Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Pond Windows - A Work In Progress

Last season we purchased a piece of equipment called a Ventrac. The Ventrac is a very versatile piece of equipment with numerous applications and attachments that was purchased to replace an old rough mower we used to mow what we refer to as "native areas". These "native areas", like the banks of the pond on #1 & #9, the section of rough between #14 green & #15 tee's, are areas that prior to the purchase of the new Ventrac, were mowed with older rough mowers that had now been retired to native mowing, as these areas are typically very rough and rock & stump ridden.

Enrique mowing with the Ventrac along the steep pond edge on #3

When we first took it out and mowed the pond banks on #1 & #9 we found out just how versatile  the tractor really was. It allowed us to cut back years of encroaching vegetation including aquatic bulrush and cattail's. In doing so we opened up "windows" on both pond edges which we now plan to enhance and maintain.

We always knew these banks were not properly irrigated to sustain desirable turfgrass and had been on our irrigation expansion list for quite some time. However the old vegetation obscured the banks from view of the clubhouse or restaurant so irrigation expansion in the area maintained a B to C level of priority. Now that the area's had been opened up, this irrigation expansion rose to an A level priority because,  first things first, we need adequate irrigation coverage to have good turfgrass and these areas are very visible and exposed.

GBGC installing adequate irrigation to pond edges on #1 & #9 earlier this year 

New irrigation in operation on #1 pond bank.

Once the irrigation was installed and in use, it became obvious that for this change to be truly successful we would need to eradicate the weeds prior to seeding, in particular the nasty Dallasgrass infestation, which was the dominant weed species on these pond banks. Dallasgrass is very difficult to eradicate as it is a perennial weed that need's eradication from the leaves and stems all the way down to the roots or it will just come back.

A dallasgrass plant that escaped recent treatment on the pond bank of #9. You recognize it now dont you! This stuff is nasty and almost impossible to play golf out of. 

 # 9 bank in its current state after a few treatments to eradicate the dallasgrass. 

We still have some weed eradication to do and some minor grading work near the new left-hand fairway bunker on #9. Again to be totally successful, we really need to eradicate all the weeds, especially the dallasgrass.  This like everything else we are trying to wrap up on the course takes time.

I think we are all going to enjoy the aesthetics of this project when complete. It might even keep balls from traveling into the pond. Time will tell. We just wanted to let everyone know what's going on over there.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Goose Patrol

 Any of us who have been either playing golf or working on the golf course this spring couldn't of helped but notice the increased Canadian Geese population and the excrement they leave behind. Each goose can eat four pounds of grass per day which turns into two pounds of you know what. Geese believe it or not, are still state and federally protected under laws and regulations within the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the California Fish and Game Code.

#12 seems to be the new hang out spot for migratory geese. Easy access to food and the lake for escape predators is my guess as to why they now like this location.

It is legal to utilize non-lethal hazing methods to pressure migratory geese to depart the golf course, but the hazing pressure must be maintained so the geese population doesn't get comfortable and start to nest and make granite Bay Golf Club their home. Granite Bay is a very desirable nesting location for geese as we have wide open food sources, safety with pond escapes as well many hidden nesting locations in the riparian areas. And despite all of our hazing efforts there are always a few families that escape the hazing pressure and hatch here every year. 

A few Gaggle's  of geese are tolerable and fit our  Audubon Signature Sanctuary Status, but if all of the migratory geese pairs that pass through GBGC were allowed to propagate we would have one mess on our hand, particularly as legal hazing efforts are substantially limited  when goslings cannot fly.

Gaggles of geese are inevitable here at GBGC. We do try to put extra pressure on during mating season to prevent inundation, but a few always slip through. 

I believe the new renovation, opening up the course has made Granite Bay more desirable  this year and is the reason for our increased population. We have over the years utilized many hazing and deterrent methods from realistic coyote manikins to lasers  and flashing lights in the ponds, as well as spraying  non toxic deterrents on the turf. The only process that has consistently worked to keep the population to a manageable level, has been hazing with trained Border Collie's.

Some of us remember the very realistic coyote scare crows we used to have on the course. Even with frequent moving of the twenty or so that we had, the geese figured them out, rendering this hazing method ineffective.

Granite Bay has been using Dog & Whistle Goose Control since 2009 to legally harass the goose population. Recently we did have to step up the pressure to get some of the troublesome populations that that had figured out our hazing patterns. The extra pressure has made a difference and populations have substantially decreased since early spring. Again having a few geese around fits Granite Bay which is a good thing because getting rid every goose all the time is probably not possible.

