Welcome Wing Point Members

This blog is intended to keep the members at Wing Point up to date on the course conditions, the challenges we face with weather, the day to day update on projects, and hopefully add some insight to your overall golf experience. The blog will be updated as much as possible. Information on things that may impact your golf experience such as sanding or aeration will be posted as well. Take time to read one of the polls on the side of the page. The results will help us make decisions on course maintenance practices and give us feedback on what you, the members are thinking.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Explaining our greens issues...

We are putting #10 and #16 green on temporaries indefinitely. They are both in extremely poor condition. Foot traffic is too harmful for them at this point. I am very sorry for the inconvenience.

I have consulted with a few sales sepresentatives, fellow superintendents, and 2 different turf pathologists. A local pathologist on Bainbridge Island, Olaf Ribeiro, made a sight visit, took samples to his lab on two occasions and has determined we have suffered from a Nematode infestation, and then a mild case of basal rot anthracnose. The anthracnose is a secondary problem brought on from the Nematode damage to the roots. Nematode populations reach their peak in August and September, but the damage is not recognized until later once stress from severe weather patterns, mowing, rolling, etc. is introduced. The stresses cause the turf to die back slowly in the areas where the Nematodes damaged the root system. Unfortunately, the damage is done and we need to deal with the turf loss since recovery is next to impossible until growing conditions in March and April allow the turf to rebound. In the meantime we will be doing the following to promote healthier roots heading into Spring.

We will be aerating the greens with "needle tines" periodically. These tines are 1/4" diameter and penetrate 3 inches deep. This should have minimal disturbance to ball roll. I believe they will recover by May 1st, but the most important thing for full recovery is to reduce stress. We aerated the putting green 10 days ago as a test run and even though it is a little yellowish right now, it actually has recovered and we are seeing more turf where it was bare after the cold snap 3 weeks ago. Aeration is a key factor in anthracnose control and Nematode damage recovery. Just take note of the healthiest spots on a green, they are the dots from Septembers aeration. Anthracnose is a stress related disease. It has likely taken hold from the stress of Nematode damage in the root zone. That, coupled with weather conditions like the long hot summer, 45 day wet spell we had and then a dry cold snap, have put many areas of the greens in jeopardy. All of these weather patterns over the past 6 months are considered unusual and stressful for our turf.

The goal over the next 3 months is to stop the progression of the anthracnose and grow a solid root system going into spring and summer. The nematode problem is not good. It seems as though nematodes are becoming a concern for golf courses in the Northwest. It is totally new to us. Monterey Peninsula, the Northeast, and areas of the Southeast have had severe issues with nematodes the last decade. There is currently no cure for nematodes at all! Anthracnose is a disease pathogen and can be remedied.

We will be monitoring the populations of Nematodes starting next June. They become a problem as the temperatures get warmer. Once again, there is little to nothing we can do for them except back off on some of the stress that allow them to populate greens at higher numbers.

This is an excerpt from literature on Nematodes and describes the issues we've dealt with the last 3 months.

Nematode survival, growth, and reproduction are largely dependent on soil moisture, temperature in the soil or host tissues, and the suitability of the host plant. Populations of damaging nematodes often peak in late summer or early fall. Few nematodes are found on turfgrass root systems in late winter or early spring.Plant parasitic nematodes are found usually at very low levels in all soils. The heaviest nematode injury is found most often on turf grown in well-drained sandy or sandy loam soils. Few nematode problems are seen on turf grown on heavy clay soils. Soil moisture levels at or near field capacity favor nematode activity. Nematode movement through the soil is slow. In most cases, nematodes are spread in soil clinging to turfgrass roots, on tillage equipment, by flowing water, or in the turfgrass roots.


Common symptoms of nematode injury to turf are slight to severe yellowing of the foliage, thinning of the turf canopy, reduced growth, wilting under light moisture stress, and premature death. The foliar symptoms of nematode injury on turf are similar to those caused by low fertility, root-feeding insects, soil compaction, drought stress, and other sources of stress to turfgrass root systems.Because nematodes are unevenly distributed in the soil, patches of injured turf vary greatly in size and shape. The margin between the healthy and nematode-damaged turf is gradual, not sharp. Poor response to irrigation, fertilizers, or fungicide applications is often an indication of a nematode problem. Damaged turf is generally unable to withstand severe heat or even mild drought stress.Symptoms of nematode damage usually do not appear until injury to the turf root system is well advanced. Nematode damaged roots are often discolored, short, and stubby with few feeder roots. Visible galls or swellings are found on the feeder roots of root-knot-damaged turf.

Unfortunately, the one product that worked well on Nematodes, Nemacure, was deregulated in 2007 due it's high toxicity to humans. We will be investigating new forms of biological control going into next summer, but most importantly we will be monitoring the levels of stress we apply to our greens during the summer months.

The following links provide excellent descriptions of both nematodes and anthracnose.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Upcoming work

That's right, just days away from starting the irrigation project. We actually started a small portion of it already. Last week we installed the road crossing on Wing Point Way. The 8" irrigation pipe and 2" sleeve for wires was successfully installed, but with one hiccup. The utilities locate prior to the dig was mishandled a bit. It turns out Qwest marked the road in an entirely different location by accident. All other utilities were located correctly. Just minutes into excavation the company doing the project cut the phone lines to the Clubhouse...as well as many neighbors in the area. Fortunately Qwest reacted quickly and the problem was resolved a few hours later. Hopefully that was not a sign of things to come.

