Monday, December 26th, 2011

Yes, It is another Monday morning post. It just happens to be the day after Christmas. Please don't think I sat down and wrote this on Christmas Day. I do plan ahead and write these things in advance. I like to start my posts out with nice pictures and I would like to lead once again with the Great Egret. I have discovered the trick to getting close and was able to get a nice shot of it. I was listening to a story on NPR this week about the Christmas bird count, and how people are finding unusual species for the time of year. I don't know if this is unusual but I have never seen it around here. I sure hope it sticks around.

We are heading for the driest December on record. After next week I will tally the numbers and see where we came out. One thing that is nice, is the rate in which we can get our drainage projects completed. It always seems like these projects can linger on when it rains just for the shear fact that shoveling mud is much slower than dry soil. Last week we could have easily finished the drain line on eleven in three days if the sod on the nursery wasn't frozen. We should have this one wrapped up by Tuesday Even with all the rocks that we had anticipated, all 180 feet of this one went off without a hitch.

The weather is looking like we may be in for a turn next week but we have our eye on a few more places. After the new year we will head over to the third fairway and drain the soft spot just past the fir on the left, nearer the green. Our unofficial count on total feet of drain pipe installed this year is 500 feet. It sure feels great to be able to get this kind of work done in December. I can't think of a better way to finish up the year.

To finish this post and keeping it short, just a quick reminder why we keep the carts off the grass when there is frost. We're not sure who is responsible, it could have even happened in the evening when the late golfers were coming in. These tracks aren't permanent but they sure look bad.

Dirty Divots!

Last summer I ran into Jim Achenbach and Billy Crenshaw on the patio just after they had completed their round at Stone Creek. The subject of the driving range tee box came up and I mentioned to Jim what we were trying to do as far as educating the golfer on how to use the grass as efficiently as possible. I told Jim that I had seen a video on You Tube uploaded by Dan Meersman of the Philadelphia Cricket Club and immediately he felt it was worth a story. Last year just from posting the video, I started seeing the new divot patterns developing. Hopefully this will encourage more golfers to do the same.

I would like to thank Jim for taking the time to write this article and feeling it is important enough to share with the greater golfing world.
Dirty Divots Golfweek

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Great Egret
Last week we added a new bird to our bird list. We had started seeing it a few weeks ago but I didn't want to say anything until I could catch it with my camera. The Great Blue Heron is a common sight at the course, often seen in the native grass areas looking for mice or along the edge of the ponds feeding on small fish. Very similar to the Great Blue Heron is the Great Egret.  A large white heron, the Great Egret is found across much of the world, from southern Canada southward to Argentina, and in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. It's the largest egret in the Old World, and thus has garnered the name Great White Egret. In the New World, however, the white form of the Great Blue Heron is larger. In the United States, the Great Egret used to be called the American Egret but that was hardly appropriate, since its range extends beyond the Americas and indeed farther than other herons. 

Great Blue Heron
 I tried to get a better photograph of it but as soon as I stepped out of the cart it took off. I'm lucky I had the camera ready for just that moment. I'm sure I will have better opportunities in the future to get more shots. The Great Blue is not as shy and is allowing me to get pretty close. I took this shot just after the Great Egret took off.

While I'm on the subject of herons, Jerry Hines took this video of the Great Blue Heron catching mice in the field between the third and fourth holes. Jerry was very excited to catch it with his Droid and I'm happy to share it with everyone as well. Thanks Jerry!

Once again, last week was very productive. Treecology came out and cleaned up a few trees which left quite a mess behind. Our goal was to remove dead wood from a few select firs around the thirteenth green including the complete removal of the large dead tree just north of the green. We also thinned the grove of trees between the fifteenth and the sixteenth greens. All of the logs will be cut up and taken to the Senior Center at North Clackamas Park where it will be split and used to provide heat for the elderly citizens of Clackamas County. So please, no further requests for firewood. The remaining limbs have been chipped and added to our chip pile, which will then be spread beneath the firs groves around the course.

