WHAT'S UP WITH MOLES?
Moles live underground and surface only occasionally. Their cylindrical bodies and powerful front claws are ideal for digging. Moles create a complex network of interconnected chambers by burrowing both deep and close to the surface, where they often leave visible ridges. Mole hills are places where the mole has pushed up earth above the surface. They have very poor sight and feed on worms and insect larvae that they find by the sense of touch and smell.
Moles primary food source is earthworms but they also eat other insects like grubs. Because moles have high energy requirements, they have large appetites. They can eat 70 to 80 percent of their weight daily. They actively feed day and night at all times of the year. Applying a "grub treatment" to your yard may help in mole control, but is no guarantee against these pests.
How do you control moles? It's really hard and persistence is key. There are several methods that may work. Spring loaded traps and poisons are examples, but since moles normally do not consume grain, seeds or nuts, poison baits are seldom effective. One poison is federally registered for use against moles. The toxicant is zinc phosphide. Traps are probably the most effective control, but again, patience is key.
The most effective way we have found is simply to wait until we see the mole moving in a burrow, grab a pitchfork or other sharp object ... and then do what comes natural.
WHY AERIFY ( HOLLOWTINE ) ?
CORE AERATION is one of the “dirty” words of golf course maintenance. Many question the necessity of disrupting play each spring or mid summer.
An important purpose behind core aerification is the removal of unwanted organic matter, allowing roots to grow. With a healthier root system heading into the golf season, the grass plant is better able to withstand the stress of traffic. Aeration also relieves compaction, promotes air exchange and helps with water infiltration.
How much aerification is enough?
There is no rule of thumb for what percentage of surface area should be impacted each year. It would be safe to say however that it is difficult to “over aerify”. The USGA suggests that 15-20% of the surface should be aerified each year. This would dictate a larger hole size – and closer spacing between holes during the aerification process – both spring and summer. Changing from a 8mm tine to a 13mm tine increases the surface area impacted by four times. Using a 16mm tine versus a 13 tine increases the surface area impacted by approximately 50%.
How long after aerification before the greens are back to normal?
With cooperative weather, the healing process will take 10 - 14 days. Extra fertilizer and water are applied at this time to expedite recovery.
WHAT IS A STIMPMETER?
http://www.usga.org/turf/articles/video/stimpmeter.html (watch this video to see how it works)
The Stimpmeter is a 36-inch long, aluminum tool used to make a standard measurement of the relative speed and uniformity of our greens. A Stimpmeter reading is actually a distance measurement in feet and inches.
At one end is a ball release notch that is designed so that a golf ball will always be released and start to roll when the Stimpmeter is raised to an angle of approximately 20 degrees to horizontal. The basic steps to measure green speed start by rolling three golf balls in one direction on a level area of the green. The three distances are measured and averaged. Using the average stopping point of the first three golf balls, this step is repeated along the same line, but in the opposite direction. The distances obtained in steps one and two are averaged, resulting in the Stimpmeter reading for the green. The longer the distance, the faster the green. A reading of 8 - 9 feet is considered a medium to fast speed for day-to-day play.
The Stimpmeter is a helpful management tool in providing smooth, consistent putting surfaces, but is not intended for course-to course comparisons by golfers.
WHY IS THE ROUGH SO DIFFICULT? IS IT GETTING MOWED?
Right on cue, complaints about to come in... difficult rough come with spring and summer weather. Overall, spring growing conditions have been excellent for the turfgrass. The golfers are playing, and, for the most part, they are happy until they hit the ball into the rough. Conversations about the difficulty of the rough have come up in nearly every week in summer. The good news is if the rough is the biggest complaint, everything else must be going very well. The bad news is aggressive spring growth in warm-season rough generally has to run its course and the fact that we have a common bermuda grass in the rough makes it tough. Bermuda left to grow long can be one of the hardest grasses to play out of.
Most superintendents are maintaining rough at 30-50mm height of cut, with the most common being 50mm. As suggested by most golfers, the solution for challenging rough conditions is to lower the height or mow more frequently, but this is easier said than done. The frequency of rough mowing is usually dictated by available equipment and manpower. At this time of year, somebody is mowing rough at the golf course Monday through Friday and Saterday mornings. There just may not be enough "somebodys" or equipment at your golf course to mow the rough frequently enough to keep up with growth rate. If rough is mowed at 50mm on Monday, the same rough may be 75mm or 80mm inches in a couple of days. Height of cut is not the problem, but frequency of cut is.
The bottom line is that rough grows aggressively in the spring and summer, even in the absence of fertilizer applications. The result is difficult playing conditions, and this occurs every year. The only solution is to hit the ball in the fairway, play hard when it is in the rough, and know that the growth rate of the grass will slow down as summer comes to a end. Be patient and be aware that your superintendent is probably doing everything he can to keep up with the growth.