Annual Summer Maintenace Closure: Part 2

Greetings all,

Thursday July the 9th, the golf course here at East Lake Golf Club has reopened for play following our annual summer maintenance closure. It was an extremely productive ten days. As the course heals into tournament ready conditions, we are excited for our members and guests to experience the benefits of all of our hard work. Specifically, players who frequent our facility will notice: greens that are firmer and faster, tee boxes and chipping areas that are tighter and firmer, fairways that display healthier turf growth, and uniform rough growth across all areas of the course.

In Part 2 of our 3 Part series recapping our Annual Summer Maintenance we will discuss the rest of our maintenance practices from the past ten days.

Putting Green Verticutting

Saturday morning we started our verticutting processes on greens, due to multiple bouts with heavy rains we were not able to complete this process until late Monday night. In all the process required 10.5 hours of work from 12 people (126 total man hours). Our regular process was slightly altered due to conditions following aeration, and the depth of the verticutting. First, we had to brush the greens surface in order to smooth clumps of sand left behind the Dryject process. Normally, Dryject is a much cleaner process, but the increased amount of sand on the putting surface following our hollow tine aeration in combination with the constant stream of water used to clean the rollers on the Dryject machine resulted in some minor clumping of sand on the putting surface.

An example of putting surface conditions before (left) Dryjecting, and after (right).

Additionally, a double hollow-tine aeration with 5/8" tines significantly affects the smoothness of the putting surface. Anytime maintenance is performed to the surface of the greens, we want the machine to contour to the surface with extreme accuracy. To accomplish this we brushed (to smooth the sand) then rolled (to smooth the surface) the greens before the verticutting process began. This double rolling accounted for the 6th and 7th roll performed on the greens post aeration.

Next, we began the verticutting process. For this process, Howard and Chris set our verticutting blades at .200" below roller height (or .2" deep into the green). This depth allows us to aggressively remove dead grass deposits which soften the putting surface. Additionally, this process forces the Bermudagrass to grow in an upright, neutral position (reducing the effects of grain) and creates new growing points where stolons were once connected. Everytime we verticut greens we backtrack, two directions, downhill first, meaning we always make our first pass downhill in a specified direction, then the second pass is made on the same line uphill. This is done until the entire green has been completed, then a second predetermined direction is preformed in the same manner until completed. The second direction creates a 45 degree angle from the first direction. We find that this 45 degree angle greatly minimizes the affect on ball roll durring the healing process.

Verticutting putting greens. Downhill first, 2-8, then back-track. (and the storms were rolling in...)
Normally, both directions of the verticutting are completed before the sweep-n-fill brushes remove the organic matter from the green. For this specific application, the depth of the verticutter blades were removing so much organic matter, we felt that the sweep-n-fills needed to be used after the completion of each verticut direction. The amount of organic matter being removed was so great that we had a team member use a back pack blower to remove additional organic matter which spilled out of the side of the sweep-n-fill.
Sweep-n-Fill on putting greens. Uphill only, same direction as verticutters. Look at all of that organic matter being removed!
Once each direction of the verticut and sweep-n-fill were completed, a buffalo blower was used to again remove any remaining organic matter on the surface of the green. Because organic matter is less dense than sand by nature, a blower at an almost horizontal orientation does a great job of picking up and moving the organically while leaving the sand in place.
Putting surface condition post sweep-n-fill, pre-mow.

Lastly, a backtrack mow was performed at regular mowing height. Needless to say, much sand passes through our reels during this mow, and thus we choose to not use buckets to catch what clippings are cut. Following the backtrack mow, the buffalo blower made a pass across the green, again to remove organic matter. You might be picking up on a theme here.......... REMOVE ORGANIC MATTER!!!!!

Bunker Perfection


As compared to our green's processes, bunker perfection is very simple: remove any bermudagrass runners in the sand, fix any bunker liner abrasions, and check to ensure that we have 2" of sand on the face of the bunker and 4" of sand in the bottom. When significant rain is expected soon after this process we will also use a plate tamp to compact the sand on the faces of the bunkers. We have found that if the sand does not have time to settle, we are more prone to bunker washes when it rains.


