want to remind everyone that on July 8 we will aerate greens for the second time this season at Scotsdale. We are doing this again to increase the quality of our greens and the soils ability to exchanges oxygen and reduce the thatch developed as the Bermuda grows during the summer months. This will be followed by applying nutrients and sand top dressing. We will roll several times afterwards to smooth the surface for better ball roll. If mother nature works with us and gives us some warm weather, recovery will be quick, with a full recovery in about 7 days. This process is much needed for the longevity health of the greens going forward and I thank everyone for their understanding.

 

-Kyle Soller, Scotsdale Golf Course Superintendent

2019 USGA Visit Set

Steve Kammerer, Ph.D., SE Regional Director, USGA Greens Section will visit the Bella Vista POA on Wednesday, July 10.

A full day agenda will begin with Kammerer meeting with the POA’s Director of Golf Maintenance Keith Ihms, CGCS, and golf course superintendents at 8 a.m. to discuss golf maintenance issues affecting the various courses.

At 10 a.m., Kammerer will meet with members of the Board of Directors, Golf Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) and management at the BVCC Golf Pro Shop for a course tour. The tour is open to the public and will occur rain or shine.

In addition, at 4 p.m., the public is invited to attend the July 10 Golf JAC meeting which will take place in the BVCC Board Room at 4 p.m. Mr. Kammerer will make a short presentation on his day’s visit and answer questions.

Species Profile: Chelydra serpentina – Common Snapping Turtle

Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina

Common Name(s): Common Snapping Turtle, Snapping Turtle

Identification: Common snapping turtles are large freshwater turtles with strong jaws that look like a beak. Alligator snapping turtles are similar in appearance but have a much more ridged shell. The older the individual, the smoother the shell. Common snapping turtles have a flat, fleshy tongue while alligator snapping turtles have more of a worm-like tongue used to lure prey. Common snapping turtles have a large head and large eyes. Their tail is long with ridges on the top and they have webbed feet with large claws.  Nostrils positioned on the tip of their beaks makes it possible for them to stretch their long necks up to the surface for air when in shallower waters. They range in size from 8-14 inches in shell length and weigh 10-35 pounds. The world record is for a captive turtle measuring 19.5 inches in length and 86 pounds.

Range: Snapping Turtles are found from southern Canada in the north to south Texas and Florida and is present as far west as the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Ecology: Common snapping turtles are mostly found in freshwater but can be found in brackish water. These aquatic turtles prefer slow moving water and muddy bottoms with vegetation. They do not normally bask in the sun like other smaller turtles. Instead, they bask by floating just under or on the surface of the water. They are mostly found under aquatic vegetation or buried in muddy or sandy substrate in shallower waters.

Common snapping turtles are normally calm when in the water. However, when threatened or cornered they can be very aggressive. This aggression is mostly seen when the turtle is out of the water. It is quite clumsy on land, and therefore feels it must defend itself. They will strike with their powerful jaws to protect themselves. They cannot retract all the way into their shells and their stomachs and limbs are fleshy, so they use aggression to protect themselves from predators.

Common snapping turtles are omnivores that consume fish, frogs, aquatic vegetation, and a wide variety of other vertebrate and invertebrate prey. They are important aquatic scavengers as well as active predators.

In the wild, common snapping turtles can live up to 30 years. Hatchlings are very vulnerable, although adults have few natural predators. Predators of hatchlings and eggs include crows, mink, skunks, foxes, raccoons, herons, and snakes. Adults are most vulnerable out of water. Many are struck by vehicles while moving between water bodies.

Mating occurs from April-November. Females can hold onto a male’s sperm for several seasons if needed. The female will construct a hole to lay the eggs in and can lay up to 83 eggs. Eggs will hatch between 9-18 weeks depending on weather. There is no parental care for hatchlings.

Many people think it is OK to pick these animals up by the tail, but this can cause series injury to the animal, as it pulls on their vertebrae. It is also not a good idea to get the animal to bite a stick and drag it across the ground, as this can lead to scrapes which can become infected. If an animal must be handled, it can safely be picked up by holding the shell above the hind legs (demonstrated below).

 

 

Chris Fuller with an adult male common snapping turtle at a Berksdale golf pond.

