Friday, September 22, 2023

Fall Equinox 2023

 This week on Saturday 9/23/23 at 02:50 AM, the 2023  Fall Equinox will be upon us. 

"During an equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator”—an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line." (Farmers Almanac September 19 2023)

The fall equinox is significant for GBGC as it is the best time of the year for our cool season rough to recover from summer stresses as nighttime and daylight hours are identical and  temperature's are typically cooler. Conversely our Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda will start to slow down as the days get shorter and  winter approaches. The hybrid bermuda will remain green for quite awhile, but recovery from divots will start to get slower and slower. 

Rough Seeding

In  the previous GBGC course update we addressed getting started on our fall  rough seeding early, and the late summer weather forecast  which was projecting some cooler then normal temperatures conducive to successful cool season seeding. The forecast held and we had  success getting some seed germinated in some of the worst areas of our rough that were impacted by yet another Granite Bay summer. We have a lot more seeding to do in our rough and this combined with this seeding we started in August should have us turning the corner on yet another summer at Granite Bay. 

This is us getting started with the seeding process late summer on Thursday 8/24/23. August would  be considered early for cool season turf seeding.

Here is the same area 27 days later, although the photo was taken at a different time of the day. I think getting started early paid off as many of our bare areas at least had some turf started in them 30 days before the equinox when cool season turf really starts to get going. 

We had our final seed delivery this morning 9/22/23. Above represents 5 ton's of  Tall Fescue seed on top of the 6 tons that has already been seeded into the golf course rough. It has been our observation that Tall Fescue germinates relatively quickly but takes a little longer to thicken up and establish as compared to Ryegrass.

Cart Traffic & Seeding

The more golf cart & vehicle traffic we keep off of the rough the better success we will have with the seeding process. Thank you for using the gates and driving only on the fairways. Pass the word, avoiding driving golf carts in the rough will be extremely beneficial to the  germination and establishment of the fescue seed we have been and will be putting down the next few weeks. 

Good image of #12 and where we should be driving carts and where we should not.

Greens Spiking

This coming Monday we will be spiking and topdressing the greens. As planned, we have been implementing the strategy of  timely, small hole frequent aeration events on our new greens in conjunction with frequent light sand topdressing. This Mondays event will be the the same small hole event we have been implementing, but the hole pattern will tighter then what we have utilized in the past. The holes will still be 6" deep and this tighter pattern will require more sand to fill them up which is precisely what we want. Deep holes equal deeper roots, and more sand equals firmer conditions that are less prone to ball marks and need less irrigation. The process could have a temporary minimal impact on putting quality mostly because of the extra sand to fill the additional holes, but aggressive rolling will provide a smoothness, however the pace will be slower for a few days. 

We made a practice run with the new tine configuration on the nursery green this week prior treating all of the greens on Monday 9/25/23. Picture depicts the tighter pattern with no sand or greens rolling yet. After a greens-roller rolls the surface, the holes will  hardly be noticeable and will not interfere with putting quality.

Above is the same green still not rolled or topdressed. We are excited about this new aeration configuration and the  process over time being transformative for our greens.

Winter Forecast

Dr. Daniel Swain is a climate scientist at UCLA and the 2022 co-author of the thought provoking  Climate change is increasing the risk of a CA megaflood, Dr. Swain has been our go to resource for long term weather prognostications long before his infamous article, and he has recently made a prediction for the upcoming winter.

Where Granite Bay positions in this Pacific SW or Pacific NW is anyone's guess.  What we do know is wet winters affect golf course playability as well triggering cart restrictions, nothing new here.  The drainage work we did last winter should serve us well in the event of another wet winter, but if its anything like last year it really limits what we can do on the golf course, so part of me is hoping for dry conditions so we can get more done, and part of me thinks, let it rain as we always could use it here in the west. No use wishing or worrying. Onward, forward.

Thanks For Your Support. The Best Is Yet To Come!

