Congradulations!!

I’d like to start off this message with a huge congratulations to Assistant Superintendent Giancarlo Sarullo and Justin Parisien for taking the next step in their budding careers!

Friday was  their last day with the Green Dept (and Valet, Pro Shop Attendant for Justin) as on Monday Giancarlo starts as an Assistant Superintendent at Sunnybrook CC and Justin enters the Philadelphia Police Academy!

Giancarlo has been with us for 7 years and had never worked on a golf course until I hired him. His goal when he came here was to learn how to grow fine turf and then return to sports field management in which he carries a degree in. Well the golf bug bit him, like many others in the business and now has changed his career goal to becoming a Golf Course Superintendent. Thank you very much for your time and service Giancarlo!

Justin starting working here as soon as I could get working papers for him, at 14 I believe. I have had the rare opportunity of watching him grow and mature right under my nose on a daily basis for which I’m very grateful for. Justin’s career goal is to become a New Jersey State Trooper in their marine division as he loves the water. His 12 years of service to the Club is very much appreciated by all department heads. We all wish him the best at the academy!

On to the golf course now. The window of opportunity is closing fast on having the ground frozen enough to support tree removal equipment. This is a double edged sword as having thawed ground has allowed us to resume work on the bunkers on 17. We will have to wait for drier conditions to complete the balance of tree work, think mid summer, or worst case scenario, next winter. Since the trees remaining are on holes 15-17, leveling 16 tee will have to wait until then. The removal of the tree at 16 tee is dependent upon PECO cutting it back from over their power lines. This work, which is required by law, was requested and approved in early December. There was one additional tree on 15 to be trimmed also. Asplundh, PECO’s tree contractor, completed this last week before the rain came on Thursday. Hopefully they’ll be out this week to prune back the Tulip on 16 tee.

There always are surprises when digging around your golf course!

 

Selvin and Justin working on another one!

These little rocks and 6 more of similar size were dug out of the small left hand side of the bunker on 17 while relocating the bunker away from the green. Now we know why that bunker didn’t have any drainage! Its all good as of right now, we were finally able to shape the new bunker in its new location. We have our fingers crossed that installing the drainage wont be as disruptive and or labor intensive. Some minor reshaping of the front bunker will be in progress this week. The largest change to this bunker will be a reduced height in the face of it. Similar to the front bunker on 16.

We have expanded the scope of the bunker rebuild to include leveling the hump in the front of the green and slightly expanding the green surface on the lower front corners. The photo below is the aerial view of the green from the 1930’s and clearly shows where the original green was back in the day. Our restoration will not be as extensive as bringing the putting surface all the way down to the front bunker will eliminated an area for equipment to turn on, on this already difficult to maintain green and surrounds. This work will also eliminate the sand dam that have formed in the two front corners. These dams are a result of years of topdressing the greens and prevent surface runoff during rain events. This is common on greens that are sloped back to front or are near level.

14 & 17 greens

The green expansion phase started last week on the left side of the green and will be completed this week with additional sod needed being supplied by the nursery green located on 12.

 

As for the other winter projects, they are listed below in a tentative order of completion.

Front and left side bunkers 17/ green expansion

Front tee on 13

Irrigation installation at 1 & 4 green (contractor, second week of April)

Stump remediation at 1, 13, 14 greens (other stumps ongoing)

Fan installation 2 & 7 greens (in house and electrician)

Right side bunker 17

Back tee 13

Balance of tree work (Arborist, weather permitting)

This weeks weather forecast looks promising to keep us moving in the right direction, lets all keep our fingers crossed!

 

 

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January 24, February 0

The title reflects the number of trees removed in the last two months! Why you ask? Very simple, the weather! February’s roller coaster of temperature and precipitation have halted the removals through today and judging by the 10 day forecast, right through the end of the month. The good news is we only have 9 more trees to remove, the bad news is 2 of them are the largest on the list. Hopefully March’s weather will be more cooperative for tree removals.

13 green from right side of front tee

Before tree removals come to a halt, trees on holes 8, 10, 12, 13, and 14 were removed. Pruning 10 fence line was completed also. The link below will connect you to the updated list and the picture below is a map of all the pruning and removals scheduled for this year. (Please note the future plantings, root and tree pruning are listed for reference only. If time and the budget allows, we may be able to complete some of the work listed.)

