Transitioning From Winter To Spring

The transition from winter to spring is a challenging time for superintendents, especially those who have converted to the ultra dwarf varieties. Temperature fluctuations are very dangerous for our turf varieties, especially on greens. We followed our strict protocol throughout mother nature's fury and did everything in our power to preserve and protect our most valuable asset - the greens. On two separate occasions we applied pinestraw to the greens to create a bed of insulation. This process traps any warm air underneath the covers. The process as a whole was extremely time consuming and messy. As tough as the winter was we feel the greens are in great shape and ready for golfers to enjoy.

Pinestraw clean up

Raising and leveling irrigation heads in fairways was a priority for this winter. Over time, the the soil around the heads can settle, leaving some irrigation heads low and/or not level. This has the potential to affect the spray effective throw of the irrigation heads, resulting in wet and dry spots despite proper spacing between the heads. This process definitely requires some time. We started in late January and still have two holes to complete.
Another major undertaking was replacing the z-pipe at our pumpstation. Over time the pipe corroded so we had to replace it with a new one. The z-pipe is the main feed from our pumps to the irrigation main lines. To carry the job out we had obviously had to shut the pumps down. Next part was to remove the thrust blocks which were located at the 45 degree on the z-pipe and at the 10" tee fitting. It sounds easy just remove a little concrete, trust me this was no joke! Originally we thought the thrust blocks would be about 6-8 inches thick, that was not the case. The main thrust block around the z-pipe was every bit of 3 feet in thickness. This required something with a little more power than a sledge hammer and a coal chisel. We rented a jack hammer and 2-3 days later and 500lbs of concrete later we were ready for the contractors to start installation.
Here is the monkey wrench! In previous blogs I've asked where is spring? When is winter going to end? Will the rain ever go away? Well we got our wish at the worst time possible. In the midst of organizing the contractor's schedule, the weather turned to the spring we have all hoped for. Sunny and clear skies! Well for us to have no irrigation created a whole new dilemma. High winds, low humidity and no irrigation does not mix well with any turf grass. To combat the greens drying down we used our 300 gallon SDI sprayer, our 100 gallon FMC sprayer and borrowed a 140 gallon sprayer from the Yates course. 3 employees including myself started watering the greens at 6.30am and were finishing when we had no more sunlight. That being said the greens survived and the z-pipe is now fixed and irrigation is fully operational.
If you play East Lake you may notice more weeds than normal in the rough areas. The reason for this is that we are using the pre-emerge product Specticle in all bermuda roughs this year. The Specticle label states that before applying this product turf needs to be established for at least 12 months prior to application, and that sprigging, sodding or seeding must be well-rooted before application. We have yet to make this application of Specticle for the mere fact that we were not sure if there was going to be any winter kill in the bermuda roughs. We are getting a good idea of winter kill amounts, and it appears to be pretty minimal, so we are planning on making this application as soon as possible.
Last week we put our first mow on fairways for 2014. Warmer temperatures and a fertility application really kicked the fairways into gear. After a long winter it is pleasing to see some green grass starting to emerge. 

In other exciting news we recently purchased a go pro camera so with time we will be able to give viewers a more in depth look at our maintenance processes.

 Above image shows East Lake employees using a jack hammer to remove the thrust block.

Raising heads.

Our intern Austin Hood using a 300 gallon SDI to apply much needed moisture to the greens whilst the z-pipe was being replaced.

Contractors trying to install the z-pipe. 

The finished product.

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