Notes from the Anthem Greens CommitteeThe Anthem Greens Committee met on July 25th. Here are the highlights of our discussions.New Hire. We have added a First Assistant Superintendent to assist Cory in managing our two courses. His name is Matt Hamberg and he comes to us from Desert Mountain, where he was an Assistant Superintendent on the Outlaw course. Matt was recently honored by the Golf Course Superintendents Association, as the Assistant Superintendent of the Year. He was cited for his work as a certified EPA trainer in conducting environmental training for 225 agronomy employees, incorporating translation requirements for five languages (Spanish, French, Burmese, Russian & Arabic). Welcome to Anthem Matt.Difficult Pins. We are blessed with large, challenging greens on both our courses, but occasionally a few of the pin placements are more than challenging. Members of the Committee, working with the Golf and Greens professionals surveyed all 36 greens, agreeing to and designating some areas as not suitable for everyday play (e.g. front edge of #1 Ironwood). Standards have been spelled out for set-up personnel and training and implementation is now underway. Until it becomes automatic you will likely see some mistakes, but supervisors will make periodic checks and expect it to be fully a part of the set-up routine in the next month or so. The new pin restrictions apply to every-day play and not tournament play, when placements will be determined by the Golf Professionals and Tournament Committees.Lift Clean & Place. One of our Committee members, working with the Handicap Committee, the Golf Staff and the Greens Department has led an effort to define how we will determine when Preferred Lies will be the standard for normal play. The Professional Golf Staff will carry responsibility for the decision, in consultation with Golf Course Maintenance, to determine when course conditions warrant the change and will coordinate with AMGA and ALGA to determine how their respective weekly competitions will be handled. This is being done to help mitigate the impact of both summer transition and late winter dormancy.Maintenance Update. Recent rains have given us the humidity and clean water we wanted, but they have also slowed progress on some of our project work.Both courses will have tree thinning and/or removal in areas where mature trees are now competing too successfully with our turf grass. This is particularly necessary on Persimmon where the Mini-Verde greens are vulnerable to damage and disease caused by too much shade. Both courses will receive multiple fairway aerifications using 3/8” hollow tines, with sand applied to improve the soil profile. Desert cleanout, using an outside contractor to do the work, will continue on both courses. This represents maintenance that has not been done for several years, resulting in some areas massively overgrown with noxious plants like Salt Cedar and Desert Broom. While the initial appearance might look like we’ve adopted a scorched earth policy, color will return to the areas quickly and with the continued use of outside labor, we will be able to keep our crews on golf course specific project work. Course Conditions. We are just past the bottom point of transition, with bermuda grass now beginning its big comeback. We have lagged a little with humidity below normal levels for the first half of the summer, but with multiple hollow tine aerifications, sand applications, added irrigation and chemical encouragement, we are beginning to see rapid improvement. The Committee and Greens Staff acknowledge that summer transition leaves us with unpleasant course conditions, but it is necessary to achieve our long-stated goal of providing the best playing conditions, over the longest number of months, for the greatest number of golf members. This summer’s rotational plan to keep both courses available, while at the same time allowing the Greens Staff to do the heavy lifting required of summer maintenance, has been successful and we plan to repeat it next year.Summer Transition. A lot of time was spent discussing summer transition and it was felt some explanation of the agronomic whys and wherefores was warranted.Summer transition occurs wherever we elect to overseed the base bermuda grass with winter rye grass. This is done in an effort to improve both appearance and playability during the cool weather months (November through May) when the underlying bermuda naturally goes dormant. As warm summer temperatures and higher humidity approaches, the winter rye grass is chemically removed to allow the underlying dormant bermuda to fully benefit from irrigation and summer growing conditions. When we remove the rye grass, we depend on Mother Nature to give us both high temperatures and relatively high humidity to push the growth of the bermuda, but even with perfect timing (ryegrass dies out and temps and humidity rise simultaneously) we still need to give the bermuda grass some time to regenerate itself. This is the period we refer to as transition and some of it is going to happen, regardless of how lucky we are with growing conditions.The staff understands transition is ugly and they are constantly looking for ways to adjust their processes and timing to mitigate its impact on the membership. This summer has shown significant improvement, not so much in terms of visual turf loss following removal of the winter rye, but in the speed and health of the recovery for the base bermuda in overseeded areas. So if transition is such an issue, are there reasons beyond appearance to overseed? The principal agronomic issue is addressing compaction and wear on those areas where cart traffic naturally funnels into collection areas. Dormant grass is easily damaged and the rye grass overseed helps protect the base bermuda during dormancy. Playability is the other issue. If you allow fairways to go dormant, you need to overseed roughs to keep the courses playable. And tees, collars and green surrounds also need the overseed to maintain good playing conditions. To demonstrate the complexity of the decisions that have been made to reduce transition issues, consider the collars around the greens. Originally constructed with ryegrass, they couldn’t take the summer heat and every year we experienced a significant loss of turf on virtually all our collars. In the last two years, we have replaced most of the collars with bermuda (all on Persimmon and most on Ironwood) to eliminate the collar burnout problem. This was made possible by chemical advances that now allow us to spray-out an overseeded collar in the spring, without damaging the bent grass greens on Ironwood. Now our collars transition without the loss of turf we had to deal with in the past. Other changes instituted in the last couple of years include, changing overseed patterns to protect high traffic areas, multiple hollow tine aerifications with the application of new materials mixed with sand, to improve modification of soil profiles, changing and balancing irrigation frequency and patterns, modification of the maintenance calendar to allow both courses to be available for play during summer months when heavy maintenance and project work takes place and reducing the seed rate for overseed while increasing the height of the underlying bermuda as is goes into dormancy. These adjustments and others, add up to improved playing conditions throughout the year. There are always trade-offs when you deal with an active membership, two courses and growing two crops of grass a year in a desert climate, but we remain confident in the ability of our Maintenance Professionals to make the adjustments necessary to improve playability of our courses year-‘round.2016-2017 Schedule. Following this summer’s evaluation of turf conditions on both courses and consulting with ClubCorp’s senior agronomist, Management has made the decision to repeat the overseed pattern we used last year, traditional for Persimmon and reverse for Ironwood. Adjustments will be made to the overseed process from what was done last year to improve the quality of the overseed and to lessen the impact on the bermuda during transition. Dates are: Ironwood 9/21-10/11 and Persimmon 10/12-11/2.That’s the latest from the Anthem Greens Committee.