Friday, May 7, 2010

The Aging of Our Ponds

Part Four – The Solutions for Our Ponds

The following is the conclusion of the four part series I started last fall addressing the two water features at Granite Bay Golf Club.

Part I, II & III covered the function, history and aging of our ponds and now Part IV will cover some solutions.

In a nutshell the importance of our ponds as a source for the life blood or irrigation water of the course cannot be over emphasized. The Naturalized style and beauty of our water features are also crucial to our Audubon status, design integrity of the course and our use permit with Placer County. A healthy, happy median must be maintained on a go forward basis. We must apply the same proactive maintenance procedures to our ponds as we do to our turf. If we don’t the natural aging will interfere with our ability to irrigate the course and continue to give us sub standard water feature aesthetics in the summer.

Tentatively scheduled beginning June 7th we have a contractor arriving to thin out some of the encroaching vegetation along with the sub-surface decaying stems of water primrose that are surrounding the pump station intake area. Along with this work we plan to replace the pump station intake screens which have rusted away.

Additionally we will continue to control aggressive aquatic vegetation as it starts to encroach into the ponds, creating an unsightly appearance and adding additional biomass to the already overloaded situation. This strategy of mechanical removal and chemical and biological control is the beginning of a maintenance program that will be essential if we are to maintain the function and the natural design features of our ponds.

I will update progress in our next update.

Recent picture of George's Lake


Something new for the course updates moving forward is highlighting the status of Granite Bay Golf Club as a Certified Signature Sanctuary of Audubon International.

Audubon International is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to fostering more sustainable human and natural communities through research, education, and conservation assistance.

Granite Bay has been a member of Audubon International since 1993 and became certified at the bronze level in May of 1998. We are one of only six certified golf courses in the state.

I look forward to learning and sharing with you the multitude of benefits that go along our certification with Audubon International.

2010 Aeration Progress

Not only did the weather delay our spring aeration process, the colder then normal temperatures associated with the rain hampered recovery especially with the fairways. Greens and tees recovered relatively quickly despite the unseasonable weather. Fairways were / are another story.
We core aerated the fairways as planned during the last couple of weeks. The coring process that I more or less outlined above is more aggressive then we have employed the past couple of years on fairways. In 2008 and 2009 we solid tined the fairways which involved just poking a hole a couple of inches deep then vertical mowing to remove some thatch over the top. This process was much less aggressive and recovery was almost immediate.

The aggressive coring process we used this year removes substantially more organic material along with creating a longer lasting hole facilitating expanded movement of air and water. This organic material or thatch, in excess is our enemy and the main culprit of our soft conditions in the summer months. The down side to any aggressive cultural practice on turf is recovery time. But as I have mentioned in previous course updates Granite Bay is a “thatchy” golf course. The situation did not develop overnight and it will not go away on its own. It has to be managed in an ongoing fashion.

So the yellowing in the fairways we have been experiencing over the last couple of weeks was primarily due to the aggressive aeration procedure. This was compounded by unseasonable weather, which caused a slower then normal recovery. The good news is that we are currently getting some good weather and have applied an application of fertilizer last Monday and we can already see the color return to the surfaces.
We still plan to core aerate the rough but will start with the putting surface surrounds.
This summer we plan to solid tine the fairways starting in Late June. We hope to do this procedure every month until we core them again in the fall. We hope this will go along way to keeping the fairways firmer up the middle then in past seasons.

Aerifying fairways
Verticle mowing fairways
Sweeping up the mess

Removed thatch from fairways

Wet Spring Delays

Weather Plays a Part in Everything We Do

I feel like I am stating the obvious when I mention the weather in our course updates but it truly does effect everything we do on the golf course. Additionally it is major contributor to course conditions both past and present effecting everything from surface speed to maintenance procedures.
I mentioned in our last update that our plan was to take the entire month of April and do a through job of core aerating the entire golf course. As you know we have traditionally maintained two partial closure days in both spring and fall for putting surface aeration which went very well this spring. We are currently coming up on four weeks out from the procedure and the greens are performing well. Immediately following the greens our plan was to core aerate tees and fairways. This is where the wet early spring weather caused some delays.

To remove cores from an entire fairway requires dry weather. We typically core aerate the surface and drag all of the cores a bit to separate the soil from the thatch. Then we added a procedure of slicing the turf removing additional thatch and chopping up the cores even further. Following this we sweep up the remaining mess with sweepers picking up all of that removed thatch. Next we mow and blow the surface and we are done, simple. Simple, yet messy if it is dry, virtually impossible and a disaster type mess if it is wet.

Wet weather in the spring also hinders our ability to mow and keep turf under control. This problem is particularly noticeable in the longer mowed turf such as around the greens and tees and native rough. The longer days and somewhat warmer temperatures cause the turf to grow at a faster pace and the wet weather hinders our ability to mow. When we can finally get to an area and mow after it adequately dries out, we sometimes end up scalping some areas, which can lend to some temporary unsightliness.

On the bright side we have not had to purchase water or irrigate very much so far this spring. Bottom line we are a little behind on aeration and we have some really tall native grass that we are chasing. Dealing with weather issues is, and always will be something that is part of maintaining and playing a golf course, part of the charm and part of the fun.

Progress Since October

We have been on a Roll

For the last six months beginning in October of last year we have been on a tear improving this golf course. Some of the things were very visible and others not so visible yet all will contribute to having a successful summer not just this year but beyond.

We started with the cart path extension on #18 in October. If you remember I also mentioned that we re-established and added a lot of irrigation in the adjacent areas on #17. That hillside adjacent to the #17 green and approach was chronically mediocre in the summer months, a situation in which these irrigation additions will go along way to remedy.

We did get the bunkers on #10 done in November, which depleted all of our funding available for 2009. We did not stand pat and completed two irrigation expansion areas behind #15 green and to the right of #13 green. These two areas were other examples of summer mediocrity that we identified which the additions should remedy as well.

I wrote extensively last update about the bunker progress we made starting in February, which will culminate the end of this week with the completion of the greenside bunkers on #13. In the nine weeks beginning February 1st we completed 13 bunkers three of which were some of the largest on the course. Along with all of this work we were able to soften two critical fairway exit areas on #16 & #13 and substantially improve irrigation coverage to the right of #9 green.

What is most exciting about completing all of this work is that it sets us up for a successful summer. We might not ever have a period of time where we make as much diverse progress as we have the past 6 months. As rewarding as the time has been we look forward to when we can re-direct manpower resources into playing surfaces and details on the course. And that time is much closer then I thought it would be six months ago.

Completed greenside bunkers #13

Newley sodded fairway exit #13