Monday, February 27th, 2012

The mixed bag of weather continues to keep us guessing. This week we had 1.28 inches of rain but we also had some pretty fair golfing conditions. I also took advantage of the fair days to get some sunny shots of the golf course. I edited this photo with my new tone mapping software, combining two separate exposures. My favorite part is the jet trails piercing the clouds.

We continued to work on drainage lows this week. The guys are getting rather proficient at this. They did a few on the ninth fairway this week including this one below the green. If you have been down there in wet conditions you know it's not a simple lob shot, this should firm it up nicely. We also fixed a few wet areas including the edge of the path on 17 just past the bunker!

We are continuing to work on various projects around the course. Steve Mathre once again used his resourcefulness to solve a reoccurring problem. The fenders on the Buffalo blower seem to have issues with solid objects and are made of plastic which isn't a good combination. So instead of removing them and dealing with all of the mud that would coat the blower Steve used an old conveyor belt from our core harvester to make a flexible fender that shouldn't crack so easily. I'm always giving Steve a hard time about saving old scraps, but he continues to show me up by utilizing them to create solutions. One of these days I will make a list of all his "fixes". He has saved us a lot of money over the years.

This year we will be taking on a larger role in maintaining the trail around the course. The crew is anxious to take on the responsibility and to help out the County in these times of limited resources. Right now we are adding chips to various areas, assuring  that the walkers and joggers have solid footing. Later on we will also be mowing the edges with our new/used rotary mower which should reduce the amount of costly community service labor significantly.

In between  working on drainage lows and all of the other chores, Zeferino has been diligently working on raising sprinkler heads. This is a never ending task as you can imagine. There are over 1200 sprinklers on the course and they eventually settle and need to be lifted so the pattern isn't disrupted. Some sprinklers around the greens and near bunkers actually need to be lifted two times a year with the accumulation of sand. Zeferion takes much pride in his work and it shows.

On Tuesday the weather was so rotten that we decided to give the equipment bay a much needed cleansing. We figured that since Steve is doing such a great job cleaning up all of the equipment we may as well take care of all the dust in the bay. Since our yard is still gravel, dust and dirt is a constant battle and by hosing it all out we should be able to enjoy a few good weeks of dust free conditions.

This week I will be in Vegas for the GCSAA Golf Industry Show and to receive the Presidents Award for Environmental Stewardship. I am looking forward to the many opportunities to network with my peers and meet and make new friends. The education that I have received over the years attending the GIS has been an invaluable resource for me, keeping up with the latest science and modern ways to maintain a golf course.  I always look forward to the equipment show to meet the vendors at a national level and discover new products on the market. I will have a full recap of the events in my next weeks update. As always, I am leaving the course in great hands and am confident Chris and the crew will keep the place in top shape.

Driving Range Divot Signs

I am still getting requests for copies of my driving range divot signs so I am going to supply everyone with links to the printer ready file. I have two versions that I am going to make public. First is the 12x12 and the other is a 12x18. The 12x18 can be printed at your local sign shop on a stock aluminum sign. The 12x12 may cost more for custom cutting.
There are two files for each sign. The first is a .jpg which is the everyday photo file, the second is a .eps file. You may not be able to open it, but your sign company will have the software to do so, and will actually favor using it versus the other.

Monday, February 20th, 2012

My blog began as a weekly report which I sent to Gordy (TGMS President) each week on the course conditions. It then evolved into a blog, which was a way to look back at previous reports and also able to include photos more easily. Superintendents have been utilizing blogs more now than ever, and it has proven to be an effective way to communicate to stakeholders, golfers, members, and peers.

I began posting in July of 2009 and have posted weekly ever since. Today, 197 posts later and over 40,000 page views, I am humbled at the amount of traffic that has come by the Stone Creek Blog. By internet standards, 40,000 is a drop in the bucket, but for something that was simply intended to be a weekly report, it amazes me. Thank you to all who find what we do at Stone Creek worth reading about.

Last week was another mixed bag of weather. Just when we felt like we were through the cold, an upper level low drops in over us and puts us back in the low 40's. We did however manage to mow the fairways once again and were also able to get the greens fertilized, first in almost two months. This week we will be applying Verde-Cal to the greens and tees. Depending on when you play, you may see some particles stick to your ball. Given the rain in this weeks forecast, it shouldn't be on the surface long.

We continued to work on small projects throughout the course last week. There are still several catch basins and wet areas the guys wanted to fix so they took it upon there own to just simply "get it done". They added a catch basin along the path on eighteen to alleviate the wet area that seemed to be a cart magnet for so long. They also repaired two lows, one behind ten green and the other at the 200 yard mark in the eleventh fairway.

No sooner when Chris and I had just noticed that the disease issue pressure has been low, we begin to see microdochium patch pop up again on the putting green. It seems like clock work when the temps drop along with heavy moisture, we start seeing it pop up again. We are due for an application and will do our best to get it done between rain events. I like to see 24 hours of dry weather following the application for environmental safety and maximum effectiveness. If not, we can waste a lot of money and risk off target run off.

