Sunday, September 30, 2018

Fall is Here

The 2018 Fall Equinox was last weekend ushering in the best time to grow cool season turf at Granite Bay Golf Club. We are in a good position after switching our customary fall aeration from early October to early September as now most playing surfaces are either fully or well on their way to recovering from aeration as opposed to awaiting aeration after another 30 days of end of summer.

"Two shots at about 11z, left is from the Summer Solstice, the right is from this morning, the Fall Equinox. Yes, the earth really is round, is tilted!"  Enki Research 9/22/18

In addition to completing aeration of primary turf grass playing surfaces (greens, tees & fairways) we just this week completed the re-sodding of the #3 green surround. Completing #3 brings the count to four green surrounds we stripped and re-sodded with overseeded hybrid bermuda sod  since July. The end result with all of these efforts is the golf course will be in pretty good shape in October & November rather then in a state of recovery from our usual one degree or another summer turf grass setbacks.

These moves have set us up for even greater success as the golf course maintenance department can now work on a host of little nagging maintenance items and projects rather then course aeration and recovery. That being said there still are some course aeration items to complete that wont require any course closures. Below is an out line of GCM's plans for the next several weeks.

Aerify Tilleys, Chipping, Nursery Practice Greens       10/1/18 

( These PG's were not aerified with regulation greens and upper PG so members had something to putt and practice on while other greens recovered)

Club Championship Course Preparation     10/8/18 - 10/15/18

Jones Cup Course Preparation     10/29/18 - 11/4/18 

Core Aerify Rough (excluding Surround's)       11/5/18 - 11/16/18

Besides the outline above we have allot of little projects we hope to check off "The List" during this time frame such as leveling and expanding some tee levels, tree pruning etc.. Additionally we will be monitoring and documenting seasonal changes of our hybrid bermuda trials on #'s 2,5,8,12 & #16 as well as the overseeded hybrid bermuda surrounds on #'s 5-7 & #3. Always something to do, always something to learn. Thank you for your support. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

2018 Fall Aerification & Surround Sod Progress

The Good Lord was smiling on us after switching our historic fall aeration dates from October to September in 2018. We knew shifting the last 30 days of the summer season into a aeration recovery season would be a good move for our Member's and the course but realized that it could be risky. September's days are indeed shorter but temperatures can still be hot which creates a much trickier scenario for aeration recovery and germinating ryegrass seed on the tee's, fairways & rough. Fortunately the weather we experienced this  September was perfect. 

#8 green 8 day from aggressive core aeration

Putting Surfaces

Honestly, aerating greens in September is not as troublesome as the rest of the course in that we are dealing with only 3 acres of turf on a sand soil base. Our normal process went well. We core aerified pulling and removing cores  & deep tine aerated (6" deep) followed by sand topdressing & fertilizer, soil amendments & bentgrass seed. The picture above depicts almost complete hole coverage 8 days out. It is likely we will have complete aeration hole  coverage 14 days out this coming Tuesday 9/18/19 at which time we will start lowering mower height's and getting putting quality back to normal.

#16 tee seed germinating 9 days after overseeding


Aerating and overseeding the tee's was equally successful as the greens this 2018 fall season.  We overseed the tees because their base is hybrid bermuda which would show some dormancy in the depths of winter if they were not overseeded. This is important because tees get allot of traffic year round at GBGC. We core aerated & scarified which chops up the aeration cores and fluffs up the tees hybrid bermuda base. We then spread ryegrass seed into this seedbed we created, added sand topdressing & fertilizer. This was followed by heavier then normal irrigation to keep the seed wet during germination. This heavier then normal irrigation is a common denominator during any type of ryegrass  overseeding or inter-seeding as the seed and underlying soil must be kept wet during germination and establishment.  Above picture represents seed germinating 9 days out on #16 tee.

Fairways look good after aeration and interseeding
but still can be soft in some areas as new seed establishes.

Fairways and Green Surrounds

The process of aerating fairways and  green surrounds went very quickly this September as I elected to use solid tines rather then coring tines which eliminated the need for core removal and cleanup. I wanted to get seed down as quickly as possible and we did so employing various seeders and tactics. Bottom line we were able to aerify and seed all fairways and surrounds in two weeks. We spread over 8 tons of seed in these areas which is a lighter lbs per acre rate then on the tees but doubled and tripled up in thin and bare areas. Following the seeding we sand topdressed and are now awaiting germination of the seed.

