Lake View Country Club

Lake View Country Club

This page contains the past nine blog entries. For a complete archive of all Turf Care articles, visit the archive page.

Old Man Winter Causes Problems Once Again in the Northeast

(Published April 27, 2015 to the "Blog" category)

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I'm sure we all remember what happened last year and we are very fortunate, as are many other golf courses, that we were spared from Old Man Winter's wrath this year. But, this isn't the case for many golf courses throughout the region. Once again, the reports of winter injury this year are plentiful throughout New York, Pennsylvania and the New England States as well as Canada. There are even some nearby courses that have significant damage.

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit several golf courses in the "North Town" section in Buffalo and I can tell you first hand that it is not good. Many golf courses in this region had significant winter injury not only on their greens but also on the fairways as well. As much as I dislike seeing dead turf, I couldn't help but feel a little relieved, as I did NOT want a repeat of last year. Hallelujah! Our golf course was spared this year!

Why did we not get winter injury this year? Well, I can say that the preventative measures like tree removal and drainage sure helped but in the end we were snow covered all winter and there was not a mid-winter thaw. The big killer is melt-water and we didn't have the melting that occurred last year, nor did we have the brutal winds or open turf. Whatever the reason, I am very pleased that we were spared this year.

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Wrapping up the Drainage Project

(Published April 27, 2015 to the "Blog" category)

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This past week marks the end of the installation of drainage in the greens. The crew from Golf Preservations did a very good job on this project and completed the installation in a timely manner. For those of you who played early this season, you may have noticed a significant improvement in the firmness of the greens. This spring was the first time in the last thirty years that we were able to start the season without temporary greens coming out of the winter thaw. What a difference it is this year! No more bowls of jello! On an agronomic level, we can see an improvement in root growth with lots of new white roots growing through the upper soil profile. Remember! Roots grow in air and now that the water can escape downward through the drainage channels, air can now fill the voids (pore spaces) in the root-zone with life giving oxygen. This type of exchange can now happen on a much more frequent basis. When it rains, the water pushes out gasses like carbon dioxide and then when gravity pulls the water out, oxygen is then pulled back in from the atmosphere giving the roots an opportunity to grow and flourish. This type of exchange cannot be underestimated as it relates to growing crops or any plants in an outdoor environment.

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What are those Brown Spots in My Lawn?

(Published March 31, 2015 to the "Blog" category)

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With the recent snow melt and the arrival of spring I have been answering a number of member phone calls regarding snow mold in their lawns. We all know it's been a long winter and the snow accumulation on the ground has been consistently present throughout the entire winter season. During winters when the duration of snow cover is prolonged as it was this winter it is easy to anticipate the occurrence of snow mold in home lawns and other turf areas.

Recently one member asked "Why does my lawn have snow mold while my neighbor's lawn down the street doesn't." Well, to answer that question we need to first look a little further into turf diseases in general. Looking at the "disease triangle" below, you'll notice that there are three things that need to be present for a disease to be occur. This includes a host, the presence of a pathogen and an environment that is favorable for the pathogen to feed and multiply. If any one of these factors is absent or limited, disease will either not occur or it will be limited in its development. On the other hand, if any of these things are present in such a way as to favor the development of disease then one could expect a much more severe expression of a disease.

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So, in an effort to answer the member's question... If the neighbor's lawn consists of more kentucky bluegrass and another lawn consists more in the lines of a perennial ryegrass variety that is more susceptible to the snow mold pathogen then one would expect more injury in the ryegrass lawn. This may be true because kentucky bluegrass, in general, is less susceptible to snow mold than are some varieties of perennial ryegrass. So, the type of grass or the "host" present in your lawn plays a major factor in the occurrence of snow mold as well as other diseases. I doubt that the variety or species of grass chosen at the time the lawn was established was even given consideration as it relates to snow mold resistance.

Now let's discuss the environmental factors. For snow mold, an environment that is dark, moist with temperatures just above freezing for long periods of time are most favorable conditions for this disease to feed and multiply. Say there are two lawns very close together on the same block but one lawn sits a little higher off of the street and sheds water or simply drains better than the neighbor's lawn which holds water and does not drain as well. Without a doubt, one would expect that the lawn that drains well would have less snow mold injury than the lawn that holds water. Simply, the environmental conditions (even though these lawns are in the same neighborhood) are actually different. This type of scenario could be described as a micro-environment where there are subtle differences in topography or other factors that make just enough of a difference in the environmental conditions to reduce or enhance the conditions needed for the development of the disease. Just think about it a little bit more. If your back lawn is shaded by trees or by the house itself, it most likely receives less sunlight and probably stays more moist than perhaps your front lawn which is exposed to the sun throughout the day. Even if both areas are snow covered, sunlight will penetrate the snow allowing more sunlight to get through on the front lawn which ultimately influences the environmental conditions on some level. Given this scenario, one could reasonably expect more snow mold in the back lawn compared to the front lawn and it is reasonable to suggest that because of the difference in sunlight between the front and back lawns that there is also a difference in the grasses present in these areas. Perhaps the shaded back lawn has more annual bluegrass which not only does well in shade but it is also highly susceptible to snow mold. Certainly an argument could be made regarding many other influential environmental factors such as trees, shade, sun exposure, topography as well as the history of the lawn and how it was originally established during the construction of the home. Perhaps the contractor used poor soils and this is the reason the lawn holds water. Heck, the environmental conditions on your lawn could be influenced by which side of the driveway you chose to dump the snow on after you shoveled or blew off the snow. Maybe there was a sale on grass seed and the contractor used a grass variety that was more susceptible to snow mold. I guess the main point is that no two lawns are really the same even if they are located right next to each other.

