Monday, February 1st, 2010

What a good week for golf! As far as January goes, I don't thing we could have had better weather. This allowed us to get quite a bit done last week including the renovation of the right bunker on sixteen. We really think it turned out nice considering what it looked like before.

We are still on the same mowing schedule. There are a few spots in the fairways that are still pretty soft. The guys have been doing their best to avoid them when mowing. We have kept the carts on the paths lately. We would like to see it get a little bit firmer before letting them out again. We gauge it by looking at the fairways that are normally firm and when we see they are soft we will hold them off. If this weather continues on a drying trend I am sure we will have more opportunities to open the fairways.

The greens are due for some nutrition soon. We will be spraying a plant protectant as well. I am still very please with where the greens are at. The seem to be holding up well to the recent play. The tees are in the same shape. Mowing once a week seems to be good.

New Range Picker

Steve has been busy building the cage for the new range picker. Monday we ran over to BBC Steel and picked up some material for the cage and Steve went right to work. He is doing a phenomenal job.  I can really tell he enjoys fabricating things. It is a nice change of pace for him. Until I saw the article in GCM, I had no idea that we could use an old RM 5200 fairway mower for range picker. When Steve hooked it up to try it out he was very impressed how it handled and maneuvered. I cannot think of a better unit to do the job. I have no doubt that this unit will be the perfect solution for the new range picker. The range crew should find it much easier to operate and it should require a lot less maintenance. Steve should have painted and ready for the range in about a week or so.

Tree Troubles
Last Thursday I met with Treecology and a consulting arborist to evaluate the Douglas Fir trees on the property. Since the opening of the course many trees have been failing which has been a concern. Treecology has a new tool called an air knife which uses compressed air to inject into the soil, fracturing it and alleviating  compaction. They would like to treat three tree root zones at no charge, as long as we cover the cost of the air compressor. If we start seeing a change in the condition of the trees that were treated, we will know that we will have a chance of saving the rest and will want to proceed treating the rest of the trees. It was also recommended that we mulch the root zones around the trees. Planting grass around then has changed their environment to a point where it has caused significant stress. We will be able to use the mulch that we have produced from the chipper.

One thing that we do know is that many are too far along and are beyond survival. The arborist recommended that we start inter-planting new firs in the areas where the trees are in the worst shape. The Doug Firs are a very important feature of this course and we should consider all of our options to save them.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Last week started of with a lot of clean-up following some pretty sever winds. The crew made quick work of it and had most of it cleaned up by Tuesday. Wednesday the entire staff spent the day at the annual OGCSA Crew Seminar held at Tualatin Country Club. It was a day well spent as they each came back with something new learned.

Project Update
Our big project this week was the renovation of the practice bunker. This was a project that was well over due. As you can see by the before and after pictures we removed quite a bit of sand that had built up over the last 8 years. Unfortunately we will need to keep it closed until the sod has a chance to take hold. I would hate to open it to early and loose all the great work they guys put into it. It is nice to have such a large large turf nursery that we can dive into a project like this and not have to worry about purchasing sod off site. Zeferino told me he is ready to take on the next bunker project. I had reservations at first but I came in this morning and the crew was ready to take on the right front bunker on sixteen. We got it stripped today and will be laying new sod in the morning! It is looking great and the guys are real proud of their work. I will post some new pictures later this week.


Northwest Winter Damage Update
Tuesday,  News Channel 8 aired a story on the condition of the greens in the Portland area. (see video to the right) It is good to see that they felt it a worthy story to cover. It was one of those weather events that comes just once in a while which left the greens at the winters mercy. As superintendents it is frustrating to see courses take such a hit. All these guys are good friends and you just hate to see them go through what they are experiencing. There is no doubt that will get them back in shape but it is going to take some time. Unfortunately the damage happened so early that now they must wait out the rest of the season for the soil temps to warm up.