The weather cooperated, allowing us to mow and fertilize the greens on Thursday. It was nice to be able to clean them up and get a nice fresh clip on them. The weather continued to cooperate on Friday, giving us an opportunity to apply a treatment for microdochium patch. We are still seeing some signs but they have slowed drastically with the frosty mornings.

We managed to cut some sod last week, enough to finish off the small drainage project on the eleventh fairway. We also cut the sod over where we will be beginning our new project closer to the green. The ground had been so frozen it had prevented us from continuing the work.


Finally, Friday was our annual crew breakfast at McCrea's. As usual we all over ate but enjoyed coming in to work an hour late! When the guys returned to the shop they found that Santa had been busy and left them all Christmas gifts. I can never say enough about all of these guys. I am so grateful for everything this crew does. As I told them Friday, I have received a fair amount of recognition for the environmental work that is done at Stone Creek, but none of it would be possible without their hard work and professionalism. They, as I do, take a lot of pride in their work and it shows every day. The breakfast and gifts are just a small token of Stone Creek's appreciation for the great work they do!


Monday, December 12th, 2011

Frosty mornings seem to be the norm as of lately. Unfortunately, last Tuesday we were unable to open the course until after noon. Saturday was a similar situation. I sent the weekend crew home and came out later and determined we could start play at 11:40. If you were out on Saturday, you may have wondered why we started with ice still on the trees and the turf. The greens were frozen underneath but the crown and the leaf tissue was moist after wiping with my hand. The air temperature was hanging around right at 33 to 34 degrees which made the thaw take a long time. It seems like every frost is different. I am just grateful that we were able to get the golfers off and not miss out on our Saturday revenue.

Last week we were a bit short handed with Chris, Steve Pearce and myself out attending the OGCSA Pesticide Applicators Meeting. As usual the meeting was well attended by golf maintenance, parks, landscape, and municipal employees from across the state. Some of the key speakers were Joe Vargas, Michigan State University, Frank Wong, Bayer Environmental Science, and Rob Golembieski from Oregon State. We learned much about the latest in pest control but we certainly missed out on some dry working days.

The frosty mornings have allowed us to get caught up on the small details. Monday, Bob retrieved all of the trash cans and hot water pressure washed them. From the looks of it, it appears Bob was responsible for the heavy fog that lingered on most of the day.

Steve Pearce has continued to work on the birch trees in the buffers. I'll have some pictures next week to show how different it looks. He has done a great job.

Weather permitting, we will be fertilizing the greens and applying a fungicide to control mirodochium patch. Last week we managed to topdress the greens with a little sand which will help smooth them out. Mowing will continue as needed.

Drainage continues to be our priority this week. We are currently working on the 11th fairway. First we will wrap up the small low near the 160 yard mark then will move forward, up near the approach. Thank you again for your patience in using the temporary green. We should be off the fairway by the end of the week.

The course is playing great. If you can stand the cooler temperatures now is a great time to play. I can't remember the fairways playing so well for the middle of the winter. Keep a close eye on the weather and remember to call the pro shop first thing to see if there will be any delays.

Monday, December 5th, 2011

I apologize his weeks post is a bit lengthier than most. We have a lot going on and I want to get through as much as I can.

All week my trusty weather man, Rod Hill, has been showing low temperatures indicative of frost delays, we managed to escape delays all week until Saturday morning. The reason why is we have been in an inversion. The lower temperatures and the frost seemed to occur at the lower elevations but as you rose to Stone Creek Golf Club, which is at 500 feet, the temperature was a bit warmer. With a light breeze mixing the air, we were able to get by the frost without a delay. Saturday was a different story. Our low temperature was in the 20's and there was now wind what so ever. On top of that a low blanket of clouds formed around 8:00 which seemed to hold the temperatures in check. 

