Seasonal transitions are interesting times for plants, and grasses are no exception. It's been cool and wet (as always) and everything is bursting at the seams to either put on new growth, flower, or otherwise reproduce. Although we don't think of grasses as "flowering" plants, they absolutely are and we're in the middle of that process as I write this. The biggest flower producer we see in our own lawns as well as on older courses is our old friend Poa annua, or Annual Bluegrass (or, as Johnny Miller likes to incorrectly pronounce it, "PO"), and it's widely regarded as a weed.
Our finest PO is on the greens and after flowering and subsequent seed producing is over, the greens settle down and become less variable. Without changing anything mechanically (height of cut or rolling), ball roll gets magically smoother and creates the illusion of greens being "faster". This is only due to the absence of seed and the physical change in the plant as it moves into summer survival mode. In other words - it's seasonal.
We try to shorten this seeding period by applying growth retardants not only to greens, but to fairways as well (which gives them a yellowish hue). We try to delay the inevitable, but the seeds eventually come.
Poa usually wins over time.
The seeding will soon be over, and greens will roll more predictably. Then, we can tackle the mystery of how to get more ballmarks fixed.
|Don't panic and carry a towel|
A tale of two grasses
Below is a quick visual comparison of the kinds of grass that are available for northern greens. Both putt beautifully at different times of the year and both have their issues. For this time of year, bentgrass has the edge and courses (usually newer, or wetter) that have a lot of bentgrass are going to play and look much different.
|Blessing and curse. Poa annua.|
|Latest of the super-bentgrasses - "007"|
Wanted to include a brief update on some challenges we've been working through over the last several weeks so everyone has the most accurate information available to them.
- Tractor troubles have been restricting our rough mowing production. When our current equipment is at full strength, rough is cut completely every two days. Although all machines were serviced over winter and operated fine through spring, we've had a couple of intermittent mechanical surprises that we're working through. Rough is now being completed every four days as a result. As we wait for parts for some of our older tractors and ask more of our very old machines, you may see areas in the second and third cut of rough become more challenging to play from. We expect to be back to our original compliment of rough units and mowing frequency soon.
- Training new employees on a delicate job like mowing greens takes some time. The most difficult part to learn is the clean-up cut. This is the pass around the outside that trims all the misses from pick ups and set downs of the mower blades. With practice our new operators will improve. Until then, your patience is appreciated if you see a mowline out of place or something that looks a little different.
New work to watch for
- Rock removal will begin in a handful of green-side bunkers. There are large blocks of ledge rock near the surface that stop us from getting our rakes in deeply. Adding more sand isn't the answer for a few cases. We'll be extracting the ledge rock by hand with a jack hammer and we hope to begin and complete each operation in one day. First on the list are left 5 green and left 6 green bunkers.
- New clearing down on 8 tee is growing in and will be hand picked of the loose debris as bodies are available. We'll be letting that mature into a grassy meadow until a final plan is decided on. Please keep your carts away from the new seedlings
- Seeded areas on 14, 15, 5 tee are getting thicker. We'll be going in again to touch up any bare areas left over or that are lagging. We'll apply covers where we can to speed germination.
- 5 tee will be cleaned up and widened slightly and we'll be adding some new irrigation heads to replace the ones that had to be removed during tree removal.
- 16 black tee has a new look to the surrounding bank. We'll be judging the aesthetics of this through the summer and see if it's something we can use elsewhere to enhance the course as well as save on labor.