Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter at Leslie Park

Here are some photos of Leslie in the winter.  More snow on the way!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Weather Station

Sucess!  We have the weather station back up and running. To be truthful, the weather station was working, we just could not relay the information to Weather Underground for people to see over the internet.  That is all fixed, now, so the box to the right and at the bottom of the page is now real-time weather at the golf Course

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Frost delays and why we have them

 Frost delays can be an annoyance. But they are also a very important tool for helping turf to survive the tough winter months. In this video, Dr. Larry Stowell of PACE Turf explains to golfers how frost can damage turf, and why a frost delay of even only two hours can make a big difference in turf's ability to survive.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Closed for Winter

Leslie Park is closed for the winter. If you would like to play golf, our sister course, Huron Hills, is still open.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pictures of new trees.

Here are the pictures of some of the new trees that I promised.

#3 green after two new trees and two transplanted trees.

The left side of #3 before the transplanted trees.

And finally, some areas on #4 where we planted some native grasses in our naturalized areas.  We aerified and then spread the seed.  The grass is growing in the holes from the aerifier.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New trees

Due to some of the trees on the course needing to be removed because of the danger they cause.

We had some new trees brought in and moved some of the smaller trees that were already on the course.  If you have not seen a tree spade at work, here is a video.

And a picture of the tree on the spade at it's new home.

(It is not actually the same tree, but one of the seven we moved.)

The new trees that we had brought in were from a Christmas tree farm. They were starting to get too big for them to sell. I will get some pictures of the new trees in place and post them soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aeration of the fairways

For the most part, aerifing the fairways is the same as the way we do the greens. The changes are that we use a bigger machine, mounted on a tractor.  We also use a larger, stronger tine.  This is because the soil in the fairways has more rocks than the greens and the larger size holds up better.  The bigger holes are also less noticeable on a fairway, where we cut the grass higher (9/16 inch as opposed to 1/8 inch on the greens.)

Here are the bigger plugs.

Then, instead of removeing the plugs and replacing it with sand, we drag the plugs back into the turf. This is due to economics, with 22 acres of fairways, we could not afford to put down new sand.  We have three drag mats, a heavy, plastic model

and two smaller, metal mats.

We spend a long time driving around in circles in order to break up the plugs.

This is what we end up with.

All that is left is the thatch and leaf tissue, which we blow off the fairway and into the rough,

where we mulch up the plugs with our rough mowers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why do we aerate?

I have gotten more than a few questions on the reasons behind aeration of the greens and, to a lesser extent, the tees and fairways.  The following video does a great job of explaining the reasons.

The main takeaways from this video are:

1) Relieve compaction.

2) Reduce organic matter build-up.

3) Provide passageways for water and oxygen to move through the soil.

The sand top dressing also has the added benefit of smoothing the putting surface.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Aerification of greens

We have completed the aerification of the greens.  Leslie Park did the front 9 greens on Tuesday, September 14th and the back 9 on Wednesday.  If you are curious about the process we use, you can check some of the videos and pictures that I have.

First is the aerator, a Toro Procore 648.  It is self-propelled, 48 inches wide and has 30 3/8 inch tines.  The speed we use puts the tines down every 2 inches.  Here is the machine in action.

Here are the plugs that result

We then blow the plugs into the center of the green to make picking up the plugs easier.

We then pick up the plugs.  We pile the plugs up in our storage area and keep the pile turned over so the grass doesn't grow.  In the spring, we will use the material as we would use topsoil.

Here is a close of the green after we have picked up the plugs.

We then take a greens mower with special cutting units called "verticutters" installed.  These special units vertically mow the grass and basically cut grooves in the playing surface.  This stops the grass from growing along the ground and creates a  more upright plant.  This increases the speed the ball will roll along the green.

Here is a close up of the vericut units.

And a picture of the green after verticutting.

We then spread sand on the green with a machine called a topdresser.  The sand replaces the plugs that we have taken off. 

A picture of the green after the sand is put down.

We then use a large brush to move the sand into the holes.

After we are all done, the holes should be filled and the green should look like this.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I wonder how many words video has saved me?

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Leslie Park will be aerifying greens beginning on September 14th.  We will be doing the front nine on Tuesday and the back 9 on Wednesday.  We hope to begin with the tees immediately following the greens.

Cartoons can do it, why can't you?

An animation from the USGA on how to repair a ballmark

I won't coment on the quality of the animation.  The information is good.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Why does turf die in the summer?

A short video about what happens to golf course turf under high temperatures.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Stuff I have

I am very protective of "my" cart. It actually belongs to the City of Ann Arbor, but I am on that vehicle almost every single day. I also have a habit of trying to carry many tools and other items that I might need in a day. Trying to take care of 130 acres of grass can put me up to three quarters of a mile a way from the shop, so in order to save travel time, I carry a lot of "junk" with me at all times. Every thing I have with me, I have used more than once.  Here is what was on my cart today.

