Friday, July 12, 2024

2024 Fairway Aeration & Topdressing Process

After being closed for a week, we are putting the finishing touches on our 2024 fairway aeration & sand topdressing.  We decided  to close for the traditionally slow week following the 4th of July rather then stretching out the necessary process for 3 to 4 weeks with alternating F9 & B9 closures. This will make the process more productive and produce consistent playing surface's with recovery being more or less equal.

Not only will the fairways recover at the same time, GCM  can get back to our normal irrigation regimen after they recover as open aeration holes will cause the fairways  to dry out hindering recovery.  Additionally we can get back to using sharp mowers as the  topdressing sand disperses  and the surfaces recover, and we can logically re-sharpen reels. 

What To Expect Saturday 7/13/24

You should expect a very playable, freshly aerified fairway surfaces with open holes and the remnants of topdressing sand. As mentioned above, open holes can dry the surface out rapidly so the fairways could be wetter initially then what you might expect, which will effect ball roll temporarily. If you dont want to scratch your clubs you might want to consider using a older set until sand disperses. 

A picture is worth a thousand words. For those who are interested enjoy the pic's chronicling the steps of aeration week at GBGC.

First step is to mow the fairways. We set the fairway mowers to as low as we can currently go    (about .400") to "scalp"  them down as low as we can get them. Even though we are in the middle of a heatwave in July, these hybrid bermuda fairways can take it as there are actively growing and will recover quickly.

Next step is to flag all of the irrigation heads, valve boxes, yardage markers so we do not hit them with the aerator's.

Next we start to aerify across the fairway in short patterns on both sides of the flagged irrigation heads, valve boxes & yardage markers.

These patterns on both sides of the irrigation head allows for the next aerifyer to move up and down the fairway at ease and safety from hitting the head. Even though the heads, valve boxes and markers are flagged , there is allot going on with a heavy piece of equipment and easy to make a raising or lowering mistake and take out a sprinkler head, valve box or bronze marker.

Granite Bay is blessed with 2 large fairway aerators. This one is aerating up the fairway after the above depicted work around the heads, boxes and markers. 

The third aeration process is the short grass around the greens utilizing a smaller walk behind aerator. This aerator is equipped with smaller coring tines then we used on the fairways but he hole pattern is tighter. Cleanup of these cores is being done by GCM staff with backpack blowers and rakes and shovels as we cant navigate the large aerators and sweepers in these tighter areas adjacent to the putting surfaces.

After the actual aeration process we remove the flags from irrigation heads, valve boxes and yardage markers and drag using a keystone metal drag mat. This process preserves previously applied sand and substantially lessons the burden of the following step, sweeping.

Next we start sweeping the core debris with the large sweepers. When we are done with sweeping it is time to start the most time consuming part of the process, sand topdressing.

Prior to aeration week we take delivery of topdressing sand in three locations around the course. Above depicts the pile on the Barton Road lot which we use for #1, #2, #4 and any leftovers #9. We also stock pile sand in the corner of the parking lot which we use for #5 - #9 & #17 - #18. The third location on the small out of play lot pin high to the left of #12 green. This pile services #10 - 13 & #15 & #16.

We use a 4 yard topdressor to topdress 30 acres of fairway and short mowed hybrid bermuda turf. The above rate represents  approximately 31 tons per acre which amounts just over 900 tons. Above Enrique is painting #4 with fairway topdressing sand. 

Here Enrique is spreading that 30 tons per acre on #5. Again the spreader holds 4 yards so he makes about 170 trips to a sand pile and back during aeration week. That is an average of 34 trips per day and just about 4 trips per hour. Sometimes more trips per hour, many times less obviously depending on the distance needed to travel.

This picture depicts #15 recently topdressed on the left, In the middle #16 in process of being topdressed, the green circled section representing one trip to the #12 topdressing pile. On the right is #10 which was topdressed, brushed and irrigated the previous day. 

Its takes our whole staff to pull off aeration and topdressing of the fairways in a week and I appreciate all of them but none are more important  then the
GBGC GCM legend Enrique Reyes Huerta, sand topdressor extraordinaire. 

Next step is to drag the sand topdressing into the aeration holes and turf canopy. I have personally done most of this process myself since our 2021 conversion and can say every time we do this you can feel these fairways getting better. It wasn't hard to get the sand dry this week as we were in the midst of a July heat wave and our new large fairway brush with stiff bristles worked the sand in nicely.