Finally, I just want to mention how great it is to see Dan Zinzer and Mike McLees spending time playing golf. Both Dan and Mike played such a vital role in developing Stone Creek and now that they have both retired from the County, they are finally able to spend their time doing what they love to do!

Monday, February 13th, 2012

A week ago Saturday, we opened the grass on the driving range tee for the Men's Club Super Bowl event. I was excited to try out our new driving range signs and to my dismay I can see that we have some serious work to do. I was disappointed that I didn't see as many long snakes on the tee as I would have expected. I spent the rest of the morning after the shot gun went off seeding and sanding the mess.

I know this is going to take some time for everyone to learn this new technique so I have prepared myself to be patient. The new signs are very self explanatory, so if others are seeing people doing the right thing it is bound to get better. We are so fortunate to have such a great Men's Club at Stone Creek. They have been generous over the years by contributing funds to the turf program at Oregon State, so I will be communicating with them on how they can contribute to our successful range program.

I have received multiple requests from across the country of the divot pattern signs. You can save it to your computer by simply right clicking and use the "Save as" option. The one I have placed here is a 12x18, most sign companies can print this on their stock aluminum sign.

Last week was business as usual at the course. We continued edging cart paths and Zeferino has started raising and leveling heads. I have been busy meeting with vendors, getting quotes on our nitrogen sources, and  getting ready to implement the years fertility program. Steve has taken apart the pump on the sprayer and has determined that it is time to replace it. Luckily we had half of it in stock and the other half should be here today. This will be our first year when everything will be fertilized with the Redox fertilizer, there will not be any granular fertility on the greens, tees or fairways. We have already proven the greens and tees, so I am looking forward to seeing the results on the fairways.

Steve Pearce suggested planting some fir trees along the south edge of the lake on six. It is a great location to expand plantings for there is plenty of room to grow. Doug Fir seedlings have sprung up all over the course so he has taken it upon himself to relocated them to places where they will flourish. He has also divided some Oregon Grape and snow berry and planted them along the edge as well. This will create new shelter and food for the wildlife and will eventually rise high enough to provide shade for the lake.

Monday, February 5th, 2012

You have got to love high pressure weather systems in the winter! We had a great week at the course and were able to mow more grass than we have all winter. We started the week mowing the tees and approaches and finished it by mowing all of the fairways. The first since December! It is great to see stripes once again.

It was also great to see such a large turn-out for the Men's Club event on Saturday. This was probably the earliest I have seen cars parked along the edge of the parking lot. The weather couldn't have been better. We had just a short frost delay in the morning and ended up with the temperature hovering around the 60 degree mark by the end of the day. I hung around after their tournament and spoke to many of the players and so many were all smiles, regardless of what they shot. There is something about the sun's warmth that will give people such a lift.

Our latest project has been edging the cart paths. It is a long and arduous task, one that I can't guarantee we will finish any time soon. I'm not sure how many miles there are, but counting both sides of the path, I'm sure it adds up to a few. It makes such a difference to the appearance of the course, just one of those little things that makes a large impact.

This weeks forecast is calling for more sunshine so if we can just keep the frost at bay, we are hoping to get the topdresser out and get some sand out on the greens.

Wildlife Update

We had lots of great bird sightings this week. We continued to see the eagle on Monday and I finally had my camera with me and managed to get a far away shot of it above the lake on six. We actually saw a pair. Between the both of them they had the geese moving all day long. I was amazed at how the geese new the eagles presents from so far away. Once the eagle took off from the tree top the geese were up and flying from across the highway.

Red Tail nest sight 
Red tail hawks have been a common occurrence at Stone Creek but we have never managed to see where they were nesting. On Wednesday Steve Pearce saw one fly into a tree off the 15th fairway carrying some nesting material and sure enough it looks like they are setting up home. The best place to view it is from the forward tee box on the 17th hole. Still not the best but you can sure get a fee for the size of it. I hope to get an opportunity to get a picture of the parents on it later this spring.

Red tail hawk with vacant Osprey platform in background

It is great to see so much raptor activity around the course. Osprey are also a common sight. We often see them diving for the bass in the ponds. If only we could get a pair to move in to the nesting platform we installed years ago. If you ask me it would make a better home sight than that cell tower off of I-205!

Beaver dam under construction

It appears we also have a pair of beavers building a den in the middle of the lake next to the eighteenth green. They are actually trying to plug up the outfall to increase the lake level. Little do they know that that lake will be dry by July. It will actually be interesting to look at the den up close once the lake is dry and inspect their building technique.

Last note, Golf Course Management magazine has published the story on the GCSAA Presidents award this month which is available to read in the digital format. I would like to thank Bill Newton for writing the story and Frank DiMarco for coming out and shooting many of the photographs. I still can't get over how such an honor this is for getting recognized. I am looking forward to receiving the award in three weeks at the Golf Industry Show and catching up with so many good friends. Click HERE to read the story.
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