Rough Aeration


Our rough aeration process was completed similarly to our fairway aeration. We used a John Deere Aerocore2000 mounted with 3/4 side-eject hollow tines. The hole spacing was 3"x3". This year we aerated three passes around the fairways, the walk paths from tee to fairway, and also some of the green's surround rough. Next, we allowed the plugs to dry and reincorporated the soil back into the subsurface.


Reshaping of Lake Banks #10 / Silt Dredging #2


Our lake renovation iniative has been a huge success! From an engineering perspective, the purpose of the lake in front of #2 green is to contain any silt deposits that come on to our property through the stream which feeds it. It has certain been effective! Previous to the dredging, the center of the lake was only inches deep, now it is twelve feet deep! In all, nearly 5000 cubic yards of material were removed. In addition to the dredging, we took this opportunity to reshape the banks surrounding the #2 lake. It now has a very aesthetically pleasing look, which will also be easier to maintain.
Number two shaped and ready for sod.
Number two Completed!
The lake banks on #10 had slowly eroded through the years due to animal inhabitants, and normal weathering. Parts of the bank had become very difficult to maintain, and were not aesthetically up to par. Medalist's expert shaper made quick work of molding the new contours of the lake bank. Historically, #10 and #18 get a tremendous amount of foot traffic during The Tour Championship, this year we are excited to present this upgrade to all of our patrons.
Number ten tee here, with an example of some of the previous conditions on the left, scraping and shaping on the right.

Number ten completed! Looks great!

In Part 3 of our Annual Summer Maintenance Closure Recap we will show off our new practice green, and discuss other aspects of our aeration schedule such as, "Why do you aerate greens first, then verticut?" Look out for Part 3 next week!!!!

Annual Course Closure Maintenance Update: Part 1

Good day everyone!

We are now in day five of our summer course closure for maintenance, and wanted to give you an update on all of our progress. Our team has done a fantastic job, and we are ecstatic to report that are currently ahead of schedule! These ten days are extremely important in the scope of our maintenance year as an agronomy team, and for East Lake as a whole. These ten days allow us to perform maintenance practices which are necessary for providing championship caliber playing conditions, but result in temporary conditions which are not acceptable for daily play. All of that to say, our team takes full advantage of this time as we have been working from before sunrise to after sunset. We have focused our maintenance goals to perform the practices which require the most recovery time first, allowing us to provide the best possible conditions for our re-opening next Thursday.

Completed Projects


Greens Aeration

-Heavily topdress greens with USGA greens mix sand.-Aerate greens with Procore 648's using 5/8" outside diameter hollow tines (1.5"x1.5" spacing).-Shovel cores from the core-harvester box mounted on the back of the Procore, into a Pro Gator and -dump off-site. -Roll greens with a Tru-Turf Tournament roller-Brush greens with a Sweep-N-Fill brush-Water-Repeat entire process one time-In all we incorporated 110 tons of fresh UGSA greens mix sand into our greens!

Fairway Aeration

-Aerate fairways with a John Deere Aerocore 2000, using 5/8" outside diameter hollow tines (2.5"x2.5" spacing). This is at 1.6mph by the way........ patience is key!
-Pulverize and drag soil cores in order to reincorporate into soil
-"Mow" with a John Deere 8700 fairway mower, set +.050 above normal height in order to ride above -the leaf blades.
-Tractor blow.
-Water overnight.

Tee's Scalp, Aeration, and Verticut

-Scalp tees using a John Deere 8700 fairway mower set at .250" (as low as it possibly goes)
-Blow to remove clippings
-Aerate tees with Procore 648's using 5/8" outside diameter hollow tines (2"x1.5" spacing).
-Pulverize cores with John Deere core pulverizer.
-Drag cores in order to reincorporate the soil into the canopy.
-Water heavily
-Backtrack verticut, blades set at .100 below roller (see photo above)
-Backtrack mow (uphill first) with cutting unit set at .375" (.050" below normal cutting height)
-Blow and clean surface.

Chipping Areas and Approaches

-Same as tees accept: Final mow at .350" and green surround's rough was aerated at the same time.

Dryject Greens

-Turf Dynamics performed our Green's Dryject again this year. They run a great operation and have always done a great job for us.
-3"x3" hole spacing, 7" penetration depth.
-1/4" diameter disturbance at surface entry point, 1"x 3.5" column of injected sand at 7" depth
-We used a dry USGA greens mix sand mixed with Harrell's Maxand. (28 tons of USGA with 7 tons of Maxand)
-In all we injected 24 tons of sand into our greens over a 6 hour period!