Friday, August 25, 2023

Seeding The Rough

The cool season turf in our roughs has thinned and struggled in many areas of the course this summer, which is nothing new, but nonetheless disappointing. Our 2021 renovation didn't address the rough other then turning off the irrigation for months and driving on them with heavy equipment. Irrigation of the rough resumed in phases as we started watering fairway sprigs which revived some of the sturdiest rough turf like common bermuda. However much of the bare earth sprouted weeds such as Common Purslane which we never combatted here before 2021 and continue to combat into 2023.

Common Purslane at GBGC.
All parts are edible. It has a slightly salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, North Africa, The Middle East, Asia & Mexico."
(wikipedia - portulaca oleracea).
GCM staff uses it in salads. Our current strategy is to hand pull the areas where we have heavy infestation. Yours truly has been therapeutically leading the charge on removal, and been getting 10 to 20 gallons per day for the past couple weeks although I haven't tried it in my salad.

When fall of 2021 finally arrived and we reopened the course from renovating, we were in the process   of seeding the rough with Tall Fescue and followed up that seeding with another in the fall of 2022. The choice of Tall Fescue, a hardier cool season turf, was made because of the treelined style of our course and associated shade which the new hybrid bermuda fairway turf would not be able to thrive in, and the cool season fescue could.  Our strategy and hope was that by just getting this hardier and more heat tolerant Tall Fescue established in the rough, we would solve many of our issues. Nothing like a Granite Bay summer to produce a reality check. Heat and difficult soil is a bad combination and cool season turf is still cool season turf, and will now and  always be the weak link at Granite Bay in the summer. If we do not do the right things in the right season to our cool season rough such as  core aeration in the spring, we are likely to experience the same results. We have much more to do, but first things first. Recovery.

We are getting started with seeding into our rough a little early this year.  Typically, we wait until the weather cools down near or after the fall equinox on 9/23/23 to start seeding, but we wanted to get started earlier to hasten recovery in the thin areas of our rough. This is also due to the hardiness of the tall fescue variety we are trying to convert our roughs to. Our observations are that it comes up quickly but takes some time to establish so we hope that the warmer weather of late summer early fall will help with this establishment. It's a bit of a gamble, as there is still summer to be had, and our soil temperatures are a little higher than ideal for Fescue germination, but fingers crossed we could be on our way to recovery by the equinox. 

Triwave Seeder seeding  thinned out rough on #12 the morning of Thursday 8/24/23.

The great thing about the Triwave Seeder is that it is minimally invasive to the existing stand of turf  which is ideal as the plants that have survived summer will and are starting to thrive with shorter days and cooler nights and will be apart of the recovering turf stand. 

Closeup of the slicing of the Triwave Seeder through existing turf and the little to no damage created by the seeder.

Cart Restrictions Return

We have not had any cart path restrictions since June purposely so The Membership could fully enjoy the golf course this summer. As we start to seed, we will have to return to  cart restrictions on certain holes to keep cart traffic from hindering new seed germination and establishment. We will close the individual holes utilizing the hole closed signs. On holes that have not been closed we plan to vigorously promote the use of the entrance & exit gates and  driving exclusively on fairways as the  fairway turf can handle the traffic and the newly seeded rough cannot. Many members are already following this protocol, so a push to get even further compliance will pay dividends in the recovery of our cool season rough. 

Holes closed during seeding will be identified in AM e-mail communication from the golf shop as well as our cart path only signs.

Original overhead description of utilizing the gates to both enter and exit the hole and drive exclusively on the fairway turf  while our rough is recovering this late summer through the fall.