Just a reminder that Monday will be the USGA webcast on the winter damage to putting greens in the Northwest. The more I ask around the more I hear of courses that have lost large areas of grass. Perhaps through opportunities such as this webcast, superintendents will be able find the common thread that allowed some courses to escape damage while others took a complete blow. The webcast is intended for not only superintendents but to all who wish to learn more. It is hoped that many managers and professionals will view it as well. For information please refer to my last post and follow the links or just contact me and I will forward the email with all of the pertinent information.

This week the weather cooperated and allowed us to cut the fairways on Thursday. We also managed to get two mowings on the greens this week as well. I am very pleased where our greens are right now. We didn't escape the cold weather and experienced a severe dormancy onset but the grass is back and growing like it should. The only real damage we experienced related to the cold was on the new tee on fourteen. For some reason it yellowed out and hasn't come back like the rest.

Recent Case Studies Published on the EIFG Website

Recently I was asked to write some case studies for the EDGE, an online database for environmental case studies on the Environmental Institute for Golf's webpage. The first one was on water use and reduced inputs. It describes how we manage our water in the dry months and how we manage the course by reducing inputs . The second case study is on the process I used to write our IPM program for the golf course. Initially Dr. Hindahl wrote our first IPM program and since there has been a new online program called GreenGolfUSA which enables superintendents to assemble their program online and when finished, a complete 40 page document is emailed to you. Both case studies should be very interesting. Please take some time and check them out.

Water Conservation and Reduced Inputs at Stone Creek Golf Club

OGCSA Environmental Stewardship Guidelines and the GreenGolfUSA IPM Template

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Last week's weather seemed more like the end of February than the middle of January. We will take it though. After all of that cold weather, temps in the 50's have given the greens a boost. We are still mowing on Tuesday's and Friday's and getting a fair amount of grass. We just fertilized them Thursday and gave them a tenth of a pound of nitrogen along with the Redox formula. We have stuck to the schedule and I believe it has really paid dividends. The greens are as nice as I have ever seen them for this time of year regardless of the harsh weather we had in December. Mike crunched some numbers last week and found that we only applied 3.6 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 feet over the entire year. This is compared to 2008 where we applied 5.5 pounds. The beauty of this program is that it builds the soil to a point where it becomes more efficient thus reducing the need for additional inputs. I can't prove that this program is what saved our greens this winter but I would sure say that it helped prepare them by building a stronger root system and gave them a leg up when it came time to recover.

Here is a picture of 17 right after the freeze followed by a picture taken last Friday, 28 days later:

Project Update
The chipping green bunker is in our sights for this week. the "cornus" if you will has finally developed a fissure and we had to cut it off before someone fell into the bunker. You can see from the picture here that the right side was cut back. We are actually going to cut out close to two feet of sod across the top and bring the lip back down to the bunker elevation. It is amazing how much sand accumulates over the years.

We also finished draining the lows along the cart path on eighteen. No more sloppy spots!

We had a set back on the flag pole this week. As I was trying to pull a new rope through the pulley, the new and the old rope separated causing both to fall to the ground. Very frustrating! Our next plan is to rent a lift and thread the new line from the top. While we have the lift we will replace the light sensors on the parking lot lights taking care of two projects at once.

Northwest Winter Damage
Given the current conditions of some greens around the NW, the USGA is hosting a webcast on the winter injury and will be open to all walks of the golf industry. If you have time I encourage you to give it a try. It should be very interesting. The webcast will be held on Monday, January 25th at 11am. The following information is from the invitation that went out to the OGCSA:

From the Fire to the Freezer - An Update on Putting Green Damage West of the Cascades

The weather pattern in the Pacific Northwest on the wets side of the cascade Mountain range is known for mile summers and winters. However , this was not the case this summer with pythium causing extensive damage to many courses. Now along comes winter with a very cold December and more turf loss. Get the latest from our USGA Green Section agronomist Larry Gilhuly and two golf course superintendents coping with the current situation and what to expect s the spring arrives. The webcast uses Microsoft Live Meeting 2007 Client and may not work for Mac. Use this link to check your system.

