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Dodge's Dirt

September 2017

On August 16, the golf course was in its best playable condition of the year with firm conditions all around and greens rolling about 10 feet on the stimpmeter. Fun stuff and really not very difficult to do when conditions cooperate. Then August 17 and its 2” of rain happened, closing the course for one of the busiest days of the year. Ever since then, it seems that just when we have the course firming up and emulating conditions on August 16, we get hit with more rain. Just the way it goes sometimes.

I always get aerification questions this time of the year since many golf courses in the area (or the country for that matter) core aerify in the fall. I have been trying to actually minimize the need to core aerify (pulling plugs) at the Wilderness. What we do instead is aerify with a solid deep tine aerifier which does, in my opinion, a thoroughly superior job than core aerifying without the mess, disruption to play, and consumption of labor hours. We plan on removing thatch (wherever necessary on tees and fairways) later on this fall utilizing a Graden dethatcher which removes close to three times the material that core aerifying does without the mess. Both processes are winners and while we will “pull plugs” in some select areas where there is an application-like on smaller tees that we cannot access with the larger equipment required, I will say that I am relieved to be doing much less of this disruptive and messy process. I am sure that customers will be as well. In short, I am becoming more and more a believer of the phrase, “Core aerifying is for chumps." :)

Moving on to the technical portion of this work, I have taken a few pictures of the 2nd green for discussion. We have been working with the University of Minnesota to evaluate an experimental use product from Korea (the good side) that helps with the control of annual bluegrass i.e. Poa on bentgrass turf areas. As I have explained in earlier articles over the years, annual bluegrass is not a desirable species on putting greens on this property as it has a tendency to die over the harsh winter months. The seedheads that it produces can also aversely affect putting quality. The first picture shows a patch of Poa underneath the keys that is pretty much smoked by the treatment but note how the bentgrass around it continues to thrive. The hope here is that the bentgrass will fill in the void left behind-indeed it is beginning to do so already. The second picture shows a larger part of the same green showing the different patches of annual bluegrass in varying stages of decline.

As we continue to experiment with this newest technology, we are developing a very real comfort level and familiarity with its most effective usage. Our hope is that this product can become a useful tool in the future to help keep our putting surfaces free of annual bluegrass and thus ensure their health long into the future. While we will never eliminate this weed from our greens, we strive to keep its population in check.

See you on the golf course.
Vincent Dodge

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