One thing that I can say is that the last two long, dry seasons, while good for golf, have been very stressful on both golf courses with horrible watering systems and the environment in general in the Northwoods. One can see it driving towards the Iron Range and observing the stressed pine trees. Were the last few years an anomaly or is a year like the current one-cold so far with more precipitation-the norm? Whatever the answer, we move on with our work in making Nemadji the best facility that it can be even when cold temperatures offer their challenges.

                                                                                                                                            Deer Frost Damage 7 East 4-21-2022

Turf response to cold temperatures can take on another form as well. Maybe some of you have noticed how some of the older greens on the golf course take on a purple/bluish hue in patches when temperatures get cold.

                                                                                                                            9E 4-29-2022 – Note bluish color response to cold temperatures

The bluish color in the foreground is a particularly common cold weather response of some older bentgrasses. While this discoloration is unsightly, it will go away when we get away from the colder temperatures and into regular mowing. Interesting stuff.

Another testament to just how unseasonably cold it has been the frozen soils that we are encountering in our work. While installing a replacement sprinkler we encountered frozen soils that formed a perfect mold of a sprinkler swing joint. Frozen soils are problematic in that they restrict the movement of water deeper into the soil profile and lengthen the time it takes for the golf course to dry out after rain events. They also make our repair work much more difficult to perform.

                                                                                                                            1N Green-Sprinkler Replacement – Frozen ground 12” under surface  5-2-2022

With traffic on the golf course being restricted throughout April due to conditions, we took the opportunity to remove five more completely dead ash trees on 1E, 1N, and 3N. I had marked these trees last fall before leaf drop to ensure that we were removing the dead trees. I suspect that these past few dry years will result in the accelerated decline of the remaining ash trees on the golf course. The culprit in this is the Emerald Ash Borer(insect) which made the news in the area a few years ago. While some ash trees were removed at that time, there remain many at Nemadji that are in a state of serious decline. This chore will be ongoing for a while. Much like Dutch Elm Disease took out some of the most beautiful American Elm trees decades ago, the Emerald Ash Borer has done the same for Ash trees.

                                                                                                                                       Ash Borer sign from dead ash trees 4-27-2022

As we begin to get busier with play, I have noticed some player behaviors on the golf course-both good and bad. To the person making divots in the linear pattern on the right I say, “keep up the good work.” Turf on the edges of the damage will-once we actually warm up-grow laterally to help in recovering from the damage quicker. The picture on the left shows what we want to avoid. Big bare expanses like that will take much longer to recover as lateral recovery is severely limited.


                                                                                                           Bad                            Practice tee 4-28-2022                                 Good

Continuing on the topic of player behavior, we encountered one of the worst examples of a divot on a putting green that I have ever seen. This was not your normal putter tantrum that we see occasionally but it looks like someone took a 7 Iron to the green trying to do God knows what. Hard to describe how angry that makes the entire crew when we come across nonsense like this. If you see anybody do something like this, please let us know so that we may remove this person from the golf course.


                                                                                                                                                        14W Green 4-29-2022

Stalwart crew fixture George Bibeau-who started at Nemadj at roughly the same time I did and who worked with me at my previous facility-took it upon himself to make a solid repair using turf from our newly constructed turf nursery by our maintenance facility. Having a nursery is, in my mind, a necessity on any golf course for these types of situations. Much better than pulling material from practice greens or the Par 3 as the turf is clean bentgrass and we avoid disturbing in play areas.

                                                                                                                                                      14W Green Repair 4-29-2022

Golf course maintenance personnel are so often overlooked in the hierarchy of golf course management when they are, in most instances, the most dedicated people on the staff. We get up before anyone, we work in sometimes harsh and demanding conditions, and do our best to present the best product that we can, overcoming challenges like the one above-and many others-along the way. We do our jobs best when we are not seen and because of that go unnoticed. That being said, next time you see someone on the crew digging into a wet hole fixing something that should have been replaced years ago, do not shout “Fore” needlessly to garner a reaction (this has happened) or hit into them (happened couple days ago to me) but rather say something like, “Course looks good” or something productive like that. I know that we would all appreciate that.

See you on the golf course.