Superintendent's View

Summer 2017

Summer Heat & Venting
Each year when the calendar flips to June, July, and August the stress the grass plant endures can be tied directly to the root zone temperature.  The management of the root zone in putting greens becomes vital to its existence.  Bent grass roots can begin dying as soil temperatures climb above 85 degrees. 

As the game of golf evolves, so must our maintenance practices.  The days of simply core aerifying every fall isn’t adequate to keep up with growing expectations of putting greens.  The golfers desire firm, and fast greens regardless of the season.
 
At Spirit Hollow, we incorporate the process of “venting” or needle-tining.  Starting in late May or early June we needle-tine our greens every 2 weeks.  This process creates tiny holes with 5mm (.2 inch) tines every 1-1 ½ inch spaced from each.  We walk mow and roll shortly after to create a great putting surface.

The practice of venting is unobtrusive to golfers and allows us a weapon to help with raising soil temperatures, compaction, gas exchange, and water infiltration.  A healthy root zone is the secret to maintaining great putting greens through the summer months.
 

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

Spring 2017

Winter and Spring Project Updates
While the course and the golfers were hibernating, our crew was hard at work here at Spirit Hollow to provide an even better experience during the 2017 golf season.

Some of the projects we focused on included cart path repair, drainage work, tree work and the construction of some Bat houses to help with those pesky mosquitos. 

As the golf course ages, the concrete cart paths begin to crack due to the harsh Midwest weather, So this winter we began, what will continue to be, a cart path repair program. We started on the paths most in need of repair, the first step which involved employing the process of cutting out the damaged section of path, excavating and compacting, then forming and pouring new concrete. 

We removed several trees this past winter which will increase airflow and reduce shading on our greens.
 
We have also built several bat houses that will be placed strategically around the golf course.  It’s a known fact that a single little brown bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes in a single hour! Bon appétit our little bat friends!

This spring we started a big project that will give our 15 thru 17 hole loop a very different look. We are completely re-routing the cart path system on holes 15 and 16, opening the woods between holes 15, 16 and 17 and adding some new tees.

In the past when you have played hole 16 you probably didn’t realize the lake is just a 7 iron away from the landing area. We have taken out the underbrush and volunteer trees to open the view to the lake and hole 17.  Now as you play hole 17 you can see lakeshore that has been covered up for years.  We believe these changes have really enhanced the aesthetics of this area. We hope you think so too.

We are also re-routing the cart path on 15, removing it from the dam and taking it to the left of the hole down the native hollow and up through the oak trees.  The path on 16 will be moved from the left side of the hole to the right side.  It will meander through the native fescue and groves of oak trees with incredible views of hole 15 lake and green along with views of the 17th fairway.
 
The spring projects are all underway and we hope they will be complete by the end of May; of course, mother nature will determine when we are finished. 



November 2016

Winter Preparation = Healthy Spring Turf
 
As the golf season winds down, the maintenance crew at Spirit Hollow will be busy preparing for the 2017 golf season.

Two areas of focus are our fall fertility program and secondary rough management.

When the leaves start to change and Iowa football has begun, we work on achieving our goal of applying the proper nutrients to the entire golf course.  You might think it silly to fertilize this late in the year, especially when the practice of mowing is slowing down, but the benefits are seen and felt the following spring.  By fertilizing late in the fall, we are allowing the grass plant to take-up the nitrogen and store-it for the next spring.  If we can time the application late enough, the energy of the fertilizer will be stored in the roots and not wasted in shoot growth.
 
The timing of our fescue (secondary rough) mowing is also very important.  We mow down the grass after the plant is done producing growth and the pressure of summer weeds is over. When we do this properly, we can apply our broadleaf herbicide after the summer annuals have finished germinating and more precisely attack any persistent perennials weeds.  This gives us a big advantage the next year to keep out unwanted weeds

Both late fall fertilization and secondary rough management are two more practices that help us create a beautiful golf course. See you in the spring!

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

October 2016

Firm, Fast Greens & Water Conservation

Each year at Spirit Hollow, we strive to provide a better golf course for our players. One of the tools in our arsenal is hand watering. This practice gives us a tool to maintain the putting greens and provide consistent conditions, whether for every day play or for tournaments.