Special Notes: Here in Bella Vista, common snapping turtles can be found in the lakes, streams, or in golf course ponds, and are mainly active April-November. You should always be cautious around these animals, especially if seen out of water where they feel more threatened and become aggressive. If approached in water, they will normally just swim away and avoid confrontation. Vehicles are a major source of adult deaths when moving between water bodies, so be cautious when driving.

Scotsdale GCM Update

Finally seeing some break from the rain this week so we are doing our best to take advantage of it. Really happy to see that golfers are out playing and enjoying the course. Greens have healed in nicely and now we are starting to get the speed back up on them. Have lowered the heights back down to where I like to keep them and seeing the speeds increase to where we intend to have them consistently.

We are also making some changes to some areas. First, we are re grassing the tee on #3 where the red markers are typically at. The area catches a lot of shade and is tough for the Bermuda to grow. Even by 11:00 am it has not been touched by the sun. Combined with the amount of traffic and the clubs typically hit off it, the Bermuda struggles. We will be switching the turf to zoysia. Zoysia has a better shade tolerance and should provide a better surface for that location.  Along with some changes to winter management I have planned, we should see a much needed improvement to that tees growth and appearance.

Next, we will be making repairs to an area on 8 cart-path. This area was damaged from the flooding and washed out the bank next to the cart path. Due to the amount of water that can potentially come thru there we are adding rip rap and concrete to solidify the bank and prevent this problem in the future. It will prevent the backwash that has occurred and help to protect the cart-path.

On 8 fairway we will be changing the fairway cut line on the second fairway. I will be bringing the rough in the front of the middle fairway back. This will aid in preventing so much ball roll that leads into the creek. With how its been cut in the past, it has made it difficult for balls to slow down in that area. The added rough should provide a little more slow down in this area and make it more playable. We will also be regrassing and amending the soil in this area to improve turf coverage and growth.  Below is a picture of the changes to the fairway cut with the yellow line the old cut and the light blue the new cut we are implementing. It shows how much short grass there is adding to the challenge of stopping the ball before it rolls into the creek.

Thank you to everyone for the support, and we hope you continue to enjoy the course. We are working hard to make improvements and provide a beautiful and enjoyable golf course. Look forward to seeing you out here!

-Kyle Soller, Scotsdale Golf Course Superintendent

Jack Crabtree and Dogwood Golf Course Crossing Project

The Jack Crabtree and Dogwood Golf Course Crossing Project is now completed and fully functional. This is a significant safety enhancement for our Members, Guests and Employees having to cross the Jack Crabtree Road.

The RRFB system (rectangular rapid flashing beacons) is located on the greenside of hole #7 and the return crossing from hole # 12 on the Dogwood Golf Course. The system may be activated by pressing the pole-mounted button which in turn will activate the caution signals for vehicular traffic traveling in both directions on Crabtree Road.

The RRFB system, when engaged, displays rectangular-shaped, high intensity signals which flash in an alternating pattern. These alternating signals provide a direct, ultra-bright concentration as well as wide angle intensity. The pattern and intensity are the same as found in emergency response vehicles, providing optimal brightness and visibility.  Compared to standard, older round beacons, this system, when coupled with warning signage, has shown an 80% or more effectiveness as opposed to 15% to 20% in older systems.

This system is only as effective as when it is utilized.  Everyone must continue to use vigilance when crossing Crabtree Road. While the RRFB system has been shown to greatly enhance safety, it cannot eliminate “distracted drivers”. Please take those few extra seconds to help ensure your safety.

Birdies take Berksdale!

Berksdale kicked off our first Audubon International BioBlitz event with a field day May 22nd. Golf staff members were joined by our resident ecologists from Lakes, Parks, and Fisheries and members of the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists group. We spent several hours exploring multiple micro habitats around the course, noting the various plant and animal species we encountered. The Bella Vista Birders came out the morning of the 24th and were able to identify 55 unique feathered species. Our special guest was young Master Quin Warsaw, who captured some amazing photographs with his keen eye for detail (https://www.facebook.com/groups/SNAPPYSVIEW).

For the week of May 22-28, golfers were provided “Wildlife Scorecards” to be used while they played their round. The infamous snack-grabbing squirrelasaurus took top honors as most frequently sighted; our resident blue heron population remains a favorite. We will continue to have the limited edition “BioBlitz at Berksdale” decals available in the Kingsdale Pro Shop, as well as Audubon International’s “Golf and Wildlife Activity Book”. We look forward to BioBlitz becoming an annual tradition and hope it will encourage a greater appreciation of all Berksdale has to offer.