2019 Comprehensive tree program

2019 tree pruning and removal project.

Despite the lack of recent tree removals, the Green Dept. has been very busy over the last month. Assisting the Arborist to capitalize on time when the ground is frozen has been a priority for us. We have been able to process all the wood chips and stump grindings, back filling stump holes, along with a detailed cleaning of areas affected by the removals.

Angel and Selvin preparing trench for stone and pipe

 

We have been able to complete a couple of drainage projects too. Drainage was installed in front of the Short Game Area tee. This will eliminate the puddle that became a breeding ground for insects last summer. And we recently installed drainage along 7 cart path at the green in an effort to prevent runoff from crossing over the green and washing out the right side bunker. This wont prevent washouts during a large rain event as the green is sloped towards that bunker, but should assist in controlling runoff during average rain events. With the new drainage and the fan installation scheduled there this spring, the 7th green should dry down and firm up quicker than in the past. We also will be replacing the contaminated bunker sand in the right side bunker this spring.

Frozen ground at the end of January did allow lime to be applied to the fairways and step cut. Based on soil test and the budget, lime was applied at a rate of 1000/lbs per acre, using 24 tons total. We tried making an application of this magnitude in the past but found it very time consuming using the equipment we have, and the larger problem was keeping the material bone dry as it would sit in the parking lot while! Fortunately our industry still has one last company in the area that makes bulk lime applications. Plant Food out of Cranberry New Jersey has it down to a science with their modern equipment.

Lime dump truck

note red auger on back of dump truck filling spreader truck

lime application truck

application truck

These two trucks and operators come in and spread the 24 tons of material in under 3 hours. For comparison, it took us over a week to apply the same amount! This application along with the others we have made to greens, tees and approaches this winter will provide lasting benefits as it “sweeten’s” the soil. Nutrients located in the soil become more plant available when the soil PH is  7 or neutral, tapping into any reserves currently tied up in the fairways and making future fertilizer applications more efficient.

Hopefully I’ll have some updates on bunkers, tees, and fan projects in the next blog. These projects have been at a stand still waiting on cooperative weather. With spring less than 4 weeks away, its looking like a very busy spring is in store for us!

Winter has arrived!

The high temperature of 16 degrees today and a wind chill of -8, i figured it would be a good day to update everyone on the progress being made with the winter projects.

The arborist is making headway on the tree list despite marginal weather. Daytime highs above freezing make the soil surface to soft to operate the heavier equipment over which reduces the hours per day in which they can work efficiently. Through detailed planning on both our parts and a whole lot of flexibility, they have been able to take down the 7 trees surrounding 1 green,

1 green from 128 yrds out

prune the maple on 2 tee, begin pruning back the left side of #3, remove 2 large trees from the back of 7 green. Prune back the trees on 8 tee, remove one tree on the right of 18 and grind out 22 stumps. All of this completed with a minimum amount of damage to the course!

On our side of the fence, the Green staff have been able to clean up stump grindings, spread tons of wood chips along the sides of number 6 which should add to the new openness of the hole as we will no longer let the sides grow up like in the past.

6 with wood chipped sides

We have also back filled stump holes on 5, 10, 15 and 17, prune back the fence lines on 10 & 11, installed proper drainage for the grass depression at 10 green, along with snow removal and assisting with a couple of clubhouse projects.

As beneficial this cold weather is for tree work, its a deterrent for working the ground! We have stripped the front tee of 13

13 tee sod removed

and began cleaning old sand out of the left side bunker of 17 before the ground froze.                 (we will address the fairway flooding shown in the picture below with the bunker restorations.)  

17 bunker with most of the sand removed but filled with weekend rain

Working on these two project is frozen in time so to speak as we can not resume work until the ground thaws. In the meantime, we will focus on completing the tree work and other winter tasks.

 

Tree Program Update

With all factors considered, the progress on the tree health program is amazing. The arborist and his staff have taken down 27 trees. They have also completed some of the required pruning and grounded out a few stumps. The constant weekly rains has been the largest obstacle in completing additional work, but overall the progress is impressive.

view from 6 tee

As you can see from the photo above and following, some holes are going to look different. Most of the tree work is being performed for turf health and play ability.

Completed pruning at 8 tee from the back tee.

