Thursday, December 3, 2009

Back in the Bunkers

Immediately following the completion of the cart path extension on #18 we got back into bunker renovation exactly as planned. Next on the priority list were the greenside bunkers on #10 and we completed the right front last week. This week we completed the left front and rear bunker completing all of the greenside bunkers on #10.
We are all aware of the economic climate the entire Nation is experiencing and even with that we were able to move forward at Granite Bay with capitol projects. Extension of the # 18 cartpath and continued bunker renovation were addressed on the course as well as the completely renovated fitness center at the clubhouse. Many clubs in the company had little to no capitol funds available in 2009.
Because of this economic climate and the performance of the company as a whole the remainder of bunker capitol funding for 2009 has been pushed into 2010. We only have three weeks left in our fiscal 2009 so Mitch is going to do what he can to get small incremental amounts of capitol released early in the year rather then the traditional springtime release. This means we can continue bunker renovation this winter, weather permitting, when we can throw more manpower at the project and really make progress. I’ll keep everyone informed.

Spraying liner on left hand bunker #10

Greenside bunkers complete on #10

The Aging of Our Ponds- Part II

The History of Our Ponds - Part II

In part one of the aging of our ponds, I discussed the crucial part our ponds play in water storage and irrigation delivery for the golf course turf. Additionally addressed was the fact that the aging process that our ponds, and for that matter most ponds experience is beginning limit both our irrigation holding capacity and our ability to remove the water for irrigation.
The history of our ponds might shed some light on our particular aging process and how it might have been accelerated. This information will not change anything just provide information so everyone understands our upcoming solutions.
The history of our ponds are intricately linked to the construction history of the course and this entire history is well documented. The following are excerpts are from “The History of Granite Bay Golf Club” which is on the Granite Bay website.
“The two bodies of water on the course play an integral role in the irrigation system, and both have interesting stories to tell. George's Lake between holes one and nine, is named after George Dunmore, the owner of the land and one of the original partners. Louie's Lake, which fronts hole number three, is named after Louie Costanzo, a close friend and business partner of Dunmore.”

“The present George's Lake is more than three times larger than the original stock pond placed there, along with fish, in the 1950's. In order to install the plumbing and pumps for the irrigation system, the lake had to be dammed. The California Fish and Game Department scooped up all the fish and moved them down stream to Louie's Lake, and the construction started. When the natural growth along the shoreline of the lake was dug up, the rootstock was saved and was then re-spread along the shoreline of the new larger lake. About eight months later, the new George's Lake, replete with fish, looked like it had been there since the beginning of time.”
“The story about Louie's Lake is a little on the bizarre side. Louie Costanzo, and Dunmore, were not only long time chums and partners in the Wexford project, but he shared George's passion for building a golf course. He had a habit of driving around the barren property and discussing ideas for the golf course with Dunmore. This, of course, was long before the involvement of Cook and Parsinen. One day Louie hauled a bulldozer out to the property and began clearing trees on what is now the 18th hole. Back then, it was to be the first hole and it was to play uphill. He then decided to create a lake at the location of the present third hole green, and began digging out earth, trees and brush. That lake now bears his name and might have been even bigger had the county not stepped in with a "cease and desist" order to stop clearing trees.”

The California Department of Fish and Game was not the only regulatory entities that Mr. Parsinan & Mr. Cook had to deal with during construction as you can imagine. The developers were required to compensate for impacts from development on a little over two acres of wetlands. This was a complicated mitigation process that resulted in the mandated formal design and monitoring of the planting of over 2000 riparian woodland and scrub species around George’s and Louie’s lakes. In addition to the various woodland species that were required to be planted around the ponds perennial marsh plants that were native to property were transplanted and moved to different parts of the pond edges to accelerate the re-establishment of the wet land habitat.
Fourteen years later we have well-established vegetation around both George’s and Louie’s Lakes. This vegetation fits the design style and vision of “Golf As It Should Be”. The vegetation consisting of trees, wetland shrubs, tulles and rushes continue to grow & spread and deposit foliage and material into most crucially George’s lake every year. This combined with the sediment that comes into George’s Lake from Linda Creek is creating a situation where the lake is losing its depth and breadth. Part III of the series of the Aging of our Ponds will cover more of this eutrophication or aging process.