#5 FW soft spot. This is where members can really help the cause by avoiding driving
with golf carts

Fertilizer & Water

We are applying a good shot of fertilizer to the entire golf course this coming Monday 9/17/18. With all of the seed on the ground in various stages of germination along with the presence of adequate moisture and fertility, GBGC will have  substantially better  course conditions the end of September in 2018 then we have any end of September, ever. We are back to a scatter mode with carts after initial soaking of the course to push seed into the soil and facilitate germination. We are irrigating the course currently with  recovery and seed germination  in mind not playability so we are playing preferred lies or winter rules through the green.This is how you can help out.  Please use cart paths as much as possible as inevitably there will be wet areas that pop up in the next two weeks  that we didn't get to roping off and avoid soft areas with golf carts. 

Fertilizer awaiting deployment

#3 green surround

#3 Surround Re-Sodding

We will get to aerating the rough  after a week of prepping for another green surround face-lift. We will be stripping the existing sod around #3 green the week of Monday 9/17/18 for a re-sodding sometime the week of Monday 9/24/18. In addition to prepping the area around the green and front and rear bunker we will be doing some tree trimming behind the green along with landscape cleanup and re-irrigation. The trees, in particular the large Live Oak, desperately need trimming allowing light to the back portion of the green and surrounding turf. During construction hours this green will be closed  to allow us to get it done in a timely fashion usually opening back up by 2:00 PM with a drop area.

Getting #3 surround re-sodded along with previously completed #'s 5, 6 & 7 gets us four total surrounds done in a little over 60 days. That was a successful 2-3 months  when you include the  test patches of hybrid bermuda for potential fairway re-grassing in 2020 and the  above mentioned timely aeration.  This really sets us up for a successful fall and winter season and we couldn't have done it without your support. Thank You.

#7 completed re-sodding with overseeded hybrid bermuda

Friday, August 31, 2018

2018 Fall Aerification & Surround Sod Update

Core aerating #18 Green in 2015.
One of the better moves we have made in awhile was moving our traditional fall aeration date's from early October to early September. Its a little risky because September can still be hot, but moving dates takes a whole month out of the end of summer and combines it with aeration.  Recovery will happen quick and we should be in great shape in October rather then in a recovery mode. And it is almost like it was meant to be because the weather has been unseasonably cool for the end of August and it is forecasted for more of the same. Below is our 2018 Fall Aeration Schedule.

The internet link on Why do golf courses aerate so much is explained in the USGA article or you can search  GBGC's aeration history in these updates by looking at our Aeration link in lables if you want to know more about why we do this pesky process.

2018 Fall Aeration Schedule

  • Tuesday 9/4/18 - Course Closed                           1-18 Greens & Tilleys
  • Wednesday 9/5/18 - Closed Till 2:00 PM             Tees
  • Thursday 9/6/18 - B9 Closed  Till 2:00 PM         Fairways
  • Friday 9/7/18 - F9 Closed Till 2:00 PM               Fairways
  • Tuesday 9/11/18 - B9 Closed  Till 2:00 PM          Surrounds
  • Wednesday 9/12/18 - F9 Closed Till 2:00 PM      Surrounds
  • Thursday 9/13/18 - Closed                                   Surrounds  
  • Friday 9/14/18 - TBD                                           Finish Surrounds

We will be cart path starting Thursday 9/6/17 as all traffic at that point will be driving on freshly aerated, seeded & topdressed fairways. Because of all of the seed on these fairways, we will have to keep them wet for seed germination and  know this short term sacrifice will benefit the golf course as a whole. We are targeting around the weekend of 9/22/18 to allow the carts off the path once again. Upper practice green and chipping green will be aerated a couple of weeks after 9/4/18 so members have a practice green to use.

