Thursday, October 31, 2019

Spooky October for Swope

The times they are a changing, so are the leaves at Swope park. Actually, the whole course is starting to change. Grass growth is slowing down, golfers are slowing down, leaves are dropping, and temperatures are dropping. Just in time for us, too. With a total crew of 4, Superintendent, Assistant, and two hourly workers, we need all the help from mother nature we can get. 

(Late evening aerification.)

In late September, we aerified our greens, allowing air, moisture and new organic material to filter into the existing roots. After the Kelly's tournament, Sam, the superintendent, and I stayed until dark poking holes and rolling the greens as to get a head start on the following day when we would finish. Aerification requires the entire course to be shut down for two days. Greens are aerified, rolled for firmness, top-dressed with sand and then drug in providing new/fresh organic medium for roots to spread. It took around two weeks for our greens to completely heal.

(12 backdrop.)

(October 30th snow.)

Looking forward, our main focus will be blowing and mulching leaves. With the first snow fall already upon us on October 30, many of the trees have completely dropped their leaves over night. So when setting up for those drives, aim small, miss small, and keep those balls away from the leaves! 

Happy Halloween and Happy birthday to me, I'll accept cash and/or ice cold bud lights for presents.

Fix those divots!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

September Summer

Swope's September

September was a month of projects for our staff here at Swope. Not only is it prime grass growing/mowing season, we built a new putting green, installed a parking area, controlled native grasses, and kept our sanity waiting for the Fall to show up that never did. 

It never fails that once you start looking forward to something, cooler weather, it tends to hide itself a little longer than normal. It was a warmer month for us, causing us to continue to focus on green health and keep up with the ever growing rough. One green however, had a different focus. Our greens at Swope are Poa Annua, compared to the majority of KC area greens being Bent Grass. Without diving into the science of the two grass species, Bent grass is an all around healthier, more consistent, more resilient grass species. Our end goal is to convert all 18 greens to Bent grass. Needing a 'practice run' on the techniques and process needed to achieve this goal, we started on the practice green.

(Practice green before)

We started by stripping the healthy Poa sod off of the green for later use on patching existing greens bad spots. We hired Kansas Turf, a construction company specializing in golf course development, who then tilled up the underlying sand to promote organic material to move into the new soil base. They then hand leveled the entire green area, adding sand to low spots and raising the level flush to the existing collar.

 (Stripping, tilling, and leveling.)

Once the new sand base was level and smooth, it was our turn to put in some work. We put down several fertilizers to aid every stage of new grass germination. After the fertilizer was applied we used a Bent Grass seed called Dominator. Using a drop spreader, we dropped seed two directions on the green, ensuring full coverage. With fertilizer and seed down, the next step was to track the seed into the sand using our John Deere Sand Pro. 
 (Fertilizer, seed, and the tracking process.)

Finally, with the fertilizer down, seed tracked in, it's time to water the green. Keeping the green saturated but not soaked is pivotal in promoting germination. The sprinklers around the green are on a schedule to water for three minutes, every hour and a half.

(Grow baby grow!)

Moving on, project #2 was the path area behind 18's green. High traffic and cart staging on both sides of the cart path had completely killed off the grass. Normally we would till up the areas and re-seed, however if carts were to continue to be staged there, the grass would die again and the cycle would continue. Instead, we tilled and seeded the green side of the path, and the adjacent side was turned into a white rock parking area. The ground was tilled, excess soil removed and ground leveled using our Bobcat. We installed common green metal garden border and added rock to inside and soil to outside of border, making area flush and free of tripping hazards.

(Parking area progress.)

Soon to come, updates on our aerification process, which did happen in September, but I may need material to write about in next months blog, see ya then!

(Me mowing the native next to hole 9, hoping golfers remember to fix their divots!)