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 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

Thursday, April 4, 2024

2024 Spring Fairway Grooming

A best management practice that has been mentioned before in these course updates is raising the height of cut on our fairways prior to winter. If we neglected to do this prior to the warm season Santa Anna going dormant, we would run the risk of  excessive thinning of the fairways from winter golf traffic. Now that spring has arrived and we feel the weather has changed enough, it is time to lower this height of cut and groom out the hybrid bermuda's stems and seed head in the process. We got started on this process this week and should have a first pass completed by next. 

Here we are using a small greens groomer brush against the grain of the Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda standing it up along with its seed stems. 

Above represents a mowed surface on the left next to an un-mowed and brushed up surface on the right. The mowed surface was what we call "back track mowed" which involves mowing in one direction normally against the grain, then turning around and mowing the same strip in the opposite direction. 

Here we are "back track mowing". The process of brushing and back track mowing does take some time to get all 30 acres of fairways done and like most cultural practices need to be done when it is dry and the weather so far this spring has been hit and miss. Additionally this process needs to be done when the Hybrid Bermuda is woke up and growing and it is in the process of doing just that.

Unfortunately we were stalled end of this week with the fairway grooming process, next week looks promising. 

Additional Weekly Progress 

Along with getting started on the above mentioned fairway grooming, we completed core aeration of the back 9 rough as well as core aeration of our collars. Next week we plan on a full course fertility application as well as finishing the first pass of our fairway grooming process. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

2024 Spring Rough Aeration

We started our core aeration of the primary rough this week according to plan.  Planning, in the context of  spring core aeration of the rough is somewhat abstract for us in Granite Bay as the process is entirely weather dependent. And in a part of the world that averages 24" of winter rain, it is challenging to plan these events with any type of precision as this process leads to a big muddy mess if done when wet. Been there, done that, on this very property!

Additionally getting everything aerified  early in the spring is a must as fertility and weed control strategies are best conducted post aeration and have a time sensitivity of their own. It's easy to see how core aeration of the rough gets skipped frequently given these weather challenges in the spring. However in our case with our native soils, the lack of timely aeration can lead to marginal summer conditions and more necessary fall recovery then we want. Therefore we identified spring core aeration of our primary rough a best management practice, and are in the process of doing it right now.

Step #1 Flagging.
There are a lot of sprinkler heads, valve boxes and yardage markers on the course that we dont want the aerator's to come in contact with. Pink is our new color in honor of  our beloved Head Golf Professionals occasional apparel choices. Kidding aside, this florescent  pink is very visible.

Step #2 Aerate.  
Enrique ripping away with the Toro 1298 Procore. 

Here is the smaller aerator, a Toro 648 working around the greens. Our strategy this week was to aerate the green surrounds utilizing both the large and small aerators on Monday 3/18/24 while the club was closed as it is harder to work on the green surrounds when we have Members playing. We were able to complete greens surrounds on the F9 on Monday, then continued aerating primary rough a few holes at a time starting on Tuesday where we completed #1, #2 & half of #4. Wednesday we completed the remaining half of #4, #5 & #8. Thursday we completed #9, #6, #7, #10. Friday we plan to complete #11 & #12.

Above depicts a freshly aerated rough surface. We have had almost perfect weather prior to starting the process. End of the last rainy period was 15 days prior with a nighttime 0.12" event in between on 3/12/24. Ground is moist but not wet and perfect for extracting a core. After we extract the cores we allow them to dry a bit in the sun which is extremely beneficial to the clean-up process. 

Step #3 Cleanup. 
The cleanup portion of the job is the most time consuming and weather dependent as this process is hard to do right unless we have sunny weather. Around the greens, much of the cleanup is by hand with back pack blowers moving  cores into piles then picking them up with shovels and tossing them into utility vehicles. 

Cleanup of the primary rough around the fairways can be more mechanized. Above depicts a scarifying mower chopping the semi-dried cores up to facilitate sweeping and blowing.

A close-up of the scarifying reels.

