Friday, October 28, 2011

Aeration Progress Fall 2011

One of the best things that can be done to sports turf such as golf course playing surfaces is core aeration because it addresses multiple issues. The process relieves soil compaction resulting from vehicle and foot traffic. It provides necessary air to the  turfgrass root zone for basic plant physiological processes and maintains soil permeability providing a release passage for the carbon dioxide gasses produced by the roots in these processes. Finally core aeration removes the excessive organic layer or thatch that turf produces which is the culprit that seals the root zone off from atmospheric air to begin with. If it seems like a vicious circle, it is. Insert Granite Bays  heavy decomposed granite soil along with high bentgrass population in the fairways and you have a even higher premium on getting this job done on a regular basis.

Recently core aerated green #12
 The  actual process of aeration is not without its complications and is capable of temporarily harming as much as it helps. This is the reason why the job has to be done in a non stressful time of the year such as Spring and Fall facilitating rapid recovery. The quicker we can get the job done, the quicker the turf will  recover and you can get back to playing on smooth surfaces.

With all of this in mind Granite Bay management, with the blessing of the Granite Bay Golf Committee, decided to expand some alternating front nine / back nine closures to help golf course maintenance get the job done to all of the playing surfaces in not only a expedient manner but producing a better quality job because we would not have to rush to remove wet cores ahead of play. Unfortunately some unexpected early season storms necessitated a change of plans although we were still able to make substantial progress and improvements over aeration seasons of the  past.

Our original plan to aerate greens was to do the front nine on Tuesday the 4th and the back nine on Wednesday the 5th. A decent rainstorm was forecasted for Tuesday night through Wednesday so we decided to close the entire course and complete greens aeration on Tuesday ahead of the storm. This ended up being a good call as the rain started to fall as we were putting the finishing touches on #18 Tuesday evening. Ultimately the recovery of the greens went well. After 21 days aeration holes were completely covered, the greens were rolling smooth albeit not as fast as we would like but most importantly  they are healthy going into the winter.

We were scheduled to aerate fairways with another alternating front nine / back nine closure immediately following greens aeration on Thursday & Friday but conditions were not dry enough to proceed. The following week we stayed on schedule despite more rain and aerated and over seeded  the hybrid bermuda tees. The week of October 17th we were scheduled for our last front nine / back nine alternating closure to aerate around the green surrounds but instead had to use these scheduled dates to complete fairways due to being rained out two weeks prior.

Just a minimal of cleanup following the core processor.
For fairway aeration we borrowed a piece of equipment called a core processor. This machine picked up and ground into a fine topdressing the extracted cores from the aeration process. We divided manpower resources creating a early morning aerating crew and a afternoon / evening cleanup crew  and core aerated all fairways in two days along with doing a much cleaner job. Fairway aeration alone would have normally taken two weeks to complete so in three weeks we completed greens, tees and fairways.  Currently we are aerating a couple of green surrounds a day and cleaning up the mess in the midst of players. It will take us a couple of weeks with everything else we have to do to complete the surrounds. Finally we will start aerating the rough after that which will take another couple of weeks.

Toro Core Processor
converting plugs into usable topdressing

Raccoon damage almost seems to coincide
with fairway aeration.

Obviously the critical task of aeration requires  much planing and preparation. However it is difficult to plan   for everything such as weather or unforeseen equipment malfunctions. Additionally the process seems to create an environment conducive to an increase in skunk and raccoon activity particularly in the fall even with preventive treatments for the insects they long for. But even with these set-backs and unforeseen problems, we have made progress in this aeration season and it is my belief that with the proper equipment and a little luck from  nature, we can aerate this entire property in 5 weeks. We'll give it a try again in the spring.

Pretty substantial hydraulic leak from aeration equipment
on the #3 green. Does not look too bad from this picture but
this area would have died.

Current view after re-sodding the oil effected area.
Temporarily mowing at a higher height of cut then
the rest of the green allowing the new sod to root.
Practice Area Progress
Establishment of the new turf in the recently renovated practice area is coming along well for most of the area.  The hybrid bermuda that we established as a base from sprigs has exceeded our expectations and has rooted and created a very stable  playing surface. It has recently been over-seeded with ryegrass to provide winter color as the hybrid will go at least partially dormant once we start to get some frost and real cold weather. Additionally the ryegrass will help define rough from the tighter mowed areas in front of the target green.

The  expansion of the target green did not establish as rapidly as the rest of the area and still has a ways to go to be close to the quality of the greens on the rest of the the course. We are currently mowing it at a higher height of cut and have re-seeded and topdressed several times since initial seeding in late August.  The cooler weather we are currently experiencing gives us better temperatures to work with and push the green towards usable establishment. Unfortunately there are too many areas on the green that are currently too thin to hold up to ball marks and foot traffic so we have to give it a few more weeks to further establish.

