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Winter damage to Golf Turf

After seeing comments on a few websites  that winter play does no harm to turf and that greenkeepers are over protective. I talked to a few of those colleagues and had a few heated but friendly conversations. To many broad statements how what they do should work for everyone.  So I thought I would share some pictures of what cold winters and frosts do to turf when played upon. 
 
I hope these picture illustrates just why we protect greens and stop trolleys during adverse conditions.
To conclude, every site is different and one days weather is not the same to the next. Apples and Oranges spring to mind. The timing of the weather is also important as well as the wishes and needs of each club.  
 
 
Winter damage to turf during and after frost.
 
 
1. Pitch marks on a partially thawed practice green. 2 wheel marks from trolleys used in a frost. 3 A winter green after play over the winter. 4 A tee top after a winter play. 5 Foot printing and spike marks on a frosted and frozen winter green. All this damage will cause long term issues in the following season. Make up your own mind!
Some eye candy for greenkeepers and golfers alike, to keep you going through the winter
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Just remember we will be back to doing this soon. I can smell the fresh cut grass still.
All the best to you all , have a great Christmas and may the new year bring you tight lies and smooth greens from me and my team.

Its been a very brutal year so far in terms of weather. Low soil and air temperatures in spring along with a very dry winter and extreme temperatures in the summer (breaking 40c in the shade).

Fairy ring activity has been damaging on some tees and fairways. The hydrophobic soil conditions these rings leave behind as it grows bigger are very destructive; no chemical solutions available in Germany so we treat them mechanically (aeration) or just alleviate the effect with wetting agents.

I originally planned much of the work for spring time but due to poor growing conditions this year we had to re think the plan and fit the work into where we can. This week originally was only scheduled for a much less intense course of action.

While the course has been closed on Monday and the following days until 11, we have achieved a lot of tasks, along with the normal work on both courses.

So we got busy in between the rain showers on Monday. Punching holes in the fairways and sanding them to help keep those holes open. Over seeding any bare areas at the same time will help them recover. We have over 16 hectares of fairways on the south course, no small task to get it all done.

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10 fairways completed, which means we still have 8 fairways left to complete in the following week. We will try to do this while play continues early in the morning. We will only do one hole at a time and expect to be able to do one fairway a day before play becomes to heavy. Please be understanding of the work as it is very necessary!

The greens have been aerated and scarified in an attempt to reduce organic material and aid the gas exchange from soil to air. Over seeding of the greens continues in an attempt to improve resistance to dollar spot, we are using  Pennlinks 2 as a improved variety. Rolled and cut. Watered and fed to speed recovery.                                                                                                                         10314581

Tees have been scarified and sand injected, we had already cored them in the previous weeks. Again organic matter being our target to reduce while increasing the air in the root zone. Over seeding with a new variety that is more disease resistant than the established type is again going ahead.

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This work is carried out during the same week to reduce the disturbance during the season to play and reduce the exposure time of our machinery to damaging effects to the blades of the sand used. It adds up to a very hard and long week of back breaking work for the team but it’s worth it.

We will see you on the course soon, thank you for your support

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Your Greenkeeping team.

Winter Work

What we get up to while everyone else goes on holiday. It’s a question often asked of me, as so many think that because the grass stops growing, our work disappears. This is very far from reality. To begin with we reduce the staff to a smaller full time team. These are the people that hold most of the skilled jobs. Chainsaw certificates, Pesticide application certificates, fork lift certificates and the like.  These are all staff that would be difficult to replace on a annual basis.  We send them on training courses; they take their holidays and use up overtime that they accrued over the previous season. This means that they are available when we need them and not travelling during the growing season. From a team of full timers we are mostly at fifty percent away during winter at any one time. The majority of our staff are seasonal but we have a good number of them returning. Which is a real benefit to us, saving retraining and education. Familiar faces allowing for continuity at the club. Right on to the subject at hand.10312398

