Friday, July 19, 2019

Upcomming Tuesday Night Maintenance


This Tuesday the turf maintenance team will perform the monthly vertical cutting and topdressing practices on the putting greens.  These practices help to smooth and firm up the putting surfaces.



In addition, there have been a variety of turf health issues on the 9th green this season.  These stem from poor drainage and airflow in the soil profile.  Why only the 9th green? That is because it is the only “push up” green on the golf course.  In other words, the soil profile is a shallow layer of sand on top of native soil instead of a sand profile that sits above a drainage layer.  Fortunately, of the two grass species in the putting greens: bentgrass and annual bluegrass, the less desirable annual bluegrass is the primary species that has been affected. 



Chemical applications have been made to the 9th green throughout this season to treat the festering pathogens in the soil.  This has cured the disease, but we are still left with summer annual bluegrass decline primarily due to poor drainage. This Tuesday we will take steps to help correct the ultimate cause of these problems by using a “bayonet” tine aerification on this green in order to improve soil drainage and increase airflow. We will also use this opportunity to introduce more bentgrass seed in order to promote the more desirable grass species of our putting greens.



Photos of this treatment are below.  As you can see, this practice is minimally invasive and any effect on playability will be relatively minor.

 



        

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Organic Matter Management & Growing Degree Days

Last night's rain pushed our first vertical cutting of the putting greens to this morning.  As you can see from the photo below the process is minimally invasive, but we are still able to remove a large quantity of organic matter from the thatch layer.  This serves many functions: improves firmness, increases green speed, improves water infiltration, and reduces disease potential. The putting greens are then traditionally mowed (horizontally) in order to "clean up" and smooth out the surface. 
 

Close up of the putting green surface after vertical cutting; before the traditional mow.

The turf maintenance team uses Growing Degree Day (GDD) or Growing Degree Unit (GDU) models to predict plant growth.  This is essentially a cumulative measurement of the "good growing weather" for a period of time.  This helps us to properly time cultural practices like vertical mowing in addition to fertilizer and chemical applications.  We all have a good feeling that this year we have seen a slow spring.  To put it in Growing Degree Units in 2019 we have a current total 79.5 GDDs versus this same date last year in which we had 141.5 GDDs.  There may be some yawning and eye rolling as you read this, but if you could take away one thing: this model helps us disturb the golf course (and your round) as little as possible. 
 
Our putting greens seem perform at their peak when vertical cutting is performed at approximately a 350 GDD interval.  Or in other words, this process will be repeated about mid-July and we aim to perform this four to five total times in a given season.
 
Current research on organic matter accumulation in turfgrass suggests that if vertical cutting and sand topdressing are performed to match the growth rate of the turf, required aeration events could be reduced or even eliminated in rare occurance... and I know we all like hearing that. 
 
All this science has its purpose. Through diligent soil sampling, the use of growing degree day models, and a touch of horticultural instinct our long term goal is to refine our putting green management practices to achieve something very few in the golf course industry can do: reduce or eliminate (if possible) the need for aeration practices while still maintaining a high performance putting surface. 

The crew vertical cutting on #9 green.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Vacation Races

On Saturday we had the pleasure of hosting another finish to the Grand Teton Half Marathon.  It is always an interesting morning turning the driving range into a finish line. The Vacation Races team is very professional taking into account almost every detail... they even checked for frost!  They were able to finish about 2,500 runners after the overall winner finished around 7:30 am, and the finish line had been converted back into a driving range by 1:00 pm.


Special thanks to all of the JHGTC and Vacation Races staff for all of the great work that went into making this event possible. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Tee it forward...

Next week, staff from the USGA will be out at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club in order to rate our golf course for difficulty and playability.  This is done periodically as players, courses, equipment, and the game in general evolves over time.  We have had no major design changes since the last rating was completed.  Therefore, we would probably see only minor changes to the Course Rating, Slope Rating, and the handicap number on certain holes.

During the process, the USGA staff will also rate a potential set of "forward" tees.  So today we placed a "beta test" of these tee markers on the par 4's and par 5's.  At the moment, they simply look like an unpainted version of one of our RTJ I or RTJ II markers. 


The tees were placed at yardages recommended by the USGA during last season's course consulting visit.  These types of tees go by a variety of names: family tees, beginner tees, irons only tees, short course, etc.  While I am not crazy about any of these names, I love that the primary goal here is to increase the variety the golf course has to offer for a variety of player ability levels by laying out a course with an overall distance around 4,200 yards. 

