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


Saturday, May 27, 2023

The Cygnets Have Arrived

Congratulations to all of us new step-grandparents. as our adopted pair of  Mute Swans have hatched their first flock of cygnets. The linked article, Baby Swans: All You Need To Know is a very informative article. If you're interested you should checkout and prepare for what comes next with our new arrivals. We will of course document what we can.

In other golf course news, we deep tined and sand top-dressed greens this past Monday 5/25/23. Pictures below are worth a thousand words. 

The first sighting of the hatched Cygnets was Friday 5/27/23 by Ken Roberts captured here. 

I immediately put the flying camera up to confirm our numbers and am happy to report we currently have six healthy Cygnets. 

Here they are a day (?) old on Saturday 5/26/23 frolicking and feeding with their parents. Photo captured by GCM employe partner Amanda Bergstrom.

This photo was taken Monday 5/22/23 before we became aware of the new arrivals. Geese were nearby on #9 fairway and possibly chased out of the pond by protective parent. 

Other GBGC Wildlife News

I suspect the pair above or at least the brown wren were the parents of the eggs in birdbox behind #11 tee that I highlighted last week. This was taken right above the location of the bird box. 

Unfortunately, when I checked the birdbox on Friday it was empty with no remnants of shells or anything in or below the nest. I thought parents might have moved the eggs because of my poking around and then  found out that wrens will move eggs for various reasons. Check out the below link.

Wrens Can Be Nasty Neighbors

Deep Tine Aeration

Enrique deep tineing or aerating the greens on Monday 5/25/23. 

These long tines penetrate 4 to 6 inches into the putting surface allowing much needed air to the rootzone facilitating deeper irrigation infiltration at the same time. Great practice that doesn't effect putting quality. This and similar practices need to be done frequently if we are going to avoid the more traditional, aggressive aeration practices in the future.

As you can see here this practice will not affect putting quality.

In addition to, and even more importantly, if we are going to avoid aggressive core aeration in the future with these new green's, we will need to frequently apply light dustings of sand to dilute the organic matter that a bent grass putting surface produce's naturally. The targeted amount of sand prescribed by the USGA Annual Sand Topdressing Amounts is anywhere between 25 and 30 cubic feet of sand per 1000 square feet per year. We are targeting 30. The above and below pictured application represents approximately 1 cubic foot per 1000 square feet. It is difficult to achieve 30 cubic feet per year just with light topdressings like this. It is easier to achieve if you aggressively aerate twice per year, but we are trying to avoid that if possible. We will need to get a little more aggressive with aeration such as a closer pattern of holes of either solid or coring to A - mechanically remove organic matter and B - allow for more topdressing sand incorporation helping reach the target of 30 cubic feet of sand per year.

After the 1 cubic foot application of topdressing we typically brush the sand into the putting surface followed by a little irrigation to push it down further, and a deep irrigation cycle the proceeding evening to push it even further. The next morning, we typically roll and blow the greens only to mitigate sand harvesting with the mowers, then try to roll first followed by mowing in the subsequent mornings which helps with the sand harvesting by
the mowers as well.

The Best Is Yet To Come. Thanks for your support!

Monday, May 22, 2023

New Sand, Sprinklers, Swans & Speed Signs

We are making our last push the next few weeks on what can be considered big golf course projects until after summer. This allows us to focus our recourses on maintaining and culturing the new warm season Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda fairways and approaches as well as holding onto the new cool season Tall Fescue we have incorporated into our rough areas. We now have a 50/50 warm season - cool season golf course where half of it will thrive and need culturing in the summer while it is hot, and the other half will have to be babied with hand watering. There will always be some small little "low hanging fruit" projects that we will tackle, but starting anything big beyond routine golf course maintenance will be avoided until fall.

The current maintenance related non-routine projects I am referring to are the same ones mentioned last week, irrigation work on #13 and sand refreshing in the bunkers throughout the course. Completing the sand refreshing in the bunkers will take a while as it is turning out to be a more labor-intensive, time-consuming endeavor then anticipated with sand availability limitations as well. However, the big supplemental irrigation project on #13 we've been working on the past two weeks was completed this week. Below are some more pictures along with some Swan updates and a new "Speed Sign" that many of you will find fun. 