A few days after some deep watering we mow them for the first time and follow them with a blower to clean them up. Doug on the fairway blower has been pretty actively blowing during the core clean-up process as well as the fairway topdressing process moving sand accumulations around with the turbine blower. 

Irrigation during the week was  tricky as we needed to keep the surfaces on the dry side prior to aeration and  topdressing but couldn't completely neglect irrigation after they were aerified because of open holes that were exposed to hot drying weather. Good news that any discoloration from dry down will soon recover after we start irrigating and the deep watering they receive  after brushing in sand topdressing 

This represents the product 3 days out of topdressing. Holes on the B9 will be a few days out from the F9 but all should be recovered by next weeks end. We are planning cart path on hole #'s 15 & 16 as they were just topdressed the morning of Friday 7/12/24 and will receive a deep watering when we are done brushing and could be wet when we re-open the course Saturday 7/14/24

Saturday, June 29, 2024

2024 Fairway Aeration & The Dog Days of Summer


Remember !
Golf Course Fairway Aeration 
Monday July 8th through Friday July 12th

Golf Course Closed

We are going to take a full week to aerify and sand topdress the warm season hybrid bermuda fairways rather than stretching it out with F9 & B9 closures over a few weeks creating varying levels of recovery and consistency for the Members. A course update on progress and process will be posted early in the week to keep interested Members informed. During the golf course closure, the Driving Range and Practice Greens will be open for Member's as well as Tilley's Pub & Mackenzie Grille.

The "Dog Days of Summer" are traditionally the 40 days in front part of summer from July 3rd to August 11th coinciding with dawn rising of the  Dog Star, Sirius

The official start of Summer marked by the Summer Solstice was  on Thursday June 20th beginning  the 94 day period of Summer leading to the  Fall Equinox on Sunday September 22nd where the hours of daylight equal the hours of night. We have stated on many occasions that the summer months have traditionally been the hardest season on this golf course and most of our preparations throughout the year are aimed at surviving it. 

But since the 2021 renovation / turf conversion we have reduced the stressful part of the Summer by 40% by converting our fairways to Santa Anna Hybrid BermudaHowever the golf course is still 60% cool season turf in the rough which is susceptible to these Sacramento summers. 

We have been adding Tall Fescue to the rough because of its superior heat tolerance to ryegrass, but it is still a cool season variety and therefore susceptible to summer heat and the soil drying associated with it.  As a reminder, hybrid bermuda does not do well in the shade of our tree lined fairways and therefore the best options for much of the rough are the cool season varieties of turf which can handle shade much more efficiently yet can still struggle to handle the heat of summers, especially when the soil get dry and hard.

But even though summer has always been hard on Granite Bay there is much to be excited about. The examples of continued irrigation infrastructure improvements like the right hand side #13 rough, left hand side #10 rough and right hand side of #5 rough to name a few have made a big difference in turf quality in these areas even in the summer.  These completed improvements stand as proof that our plan to improve irrigation coverage for the cool season rough independent of the warm season fairways will put the finishing touches on the renovation of 2021 and mitigate much of the summer threat in the future. 

Enjoy some pictures below of recent activity on the course. 

Some new brush additions to our Fairway mowers we very recently started using. These brushes are called Transformer Brushes and they are very popular for grooming grain out of turf surfaces. We started brushing fairways this spring remove allot of the winter grain in them. We started with our small soft brushes then purchased a new large stiff brush that we brushed ahead of the fairway mowers. With these new brushes we will be standing up the leaf surface ahead of cutting every time we mow promoting new small plants and a dense surface. Again, we have just started with these brushes and predict they will be key in getting these surfaces better and better. 

Nice view after the first use of the Transformer Brushes on #8

This density and surface will just keep getting better and better with prolonged brushing.

Looks like we all have a heatwave to contend with on the very near horizon. These are the times that can test this golf courses soul. What can you do to help? First, recognize that cart traffic is most damaging when it gets hot like this, especially to the cool season rough turf that surrounds our fairways. Secondly enter and exit through the gates on golf holes that are open to cart traffic and drive exclusively on the more durable warm season fairway turf. Thirdly, respect the soaker sprinklers we have going on a few places on the course as well as the rotating cart path only holes designated by signs along the path. If you land in the area with the soaker sprinkler operating, treat it as GUR (ground under repair) and move your ball. 