Whether you have played the game for years but the swing is starting to slow down, or have a child in the junior golf program whose swing is just starting to speed up, or are somewhere in between.  We think this teeing option will be a lot of fun for a lot of players.

Potential new "forward" tee location on the 18th hole.
 
Tee it forward and have some fun playing Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club from a new angle. 
 
 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Opening Day

Looks like the weather will cooperate with us for the first weekend of the 2019 season at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club!  However, more cold, rain, and snow seems to be on the horizon for next week so get that first round of the season in while you can!

As was expected, damage from voles is the biggest issue winter gave us.  Those of you that have been around for a while know that it takes at least four solid weeks of work to breathe the life back into the golf course.  Because of the late spring, we were not able to get around the golf course until the middle of April.  That said, the crew has worked their tails off for the last two weeks to get the course in decent shape for opening.  Although, there is still a lot to accomplish to bring the course around we are relatively happy with where things are at.

In the coming days we will work to get the bunkers back into shape as well as continuing with a more detailed cleaning.  Please tolerate the equipment and the special projects as we work to get the course into peak season condition as quickly as possible.

Bring on the warm weather and sunshine!

Thank you.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Course Conditions Report

This is not an April Fools message... it is the 137th day of this snow blanket covering the golf course!  Those of you that have been enjoying the great ski conditions this winter know all about it.  Though this winter brought us our share of snow, the temperatures remained cold for the most part, which created an insulating snowpack for the turf... in addition to those bluebird powder days.  So while it seems as if we received an extreme amount of snow this winter, the snow-water content percentages are not as high as one might think.

Given the favorable snowpack studies, but the unusual depth for this time of year (for example, we recorder 37 inches on March 1st), we waited until the third week of March to begin removing and melting snow on the golf course.  The putting greens were treated with an organic soil amendment spread on the snow surface in order to speed the snow melt.  This product and timing provides three benefits for the putting green; 1) a carbon rich soil amendment, 2) a flush of the soil profile from the melting snow, and 3) a gradual break from dormancy which will enhance the efficacy of plant growth regulator applications later in the spring.

It may still be too soon to tell, but it appears that our biggest issue from this winter will be the damage from voles, a.k.a. field mice.  We will likely see some incidence of snow mold because most plant protectants claim up to 120 days of protections.  However, because of product combinations and agronomic practices, early scouting shows no symptoms on greens and approaches.  In addition, the elk migration did the usual number last fall, and likely because of the snow, it seems they are a little slow to get off the refuge.  We anticipate the usual bunker damage and "elk duds" to clean up after the spring migration is finished.

In other news, our seasonal staff began arriving today.  It is always great to be able to catch up with past employees and meet the new staff members.  They are currently busy with employee orientation and spring cleaning projects.  In the coming days, they will be helping us employ a couple tricks to remove snow and encourage spring. 

Enjoy the skiing while you can, the golf season is not too far away!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Snow, snow, Moose Day, more snow...

It seems like it has not stopped snowing in weeks! Highways are closed, avalanche danger is high, and the current Winter Storm Warning is not set to expire until 5:00 pm today.  Even snow, it will likely continue snowing until the end of the week... or longer, so stay safe out there.

Normal snow removal operations are going well, but we are running about of places to pile it!  Grooming operations have been limited to the trail due to the quantities and consistent nature of the snowfall.  We will resume classic track grooming as soon as snow conditions allow for the proper operation of our grooming equipment.

With deep snow conditions valley wide, the area's moose have been confining themselves to residential areas and trails which allow for easier travel.  This was very apparent on Saturday when the club counted moose on the property to help the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation with their annual Moose Day.  Please be alert as it is very common to see moose on or near the trails when these snow conditions exists.  It is a critical time of year for moose and the species of large mammals in our area.  Winter fat reserves are running low and new snow has made it increasing difficult to find forage.  As always, please give the wildlife the right of way, it could make a difference this time of year in terms of winter survival!

Though deep, about 3 feet on average, snow pack conditions are favorable for the turf at this point in the winter.  Lots of "sugar snow" at the bottom of the snow pack, with little to no ice formation is a good sign. See pictures below for a representative sample.

  

And if your curious, extended column and compression tests were also performed on the golf course snow pack.  Zero failures were observed, probably because the slope was 0 degrees...  However, multiple layers were observed, so had this be done on a slope, the results would likely be much different. 

Be careful on the roads and in the backcountry, make informed decisions, and pray for spring because I'd like to play golf at some point!