Non-Negotiable Rough Aeration

Its easy to neglect the rough in the springtime when there is a myriad of things to do on the golf course and the rough seems pretty good. And springtime core aerating and culturing is very time consuming and typically hindered by weather, so the job stretches out. But summer is coming, and the reality is that the springtime aeration and cultural practices to the rough as well as some irrigation infrastructure improvements are essential to mitigating cool season turf losses and mediocrity of our rough in the summer. Non-negotiable aeration doesn't mean we have to close the golf course, just limit cart traffic on the holes we are working on, a few holes at a time. More importantly it means that it must be done no matter how many projects we have on our plate. GCM can do multiple things at a time, but moving forward, putting off or skipping springtime core aeration of our rough has to be a non-negotiable. 

Refreshing Bunker Sand

We started some Bunker Sand Refreshing back in May and have picked up where we left off targeting the completion of the greenside bunkers. We still have to re-fresh sand in  the greensides on #2, #14, #15 & #17. The timing of the refreshing has been somewhat contingent on sand delivery which is coming all the way from Idaho. Below are some pictures of recent progress.

White gold in the parking lot.

Adding new sand to rear bunker on #15.

Spreading the new sand on #17.

Tire packing the sand in #15 with a sand pro.


I've said it before that golf courses are a dynamic, living and breathing thing that we play a game on. Summers come and summers go yet they always leave a mark on most to all of our regional golf courses in one degree or another,  and likely always will. I've experienced 15 of them here at Granite Bay and we are no exception. But I still believe that the best summers are yet to come for Granite Bay and I couldn't have said that before 2021. Onward, Forward.

Thank You For Your Support

Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Dog Days of Summer 2023


Here we are again, The Dog Days of Summer at Granite Bay. The "Dog Days", as the ancient Romans called this period of time, was not about the weather being unfit for a dog, but an astrological event where the Sirius "Dog Star" and associated constellation rises with the sun for 40 day's in early July through mid August. The ancients believed the extra heat experienced during this stretch was the combination  of  heat produced by The Dog Star and The Sun's close proximity. But science tells us the dog days are the result of the earths tilt in the Northern Hemisphere related to the sun, where the angle of the suns rays hit our part of the world more directly,  and for a longer period of time. 

The Dog Days and summer in general have always taken its toll on GBGC, but if one is to be fair and search ones memory of past summers here, you would have to come to the conclusion that we are better in the summer now since we converted fairways to Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda. However since our cool season rough encompasses more of the golf course then our new warm season fairways, we are still susceptible to summer heat and 2023 is no exception. 

Collar Sod Replacement

One of the areas on the course that did take a hit this summer was some of our collar sod. Whether it struggled, thinned and in some cases died from any combination of heat, bad soil, lack of moisture, too much moisture, vehicle and foot traffic, bad luck, it ended up dead. And no amount of seeding will bring it back quick enough, so we are in process of re-sodding portions of the collars.

GCM staff re-sodding walk-up collar on #3.

There are some challenges with re-sodding parts of  our collars. During 2021 construction, a tall fescue blend of sod was chosen as the collar sod to hold back the encroaching Santa Anna into the newly seeded greens which was a real issue at the time. Tall Fescue was chosen for its heat tolerance, and it is, despite our current losses,  more heat tolerant then other choices such as ryegrass. However tall fescue sod  is not commercially produced at the lower heights of cut that we maintain our collars at, so we have to install the taller sod 1/2" deep and sand topdress the difference so when we eventually mow the sod down to match our current collar's level, we dont mow the Turfgrass Crown of the individual grass plants that make up the new sod and kill them. Therefore we have to slowly  bring the height of cut down as the new sod roots into the soil  as well as continue to topdress the aforementioned 1/2" gap. This will take some time so the new sodded areas will be painted as GUR so golfers can get relief from the taller replaced collar sod.

Completed collar replacement will be marked GUR for awhile as it roots down and establishes. 

Recent Drainage Installation

Our recent fairway aeration and topdressing in late July exposed some fairway drainage work, that although we knew existed, we believed  necessary to repair sooner rather then later. Therefore shortly after aeration we installed 100' of surface drainage in #15 in one location  and almost 500' on three separate locations on #9. We still have more topdressing to do to smooth these areas out and will continue to do so until the areas blend with existing fairway turf. 

