The Beauty of Green

06/29/2012

 A passion for stewardship & green courses

Environmental stewardship is very important to Tetherow Golf Club.  Since the construction of the golf course to present day, an emphasis on environmental stewardship is at the forefront of our maintenance practices.  It started with the certification process through Audubon International as a Signature Sanctuary and it continues today on a daily basis.

Many of the factors that led to the certification were implemented during the construction phase of the golf course and we continue to use them currently.  Thinking ahead and moving forward in an environmentally conscious direction will ultimately allow us to leave the property that we call Tetherow in better shape than before day one of construction.

The certification process was only the beginning.  The desire to continue and promote environmental awareness for Tetherow Golf Club comes from the Golf Course Maintenance department.  It is our job to ensure that the programs set forth by Audubon International and the Oregon Golf Course Superintendents Association are implemented and scrutinized on an annual basis to improve the overall effort.  These two organizations have clear and concise programs that a golf course can follow to promote sound environmental stewardship.

Tetherow is very fortunate to be supported by both of these organizations and to have an ownership and golf course superintendent who believe strongly in our pursuit of sound environmental stewardship.  So far we have succeeded at Tetherow by the following: Becoming the first and so far only Certified Signature Sanctuary by Audubon International in the state of Oregon and for Chris Condon of Tetherow being the Chapter Winner in the resort category for the 2010 GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards.  These awards show others that we have succeeded but the real awards come from the hard work of many in our environmental efforts.  In particular, the work of a few volunteers should not go unnoticed.

One of the biggest reasons we are able to win awards, certification and continue our environmental efforts is the help from our volunteers.  In particular, Cal & Alice Elshoff and Erik & Mary Jensen have contributed a lot of time and effort to help us in our endeavors.  I personally want to thank them for all of their work and support in creating habitat for the many species of wildlife we see at Tetherow.

Volunteers help implement plans that will benefit the environment and without people such as Cal, Alice, Erik and Mary, it would be very difficult.  All of us at Tetherow would like to extend our gratitude to the four of you.

You have read what we have accomplished and who is lending a hand so far. What exactly are we doing to continue our efforts in our pursuit of being a good environmental steward?  Below are just a few items that we are doing:

  • Providing over 30 nesting boxes for various bird species.  Most recently, all but a couple of these nesting boxes were occupied with many having eggs ready to hatch.
  • Provide habitat for other animal species other than birds around the golf course.  There is a bat box on #6, a brush pile between #3 and #6 and the lakes have been stocked with Bluegill and Black Crappie which have grown to 4-6 inches in just a few years.
  • Using products that are either sustainable in their production or come from a waste product.  We are using fertilizers that contain plant waste, chicken waste and kelp that is harvested and processed in Ireland.  We create our own beneficial microbes that keep our ponds clean and clear, help with our nutrient release from our soils, produce better soil structure and control the mosquito population.
  • Pesticides are very limited in their use.  The only fungicide application we use is to protect the turfgrass from winter disease.  We have been able to virtually eliminate any disease outbreaks by maintaining the fine fescue dominate turfgrass.  Weeds are taken care of on a spot-spraying basis throughout the maintained portion of the golf course.  Anywhere else, hand picking/pulling is utilized.
  • The Fine Fescue and Colonial bentgrass mixture allow us the ability to use half as much nutrients and water compared to the other golf courses in the Bend area.  The maintenance practices of keeping the playing surface firm and fast allows us to utilize less water.
  • Educational opportunities –  Grade school class field trips and member open house to the maintenance facility allows us to provide answers to question that someone may have during the course of a round concerning the maintenance of the golf course.
  • Recycling, recycling and recycling.  A cornerstone of any environmental program.  What do we recycle?  Plastics, grass clippings, glass bottles, tree branches, paper, bedknives, food waste from the kitchen, wash water/rinse water, motor oil, plant material from thinning projects, rock, fertilizer jugs and barrels, etc.

Sound environmental stewardship is an ongoing practice.  We strive to learn new procedures or products that can help us with our efforts.  Most importantly, it is our responsibility to make a concerted effort to provide the best playing conditions while protecting the precious resources used on the golf course in the most economical manner.

I hope that you are enjoying the golf course and it was great to see all of you who attended our inaugural Golf Course Maintenance Open House.  It was a lot of fun.  As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to send me an email  at [email protected]

 

Thank you,

Chris Condon

Golf Course Superintendent

Tetherow Completes Restoration Project

06/01/2012

Hard at Work

Chris Condon, Coulee Prince and the golf course maintenance crew at Tetherow recently completed a 2-year ongoing restoration project on Pine Mountain (part of the Bend Ft. Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest.)

As a team, they planted approximately 300 trees and shrubs on April 25 & 26 to provide food and cover for the mountain’s wildlife. Due to a reduction in hiding cover for mule deer, the goal was to enhance and increase browsing on winter range by planting mountain mahogany.  This tree/shrub is a superb source of nutritional value for deer, and is also utilized by many other wildlife species, including sage thrasher and Virginia’s warbler, which are highly tied to this habitat.