Projects still to be completed:

Greens Verticut

Bunker Perfection

Rough Aeration

Reconstruction of Short Range target green and conversion to Miniverde Bermudagrass

Shaping and grassing of pond bank at #2 (as a result of dredging)

Reshaping and grassing of eroded lake banks at #10

Photo Recap:

Right out of the gate we saved the Meyer Zoysia off of the previous Short Range target green. This will be used to completely restock our fairway nursery.
Condition of Greens after a single aeration and removal of cores.
Rolling Greens after aeration.

Sweep-n-fill on the greens after the roller.

Fairway Fairy Ring being marked for post aeration treatment.

Approaches being scalped into the grain. We opened the rear-release flaps on the reels to improve our quality of cut. This created some sweet rooster tails!

The scalping process was very effective...and messy!
Proper Person Protective Equipment had to be called in. Safety first!

Our 2015 interns Clint Connard and Will Bowling enjoying a brief moment of solitude during a lightning delay.

Now that's a trackhoe.
#2 containment pond Has done it's job and contained about 12 feet of silt from our main bodies of water!

After day one.....

Day two....

Day 3... Almost to completion. Sides will be shaped to a more desirable slope and grassed.

This was only one-third of the sediment removed. Staged here to dry before removal.
Dryject soil profile being examined.

Up close and personal with the Dryject.


Thank you for visiting, come back next week for part 2!

To be continued.......

-Jason Tharp AGCS East Lake Golf Club
As always, we maintain this blog to inform our membership and attempt to add to the ongoing conversation of modern turfgrass maintenance. Please interact with us on Twitter at: @eastlake1904_

Welcome our new Team members

Greetings again from East Lake Golf Club. It's great to be out of winter dormancy and maintaining a green golf course! We are currently very pleased with all of our playing surfaces. Dispite a cloud and rain soaked few weeks, our greens are in great condition. We have been able to verticut greens four times this season so far, and will continue at varying depths on a bi-weekly basis. Tees are being verticut as we speak at .200 below roller, the firmness of that playing surface is certainly heading in the right direction. Fairways are overall in fantastic condition, and are anxiously awaiting their hollow-tine aeration in 21 days!
Aside from course maintenance, we have some new faces on our maintenance team we would like to introduce you to. 

First, meet Charles Aubry, 

"With a family background in the business of golf, Charles emerged into the golf course management industry in 2000. Developing a strong base of fundamentals he continued to advance his career at one of the nation's premier Turf Management Schools; Michigan State University. Throughout his education Charles sought out multiple internships to expand his knowledge base of managing turf throughout the country. His experiences have given him the opportunity to develop his career in the Midwest, Northwest, Desert Southwest, and Southeast. Charles served as the First Assistant of the Mountain Course at Ventana Canyon Golf and Raquet Club from 2009 – 2012 as well as First Assistant at the Atlanta Country Club from 2012 – 2015. For a more in-depth look into the operations and projects he has been a part of please view his portfolio at
​​Building his career could not be possible without the strong support of his wife Anne Marie. Charles enjoys spending his free time with his wife, exercising, golfing, reading, and spending any amount of time outdoors."

Next, please let me introduce our two interns for the summer of 2015. First, Will Bowling: 

"Will writes in his own words: I am a Georgia native that grew up in Suwanee, Georgia.  I attended Collins Hill High School where I graduated as an honor graduate.  I achieved my lifelong goal of attending the University of Georgia when I was accepted through early admissions.  I have always enjoyed the outdoors and golf which led me to my decision of pursuing my degree in Turfgrass Management at the University of Georgia.  During the summer of 2014 I worked at Reunion Country Club which was my first golf course maintenance job.  I learned many things there that I think will be beneficial for me as I progress my way through this internship at East Lake.  I will be a junior this fall at the University of Georgia as I begin my third year of studies in Turfgrass Management.  I was beyond excited when I found out that I was going to be a part of the 2015 Summer Internship Program at East Lake Golf Club. I could not ask for a better course to intern at and am very thankful for the opportunity.  I am looking forward to furthering my knowledge on turfgrass management greatly throughout this wonderful opportunity at East Lake.  
When I am not working or attending school you can find me doing many things. I am an avid hunter and fisherman. I am interested in pretty much any collegiate or professional sport especially football.  On Saturdays in the fall you can find me between the hedges in Sanford Stadium cheering on the Dawgs and on Sundays you can find me supporting my Dallas Cowboys. I also enjoy working out and playing basketball with my friends. I love meeting new people and striking up conversation. Once again I could not be more thankful for the opportunity this summer and I plan on cherishing every moment of it."

