One step forward, two steps back!

The crew has been working longer days the last two weeks to prepare for Presidents Day this Thursday. Our biggest accomplishment last Friday was opening up the left side bunker on 16 for play! Even though we still have some minor details to complete surrounding the bunker, we were all very excited to have the bunker back in play!

Now we have set our sites on detailing the golf course. We always keep an ongoing punch list of things that need to be addressed but for Presidents day, that list grows by pages. Giancarlo, Assistant superintendent, added to the list over the weekend along with preparing the course for play and keeping the new sod alive on 16 with this summer weather.

When I asked him how the weekend went on Monday morning, he replied”frustrating!” My first thought was we lost the sod on 16. “Nope its fine” he replied but some greens have developed severe LDS (localized dry spot). This was a huge surprise to me since the heat was only two days old and Giancarlo had been watering with both the irrigation system and by hand!  All greens and some tees were checked for moisture and a list was developed for hand watering. This had to be completed before noon’s outing.

Reviewing the list raised suspicion with me, normally wet greens were dry and dry greens were wet!! My suspicion was confirmed when we couldn’t water the SGA tee with the radio. We checked and confirmed we had water pressure at the snap valves at the tee so we immediately went back to the office computer and checked the black box recorder only to find some areas of the course have not been working electronically.

The irrigation software has the ability to run a test on the wires, decoders and solenoids. Running the test revealed exactly what is not working.

As in school, red “F”‘s are not good! Roughly 1/3 of the system is down electronically! This is probably a result of a lightening strike! We haven’t had to run the system since May 21 and have had a couple of storms in that period. Usually we’ll find a tree that was struck by lightening that would indicate where the problem started and we know to check the system when we do see a damaged tree, but we haven’t noticed any such tree!

We are able to water manually and will continue to do so until we can troubleshoot the system and make the necessary repairs. This will commence after Thursday.

Greens 14 and 15 suffered the most damage. Greens #12,13,15 & 17 have some damage, along with # 5 and 18 tees.

I expect a recovery rate of +90% which has already begun.  As in all of agriculture, plant recovery is very slow, especially this time of the year. Wilted turf is not necessarily dead but dormant. My next blog will discuss what happens to wilted turf and the recovery process.

I appreciate everyone’s patience’s while we work diligently to speed the healing process and prepare for Presidents Day.

The ins of wash outs

Last Thursdays heavy rain created a little havoc at the Club. It cancelled men’s league, caused an electrical problem in the kitchen, flooded the second green and wash out the majority of the 44 bunkers throughout the golf course!

Front bunker #2 with gas pump

We use gas powered pumps for the deeper bunkers and electric pumps for the shallower ones.

Once drained, the mud and silt on top of the sand must be either removed or replaced into the washout from where it came from. This prevents the sand and drainage lines from becoming more contaminated.

Then the sand is shoveled or push back in to place throughout the entire bunker.

Raked smooth before compacting.

Compacted using the bunker rake and a hand tamper.

The final process is a normal raking to bring the bunker back into play.

Front bunker #2 restored.

If your a number person, this storm required 130 man hours at a cost of $2200.00 to repair.

I’d like to give a shout out to my staff who worked very hard last week. We were already working 10 hour days to get caught up with the rough and projects when the storm hit on Thursday. A few of them changed their weekend plans so they could come in and help with the repairs. I really appreciate their hard work and dedication in repairing the bunkers!

 

Bunker update

The left side bunker revealed many a surprise as we removed the massive amounts of old sand.

LS 16 tree roots

LS 16 large tree roots

16 LS bunker old pipe

And we are not the first ones to work in this bunker as we discovered an old obsolete drain line.

16 LS bunker old drainge

With all the old sand removed, we are now ready to reshape the bunker. I have consult with Wayne Morrison, he is an William Flynn historian, who concurred with me that the original bunker was much shorter and wider back in the day. So my plans are to restore the bunker back, as close as possible, to its original design using the aerial photos from the 1930’s that you see hanging in the grill room. Doing so will also provide better surface drainage and wider egress to and from the rear of the green.

 

 

Project update.

We are very close to wrapping up the 3 winter projects. Working on projects this time of year always takes longer than expected as maintaining the golf course is our priority everyday in season. Add in some wet weather, outings, and unexpected setbacks(cutting the 4″ irrigation main behind 3 green last Wednesday as an example) can add time to the most conservative deadline.