Monday,January 11th, 2010

The first of the year marks the beginning of tree pruning season. We just have a few groves to do and we will have touch most of the trees on the course. Last week we worked on the sixth hole. The tee shot from the forward tee has always been a narrow one with the large firs framing it in on the right. Treecology took as many branches off as possible leaving just a few to allow some shade to the trunk. It really opened up quite a bit of the hole. We also cleaned up the trees behind to allow more air circulation and light penetration. Treecology worked pretty fast and also had time to prune the trees on the right of seven, left of the path and also the trees to the left of three and right of the path. We have one dead fir for sure next to the path on three which we will have to decide what to do with. It would make a great habitat tree being next to the pond but we already have two in the vicinity. We will have to take a closer look and weigh our options.

Treecology has a new device called an air knife which is inserted in the soil around the root zone of the tree. A large air compressor is used to inject a large volume of air in a single blast in which shatters the soil creating airspace and alleviating compaction. As long as we rent the air compressor it shouldn't cost us anything. I am going to try it on the large firs that you see struggling around 13, 11, and 3. I really hope it helps, I don't like seeing these large trees failing.

The weather finally allowed us to plant the oak on eight (left) and we got the old stump ground on Saturday. Steve Pearce put some pruning touches on the bent birch trees around the club house (right) and did a fantastic job. I was ready to dig them out but I think they will grow straight now and look good. Remember, if these photos are to small you can click on them and they will open in a separate browser to full size.

With all of the tree trimming, we have been doing a lot of chipping in the new rubbish bins in the yard. We have piled up quite a bit of chips which we will be able to use around the course as a mulch. The County has been very helpful in loaning us their large chipper to place between the bins to get the job done. Mark and Doug are more than welcome to use as many of the chips as they need for the County Parks.

Right now we are mowing greens on Tuesdays and Fridays. That has enabled us to keep them clean and running smooth. This is the first winter following a full season use of our new fertilizer product, Redox. So far it has met all expectations and more. I didn't really think that we would see much of a difference during the winter but the recovery time that we witnessed following our first deep freeze was shortened greatly. To have the bentgrass actively growing this time of year and able to recover so quickly is great to see.

This week we are ordering new amenities including new hazard markers. The old markers have faded greatly. It looks like it will be costing around $800 to $900 for 12 dozen stakes. We will be replacing all of the stakes around fourteen with the standard hazard marker to avoid confusion during tournament play.

Monday, January 4th, 2010

As you can tell by these photos, the greens are starting to get some fresh growth back on them. They have been to wet lately to mow but this weekend we managed to roll them. While changing the cups Sunday there was a strong anaerobic smell to the plugs. This is caused by the lack of oxygen in the root system. Given the amount of moisture we have had with the recent snowfall and the rain following, it doesn't really surprise me. Some greens are worse than others, eleven actually had a black layer in the plug and had a very strong smell. This is why that spring aerification is so important. It helps alleviate that condition and gives the roots that extra boost to kick off the season. I am still very surprised by the amount of roots that are showing on the greens for this time of year. This should increase the ability of the greens to recuperate after the winter stress.

 The staff has been chipping away at the small projects during the inclement weather and have finished all of the benches. We will get them out after the weather improves and they have had a chance to dry completely. Due to the untimely snow last week we didn't get the tree planted on eight. We are pretty sure that we will be able to get to it this week. We are going to locate the new tree not far off from the old one. It will be just up the hill and a little to the south. We have a red stake in the ground where we plan on putting it.
Now that the holidays are over and we can resume somewhat of a regular schedule, we will pick up where we left off on doing some catch basin projects along the path on eighteen. We still have a few bunkers that are holding water that need to be cleaned up as well. Many of the bunkers still need to have the sand pushed around and reallocated. The right side bunkers on seven are a good example of that. It looks like the sand has simply slipped to the rear of the bunker and needs to be pushed back forward and away from the back lip.

The crew looks forward to attending the annual OGCSA Crew Seminar each January which will be held on Wednesday the 20th this year. Topics will include:
Taking Hold of Your Career, Fungicides, Communication and Relationships Between Course Managers, Reel and Bedknife Grinding, Tree Care, and Rules of Golf; Course Setup and Marking. I like to send everyone that wants to go, it is a good way of appreciating all the work they do.

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