Propagated wetland vegetation surrounding Georges lake #1 / #9

Propagated vegetation around Louie's Lake #3

Successful # 18 Tee Cart Path

Addressing the stairs on #18 leading to the Granite & Tournament tees was a close second behind bunker renovation in the 2007 year end member survey issued shortly before my arrival at Granite Bay. Bunker renovation started in 2008 negating their impact to that year’s survey and the stairs on #18 became the top golf course capitol priority, at least according to the members who participated in the survey.
We are very happy that the project went off exactly as planned and the finished product has been embraced for the most part by the membership. Once we got into the project my biggest concern was the canopy’s of the carts visually obstructing the view of the fairway. Creating an area large enough for carts to turn around and not be in the line of sight was hard to envision until we removed existing landscaping to see what we had up there. We worked along time at excavation the upper area creating as flat of a turnaround as possible. I am sure members who have been using the path currently have already figured that the lead cart needs to pull forward allowing the trailing cart to pull parallel to the newly created rock wall. This gets the carts all the way to the left and out of the fairway line of sight.

Upper turnaround #18 tee

The grade coming down the path was a concern as well. After using the path with club owned electric carts we found that instinctively drivers do not accelerate fully but slightly use the brake and the club owned carts govern their speed automatically.
Even if used improperly and a player drove the cart with full throttle, the club owned carts govern down like they do on other steep paths on the course.

Slope of the completed cartpath #18

The last concern was access for walkers. I don’t use the course as much as our members but I personally found the new path easier to walk up then navigating the old stairs or the foot worn path around them that most walkers used. The coarse texture that we planned to use on the slope is stable under foot and it just seems an easier trek. Once the weather becomes wet we will evaluate access for walkers and create a walking path up the right side of the cart path if necessary.
In addition to the path we addressed irrigation issues and some cleanup and grading around the #17 green complex trying to put some finishing touches on the entire area. We still have plant material to install in the barked areas at the base and top of the path, which we are targeting to finish next week. Additionally we have to re-install the water station, which we hope to take care of this winter.

Fresh concrete

#12 cart path extension

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Aging of Our Ponds

Part One – Function

There is a lot more to the two ponds here at Granite Bay then just the strategic value they add to holes 1, 3 & 9. They have a unique history and crucial function to the life of Granite Bay Golf Club. They also like any natural ecosystem have an evolving nature to them that is now beginning to conflict with their crucial function and that is to hold water to irrigate the turf of our course. Solutions to this conflict will not be easy but necessary for us maintain an unobstructed irrigation source.
I wanted to address the issue in a few parts over the next few updates then perhaps put them all together as a blueprint for the future.

  •  Part One – The Function of our Ponds
  •  Part Two – The History of our Ponds
  •  Part Three – The Aging of our Ponds
  •  Part Four – The Solutions for our Ponds

From “George’s Lake” the water now flows into another large culvert that feeds a large sump, which is where our pumps draw the water for the irrigation system.
The overriding issue is, and I will elaborate in future editions, is that “George’s lake” is going through what is called an eutrophication process. The effects of this process are that sediment build up and aquatic plant life accumulation are dangerously close to effecting the flow of water out of George’s lake to the pump station.
If we had access to all the water in the Folsom Lake and we couldn’t draw it out of George’s lake we would not be able to irrigate the course. This is why this is an important issue that needs to be addressed.
Next part of this series is “The History of Our Ponds” which will cover some golf course construction history and how the lake design features might actually contribute to the eutrophication process.

Irrigation water path

# 18 Tee Cart Path Extension

I think I mentioned on several occasions that we planned to begin the #18 cart path extension project the week immediately following putting surface aerification. Because aerification was pushed forward a week due to the storm and we have the contractor showing up to pour the path on November 2nd, we could not afford to be unprepared so we got started early.

Above is a basic routing plan of the path. Pictured is a turnaround area for the forward tees that is basically in the same location of the current turnaround although it will be reconfigured. Coming off of that turnaround is a path that will head up to a turn around to the left and below of the granite tee. Coming off of this turnaround is a short walking path leading up to the granite and tournament tees. After the upper turnaround and a common decent path, there will be exit path that will head the left where the current location of the water station is. A landscape bed will separate the accent and decent paths. All paths will be curbed to control traffic in the area and help direct in the natural flow.