Lastly, meet Clint Connard. 

"My name is Clint Connard; I am a senior Turfgrass Management major from the University of Georgia. I am from Loganville, Georgia, where I attended Loganville High School. I enjoy playing golf and playing music in my free time. I am an avid drummer, guitar and piano player. I was on the drumline at the University of Georgia. I enjoy camping and fishing with my family.  I just love being outdoors and being at the lake, beach, or the mountains. 
I am so honored to be an intern at East Lake Golf Club this summer. I have previously worked at Summit Chase Coubtry Club and The Landings Club: Deer Creek Course. This is my third year working in the golf course maintenance industry. I wish to gain knowledge in the areas of irrigation and chemical management. I am excited to learn how to prepare and keep a course on schedule for a PGA Tour event. I am looking forward to the challenge and to really grow professionally and personally this summer."

It is shaping up to be a fantastic year at East Lake Golf Club, and with these new additions to our team we are firing on all cylinders towards the 2015 PGA Tour Championship beginning September 21st 2015!

Thanks for checking in with us, in our next post we will be back to discussing summer maintenance practices!

Jason Tharp
AGCS East Lake Golf Club 

Intros, Updates, and Looking Ahead

Spring has sprung at East Lake! We are working "fill steam ahead" towards warmer temperatures and summer schedules. With this being my first blog post I wanted to take a moment to reintroduce myself as the new moderator of the East Lake Agronomy Blog.

I @JasonLTharp have been at East Lake a little over a year now. A more indepth bio is available in a previous post here. One interesting fact: My first golf course job was at The Governor's Club  in Brentwood, Tn, Shaune's new post as Superintendent. It is a small world after all! @govclubsuper is his new twitter handle BTW. Follow both of us for a constant feed of interesting happenings at our courses!
Over the course of the coming years I am looking forward to the challenge of letting all of you in behind the curtain of our Agronomy Department. My highest goal is to consistantly add valuble information and commentary to the conversation of current golf course maintenance.

Once massive project we recelty completed was the replacement of the subsurface vault which encloses our Chipping Green Subair system. The walls of the vault had become comprimised, allowing the weight from above to begin collapsing.

You can see here the old vault with all of the connections removed, ready to be pulled out. 

I don't want to even imagine doing this without heavy machinery......

The new vault is an improved model from Subair, but required extensive rerouting of external connections. Here you see the new vault being alined with the old damper (which directs air flow into either vacuum or pressure mode). 

In all, this project required 121.5 man hours from out team, needless to say we are glad it is done! Special thanks goes out to Howard @hhornetech and Chris our mechanics, and Lopez our irrigation tech! Great job guys! 


Over the course of the last two weeks we have lightly verticut everything from tees to collars and approaches. After a few tests, we set the verticutters to -.100 and went at it! Each area was treated as it's own, determining the number of cuts (between 1 and 4) according to turf type, organic accumulation, and canopy density. We changed direction after every cut and followed it with a thorough blow and double cut with a John Deere SL220 with an out-front brush. We are very excited with the result. The shallow verticutting into buckets removed tremendous amounts of organic deposits, and left a firm dense canopy that is ready for play!

Looking Ahead
Spring has sprung!

Fairways and greens have greened up! We are ecstatic with the condition of our greens coming out of winter, they are dense and strong! It is shaping up to be a fantastic year at East Lake Golf Club!


"Thanks For The Memories"

This will be my last blog post as Assistant Superintendent at East Lake Golf Club; I have just been offered (and accepted) the Golf Course Superintendent position at in Brentwood, Tennessee.

March 4, 2004 was the first time I set foot on the hallowed grounds of East Lake as a fresh faced intern from Australia, and coincidentally my last day as an Assistant with East Lake will be March 4, 2015!