Above shows a set of sprinklers on the fairway edge recently installed in the upper right-hand rough of #13. These sprinklers water into the cool season rough only facilitating adequate irrigation for the cool season fescue without the need to overwater the warm season Hybrid Bermuda fairways. We installed three sets of these sprinklers covering the entire right hand rough edge on #13. The days of this area's substandard summer turf conditions should be a thing of the past.

Front bunker on #3 green has had its sand refreshed by adding the appropriate amount of sand, watering and compacting.

An important step in the refreshing process is checking sand depths. Above depicts Greg using a gauge for this purpose. Greg has been heading up this bunker sand refreshing process which is extremely labor intensive. Greg's one of the hardest working guys I know and GBGC is fortunate to have him.

Swan & Wildlife Update

Recent developments with our pair of swans deciding to take up residence at Granite Bay Golf Club have maybe reminded us of what we all have always felt about Granite Bay and how special this place is. Below are a few more examples of just that. 

Swan Nesting
 continues just adjacent to the #1 green in the bull rushes. I got a little closer trying to get a peek at the eggs but no luck yet. 

Came across this guy heading up #2 the other day and immediately relocated him to pond on #3.

Perhaps he reunited with his family later. Or she?

Dave Cook caught this picture of a bird box behind #11 tee being utilized by who Dave suspects are Wrens. We will check back in on this family later next week.

Posting Daily Green Speed

We started posting daily green speeds this week on a sign on the front of the starter station near the upper practice green. Green Speeds are a measurement in feet determined by the use of a tool called the Stimpmeter designed in 1935 by Edward Stimpson. The USGA Stimpmeter Instruction Booklet covers the history, use and the many management practices and conditions that effect green speed on a daily basis. I would encourage members who are interested in learning more about measurement of green speed to click on the above USGA link or look at the plethora of resources available on-line. They are endless. 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Bunker Refreshing

 A complete re-building and re-shaping of our bunkers was a big part of our 2021 golf course renovation. We only reduced the number of on course bunkers from 65 to 66, but we  decreased the square footage from  88,000 to 65,000 while providing subtle redirection and framing of the same golf holes we all know and love.  Construction of the bunkers included the Better Billy Bunker drainage system, and the bunker sand choice was  Best Sand 900, formally known as Idaho White as the bright white sand originates and is shipped from Western Idaho. Best Sand 900 is not only known for this bright white color, but more importantly its angularity, making it a great choice for bunker sand as the particle shape produces a sand that compacts and resists buried lies, along with an innate ability to adhere to steep bunker faces. 

When sand was installed during construction, the target amount of sand was 4" to 6" packed on the bottoms as well as  2" on the bunker slopes or faces. Settling and further compaction of the sand as well as migration out of the bunker from wind and actual golf play along with sand contamination always necessitates the need to refresh and add bunker sand, so that is what we will be doing the next few weeks along with our normal routine maintenance tasks. A picture is worth a thousand words, so below are some of the sand refreshing process as well as an update on Swans and supplemental irrigation install.

Process starts with identifying where additional sand is needed then adding sand which is pictured above. 

Next step is to rake and disperse the sand.

Next step is to compact the freshly installed sand. Above depicts the use of a mechanical sand trap rake with the raking mechanism removed. The tires are wide on this "Sand-Pro", which is what we refer to it by. These closely spaced wide tires make this compaction method a popular choice for compacting sand in a bunker.

Another closeup of the compaction process.

Supplemental Irrigation Installation

We started some supplemental irrigation work on #13 this week and will continue this work the following few weeks in addition to the above-mentioned bunker sand refreshing and normal golf course maintenance. This is a lot of work but all important. If you search your memory of past GBGC summers and envision the upper left-hand rough on #13, you should recall very thin conditions starting in late spring all the way through summer and most of the fall. This area has always been the first area to start to show summer stress on the course and some individual small supplemental irrigation heads that will irrigate these areas independently of the fairway turf will change this dynamic. 

Search your memory further and recall the cart path edge of #18. We installed this type of supplemental, irrigation heads years ago, and completely changed the area from one of the worst in the summer to pretty good in the summer. We want to get some of this done before the real heat arrives so this area will be another great example of the  importance of these measures as there will still be more to do after #13.

Trench along the fairway and rough line on the LH side of #13. This will transform this areas summer conditions.

Swan Update

Nothing much to report on the parents to be. Flying camera found them in the very same location as last report. Trying not to get too close and stress them out. 