Here is were we stand on the projects.

Fan at #3 green. The electric line was installed and inspected last week. We will be pouring the concrete mounting pad this week. The concrete will need a week to cure before we can mount the fan and have the electrician return for the final hook up. Once that passes inspection, I will submit a request to PECO for a meter.

Stairs at 4 green. The landing areas will be filled with a material called Porous Pave. Its composed of recycled tires and a binding polymer that allows water to flow through it. I’ve seen this material used with success at Fieldstone GC last fall. Renting a small mixer is required and will be used in conjunction with pouring the pad for the fan at 3 green this week. The next step will be installing the hand rail which will be completed by May 26.

Bunkers at 16 green. Rebuilding of the left side bunker has begun. I saved this one for last as its going to be the most challenging. And it hasn’t disappointed! The bunker is extremely deep as we determined after removing the old sand. And judging by the layers of sand on the back side, the bunker was much larger back in the day. Play-ability is the priority when we rebuild bunkers. We also consider the original design of the feature and lastly, the ongoing maintenance involved. So for this one I’m going to consult with a couple of industry experts to get other opinions. I’d like your opinion too! So please feel free to comment on this bunker and any other golf course related topic. In the meantime, we will be moving forward with completing the clean out and determining where the original bunker once stood.

Please check back for updates as I plan to blog on a regular basis. Thank you for your patience while we finish up these projects.

Jay Parisien CGCS

 

 

 

So close!!

Well my June 10th deadline for completion of the SGA tee project has come and gone. We could of laid sod today if I pushed harder but with the hot and humid weather I thought it would be best to wait till Monday to sod the tee and its surrounds.

SGA tee ready for sod

With my staff’s batteries recharged from the longer than normal hours we worked this week in preparation of both Women’s and Men’s member Guest events, I expect to have the entire area covered with sod before we go home on Monday.

I have to ask everyone for their patience’s over the next 3 weeks to refrain from using the tee as it will take this long as a minimum, for the sod to root itself to withstand hitting off it.

Thank you for your continued patience’s while we wrap up this winter project.

Short Game area improvements.

The earth moving you see while coming down the driveway will result in a larger, level grass tee along with a strip of synthetic turf for your practicing needs. We are also extending the irrigation system to cover the new tee and will have the capability of expanding watering coverage throughout the entire area, but for right now, we’re just focusing on the tee.
The synthetic turf will give us the ability to keep the area open while closing the grass tee for maintenance and recovery. We’ll also shut down the grass tee in the off season to protect and preserve the turf. this will greatly enhance the conditions of the grass tee in the beginning of the season.

This “winter” project begin on March 17 with irrigation installation.

SGA tee project 001

Easy digging here across the center of the range. As we got closer to the tee, the soil became more rocky and right next to the tee we discovered what appears to be an old dump site for the Club. All sorts of relics were unearthed while trenching and grading for the tee expansion.

SGA tee project 002

The worst was yet to come when we approached the backside of the synthetic tee. I suspected some slow trenching being right next to the driveway, but never expected to hit rock the entire 160′! We couldn’t move 6″ before we would have to stop trenching and physically remove a large rock!

SGA tee project 007

With a lot of patience’s, some perseverance, and spare Ditch Witch parts we succeeded in completing the irrigation system last week.

SGA tee project 009

When not working on the irrigation installation, we were able to complete the level base for the synthetic turf and carve out the base for the tee expansion.

SGA tee project 004

This past Saturday we were able to install the grass strip which will allow us to finish enlarging the grass tee. This is now open for usage when were not working on the grass tee.

SGA tee project 010

The anticipated completion date of the grass tee is June 10. Wish us luck!!

 

Where did all the water go?

If your visiting the club today and notice that the pond on 9 is empty, have no fear, its been drained for irrigation maintenance reasons.

Foot valve replacement blog 001

The “foot valve” as we call it, is on the suction line to the pump station. This valve maintains the water level in the pipe to eliminate priming of the pump. It needs to be replaced and this annual process is usually conducting in early January weather permitting. The freezing weather didn’t permit it this year, so we have to do it now.

cant see the foot valve just yet, its under the "T"

cant see the foot valve just yet, its under the “T”

Hopefully this should be completed in the next day or two and we’ll be refilling the pond. Normally it takes a week to fill it up, with all the wet weather in the forecast, I anticipate it being filled in about 5 days.

