Monday, January 30th, 2012

Sunday morning while I was changing cups, Jorge and I were both on the 6th green, he asked me if I saw the bald eagle. Of course I missed it, then suddenly about a thousand geese got up from behind the neighbors, and the sky was full of birds. The first thing I thought of was that eagle must have been looking for breakfast. Moments later after I was on the 5th green, Jorge calls me on the radio to get my attention and he points to the eagle flying low across the lake with a goose in tow. What a magnificent sight! Not just seeing the eagle so close up but knowing that there was one less goose in the neighborhood. The worst part of the moment was realizing that I left the Nikon at home.

Shortly after the eagle sighting, this rainbow appeared in the sky. All of the sudden my radio is going crazy and everyone is asking me if I'm taking pictures with my camera. Now I'm getting mad. This thing was of those that you don't often see. I actually can't recall ever seeing a rainbow this large and so beautiful. Of course if I had the Nikon I would have set up for great shot and had the picture of the year. I had to settle for the Droid X2. It's better than nothing. After such an eventful morning the rain settled in for the rest of the day.

Although it rained over a third of an inch on Sunday, we did have a nice stretch of weather on Friday and Saturday. That gave us an opportunity to mow the greens. With the frost delay it wasn't easy, but the golfers were very accommodating, allowing us to mow around them. Earlier in the week we managed to accumulate another inch and a half of rain, so this week we will be busy once again putting the bunkers back into place.

Speaking of Bunkers, I would like to tip my hat to Jorge. He has been our unofficial "Sand Pro" if you will. He has developed quite a skill pushing the sand back into place with the front blade on the bunker rake. On our older model it requires quite a bit of upper body strength and Jorge makes it look easy. Just recently he went through each bunker and reallocated the sand so it could be distributed more evenly. Since doing that, this last round of washouts was less severe and he was able to complete the front nine on Friday. If the weather cooperates this week I would anticipate them being completed by Tuesday.

I mentioned last week that I would post a photo of our 11 year old tee mower. Again, Steve has done a great job keeping these in top shape but as they get older our costs seem to increase to keep them running. This year we are looking at quite a few hydraulic hoses to replace on many of our units to avoid any mishaps. Preventative maintenance is the key!

Ron Plath, United States Blind Golf Association

The guys in the pro shop directed me to this video about Ron Plath. Ron plays at Stone Creek often but he is not your normal golfer; he is legally blind. Ron is an inspiration to many who have loved this game but have lost their vision later in there life, including my father. It's a great story.

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The weather makes the headlines once again last week. We started with snow early in the week and finished with a fair amount of rain. We averaged just under an inch of rain a day since the 15th, with our maximum daily rainfall occurring on Thursday with 2.52 inches.

The Willamette Falls are just about as high as I have seen it. Not quite the level of 1996 but still pretty impressive. If you get a chance be sure to drive down there and get a first hand look. I didn't get any pictures of Beaver Creek but if you like to walk the trail you will be in for a good sight as well.

Sixteen green
The golf course received very little damage as far as the flooding is concerned. We saw a number of places where the drain pipes couldn't keep up with the flow so the water backed up on the path and grass. You would think that with over 2.5 inches of rain on Thursday, the tee sheet would have been empty. Not true. These guys along with one other twosome made the full 18 holes. The water here actually backed up from the lake to the right which is normally a dry lake in the summer.

With all this lousy weather it is hard to do drainage so it is safe to say that we didn't get any pipe in the ground this week. We will postpone any further drain projects until the conditions become more favorable. We did, however work on the picnic tables and the benches from the golf course. We are sanding and applying a fresh coat of stain.

Steve has been going through the tee mowers, replacing bushing and repairing cracked welds. These mowers are still working great but at 11 years old they have neared the end of their normal expected life thus we are having to put a lot of time and money back into them to keep them going. The condition of our equipment at Stone Creek is a testament to the quality work Steve does. He takes a lot of pride in his equipment and not only keeps it running smooth, he keeps it looking great as well. When he finishes up with the tee mowers I'll be sure to share a photo or two.

Last week Chris spent two days at the Toro Site Pro Training Seminar at Skamania Lodge. This week is the annual crew seminar hosted by the Oregon GCSA. This has always been a favorite event for the guys, a chance to break up the winter season and listen to some great speakers.

We have our new driving range signs completed and are ready for the new season. We had these 12x12 inch signs made at our local sign shop and we mounted them on the Standard Golf sign posts. I have had a lot of favorable comments on them from fellow superintendents but now the trick will be to educate our golfers. I don't expect this sign to do it all, it is going to take a team effort on everyone's behalf to help the players learn.