#7 stripped out and ready for sod

#7 Surround Re-Sodding Completed

One of attributes of Hybrid Bermuda is that it thrives in warm to hot temperatures. And Hybrid Bermuda does much better then it's great great grandfather, common bermuda  as the weather starts to cool down however when  getting it established we a higher level of success when the temperatures are at least in the 80's and preferably 90's. That being said, we are running out of the best weather to get more Overseeded Hybrid Bermuda sod installed around the surrounds.

So we jumped on #7 last week and got it prepped for sod which was installed this past Monday 8/27/18. We want to try to get #3 stripped and installed in the next few weeks either after we conclude aerification or possibly while we are aerifying. Either way we want to get it done while we still have some good establishment weather. We'll keep you informed. Below are some more pictures of our Overseeded Hybrid Bermuda progress for those who are interested.

Adding some irrigation and tree root barrier to the rear of #7

Finished product after re-sodding

Another view of the finished product

New sod around the rear bunker

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Overseeded Hybrid Bermuda Sodding #6 & #5

As we explained in our last Granite Bay Course Update, sod farm's and their install crews are a bit of a moving target. That being said we received a call middle of the week with an opportunity to get a sod install on Friday 8/3/18 and we jumped on it. We prepped the rest of #6 and stripped out the approach on #5 and witnessed and helped with our first big roll install of sod here at Granite Bay. Very exciting. 

GBGC GCM Staff leveling sprinkler heads and removing old sod
ahead of overseeded hybrid bermuda install

Currently we have the area roped off with some drop area circle's painted in front of the ropes. The sod will be soft until it roots down so please use the drop areas or the collars of the greens when your ball lands near the putting surface rather then hitting off of the new sod. Hybrid Bermuda will start to root almost immediately but it will need to be kept wet during the next couple of weeks to get firmly established. 

#6 ready for sod

We are going to start prepping the rest of #5 on Monday 8/6/18 for another install this coming Friday 8/10/18. In the subsequent weeks we plan to complete #7. So by the end of August ahead of aeration after Labor Day, we will have completed 3 green surrounds. Very exciting.

Overseeded Hybrid Bermuda big rolls being staged. Each roll covers 400 sq. ft.

Contractor installing big roll on #6

Contractor pulling the edges close together of the big roll sod.
In the background GBGC GCM is  watering in the new sod

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Hybrid Bermuda Trail Update

Anyone playing the club lately has likely noticed some square roped off areas of turf in the middle of #'s 2, 5, 8, 12 &16 fairways. These are trials for a potential  Hybrid Bermuda Turf Conversion Club Corp is seriously considering for Granite Bay. Some of these trial plots have been in place for over a month and we are getting ready to take the ropes down and let everyone experience the durability and playability we have been bragging about with hybrid bermuda. 

Hybrid Bermuda Test Plot  # 2FW

Hybrid bermuda will take a much lower height of cut then what we currently mow our cool season turf fairways at in the summer. With that in mind we wanted to get them cut down prior to opening the areas so they would mimic the finished fairway product when we convert. We vertical mowed, topdressed and used a heavy roller on them last week to get them prepared for a shorter cut and we anticipate actually mowing them down and opening them up the first part of August. 

#12 Hybrid Bermuda Tee at GBGC cut at 0.400" (approx 7/16")

These trials are being conducted for our fairways for the potential  fairway conversion as early as 2020, however another part of the overall turf conversion plan is converting the areas around the greens or what we refer to as green surrounds. We have already started and made a large push just this week  to convert our green surrounds to overseeded hybrid bermuda. Overseeded hybrid bermuda is a combination of both warm season hybrid bermuda and cool season perennial ryegrass, the best of both worlds. The particular variety of hybrid bermuda used for overseeded sod for green surrounds is not as pertinent  as it is for fairways as we will always overseed green surrounds  but not fairways. We do not plan to overseed  fairways because of  the water use required in overseeding these large areas is hard to justify any longer in California, explaining the fairway trials to get the right variety for GBGC.

Many sports field operation's including ATT Park  in San Francisco have been installing overseeded hybrid bermuda for quite awhile despite the cooler weather in the San Francisco Bay Area not being ideal for growing warm season grasses like hybrid bermuda. 