Starting from the bottom-left, coffee cup (super important), two-way radio, ready-to-use spot weed killer, swiss army knife, white turf paint, multi-tool, tape measure, adjustable wrench, soil thermometer, needle-nose pliers, utility knife, screw driver with interchangeable bits, rope "fib" (allows you to secure rope to itself with out knots), golf multi-tool with ball mark repair tool and soil probe. 

Next row from the bottom, starting at the left, garden pruners, water-proof notebook, flashlight, pen, on/off key for Toro irrigation heads, irrigation tool for taking apart irrigation heads, wire brush, hollow-braid rope, marking paint wand with yellow turf paint, business card holder, "Stimpmeter" (used in conjunction with golf balls and measuring tape to determine green-speed), Teflon tape, electrical tape, o-rings for irrigation heads, ballwasher wrench, ball mark repair tool, golf balls, towel.

Next row, grass trimmer, hose nozzle, spigot for tapping into irrigation system, "quick coupler" for tapping into irrigation system,  irrigation flags, 75 feet of 3/4 inch hose.  Not shown in the picture is the camera that I took the picture with and the 2-way radio that I use to program the irrigation system.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Happy belated fourth of July!  I have been extremely busy the last couple of weeks (when was the last time I didn't say that?)  My irrigation system has been giving me fits.  We have some sort of problem with the power coming into the station that is causing the computer to shut down the pumps in order to protect them.  For the past month or so, I have been running on one pump.  It only seems to happen when it tries to turn on the second pump.  This is fine, except an irrigation cycle that should take 4 hours takes 8.  If you haven't noticed, we have less darkness than that each night, so I am forced to turn it on earlier than dusk or have it run later than dawn.  Also, when we had that stretch of weather where we had 95 degree days and 30% humidity, my irrigation computer decided it had seen enough and went down.  Not even the blue screen of death, I could not even get it to come on.  To top that all off, I come in last Friday and thanks to George, or resident tee marker/trash/divot guru, I see that we have pythium on our tees.  Pythium is a very nasty fungus that can potentially wipe out turf in a matter of hours.  Luckily, we had a pythium fungicide on the shelf for just such an emergency and the tees are now disease free.

This all comes less than a week before our biggest event of the year, the All-City Golf Championship, which starts this Friday.  I need to get back to work.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I just heard from Ron Calhoun, the director of the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program.  He was letting me know that Leslie Park has completed all of the work necessary to be re-certified in the MTESP.  This is a great program that is trying to bring the entire golf industry up to a certain standard of environmental awareness and stewardship of the land that golf courses are on.  For more information, click on the links to the right.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New bunker sand

As some of you may have noticed, we have started putting new sand in the bunkers.  This is the same sand that was put in the bunkers originally, but has darkened over the years.  We have completed the back 9, as well as 1, 2 and 3 (except the fairway bunkers on 3 and 16) on the front nine.  We will be getting a new load of sand soon and when we do, we will add the new sand to 4 through 9 as well as the fairway bunkers that have skipped.  At that time, I will also get some before and after pictures.

Friday, June 11, 2010

EPA Testing

I received a call last week from Steve Wood, the Chief Engineer in charge of engines at Toro. It seems that Kubota, one of the chief makers of engines for Toro's mowers, needed to do some in the field testing of it's engines. It just so happened that Leslie Park had some engines that fit Kubota's specifications as far as serial numbers and hours of use. Yesterday, J.J. from Kubota as well as Bill and Clark from Sensors, Inc, came to the golf course to perform some tests.

This involved hooking to exhaust pipe from the mower to a set of instruments that would measure such things as CO2, NOX, particulate matter and other parameters. These sensors were on a utility vehicle that was driven alongside the mower while it was working.

This was all done in order to verify with the Environmental Protection Agency, that Kubota's engines were performing up to the standards that the EPA has set for commercial equipment. This is a recent development, because up until recently, they did not require any testing after the equipment was out in the field. It does seem that much more of this type of testing will be going on, because air quality concerns are rising. This is one of the first times this testing has been done with equipment and engines of this size in a real-world environment. Exciting, to be sure but I would not be surprised if you will see more of this going on in the future.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Audubon International

I received notification from Audubon International's staff ecologist, Jim Sluiter that Leslie Park have achieved the first and largest category toward certification in Audubon's Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, Environmental Planning.

"The open space of a golf course is utilized not only by golfers, but is habitat for a variety of species." explains Jim.  "We welcome Leslie Park's commitment to the environment and to managing the golf course with wildlife in mind."

By joining and participating in the ACSP, Leslie Park will be involved in projects that enhance habitat for wildlife and preserve natural resources for the benefit of the Ann Arbor community.

