Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Winter Maintenance Update

With the winter months almost behind us, we thought we'd give everyone an update on our winter progress. Much like the past couple of years the weather has been mild and a bit unpredictable. Its hard to trust or say what will happen.

We started winter with a good blanket of snow, and turned our focus to grooming ski trails. We started with approximately 6" of snow which is the minimum needed to groom and set trails. With no additional snow, it was difficult to groom without the trail becoming to thin. When the snow thins out we back off of grooming so that we do not damage the ground or turf underneath. Unfortunately after Christmas it got warm out, and we have not had good snow or weather for snow to even consider skiing.

The "Sand Pro" or bunker machine completely disassembled 
Since winter started staff has been busy getting all of our equipment ready for the upcoming season. All of our mowers and other specialty equipment gets a complete overhaul. All engines, cutting units, and mechanical components are taken apart, cleaned, and put back together.

Greens Mower engines ready for inspection
This process of preventative maintenance gives our Equipment Technician the ability to address problems before they arise, preventing unwanted expenses and down time during the summer months.
Fairway mower cutting units pulled apart and getting cleaned.
It takes a team of five staff members to get through the equipment this thoroughly within 3 1/2 months to insure that we are ready for the upcoming season.

Trenching the drain lines 

With the mild weather outside, projects have continued. Most recently we continued working on a drainage project located on #14 Fairway.

Staff cleaning the trench debris 
The goal of this project was to address the ample surface saturation that occurs between 20 yards and 100 yards in front of the 14th green. The drain lines that we are installing will insure that daily conditions are dry and playable.

Drain lines in-front of #14 Green 
We plan to have this project completed within the next couple of weeks, weather pending, and then get this area sodded closer to spring when the sod farms are open.

Nursery Green Area (Day 1)
The nursery green project has been underway as well, located between hole #'s 6 and 8. The nursery green project will allow our staff the ability to get grass as needed during the season for plugging and patch work that is sometime needed.

Breaking ground
The green cavity taking shape 
The Greens drain lines have been trenched 

The drain lines and bottom of the green have been covered in Gravel 
The greens mix or sand getting installed 
We will be completing this project as spring continues, the goal is to have the green seeded and grow in in during the 2017 season.  

Future updates on projects and course conditions will be coming soon, with the weather getting nice, we know you will be wondering what is happening on the golf course. As mentioned before the weather is unpredictable one warm week could be followed by cold and snow. Lets keep our fingers crossed. 


Golf Course Superintendent 
Nick Marfise

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Putting The Course To Bed For Winter

The forecast for the next week or so looks as though there will be snow and some extremely cold days, with that being said, winter is here and our season and year are about over.

We have taken care of the last remaining out side tasks on the golf course to help insure proper care for our greens, and the other remaining turfgrass areas and all related course amenities. The dedication and care that goes into the end of the year work makes way for a good start to next season.
Heavy sand top-dressing in progress

All playing surfaces have been preventativelly treated for "Snow Mold" disease. During winter the snow cover can have the ability to act as an incubator. Trapping moisture and humidity that can cause for disease concerns either during winter or first thing in the spring when the snow melts. After a difficult 2016 its important that our grass is protected during the winter and we have no set backs in the spring.
Close up of sand on a green

As winter approached we heavily sand top-dressed all of our greens and approaches/aprons. This heavy layer of sand protects the grass from the harsh winter weather. Having heavy snow cover for most of the winter is typically a good thing helping shield the grass from cold dry winds, but as we've seen in the past we can't always count on the snow being here. Covering the greens/approaches with sand makes sure that the grass plants are insulated before it snows and protects against dehydration and winter desiccation.

Sand top-dressing of approaches
In the spring the grass will grow through this sand, and there will be little to no disruption to spring rounds of golf.
Close up of sand on an approach

All of the course accessories have been brought in doors and will be gone over thoroughly during the winter months. We will access any damage, make necessary repairs and attend to any detail work such as painting or staining.


We'd like to thank everyone for their continued support, we know full well that this golf season came with its share of challenges. The affects that it has on your game of golf are undoubtedly frustrating. We are confident that we have all the pieces in place to continue to improve playing conditions and course amenities for the future.  

We hope that you check back with our blog as we will continue to post pictures of ongoing work and give you updates as we get closer to spring. Please check back for updates on the Fairway Re-grassing, Nursery Green Construction, Ski Trails, and much more. 

Thank you, 

Golf Course Superintendent 
Nick Marfise 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Change is taking place

Since our last blog post the course has taken on considerable change as previously mentioned. The unwanted grass species in our tees, fairways, and approaches has begun to change colors and decline. This is exactly what we wanted, as it will now give the Kentucky Bluegrass a better environment to grow now and into next season.
#6 Approach

The unwanted species of grass once again that are changing colors, are the Poa annua, and the Bentgrass contamination that has occurred since the renovation. As these grasses die back we are looking for the Kentucky Bluegrass to gradually fill into those respected areas.
#11 Approach

The picture below show how established Kentucky Bluegrass is already mowing into a declining patch of Bentgrass.

The final Tenaciy, or Poa annua injury sprays were completed on the tees, and approaches last week. Leaving just the final spray for fairways for this upcoming week. It will be over the next few weeks that we will continue to see considerable amount of change. We hope to have a good idea of the percentage of success of these sprays before heading into the winter months. 

The lime green Poa annua is declining as the KBG is moving in 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fairway Seeding Program and Process

There are several of you out there that have inquired about our seeding process after the flood that took place July 23rd of this year. I hope to answer many of your questions in this post, and shed some light on the next few weeks and how that affects the golf season for 2017.

