Thursday, January 28, 2010

2010 Golf Course Priorities

The #1 priority that was on the golfing members mind when I arrived to Granite Bay Golf Club in early 2008 was the overdue renovation of the bunkers. This was the mandate in which I was brought to Granite Bay to achieve. After looking over bids obtained by contractors it was decided to attempt the renovation project in house utilizing our current labor pool and complete the project over two to three years. After settling on a construction process that I strongly felt would outlast many of the options we researched we started the project in the spring of 2008.

Along with maintaining the course we started the process working our way through the learning curve that is inherent in a project of this size. In a short period of time we were confident with our technique and decided to tackle the worst bunker on the course, the left hand bunker on #16. Rebuilding this bunker led to an entire restoration of the front portion of the green complex closely re-establishing the original look of the hole.
Additionally in 2008 we had to come off of bunker progress for a few weeks landscaping and preparing the grounds around the new outside dining patio. Once bunker renovation resumed we quickly depleted our allotted capitol amount for 2008 and had to wait for 2009’s allotment.

The biggest obstacle in 2009 to bunker progress was “The greatest recession since the great depression” that seemed to effect all of our lives. Our overall maintenance budget was effected which limited our construction workforce.

Additionally our capitol bunker allocation was reduced towards the end of the season. We were able to make progress but fell short of our stated goal of having the all of the greenside bunkers completed by the end of 2009. Even though we missed what I consider an important goal we were able to complete another member priority and that was the expansion of the cartpath to the upper tees on #18.
This brings us to our priorities in 2010, Finishing the Bunker Project. Our main focus this year will be to finish what we started in 2008. I am confident because:

  • We have NO other capitol projects lined up to complete
  • Capitol funding reductions from 2009 have been added to 2010.
  • Remaining bunkers are pretty straight forward (unlike #16)
  • Capitol funding has been released early for this project
Above and beyond the above points is our collaborative will to get this project behind us. I for one am appreciative of the golfing membership’s support and patience of this process. We have made progress in other areas on the course over the past couple years but the bottom line is we have more bunkers to complete (38) then we have completed (27) and my original estimate was to be much farther along then we are at this point.

We do have some other smaller golf course projects that members have brought up and we have shown we can acomplish more then one thing at a time. With any find of luck we will be able to achieve these little projects along with our above mentioned priorities in 2010. However I strongly believe it is in all of our best interests that we stay the course, finish what we started and get these bunkers done in 2010 even if it means that some of this little stuff has to wait.

Completed bunkers #18 in 2009

Completed bunker #1 in 2009

Wet, Winter Conditions

The wet El Nino weather patterns are great for filling up reservoirs, and we all should be grateful for that possibility so we don’t have deal with the dreaded D word at least for one year. That being said the continued rainfall, and even more detrimental to our turf, lack of light can, and has taken a toll. Between the frost, fog and rain the golf course has not seen a lot of sunlight so far this winter. In the same 60-day period last winter season we had 24 days out of the 60 that we had sunlight adequate for winter growth, compared to 7 days in the past 60 this season. Along with keeping the golf course wet, these type of conditions set up susceptibility to winter diseases.
Winter diseases of turf in our area are fairly predictable and range in severity from one season to another and normally do not cause the widespread turf loss that some summer disease patterns can. The drier the winter season the better, creating optimal cool season turf conditions with virtually non-existent disease pressure. However when we get the kind of constantly wet, low sunlight patterns that we have been getting, disease pressure can mount.
Red thread is a disease that is common in most winters and early springs and we normally see it in fairways and rough-cut. Severe infestations can require fungicide applications but normally a little sun and / or a little fertilizer can take care of red thread. Pink Snow Mold is another story. It can effect all turf and be very problematic on putting surfaces. It predictably rears its ugly head during wet dark winters and if left unchecked can cause a lot of problems. You might have noticed some snow mold from the pictures above on our greens. We had an outbreak a couple of weeks ago but were able to immediately get it under control.
The situation that we are most concerned with due to the prolonged wet and dark conditions is a thinning on portions of certain putting surfaces. Areas most effected are the left-hand side of #3, #6, #13 & #14 along with the right side of #9 and the rear of #15. Because of the widespread symptoms on #3 & #6 we suspected a mystery winter disease so we sent off a turf sample to UC Riverside for analysis. The results of the analysis were negative for pathogen activity on both foliage and roots of the sample, which is good news.
The only assumption as to the cause of the current thinning, absent a positive disease diagnosis are environmental causes. We raised the height of cut on our greens mowers many weeks ago which is standard during winter months, and raised them even more this past week in response to the thinning. This will allow for some more leaf surface to develop that can photosynthesize and provide food for the plant with the hopeful presence of some sunlight. We have also suspended rolling the greens until they recapture a semblance of health. We are going to attempt to lightly spike the greens, as the weather dictates, providing some necessary air to the upper water logged portion of the surface along with some strategic fertilizer applications, which should perk thing up. What we really need is that which we have absolutely no control over and that is sun light.
For every action there is a reaction and the above-described measures will regain a healthy condition but will contribute to a slower surface. Bottom line the wet conditions are the main culprit for a temporary lapse in putting quality and health. Obviously this is a temporary situation for the sun will be shining before we know it. Hopefully we will get some of it soon.

More wet weather snow mold #4 fairway

Wet weather facillitates Snow Mold on #2 green

El Nino Returns?

It has been awhile since we have experienced a winter season that has been as wet as this one has been so far. Granite Bay Golf Clubs weather station has recorded 12.38” inches of rain so far this year as compared to 9.8” of rain through the same period last year. Most meteorologists believe our current weather patterns are largely courtesy of a El Nino pattern, which is expected to influence the jet stream through the winter months. El Nino weather patterns are characterized by unusually warm sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean measured at the equator. These ocean conditions can trigger above normal precipitation in our area but as the Sacramento Bee stated this morning “El Nino can be fickle”. The Bee article also revealed that Folsom lake was still only 32% full and even behind it’s historical average through this point of the season but “The state snowpack on Thursday stood at 117% of average for the date”. and “Long range forecasts still suggest increased odds for above normal precipitation through April due to El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean.”
Not great news for course conditions but hopeful news regarding the dreaded D word, (drought