         Construction Schedule
  • October 19 – 30 Excavation & Grading
  • November 2 – 6 Concrete Pouring
  • November 9 – 13 Irrigation & Landscaping
#18 moving rock at base of path

#18 tee - removing old stairwell
#18 excavated path looking down

Aerification Setback

Our scheduled putting surface aerification on October 13th & 14th has been pushed forward to October 20th & 21st due to the unseasonable storm we all received last Tuesday & Wednesday. The storm dumped over 2.25” inches of rain here at the golf course which made the greens too wet to aerify on Thursday, and Friday (today) was heavily booked with play so we decided to push it into next week. We are getting a little late in the season to aerify putting surfaces as a cold snap will really hinder recovery however mild temperatures are forecasted so we should be O.K.
We were able to aerify both practice greens and the chipping green prior to the storm. We felt using a larger tine (5/8”) producing a larger hole on these greens was warranted because of the above normal traffic they receive combined with their small size. We will NOT be using the larger tines (5/8”) holes on 1-18, but will be using the smaller tines (1/2”).
Because we are aerifying a little late in the season this fall we decided to aerify both practice putting surfaces at the same time rather then the separating the two by a few weeks. We had been aerifying one and leaving another alone for a few weeks based on Member request’s and will continue to do so in the future. We just felt that this time we needed to get them both done and not risk recovery issues.

Aerated practice green 5/8" holes

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bunker Progress

We completed both bunkers on #11 this week right on schedule. Next are the green side bunkers on #10.

Our goal was to get into them next week and work around the WGAC the following but we have thought better of bringing that kind of scorn down on our heads. Unfortunately because the construction crew will be busy after aerification prepping and shaping the #18 tee cart path extension we wont be able to resume until week of 11/2.

Lets hope for a dry November and December where we can really start making progress on this much needed improvement.

On the subject of bunkers we plan to do a pictorial update focusing just on bunker renovation for new members and those who were not following our updates last year when we started the process. Look for that soon.

Right hand greenside bunker #11 getting filled

#11 greenside bunkers complete

2009 Aerification

We have some real challenges for aerification of the course and overseeding bermuda tees this year due to some late scheduled tournaments. As I mentioned above the best time to do any type of overseeding is right now at the beginning of fall while there is still some warm weather facilitating rapid seed germination. Last year we overseeded our bermuda tees and approaches on #14 & #16 a couple weeks prior to Jones Cup. That move was not well received although we had great ryegrass coverage before the winter months. Our additional challenge this year is we have the WGAC match play event the last week in September followed by the Jones Cup the first full week in October followed by putting surface aerification the 2nd week in October.
Currently our plan is to try to get the tournament, club and our spare tee levels overseeded next week. Additionally we plan to spot aerify the worn
out traffic area in the front portion of #10 leading to the #11 tee. This area gets wore out from cart traffic and has to compete with roots and shade from adjacent oak trees. This is not a great combination for good turf. Same scenario less the tree roots and shade occurs around the trap in the center of the fairway on #6. We plan to do some traffic control measures in these areas as well to give the areas a chance for recovery. We will judge the success of the procedures and decide whether proactive alternation of traffic control measures in areas like this is warranted moving forward.

Complete Aerification & Overseeding Schedule

  •  Week of 9/21 Overseed Club Tees

  • Week of 9/28 WGAC

  •  Week of 10/5 Overseed ladies Tees

  • Jones Cup Prep

  •  Week of 10/12 Putting Surface Aerification

  • Overseed Granite Tees

  •  Week of 10/19 Overseed Driving range Tee

  • Aerify & De-Thatch FW’s & Rough

Summer Recovery

The good news is that right now we are in the best time of the year to grow cool season turf. Nighttime temperatures are low, daytime temperature’s are somewhat mild and the hours of day and night will be equal next Tuesday on the 22nd. We fertilized the entire golf course this past Monday directly following a NICE little September thunderstorm. We are in the process of applying seed throughout the course using various methods and strategies. We are seeing germination of seed within a week and are looking forward to a quick transformation.
We are battling some weed infestation as I mentioned above and are digging out some and spraying others. Some of the areas that we sprayed clover with a selective herbicide we got a little zealous and had some undesirable turf setback on holes #1 & #4. Admittedly not great timing for that miscue however the areas have been seeded and we anticipate coverage by next week.
Natural law dictates that for every action there is a reaction and the combination of fertilizer and a thunderstorm along with laying off of growth regulators for the past 30 days have cause our fairways to explode. Combine this with a heavy dew point and even daily AM mowing leaves a lot of clippings. This is the reason you will possibly see us mowing fairways in the afternoons when it is dry so we don’t leave such a mess.
Bottom line is we will see thin areas replaced by turf in a very short period of time.