Above we mentioned the success of improving irrigation coverage giving us the ability to keep the fairway drier and keep the soil adequately hydrated to support cool season turf, particularly on these sun-baked slope's like along the cart path on #12. We haven't addressed this area yet with enhanced irrigation and the entire cart path edge of #12 is high on our list to do so.  In the meantime during the summer months we will employ these lines of soaker sprinklers to keep these areas alive. Again, please treat the area as GUR when you encounter them.

This picture doesn't represent the entire Swan family as the Cygnets are now a big enough for their parents to allow them to roam a bit. We started off with seven babies and now have four. 

And they are now almost the size of an adult goose. 


Thursday, May 30, 2024

Fairway Aeration & Greens Spiking

We wanted to remind the membership of our upcoming Fairway Aeration and Topdressing that is rapidly approaching in July. More on the actual process as we get closer, but the main thing for you to remember is the golf course will be closed for an entire week. 

Golf Course Fairway Aeration 
Monday July 8th through Friday July 12th
Golf Course Closed

This past Monday we verticle mowed, spiked and topdressed all putting surfaces on the course sticking to our plan to do small non invasive cultural practices to the greens for as long as possible to keep disruption for the membership and keep poa annua invasion on our greens to a minimum. Below are pictures of the process for those who haven't see them before.

Step #1 - Vertical Mow the surfaces. Circular saw like blades positioned vertically on a shaft slightly penetrate the surface and remove grain and thin the leaf volume of the green. Less leaf volume equals less friction. Less friction equals better ball roll & speed. Theoretically. 

Good image of the verticle mower blades close up.

Another good image of the surface directly after the verticle mower went over the green.

Step #2 - Cleanup - All of that  removed leaf surface leaves a mess that we clean up with a mower and blowers. Mowing after verticle mowing also clips the lifted leaf blades of the verticle mowing process.

Step #3 - Deep Tine Spiking. We like to follow the verticle mowing process with spiking. The tines above are 5/16" in diameter and we spike to a depth of 7". Holes in the surface provide avenues for water and equally or more importantly, air to penetrate deep into the putting surfaces core. Air equals deeper roots. Deeper roots equals an healthier overall putting surface that can hold up to less frequent irrigation. Less frequent irrigation equals better ball roll and speed. Theoretically.

Good image of the spiking pattern. 5" X 3" pattern with holes that are 7" deep. 

Step #4 - Sand topdressing. Sand topdressing on putting surfaces is considered a BMP by all turf managers and academics throughout the industry. The amounts and type of sand topdressing vary but in general turf managers like to use sand that is not too course or too fine. We like to lightly and frequently topdress greens at an amount of 1.0 to 1.5 cubic foot of sand topdressing per application targeting a total of 25 to 35 cubic feet of topdressing sand per 1000 square feet per year. Above illustrates a application of 1.6 cubic foot per 1000 square feet.
 Light and Frequent Topdressing dilutes the organic matter that putting surfaces make that if allowed to become excessive can lead to some real problems that is easiest remedied by core aeration which we are trying to avoid at least for a few years. 

Step #5 - Brushing in the topdressing. This image is from earlier this season when we Dry-Jected the Putting Surfaces and applied more sand then what is depicted in step #4. It is the same process where we slowly brush the greens with soft brushes attached to a Greens Groomer Brush. Brushing works the sand topdressing into the small  spiking holes, the grooves that the verticle mower left and the turf canopy and is a primary contributor to the smoothness and firmness of a putting surface. 

Step #6 - Two days out  finished product. Day one after the above chronicled process we rolled and blew off remnants of sand with back pack blowers. Day two (today 5/30/24) we mowed and rolled and blew the greens again and above is the product you are putting on today. 

Above is a closeup. A little bit of visible sand and you can see the verticle mowing lines slightly. 

Above picture was taken Tuesday 5/28/24 down one Cygnet since Friday 5/24/24. On Wednesday 5/29/24 in the morning we were down to 5 Cygnets. Michele McCormick Granite Bay's own bird expert says a 50% survival rate is pretty typical. Lets keep our fingers crossed. 

Friday, May 24, 2024

Summer is Coming

It is only 27 days until the official start of Summer marked by the Summer Solstice on Thursday June 20th. This begins the 94 day period leading to the  Fall Equinox on Sunday September 22nd where the hours of daylight equal the hours of night. The Summer season has traditionally been the hardest season on this golf course and most of our preparations and efforts throughout the year are aimed at surviving it. 