  • During the winter period we cut the rough and clear the debris from those areas, this reduces the nutrient return to the ground. This is very important and has helped us hold the grass areas to a manageable level  of thickness. The more intense the maintenance, the greater the stimulation of that sward will be, hence a thicker grass sward. It’s thick enough as it is. If this was done during the summer, it would mean a much greater amount of waste that has to be collected and disposed of. This is visible where we cut the playable rough edges more frequently. Shorter grass when mown  but much thicker and more difficult to find balls in. The added negative effect would be the disturbance to play by large machinery. We are only allowed to cut the rough areas after the birds have stopped nesting and once a year only.  It took us ten weeks to complete this work this year, over the two courses with three to four people cutting and collecting. Not something you can do over night, the areas are just too big and producing a mass of compost material that has to be disposed of. The compost material is collected from us and taken to be composted by a local tree nursery. Although we have to have it collected we do not pay for its disposal due to this arrangement. We could keep it and compost ourselves, however the amount of debris is massive and would so become unmanageable for us. Needing turning and working every week for it to break down and become compost.

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    Undergrowth cut back and removed. Very tidy work.

  • The next thing we are up to is clearing the lake banks and reeds. The willows and poplar trees and shrubs that grow over the season around the lakes have to be cut down to keep the areas in a playable condition. These are naturally occurring here and it takes a lot of effort to keep them in control. The buffer zone around the lakes need to be mown down and cleared. This is mostly hand work. This is due to the steepness of the banks and small spaces not allowing the large machines access. The reeds and rushes that grow in the lakes themselves would quickly clog the lakes if allowed to grow unchecked and we normally only get them cut when the lakes freeze. This means that the staff that are here get to work in the coldest conditions of the winter. At time of writing this piece, we are still waiting for the water to freeze enough so that we can walk on the ice and cut them down. The deeper we cut them the better it is for us. This is why I stop refilling lakes after September begins. Allowing the water levels in the lakes to drop back to expose as much of the reeds as possible. Once the reeds are cut we start to capture water by closing the small weirs around the course, collecting the snow melt and rainfall that occurs in late winter and spring. We normally save at least 10,000m³of extra water per year in this way, as well as reducing our autumn and spring pumping costs.

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  • This year we have been very busy in the forested areas of the south course again. Removing invasive species, such as the American wild cherry trees that were starting to choke the other natural species out. We have completed the woods on the 18th and 17th, 1st, 2nd and 14th holes, the small woods between the 9th and 18th tees and hope to have completed the woods behind the 10th green also by the side of the 4th hole, by the end of winter. We have left some of the dead trees that have been broken in storms as natural habitat for our small creatures, such the many types of woodpeckers, starlings, squirrels, spiders, beetles and many other insects. The debris from this clearance is gathered into piles which also will help t in provision of small mammals like Hares, mice and hedgehogs, as well as nesting areas for birds. The smaller animals need these places to hide and use as cover from the many hunting birds found here on the course. We make every effort to make these piles away from the playing areas. I hope you get to see some of the wonderful nature that we have on the course while you play.

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    Water being blown out of the system.

  • Our irrigation system has to be readied and prepared for the hard winters and checked so that the system is in good shape for the following year. This means clearing the vast pipe system of all water. That’s what is happening in November when the popup heads are hissing all over the course. We pump air in to blow the water out. To keep it pressurised with air we only open so many heads at once. Hence the way the heads are set off at different times. We also have to visit every valve box and wire box, and trim the dirt back, check that the posts are visible so that we don’t loose these boxes under the grass cover.  These are very important to us; we need to find them quickly when there is a leak during the season so that we can isolate an area from the water. Allowing for a quick repair. We also trim and clear the sprinklers them selves at this time. Even though we do this once a month during the season, the growth is fast and has to be done regularly. The last trim holds us over the winter and allows the large aeration machine easy site of them, reducing unnecessary damage.

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  • Course furniture is brought in for refurbishing and repair. This year we are painting the tee markers, flag poles and hazard posts. We have refurbished the benches from the course with a professional company, as the wood has become rotten and unusable. They have removed all old wood and paint from the feet. The new wood is a bankerie hard wood which should last a long time. Also we will repaint the bins and ball washers on the North course. The South course furniture is being replaced  with new bins and ball washers. These have taken sometime to source and have been custom made for us by a local company in Potsdam. This greatly reduced the cost but also gave us a good control of quality and style. I hope you will like them and find them practical. Next year we will take care of the old furnishings on the North course, which is now getting to be almost antique after 20 years of repainting,  I think we got our moneys worth out of them. You will notice that we have now replaced the next tee signs with a larger more visible style, also custom for us. This was requested many times by guests as they found the old signs to small and not easy to see.
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All tee markers are repainted!