The Best Is Yet To Come!   Thanks for your support.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Swan Update

After the appearance in February of  a pair of visiting Mute Swans on our #1 & #9 pond we all were hoping they would consider taking up permanent residency here at GBGC. Their added novelty & beauty, along with the potential hazing possibilities of their distant cousins, the pesky pooping  Canada Geese, would make them a welcome addition to the Granite Bay ponds. We started to get a little worried that perhaps a predator got to one of the pair a few weeks ago, as only one had been spotted in recent weeks. We are happy to report that that is not the case and they will be here awhile longer as they are nesting in a secluded little bay near the #1 green.

We don't know how many eggs they are sitting on right now, but will report back when we have more photographic evidence. However it looks like we will be observing a family soon, and maybe have at least a pair around for some time after that. 

I gleaned from the Wikipedia linked article above that:

"Mute swans nest on large mounds that they build with waterside vegetation in shallow water on islands in the middle or at the very edge of a lake. They are monogamous and often reuse the same nest each year, restoring or rebuilding it as needed. Male and female swans share the care of the nest, and once the cygnets are fledged it is not uncommon to see whole families looking for food. They feed on a wide range of vegetation, both submerged aquatic plants which they reach with their long necks, and by grazing on land. The food commonly includes agricultural crop plants such as oilseed rape and wheat, and feeding flocks in the winter may cause significant crop damage, often as much through trampling with their large webbed feet, as through direct consumption.[24] It will also feed on small proportions of aquatic insectsfish and frogs.[25]"

"Mute swans lay from 4 to 10 eggs. The female broods for around 36 days, with cygnets normally hatching between the months of May and July.[46] The young swans do not achieve the ability to fly before about 120 to 150 days old. This limits the distribution of the species at the northern edge of its range as the cygnets need to learn to fly before the ponds and lakes freeze over."

"The Swan is known around the world for its beauty, elegance, and grace.

The swan is a genus of waterfowl that has the ability to swim and fly with incredible speed and agility. This bird is also very intelligent, devoted to its mate, and highly aggressive about defending its young. They are a common sight in temperate and colder climates around the globe." (az ANIMALS)

Monday, April 24, 2023

Spring Has Finally Sprung

2023 has so far  been a unusual year for weather here at Granite Bay Golf Club. By now we all are likely aware of California's record breaking snow & rainfall accumulation's in 2023. And although GBGC's rainfall amounts were not record breaking, we recorded to date 32.68" of rain which is the 3rd highest in 18 years. Additionally spring weather has been cooler then normal which hinders the awakening of our new hybrid bermuda fairways. All of this is in the rear view mirror now as we are now experiencing temperatures in the 80's,  with plenty of sun and almost 14 hour days. Summer will be here before you know it.

The week of April 17th we finished aeration and topdressing of the back nine fairways. Weather was cooler then we would have liked for recovery but we are getting the temp's now, so recovery will be rapid. Additionally we have diversified our   Canadian Geese Hazing or harassments efforts by employing  additional pressure from Dog & Whistle Goose Control as well as adding some solar lighting on the water that will irritate floating sleeping geese. See pictures below.

You might have noticed some floating foreign objects in the ponds recently. These objects look like lights because they are. The devices are a flashing solar  light from Away With Geese  that activates flashing lights with a photocell, and that add additional harassment to Geese who like to sleep on the water. Our geese population numbers are tracked weekly by Dog & Whistle, and with the addition of the lights and added dog hazing pressure has brought our Geese numbers down significantly.

Early morning picture of the lights flashing. We have used these lights many years ago with limited success, but not in conjunction with the dog hazing. A shout out and thank you is warranted for Jim Beckmeyer & Keith Benfield who conducted allot of research on solutions to our Goose  problem.

More from the GBGC Animal Kingdom

Last Friday 4/21/22 we had a escaped visitor trucking around the course pictured here with our own Michael Nicoletti. 

Here he is, taking a stroll along the cart path before crossing into the native area.

Here he is again, looking really good in that freshly mowed fescue. He was obviously someone's pet and after a short incarceration for trespassing, he was reunited with his local family. 

If the above pictures of our visitor are not enough to remind us of what a special place GBGC is to be a part of , here is another reminder. A recent sunrise captured by our own GBGC GCM employee partner Amanda Bergstrum.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Spring Fairway Topdressing 2023

As planned on Monday April 10th, 2023 we started aerating and sand topdressing the fairways at Granite Bay Golf Club. The plan was to aerate and topdress the front nine fairways the week of April 10th on a Monday and Tuesday and follow up with the same process on the back nine on Monday and Tuesday of the following week. On the Mondays the club would be closed and on the Tuesday's  we would alternate front nine and back closures so the process could be completed in a productive manner, as well as keeping Member disruption to a minimum. 