Next in the clean-up process is sweeping up the scarified aeration core debris. These sweepers pick up the vast majority of the cores and debris. 

We couldn't do this process without the support and understanding of the Membership. Allot of the work is done in the dark and before Members start playing,  but golf does begin on  freshly aerated rough with cores laying on the surface before we have processed and cleaned the area. Additionally keeping golf carts from driving on the holes we are working is crucial, as it  keeps the cores from being smashed into the turf which is then difficult to mechanically remove and we have to do it manually. 

Above is a good representation of the finished product. Pretty clean, for the most part and in a much healthier position going into the heat of the summer.  

The weather forecast does not bode well for completing this process next week unfortunately. As I've already indicated, this job does not work when it is wet. More to come as to when we will finish the B9. 

Thanks for Your Support!

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Tahoma Hybrid Bermuda #10

GBGC GCM has had a very active and productive few weeks despite the ongoing dreary and wet winter weather of February and so far, March. February started off with a Tree Toppling storm that to date knocked down or created dangerous situations requiring removal of now over 30 trees. I originally estimated it would take us two weeks to cleanup and process the mess. I was a bit off as we still have clean-up to do five weeks later. 

Additionally we repaired the #2 Fairway Exit, and this Monday 3/4/24, we did a new putting surface aeration process called DryJect which was a little sandier than I anticipated, but I'm hoping will be a good process for these greens moving forward. 

And as planned, following the DryJecting on Monday, we stripped out the bad sod under the #10 fairway tree and replaced it with Tahoma 31 Hybrid Bermuda. Tahoma 31 is a variety of hybrid bermuda that claims to be more shade tolerant then other hybrid bermuda varieties and is the same variety we installed on #2. Both sodded areas appear different because the Tahoma 31 on #2 was overseeded, and the Tahoma 31 on #10 was not for reasons explained below.

Here is the turf area under the signature Oak Tree in the middle of #10. The sprigging of the Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda in 2021 never really took and the area has been one of the worst areas on the course even before we attempted to convert it to Santa Anna. Issues are shade and the common issue that impedes turfgrass quality on the course, our native soil.

In December we had our arborist's strategically work on this signature tree to mitigate shade issues

And now a few months later we start the process of replacing the turf.

Step #1 sod cut the bad sod.

Step #2. Remove the distressed sod and a couple inches of the native soil.

Step #3. Replace the 2" of removed soil with washed tee sand.

Step #4. Lightly rototill the new sand into underlying native soil to help with soil layering and water percolation. 

Step #5. Grade.

Finished grade awaiting sod. 

Step #6. Install sod.

As mentioned above we resodded with a Hybrid Bermuda variety,  Tahoma 31. Again Tahoma 31 is known for its shade tolerance. It should blend very well with our Santa Anna. so much so that you will likely not be able to tell the difference. Time will tell on it's shade tolerance in this important area as its success can prove to be a model of other fairway peripheral areas adjacent to trees. I am cautiously optimistic because of the variety's claims, and because of the shade mitigation of the tree pruning and most importantly the soil modification that will provide a much better growing opportunity.

Here is the finished product. Notice the shade pattern from the dormant tree branches. Almost exactly the area that was re-sodded.

The sod installed on #2 earlier in the month is Tahoma 31 as well but it was overseeded. The reason we chose overseeded was it was 4 weeks earlier and the Tahoma at the sod farm hadn't started waking up yet and the shade in this area on #2 is denser because of the amount and type of trees. We will transition the ryegrass out of this Tahoma 31 stand in the early summer. 

Rough Core Aeration

Next up for us is core aeration of the rough. This work is weather related and this essential task for the health of our rough in the summer cannot be done when it is wet. We have a good number of Mondays open through mid-April so hopefully the weather will cooperate and there won't be much of a disruption to the Membership. More on the process as we get started but basically, we aerify, allow the cores to dry and sweep them up. Holes we will be working on during golf play will be closed to cart traffic but won't be numerous if weather is dry and we are able to make good progress on Mondays.

Thank You for Your Support!