Our 2021 renovation / turf conversion addressed in part our summer issues by converting our fairways to warm season hybrid bermuda, however the golf course is still 60% cool season turf in the rough which is susceptible to these Sacramento summers. We have been adding Tall Fescue to the rough because of its superior heat tolerance to ryegrass, but it is still a cool season variety and therefore doesn't thrive when it gets hot.  As a reminder, hybrid bermuda does not do well in the shade and with our tree lined Parkland Style Golf Course and its associated shade, the best options for the rough are the cool season varieties of turf. 

So summer is coming but we feel good about our preparations and the condition of the golf course going into this stressful period. First, we are not worried about 40% of the golf course, specifically the fairways as they will thrive in the summer heat. Secondly, we have a strong population of the hardier Tall Fescue that has been established over the last three years and thirdly we successfully core aerated all of the rough in the early spring and we are counting on big dividends from that process.

How you can help is minimizing cart traffic in the rough during the summer. Utilize cart paths when you can and enter golf holes through the gates then drive on the durable fairway turf until you exit the hole through the exit gates. Currently we do not have any holes designated cart path only but anticipate closing a couple holes at a time in the summer to mitigate the wear and tear of cart traffic, so respecting those closures when we do have them is also helpful. 

Thank you in advance for your help with this matter. We all want the same thing, a golf course that we can be proud of year-round. Below are some pictures of recent progress on the golf course.

Last week we finally got to fixing a nagging low spot that was left over from the 2021 renovation to the left of the new forward tee on #2. Prior to us starting to sod this area it was a lovely puddle of mud.

We decided to do a sump drain because our normal recourse of tapping into existing drainage was a much larger job then we wanted to tackle at the time. A sump drain is a big hole filled with rock. The vertical drainpipe in the picture will serve as an inspection hole where we can monitor the depth of the drainage water at any given time. Additionally, the pipe will be helpful during rainy weather as the area is still low and might need to be pumped. 

Above is the finished product. No more mud hole.

We recently purchased a large fairway drag brush that we have been using ahead of fairway mowers to remove the grain in our Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda fairways. This brushing has really tightened these fairways up. 

This week we started repairing some of the bad areas along cart paths primarily. The process is strip the area of what bad sod is left then rototill sand and compost into existing native soil conditioning the soil so it has a fighting chance of supporting new sod. 

After to soil preparation, grading and tamping, we add some fertilizer, re-sod with fresh sod from our nursery then irrigate and rope off  to cart traffic so new sod can establish. We addressed areas near #3 green, #16 green & #6 green this week.

This picture was taken Friday 5/24/24. All seven Cygnets still flourishing at about 5 weeks old. The Family move regularly from pond to pond now, and one of the parents has been spotted on multiple occasions flying around low and looking for I don't know what.

A postcard image taken by Meredith of the same Swans and Cygnets this morning, Friday 5/24/24. 

Friday, May 10, 2024

Spring Mini Update

Spring is a great time of the year that is always associated with incredible business on a golf course. Everything starts to grow at once and then we fertilize and make it grow more. If you stop mowing because of spring showers, the grass will get out of control so you just mow, mow, mow even when it is a little wet. Then only a few days after the  rain stops, you have to start irrigating, then it rains again. Then the wind blows and topples some more trees and blows countless truckloads of debris out of the ones left standing. Its nothing new, always busy and incredibly beautiful. Enjoy some spring time pictures from one of the coolest places on earth, GBGC!

Our 2023 pair of Swans are back and have already hatched seven cygnets. Babies represented above are a couple of weeks old and are hanging out at the upper pond of #3.

Turtles are all over this year. 

Including their offspring crawling across the greens

#16 in May. Course is showing and playin good as it should in May. 

We are starting refreshing process with the bunkers, adding new sand to the ones that need it first, then a little bit in all of them. Presidents rock bunker on #18 just refreshed this week. 

On Monday 5/6/24 we added supplemental irrigation to the fescue banks below the driving range teaching center and bank in front of the grass tee. These type of little additions to the golf course infrastructure are under ground and out of sight but make huge differences to the quality of turf they effect. 


Memorial Day Monday 5/27/24 - Club Open
Tuesday 5/28/24 - Club Closed
Eureka School Foundation Monday 6/3/24
Mackenzie Cup - Thursday 6/13/24 through Saturday 6/15/24
USGA Amateur Qualifier - Monday 7/1/24
GBGC Fairway Aeration & Topdressing Week - Monday 7/8/24 - Friday 7/12/24 
Club Closed for the Week