The turfgrass the San Francisco Giants play off of is overseeded Tiffway II Hybrid Bermuda
These sports fields made this shift decades ago primarily for the firm playability and durability that hybrid bermuda provides. The ryegrass overseeded into the bermuda grass provides the aesthetic green color even during periods of bermuda dormancy, although the hybrid bermuda doesn't go fully dormant in the mild San Francisco climate. Eventually the ryegrass will out compete the hybrid bermuda in the Bay Area because of the lack of summer heat, but these sports stadiums re-sod on a regular basis and have found that they have to re-sod less frequently once they started using the overseeded hybrid bermuda products. I use ATT park as an example because I love the  San Francisco Giants, but all sports playing fields in the Bay Area have been using this combination for quite some time.

For the summer weather we experience at Granite Bay the overseeded hybrid bermuda is perfect combo year round for our green surrounds. The ryegrass will thrive in the winter and spring and the hybrid bermuda will thrive in the summer. We can refresh the ryegrass with additional seed in the fall if need be, and the cycle will repeat itself. Our plan has always been  to get some of this green surround work done prior to when we do the  fairway turf conversion. So now that the trial plots are installed and weeks away from opening, we have begun strategically stripping turf to install overseeded hybrid bermuda in the surrounds. 

Our plan for this summer and next is for our experienced golf course maintenance staff to remove and prepare areas of surrounds for re-sodding and our sod contractor to install the sod. Work around issues are:
  • Member Play & Events
  • Strategic Removal Providing Members Relief in Areas Under Construction
  • Required Sq. Ft. Minimums for a Contractor Install 
We started the first wave or preparation recently on #5 and #6 primarily because we had some bad areas to left of #5 and the right & back of  #6 green. The #6 green surround in particular was a good area to get our feet wet in large area sod prep as it is not a high traffic area for members. We needed to establish how much we could achieve in a given amount of time so we could coordinate delivery and installation of the sod and this area is proving to be just the ticket. In addition to what we now have prepared we plan to strip out the approach grass in front of #5. This was a request from the golf committee and it just happened work out as far as our installation minimums went so, BOOM a Win /Win. The request was made because members were curious how the new hybrid bermuda would perform while trying to run a ball up on the green. #5 approach is typically soft but soon to be firm.

Felipe removing sod by hand after cut with a sod cutter.

Miguel scraping up old sod into a pile to be loaded up and removed.

Enrique doing some minor shaping to get surface water away from the green.
Sod growers and installation crews are at a premium right now so getting firm installation dates is a moving target. The areas mentioned above have been stripped as of July 25th are tentatively scheduled to be re-sodded sometime next week, the week of July 30th - August 3rd which should give you an idea of the scheduling challenges. We will just have to play these areas as ground under repair up to re-sodding and two weeks after to allow the sod to root. We will be able to walk on the sod and retrieve balls but we will ask golfers to refrain hitting off the areas until ready.

Large roll sod installation at Bernado Heights early June 2018.
I went down to see first hand a hybrid bermuda fairway sod install.

Green surround areas that we are targeting for strip and replace this summer are #7, complete #5, behind the driving range tee as well as the completion of #4 & #12. Summer throws many a challenge our way so our efforts may be a bit of a moving target as well. We'll just have to see how it goes but suffice it to say we wont be handing any of our allotted capitol sod money back. That you can count on.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

GBGC Starts Hybrid Bermuda Trials

We have all heard the famous quote regarding the definition of insanity as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. As a company we have tried different things to make our current blend of cool season turf work here at Granite Bay and  in my 10 seasons here, I have always gone  into the summer season optimistic  that our new strategy for the new season will make all the difference. Sometimes the strategy helps but more often then not we are in the same position at the end of summer that we have always been. Honestly after what seems like a lifetime of taking care of golf course turf in this transition zone I have always known that  the best shot at overall success is turf that can make it through our summer weather. 

The insanity needed to stop, therefore we have started down the road of exploring options for a turf conversion here at Granite Bay Golf Club which is something I believe will be a game changer for the course and club. We are looking at converting our fairways from the  cool season mix of grasses that are currently in place to warm season Hybrid Bermuda turf.  Additionally we are looking at converting our  green surrounds from primarily cool season turf to Overseeded Hybrid Bermuda which is the best of both worlds providing durability and aesthetics.