I honestly can't single out a particular moment that was the highlight of my time here, there has been too many, but seeing the transformation of the course for the Tour Championship is at the top. The reason I say that is due to the team work that is required to achieve the lofty goals of hosting a PGA tour event annually. The team at East Lake year after year all rally around each other and seem to raise the bar each year, and they do it with a smile on their face.

As for personal achievements, the one thing I am most proud of is this blog. I designed, created and wrote for this blog since December 2012. So far we have had 26,565 views world wide. My goal for designing the blog was to help fellow turf care professionals in the industry and to inform the members of East Lake why we do what we do. It has never been a platform to brag from or to say the way we manage turf is the only way. It was to say, this works for us, it may work for you. In addition to the blog, I created the East Agronomy twitter feed with over 1,200 followers. I wanted to thank everyone who has supported the blog and followed us on twitter, your kind comments has been greatly appreciated.

While embarking on the next chapter of my career, I take with me many great memories and new friendships forged along the way.

I would like to thank all of the crew members of East Lake, they are the unsung heroes of this club and without them East Lake would not be what it is today without their hard work and dedication.

 Last but not least, I want to thank Ralph Kepple CGCS, for mentoring, guiding, grooming and supporting me for the next step in my career.

My time here at East Lake Golf Club has been well spent.  I will honestly say that, "I left East Lake Golf Club a much better human being, and more confident in my abilities to manage my own course."  I wish the club and the agronomy department the best in their future endeavors.  I know the golf course is in very capable hands.

Shaune Achurch.

Assistant In Training Experiences

I would like to thank Ralph, Shaune, and Jason for allowing me to be the Assistant in Training (AIT) here at East Lake Golf Club. Unfortunately, my time here has come to an end as I am being deployed to Kuwait with my Army Reserve Unit. I am proud of my time and accomplishments during my tenure here. Over these past nine months, the management team has been tremendous in educating, mentoring, and preparing me to succeed at my next course when I return.

I had originally interned at East Lake Golf Club, so when I received the call from Shaune Achurch asking if I would like to come back as the AIT, I jumped at the chance. Having been an intern here before I knew what to expect, but more importantly, what would be expected out of me. Looking back, I know I made the best choice both professionally and personally.

My role grew considerably from intern to AIT. New to East Lake this summer, we incorporated a PM crew. I was in charge of managing and tasking out their jobs for each day. Along with that, I also managed the crew on the weekends. I was also able to have a more active role managing small projects.

My biggest responsibility as an AIT here was my involvement with the fertilizer and pesticide applications. This is the area I felt I grew the most. Whether calibrating, spraying, or managing chemical inventory, it has been a great learning experience. Moisture management was another major part of my job, as I had the task of managing our greens’ moisture levels during the TOUR Championship. Although sometimes stressful and labor intensive, I took pride in seeing the quality of our greens during the tournament.

The Tour Championship played a big role in my decision to return to East Lake. To witness firsthand the amount of time and work that is actually put into the course was amazing.To watch the course blossom and peak in the weeks leading to the tournament speaks volumes on how well Ralph, management, and the crew truly know how to prepare the course for this great event.

I am truly proud of my time here at East Lake. I can honestly say that it was a joy to come into work each day. The staff was always present to help and prepare me for my next step professionally. I am already looking forward to coming back during the Tour Championship as a volunteer, knowing that Ralph and this staff will continue to show the true beauty of East Lake.



James Galvin

Please see below for James interview and photo of his last day.

James last day with East Lake


Greens, Pine Straw And Covers

Well its seems like the run of warmer weather is over for now. Thus far we have been somewhat lucky, only covering the greens at East Lake one time prior to this week.

With temperatures falling within our set protocols, we decided to cover the greens Tuesday morning, and add pine straw to certain greens or areas of the green that have significant amounts of shade.

As was the case last year when courses were faced with the polar vortex, many course that have ultradwarf greens utilized pine straw to add extra insulation on the surface. In our case we found that greens that were covered in pine straw stayed 4-7 degrees warmer than those greens with no pine straw. This year we covered all of number 4 green and the small practice green due to large shade volume throughout the day. Greens receining partial pine straw coverage were 2, 3, 5, 9, 11, 15 and 18.
In total we used approximately 300 bales of pine straw and 114.8 man hours to complete this process.