Stone Creek Buffers 
The delay gave Steve Pearce a chance to catch up on the chipping pile. Steve has been busy all week selecting out the invasive birch trees from the buffers. If the birches are left unchecked they can crowd out the preferred vegetation. Red alder, Oregon ash, Pacific willow, Douglas hawthorn and western red cedar are our preferred trees along the buffers with an understory of shrubbery, including nootka rose, Douglas spirea, Pacific ninebark and red-osier dogwood.

Crane Fly Damage
Crane fly damage around aerification holes
In last weeks post I mentioned that we may have cutworms working on the 11th green. Brian McDonald from Oregon State read my post and sent me a note saying that it may actually be crane fly. I was almost sure that it was cut worm from the damage that I was seeing so I took my soil probe and went looking. Sure enough, I found crane fly everywhere. I have always applied insecticides as a last resort but the damage had exceeded our threshold so we had to pull the trigger. We only treated the 11th and the 3rd green and by morning they were popping out of the ground. We have never had an issue on the greens before and figure it may have been the timing of our aerification coinciding  when they were laying eggs. With fresh holes in the ground in October it may have been the perfect place to drop their eggs. We figured the larvae were about in their third instar which would be about right.
Emerging from hole following treatment
Large cutworm next to two crane fly
As far as the cutworms go I wasn't all that wrong. I did manage to find a couple the next day so I wasn't all that off base.

Contributing to Research
We are still seeing some fusarium patch persisting on a few greens. Mainly on the large putting green and on the ninth green. We made a treatment on Monday and so far haven't seen anything new pop up. If you have been practicing around the chipping green you may have noticed the fusarium on the chipping fairway. We don't normally treat fairways which made for a perfect place for Dr. Jim Frelich to apply some fungicide trials. Jim works for the Scotts Company and is often asked by leading manufactures to apply trials of certain products, some not even on the market, to evaluate their effectiveness.

I am not sure if I am at liberty to disclose who Jim is doing the trials for so I will keep it fairly generic. Here he is applying the product to the plots in three replications. He will be evaluating a new product that has not been introduced to the market against products that are already being used.

This is very common across the county. Golf courses offer real life conditions and make for a great laboratory. I am excited to have the opportunity to provide a test site for Jim's research. The outcome will benefit many down the road.

Water Quality Testing
As an ongoing part of Stone Creek's Environmental Stewardship Program we test the water at the golf course on an annual basis. We began testing in 2001 on a twice a year basis. After 7 years we had established a strong baseline and now test only once a year, alternating spring and fall. This year the test fell in the fall so we just completed it last week.

We utilize Envirologic Resources, Inc. to collect samples from points where surface water enters and exits the property as well as locations where management practices may affect the water body. This includes Beaver Creek, where it enters the property at Hwy 213 and where it exits the property below the 11th green. We also check the lake on number 6 as well as "Stone Creek" which flows under the bridge on the twelfth hole. The water collected at the entry of Beaver Creek serves to establish a baseline to determine the influence of golf management practice on water quality. It also allows us to determine if there are any influences from upstream.

The samples actually go through a battery of tests. As we dip the sample we first measure the temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and make a visual determination of clarity. Next we collect four bottles, two small plastic and two large brown glass bottles. The small plastic bottles are sent to a lab to be tested for orthophosphates and nitrates and the large brown bottles are sent to a different lab and are tested for all chemicals that have been applied to the golf course in the previous six months.  The testing is not cheap but as part of our Stewardship Program, we feel that it is an integral part of how we operate here at Stone Creek.

For a more complete description of our Environmental Stewardship Program please refer to the Oregon Golf Course Superintendent's Environmental Stewardship Guidelines by clicking HERE. You will find a complete description of the water quality monitoring program that Stone Creek is modeled after.

