Monday, August 29th, 2011

The course continues to play well. We have seen quite a few days in the 90's and the course is holding its own. We have been diligently adjusting the irrigation daily to meet the needs of the course while keeping the pond levels up. Last week we had a couple days of threatening weather but unfortunately it didn't measure up to much. One nice thing is it sure made for some pretty sunrises.

Again, we had another very productive week. Steve got the rough mower back on track and now we are back on a regular rough mowing schedule. We have been picking away at the bunker edges and they are pretty much done throughout. Monday we seeded the upper tee box on the driving range. We suspect we will run over it one more time this season so it will be imperative for us to keep it wet as it germinates. This means we will need help from the cart barn staff moving the portable sprinkler around throughout the day. This will insure a complete germination and a quick recovery.

The highlight of the week was the inaugural run at spraying the fairways. As we predicted, the entire job took only 4 hours to complete using the new Boominator spray nozzles. Mike made a perfect application, mixing it all in our batch tank and then applying it based on the settings of the computer controlled spray system.

Just to clarify there are two types of liquid fertilizer applications that can occur. There is the "foliar feed" application in which the fertilizer is applied to the foliage and is taken up through the leaf tissue. This is very common in many greens fertilizers. The other is a "foliar applied" fertilizer application. This is basically what we are doing with the boominators. We are using water to apply the fertilizer to the foliage which is then washed into the soil with irrigation or rain. You may compare it with a granular application but only with more precise control. The nutrients that we are applying are mostly feeding the soil which will then sustain the grass plant from below. It would be safe to say that there is also plant tissue uptake but that isn't the primary goal of our program using the Redox fertilizer.

This week on Tuesday the crew will be playing in the OGCSA's Annual Crew Tournament which is held down the street at Arrowhead Golf Club. This is always a great time for the guys. A chance to play another course and enjoy the camaraderie among themselves. Today (Monday), Doug, Jason, Mike and I will be playing in the Oregon Turfgrass Foundation golf tournament at Columbia Edgewater. This year the tournament has sold out which should be a huge success for our fund raising efforts for Oregon State University. I would like to recognize the Foundation Board of Directors for all their hard work in putting this event on. Especially Bo Hepler our President and Linda Whitworth,our Executive Director. They have provided so much of their time organizing and making it all come together. Rumor has it that Stone Creek may be favored!

Turfgrass Water Conservation by S. T. Cockerham and B. Leinauer

A couple weeks ago I received a copy of the Second Edition Turfgrass Water Conservation by S. T. Cockerham and B. Leinauer. The first thing I noticed was Stone Creek Golf Club on the front cover! Quite a while ago, I was contacted by Rossana Sallenave, New Mexico State University Animal Science and Natural Resource Extension Specialist, about providing a few golf course photos depicting wildlife and water conservation. Rossana is one of the contributing authors and was writing the chapter titled: Environmental Issues Surrounding Turf-Dominated Urban Landscapes. She managed to use three of the photos I supplied her. One of Stone Creek, one of the bluebirds I shot when I worked at The Oregon Golf Club and one Al Nielsen, CGCS of Royal Oaks Country Club gave me of one of his bird houses. I had no idea they would use Stone Creek on the front cover. If I had known I would have sent more to choose from.

I might as well give the publication a plug. The contributing authors list is rather impressive, ranging from James B. Beard, Turfgrass Science Emeritus, Texas A&M University to Frank P. Wong, Plant Pathology, University of California, Riverside (Frank is now the technical service specialist for Bayer Environmental Science). This book is a collective body of knowledge that will help provide the most recent water conservation and information and guidelines for the scientific community, the golf course superintendent and grounds manager, the general public and hopefully a few politicians as well. I checked on Amazon and it is going fast but more are being ordered. The cost is $24. Click HERE for a link to Amazon.

Taking Applications for Assistant Superintendent

With both sorrow and joy in my heart I must report that Mike Turley will be leaving us at Stone Creek. I believe behind every good superintendent is an even better assistant.  Mike was every bit of that and then some. I am very excited for Mike as he accepts a partner position within a very successful family business. I will most certainly miss his hard work and the friendship we shared daily. I only lost a good assistant but our friendship will remain forever. I wish him all the joy and success in his new venture.

Needless to say, I am now accepting applications for a new assistant superintendent. The following is my official post for the position:

The assistant golf course superintendent reports directly to the golf course superintendent. Under the superintendents supervision, the assistant directs and participates in the overall maintenance of the golf course. The assistant superintendent may serve in the superintendent's capacity during his/her absence.