-Wendy Barnes, Berksdale Assistant Superintendent, wendyb@bvvpoa.com

Scotsdale GCM Update

If you’ve been to Scotsdale this week you may have noticed the greens were recently aerated and verticut. We then followed this up with a heavy topdressing of sand. We aerate greens to help regulate thatch by removing the excessive thatch with small cores and then incorporating sand top dressing into the aeration holes.

Vertical mowing accomplishes similar results through the utilization of small knives which cut linear patterns about a quarter of an inch deep into the surface of the green. These two processes are done to help the turf optimize growth and provide a smooth, firm surface to play from. It also helps create better drainage, gas exchange and alleviates compaction that sets in overtime from play and equipment. Topdressing is performed after aeration to fill these channels with fresh sand, free of thatch; this also improves gas exchange and water movement, while firming and smoothing the surface for better play-ability.

We will do these two more times this summer since these greens were renovated using a no till method. This will help make a more uniform profile and remove more of the layering that comes with no till renovation. Since it is still late spring, and we never know what mother nature may do, we went with a smaller coring tine this time with close spacing. This will help speed up the recovery since it is not such a large hole to fill in. In warmer weather we will use slightly bigger cores to help remove more of the layering when we aerate. The Bermuda grows more vigorously with warmer temperatures, so the healing time is better for larger cores.

We will follow this with a lot of rolling and additional brushing to continue incorporating the sand into the holes and grooves to complete the smoothing of the putting surface.

We also aerated tees this week. This helped to alleviate compaction and will make the tees grow healthier while also improving water utilization of the plant.  Although aeration is disruptive to play, it is an important program for the overall health of turfgrass plants. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to everyone enjoying the course this summer.

Kyle Soller, Scotsdale Golf Maintenance Superintendent

BVCC #1 Green Update

The project on #1 Green at BVCC has been a long but very beneficial process. Since the damage to the green occurred from a malfunctioning greens spray combined with the underlying problem of damaged drainage, progress has been made to get the green back into healthy and playable conditions.

New drainage was the first step of the process. While the drainage is certainly not as good as a newly constructed green, it has certainly made a very positive difference. After the new drainage was replaced, our team sodded and plugged some of the weaker areas and the green started to recover on its own. We were hopeful at that time that the green would be open sooner rather than later. However, frigid temperatures hit and the green and the sod took a few steps in the wrong direction. It was very apparent at that time that if the green could not withstand the extreme cold, then it had little chance to withstand the extreme heat of the summer. The only choice was to re-sod when temperatures were favorable.

During the last week of March and the first week of April temperatures started getting into the 60s and 70s during the day and only down into the 40s at night and soil temperatures climbed back into the 50s. While these temperatures are not great for bentgrass shoot (grass) growth we knew that new sod would be able to withstand the conditions and eventually grow roots. At this time our team, along with the help of other golf maintenance teams, re-sodded the middle section of the green.

Since re-sodding, the green has flourished. The spring weather has given the sod favorable conditions for root growth and shoot growth. Through heavy topdressings and other cultural practices, our team has worked diligently to get the green healthy so that it could withstand the stress that comes with getting the green ready for play. The final step has been to lower the height of cut, which takes time to keep the green healthy. It was important to our team that we push to lower the height of the green as hard as we could to get it open for our members. With this, a little scalping has occurred, specifically on the edges of the green, but nothing that should not recover with time.

We are ecstatic to announce that #1 green will be open for play on Thursday May 30th! Please note, that while we intend #1 green to roll the same as the others, you may notice a little difference for the time being. Overall the green is rolling relatively smooth but may have some bumps here and there due to the sod. It may also roll a little slower than the rest, but given time, we expect it to be like the rest of the greens and you will not notice that work was even done to this green!

Our team would like to thank everyone for their patience as we went through this process. It may not have gone as quick as we all would have liked, but hopefully the work we put in and the patience you all have shown, will pay off and the green will have great health and play-ability through the rest of the year. I hope you are ready to putt into a regulation size cup again and no more automatic 2 putts!! See you on #1 green May 30th!

Rob Dreesen