This week Chris, Steve Pearce and I will be attending the OGCSA Pest Management Seminar downtown at the Convention Center. We will be away Tuesday and Wednesday. Zeferino and Steve Mathre will be here to take care of business. I will be checking in daily.
On Monday, Pacific Sports Turf is going to come out and use their Soil Reliever on our eleventh fairway around the 100 yard area. This area is relatively flat and is known to stay wetter than most areas. I am hoping that by fracturing the soil beneath we will be able to percolate the water much faster through the profile. It will all depend on the amount of rocks that we encounter. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we can avoid any problems.
We will also begin a new drainage project near the approach of the eleventh green. We will be using a temporary green while the work is going on for the safety of the crew.

Peter Jacobsen Receives the Old Tommy Morris Award

As many of you already know, Peter Jacobsen is the architect at Stone Creek Golf Club and is also a native Oregonian. Since Peter only lived a few miles for Stone Creek during the construction, we were able to spend quite a bit of time together as the course was built. This would not be standard procedure for a typical construction in that a high profile architect would charge thousands for additional visits to a course. Peter put a lot of time and effort into this project and it is apparent by the success this golf course has enjoyed.

I know first hand how great of a person Peter is, and it gives me great satisfaction to see that Peter will be the recipient of the 2012 Old Tommy Morris Award, presented by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Golf Course Management magazine has done a wonderful piece on Peter and is worth the time to read. Peter will receive the award at the Golf Industry Show this February in Las Vegas and what makes it all the more special is I will be receiving GCSAA's Presidents Award at the same ceremony. I will be looking forward to seeing him again. Congratulations Peter!

Click HERE for a link to the story in Decembers issue.

Frost Delays

This post is reprinted with permission from Golfdom and Puttin' Down Roots".
Frost Delays  

Frost is a common reason for morning tee time delay. The reason for the delays is the damage that can occur from foot or equipment traffic to the turf when frost is present. Generally speaking, nice fall golfing days and frost go hand-in-hand. With more frost days expected, this is a good time to look at the conditions favorable for frost.
Frost occurs on clear cold nights when turfgrass plants re-radiate heat (exothermic reaction). As the plant loses heat to the atmosphere the plant leaf cools. If the plant temperature is cooler than the air temperature then moisture from the atmosphere will condense on the leaf. If the leaf temperature drops below freezing then the water freezes and frost forms. This will occur even if the air temperatures are slightly above freezing. At this time of the year it is not uncommon to have frost form even if the air temperature is in the mid to high 30s.

Frost itself does not cause damage, but injury does occur with traffic on frosted areas. Turf damage is generally superficial. This is not to say that traffic should be allowed on frosted turf. If traffic occurs, whether it is foot or mechanical, damage caused by crushing the leaf blade will occur. Initially the symptoms will appear purplish to black in color (almost like an excessive Iron application). The damaged turf will then progress to a straw color. If no damage occurs to the crown, recovery will occur from the generation of new leaves.

Editor's note: "Puttin' Down Roots," an e-newsletter from Golfdom and sponsored by BASF, focuses on plant health. Each month, Golfdom provides readers with a useful plant health tip so they can do their jobs easier.

Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., Golfdom's science editor and a turfgrass professor from The Ohio State University, can be reached at

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Shane and Brad heading out to the 1st tee
The holiday season is officially under way now that Thanksgiving and Black Friday are under our belt. It also signifies that the winter golf season is officially under way. Last week we had a few days of solid rain which we only saw a handful of golfers. Once again, I must tip my hat to those golfers that can brave the elements for four and a half hours on a wet and miserable day. I found these two hardy soles on Wednesday heading out to the first tee. The week wasn't all bad. On the days that it didn't rain, the tee sheet seemed to be packed until early afternoon.

Steve Mathre is never short of anything to do. Last week he spent some extra time on our equipment trailers installing extruded matting on them to protect the drums of the green and collar mowers.

Last week Steve also took the initiative to clean out his shop. During the season he is so busy that there is hardly time to keep up with the details. When I walked in the door following my vacation the entire shop looked amazing.