  • Our work shop gets busy putting the machines through a major check over and readying them for the next season. Sharpening the blades of over fifty different machines takes a lot of time on its own but also major services have to be done during this period. Our mechanic does a great job on his own.

Well that is just some of what we do. I have left out many things, such as aeration, winter snow and ice clearance, bunker work, keeping the driving range open, helping tidy the club house inside and out, the garden areas clean up, maintenance building clean up and the list goes on.

We have two members of staff retiring this winter. Uli Muller, has been with us for almost 18 years now and Norbert Rosga, who has been with us for 17 years. This is a real skills loss from the team and they will be missed. We wish them well and we hope they have a long and peaceful retirement.

So while you are on a beautiful beach in the sun, spare a thought for your greenkeeping team back here in the snow and ice.  Many thanks for reading this and I hope I have not bored you to much with details. If you have any questions to these or any other subjects, I’m here year round and I am happy to help shed some light on the subject. Just give me enough time to answer before you walk off to play your next shot.   Well happy winter days, bring on the summer and I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Your greenkeeping team.

For Sale 2014/15

Toro E Flex Hand Mower 14 bladed battery drive, hand greensmower. Excellent condition. 3 years old.  Price guide 7,500€

 

 

 

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2 Toro Workman, battery drive utility lightweight vehicle! 2005 model. Price guide 2,500€ each. Will need new batterys.

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Compost tea brewer, 2 years old, great condition. 1000 lt tank, air pump. Price guide 1,500€ We are moving onto a bigger system!

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10,000 used driving range balls. Price guide 0.30cents a ball.

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1 Club car golfcart 2 seater electric. Well used but good condition. Price guide 2,500€

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Various course furniture, ballwashers, bins, next tee signs. First come first served. First nine have gone already.

Contact me on dukemg@t-online.de

Golf Und Country Club has become the first club in Germany to offer this free App to its members and guests. App is available from both Apple I tunes or Android App stores.

The App is called mypinpoint, simply go to your app store and search this name. Or click on the link below

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http://www.mypinpointgolf.com/

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/mypinpoint-golfer/id723667514?mt=8

You will find two versions, take the blue version marked as Golfer, the green is for greenkeepers only. Download the app to your mobile, tablet or laptop if you like to. Once it is downloaded it is ready to . The setting are presently in English but the distributors are working on a German version for us.

The app provides up to date pin positions on your mobile device, provided by the Greenkeeping team at Seddiner See as they set the holes.

There will be more clubs coming into the program very soon but for now the majority of the clubs available on the system are in the UK.

The pin positions will still be available at the clubhouse on paper if prefered but we felt this a nice tool for our members and guests to have.

Good luck and have a great season.

Your greenkeeping team.

South course fairways!

The joys and tears that get spent on these areas is very hard to explain. They are a beautiful designed area, which compliment the landscape so well. The contrast of bent grass, variety Southshore, to the Kentucky Bluegrass semi rough or first cut is outstanding. Showing up the contouring and undulation to their best. However the choice of grasses and the following changes in the law in regards to use of chemicals can make them the most frustrating things one can ever imagine. Then on a grand scale of hectares not just a few thousand m².

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The fairway bunkering also stands out in this manor too, One point two hectares worth of them makes the maintenance of these is small feat. In fact we have started the renovation and replacement of the sand in those bunkers already. Unfortunately this will be disruptive to some extent! In house labour and machinery will be used! About 2,500 tons of old contaminated sand will be removed and replaced with about the same amount of fresh washed sand. First one hundred M² done only another 14,900 m² remaining .

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One of the most difficult fairways being the 16th. Over 1.4 hectares in size of creeping bent grass. Designed as a long par 5. With 6 bunkers totalling 2300 m² of sand on this hole a lone. It eats man hours up like a great white eats seals! A long sweeping fairway ,flowing through a valley, with 4m change from middle to the sides. This collects a massive amount of water when it rains. The drainage collection system is designed to handle heavy downpours well but is less efficent with prolonged rain periods. Needless to say this has caused wet conditions to prevail. The underlying soil is a very hi quality clay . Which in fact much of it was used to line our South course lakes. Unfortunately this does not allow for great drainage through the soil.