Jane from Dog & Whistle Goose Control speaks with a group of Granite Bay kids during a nature walk right here at granite Bay Golf Club in 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Vertical Mowing Fairways

We started verticle mowing the fairways this week to groom the turf and mechanically remove seed head stalks that have developed this spring on our Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda fairways. This seed head is obstructing the green grass blades and contributing to the brownish  color of our fairways this spring.  Hybrid bermuda does produce a seed head, as does all turf grass varieties, but like poa annua can produce seed heads at close mowing heights. The seed produced from all hybrid bermuda  seed heads is not viable which is why all hybrid bermuda varieties need to be propagated with either sprigs, like we did last year, or by sod, like we did to #17 in 2019 as our beta for the  hybrid bermuda conversion in 2021.

Its common to see seed head on Santa Anna or any hybrid bermuda in mid May through beginning of June. This year has been different with the alternating  hot & cold & rainy  periods we have been having. Colleagues with whom I've spoken with, that have more Santa Anna experience, are reporting the weather is the likely culprit for more then normal seed head production. I also believe the immaturity of our Santa Anna Fairways  has created a situation for more heightened seed head production. As the fairway surfaces mature, I believe we wont see the volume of seed head we are seeing in year one. 

Vertical mowing of the fairways will definitely help groom the seed head out of the fairways and promote tight verticle growth, which is what we want. We started this process for the first time on our fairways on Monday 5/16/22 and finished the front nine on Tuesday 5/17/22. We will do the same to holes 10-13 on Wednesday 5/18/22 and finish the back nine on holes 15-18 on Thursday 5/19/22. The next time we do this we can likely finish the front nine on a closed Monday, then take a couple mornings to finish the back nine. We are going need to do this 4 to 5 times this initial season and likely 3 times at least in subsequent seasons. As a reminder, all cultural practices such as these will always be done when the Santa Anna is actively growing. None of these types of activities will be done fall through early spring, just late spring through summer. Its a small window admittedly, but hybrid bermuda recovers almost immediately from these activities and needs these practices to tighten up as well as .....

"More Sand"

Old Tom Morris's famous battle cry
"More Sand"

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Close-up of Santa Anna seed head. Seed head stalks don't cut easily, and when stripped of dark purplish seed  turn brown contributing to brownish hue in fairways this spring.

Vertical mowing will groom out the seed head and trim horizontal hybrid bermuda runners 
creating more upright verticle growth. 

Close up of the verticle mowing blades. Currently the depth of penetration when  of these blades is fairly shallow at 1/4" when cutting unit is set down on the turf surface. There will come a point we will need to go deeper but not this year.

After the verticle mowing we have to sweep up the debris 

After sweeping we mow. Mowers are currently set at .400", which is slightly below 1/2". Mowing is necessary as verticle mowing stands leaf blades and seed head stems up and they need to get mowed flat to promote new growth.

After a double cut with the fairway mower,  we need to blow the remaining clippings off of the fairway. So you can see the 4 step process take's 4 GCM EP's 5 hours ahead of member play to complete about 4 holes. You should start to see a difference in fairway texture and color very quickly and combine this with a full course fertility application next Monday we should be looking at some very thick and green conditions come Memorial Day.

I want to remind everyone that  we are still culturing and growing in turf from the renovation of 2021 and a earlier course update addressing Tying Up Loose Ends, from only March said it best at the end. 

It will still take some time to complete what was started in February of 2021 at Granite Bay Golf Club. It's that simple. It needs a couple of birthdays. I believe this golf course will be great in 2022 as many of the establishment and grow-in issues will be a thing of the past. But I also believe this course has the potential to be even better in 2023 and beyond as it matures even further and accumulates yet another years worth of topdressing sand. Everything we need to accomplish this is in place.

  • The right turf 
  • The right plan
  • The right partnerships

All we need now is time. 

Thanks for your patience and support

Friday, May 13, 2022

Driving Range Tee Back On Grass

Below is a message from our  Head Golf Professional Michael Nicoletti announcing the re-opening of the grass tee on the driving range. Great graphic as well. It totally makes sense that the new Hybrid Bermuda will recover very quickly with this wear pattern. Thanks Mike!  

Granite Bay Golf Club is happy to announce that we will begin utilizing our new and expanded grass teeing area on the driving range. We will be using the grass range tee Thursday through Sunday beginning this week. We are excited to be able to offer this upgraded practice experience. The driving range will continue regular hours, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. On days we use the front of the tee, there will be a restriction on the length of shots. Please make sure to observe any signage or distance limitations on these days. We appreciate your support.

When using the driving range, to have it in pristine condition for you as much as possible, please find how to use grass areas in the picture below. Making strips of divots by hitting balls from the back of the previous divot will allow the grass to grow back almost twice as quickly. Please try to remember this when out getting some range time in.  

Friday, May 6, 2022

Topdressing & Golf Carts

This past week marked some  significant events here at Granite Bay Golf Club Golf Course Maintenance. First the completion of our first post renovation Fairway Topdressing and second the return of golf carts on the course. The fairway topdressing went as planned, and I think showed us the potential of what subsequent topdressings this year and beyond will do to these new Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda Fairways. 