Below are pictures of the process in a somewhat sequential order for those who are interested. Additionally we have some pictures covering a deep tine aeration of the front nine greens we did while the front nine was closed. Don't worry, the process is very non-disruptive but extremely beneficial.

Step #1 is to flag the sprinkler heads, valve boxes & yardage markers. Colors of the flags mean something. White for a sprinkler head or yardage marker. Pink for a sprinkler head or valve box that needs raising or leveling and  red for a valve box. Flagging these items is essential because the aerifyer to follow will destroy them.

Step #2 - Aerify. We are punching solid holes that are 5/8" X 2"- 3" deep. The tufting around the holes is due primarily to the height of the Santa Anna  Hybrid early in the season. If you recall, it is a best management practice to raise the height of cut of the Santa Anna prior it going dormant in the winter. This allows for better winter play and protects the Santa Anna stand from wear and tear when it is not growing. This tufting will mow out and recover quickly as the weather starts to be more conducive to Hybrid Bermuda growth and recovery. 

Step #3 - Apply Topdressing Sand. This is the slow process. It takes time to move the strategically placed sand and spread onto the fairways. And it takes time and hopefully warm weather to dry that sand out so we can get it drug into aeration holes and the turf canopy. 

This is what #1 fairway looked like after we topdressed it. This represents 30 tons per acre. We switched sand this year to a washed tee sand that is substantially more consistent then what we used in 2022. It is also a little coarser which is agronomically better for Hybrid Bermuda as the finer sands will hold on to more moisture then necessary and this washed sand will drain better which will lead to a drier playing surface which is what we all want.

Step #4 - Dragging the Topdressing Sand. This is an end of the day process which really needs the sand to be dry in order to drag it into aeration holes and turf canopy. It is also a dusty process that should not be done in the presence of golfers. We use a keystone mat to drag in the topdressing and on subsequent days we use our turbine blowers to disperse the pockets of sand that accumulates here and there, and help push the sand into the turf canopy where it belongs. 

Another look at the dragging process with a better look at the keystone mat.

After an evening watering and mowing. 

Close-up after some irrigation and mowing. Subsequent blowing with our big turbine blowers, as obnoxious as they are, will help disperse and push the sand further into the turf canopy, but in a very short period of time with some warm weather the Santa Anna will fill  in and grow right through the sand. 

Remember the pink flags we spoke of earlier in step #1? Above depicts the work that was being done by multiple GCM workers doing during this aeration and topdressing process. This particular picture shows a large amount of sod removed and replaced after leveling a sprinkler head and the area surrounding the head. This work will go along way to "finishing" these fairways. We had over 100 pink flags on the F9.

Putting Surface Deep Tine Aeration

The re-building process we did to our greens in 2021 is referred to as "re-surfacing" not a complete re-build. We basically removed 4-6 inches of sod and sand, replaced that with a new greens mix sand, shaped and seeded into that. The remaining 6-8 inches of old sand remained. Rooting of the new bentgrass into this older sand / greens mix is positively impacted by the presence of air. That is what this deep tine aeration will do, provide columns of air in which the deep rooting bentgrass will go.

The benefits of deep rooting are multifaceted with the main one being we can deep water the greens more effectively creating a scenario where we dont have to irrigate them as frequently. Less frequent irrigation means a firmer surface. A firmer surface means a truer, faster surface that is not as prone to ball marks. All things that we are striving for.  Below are pictures of the process. 

Here is our Verti-Drain Deep Tine Aerator on the nursery green. This is the first time we have used this process on these young greens and we were very impressed with how the greens handled the procedure. There was no heaving of the surface requiring rolling afterwards and no damage to the greens.

When I mentioned above there was no damage to the greens, I say this because this is a violent machine that drives a coordinated series of steel spikes 7" into the green. The greens have to be in a firm state, and you have to have the right operator, but the risk reward can be huge in time. Deep roots equal great putting surfaces.

Here is the finished product. Holes that are spaced out 4" to a depth of 6" - 7". These holes are 1/8"-1/4" max in diameter and do not effect putting quality. We dident topdress the greens  afterwards this time but the process can be done with a light topdressing as well.