GCM staff installing surface drainage on #9 FW.

Shortly after installation. The work is serving its purpose moving water off of a low areas in the fairway. Subsequent topdressing's and sod establishment will rapidly make tis go away at this time of the year as hybrid bermuda loves the heat.

Minks Getting Established

Mink sightings on the course are becoming more and more numerous. Michele McCormick, frequents the course on closed Mondays capturing nature through her spectacular photography. On a recent Monday she got the below shot of a Mink swimming in the pond between #1 and #9. Recent sightings by GCM staff included a small family of four minks sticking their heads up through the rocks in front of #3 green as well as numerous sightings of them running along those rocks, and another chasing a goose off of #10 fairway early in the morning. They could have had something to do with our missing baby swans and perhaps are another reason why geese are not overnighting on our ponds. Additionally, and this is just an anecdotal observation on my part, but I dont notice as many ground squirrels around. As is all things related to nature, be carful what you wish for, but if the Minks establishment help keep the geese and ground squirrels in check, we might have a good thing going.

Great capture of a Mink swimming in #1 & #9 ponds.

Another great shot of a Hawk and a Lizard

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Canada Geese

We all know that GBGC is a magnet for the pesky Canada Geese, and despite some early season successes in humanely chasing them off the course, we have had a resurgence in what we believe are regionally migratory geese, who are moving around the area.  We speculate this because they do not overnight on our ponds thanks to the Away With Geese lighting we have placed on the golf course ponds that disrupt the sleeping pattern of the geese, forcing them to slumber somewhere else. My guess is Folsom Reservoir, which as the Goose Fly's is just over a mile.

Folsom Reservoir is a almost nothing flight for a Canada Goose.

The Away With Geese Lights do exactly what they are designed to do, keep geese populations from getting really comfortable by overnighting on our ponds. These simple solar powered flashing lights do keep them away at night.

How do we know these geese are not overnighting? GCM starts each and every day in the dark, and the lights are flashing and the geese are not here. What we are observing are these  regional migratory flocks arriving later in the day to feed as food sources are far and few few between this time of the year. They seem to like eating the cool season rough grass lining the fairways in the #9, #8 & #5 areas predominantly, but they are foraging and leaving behind their mess all over the course.

What are we doing about the problem? We have been stepping up our dog chasing  efforts which historically has kept the Geese populations in this property. Granite Bay has been using  Dog & Whistle Goose Control to chase and harass Geese since 2009. Dog & Whistle adopt and train rescue Border Collies, a natural herding breed with a "supernatural amount of energy and stamina". They are trained to get into the water which is a must for hazing Geese as the birds first instinct when being chased on land is to go into the water. When the pressure continues from land into water over and over again they will go else where to find a food source. 

Timing on the flocks arrival varies day to day  so GCM is using our large fairways blowers to harass and blow off Goose droppings at the same time in the early afternoon using two blowers, one on each side of the pond on #9. Since the blowers cant go into the water, we are trying some remote control boats to chase them once they have landed there. After GCM goes home, Dog & whistle comes out and applies more pressure with the Border Collies. Hopefully this multi-faceted approach will keep this regional group in check until rice harvest, only a month away and another desirable food source.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Summer of 2023 Fairway Aeration & Sand Topdressing

We have recently completed our scheduled fairway aeration and topdressing on the back nine and are almost complete with the front nine. Our new Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda fairway turf is a warm season grass that will recover rapidly during the warmer weather of summer.  In 2024 we are going to schedule our spring aeration and fairway topdressing closer to the end of spring when the warmer recovery weather will be more predictable then in April.