  • Assists in planning and supervising the maintenance of greens, tees and fairways; schedules work, and supervises the employees and the use of the equipment.
  • Instructs equipment operators on the operation and care of mowing and other equipment, supervises pesticide applications and/or operates and calibrates pesticide application equipment, and supervises and participates in the operation and maintenance of pumps, and in the maintenance of irrigation and drainage systems.
  • Assists in personnel management and evaluation, employee safety and personnel discipline.
  • May modify the daily work schedule based on professional interpretation.
Employment Standards 
  • Possess a four year bachelors degree or a two year turf related degree.
  • Working knowledge of the maintenance of golf course tees, fairways and greens; seeding and maintenance practices for golf course turf, planting, cultivating, pruning, and caring for plants, shrubs and trees; characteristics and proper use of various fertilizers and soil conditioners; herbicide and pest control methods and materials; drainage control methods; and irrigation systems, including wells, pumps and automatic controls.
  • Ability to schedule and supervise maintenance work to achieve the most efficient utilization of workers and equipment, prepare clear and concise reports; and maintain effective employee and public relations.
  • Possession of a valid driver's license.
  • Possession of a valid State of Oregon pesticide applicators license or the ability to obtain within 60 days of hire date.
Compensation  $30,000 to $40,000, DOE

  • Medical and dental insurance after 90 days of employment
  • 401K after one year of employment
  • Annual vacation
  • OGCSA and GCSAA dues paid
Send resume` and cover letter to:

David Phipps
14603 S Stoneridge Drive
Oregon City, OR 97045

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

This week I would like to start out my post with a recap of an earlier post I made regarding driving range tee divot repair. We have planted the new "Natural Knit" spreading ryegrass on our nursery and on the driving range tee box to see if it would increase the rate in which divots would repair. The thought is that with the new spreading characteristic combined with the wear tolerance of perennial ryegrass, we would be able to have a better quality driving range tee. We were having a difficult time gauging the rate of repair on the actual driving range tee box since it is always so messed up so we did a divot pattern on the nursery which is located above the range next to our shop. The two photos below were taken 38 days apart and the divots were filled only with sand, no seed.  It is pretty evident that the divots do in fact fill in quickly.
Taken July 14th, 2011

Taken August 21st, 2011 (38 days)
  In addition to the rapid repair we have also noticed that the texture of this grass is extremely fine. If I were to build a new tee box this would be the grass of choice. I can only imagine what it would look like planted in a fairway too. In some of the trials I have seen with this grass, it resembles bentgrass in many ways, only without the heavy thatch build-up. It performs very well at heights around 0.50". This week we will aerating and seeding the upper tee box and we will continue to plant the Natural Knit.

In a side note, speaking with Dr. Golembieski at Oregon State. He has some trials of the same grass at the Lewis Brown Research Farm and he noted that the grass performs optimally at cutting heights below 1.25". In addition to golf tee's and fairways, Natural Knitt would make a very nice soccer pitch or baseball field which receives a high level of maintenance and cut below 1.25".

Course Conditions
We finally found the 90's! Saturday hit 93.6 degrees here at Stone Creek which is the first time we have exceeded the 90 mark all season. The course is finally beginning to take on that Stone Creek trademark late summer appearance with the edges of the rough showing some brown. I am glad to see that Stone Creek golfers appreciate good dry conditions. In my opinion this is how golf was meant to be played. I feel it adds a completely new dimension to the game with the skinny lies and the additional ball roll. You will definitely find your ball in places you may not have been able to reach earlier in the season. The greens are still rolling true and fast and the tee boxes are the best I have seen them. Zef has been doing a wonderful job managing the moisture on the fairways. Early in the morning you will see him running a few multi-manuals in select areas, being careful not to allow the fairway to become too wet.
This week we will verticutting and topdressing the greens as well as fertilizing them. Mike will also begin fertilizing the fairways with the new Boominators. Last week I started mowing the tall grass in between the tee boxes and this week I will begin to cut the large areas between the holes. This is a big job and will take some time. We will normally mow early in the morning while there is plenty of moisture on the grass. This helps keep the dust down to a minimum. We should probably be able to mow close to 5 acres a day.

The parts are all in for the 4500 and we should be able to resume our regular rough mowing schedule. The entire crew has done a magnificent job keeping up with the rough using the trim mowers.

I am happy to report that Carl is home from South Dakota and is doing well. If you missed it, Carl took a dive on his bike at 70 mph after his front tire blew out. Bob and Steve took over an electric chair that Bobs mother used to have. Carl is so grateful for that. He can now motor around the property and get to places that he hadn't been able to before. I stopped by Saturday for a visit and he is already talking about another bike. Not so sure if Sandy is going to allow that. He should be in his casts for close to 90 days and will then need quite of bit of rehab to build back his strength.

