White flowers in the Spring
A good stand next to the 18th green

Hobblebush is a native woody perennial that grows naturally around the course. Hobblebush is an understory plant found predominately in northeastern North American forests. For the past few weeks we have enjoyed its beautiful white flowers. It is a true Spring beauty. The golf course has provided many areas for this plant to flourish due to the "fringe" environments that have been created along the golf holes. Hobblebush is present in most of the forest understory. However, when sunlight is present the plant will flourish like it has at Stowe Mountain Club. Some people refer to this plant as "Moose Wood". It gets this name from the fact that during the winter the tops of the bush will be the only  plant that is above the deep snow pack. Because of this, the moose will browse on the buds. Hobblebush is a staple in the moose diet during the winter.

Name: Viburnum lantanoides
Common Name: Hobblebush
Color: White
Bloom: Spring
Red berries in the Fall
Location: Golf course forest edges and tree islands
Use: Attracts early spring pollinators, stabilizes soil, provides food source for browsing mammals

USDA Plant Guide

Subtle Tweaks

While the presentation of the golf course is basically the same for 2013 (excluding the changing of the nines), there are a couple changes that you will encounter this season. These changes are part of the maturation of the course. Stowe Mountain Golf Club opened for play in 2007. This process of subtle tweaking of the layout is a natural progression for any young golf course such as ours. In fact, many new courses under go extensive renovations in the first decade of existence. This is simply due to learning the land and how best to present it for the game of golf. It should also be stated that these subtle modifications are part of any good golf course's existence.
Removal of creeping bentgrass on 17th approach

Our changes for this year are based on grassing modifications. The 17th hole approach has been re-grassed with Kentucky bluegrass/fine fescue sod that is mowed at 2.5 inches. This rough grass replaces the creeping bentgrass that was mowed at .5 inches. The challenges we faced with the bentgrass was that approach shots that either landed just short of the green or rolled off the the green form back to front would end up all the way down to the drain in front of the green. This collection area was often wet and full of divots. In order to keep the ball closer to the green and to disperse the golf balls across the approach, the taller grass was installed.
The initial scalping of the 8th green

On the 8th green, we have expanded the putting surface on the right side by six feet. This process involved scalping the existing creeping bentgrass collar to greens height. One of the attributes of creeping bentgrass is that it can adapt quickly to aggressive scalping.The scalped area will be slightly off color until the grass has adapted to it's new height of cut. This green expansion will assist approach shots that drift right with the chance to funnel towards the green or land on puttable bentgrass.The area adjacent to this expansion will be sodded with collar height bentgrass. The six foot wide collar expansion will allow more putting options for shots that  land slightly off target.With the expansion in place the green flows much better with the terrain and looks better to the eye.

These subtle changes are part of our continual effort to improve the golf course. The maintenance staff is always on the lookout for ways to make a round of golf at Stowe Mountain Golf Club more enjoyable. Have fun with these new changes and enjoy!

The Rugged Mountain Spring

The golf course has turned the corner and is back on track. The variable weather during April in the mountains takes its toll on turfgrass. The long winters with extended ice and snow cover has depleted all of the reserves in the grass plant and it just wants to wake up, start drinking water and soak up some nutrients. The challenge in the mountain environment is that spring is slow to come and can be quite harsh at times, delaying "normal" spring conditions.
Snow blowing 13th green in late March

The big push for us started in late March when we began to snow blow greens. As the weather permitted, Mark Finch, assistant superintendent, would walk the snow blower out on the course and remove as much snow off of putting greens as possible. We make this effort because history has taught us that the quicker the snow and ice get off of putting greens the better. If we left it up to Mother Nature to melt the ice and snow, we would have a considerable amount of damaged turf. By April 9th we had cleared as much snow as possible off all the greens with a walk behind snow blower. The following weeks in April consisted of shoveling the remaining snow off of greens and breaking up ice pockets that had formed on the greens surface. This work is slow at this time of year. The snow changes its form from day to day and throughout the day. If the temperatures drop at night, the snow is rock hard and is very hard to move. If the sun comes out and the temperature rises, the snow becomes like wet cement and is equally hard to move.

Breaking ice on 7 green in mid April

During late April we rent a tractor with a snow blower attachment. This is done to clear all of the cart paths so that we can drive utility carts around the course without having to drive on squishy spring turf. All cart paths were clear by April 19th. Check out this video of the snow blowers in action. https://vimeo.com/65894776
During this same week we took sledge hammers and broke up the remaining ice that was on the greens. Now, it was time to focus on the remaining snow and ice on fairways. We pushed as much snow as we could off of fairways to assist in the melting.

The big worry at this point is turf damage due to crown hydration. Crown hydration is caused by the turf breaking it's dormant state, absorbing some water, then freezing at night due to the low temperatures. The plant is so tender as it comes out of dormancy that this extreme freeze/thaw cycle will explode the plant cells at the growing points, causing instant death. Most of the turf damage that occurs takes place during a few days during this late April time period when all the harsh conditions combine to trick the plant into waking up but then hitting it hard at night with below freezing temperatures.

Due to our work, the greens made it through just fine. The 10th green received some damage towards the front. With some TLC it will be just fine. A few fairways did get stung by the harsh conditions. The 12th, 14th, and 15th received the worst damage. The "corner" I spoke of  involved sodding and seeding these fairway spots. In a couple weeks we will be back to normal with the exception of the 14th fairway. This area will need a little more time to heal. I ask for your patience as we grow in a few areas on this hole.