Even though 27 trees have been taking down, much more work needs to be completed before I deem a removal “complete”. Logs have to be removed off the property, stumps have to ground out, cleaned up, their void back-filled and then seeded or sod depending on their location. The Green Dept staff take over the process after the stumps have been ground.

View from the right side 9 tee.

11 fairway from 100 yrds

Here is a link to an updated tree list that will give you a little more detail on where we stand on all the tree work. Please note the few new additions highlighted in yellow.  I have to give a shout out to Glenn Riggs, Arborist. Glenn and his staff have been very flexible with scheduling and generous with their time by completing some additional pruning free of charge.

2019 comprehensive tree program

And one last photo from 14 fairway, please note one more pine behind the green to the right has yet to be removed.

14 fairway from 150 yrds

2019 Golf Course Improvements

The Board of Directors have approved a full slate of course improvement projects for the upcoming year. They range from leveling tees to reconditioning green side roughs. Following is the details of the projects.

Green side fan installation:

We will be installing fans at 2 & 7 greens. With the proven success of the fan at 3 green, the next logical place for fans are the pocketed greens at 2 & 7. The fan on 2 will require a new service from PECO in which the electrician has already started the permitting process. The fan will be located to the right rear of the green along the hillside. The electric for 7 green will be supplied from the same service that serves 3 green. We will be installing about 500′ of conduit behind and along 8 tee to the right rear of 7 green where the fan will be positioned. These two greens would have greatly benefited from the fans this past year!

Tee leveling:

Tee leveling continues this year on holes 13 & 16. On 13 we will be enlarging both tees slightly to the right to increase the playing surface. This will entail relocating the bench and ball  washer to the right of the front tee. 16 will be a larger project with the removal of the tulip tree between the two existing tees. This will allow us to enlarge the teeing surface by combining both tees. We are also contemplating pushing the tee forward slightly to accommodate the forward tees. All tees on 13 & 16 will receive new irrigation with individually controlled heads.

Bunker rebuilding:

Rolling into our forth consecutive year of bunker rehabilitation, bunkers on 17 will receive new drainage and sand. Using the old aerial photographs of the club along with Wayne Morrison’s restoration plan, we’ll be lowering the top of the front bunker to its original height, shifting the left side bunker back and away from the green, and moving the right side bunker away from the green. Drainage will also be installed in the rough between the fairway and front bunker.

Tree work:

Using both consultant reports, membership feedback and personal observation, 60 trees will be removed though out the course. The main objective of these removal are for safety, green surround turf health, and tee shot play ability. In addition to the removals, extensive pruning is on tap for holes #’s 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 15 & 18. Click on the link below for an up to date status on the  scheduled work. In addition to the list, Paul Csigi has marked up a large version of the tree management study that is located in the grill room. I’m working on a digital version with just the scheduled tree work to post online along with marking each tree out on the golf course. In the interim, the comprehensive version of the tree management study can be found on the club’s website.

2019 Comprehensive tree program

Green surround rough improvements:

This comprehensive project on holes 1 and 4 will be completed in two phases. Phase one will involve tree removals which are included in the aforementioned tree work, minor bunker enlargements of the front of each right side bunkers on both holes and installing new irrigation around each green.  The bunker extensions will consist of removing and storing  the existing sand, excavating the soil, installing sod on the new edge and reinstalling the removed sand.  The upgraded irrigation system will have individual controlled heads for the putting surfaces, the approaches and the green surround rough. Additional snap valves that allow us to hand water will also be installed.  Phase two will include expanding the putting surfaces using the old aerial photos, existing ground contours, along with Wayne’s restoration plan, 1 to the left and rear of the green and 4 to the front, left side and rear. Click on the links below to see Wayne’s suggestions.

#1 green proposed changes                                                                                                                        # 4 green proposed changes

Widening the approaches by using deep drill and sand injection aerification, stripping existing sod and installing new sod. Extending the step cut through sod replacement on both the left side and rear of  1 and 4 greens. Widening the fairways out to match the new approaches will be completed through mowing, aerification and overseeding. Replacing the mixed variety of green surround roughs with tall fescue sod will complete phase 2.  4 green surrounds will require multiple herbicide applications a month before sod installation to eliminate the bermuda grass. Phase two will begin with the herbicide application on 4 at the beginning of August with all sod installation being completed in September.