The next steps in this process are finishing the Wildlife and Habitat Management, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, Water Quality Management and Outreach and Education.  Once these five categories are completed, Leslie Park will become the 842nd certified property in the world and just the 13th in Michigan.

I hope to complete this before next spring.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day off from work for most people. It is also the unofficial start of the summer.  Most golf in Michigan occurs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  This is not to say that people will not golf in the spring or fall, but the play will dramatically increase during this time period.

The summer is a period where I will concentrate on keeping the golf course in the best condition that I can.  Spring and Fall are time periods when, because there are less golfers on the course, I can do some projects, such as aerification, topdressing, plantings and other new features for the course.  These projects slow down considerably during the summer. For one thing, it is harder for us to work around the customers, for another, most of our effort is put toward mowing and conditioning.

Welcome to summer, but on this long weekend, let us not forget all of the people who have served our country and communities.  These men and women risk their lives to in order for us to play golf or go to the beach or just sit on the deck grilling some hamburgers.  So this Monday, take some time to think about our young men and women in the armed forces as well as those who serve closer to home as police officers or in the fire department.

To these brave people, thank you for all that you do. Come home safely.  I will have a hot dog ready for you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program

Here is a new video that explains some of the aspects of the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program.  We are weeks away from becoming re-certified in the program.  Leslie Park has been certified in the program since 2001.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


So far, in the month of May, we have gotten almost 4.5 inches of rain.  This follows an April where Ann Arbor got 1.9 inches of rain.  We had 6 days in April where we got over a tenth of an inch of rain.  On the 13th day of May, we have already equaled that number.  Traver Creek, which runs through the golf course, has overflowed it's banks.  All of this has forced us to close the golf course for at least today.  Hopefully, we will not get much more rain in the near future and the course will dry out for the weekend.

Also, don't forget to check out the homepage for details on how to win a free round of golf in our "Round-A-Day" golf giveaway.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Topdressing Greens

This week, we began topdressing the greens.  This means that we put a light coat of sand on the top of the playing surface and then drag it into the turf canopy. This achieves two things: 1) it smooths out any bumps or dips that might be on the green and 2) it dilutes any thatch that might be on the green.

Smoothing the green out makes the greens "faster" and a ball will roll further when putted.  It will also make the ball roll more "true", meaning that the ball will roll where you intend it to go.

Thatch is a build-up of organic matter between the soil and the grass leaves.  Thatch is mostly comprised of decaying stolons and rhizomes and not leaf blades.  Despite popular misconception, removing the grass after cutting has no effect on thatch build-up.  A little thatch is a good thing for the grass, as it will protect the crown of the plant from traffic, ie, being stepped on. Too much thatch, however, will harbor insect and fungal pests as well as prevent water from reaching the soil.

Before topdressing, we also ran a verticutting unit over the greens before putting down the sand.  This is a rotating blade that digs down into the thatch and brings up some of that organic matter, as well as cuts any grass blade that might be laying over.  Because of this, we can incorperate some of the sand into the thatch layer and we can also eliminate any grain that develops on the playing surface.

After putting down the sand, we drag a brush over the green to work the sand into the turf.  After we are done, the green will be slightly "slower" than normal, but once the grass starts to grow back through the sand, it will be back to normal and hopefully, even faster.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring is here

Just some photos of the orchard, with the flowers in close to full bloom.
And a bluebird, resting on one of our new nestboxes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Environmental Meeting

If you are interested in the direction Leslie Park is headed and the environmental goals we are striving for, come to a meeting at the clubhouse this Thursday at 7:30PM.  Myself, my boss, Doug Kelly, as well as Parks and Recreation Supervisor, Colin Smith and Community Services Administrator Sumedh Bahl will be there to present a power point presentation as well as answer questions about what is new at Leslie Park.  Also in attendance will be 1st Ward Concilwoman, Sabra Briere and city staff from Natural Areas Preservation.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


So, things have been a little busy around here, lately.  If you have been under a rock, it is 72 degrees right now and on it's way to being 80 tomorrow.  With that, I have turned on the irrigation system.  It is always a touchy time, because, after being empty for 5 ,months, we now expect the pvc pipe in the ground to be able to withstand 120 psi of water pressure.  So far, everything has been good.  I don't think we will need to run any water soon, but you never can tell.  I will run the tees tonight, just to make sure that we got all of the air out of the system.  Wish me luck.

I hope to keep up with the posts a little more, when I settle down a little.

BTW, I hope to see everyone out here tomorrow for the Good Friday Golf Scramble.  The weather should be awesome.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Opening day!

At 9:30 AM, on Wednesday, March 24th, Leslie Park Golf Course opened for play.  Come on out.  The weather is fine!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Burn, baby, burn!