Carl's spirits are high and he is doing great. He loves company so feel free to drop by and visit for a spell. Oh and by the way, while he was in the hospital he quit smoking. It has been three weeks now and he has no desire. He even let me take all his tobacco off his hands so he wouldn't be tempted. And no, in case you were wondering, I found a good home for it.

Thursday we held our annual rib-eye barbecue. The steaks were incredible and we ate like pigs. We enjoyed having Mike McLees there. Now that he has retired from the County he can finally make it. He will always be on our invite list. This is my way to say thanks to everyone who works for me, including the staff at the ball field as well as Mark and Doug with the County Parks Department. Especially all my staff here at the course. All wouldn't be what it is today with out their hard work and expertise. It was especially nice to have Gordon there as well. We managed to forget our bocce ball tournament but will have to do something later. Thank you Gordon for offering my staff a group lesson! I think that would be huge for the crew. We should be able to use the nursery tee behind the shop and continue our divot recovery trial. Thanks again for doing that Gordy, that really means a lot!

Finally a word of thanks to Fazio Brothers Sand. Russ showed up with his new truck so I had to snap a quick picture of it. Richard Fazio is one of the Oregon Golf Course Superintendent Association's biggest supporters. They manage to keep golf courses supplied with some of the finest topdressing sand around. They deliver from Coeur d'alene to Bend and the greater State of Oregon West of the Cascades. Besides thanking them for all their support I really wanted to post this picture. It is such a good looking truck!

David Feherty Addressing the ACC Maintenance Staff

Daren Davis lead me to this video on You Tube through one of his Twitter posts. I really love what David has to say to Ken and his staff. What a great course the entire staff provided the PGA for this years final major. Kudos to everyone!

Bill Webster Live on AM 750 The Game

Tune in to AM 750 to listen to Bill Webster, CGCS talk about the LPGA Safeway Classic

Bill Webster, CGCS at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, will be a guest on radio station 750 AM “The Game” hosted by Tom Hewitt and Conan Elliott this Saturday, August 20th at 8:15 a.m.

The Game’s interactive mobile radio player gives you the freedom to listen anytime and anywhere. Click HERE for instructions to listen live on your iPhone, Blackberry or Android.


Call 712 432-6646 to listen live over any telephone

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Off and running on Sunday morning!
Like the PGA, we too had a successful club championship. I wouldn't compare Stone Creek to the likes of Atlanta Athletic Club, but it was a great championship on both ends. As AAC prepared for the PGA Championship Ken Magnum had surrounded himself with some of the finest people he could find and the results were astounding. The key to any well run organization is not just the leader, but the people he works with on a daily basis. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize a couple of my key staff for all their hard work this summer. I will make a point to highlight a few each week until I am able to give everyone the credit that they are due.

One of the toughest positions on the course is the job of the assistant superintendent. Mike Turley has done an exemplary job ever since he joined us almost 7 years ago. Mike's job has been primarily the scheduling of daily activities and the application of fertilizers and fungicides. He must also be able to read my mind and stay one step ahead of me. To my astonishment he manages to play the role just like Radar on the series M*A*S*H. He has the uncanny ability to see the course as I do and many times has the jobs in motion before I can even mention it to him.

Like the assistant job, the equipment technician ranks right up there. Steve Mathre has been with me from the start. He was the second person I hired when I began to hire employees for Stone Creek. I hired him sight unseen from Ames Country Club in Ames Iowa. Steve made his way out with his family and has never looked back. I cannot site how many times Steve has gotten us out of a pickle or has helped a fellow coworker with a mechanical issue. He can do it all. This has been an especially trying year now that our equipment is aging and showing the signs of wear. Somehow he manages to get things right-side-up and back out on the course to keep things running smoothly. I would just like to thank Steve for all his patients and perseverance over the years in helping to keep this place in the condition that it is in.

In preparation for the Championship we spent some time checking the bunkers for sand depth. In many of the bunkers the sand has become uneven due to the constant raking from the front to the back. Jorge was able to use the blade on the Sand Pro to reallocate the sand throughout the bunkers, thus avoiding having to use additional sand. We did however need to fill quite a few green side ones. Special thanks to Jorge for all his expertise and effort in getting all the bunkers back in shape!

In our efforts to reduce the amount of pesticides we use on the course we have developed threshold levels which will dictate when we treat for a particular problem. The greens however, are the only area on the course where we will spray preventatively. Insect damage in the rough has been an area which we have allowed to go unchecked. Crane fly is the usual suspect up until now. We have discovered an infestation of billbug in the surrounds behind the 11th green. The damage first appeared as a dry spot but upon further examination we found  the turf had no roots and small white larvae were present throughout. We have had small infestations like this in the past and we will reseed the area this fall. We will be sure to watch the same area next year perhaps with traps and determine if treatment will be warranted.

