It seems as though most parts of the United States are feeling unseasonably warm weather this winter and East Lake is no exception to that. Currently we are going through a 3-day warm spell that is bringing low temperatures in the high 50's, and daytime high's in the low 70's. Our average high temperature for this time of year in Atlanta, Georgia is 55 degrees.
The unseasonable weather the past few months has presented our Agronomy department with added challenges, from disease management all the way to grain production in greens. Immediately after the TOUR Championship at the end of September we begin preparing our MiniVerde greens for dormancy. The cultural practices of grooming, ultra-grooming, verti-cutting, brushing, and topdressing are greatly reduced. Walking greens mowers are changed to smooth rollers and heights of cut are raised. In preparation for the first frost our goal is to raise canopy height to help protect the crown of the plant as well as increase leaf tissue, giving the plant the opportunity to build and store more carbohydrates for winter dormancy and spring green up. The higher H.O.C. also aides in avoiding excessive greens speeds throughout winter dormancy. With the increase in leaf tissue and reduction in cultural practices comes an increase in grain build up. Typically by this point in the year we have had one, if not multiple, hard frost occurrences on our greens. This weather event leads to a loss of turgidity in the plant leaves and stems, helping to decrease the grain effect on ball roll. Needless to say, we have not had this hard frost occur yet this year and grain build up has begun to significantly impact the surfaces of the greens.
To combat this, our team has taken an approach that is used weekly during our growing season to combat grain. Ultra-grooming. There's a first time for everything, and this year is no exception to that. Each Ultra-grooming blade is spaced 1/4" apart and offset from the previous blade. The process helps pull excessive material from the canopy, cut off runners on the surface "renegades", stand stems upright, and removes fatter leaf blades helping to produce a truer putting surface.
While 70's is warm for December, we know it's not nearly warm enough to sustain growth for substantial recovery of Ultradwarf Bermuda grass. That being said, the purpose and depth of the ultra-groomers was set to help alleviate grain issues without causing unrecoverable damage.
|A view from the 15th green at East Lake Golf Club, with Atlanta's skyscrapers in the background.|
|Tenia Workman Georgia GCSA Executive Director introducing the next speaker.|
|The East Lake Food and Beverage team did a phenominal job providing meals.|
|Catching up with industry friends.|
|Clear skies, how about that!|
|John Deere is always a tremendous sponsor of the Georgia GCSA, and this year was no acception.|
|Greens #1, with #2 in the background.|
Well, let's chalk this one up to hard work, good weather, and the resiliency of Tifway 419 Bermudagrass. Many of you have seen the less than stellar conditions that resulted from 3.85" of slow steady rain over the course of the Tour Championship. Since then we have made what is, in my opinion a miraculous recovery. Many areas are still far from perfect, but the amount of recovery that we have made in thirty-three days has far exceeded our expectations.
Our first step was smoothing the surface with one of our Tru-Turf greens rollers. Next, we set out to re-expose the surface tissue by washing the mud off and standing the leaves / stems back up with debris rakes. Additionally we followed with some potassium + nitrogen (10-0-20@ .75lbsK/m). Then nature and the good Lord took over with some warm temperatures for October (highs in the upper 70's) and sunshine.
|From left to right: Hector, Kevin, and Banks use debris rakes to stand the surface tissue upright, while Ryan finishes up smoothing the surface with the roller.|
Bermudagrass in most situations is a very tough and resistant turfgrass (it's main weaknesses are shade and temperatures below 20 degrees generally speaking). Specifically at East Lake, we have Tifway 419 bermuda in our roughs, and most of our tees, collars, and chipping areas. In this specific situation, our recovery has been reliant on the strength of bermuda's network of stolons and rhizomes. After high traffic with saturated soil, intensive rolling, and aggressive raking, the majority of damage done to the plant was loss of leaf tissue. In our opinion, the very most important recovery factor was the ability to get the surface tissue clean and upright where fresh air and sunshine were once again available.
We are extremely proud of our team's effort to help these areas recover, and very thankful for the recovery we have experienced.
Now, on to the next one. The East Lake Cup pairs the top four NCAA men's and women's teams against each other in match play format. The event will be live on The Golf Channel November 2nd and 3rd from 2:00pm -5:00pm ET.
As always, thank you for reading! We love the conversation of turfgrass and golf course maintenance so please reach out to us on twitter @eastlakegcagro
East Lake Golf Club
|The Volunteer Oasis had a constant supply of TV coverage, food, and Coke beverages for the Agronomy team.|
|Our tremendous sponsors provided meals, snacks, jackets, hats, shirts, hotel rooms, and too many other things to count. It is important to note that we only reached out to companies who provide products or services that we use on a daily basis here at East Lake. We are proud to be sponsored by every one of these great companies. THANK YOU SO MUCH!|
|A photo from Saturday night of East Lake staff with Penn State students, Horry Georgetown students, and other volunteers from across Georgia and the East Coast!|
|PSU senior JP getting after it!|
|Assistant Charles Aubry with his eyes on the prize...|
|East Lake crew waiting on golf to clear while sporting hats, shirts, and jackets provided by John Deere and Bayer. Thank you!|
|Bunker care procedures changed slightly everyday according to environmental conditions. Here Charles gets everyone on the same page.|
|Crews waiting for fairway mowers and blowers to clear #5 fairway.|
|East Lake's Jon Garbe and PSU's Dylan getting ready to rock and roll with NBC in the background.|
|As you can see on the radar behind me, things were about to change....|
|The entire team showed tremendous effort and resiliency even when the rains came!|
|Radar, radar, radar.......|
|The East Lake Agronomy Team with PGA TOUR Championship and FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth. You could not ask for a better champion. Very gracious with and without the cameras, and very appreciative of our team's great effort throughout the championship.|
Thanks for reading, and recapping the 2015 PGA TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola with us. We hope that many more qualified golf course maintenance employees and students are able to join us for the 2016 championship! If you are interested, send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you on the email contact list for next spring.