The last couple of days have been very busy here.  With the cooperation of the City of Ann Arbor's Natural Areas Preservation (NAP) division, we have done some prescribed burns of the natural areas on the course.  This allows native, more fire resistant plants to get back a competive advantage over alot of invasive plant species.  These invasive plant are usually not well adapted to fire and burning will control the spread of these plants.  Words are not enough, so here are pictures.
Starting the burn near #14 tee

Behind the clubhouse.

Smoke column (#11)

#14 tee before the burn

#14 tee after the burn

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weather station

We have a new weather station at Leslie Park.  I will get into the details more later, but for now here are some specifics.  It is located between #14 and #17.  It is a Davis Vantage Pro II with a solar radiation sensor.  The above gadget shows the current weather conditions.  It is updated every 5 minutes or so.  This will allow me to calculate the Evapotranspiration rate each day, as well as see the current conditions on the course from anywhere.  It is uplinked through the weather underground at I will put a link on the sidebar, but you can always see it from this website also.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Snow Mold

With the snow on the way out, I have decided to update you on an old foe of golf course superintendents.  Snow Mold.  There are two different varieties that are normaly present in Michigan, pink snow mold (Microdochium nivale) and grey snow mold (Typhula incarnata and Typhula ishikariensis).  For grey snow mold, there has to be continuous snow cover for at least 60 days.  Luckily, in southeast Michigan, this rarely happens.  Grey snow mold is also a very destructive pathogen, as it will kill and infect not only the leaf blades, but will also infect the crown of the plant, leaving bare spots in the spring.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, pink snow mold does not even need snow cover to form and infect the grass.  As long as temperatures are below 50 degrees and conditions are damp, pink snow mold can occur.  Usually pink snow mold does not kill the plant, but just infects the leaf blades.  Once the temperatures start to warm up, the crown will start to regenerate leaf tissue and the damage will disappear.  Here is a picture of some pink snow mold that I saw on #5 fairway.

Unfortunatly, you can not see the characteristic pink ring around the outside of the spot, but you can see the white mycelium in the middle of the spot.  Luckily, it appears that we had an easy winter in regards to snow mold.  The ground was frozen before we had much snow and I have not seen any snow mold on the greens or tees, just some on the fairways and more in the rough.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Also, here are some monkeys that some pranksters put up in a tree near #6 tee.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


We are waiting for the snow to melt. The snow quantity and quality make it hard to get around the golf course right now, so mostly I have been doing projects in the shop. I have built a couple of wood duck houses, a couple of bat houses as well as some store bought bluebird houses and a butterfly house. I have been working on recertifiying our Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program credentials and begining the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program certification. I have a new weather station that will be going up. It will give me such readings as temperature, humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and direction. This will help me calculate daily evapotranspriation rates (the amount of water a plant uses in a day) as well as posting a daily weather log on sites like This weekend looks like it will be warm and we should be able to get out more and start the spring clean-up.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Some kids took advantage of the snowday we had yesterday and built a snowman on the bridge near 12 tee.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow (Again)

So, looking at the weather, I decided that I should remove some of the snow on #5 and #8 greens. The temperatures and sun looked to be the right combination to make sure that we get some of the ice off of those greens. It worked....... and then we get 6 more inches of snow. The ice underneath the snow is, for the most part gone, however, so it was time well spent. Here are some pictures from last Friday. At the top is a close up of #5. You can see the ice that was underneath the snow. The second image is #8 green (which get a lot more shade, but had less ice than #5 for some reason)At the bottom is #5 green.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Well, the weather has made sure that we remember it is still winter. We got around 8 inches of snow and it doesn't look like it will be going anywhere for the next couple of weeks. Maybe it just wanted make the Olympics feel welcome. At this point, I am still not worried too much about ice on the greens, but it would make me feel better to have a little February thaw.

Having the snow makes me appreciate the modifications I did to my golf cart this fall. I lifted the suspension 3 inches and added some snow tires. This makes it easier to get around in the white stuff, but if we had anymore, I would not be able to get out on the course except by walking. Maybe I should invest in some snowshoes or cross country skis?

The snow cover will give me an opportunity to get some things done inside the shop. I have a wood duck house or two to build as well as some bluebird houses.

I did receive a nice package in the mail the other day, new flags!. I will get a picture up soon. (Edit: I got them uploaded. The one to the left is the blue. All the flags are at the bottom of the page, as well as the new clubhouse flag that will go under the American flag)They have the new logo and we will go from the pin location sheet to a front, middle, back system. For front locations, we will use a red/white flag, while a white flag will be used for middle and back locations will get the blue/white flags. The system will give more flexibility on where we put the cups. With the old system, the cup would never get put to close to the borders between locations. With this set up, hopefully we will have more variability as well as a visual marker of where the cup is.