Friday, October 22, 2010

Granite Bay Tees

Any one who has been a member of Granite Bay Golf Club for any length of time recalls our original tees and how we have been painstakingly replacing the original turf on them throughout the years. Newer members might be wondering about the inconsistencies in firmness versus softness and why some of them look just awful. This update will address all of these issues and let you know both the short and long term  plan for fixing them.

Our tees were originally seeded with creeping bentgrass which is a cool season grass commonly used for putting surfaces in our area. Not many courses in our area, none to my knowledge, started with bentgrass on their tees. This is  primarily because of the  intense maintenance requirements  for bentgrass and it's inability to recuperate on a teeing area  during the summer months. In the early years of the club it was nearly impossible to keep grass on some of the tee's during the warmer parts of the year as any charter or long time member can attest. Because of this, the decision to replace the bentgrass was a given.

Newly Sodded Club Tee on #12

This decision was made almost 12 years ago but back in those days allot was going on. The Club was going through a management transfer from the original ownership group to Club Corp and the members had a lot of pressing issues such as lack of grass on the greens, lack of cart paths etc. When it came to the tees, turf replacement started with the very worst areas and then progressed as other teeing levels took their place in the infamous pecking order of "next worst". It was not one big capitol project for there were many other needs vying for those precious capitol funds. The replacement sod was purchased through the maintenance budget as areas became unacceptable. Currently we have re-surfaced close to 80% of all the original bentgrass teeing areas on the course.

The replacement turf choice was a variety of hybrid bermuda called Tiffway II. This is a warm season, fine textured hybrid bermuda that produces a durable, firm surface with a high recovery rate ideal for  teeing areas. The new hybrid bermudas have a much better cold tolerance then their Great Grandfather common bermuda allowing them to hold on to color longer and come out of dormancy quicker. However dormancy of the bermuda was never going to be a big issue on the teeing areas  because the plan was to always over seed with ryegrass in the early fall, allowing them to be green all winter long.

Installing New Sod #6 Club / Cobble / Pebble Tee's
We are currently dealing with some of those "next worse" tees.  The Cobble tee on #2. The combo Club, Cobble & Pebble tee on #6. The Club tee on #12 and the Cobble tee on #17 are all currently being re-sodded. This leave us with only 22% of all of the teeing areas left on the course to re-sod. Our plan is to next year utilize a combination of sprigging and sodding of the remaining tees bringing some closure something that was started long ago.

#6 Club / Cobble / Pebble Tee in need of new turf.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fall 2010 Aeration Progress

Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time on a golf course will inevitably be confronted with the  process of aeration to the turfgrass playing surfaces. There is some truth to the appearance that it always seems like we pick the most inopportune time for golfers, either in the springtime coming out of winter, or in the fall  when summer recovery is in full swing. Unfortunately  the simple truth is  that these procedures  have to be done while the turf is actively growing so the surfaces can adequately recover.

In turf, aeration is a cultivation process that provides for air to move or circulate in the root zone and soil. Air in the soil is necessary for most of the  turf grass plants basic functions and we can trace many of our turf problems here at Granite Bay to a lack of air in the root zone. Aeration also relieves soil compaction and when done by pulling a core, the process can be the most effective way of removing excessive organic matter or thatch which actually seals off the soil from air infiltration. Our overall problems will  only compound if we are not diligent at sticking to a routine aeration program on all of the turf areas here at Granite Bay.

#3 Green being core aerated.

Organic matter (we call them plugs) removal

We just finished aeration of the putting surfaces utilizing a more aggressive approach then has ever been applied to our greens. Over the years our greens have become soft and spongy which is a result off a over accumulation of organic matter otherwise known as thatch. The USGA states "In our experience, golf courses with successful mature greens have been on a core aeration program where 15% to 20% of the surface area has been impacted each year."  (USGA Green Section Record - Core Aeration by the Numbers July 2001) The greens at Granite Bay have been aerated twice per year since their inception. However we have typically impacted only 10% to 12% of the surface per year utilizing a minimal disruption aeration approach. hence the problems we had this past summer and our adopting recommendations by the USGA.

Total material removed from 2 greens, #10 & #11

Applying topdressing sand

Finished after brushing, sweeping, blowing and rolling

Organic matter is not just an issue with our putting surfaces. It has accumulated throughout the course and is the source of our soft conditions. The removal of it via core aeration and de-thatching is tedious and time consuming work that need to be done in a timely fashion so the surfaces recover as quickly as possible. Again as I mentioned above if we don't stay on a annual regimen of core aeration of all of our playing surfaces twice per year, our soft and mediocre conditions can persist. It is definitely one of the  necessary evils of golf course maintenance

Putting surfaces were completed the week of October 4th. Front nine fairways will completed the week of October 11th, back nine the week of October 18th along with the back nine rough. That leaves us two weeks to address the putting surface surrounds which we plan to core aerate and aggressively seed.