Resources, contractors, playabilty and the weather will dictate the order of completion of all the projects. There will be multiple projects in progress at any giving time. Please check the website daily for updates. I will also blog about the progress throughout the process. Anticipated completion date of May 4 for the tree work, bunkers, tee leveling and phase 1 of the green surround project. Phase 2 of the green surround project to be completed by September 28.

A Little Taste of Winter

With 3″ of snow falling last Friday and daytime high temperatures forecast to be below freezing the next two days, I’m wondering how far out is winter? Hopefully very!

The calendar says we have another month, but Mother Nature hasn’t been following the calendar for the past few years by my observations! With all the plans (I will blog about them in the near future) we have for golf course improvements this off season, the last thing we need is a tough winter.

We do have some season ending work to complete before winter sets in. Leaf processing has been fairly successful considering all the rain we’ve had. We’ve mulched more this years than in the past. This is the most efficient way of handling leaves but has the limitation of to much of a good thing can hinder turf growth. Moving forward we will shift to picking up the balance of leaves as we have reached the point of hindrance in many areas.

Alternate greens have been installed and will be in use on Thanksgiving Day if your brave enough to test the forecast. The greens are far from dormant at this point and need to be protected from the combination of weather and play. We will be using the alternate greens throughout the winter months when necessary.  We establish these in order to protect the regulation greens during periods of freezing and thawing. Damage to the putting greens occurs under these conditions. If you’d like more information on alternate greens and their purpose and or are interested in the other perils of winter play on a golf course, this link will take you an excellent article from the USGA, .http://gsrpdf.lib.msu.edu/ticpdf.py?file=/article/hartwiger-moeller-winter-1-9-15.pdf

 

Fruit of our Labor

We are seeing results of our aerification and slit seeding along with signs that more needs to be done.

Pictured below are the rows of new rye grass that have germinated on 9 fairway. We have completed 7 fairways to date and plan on doing 3 more at a minimum. Unfortunately the weather forecast for seed germination is not promising!  Rye grass seed needs temperatures between 68 and 86 to germinate so lets keep our fingers crossed that “normal” fall weather prevails.

New rye grass on 9 fairway

While mowing greens over the weekend, I noticed how green the aeration holes on the right side of 15 green have become. These holes were made last month when we aerated collars ( the slope of the collar is to severe for the aerator so we have to aerate part of the green in that section) This is a great  indicator for additional aerification.  Air entering the aerification holes stimulates new growth of leaves and roots. Very beneficial after the long stretch of wet, humid weather we have recently encountered.

month old aeration holes on 15 green

The plan is to aerate #2, 15 & 16 greens again using the small 1/4″ diameter tines before November’s drill and fill aeration. These 3 greens have responded nicely from the August aerification but are not fully healed. We are going to add the back of 3 green and 7 green to the list  as the late season weather has caused them to thin. I also noticed wear from mowing the clean up pass on the circumference of most greens, which is normal especially giving the weather. Aerification will relieve these areas of stress.

 

Clean up pass wear on 17 green

Looking at the weather forecast for the rest of the week, tomorrow looks to be the best day to perform this. We’ll do our best to keep disruption to a minimum. The clean up process is quicker with small cores. We will need to be careful with the topdressing procedure as aggressive brushing can cause damage to the putting surface.

As a reminder, greens drill n fill is scheduled for Wednesday November 7 and Thursday November 8. This process makes the greens unplayable for most of the day. Please keep this mind if you plan on playing either of those days.

Practice putting green after drill n fill

Sunny Days Ahead.

The forecast for the next four days looks promising for some long overdue aerification and over seeding. Of course we’ll take Thursday off for the McQuiston Open, but we’ll utilize most of the daylight hours on the other days to get as much new seed into the ground as possible as the window for germination is quickly closing in on us.

We will be focusing on fairways , approaches and some tees. The fairways will be slit seeded using the equipment pictured below. Its not as disruptive as aerification but it will bring soil to the surface that will need to dry out before we can drag it along with the seed into the grooves.

The 6th tees will be aerated as the sod that was installed in June is creating a barrier for water to infiltrate the tees. We’ll be using a smaller tine than usual, between 1/2″ to open up the sod and allow topdressing, seed and fertilizer in. We are doing the lower tee today and then the upper tee on Wednesday.

