Fall Is The Season Golf Course Superintendents Dream About

Welcome to Fall Everyone!

Yes, its that time of year again. Fall! This is the season Golf Course Superintendents dream about. It’s the end of those hot summer afternoons with showers and storms, and the start of cool, crisp mornings here in the mountains. This is also the season in which our turf resumes its growing activities and begins to heal from all the stresses of the summer months. We have endured days of high temperature and rain this year resulting in several factors that have weakened the turf in certain areas. I’m sure many of you have noticed these areas. Rest assured that these areas will come back over time.

So, allow me to give you an update on this beautiful course and what plans we have made to strengthen its character. As fore mentioned, we have dealt with issues that all courses in the area have been dealing with. Wet wilt hit hard early due to significant rain fall and then heating up. Many areas have made gains on recovery due in large part to the slicing that took place on the fairways. Our fall fertilizer application has been put out on the fairways and tees to help the green up process and prepare for the coming cold months. Fungicide applications have kept most diseases at bay so far, and as we head into the winter months, that pressure will ease off. We are planning on spraying an herbicide in the coming days on the fairways and tee areas. This will knock out the weed infestation of Kylinga that you see in the fairways and some tee areas. Do not be alarmed if you see brown spots. This is not our actual turf but weeds dying out. This will be a two-part application. One now and one after the first frost. This will ensure us that we stay ahead of this nuisance for next year.

Aerification went off perfect this year on our greens. The holes readily filled in with new turf and we were able to replenish lost nutrients and continue the great quality of our putting surfaces. The greens are due for another round of top dressing in the coming days. This will continue the process of breaking down organic matter and firm up the playing surface a little more. Disease pressure has been moderate on the greens and we have kept a rigorous schedule of fungicide applications to ensure no turf loss. Again, as we head deeper into the fall months, that pressure will subside.  We will be aerifying tees to some extent in the coming days. The tees are not getting the water they need due to being sealed of from the thatch layer. Aerifying will help to alleviate this problem.

Drainage has been a major issue this year. Many drain pipes were found to not be in working order or collapsed altogether. Drains that were thought to be lost or non-existent were found and debris blown out so that water could move. The first part of #5 fairway has a new drain system installed and is moving water rapidly away from the area that use to be extremely soft and wet. The lower part of that fairway is still roped off as it is still in need of a few drain lines. We will be adding those in the coming months. #9 fairway is all but dry, with the exception of a few spots. New drainage was added to the upper part while old drain lines were found and cleaned in the lower part. A new curb will be installed to direct the flow of water to the drain boxes. New sod was added to the bare spots and seem to be filling in nicely. We still have drain and water issues on #7, however, it is some dryer than it was. We will be adding a few lateral lines in that fairway. #2 is just a mess. Starting Tuesday October 9th, we will be closing that hole for two days, as we reconstruct drain lines that have failed. After exploratory digging, we have found that there is water 6 inches below the surface indicating the possible existence of a spring in the sub-surface. We will be adding 500 ft of drainage to move this water out. This process will not be to the extent that #5 was but will require many drain boxes. #2 will remain cart path only for the rest of the season to ensure the cart traffic does not weaken the turf any further. There are other places on the course that are wet, so please be mindful while driving your cart. We will try to address these areas as we go.

We will be having #17 paved from the turn around to the culvert in November. Along with #8 cart path that washed away due to a massive storm. You will notice a few other areas that will be patched as well.

With fall weather, we can expect to see a mess of leaves daily. We will be blowing leaves regularly to try to rid the course of them. With leaves on the turf and cart paths, remember to use caution. If it is even remotely damp, leaves can be as slick as ice. Sliding can occur on paths and on turf especially on slopes.  Please be aware of your surroundings.  

Now let me answer a question that gets asked quite often. Why do we water when the course is still wet? The answer is this: The root zone in the turf should be about 2 to 4 inches deep in a normal year. When you have a year like 2018, with a multitude of rain early in the year when turf is actively growing, the roots do not dive down to search for water because the water is readily there. This causes the root system to be shallow or closer to the surface if you will. So, when it gets even remotely warm, the areas of turf with the shallow roots begin to get hot and dry up. Even at 70 degrees. When this happens, we have to add water to the upper root zone EVEN if we just had, say, 3 inches of rain. And it’s a vicious cycle. Because you’re wanting the roots to search but at the same time, you don’t want the turf to burn up. So, you have to add water. It’s a fine line between too much water and not enough, especially when mother nature does not want to help. So, in short, water can grow turf and kill turf. This is why cultural practices are so vital to the overall health of the turf. We can all hope for a nicer 2019.

With all that said, let me just say thank you to everyone for your support, comments and continued cooperation in ongoing activities here at Laurel Ridge. I am here to answer any questions or concerns that anyone has. I am beyond blessed to be here and very excited about the 2019 season. We will continue to strive to be the best course in Western North Carolina.

Happy Fall!

Steve Akers, GCS LRCC