According to the US Forest Service, this shrubby, slow-growing tree belongs in the Rosaceae, or rose family; the common name derives from the dense, heavy wood of this tree, which sinks in water. Additionally, the leaves tend to curl. The scientific name for the genus is Greek and means “tailed fruit.”

The contorted shapes of older trees dominate their habitat, which is unfriendly for most other tall plants: rocky, gravelly slopes in high mountain areas, with little water and plenty sun. Typically, the plant has 1 to 4 main trunks; the trunks are not often obscured by foliage.

As an Audubon International Certified Signature Sanctuary, Tetherow is committed to maintaining, enhancing and preserving the beautiful area in which we live.  The tree planting is beneficial for many wildlife species that occur on adjacent public lands.

 

Keeping the bluegrass at bay this season: Annual Bluegrass or Poa annua and Silvery Thread Moss

05/04/2012

Fighting the good fight!

These two plants are as frustrating as spring weather in Central Oregon.  The good thing is that we have the ability to semi-control annual bluegrass and moss.  Tetherow turfgrass has been growing for 5 years and it is maturing rather well.  The first hole (#3) was seeded in May 2007 and it has seen a lot of changes both in architecture as well as the maturity of the turfgrass.  With age comes a few blemishes and they are beginning to appear this season.  What can we do about these two plants?  Below is a brief explanation of what we can do to control them.

Annual bluegrass or Poa annua is a species of grass that is usually considered a weed in many cases.  Annual bluegrass grows in almost everywhere in the world.  The topic of annual bluegrass control can be very intense in the golf world.  There are many considerations to annual bluegrass control that can become exhausting when discussed.  As for Silvery Thread Moss, it is basically a nuisance and becomes unsightly.  Combine the two and the putting surface is adversely affected.    Tetherow is seeing some Poa annua establishment and we are slowing down the establishment process utilizing our knowledge and a few products on the market.

Disclaimer:  Annual bluegrass is inevitable.  Any turfgrass system ultimately becomes dominated by annual bluegrass.  Home lawns, sports fields, golf courses, parks all become dominated by annual bluegrass at some point in their life span.

The following is a list of ideas and products that we are using this season to provide the best results against Mother Nature and Poa annua:

  • Maintain fertility to a level where the fine fescue and bentgrass are competitive.
  • Promote deep rooting of fine fescue and bentgrass through deep and infrequent irrigation and the use of wetting agents.  Annual Bluegrass typically has a shallow root system so the developing plant would struggle to obtain adequate moisture.
  • Cut out young Annual Bluegrass plants from areas such as putting surfaces.
  • Use growth-regulating products such as Cutless and Embark.  Cutless selectively suppresses the growth of annual bluegrass to a greater degree than desirable turfgrasses, in our case, the fine fescue and bentgrass mix.  Embark is generally used for the seedhead suppression of annual bluegrass.  Annual bluegrass can flower and generate new seed at a mowing height of 1/8 of an inch.
  • Use a new herbicide, Xonerate, for the control of annual bluegrass.  This product is very new to the market and was registered for use in the State of Oregon in April.  Trials need to be done to ensure the safety of this product on our fine fescue/bentgrass mix.
  • Quicksilver is a herbicide used for the control of Silvery Thread Moss.  Last season we used the required amount of Quicksilver spread out over four applications, two in the spring and two in the fall.  We observed very good results from the product and will continue this season.
  • Iron can be utilized to help control Silvery Thread Moss.  Rates as high as 1 pound of Iron product per thousand square feet weaken the moss.  Appropriate timing of an iron application just prior to a Quicksilver application will be very effective.
  • Most importantly, we will improve the density of our putting surfaces. This helps control both annual bluegrass and silvery thread moss.  This season we are overseeding the greens three times with our usual fine fescue and bentgrass mix.

This season will provide the information that is necessary in order to produce a practical plan for annual bluegrass control.  Remember that annual bluegrass is considered both a weed and a desired plant.  Annual bluegrass is a weed when it begins to encroach on an existing turfgrass stand, such as ours.  Annual bluegrass is a desired plant when the natural conversion has occurred and it is now being maintained as a turfgrass stand.  The difficulty lies ahead for Tetherow.  An example of the conversion from planted turfgrass to one hundred percent annual bluegrass would be:

Tetherow (0% – 1%), Broken Top (50% – 75%) and Bend Country Club (100%)

I hope that everyone has enjoyed the golf course thus far and is looking forward to a great season.  I am hoping for great weather in May so that the golf course can really shine for our members and guests.  As always, feel free to drop me an email with any questions, concerns or comments at [email protected]

Thank you, Chris Condon, Golf Course Superintendent

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