The carts getting back on the course just happened yesterday, 5/5/22, and I'm sure carts back on the course was a very welcome change for many members. Unfortunately, I dident order enough of the  black stakes with white tips we are using as on and off  gates I mentioned in last weeks update. So we improvised with some of the shorter stakes we used in the past. More proper stakes to arrive next week and I'm sorry about any confusion the smaller stakes might have caused in the short term. 

Here are some Pictures

Above are the gates we will use throughout the course
as planned.

Great example of Granite Bay Member, Don Darst not driving on the course when it wasn't necessary even though cart path only restrictions had been lifted.

Temporarily we are using some of these small stakes for gates. 

Topdressing Fairways at 50 tons per acre last week.

After allowing the sand to dry a little, we drag it into the Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda turf canopy.

After dragging, before irrigation which moves sand further into turf canopy.

If you were playing golf this past week you probably noticed another project we started and completed. We installed irrigation to water the pond banks on #1 & #9. This irrigation allows us to water these fairly steep banks independently of the new Hybrid Bermuda which will have a much lower irrigation requirement then the pond bank of what we plan to convert to cool season tall fescue. In order to accomplish that we needed to have independent irrigation.

And here is the new irrigation in operation.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Golf Carts Return To The Course in Early May

Brian Whitlark is a USGA Agronomist and a colleague whom I have worked with for years. He recently paid us a informal visit to check out our renovation progress. His overall impression was very positive on where we were relative to the scope of work accomplished in 2021 and related maturity of the turf grass playing surfaces. He was impressed we were able to keep golf carts off of the course for over six months after re-opening. The two major takeaways I took from him during our meeting were related to the greens and to cart traffic returning to the course.

On the greens he was impressed with current density and root development stating that year two of a putting surface's life "not the year for speed" but continued root development. On cart traffic returning to the golf course he warned that "whatever you do, dont allow more then two carts per foursome on the turf."

Golf Carts are a part of the game, but to pretend that driving on the turf does not effect health and quality would be a mistake. Cart traffic can be very hard on the turf playing surfaces, and that is why we are going to re-open the course to cart traffic with some very specific rules to follow while driving on the course. 

Golf Cart Rules

  • When feasible, utilize cart paths rather then driving on the course.
  • Enter & Exit the course through  "gates" designated by the white tipped, tall black stakes. (see below pictures)
  • No more then two carts per group allowed on the turf on any given hole. 
  • Travel in the fairway hybrid bermuda turf as it will take the traffic better then the cool season rough turf.
  • Do not use a cart on any par 3 hole. 
Granite Bay Carts will be easier for us to manage as they will be Geo Fenced to keep them off  and out of areas we do not want them to go, and we can insist on players pairing up. Private carts are a little harder for us to manage, so we will have to rely on the honorable nature of the game as well as our private cart members to do the right thing. 

Examples of entrance gates on #1

Examples of exit gates on #1

Example of a the typical traffic pattern we would like carts to follow when carts are allowed back onto the course. Stay on the cart path until the first "entrance" gate. Drive on the fairway turf as it is more durable then the cool season turf in the rough, and finally exit between the "exit" gates further down the fairway. 

We would like to thank everyone for the diligence shown during the past seven months while we have been cart path only. The course benefited immensely. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going by following the rules and limiting cart traffic whenever possible. Lets keep in mind that Granite Bay has very young  turf grass surfaces that still need time to grow in and mature. We are grateful for your support and patience while this grow in process and maturation continues and promise that patience will be rewarded. The best is yet to come.


Friday, April 22, 2022

New Fairway Topdressing

Our new Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda Fairways will start to get sand  topdressed for the first time since construction starting this coming week, 4/25/22. Sand topdressing will be the secret to the success of these fairways moving forward and accumulation of this topdressing will continue to make them better and better. We plan to do this level of topdressing twice a year for the next few years.

We will be applying a rate of 50 tons per acre per application which amounts to about 1/3 of an inch of sand. That seems like allot, but its not and once dry it will drag right into the turf canopy. A 50 ton per acre rate amounts to 1500 tons on our fairways or 57 truck and tailor loads or three million pounds.

The process of receiving and spreading the sand takes some time. It will take us the better part of two weeks. We have to spread the sand in the AM and allow it to dry then we have to drag it in, and moving all of that sand in one morning with our 4 yard fairway sand topdressor is impossible as it will take over 300 trips to complete the job. Look for some back nine starts next week as we strategize on keeping the disruption to a minimum while getting the sand on the course. Morning golfers will have to coexist with us and the process and we'll do our best to stay out of everyone's way. 

Thanks in advance for your understanding.

Topdressing sand being spread on a newly sprigged fairway in 2021.

Just some of the topdressing sand being stored on corner of Barton and Roseville Parkway

More sand stored in the parking lot. We'll move this first.