Finally, I would like to share a letter that Doug received at the pro shop from one of our neighbors. It's not everyday that someone takes the time to let you know when you are doing something right. I would like to also point out the Doug Garfield from the County Parks Department deserves recognition for his part in maintaining the trail. Doug has put a lot of his pride in the trail which shows by the number of walkers we see daily. I can't say it enough, but everyone puts a little of their pride in what they do here and it shows.

To The Crew at the Stone Creek Golf Club,

I walk the golf course almost every day and am very grateful to all of you working there.  I especially appreciative of how fast you took care of the problems with the walking trail daily and especially this week.   I am, also, sure the golfers appreciate what a great job you do on the course.  It is very gratifying to know how dedicated you are serving the public, especially during these tough economic times.  You deserve to be commended by us county residents a lot more.

Again, thank you very much for your hard work!

Remembering Michael Hindahl

I found this article in a Turfgrass Management in the Pacific Northwest magazine from the summer of 2005. I often speak of Michael and the influence he had on me while he was with us. On February 28th I will be receiving the GCSAA's Presidents Award for Environmental Stewardship at the Golf Industry Show in Las Vegas. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Michael for his encouragement and for being such an inspiration to my career.

Remembering Michael Hindahl

Monday, January 16th, 2012

The weather tops the news once again this week. It looks like winter finally started to appear across much of the country. I noticed the much of the Midwest has finally hit the single digits. Our weather last week was fantastic but as I write this weeks post it is snowing outside my window. I don't think this snow will be anything like the winter of 2008 but I'm pretty sure the course may be closed for a short period.

Frank DiMarco
Earlier in the week the weather did cooperate and give us enough sunshine so Frank DiMarco could come out and shoot some photos for Golf Course Management's upcoming story on the Presidents Award. Frank is a great guy and gives me all kinds of tips on my photography.  I was able to grab my camera and put Frank on the other end of the lens for a change.

Three Fairway Drainage
Three Completed

Our drainage work continued last week. We completed our first project on three in only two days and before I knew it the crew had already started in on the second project on eighteen Wednesday morning. Three was the perfect job with no rocks, it was like cutting through butter but when we got to eighteen the Stone Creek Gods came to light and placed a large boulder right in our path. No rock it to large and the guys put the business to it and carved right through the middle of it in no time at all. (It's a good thing the rocks are comprised of weathered basalt and we can chip right through them). By the end of the week we completed 185 feet of drainage between the two projects.

I have had some questions regarding our drainage procedures and would like to explain what we have found to work best here at Stone Creek. In my years of drainage experience, I have heard of and seen many different variations of drainage. Some have used 1" to 1 1/2" river rock in trenches with a pipe placed in the bottom of the trench. Some have used a filter fabric, or a sock if you will, over the pipe to supposedly keep from plugging. I prefer not to use the sock and most of my drainage has been with straight slotted ADS pipe or ridged sanitary drain pipe with holes along the bottom third. The back fill material has been pea gravel ranging from 1/4" to 1/2" in diameter.

Eighteen fairway
I began to hear of straight sand being used as the back fill material and thought we should give it a try. We found that it seemed to have a more positive effect on the drainage, plus it was easier to manage the dry lines in the summer. But like any turf system, we can't place soil base sod on top of the sand so we have started growing our own sand based sod. Using sod grown on the same material as the back fill, insures there will not be any layering which could impede water infiltration. In the beginning we planted our nursery with creeping fescue and ryegrass for stability, but still had to cut it pretty thick to keep it together. Then we discovered the new creeping ryegrass and have found that we can cut the sod much thinner (one inch) and not have to worry about it falling apart.

Small Detour
Drainage is one of those things where everyone has there own opinion of what works best and my opinion is, "if it works for you, stick with it". I don't claim this will work for everyone in different parts of the country but I do know it is working well here at Stone Creek and we have been doing it for over 5 years now and we haven't had any problems. Not to mention, we have not had to worry about pea gravel getting mixed with our topdressing sand and that's a good thing!

Piping with 4" ADS

Back filling with straight sand

Finished with fresh sand based nursery grown sod

Sun Sense

This video came to my attention earlier and after sharing it on Facebook, Pat Jones suggested that I share it on the Blog. As golf industry professionals we spend much of our time outside, and sunscreen is the one thing that is overlooked the most. I have always provided pump bottles of sunscreen in the shop which I often forget to use myself. A few years ago after visiting the sun cancer screening booth at the GIS, the technician told me that I had a suspicious mark on my left hand. I had it looked at by my dermatologist when I got back and sure enough it was a form of skin cancer called squamous cell melanoma. I was very fortunate to catch it early and every since I have been seeing the dermatologist annually.
If you don't think it is ever going to happen to you I dare you to Google "squamous cell melanoma pictures". Actually just click on the link and see for yourself. It's not pretty.
If anything, please watch this video and share it if you feel compelled.

