It’s been an eventful season for the Agronomy Department. With a wide range of weather throughout the season we were able to see how the course reacted to a variety of environmental conditions and stresses. This helped us identify weaknesses and areas of concern, while allowing us to see some of the progress that we’ve already made and develop a more complete understanding of what we’ll need to do to ensure future successes. This season we focused on turf health and in that regard there were hits and misses. This is a better golf course going out of 2021 than it was going into it, but we’re only just beginning the process of pushing it to its full potential.
The fall is always a vital point in the year from an agronomic standpoint. Practices that we performed will benefit us in the upcoming season and beyond and the weather for performing these practices has been optimal. While I was very pleased with how our September aerification went it is crucial that we continue to be aggressive in our efforts to minimize thatch throughout the property. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to implement various cultural practices on all surfaces to help alleviate this issue. Many of the eyesores that we see throughout the course can be directly related to excessive accumulations of thatch throughout the property in general, but especially on the fairways and tees. This is not a quick fix type of issue. Year after year we will need to stay diligent in our efforts to remediate this issue, and every season we will see the progression and benefits of those efforts.
In an effort to get a head start on the quality of our putting surfaces for next season we hired an outside contractor to come in and deep-tine aerify the greens in late October. This was done to increase rooting depth. The traditional core aerification that we perform every spring and fall is essential but only reaches depths of 4 to 5 inches. Deep-tine aerification can reach 8 inches and beyond. This increased depth allows us to break through layering that occurs over time and encourage water infiltration, gas exchange and root growth deep into the profile. This helps the grass sustain itself during periods of stress throughout the growing season. This process is minimally invasive, and with two aerifiers we were able to aerify, topdress, drag and roll the greens while staying ahead of play and not affecting tee times. We will continue to utilize this process in the future in combination with a concurrent Dryject to further modify the rootzone with minimal surface disruption.
Deep-tine aerification in process on the No. 3 green
You’ve probably also noticed that we’ve been performing significant work on our rough. We aerated the entirety of the playing area of the rough inside cart paths as well as high-visibility and areas and others of importance outside of paths. We also overseeded any thinning/weak areas of the rough with a Turf Type Tall Fescue Blend. We will also apply compost to all areas of the rough inside the cart path this winter. This will provide a vital carbon source, help with traffic tolerance and improve soil structure. These problem areas can be attributed to varying factors, from growing to conditions to cart traffic, but a specific problem we will look to alleviate next season is disease. We will implement a fungicide spray program on the high-play and high-visibility areas of the rough next season, which will lead to a more aesthetically appealing and better conditioned playing surface. We’ll pay special attention to early-season grub/weed control applications to improve the overall performance/appearance of the rough throughout the season. This is not to say that we should expect perfection; even with impeccably timed and administered applications there will inevitably be breakthroughs, but due diligence will lead to improved conditions.
We have continued to work on improving the bunkers through the fall and will continue throughout the winter. I’m sure many of you have taken notice to the edging work we’ve done on the greenside bunkers already.
As you can see above, the basic practice of edging can have quite dramatic effect on the aesthetics of a bunker. This particular bunker is a fairway bunker located in the cluster right of No. 1 fairway. Significant encroachment of growth into the bunker itself had occurred over the course of several years so we were able to edge it back to the originally planned size. In the picture below you’ll see just how much growth has occurred, I included my hat in the picture for scale.
We will finish that process through the remaining bunkers as well as expanding further where necessary on those that have already been completed. We will also complete thorough depth checks of the bunkers, moving around sand within and adding additional sand where needed to ensure proper coverage and distribution.
The most noticeable project we’ve undertaken this fall is the changes we made to No. 15. This project is the first of many of its kind that you will see being performed in the coming years at Bayside. Bentgrass is both a physically and financially intensive variety of grass to grow. In areas that we have deemed will not affect the structural integrity or playability of the course we will be looking to make the transition from fairway height cut Bentgrass to rough height cut Turf Type Tall Fescue. From my initial visit to the property, No. 15 has exemplified the perfect area for a transition of this type. A par 3 that requires minimal carry could easily lose the long fairway leading up to it with very few players ever noticing the transition from a playability standpoint. We’ll also have the added bonus of removing some of the ugliest turf on the entire property. Any Bentgrass that was deemed worth saving in removal was used to reestablish what we most likely perceived to be the original intended edge lines surrounding the bunker, for repairs needed within the approach itself and to expand the extreme left side of the approach to complete the look. Any additional sod that was needed was harvested from the beginning of No. 6 fairway as this will be one of the first areas that we begin this process on next season.
No. 15 prior to any changes
Removal of existing sod
Reestablishing lines around bunker
We also took advantage of placing an order for sod to obtain some additional supplies for repairing some areas in surrounds that were extremely thin or that had an abundant amount of Bermudagrass encroachment.
As we head into the winter months, our reduced focus on daily play allows us to perform many of the tasks that we do not get to perform as regularly as we would like in-season. These processes go a long way toward tidying up the property and getting us off on the right foot for a great 2022 golf season.
Cart path edging
Cutting back of naturalized areas
I can’t say enough about the positivity and passion that the membership here at Bayside has for your course. From the conversations and interactions I’ve had the pleasure to have with many of you, to the turnout that we have for our divot party nights, it truly makes this a wonderful place to work. We look to build upon any advances we’ve made so far and continue to strive to make Bayside reach its potential. From a personal standpoint, I’m so excited for the 2022 golf season, but will look back very fondly on 2021 and thank all of you for welcoming me and my family into this wonderful community and amazing opportunity. Finishing out this partial year and heading into my first “full-season” I cannot wait to see how our planning and programs affect the property and your enjoyment of it. I’ll see you out there!
Golf Course Superintendent