This aeration was the first core aeration to these fairways since they were sprigged in the summer of 2021. This process will be very beneficial to the overall health and performance of these new fairway surfaces and will allow for  more consistent  moisture throughout the soil profile. Additionally getting another 30 to 40 tons per acre of sand topdressing down will continue to smooth and fine tune these surfaces. This will be the 4th sand topdressing since sprigging in 2021, and we have noticed a difference in fairway smoothness after each one of them. They will continue to get better with each subsequent topdressing in the years to come. Below are pictures of the process we employed this past week.

First step is to flag all of the sprinkler heads, valve boxes and yardage markers so tractor operator can hopefully avoid them. I spent allot of time on one of our two fairway aerators, The Toro Procore 1298, and can share a couple of  things. First the Procore is a wonderful, state of the art  fairway aerator that feels like your pulling a sewing machine when the soil conditions are good, but when the soil conditions are not so good, which is vastly more often then not on our property, it feels like your pulling a cluster bomb. Its was a not so subtle reminder of the main overall challenge of this property, the native soil.  Secondly avoiding all those sprinkler heads, valve boxes and yardage markers  identified with the little white flags is another challenge all unto itself.

  Above is a good image of the actual aeration process. We uses 3/4" coring tines that were penetrating as deep 2"- 3", depending on the soil, so yes more 2" depths then 3".

Above is a closeup of the actual cores pulled during the process and the holes awaiting to be filled with sand, then irrigation so it can penetrate and soak and hydrate the profile.

After the cores have been allowed to dry for awhile, we use a keystone drag mat to break up the cores. Some of the soil we are trying to extract and replace does remain because of this but it mixes with the organic matter and subsequent sand topdressing making it a much better growing medium.

Next we start to use our turbine blowers to wind row the cores and debris for removal as well as clean the surface after sweeping and mowing.

Next comes the sweepers which sweep up all of the cores and debris 

After cleanup, The Man, The legend, Enrique Reyes Huerta starts to topdress with topdressing sand. This represents an application rate of  about 30 to 40 tons of sand per acre.

The sand is allowed to dry then we start to drag it into the aeration holes and turf canopy with the same keystone mat that we used to break up the extracted cores

Prior to aeration we turn off irrigation for a day or two. So after the sand is properly drug in, we irrigate fairly heavily, (0.30" - 0.50"),  to push the sand further into the aeration holes and turf canopy as well as hydrate the soil profile. The following day we apply fertility and wetting agents to help out further irrigation events and promote recovery.

#12 Fairway on Tuesday 7/25/23. We core aerated & processed this on Tuesday 7/18/23 7 days prior and topdressed on Wednesday 7/19/23  only 6 days prior. The nature of the warm season Hybrid Bermuda recovers very rapidly during the long days and warm weather of summer. 

Closeup of this recovery 7 days out from actual core aeration event.

The Best Is Yet To Come

Summers have always been hard on this golf course as the heat of summer combined with the native soil conditions have proven difficult to consistently overcome. Our new Santa Anna Fairways are more tolerant of the bad soil conditions and continued timely aeration and sand topdressing will just continue to make these summer loving surfaces better and better. The addition of Tall Fescue to our cool season rough will help with summer hardiness, but the tried and true solution for our cool season rough in this suspect soil when summer comes is improving irrigation coverage to ensure consistent & adequate soil moisture, keeping the soil profile from drying out. It's only worked every where we have done it.

Thanks as always for your support

Friday, July 7, 2023

Fairway Aeration & Seed Head

Our fairway turf conversion in 2021 from cool season turf to warm season hybrid bermuda included the choice of  Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda as our warm season turf choice. If you recall, we chose Santa Anna because it held onto its color longer and came out of winter dormancy sooner then any of the other hybrids we were sampling. One of the knocks on Santa Anna though is its propensity to to produce seed head and the seed heads associated stalks. 

We can mitigate this seed head production with growth regulators, and were successful through June in doing so and honestly thought the applications we made were going to suffice all season. However we learned quickly it is a futile task  attempting to out smart nature, and almost overnight our fairways exploded with seed head. We all need to be reminded on occasion that the field that we play the game that we love on, is a living breathing complex organism that will do what it does despite our efforts at times and you just cant fool mother nature. 