#1 Approach, seeded in August 2016

Since the flood your maintenance staff has successfully seeded all of the aprons or approaches on the golf course, and four of the golf course fairways. The main focus after the flood was to seed the areas that were affected the most by the summer weather. The choice to seed the approaches was due to the fact that the approaches, located right next to the greens, were in disarray. Turf quality and play-ability needed to be addressed in these areas first. After the approaches were finished we seeded what were at the time, the four thinnest fairways, #'s 10,14,15, and 18. We also did some spot seeding in other areas of the course as well such as #9 fairway. Although several other fairways were definitely in the running we felt that these areas were the worst.

#9 Fairway / flood related damage
#9 Fairway, Close up of the same area

After these areas were seeded our next step was to decide how much Poa annua, or unwanted grass, we wanted to try and kill. Without killing the Poa annua, it is likely that this process repeats itself. Poa annua has thousands of seeds in the ground, and through cold and damp weather Poa continuously grows back. Unfortunately enough Poa is also very influential to hot and humid weather as well. If the Poa grows back, due to its shallow and weak root system it will then die again in the summer, and we are right back to where we started.

Dead Poa annua on #18 Fairway
The decision has been made to spray and kill as much Poa as possible and begin braking this cycle. Your maintenance staff has already begun spraying all of the renovated Tee complexes, and all of the Approaches and Fairways. We will then continue to seed all the sprayed areas using a process known as  "Dormant Seeding" with the Kentucky Bluegrass that we have established in the above mentioned areas of the golf course. The premise and goal of Dormant Seeding is that the seed is put into the ground now before winter, and that it breaks ground and germinates in the Spring.

Seeder disks that cut into the ground, the seed falls between the disks into place

Germinating seed in 2016

So what does that mean for spring of 2017? It means that we are hoping for a warm March/April to get this grass seed growing. It also means that we are not expecting to have lush thick fairways by March or April, but rather by late May and/or early June. The fairways will be sparse and thin, and we will be doing everything we can to keep cart traffic from damaging the newly germinated seed.

We know that this is not necessarily the plan of action most of you were looking to hear, but standing by and doing nothing will not make this golf facility better for the future. We have already been hard at work aerifying the fairways, in order to alleviate compaction and prepare them for the seeding process. Seeding will begin to take place this week, so that the work is completed before the winter weather arrives.

As the remaining weeks of the year come and go we will begin to see the Poa annua treatments take affect, and the Poa annua will change in color just as it did when we did our trial sprays last season on hole #'s 5 and 13.

Close up of Poa annua turning white in 2015. 

#5 Fairway turning white in 2015

The goal of this process is to have beautiful Kentucky Bluegrass that becomes easier to manage from a maintenance prospective, and offers better play-ability on a players end. We will always live with a percentage of Poa annua, and there will always be an ongoing goal to reduce that population to a manageable level in which dramatic weather and climate change to not derail our operation and golf season.

We appreciate your patience in this process and hope you enjoy seeing the golf course change for the better. We continue to welcome warm weather as it allows us to continue working outside and for you to get in those late season rounds.


Nick Marfise
Golf Course Superintendent

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Greens Healing Progress

 After just about three weeks since aerification we are pleased with the greens healing process. We are disappointed however that they are not completely healed at this point. We attribute this to cold weather and lack of sun light that took place the week of October 3rd. Warm sunny days after aerification are crucial to substantial grass growth and healing.

We are happy with the extended warmth that we are still receiving this late into October and confident that the greens will be completely healed before winter.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fairways, Approaches, and Seeding

If you have been to Wilmette Golf Club in the past week or so, you know there has been a hub of activity. Greens have been aerified and we have been punching holes and aerifying the other surfaces on the golf course as well. In conjunction with aerifying we have continued to seed portions of the golf course that were affected by the hot and brutal summer. 

We are very pleased with the seeding process and have gotten very good Kentucky Bluegrass establishment in all the areas that have been seeded, and are still waiting for growth on the areas that were seeded most recently. 

As the Kentucky Bluegrass continues to grow, we will continue to aerify and punch holes aiding in lateral growth and density. 

Also as part of this process we have begun to mow down the rough that borders the greens. We are doing this so that we  have a Kentucky Bluegrass collar. These new collars will have a seamless transition into the existing approaches. These future collars will eventually become mowed at the same height as the approaches. This process will make future mowing and maintenance of these areas easier, and we feel it helps frame the green and give a more refined definition.  

Golf Course Superintendent 
Nick Marfise 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Greens Aerification September 25th and 26th

It is that time of year where most golf courses undergo their greens aerification process. It is a shame because as fall approaches and the golf course recovers from the summer, playing conditions become optimal.

Unfortunately this process is a necessary evil as we continue to not only protect our greens investment but improve the playing conditions for the future.

Aerification allows us the ability to alleviate soil compaction, increase air and water pore space, and continue to dilute unwanted organic matter in the top layer of our greens. All of these elements create better play-ability and a healthier green long term.

Our greens aerification process has been dramatically improved, compared to practices done in the past. There are no longer piles of dirt, or cores left on the greens surface. Every core is cleaned as we go and we will be sure to leave the greens ready for golf as we finish.

First the Green is heavily topdressed with sand.
The aerifier then goes across the green, punching holes and pulling the soil cores.
The device on the back of the machine pulls the cores allowing for easy cleanup.
We are left with clean aerification holes and a green covered in sand.
The sand is then brushed and the green is rolled, this is the finished product.  

Additional information about aeration can be found by copying and pasteing this link for the USGA website into your web browser.

Thank you, 

Golf Course Superintendent 
Nick Marfise