#2 approach recovering nicely

Summer Blues

In the over 28 years I have been taking care of golf courses I have always looked forward to the end of summer. Even though this has been a relatively mild summer by most standards, it has still been summer and not without the issues that come with it. We have had our share of cool season turf losses, we have fought the up and downs of too wet and too dry and the subsequent results of each. We have battled or more appropriately stated, are currently battling opportunistic weeds in some areas. On top of all of this we are really fighting a severe grub infestation which shows up on the course now as the skunks, raccoons and crows continue tearing up turf while going after the grubs as a food source. At Granite Bay all of these stresses, with varying degrees, will always converge at the end of summer. Refined maintenance programs will hopefully mitigate future issues but summer will always be our Achilles’ Heal at Granite Bay as long as we
are taking care of cool season turf.
Turf in #10 traffic zone closeup
Golf Courses that have warm season turf or bermuda grass in our area typically thrive in the summer but as the bermuda starts into dormancy they deal with their own set of issues. The seasonal ups and downs of golf course conditions have always been and will always be a part of the game. We all want consistent perfection and the Granite Bay maintenance department will always have that as our goal. Hopefully we wont be setting ourselves up for some level of disappointment next summer.

#10 fairway to #11 tee traffic zone

Friday, September 4, 2009

Back in the Bunkers

As scheduled we resumed bunker renovation this week. We started on the left-hand green side bunker on #11. At a recent golf committee meeting we prioritized the order we will renovate the remaining green side bunkers the remainder of the year. That prioritization is: #11, #10, #13, #15, #4, #8, #17, #12, and #9.

Begining construction left hand green side bunker #11

New Sod

This has been a pretty good summer by all accounts but it still is summer with long days accompanied by heat. The collars on the par three #3 & 7 have been struggling all summer along with the entrances to both practice greens.

We have re-sodded the entrance to the practice green at Tilley’s a few times the last two years as well as the rear of #7 green. We decided to go a different rout rather then trying some of our home grown sod and bring in some ryegrass / bluegrass sod from a sod farm. We re-sodded the entire collars on #3 & #7 along with the traffic half of #13

Re-sodded club tee #7

Grubs & Other Critters

I think I mentioned last update that we were having issues with white grub infestation throughout the course. Some areas we have observed actual turf damage where the population of grubs ( 20 per ft.sq.) is substantial enough that they chew off most surface roots and the turf dies. Examples of this type of infestation in the very beginning of #15 fairway and the approach to #2 green. We have scouted the course and made spot applications of insecticide to eradicate the nuisance pests however control of the grub at the adult larval stage is difficult. Preventive applications in the spring are much more effective

The pictures above show the damage and the actual grubs working beneath the turf in the approach to #2 green in populations enough to actually cause turf damage. After the area was treated the activity slowed way down and the area actually started to recover.
I don’t really know why but accentuated grub activity is widespread in the Sacramento area this year. I know they are a lot more active here at Granite Bay this year as compared to last.
As if the actual root chewing and turf loss was not bad enough we have just this week been experiencing increased skunk and raccoon activity as they feed on the mature grubs. It would be nice if they were able to extract the grubs without tearing up the turf but unfortunately that is the case. We will set traps and try to relocate as many mammals as we can but I think we might be in for a headache with these critters this year.

Skunk damage - feeding on white grubs

Dog Days of Summer

The results of our battle between too wet and too dry are never more evident then right now at the end of summer. A few weeks ago the gold course got very wet and we justifiably reacted by turning the automatic sprinklers down and off in some cases which resulted in the stressing and thinning of some turf areas throughout the course. Not an altogether unusual set of circumstances for this time of year, yet disconcerting non the less. One of the driving contributing issues we have brought up in the past is the different turf types that populate our fairways.

We have a mixture of bentgrass and ryegrass fairways, both cool season turf species yet with very different irrigation requirements. The bentgrass portions of our fairways are typically the areas that get soft and the ryegrass portions of our fairways are the areas that typically struggle and thin out when it gets hot and an irrigation strategy to accommodate both can be difficult.

Cart traffic damage on stressed cool season turf
Stressed out ryegrass adjacent to happy bentgrass
This week we started interseeding bentgrass into the ryegrass areas of our fairways while the ryegrass is weak and young bent seedlings can compete. This interseeding strategy is very much like our interseeding strategy on the greens in that it will take time but I believe will yield consistent benefits in the both short and long term.