The seed head  of hybrid bermuda is sterile. It wont even germinate or make another plant, its just unsightly, especially from afar. When your standing over the top of it the tan coloration is not that evident but from afar the fairways as a whole take on a tannish hue.  We have treated it with another application of growth regulator which will help mitigate the appearance in a short period of time we hope. Scheduled core aeration and sand topdressing will help as well.

From afar the hue of the accumulated seed head seems tan or yellow in color and looks like there is something wrong or the fairways are stressed out.

But when you are standing over your ball you see healthy turf and a pretty good lie in most instances.

Laying down you can really see up close what is going on. Some of the seed stalks, which are tan or yellow in color, are sticking up but many are lying down, and the accumulation of these are what gives us the overall tan appearance from afar. Pesky seed heads!

2023 Summer Fairway Aeration

Our scheduled fairway aeration is coming up in mid July. The golf course will never be completely closed as we will only work on nine holes at a time so there will always be nine holes available to our Members. Our plan this summer is to core aerate, drag the cores, mow then sand topdress, then drag the sand topdressing in. I'll provide plenty of pictures of the process when we get started. Below is a schedule of the work and associated closures.

Tuesday 7/18/23 - Thursday 7/20/23 B9 Closed for Aeration. F9 Open
Monday  7/24/23 - Wednesday 7/26/23 F9 Closed for Aeration. B9 Open

This is us aerifying #6 fairway in April of this year. We utilized solid tines that application. We will be pulling cores this coming application.

Swan Update

Nature is exacting and it was stated in a previously  linked bird fact article on swans "around 50% of cygnets fail to survive longer then 2 to 3 months." So far that statement is true for our new family of cygnets, as we started with six and now have three. 

Recent photo of the abbreviated family near ladies tee on #1.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Swan & Sod News

We have many great artists and resources who are Members here at Granite Bay, but we'd be challenged to find an equal to Michele McCormick in photography and Birding. Michele frequently visits the course on closed Mondays to get spectacular photos of Birds, Wildlife and Interesting Plants so I contacted her to inform her that our Mute Swans had hatched their cygnets. She jumped at the opportunity to get some shots of the new arrivals last Monday. She spent the day out here and documented  31 Bird Species this visit.

Additionally she  let me know that she catalogs her findings with eBird, a site that catalogs birding activities, photos and species migration from collaborators all over the world. And through Michele's passion and skill, Granite Bay Golf Club is contributing to science and conservation on a global scale. We are blessed to have her as a part of our community. Below are what Michele deemed some of her best shots of the day. 

Coopers Hawk

Besides the great photos of the swans, we received a bonus through Michele's efforts as she captured a first at Granite Bay, a Coopers Hawk. Michele told me it  "Was fun to get the Swan pix but I was even more excited about the Coopers Hawk and chase! There were actually two Coopers. Here’s the juvenile."

"Here's something you don't see every day - A Cooper's Hawk determined to have an Acorn Woodpecker for lunch. It was like something out of Top Gun! Near #3 green. mm"


Michele McCormick Photography

Cornell University's eBird

Sodding Behind #2 Green

One area of turf on the course that never really fared well nor came out of winter was behind #2 green. Shade of the large oak tree behind the green was the main culprit but there were some inherent bad soil issues in the area as well. Shade and suspect soil are a bad combination for growing anything much less hybrid bermuda turf.

We stripped out the worst section this past week, conditioned the soil and re-sodded the area with new Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda. We plan to get some tree trimming done in the area to alleviate the shade issues as well, allowing more sun to get into the area particularly, in the winter. Time will tell if this will be the permanent solution for the area, but the turf will certainly have a better chance with the soil modifications and future tree trimming. Below are some pictures.

Adding compost and sand blend

Rototilling the blend into our native soil

Conditioned soil

Grading and preparing for sod