Steve Pearce on 18
Our deciduous trees have dropped and there are just a few remaining pockets of leaves to clean up. Even with the couple rain outs last week, the crew has managed to keep the course in fantastic shape. Friday I managed to get out and snap a few shots of the course and the guys mowing greens for the first time all week.

Blowing the needles off 17 before mowing
We are looking forward to some favorable weather this week. We will be finishing up the drainage on 18 and will look to begin a new project either on 11 or 5.

If the week stays dry and the conditions allow, I would really like to see some sand applied to the greens. The greens will be due for a shot of fertilizer as well. We are seeing some holes appear on a few greens which are the result of cutworms. Cutworms will inhabit the aerification holes where the sand is soft and will come to the surface to feed around the edges. So far the holes are worse on 11 and 12. We will be monitoring the greens and will probably need to make some spot applications to prevent further damage.

Stone Creek's GBH
Final Fall color

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Pinehurst #2 lives up to its reputation!
Last week my trip to Pinehurst North Carolina topped my all time golfing experiences. Being able to play #2 following the highly touted renovation by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore was an experience I will not soon forget. First of all, Pinehurst is so steeped in golfing history it made my head spin simply walking to my hotel room. The golfing legends who have played and the championships that have taken place are immense.

I cannot say enough about the renovation performed by Coore and Crenshaw. Learning about the history of Pinehurst #2 and how a renovation in the 70's lead to a wall to wall grassing of the course made me cringe. All Coore and Crenshaw did was to put it back to the original intent of Donald Ross and what resulted was a masterpiece. It is so ridiculously simple it was brilliant. The total number of sprinkler heads were cut in half as well as the irrigated acreage. Bob Farren told me that the amount of water delivered to the course was also cut in half. The fairways are simply sprinkled with a single row of heads right down the middle of the fairway.  There is no longer a rough cut. There are only two heights of cut, the greens and everything else. As a 13 handicap I found the course very playable from the white tees. However, the championship tees would present a much different challenge. I have a feeling this course is going to present itself well to the 2014 US Open.

I had the pleasure of playing with Clark Throssell and Anthony Williams, CGCS. We had an amazing time. We all made some pars and a birdie or two even found its way on the card.

Anthony Williams, CGCS
Clark Throssell Ph.D
David Phipps (That's a birdie 4!)
I must not forget to mention why I got to go to Pinehurst in the first place. I was invited by Golfdom Magazine to participate in their first annual Golfdom Summit. The Summit was an event for superintendents, suppliers and dealers of golf course maintenance products and provided a means for them to meet on a one on one basis. We attended board room style presentations which allowed superintendents to give open feedback as well as industry representatives were able to ask direct questions of superintendents.

Reese Jones
We also had an impressive line up of key note speakers. The first night we heard from Ken Magnum, Superintendent of Atlanta Athletic Club. He spoke of his experiences hosting this years PGA Championship as well as the decision to convert the greens from bent to Champion Ultra Dwarf Bermuda. Also speaking the first night was Reese Jones. He talked about the renovations that he has taken part in and how he earned the name "The Open Doctor". His remodeling skills have been applied to seven U.S. Open venues, seven PGA Championship courses, four Ryder Cup and two Walker Cup sites. Not a bad list of accomplishments! Bob Farren of Pinehurst spoke the following day on the renovation of #2 and really gave us an insight into the process of the renovation.

I must thank Golfdom for their wonderful hospitality and vision for hosting this unique event. This is the first of its kind event and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. I met so many great superintendents and look forward to keeping in touch with them.

I leave this post with some more photos from the trip. I hope you enjoy them.

The Carolina Hotel
The East Wing
Bob Farren, Seth Jones, Anthony Williams, CGCS

The caddie told me it was a black fox squirl

Clark shows his new home
Great bunkering

The Donald Ross Home off the 3rd Green

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