Green Aerification

About 5 weeks from now, April 20 & 21 to be exact, the Green Dept will be conducting the standard procedure of green aeration. For our new members this process is completed twice a year, April and August with the only difference being the diameter of the holes. In the spring we use 1/2″ tines and 5/8″ ones are used in August. The smaller hole in the spring leads to a quicker healing time. This can be especially beneficial with the normally cooler soil temperatures. The normal recovery time is 10-14 days this time of year. You make want to look into other courses to play if these conditions are unacceptable to you.

If you have questions on green aeration or just want to learn about the process and its benefits
( this applies to home lawns too) please use this link to connect you to a great USGA article on green aeration.

http://gsr.lib.msu.edu/article/bevard-putting-3-4-11.pdf

My next blog will discuss the benefits of “deep tine green aeration”.

Spring is right around the corner……

But opening regulation greens may not be!
This time of year is the most difficult time to decide whether or not to open or close regulation greens!
Here’s the scenario. Right now the soil is frozen under the greens, and any moisture from rain and or melting snow just runs off. When temperatures rise above freezing, the thawing process begins. Excess moisture becomes trapped in the soil since it can’t percolate through the underlying frozen soil. Under these conditions, the potential for turf and soil structure damage is high. Foot traffic under thawing conditions can cause root shearing at the interface between the thawed and frozen soil, causing damage to the root system. Soil structure damage is cumulative depending on amount of play and soil moisture levels. Additionally, minor-to-severe foot rutting can occur, causing short-term and possibly long-term surface-smoothness issues. To me it makes no sense to risk damaging the greens at the beginning of the golf season. Luckily, its only about a two week time frame in which this happens, but keep in mind it’s the weather that dictates this time frame. On a more positive side, we pretty much know what greens will thaw first; full sun greens, ex. 4, 5, 6, 9, 10 etc. And those that take the longest 1, 2, 3, 7, 14 etc, which are shaded.
As in previous years, we will open the regulation greens when they are completely thawed to ensure they are not compromised going into the golf season.
I hope this explains the Green Dept’s March madness with your golf course!

Happy New Year.

I’d like to send out a generous thank you to the entire membership for your continued support of the Green Department. 2014 had its ups and downs for us, mistakes were made, lessons learned and new techniques applied in order to bring to you a well prepared golf course that we all could be proud of.  As always, we take all of our successes and failures with great optimism as we prepare for the upcoming season.

One of the highlights for me from 2014 was the member survey! In my opinion, it is the best tool to get a pulse of the course from our members. The overall results are listed below.

Course Condition Overall Ratings:
Fairways – 4.28/5
Greens – 3.97/5
Tees – 3.85/5
Bunkers – 3.71/5

Our goal for 2015 is to improve the green to move them into the first position for the next survey. I will explain how we’ll accomplish this in my next post. I will also address and explain the ins and outs of the maintenance of the other golf course features listed above in subsequent posts though out the winter.

Speaking of winter, you may be wondering what we do over the winter. Of course the weather and the budget dictates what we can accomplish. Here is whats on my list of things to do in no particular order.

  • Level the back tee on # 6.
  • repair damaged edges on bunkers
  • tree removals (3) and pruning
  • back-fill stumps
  • repair the drainage on 3 landing area
  • repair the stairs through out the course
  • tree root pruning
  • improve the short game area teeing surface
  • grade the rear of #3 green for surface drainage

Its a hefty list when you consider we have normal maintenance practices that we do this time of year, but it would be great if we were able to complete the list. Luckily you have supported the lease/purchase of two new pieces of equipment pictured below that will assist us in routine maintenance and working on the above list.

The Ven Trac is a multipurpose tractor that has over 20 available attachments for various tasks. I purchased 5 attachments with it including mowing decks and an aerator/seeder. We have aerated and seeded around all the greens in the last two weeks and we are currently using it to mow down all the naturalized areas!

Ven trac 003

Waiting in the wings for spring is a new bunker rake!

JD rake

This replaced the 14 year old rake that was purchased when I first came here! it served us well and exceeded its life expectancy by 9 years!! (average life expectancy of a bunker rake is 3-5 years) The rake will be an improvement to our bunker maintenance program for 2015.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous new year to the entire Bala membership and staff!