We have added drainage systems in the past few years and the condition have improved for this work. The irrigation system is also adjusted so that the water is only thrown in the valley areas to the hi points. The slopes are sufficient to allow the water to run to the turf below quiet well and we have evened out the water distribution quiet well by doing this. The low areas are certainly not as wet as they were and the high spots not as dry as they had been

18th green the day before!

The grass type is a creeping bent grass that was developed for Greens , Tees and Fairways in the US in the 80s  and was sown out on top of a nursery grass of fescues which, still can be found in the sward today. The height of cut is a particular issue for me as there are two issues to consider.  This grass does not perform well at normal cutting heights found on golf courses. The better players enjoy it hem short but the starters and the higher handicappers struggle to get a shot off of them. Added to this the fact that when cut at a height above 10mm they are more prone to disease attack. Also the leaf blade gets thick and straggly and very matted. The leaf blades actually grab the club head as it goes over the surface. Hence we tend to keep the height of cut down between 8 and 10 mm depending at the time of year. This is a compromise as this grass actually performs best at much lower heights of cut more suited to tees and greens .

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The grass is low growing and tends to be thatchy and matted. This causes the large divots compared to normal grasses used in Europe’s golf courses. We have to work hard to keep this thatch and matt development to a minimal by hollow coring , aeration and verti cutting. The use of sand is also done to help keep that organic layer well diluted. The thatch is a very bad thing for drainage and infiltration. The water collects in it and will not be able to drain away and also in the summer instead of getting to the roots it is evaporated by the wind s and sun. Its a no win situation when it comes to good turf. Another negative of this thatch is the development of turf diseases like snow mold and dollar spot. They survive in the organic matter and then when conditions allow they will break out.

Two links related to dollarspot you may find interesting: http://www.turfdiseases.org/updates/update-on-the-new-fungicides-xzemplar-and-lexicon/    http://www.turfdiseases.org/cool-season/holy-dollar-spot-batman/

Unfortunately due to the restriction in Germany on the use of chemicals, we are unable to apply enough fungicide to battle these like the US or other European states do. At this moment in time there are no chemicals that we are allowed to use on the fairways. It is still rare in Europe for these grasses to be used here on fairways. So we developed strategies to help us limit the damage done by them. This image is of an area on another club, of the extreme damage that can occur when the conditions are right for the diseases.

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The snow mould on fairways we have greatly reduced by changing the fertilizer programs and additional bacteria that battle the organisms. The reduction of water has also helped this. The aeration program also has helped a lot. 2 applications in autumn for snow mould defence and 1 in spring as a snow mould clean up. 2 summer apps of a chemical against dollar spot. Interestingly the normal way to do this would be to hit the disease before it appears, here in Germany we are only allowed to hit it as a curative once it is active. Much more difficult to control by that time .

Dollar spot has been a real tough disease to get to grips with. The battle starts in spring and ends maybe some time in November if we get lucky with some frosts. The use of compost tea has helped to a small amount but not as well as I expected it to. We adjusted our dew removal early mornings to help dry the fairways quicker. The irrigation timing is done with this in mind. Dew dispersal is possible with chemicals but is not very cost effective. we have increased the use of foliar fertilizers and give it to the plant to increase the recovery of the plants. This does not stop the disease but helps it grow back faster than the disease can get in.

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We have been over seeding with a few varieties of seeds that have shown some resistance to snow mould and dollar spot. However the establishments of these grasses are slow. The fairways are doing better in the past two years for the changes we are making but will continue to have difficulties at certain times of year when the conditions allow. I hope this has given a insight into the world of greenkeeping. There is no one answer but a plethora of them. There are many as there are questions and they are constantly changing with the weather.


We look forward to see you in the new year when the sun shine is bright and warm on your faces.

Your Greenkeeping team.

Ettiquette tips.

This is a serious problem on courses all over the world. As a staff we try to stay out of the players way as much as possible. We plan work so that it comes into conflict as little as possible but because of the size of the task, it inevitably does. we start very early, work in the opposite direction of play, multiple workers on the job so that it can be completed faster. Part time staff so that the staff leave early.

Please be patient, the more efficiently we do our job the less we will see each other in a bad light.

Many thanks to the USGA for producing this video for all of our benefit!