Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Doug Miller celebrates 25 years on WVCC's grounds staff.

Please join me in congratulating Doug Miller for 25 years on the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club grounds staff. He started his employment with us in 1991. I am sure Doug has seen many changes here at the club and he has been a big part of it. He joins Jerry Stockmal, John Fleming and Gary Farrer with over 25 years on the staff.
Other things that happened in 1991:
-George H. W. Bush was President (not his son)
-Cold war ends
-Gulf war I started .....and ended
-Backdraft with Kurt Russell was a new release movie.
-Freddie Mercury past away.
-The Phillies missed the playoffs

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pool area gets fresh sod.

After a couple of aerations, some fertilizer and a hand rake the pool lawn gets fresh sod. The sod we placed in the spring was behind the 8 ball from the start. We were in such a hurry to get everything finished, proper preparation of the area was not able to be accomplished. The new sod will enhance the area right away and now has months to root in and establish.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

NASA close up picture of Mars ? No, this is a picture of the soil at the pool after sod removal.

We are in the process of old sod removal, multiple aerations and placement of new sod at the pool area.
This picture is an example of how far I could push a screwdriver  into the soil (that is as far as I could go). During the pool and halfway house construction, many pieces of heavy equipment drove back and forth across the pool grounds. This resulted in severely compacted soil not capable of healthy turf growth.
We have aerated the area multiple times and hand raked to remove large stones. Sod is on the schedule and will be installed shortly, pictures to follow.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fore The Golfer: The Benefits of Sand Topdressing on Golf Courses

PLEASE ! When practicing putting, move around a bit to reduce damage to putting green!

This Picture was taken on August 12th, 2016 on the putting green at Whitemarsh Valley CC.
The damage was created by practicing the same putt over and over......and over while shifting their feet.
This picture was taken of the same spot on September 2nd, 2016. Notice the lingering damage. This could take another month to heal.
So remember to change areas of putting often to prevent this type of damage.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

New irrigation at #11 installed and throwing water.

One day after the irrigation improvement started at #11, sprinklers were turned on and the deep rough was benefitting from this additional coverage.
Normally we would attempt out system improvements in the fall when the weather is better. This project cried out to be done in the middle of a hot dry spell. You can almost hear the parched grass say"Ahhhhhhhhhh".
Proper planning a head of time gave us the opportunity to quickly complete this task and we will be benefitting from the improvement. And of course it is forecasted to rain tonight.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Irrigation improvements started today for hole #11.

We will be adding (6) sprinkler heads to the right of the 11th fairway. They will be placed in the rough right of the right side bunkers. This additional coverage will provide better watering results for the 11th fairway. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Summer information from Turfgrass Disease solutions, LLC

Relentless July and August Leads to Major Turfgrass Problems

16 August 2016

Turfgrass Disease Solutions, LLC

     Over the past three weeks, I have visited more than 65 golf courses in Delaware, Maryland, New
Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and there is one common theme, stressed turf due to the relentless weather since mid to late July. The recent high day time temperatures, warm nights, humidity, intense sunlight, wind and then spotty thunder storms have placed incredible stress to all cool season fine turfgrass areas. The weather has not discriminated amongst private nor public clubs, high budget or low budget courses - every golf course is showing signs of stress in some regard. It has been a brutal season to try to maintain green speeds, manage moisture and playing conditions. Due to the varying climates, budgets, ages, and designs throughout the region, golf courses should not be compared to one another. The growing season of 2016 is bringing chronic issues such as air movement, drainage, shade and weak species to the fore front.

     The most common problem I have encountered, especially in regions that are receiving rainfall, is severe wet wilt to fairways, tees and greens. Wet wilt is a physical problem in which the soils are saturated and the grass cannot transpire water to cool itself because of poor air movement and high humidity levels. This has been most commonly observed in low lying areas of fairways, tees and greens. Most commonly, it is complete decline or the only live grass is in aeration holes from this spring or last fall. Wet wilt is very difficult to manage and can take up to 10 days to fully show up, especially on higher cut tees and fairways. Typically, you will see that golf cart tire tracks wilt quickly and then decline even when the soil moisture is adequate. If you are experiencing wet wilt, be conservative with mowing heights and use solid front rollers. Rolling greens is a significant stress to thin turf. On fairways, in the short term, limit cart traffic and restrict to roughs or paths. Don’t be afraid to preventively syringe turf that is showing signs of wilt with adequate soil moisture. Long term, explore options to improve drainage and air movement.

     Dry wilt is also a problem for many golf courses not receiving rainfall in some regions. This places an incredible load on the staff to manage moisture with hoses and overhead irrigation, which is tough in the heat. If you are in a dry period, be sure to check that irrigation heads are properly functioning. Far too often an irrigation problem shows up when the stress shows up and with the heat we have experienced, it’s a slow road to recovery. Beyond lack of water or too much water, is decline in the poorest growing environments. Air movement is the most important growing environment consideration during warm, humid periods. Air movement is needed for fine turf to be able to cool itself following light applications of water (i.e. syringing). If there is no air movement, the turf in that environment can be 8-12F warmer than turf receiving air movement naturally or through fans. Fans have completely changed greens management in areas where trees and underbrush cannot be removed. Air movement is the key for syringing to work. If the turf does not dry in between syringing, the effects are minimal and the turf will begin to thin.

     Mechanical stress is showing up throughout the region, especially in shaded areas. Mechanical stress, although self-inflicted, is tough because superintendents are trying to produce a playable golf course. The two most common mechanical issues I see are roller damage to the collars or mower stress from turning or to the edges (clean ups) of greens. Be sure to watch staff turn mowers and use rollers to be sure they are properly completing the task and adjust heights if mowing is skipped. Skipping mowing may be needed during droughty or wet conditions but if skipping mowing, be sure to assess the height of cut and not remove too much tissue in a single mow. You will be able to work the height back down in time, but the initial scalp can cause issues under the current environment.

     Disease pressure has been extremely high and every major turfgrass disease has been observed. Brown patch and Pythium pressure has been high for the past three weeks. For those of you maintaining perennial ryegrass, I have confirmed gray leaf spot over the past week- this disease can be incredibly damaging under stress. In some of our trials, we are seeing tighter spray intervals and high rates work best but nothing will provide 100% control in extreme conditions or saturated, humid conditions. Preventive fungicides should be applied as needed. If curative control is attempted, be sure to have the disease properly identified and use the best course of action. Annual bluegrass weevils have been significantly damaging bentgrass fairways and tees for the past 3 weeks. We have found early instar white grubs in some of the untreated plots in our research trials so be sure to scout for them if you are seeing wilt or unthrifty turf. Be sure to scout for insect pest and treat accordingly.

     In a quick outline, these are just a few of the major observations I have had in my recent visits.
Other common themes include: elevated amounts of phytotoxicity (injury from commonly used plant
protection agents), elevated plant parasitic nematode levels, physical injury from aggressive golf shoes
and damage from venting or spiking greens and/or sand topdressing on weak and/or stressed turf. For
those of you considering aerification in the near future, please assess the health of the turf before aeration
or use a less aggressive technique. Aeration should not be looked upon as a tool to renovate weak turf,
but rather a tool to promote long term health. Aerification of weak turf in August can lead to weak turf in
September and October which are two of the most important golf months in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Feel free to reach out with a phone call/text (610.633.1878) or email


Steve McDonald