There are multiple reasons we are considering a turf conversion which fall into three major categories.

  • Playability - Fast & Firm
  • Durability - Traffic
  • Sustainability - Less Water 

Turfgrass Research Facility UC Riverside.

The mix of  grasses that currently make up the playing surfaces at Granite Bay are of the cool season turf variety. From a playability standpoint they do well in the winter and spring but really struggle in our decomposed granite soil's during the heat of summer leading to the historical loss of turf. This turf loss varies from year to year depending on the intensity of the summer, but always leads to a fall where we are trying to recover from these summer losses. Additionally trying to sustain our current cool season turf requires more water then ideal for golf in the summer and  seed germination for recovery in the fall requires more water then ideal for golf as well. Converting from a cool season variety to warm season hybrid bermuda would change this scenario drastically and would provide the playing conditions in the summer and fall the we have always desired.

Valley Sod Farm Harvesting Big Rolls

There isn't a more durable turf then hybrid bermuda. And in the summer when it is thriving it will be much better suited to take the traffic of member and tournament events without the need of excessive traffic control measures. The History of Hybrid Bermuda is interesting. My  synopsis is hybrid bermudas were the product of plant variations in common bermuda grass that were noticed on golf course greens in the southern US as far back as the late 20th century. These variations were studied and bred and crossed bred until parent clones were developed. These clones are sterile meaning they do not produce viable seed therefore have to be vegetatively propagated with sod or sprigs. This breeding continued through 21st century developing varieties that are fine textured, dense, drought, wear, disease & insect tolerant. Varieties that are commercially available today include the above mentioned characteristics as well as shorter and less pronounced dormancy periods. This is because the main downside to  even hybrid bermuda is a dormancy period in the cold weather. However today's hybrid bermudas have a very short, less pronounced dormancy period's and come out of dormancy much earlier and quicker then their great great great grandparents, common bermuda. Additionally there are many "tricks of the trade" that are helping turfgrass managers keep hybrid bermuda green through the winter  which we will address in future updates.

Dr Glenn Burton - Hybrid Bermuda Plant Breeder

Playability and durability are the things we as golfers and turf managers primarily care about. However the big elephant in the room is water use. The day is coming and actually here when the State of CA will be telling us all  how much water we can use and when. The CA golf industry has its challenges, water use being at the forefront and our industry is telling golfs story of sustainability, but changes they are a coming. The conservation mandate entitled "20 by 2020" became law a few years back and  had a specific focus on a Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. These laws and ordinances will be the defining issues of this golf club moving forward and 80 acres of cool season turf along with its associated water needs are a real threat. Converting to hybrid bermuda which requires less irrigation would fit much better in this new conservation  world California is moving into. 

There is  much more to discuss including local comparisons and specifics, winter strategies as well as the potential conversion process and details. I look forward to addressing these items as well as members concerns. However first things first. The most important thing is we get the right hybrid bermuda for Granite Bay Golf Club. Therefore we have begun to install trial plots searching for the right grass for our situation focusing on upcoming winter performance primarily as summer performance is almost a given. Below are pictures of  sample plot installation with some explanations. 

A laid out sample plot in the middle of #5FW

Removing existing sod with sod cutter

Adding a little extra sand and organic matter

Incorporation of sand into existing soil.
We wanted to mimic the potential construction process as close as possible 

A little fine grading prior to laying sod

The first of our chosen Hybrid Bermuda cultivars newly installed on #5 fairway the week of June 18th. After 3 days it is already sending down substantial roots. We are installing 2 more plots the week of June 25th  on holes #12 & #16. An additional 2 plots will go down the week of July 9th after the 4th of July week on holes #2 & #8. All plots were put down  near the 150 yard marker in the fairway and will be roped off as GUR until approximately the week of July 23rd & week of July 30th. Then let the trials begin.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

23 Days Left of Summer

New Assistant Superintendents - Miguel & Ryan

We began the search for Jogi's replacement immediately after he announced he was leaving Granite Bay to take a new Golf Course Superintendent position at Empire Ranch Golf Club. We didn't have to look far as Miguel Machuca was already in place and eager to accept the added responsibility. Miguel and I have been working together for 15 years taking care of golf courses locally with Club Corp and he joined the staff here at Granite Bay in 2010. Miguel is well respected by the GCM staff as well as the GBGC Membership and has a "lead by example approach" to training and instructing young greenskeepers. I refer to him as the "meticulous one" because of his tireless attention to detail.