When Spirit Hollow was designed, putting greens construction played an important role in the development of the irrigation plan. Our greens were designed using USGA guidelines which means the construction method allowed for a perched water table below the surface of the green.  This table allows us to water less, knowing our roots have available water to uptake when needed.
 
To achieve firmer and faster greens, the practice of watering turf has evolved over time.  In the old days, the maintenance crew simply set irrigation heads to run for a specific time every night. But as the science of greens maintenance has evolved, we’ve learned this practice leads to over watering, causing soft spongy greens that become susceptible to algae and fungus infestation. 

That’s why the team at Spirit Hollow has adopted the practice of hand watering the greens. On a daily basis, we only water the areas on the greens that need it, not the entire surface. By employing this method, we can control the moisture throughout the root zone and minimize our water usage throughout the year.

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

August 2016

How Weather Affects Maintenance
 
There is an old saying that goes something like this, “If you don’t like our weather here in Iowa, just wait a day.”  I could argue you simply have to wait 6 hours.

At Spirit Hollow, we see all extremes of weather and many can be challenging to our day-to-day operations. But no matter what Mother Nature throws at us, our staff knows the golf course needs to remain playable for our golfers.

I can tell you the most challenging weather for us is heavy rains and flooding conditions.  Saturated soils can greatly impact our daily mowing practices and restrict golf cart use. 
 
To combat this challenge, our best defense is to establish a well-drained golf course.

That’s why each year we identify poorly draining areas and improve them by installing tile drainage systems. We use a process called “sand topdressing” on our fairways which allows us to amend our soil profile, resulting in firmer and better drained turf.  Lastly, we vertically aerify the soils which helps with gas exchange, and also allows us an additional tool to move excess water down and away from our surface.

A well-drained soil is the absolute answer to quickly over coming heavy rains and returning our course to pristine playable conditions. Mother Nature may be in charge, but the maintenance team at Spirit Hollow is ready for whatever she sends our way.

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

July 2016

Greens Rolling

The practice of maintaining true, smooth and firm putting greens has evolved over time.  Here at Spirit Hollow, to achieve the best possible putting surface greens rolling has become a major tool in our management program.

Rolling greens are mostly done by three different types of machines.  Older pull-behind drum rollers, dedicated side-by-side rollers, and vibratory rollers.  We use vibratory rollers that mount on a triplex greens mower.  The ease of operation and training was a major factor in our decision.  No matter which type you use the goal is the same, firm and true greens.

The agronomic benefits of greens rolling have been a pleasant surprise to turf managers.  University research has proven greens rolling has many benefits, including: reduced turf stress, disease suppression, smoother surfaces which translates to a healthier and faster green.

We have adopted a lightweight rolling program that allows us to provide a consistent championship quality putting surface daily to our golfing community.

And if you have a question about the course or just want to know a little more about how we care for Spirit Hollow day in and day out, feel free to email your questions to dbeik@spirithollow.com.

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

June 2016

TOPDRESSING = BETTER PLAYING CONDITIONS

The practice of topdressing is said to have originated more than a century ago at the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland. The benefits of topdressing include reducing soil compaction, the prevention of thatch build-up and the ability to modify the surface layer of the root zone.

Like many golf courses across the country, we have used topdressing in our putting green management at Spirit Hollow for years. It’s the reason you’ll find greens that are smooth and pristine.

Three years ago, we implemented a topdressing program for our fairways. Our target is to apply 1/4 inch of sand annually to our fairways, spread out over 4 applications.  Over the next 3-5 years we will drastically change our soil makeup.

From an agronomic perspective, we are building a layer of sand above the native soil to create a more sustainable soil profile to improve thatch control, drainage and surface firmness. 

It is an expensive and time-consuming process, but we think it is worth it. Our goal is to put our playing conditions up against the best courses in the country, so that when you visit, you’ll have an experience that will bring you back to Spirit Hollow again and again.

Dave Beik, Class A GCSAA
Spirit Hollow Superintendent since 2000

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