Monday, November 15, 2010

Winter Plans

We are wrapping up core aeration of all of the playing surfaces at Granite Bay this week. If it seems like we have been working on aeration for awhile  its because we have. This is the first time since my tenure here at Granite Bay that we have taken the time to core aerate all of the turf at one time. As I have explained in the past, core aeration involves not just poking a hole but extracting a core and removing it  from the surface as opposed to solid  tine aeration where a hole is made in the surface of the turf but no core is removed. Both processes have different benefits. Core aeration is more disruptive and labor intensive but actually removes a portion of the   accumulated organic matter or thatch. Solid tine aeration supplies necessary oxygen to the root zone, as does core aeration, but does not address removal of excessive organic matter which is a real issue  here at Granite Bay. However the process is less labor intensive allowing us to get more done in a shorter period of time and the surfaces recover more rapidly.

Core Aerating around #16 green
Fairway aerator removing cores from fairways

We got started in September in the rough on some holes trying to get a head start and keep disruption to a minimum. An unseasonably warm early fall caused us to hold off a bit as any type of aggressive cultural practice such as core aeration during stressful weather can actually set the areas back rather then the intended improvement. Aggressive core aeration of the putting surfaces was performed in early October and the unseasonable weather continued and actually helped us with rapid recovery on the greens. Following the greens we completed fairways, then resumed the rough areas followed by the approaches to the greens and now just finishing the surrounds of the greens.

Seeding thin areas in the rough on #13

 The process requires some drying to both remove the damp messy cores and to get topdressing sand into the holes where sand was applied. Putting surfaces were done on days when we closed the course and the majority of the fairways were done on subsequent Monday afternoons following tournament events. The rest of the areas were done systematically during member play  by doing the actual aeration or core removal in the morning, allowing for some drying followed by removal of the cores and applying topdressing. Thanks to all members who put up with the disruption and noise during these processes. Bottom line these necessary procedures to the entire golf course take the better part of two months to accomplish. Core aeration along with normal golf course maintenance is all we can accomplish during this period of time.

Which brings us to whats next? What are our plans for this coming winter? We always look forward to the winter months because with any kind of luck and cooperation from nature we can get allot done. There are three primary areas we plan to focus on this fall and the upcoming winter.
  1. Fairway Sand Trap Renovation
  2. Tree and Brush Trimming and Clearing
  3. Irrigation Triangulation
Starting next week we plan to start the renovation process on our fairway sand traps. Our plan is to use the same drainage system in the base of the sand traps and not extend the drainage into the faces of the traps as extensively as we did on the green side traps. This should allow for a consistent firm face of the trap and minimize the depth of sand on the face and maximize ball settling into the base of the trap. The faces of the fairway traps will probably washout more readily then the green side bunkers but  the traps will not be able to hold water in the base which is currently not the case. The totality of this final phase of bunker renovation will play out similar to last year. We have some capitol funds left from 2010 that we need to use by year end. That is what we will start with. If our capitol allotment for 2011 is approved early and weather cooperates we will continue through the winter of 2011.

#7 green shaded in the morning
                                                                                     Also next week we plan to start brush clearing / tree pruning in areas  that we did not make as much progress as we wanted to last  winter  because we put all of our resources into finishing green side bunkers. This work will be very visual and dramatic for all of us so we are excited about getting started. First things first, we have to address some green surrounds which tree growth and the associated shade are effecting turf quality on the greens. Greens surrounds that we plan to address in the next couple of weeks are: Large Practice Green, #7, #13, #14 & #16. Following the trimming around these greens we plan to start trimming the Arroyo Willows ( grayish colored shrubby willows) on the pond edges of #1 & #9 along with associated vegetation. Our goal is to maintain the natural look of the pond while re-establishing the original vision of the initial tee shot on #1 and the approach shot on #9. Following this area we plan to attack the area in front of #10 tee, again re-establishing the original vision of the hole and exposing much of the dramatic granite rocks in front of the tee. Another area we would like to address this winter is in front and around the #14 tee.

Practice Green in complete morning shade
 The third of our three goals for this winter is to continue to work on irrigation sprinkler triangulation improvement focusing on putting surface surrounds. You will have to trust me that this work will make a substantial difference in turf quality in these areas, improving irrigation distribution and enhancing irrigation management and scheduling efficiencies. I don't want to bore you with the details but again want to reinforce the importance of this work and our commitment to getting putting surface surrounds addressed this winter.

Current view from the granite tees on #1

Current view from granite tee #10

As we progress through these goals I will share details with you as usual. Weather always plays a big part in progress at this time of year but we will hope for the best and  see how much we accomplish come spring time.