Ryan Mooney & Miguel Machuca
To fill Miguel's spot we went outside of the GBGC golf course maintenance department and were fortunate to land Ryan Mooney from most recently Woodcreek Golf Club in Roseville.  Ryan worked summer jobs at Cobblestone Creek CC in Victor, NY while pursuing his BA degree in History from St. John Fischer College. He couldn't get golf out of his system while pursing a teaching or museum position to go along with that history degree, so  he decided to go back to school and get a turf degree and pursue a career as a Golf Course Superintendent. His Turf Certificate from UC Riverside lead him to a internship at the Riviera CC for a couple of years and a season at Valley Hi in Elk Grove. One of  Ryan's primary task's will be selective perennial weed control here at GBGC so we are very much looking forward to his success in this area and his addition to our GCM staff.

Summer Blues - Only 23 Days Left!

Jogi's has always said that 1996 was the hottest year we ever experienced here at Granite Bay Golf Club logging 35 days over 100 degrees. However by all measurements 2017 has been the hottest in at least the last 9 years.  Our weather station here the the club has recorded 24 days above 100 degrees so far. Of those 100 degree days 7 were 105 degrees, 1 was 106 degrees and 3 were 107 degrees. What made these numbers even worse was the intensity of two distinct heat waves. The first one was in the very first part of June (6/18 - 6/23) where we had 6 days where the average high temperature was 106 degrees. There was somewhat a reprieve through the rest of  June, then we got hit with the second distinct heat wave in early July (7/6 - 7/10) which lasted 5 days that averaged 103 degrees for the high. 90 degree Summer heat records were set in Sacramento and reflected at the course as there was not one day in the month of July where the high temperature was below 90 degrees. In fact the lowest high temperature we recorded in July was 93 degrees on 7/1. It never got any better then that.

Above is a synopsis of summer heat weather data compiled from our weather station for the last 9 years. The data for 2017 YTD is through August 28. Accuweather forecast for Granite Bay has another 6 days of triple digits in their forecast which will move 2017 numbers even higher. 

Everything we do in the summer is a reaction to heat and what it does to our cool season turf. Heat is what drives us to rope off areas to mitigate the effects of traffic. Heat is the main contributor of weeds, disease and insects thriving in the summer and the reaction from GCM to mitigate their damages despite all of our proactive measures to prevent them. It is unfortunate that the effort to hold on to what turf we have through the summer conflict with fast and firm playing surfaces that golfers desire. However finishing up the summer with a viable stand of turf where we don't need to do massive amounts of reseeding is in everyone's best interest.

Summer Weeds

Last year in July, I wrote about  Granite Bay Golf Club Perennial Weed Control and have linked those articles above. The details regarding perennial weed varieties we battle here at Granite Bay and options for control  were actually outlined pretty well so if you are interested in those details click on the link.

Some weed control updates are worth addressing however that reveal more insight into the control task at hand. The Knotgrass mentioned in the above updates has gotten worse, not better this season likely due to the intensity of the summer, fertility levels and moisture content. We are currently using the same strategy of spot treating areas with a selective herbicide  however we are going to step up application frequency's and rates. This might seem like the "definition of insanity" but it is all we are resourced to do at the moment. Hopefully the intensified strategy will push this weed back enough to mitigate the amount of re-sodding we plan on doing next season, which is the strategy we will be budgeting for in 2018.

Recent selective herbicide application on Knotgrass is doing it's job.

Dallisgrass is another perennial weed we fight here at GBGC however I'm not as concerned about it as it's somewhat slow to spread. Still difficult to control with selective herbicides but we don't have large populations in the primary playing surfaces and Typically control it in those areas by just digging it out and covering hole with divot mix and seed. We do apply the same  herbicide strategy for Knotgrass to Dallisgrass in the periphery and have had some containment success.

Dallisgrass at GBGC

Goosegrass being controlled selectively

Only 23 More Days!