Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Transition Zone

Why is some of the turf at HOA vibrant green while other areas are still yellow? I'm going to give you a crash course in cool vs warm season grasses as well as breakdown why the "transition zone" is a challenge to work in.

You can clearly see the contrast between the dormant warm season and the active cool season grasses

Let's start with the obvious: The fairways and tees stay yellow far longer into the spring than any of the other turf on the property. Simply put, that's because these areas are predominantly Zoysia Grass, which is a warm-season plant. In general, plants have two options of pathways to produce carbohydrates (food) via photosynthesis. These two pathways are known as C3 and C4. These are referred to C3 and C4 because of the number of carbon atoms in the chain produced by photosynthesis. Without getting into too much depth, for the sake of this document, you can just assume that these two processes differ in a number of ways. The broad way to look at this would be to say the two pathways produce energy in different ways.

C4 grasses (warm season) are actually a great sign of evolution. The C4 pathway is just an evolution of C3 that makes that plants water imput much more efficient. This also has had some physiological changes in the plants. C4 grasses, and the whole reason we call them warm-season grasses, thrive in much warmer environments than C3. For example, C3 (cool-season grass, greens, rough, etc.) have an optimum temperature to fix carbon dioxide the most efficiently between 60 and 75 degrees. On the flip-side, C4 is most efficient between 80 and 95 degrees. So when you look out at all the yellow zoysia in the fairways in early spring, it's just because its not hot enough yet for the grass to start its photosynthesis process.

In addition to the temperatures, there are other obvious differences between C3 and C4. C3 (cool season) likes low heat, can tolerate lower light, and needs high moisture. C3 (warm season) is the exact opposite, it likes high heat, high sunlight, and can tolerate much lower moisture. So in general, we will water our cool season turf much more regularly than our warm-season turf.

So what is the "transition zone"? Well, if you are reading this you almost certainly are living in it. Basically, our climate here in Kansas City (and many other areas on the same general latitude) has weather so extreme both ways that we can grow both c3 and c4 plants. Even though this sounds like a good thing, its actually extremely hard. Essentially what it means is that for part of the season one form of grass is struggling and for the other part of the season the other grass is struggling.

We have to strategically put the correct types of grass in certain areas to make for an optimum experience. C4 grasses do not hold up well in shade so you will likely not find much healthy Zoysia in shady areas on my course. Although C4 grasses excel in our hot summers here in KC, we can sometimes lose turf from out harsh winters. C4 grass goes dormant early and has to weather many months of cold while it survives solely on stored carbohydrates from the previous fall. C3 grass excels in the spring and fall, but struggles to stay alive in the harsh summer here. Much of the plants energy is being used to stay alive and effectively take up water, so it will often shut down other growth processes to simply not die.

In other words, growing grass in the transition zone is no picnic. Hopefully I didn't bore you with too many details. The overall takeaway is the difference in cool season and warm season grasses and a little bit about why we have both here in Kansas City. If you go very far north you will likely only see cool season grasses, and if you head south you will start to see only warm season grasses.

Hope you learned something,
Enjoy the season.

Fun fact: only about 1% of all plants use the c4 pathway, and 60% of those are grasses

Monday, April 1, 2019

Spring 2019

After finally having a real winter here in Kansas City, it's time to get after it again. As the weather continues to climb, our maintenance practices do the same. Spring is some of the best growing conditions for turf, and we look forward to moving forward again this year and making the course better.

Many may have noticed the extensive rough-seeding we did last fall, and we will soon begin seeing the payoff from all of that work. We are hoping for a nice, long, mild spring to push that seed along and thicken up our thin areas of rough.

In other news, you may notice a new face around the maintenance department. Hunter Hill has signed on with us as the new assistant and Sam Marlin has moved into the mechanics position. If you see Hunter, I encourage you to introduce yourself and make him feel welcome. He is a Kansas State Turf Graduate and this is his first major stop in what we hope will be a long, successful career in the turf industry.

We are looking forward to a great season and hope to see everyone out at HOA!

Thursday, November 1, 2018


It's getting to be that time of year again when we run into frost delays in the morning. I know that it is frustrating for golfers and believe me, it is just as frustrating for the maintenance staff. Typically after a frost delay we need to get all of our equipment out ahead of play and be constantly pressed by those first quick groups.

Instead of trying to explain frost damage and the importance of staying off of frosty turf, I have found a great, short article by the USGA that explains it perfectly. Please take a moment to check out the following article.

USGA Frost Delay

Thanks, and enjoy any good weather days we get this fall at the course.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Fall Seeding at HOA

If you make your way to Heart of America Golf Course you are sure to see hundreds of feet of rope and stake all over the course. We have installed all of this to help direct traffic for our fall seeding.

This year we are trying to replenish all of the rough that we have lost over the past two years. In doing so we have moved carts to fairways and cart-paths only. This is to help the seedlings grow. If carts continually drive over the rough areas where all of this seed has been planted we will lose all of it and have wasted huge amounts of time and money.

This is an example of the small seedlings that can be severely damaged by cart traffic
In conjunction with all of our Fescue rough seeding, we have also completely renovated the range tee with Rye grass. This process involves shutting the main tee completely down. We understand that this is an inconvenience, but we will have a much better stand of grass come next spring if we take care of it now.
This is what we are trying to avoid on the main tee. Please help us out and stay on the mats when using the driving range.
 Overall, I expect to have good seed germination this year and I think we will see a big difference in the rough next spring if we can push this seed this fall. As always, I greatly appreciate all of our patrons and thank you for obeying the ropes and signs all over the course.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Upcoming Projects at HOA

I want to take a moment to update everyone on upcoming projects at Heart of America Golf Course.
On September 4th we will be closing down the top turf portion of the range tee for an extensive renovation. The mats will be open on the 5th going forward as well as the lower tee area like normal.
Weather permitting, we will be aerifying greens September 12th and 13th. This process does disturb the greens as many of you know, but we will expect to be healed two weeks after completion.
The renovation has begun on the back tee on number 9 of the river. We expect to have this completed and reopened by this fall.
We are hearing great things from golfers and love to hear everyones feedback regarding the course. We are always open to ideas and suggestions and welcome anyone to come say hello.

Thanks for playing HOA

Josh Linn,  Golf Course Superintendent

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Rock

As many of you probably know, we held the annual "Truck Cup" on the Rock July 31st. The reason I am mentioning this is because we are very excited about the condition of the rock course and where we are right now over there.

The Rock course was in great shape for the Truck Cup
I just want to take this moment to invite everyone to come play the Rock Par 3 course. We have dedicated many hours to it and are very proud of the condition it is in.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Superintendent's Revenge

The maintenance team is very excited about the Superintendent's Revenge tournament coming up in a couple weeks. Golfers can expect everything from goofy putters to unreasonable pin locations. This event should be a lot of fun and we are excited to see how it goes. I will caution you, i doubt anyone is going to come out and shoot 3 under par.... not if I have anything to say about it. 

There is a sample putter in the proshop of what you can expect to find out on the course for the revenge tournament.

The PLINKO board, also in the clubhouse will select your club for you on one of the tee boxes during the tournament. Drop your ball and cross your fingers because I don't think you are getting there with a Pitching Wedge!
So sign up for your tee time now if you are up to the challenge! I look forward to seeing everyone out there, and your can rest assured I will make my presence known.