The Green Committee approved removing the Bermudagrass that has encroached into the approaches through select spot spraying.

Bermudagrass left side #11 approach

We are also eradicating clover and other weeds from the approaches. But the troublesome Bermudagrass covers much more area on # 10 & 12 approaches than the clover.

initial herbicide spray on some clover on 12 approach

Bermuda 10 days after treatment.

Both the Bermuda and clover may require multiple herbicide applications, even into the spring of next year to remove them from the approaches. Aeration, seeding and topdressing will be completed in conjunction with the herbicide treatments to provide a seamless transformation between the weeds and turf.

One last note on aeration, drill n fill on greens is scheduled for November 7 & 8. Most of the greens are unplayable through out the process so please plan accordingly. I’ll be sending out reminders in the upcoming weeks.

Wicked Wet Weather

I’d like to update everyone on what’s happening on the course. If you’ve played recently you noticed how the recent wet weather has stressed many areas of the golf course.

The golf course has received over 6.21” of rain in the last 18 days, September’s average is 3.5” for the month. Within those 18 days we’ve experienced 3 partly sunny days with the others being overcast. These conditions are not conductive for growing finely manicured turfgrass.

 

Most greens have algae on them to a certain degree. This is caused primarily by water sitting on the surface and not percolating downward. In an effort to reduce the algae on greens, we were able to solid tine aerate the thinnest greens last Wednesday and spike all the greens on Thursday and Friday. I did blog on the solid tinning aeration on Wednesday. We were also able to quad hollow tine (1/8″) all the collars except # 7 Thursday and Friday.  We will continue to spike and solid tine them as needed until the algae problem is under control.

Greens were sprayed this past Monday with a broad-spectrum fungicide and a fungicide especially for algae. Tees have been holding their own with a few exceptions mainly on 5 & 9. All tees were sprayed last Thursday. We will continue to spray fungicides on all feature areas on an as needed basis to prevent and alleviate the growth of algae and other turf diseases.

Rutgers has found Gray Leaf Spot (GLS) in the fairway samples we sent them last Tuesday even though we just sprayed for it on Wednesday and Thursday, September 12 & 13, and have been spraying for this and other diseases on schedule since mid-July. We picked a fairway that was sprayed each day as the course received 1.53″ of rain on that Wednesday. The disease was found in both samples. The GLS is responsible for some of the fairways thinning, but overall environmental conditions have contributed more to the thinning of the fairways and roughs than the GLS. We began spraying the fairways again last Friday and will finish as weather permits. These fungicide applications will also be continued until the threat of all diseases has past.

For the upcoming weeks, we are planning to begin slit seeding the fairways, the thinnest ones first. (1,4,7 for example) along with aerating and seeding approaches and tees. We will need to balance our work with the golf schedule as October is a very busy month. We will do our best to keep disruption to a minimum but there will be times when our work will interfere with play ability.

It has been a difficult year weather wise to produce consistent conditions. Recovery will have to be in the form of aeration, seeding, and fertilization. These processes will have to be completed as soon as possible to give the golf course time to heal for next season. I thank you in advance for your patience as we work through this difficult period of weather.

Venting of greens

In an effort to dry down some of the wettest greens on the course, today we have begun a process called “venting”. One definition of venting is: “permit air to enter” which is exactly what the greens need after the 6+ inches of rain they have received over the last 12 days!

There is an abundance of black algae on many greens like # 7 below:

algae 7 green

Using a green aerator with 1/8″ solid tines on a 2″x2″ pattern we can punch 36 holes per square foot, 3 ” deep which will allow air to enter the green to hasten the drying process. In the past we have used this process to do just the opposite, to let water in after the soil has become hydrophobic. But that’s not the case this time around.

green aerator with solid 1/8″tines

After aerating, we will roll each green using a mower with the blade off. This will gently smooth the surface to keep ball roll as true as possible. This process is slightly more disruptive to the surface than spiking but should heal over in most areas within a few days.

finished product

At this point we only plan on doing the following 8 greens, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15 & 16 along with the 2 practice putting greens, as they have the most algae on them. We will be spiking the other greens beginning tomorrow. These forms of aerification along with fungicide treatments should expedite the healing process. In the upcoming weeks we will be aerating tees, approaches, collars some fairways and roughs. I will be posting information on these processes both here on the blog and on the “members only” page on the website.