This week we will begin cutting the tall grass and should be fertilizing the fairways with the new Boominator nozzles. I will be sure to report next week on how well they worked. In the mean time enjoy the course, it is playing the best I have seen in quite some time.

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Looking west over the 8th green
Last week was another picture perfect week in the weather category. Still not seeing the 90's and managing to stay in the low 80's. It can stay like this until October as far as I'm concerned.

Once again we were productive and managed to get quite a few things accomplished. Our scheduled events such as tee fertilization and green topdressing went without a hitch. We got a start on mowing some of the tall grass down along sixteen and will begin in earnest following the Championship next week. We also began relocating the sand in the bunkers. Many of them appeared to be shallow but only needed to have the sand pushed back around to uniform levels. We will continue with the bunkers throughout this week. The new portable toilets were delivered Monday and so far I am very happy with the first round of service. They are doing a very thorough job cleaning them out. We installed a new door on the ladies restroom which had broken last year due to high wind. A heavy duty closer was used to insure that it stays shut this time.

The evenings have been amazing out at the course. I enjoy coming out early in the evening to pick up Adam from work and spend some time to take photos and play around with the new camera. I have been playing around with HDR photographs lately. HDR stands for high dynamic range imaging. To make it as simple as possible it involves taking multiple shots of the same subject with different exposures. Mainly an under, a mid, and an over exposed picture. I use Photoshop to combine the three photos which results in a picture that more accurately represents the range of intensity found in real scenes. Above is a picture I took of the cart barn that is a combination of these three shots below:
I have far from perfected it and could probably done it with the first and third shots only but it is fun to play around and see what turns out. If I ever get anything halfway decent I'll be sure to share it.

Speaking of great evenings, this year Stone Creek organized a couples par 3 tournament following our Friday afternoon event and from what I could tell everyone had a great time. Jason and I laid out the course and I set the cups and mowed out the temp greens in the fairways Friday morning. I think we ended up with more players than we expected so an extra two holes had to be added. Given how fun it was and the response from the participants I am sure we will have more by the summers end.  Here are some more shots I took of everyone having a great time.

Great work Paul showing everyone where to go!

Megan was in high demand for the event!
Finally I am sorry to report that Carl had another accident on his motor bike last week. He had been planing on this two week excursion to the Sturgis motorcycle rally for a year and just as he arrived his front tire blew out at 60 mph. He suffered a broken leg and another broken wrist. I actually think he got away lucky. I am grateful he didn't hurt his head or anything else more serious. "I think this is it for the motorbike thing", says Sandy. Please keep Carl in your thoughts the next few days as they try to get him back home.

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Some may say we have had lousy weather this summer, but as far as the grass conditions go, we couldn't ask for better. The extra rain that we have received hasn't been that great for play but it has for the turf. We are now experiencing the dividends of such a moist spring and early summer. The rough and driving range are still actively growing. Normally by this time of year these areas are pretty much dormant. We may increase our fuel consumption from mowing, but the money we saved from not turning on the deep well so early will far exceed that.

In the month of July we never broke the 90 degree mark. It is the first time since 1993. The forecast for the first part of August is looking much like the regular pattern that we are used to seeing. We will be well in the 80's and this will mean that we may start seeing areas of the course become stressed and turning brown. Similar to the winter when we have frost, grass that is drought stressed becomes susceptible to injury, especially the fine fescue. This is why I would like to remind every on to remember: “If it is brown, go around” This will prevent unsightly tire tracks. The damage is only temporary and will recover as soon as water is replenished. By navigating carefully around the course, we can preserve the appearance of the grass.

This month we are starting a new portable restroom service. We have received many complaints on the conditions of the toilets and the problem didn’t seem to be resolved. I am confident that our new company will provide us with excellent service. They will be servicing the units on Tuesdays and Fridays. If you find conditions less than acceptable at any time please let me know as soon as possible. I know they are portable restrooms but our customers don’t need to be using facilities that are offensive.

Friday was a busy day with an AM and PM shotgun. I always enjoy the My Breast Friend Tournament each year as they seem to really enjoy themselves. I liked there little game off the third tee, although nobody was able to get the ball in the boat, they had a great time trying. Saturday seemed like one of our busiest days yet. I thought it was amazing how we were able to host multiple tournaments at once and send them all out in a single shotgun. Great job by the deli staff and the proshop for all their organization.

Tuesday we will be applying a light topdress to the greens and Thursday we will be fertilizing tee boxes. This month we will begin our Redox program on our fairways but given how green the course is we won't be adding any nitrogen.

Finally a word of gratitude to all my staff for the great work they have been doing on the course this season. I am so proud of their efforts and their pride they have in the job they do.  It is a team effort and their work is evident by the amount of complements they are receiving.
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