Monday, January 9th, 2012

We took a break from drainage and much of last week was spent working on the bunkers repairing the wash-outs that were created by the four plus inches of rain that occurred the last week of December. It was good to finally be able to spend some time on the bunkers, not only repairing them but adding some much needed sand to the bottoms of many. The course continues to play well. Aside from a quick quarter inch of rain we had early one morning, we are still enjoying some great golfing conditions.

Wednesday was such a nice day, I even got in a rare eighteen holes with the Men's Club. I hadn't played since my memorable round at Pinehurst #2 in November but am glad to say that my driver was in full swing and I actually kept it in the fairway (most of the time). I really need to play more often in the winter, I can appreciate how well this course plays year around.

As I drive around the course I try to look at it with many perspectives in mind. When I have my camera I tend to see things differently and am able to capture some of the views that we may not pay attention to when we are playing. Last week I noticed the big rock on eleven. We have all seen it, it is usually our aiming point off the tee box, but this time I noticed the growth on it. The rock was left there from construction simply due to the fact that it was much to large to deal with and it was mostly out of play. Over the last 12 years the rock has grown some mosses and lichens which really stand out this time of  year. In addition to the rock on eleven, Above, I also included a picture of the rock pile near the fourteenth tee within this post. The rocks have finally begun to take on a mossy character which is much nicer than the plain fresh-out-of-the-ground look. 

If the current weather pattern holds true, it is looking like we are in for another stretch of dry weather. The seven day outlook looks like a lot of sunshine with the morning lows in the 30's and the daily highs in the upper 40's. Unfortunately this means a good chance of frost. As a reminder, if you are playing in the morning it is a good idea to call in first even if you don't have frost at your house. It is common to have frost at Stone Creek and have none at all three miles down the road in Oregon City.

We will be beginning the drainage project on the third fairway this week so there may be a temporary on that hole from time to time. We will keep it open as much as we can but don't anticipate this project taking long at all.

Finally, as I was playing on Wednesday I saw a small flock of Western Bluebirds! As many of you know, I used to work at The Oregon Golf Club as Russell Vandehey's assistant and while I was there the bluebirds became a permanent resident there. To this day Russ continues document multiple successful nesting pairs and we have yet to have one pair here at Stone Creek. Even though we are only five miles as the bird fly's from The Oregon Golf Club and we have placed 24 bird boxes throughout the property, it must just be a matter of time. I have threatened to kidnap one of his pairs but since this sighting I am hopeful that this is the year. Here is a photo of the Western Bluebird, so if you happen to notice one, please let me know when and where so we can track their status. If you click on the link above it will take you to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which will give you a complete description including the sound of their chirp. 

Monday, January 2nd, 1012

Happy New Year to everyone! I certainly hope everyone survived the Holiday season. Let's just get on to June... Quickly.

So much for smashing the all time driest December record. We pretty much wrapped up the entire months rainfall in just one week. We had a total of 4.3 inches this month with 4 inches coming from Christmas on. I would still take it this way than any other. At least we didn't string it out over 30 days and were able to enjoy some bonus rounds of golf. At the time of writing this post I am forecasting 410 rounds more than our budget for the month! I took this snippet of the radar on Wednesday and thought how stereotypical this must look. Most of the entire country with the exception of the NW is enjoying dry weather. This depicts living in the NW at its best. It may be wet now, but we sure have great summers. That's just my opinion and am sticking with it for now.

As predicted, we wrapped up the drain line on eleven on Tuesday. We are all very pleased in how it turned out. I took this photo in the middle of the heavy rain on Wednesday which gives you an idea how the rain sheets off the grass. This demonstrates the benefit of having a properly graded golf course. The quicker we can get it off the surface the firmer we can keep the grass on top.

As we are prepare for our next drain project on three, the heavy rain it gave us a good opportunity to line out where we want to place our trench and catch basins. We like to strategically place the drain grates in areas that will intercept the most amount of surface water and get it off the surface. The red flags show the location of the drain pipe and the white flags will be the location of the surface drains. We'll start this project first thing this week.

As a budding amateur photographer I like to try new things with my camera. The Nikon D90 has the ability to bracket photos which means it will shoot three consecutive photographs but will automatically adjust the exposure for each shot. Usually one under exposed, one over exposed and one in the middle, depending on how you set it up. With special software you then combine the three shots to get a single photograph. This is called HDR, high definition resolution. John Kaminski, a turf professor from Penn State University has become very proficient at this and has posted some remarkable shots on his photo blog at Please take a look, its worth your time.

I downloaded a trial of Photomatrix at home and gave it a try. This was the sunrise last weekend. I processed one in black and white and one in color. I think they are both pretty unique images.

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