The third part of the disease triangle is the pathogen. unfortunately, the snow mold pathogens are present everywhere and there is little one can do to change this. Of course, there are products that one can apply to a lawn to curtail the development of a disease but for a home lawn this could be expensive and will require repeated applications for each winter season. Instead one should focus on changing one of the other factors in the disease triangle such as changing the environment or planting turf varieties that are less susceptible to snow mold. But in the end, mother nature is in control and as we all should know, "You can't Fool Mother Nature"

Is there anything else I can do to prevent snow mold? Below is an excerpt from from an article written by Peter Landschoot, Dept. Plant Science, Penn State University

"To reduce snow mold severity, keep turf mowed well into the fall. Non-mowed turf tends to lay over and mat under snow, providing a favorable habitat for snow mold fungi. Also, try to avoid creating long-lasting snow banks when removing and piling snow from sidewalks and driveways. When symptoms appear at snow melt in the spring, rake the damaged areas and break-up the crusted, matted leaves. Although raking will not speed turf recovery, it will improve the appearance of the lawn. Finally, use seed containing high quality turf cultivars when establishing new lawns. Although this does not guarantee less snow mold following a severe winter, better cultivars usually recover faster from winter injury and produce a heathier, more aesthetically-pleasing lawn throughout the growing season. Evaluations of cultivars of the major cool-season turfgrass species are reported annually through the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (ntep.org)".

All the best,

Gordon


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What are those Purple Spots on the Turf

(Published March 31, 2015 to the "Blog" category)

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What are those purple colored patches of turf on some of the greens, tees and fairways?
Last fall I had some inquiries regarding the odd colored patches of turf on some of the greens. I've had this same inquiry many times over the years and I thought I would re-post a blog entry I made in 2005 regarding this subject.

During relatively warm sunny days (60 to 65 F) grass plants are actively photosynthesizing and creating photosynthates (sugars). At night the sugars are translocated down into the storage areas of the plant. However, if nighttime temperatures are cold as it often is in the fall and spring of the year, some of the sugars fail to translocate. The molecules left behind in the leaf attach to a pigment called anthrocyanin (purple or blue pigment). The buildup of anthrocyanin results in the expression of the purplish color you see on some areas of the turf. This purplish color will persist through the winter and into early spring. Typically, it's the creeping bentgrass that exhibits the purple colors and the degree of expression varies depending on the variety of bentgrass. Since our greens are primarily poa annua with splashes of bentgrass mixed in here and there, the purple patches stick out and look odd. Many times this is misdiagnosed as a disease or a nutrient deficiency when in fact it is simply a result of normal physiological processes brought on by cold temperatures.
Don't fret the purple spots. As soon as the temps warm up and the grass starts growing again, we'll simply mow off the purple leaf tissue and expose the green grass below.

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New Short Game Facility slated for 2012 opening

(Published November 1, 2011 to the "Blog" category)

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Summer Turf Stress?

(Published August 26, 2010 to the "Blog" category)

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A Matter of Respect

(Published May 18, 2010 to the "Blog" category)

By Chris Hartwiger and Patrick O' Brien, USGA SE Region Agronomists

What do David Duval and Patrick O' Brien have in common? They both were faced with a plugged and unplayable lie in a bunker during the final round of a major championship. For David, the setting was the U.S. Open at Bethpage. For Patrick, it was the Brunswick Invitational. How should these situations be interpreted? Are these golfers the victim of the wrong sand, poor maintenance, or substandard design? Or are bad lies part of the game? These questions are brought up regularly on USGA Turfgrass Advisory Service visits. We have encountered course officials and golfers who at one time or another have eagerly argued each of the scenarios above. This regional update will sort out some facts, state our position, and provide some information to answer this question.

Continue reading "A Matter of Respect"


USGA Weekly Update

(Published May 7, 2010 to the "Blog" category)

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Golfers -- Do You Hate Aerated Greens? Do You Think The Superintendent Intentionally Punches Holes In the Greens Every Time They Get Really Good ?

A Green Section Video - Why Aerating Greens Is Vital
By Jim Moore, agronomist, USGA Green Section

Although it may be hard for some golfers to believe, superintendents don't like to aerate greens any more than players like to putt on them. It is a hard job that not only aggravates the golfer, but also dulls mowers, wears out the staff, and costs plenty for topdressing sand to fill the holes. So why do superintendents insist on performing this maintenance task? It's simple - aerating promotes healthier turf and helps ensure the greens drain properly.

This short video will help golfers better understand why this temporarily disruptive process is so important.

Watch this video

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The Snow's a Melting

(Published March 12, 2010 to the "Blog" category)

Check out the rapid snow melt between the 11th and 12th of March. The video spans from late afternoon on Thursday to Late afternoon on Friday. Scroll down on the video page and choose the appropriate date.

Click HERE for video

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This page contains the past nine blog entries. For a complete archive of all Turf Care articles, visit the archive page.

Turf Care Section & Blog copyright © Gordon Seliga 2009

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"The spirit of golf is to dare a hazard, and by negotiating it reap a reward, while he who fears or declines the issue of carry, has a longer or harder shot for his next play."
George C. Thomas

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