We will likely be starting the work on holes 4 - 8 since this is the driest area of the course. All systems are go for the project and we're hoping the El Nino condition in the Pacific Ocean holds strong to history and allows for a dry Winter ahead. During the project we anticipate very little disruption to play. The hole being worked on that day could be turned into a Par 3, but that's it. We don't anticipate closing a golf hole. There will be "extras" in the project that the Wing Point Staff will be working on. These include some tee remodels and bunker work to utilize the excess spoils from the ditches being dug.

I asked Santa for grass on #10, 15 and 16 greens. He didn't come through! I don't think he really exists. We will be doing some work over the next 2 months on the greens that have experienced turf loss. Small portions of #4, 5, 7, 8, 13 and 14...along with widespread loss on #10, 15 and 16 will be aerated with very small 1/4" diameter tines once a week to incorporate oxygen into the root zone. The areas in question may not be mowed as often, which will result in slower ball roll. We apologize, but it is necessary at this point. The frustrating thing is we can't do much of anything right now to grow grass, so the best thing we can do is prepare the damaged areas for spring green up. Our plan is to get as much recovery as possible during good growing conditions in March and April. Any areas that do not fully recover by May 1st will be immediately sodded, similar to what we've done every spring on the 4th green. I concede that we have a root problem we are working on, however, another key point to our turf loss is this...all the greens with turf loss experience heavy shade from October to March. All the greens that are perfect experience very little shade if any. Sunlight!!!!!! What a concept.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday maintenance schedule

The entire crew will be on hand Christmas Eve day to prep the course for play. Early indications are calling for good weather. Christmas day we will not have anyone working. New Years Eve day we will again have a full staff on hand. New Years Day we will have two people in to set the course and mow or roll greens. Hopefully the weather holds up for golf. Have a great Holiday Season. The week following the new year will be the start of the irrigation project!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We're open!

We opened on Monday and 5 people played the course! The greens took a beating from the week long cold and dry spell. The combination of the arid weather and some wind caused a little "winter kill" on a few greens from spots that were already weak. Oh well, looks like Mother Nature is putting up a good fight in 2009. What a year for extreme weather patterns!

We have started staking the golf course for sprinkler heads. You will notice 4 inch tall pieces of broom stock sticking up in the grass. These are markers and need to remain in place until a sprinkler head is put there. Different colors represent different kinds of sprinkler heads. The greens crew will start dismantling the old system this week. This process may stretch into February. We need to remove 400 sprinklers, 100 valve boxes, 50 couplers and 22 Satellite boxes!

Friday, December 11, 2009

When will we open?

We're thinking the weekend won't get warm enough temps to allow an opening. The highs are just into the upper 30's, which allows very little thawing. We are frozen about 4 - 6 inches down. It's looking like Monday will be the earliest we might open...unless the snow comes in. Here is the NOAA forecast for Bainbridge Island. Stay tuned...

TonightMostlyCloudyLo 27 °F
SaturdayChanceSnowHi 37 °F
SaturdayNightChanceSnowLo 30 °F
SundaySnowLikelyHi 38 °F
SundayNightSnowLikelyLo 28 °F
MondayRain/SnowLikelyHi 38 °F
MondayNightRain/SnowLikelyLo 36 °F
TuesdayRainLikelyHi 45 °F
TuesdayNightRainLikelyLo 41 °F

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Update on course closure

It is looking like we may be closed through Friday since the forecast is calling for highs of 36 at most! This is above freezing, however the soil is frozen solid pretty deep right now, so I imagine it won't get warm enough to thaw out and allow play. Be prepared for snow to come in Friday night, which will then prolong the course closure through the weekend. I guess I'm just warning the golf addicts to be prepared. Who else would be crazy enough to golf in barely above freezing temps...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Course Closed

We'll be closed for Tuesday and Wednesday for sure! There is a very slim chance we will open on Thursday...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

So, why do we sand topdress the greens every once in a while?

Research has shown that greens that are not topdressed have poorer turf quality than those that are topdressed as little as two times per year. Greens that are not topdressed become thatchy and puffy, and can result in scalping and shorter ball-roll distances. Topdressing has several benefits.
  • It produces a smooth, firm putting surface.
  • It reduces the thatch layer.
  • Allows reduced mowing heights.
  • Protects the crown.
  • Increases ball-roll distance.

For the first eight days, a ball loses up to 5 inches of roll with light topdressing and 9 inches with heavy topdressing. But after the topdressing material works itself into the canopy, ball roll increases 6 inches with light topdressing and 15 inches with heavy topdressing. For this reason, we apply topdressing material 10 to 12 days before we want the surface to achieve its best surface (for big events). This gives the topdressing material enough time to settle into the turf. Dry topdressing material will easily settle into the turf canopy with just a light brushing or light irrigation.

Is it worth the effort? Topdressing provides a better surface for ball roll because it creates a firm, smooth, uniform surface that exerts minimal resistance on the ball as it rolls across a green. Rather than applying topdressing material heavily at the beginning and end of the growing season and hoping that it provides an adequate surface throughout the golf season, light, frequent topdressing has been used to provide a better surface to putt on throughout the growing season.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sooooo Coooold!

Looks like winter has hit us. The 7 day forecast doesn't have a high temperature above 39 degrees with lows averaging 25 degrees! We will likely have to close the course at some point for a few days as the ground will not even have a chance to thaw. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday look like we probably won't be able to open the course. Havell Golf has indoor golf for all you fanatics out there. I will be in close contact with the proshop so call their to get a final prognosis.

On a side note, the irrigation project is gradually getting under way with the delivery of materials and equipment. The southeast end of the parking lot is stacked full of pipe. The equipment is being delivered over the next 2 weeks as the contractor, Milroy Golf Systems, finishes up at Tam O'Shanter in Bellevue. We are breaking ground January 4th! Let's hope El Nino does what it's suppose to and keeps us dry the rest of the winter.