Friday, August 28, 2015

Do fireworks damage a golf course?

Short answer is yes, definitely. Not to mention the absolute mess they make, damage from fireworks can take weeks to appear. There are many things that damage turf. As a golf course superintendent, green is not green and brown is not brown. The colors that begin to appear from disease, chemical injury, urine, moisture stress, and many other Turfgrass evils, take on different shades and variations, not to mention shapes.
On a recent course tour I drove by and caught a glance of the spot in the first photo. In a instant, I turned around to take a second look. I had a feeling I knew what I had seen, the circular shape and the gradual margins gave it away.
Examining the spot, I saw the "star" in the middle. You can see the star at my finger tip. Firework stars are pellets of metal salts, which when ignited, emit light. The light is emitted because the electrons around the metal atoms get excited from the heat of the ignition. The "excitement" puts them into a higher energy state, as the heat dissipates, they return to their lower energy state "shell." When the electrons return to the lower state the energy lost is in the form of light.
The different lights of fireworks are caused by different compounds used, for example copper chloride will emit blue light because the copper electrons emit short wavelengths of visible light (400-500 nanometers).
This amazing bit of chemistry sometimes goes amuck in the air, not all of the pellets are burned. The un-burned pellets return to the earth and are pushed into the turf, in this case, by a fairway mower.
This year, I only found this one pellet. The staff is reminded every year to look for the "stars" after Briarfest, and to avoid mowing over them.
They really did a good job this year, almost perfect!
Have a great day,

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Maximizing practice range size and reducing your carbon footprint

I must say, we are pleased with the overall condition of the course. The staff continues to do an excellent job. We wish we had a larger practice tee, but until then we must use what we have as judiciously as possible.
In order to maximize the efficiency of the range, correct placement of the golf ball when practicing is necessary. Our range tee at Briar Ridge is quite small, so this practice is very important for us to keep grass on it through the season. The first photo is an example of what we do want, long lines with a strip of grass between divot rows. The "divot line" can be filled in from both sides in a relatively short amount of time compared to large round or square areas of no grass. If you think about it, the only place we need any grass is immediately under the ball. Placing the ball at the rear of a divot means that relatively little grass is removed from each shot. A correct stroke will be a downward attack to the ball contacting the ball before the turf. Putting the ball in the back of a divot and imagining not removing any more turf, is an excellent practice thought.
The second photo is more common among players, it utilizes a large area, each shot carving its own space in the world. This player placed each ball in its own practice fairway. This type of ball placement uses a great deal of space and "wastes" a great deal of practice turf. Please be mindful of your fellow members and minimize your practice "footprint" this way, we can all enjoy practicing off the turf.
It looks like a great day for golf,

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My favorite team

Below is just one of the reasons the golf course is so good. David is our irrigation technician and he is a busy guy lately. He is shown working on a pilot valve, a small part connected to a solenoid that makes turning heads on and off possible. He has derived an improvised device to make working on these parts possible without shutting sections of the system down.
Thanks to David and our entire golf course staff, our course is playing fine. We are Northwest Indiana's best kept secret,

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Heat+wind+no roots=tire marks

It didn't take long for the place to dry out. You may have noticed some traffic damage. Members are asking what the marks are from. The wet spring never encouraged deep root growth, and one of the first dry windy days stressed the turf to the point of wilt. The damage that you see is from the stress of cart traffic. One thing that is interesting, is how the different types of turf use water and respond to stress differently. The turf in the fairways was unaffected, while the rough took the brunt of the damage. These areas will recover with some rain.
I have included a photo below looking through sunglasses and looking with the naked eye. Sometimes I have to take my sunglasses off because the golf course looks too stressed. Sunglasses are a superintendents friend at times, it allows us to see stressed areas better. Sometimes, sunglasses just freak me out.
Have a great day,