I don’t have any scientific reference to back it up, call it an observation or a hunch. It seems like every 3-4 years we have a summer where the stinging critters proliferate despite all best management practices to stop them. Yellow Jackets and Bald Faced Hornets are the two species we have on property that cause the most problems. The last time we had a year where they were this bad was 2013. That year starting about August 10th and lasting until mid-September they were seemingly everywhere. We found and destroyed dozens of large nests and the pool grill was almost unuseable. This year seems to be the same as that year and we did all the same things in the spring with traps that we’ve done the last 5 years.
It could also be weather related. The spring was mild with an early snow melt, warm May followed by a hot and very dry July and August. Hot afternoons without thunderstorms seems to allow the nests to expand rapidly and create a lot of brood.
Don’t call them bees!
Not many people know the difference between a honeybee (GOOD) and a yellow jacket (BAD). This image sums it up best…
What we see cruising around the pool, stealing food and stinging small children are not bees. The bees are out in the fields pollinating flowers and producing honey. The yellow jackets are looking for sugary drinks and protein to take back to the nest to feed their young and take care of the queen. They are aggressive and can sting as often as they want without harm.
More on Yellow Jackets
This article from Southern Living shared to me by Mr. Arbuckle is a fantastic summary of Yellow Jackets and why they are such a pest this time of year.
Bald Faced Hornets
Another ominous stinging critter we see cruising around the clubhouse are Bald Faced Hornets. Despite common belief, they’re not out to get small children or steal your food. They are preying on aphids and aphid honeydew in the Aspen trees. Generally, they are not aggressive and don’t sting unless provoked or their nest is threatened. If required to defend their nest they can deliver a very painful poison injected sting repeatedly. Be on the lookout for their large paper nests up in trees. They are differentiated from yellow jackets by being much larger in size and having black and white markings instead of yellow and black.
If you notice a nest anywhere, stay away and inform someone in the maintenance department.
This spring we added two new flower beds at the golf shop and the mens locker room patio. The objective was to soften the hard affect of concrete and electrical meters up against the east side of the building where golf carts are staged, as well as filling in the void left by moving the steps off the men’s locker room porch.
There are many cracked and deteriorating cart paths throughout the golf course. We are budgeted to replace sections of path little by little over the next five years. This year we opted to start with the section everyone sees, receives the most traffic and that was in the worst shape. From the putting green bridge up to hole #1 tees, concrete was jack hammered, removed with skid steer, sub grade re-prepped and new concrete formed and poured. The area is often congested with maintenance equipment and golfers so we widened the path slightly to allow for two way traffic. The resulting new path turned out great and should hold up for decades to come.
It’s a beautiful day for golf and we are now officially open for our 14th season. The crew did an outstanding job completing an incredible amount of work in the two weeks since they arrived. I feel incredibly thankful to have such a wonderful staff. I’m not bragging, but I don’t think there are many golf courses in the world that can get staff in on a Thursday and complete the projects ours did in less than two weeks all while completing aerification of greens/tees, vertical mowing and topdressing of fairways, bunker clean out and other agronomic related activities. When they’ve been here before and know the routine, we save valuable spring days training and enjoy a continuity that pushes efficiency to all time highs.
We now shift our focus from macro progress to micro progress as we fine tune the turf details and get it ready to make it through the busy summer.
The countdown to opening day 2018 is getting close and members are starting to ask, “How’s the course?”
After waiting almost 6 months to see grass again after snow covers us up in November, I’m always anxious to see the turf and assess how our spring is going to be.
This year I am very pleased to announce we did not lose any turf to winter kill from snow mold or ice damage. Last December after 3 weeks of open turf and intense UV radiation we opted to reapply fungicide on the greens. I’m glad we did because the snow mold pressure was high with all the free water from rain events and melting snow in January. A few fairways have a high percentage of grey snow mold infection which points to ideal conditions for the fungal pathogens. I was expecting ice damage in low lying areas and valleys on the greens but we lucked out and all the turf is still alive.
The vole damage was the least I have ever seen it. The result of our efforts last season to limit their populations, a strange winter with shallow snowpack or the hard frozen ground? I’m not sure but maybe a combination of all three. There is still some damage we are working to clean up now but compared to previous years it is minimal.
The elk have already migrated off the feedgrounds and are working their way through the course but no real damage to date.
The month of April has been cold, dark and wet thus far limiting the amount of spring wake up happening in the plant kingdom. The week of April 23 looks promising for lots of sunshine and warmer temps so we are optimistic to be able to aerify greens and tees on 4/25-27 which puts us right in the money for an on time opening on May 8th.
Our H-2B visa crew from Mexico is set to arrive on 4/19 just in time to get to work with clean-up and mowing duties. Looks like it will be another great year in the golf course maintenance department!!