According to our own Craig Johns, "The Golf Committee is working on an event to celebrate the "official" opening of the remodeled Short Game Practice Area some time November that will provide some fun and interesting skills challenge competition….rumor has it that the Golf Channel is negotiating the television rights to "Big Break Granite Bay" to coincide with that….stay tuned for more information about the event."

Very recent picture of the expanded target green in the practice area.
Still not quite ready for extended use.

Next After Aeration
After we complete the aeration of the green surrounds, which will be the week November 7th, we will start pruning and clearing brush. The first area we plan to tackle is area directly in front of the Granite & Tournament tees on #14 along with the vegetation blocking the right side of the hole from the Club & Pebble tees. We plan to make a major push on this kind of work throughout the course this fall and winter  so many more details  and before and after pictures to come.

#14 view from the lower tees.
Our goal is to re-establish the original view from the tee

#14 view from upper tees.
Vegetation in front of the granite tee has been getting out
of control for awhile. We have all seen original pictures with
the bridge below actually visible. Re-establishing that view is our goal.

Tee Rotation
One last thing that you will begin to notice today is that golf course maintenance has started a tee rotation schedule corresponding with our traditional pin rotation. This rotation is in response to a long standing member request and I must apologize that it has taken this long to get something done.  The rotation does move blocks up and down on a regular basis on tees like #5, #6, #7, #14, and #18 mostly for Club and Granite  teeing locations although Tournament and Pebble will have some different shifts in teeing area as well. As an example once in the six stage  pin rotation the Club tees will be moved up to the 439 level on #18 as well as once in the rotation the Granite tees on #14 will be moved down to the 165 level. When these types of shifts occur we have signs that we will place on the tees directing members. I anticipate this being a work in progress for both the GCM staff and membership so bear with us and please provide feedback. The end result of this new rotation schedule should provide more variety for our membership along with rotating wear on our tee boxes by taking advantage of the various tee levels we have here at Granite Bay.

Example of signs we will use to direct members
when tee markes are shifted to diffrent tee levels.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall is Here

Today is the day we have circled on our calenders all year long and that is the fall or autumnal equinox. This  day marks the end of summer where the length of night and the length of day are more or less equal. "We have an equinox twice a year – spring and fall – when the tilt of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun." (Deborah Byrd, Earth Sky - A clear voice for science 9/22/11) The most stressful time of the year for Granite Bay or any course with cool season turf is from the summer solstice to the fall equinox hence the circle on the calender and sense of relief.

What does this mean for the course? It means that the potential for drastic turf loss due to summer stress is moving behind us. It means that even those little areas of turf that have experienced thinning this year will soon start to recover. Even though this can be the most difficult time of the year to irrigate, the fall equinox means that our soft areas will soon start to firm up.

2011 Summer in Review
This has always been a good time of the year for me to review  summer success's along with setbacks and set goals for the future summers. The course is not in perfect shape as we conclude September, but for the most part not bad especially when compared to summers past. By any ones account the success's we experienced at during the 2011 summer are mostly attributed to the mild temperatures we experienced. The course's weather station only recorded 5 days over 100 degrees and most of these were separated by days if not weeks. There were no 100 degree days in August and only 2 in July. In comparison the courses weather station recorded only 8 days over 100 degrees in 2010, 15 days in 2009 and 13 days in 2008. The total of days over 100 degrees do not tell the whole story of the severity of a summer but can be a gauge we can all relate to, because when it's over a 100, it's hot.
#10 from the clubhouse roof. August 2011
Admittedly the mild summer temperatures was the secret to our success in 2011, however the plans we put in place to combat some of the substandard conditions we experienced last season did make a difference and should help  in future summer months moving forward. These included aggressive core aeration of all of the turfgrass surfaces, substantial irrigation enhancements particularly around the greens, a stepped up emphasis on hand watering and a different approach to disease and insect prevention. The dynamic, growing nature of turfgrass and its surrounding vegetation makes golf course maintenance a perpetual work in progress and it of course difficult to predict the future. We can however predict that next year there will be another summer and it most likely will get hot. So for now we embrace summers like 2011 and at the same time  continue to remain diligent in making  improvements  in preparation for the next one.
Green surround on #9 in August looking pretty good.
Now we just have to do something about that algae
in the pond.
Other accomplishments have been made in 2011 that set us up for future successes as well.  The completion of our sand trap renovation along with completing the resurfacing of our tees  will really free up resources and provide added focus on  more consistent putting surfaces and firmer end of season conditions. We will be discussing the details of how we plan to achieve these goals moving forward  but wanted to reiterate to our members that these goals have been and still remain a priority. We are  looking forward to spending  more time in these areas and  making a difference.

However 2011 is not over yet and we have plans for the remainder of the year. These plans include first and foremost more brush clearing. The  clearing and pruning will start shortly after course aeration in front of the rear tees on #14 and continue in what I call the 13,14,15 triangle. This is that large area of native vegetation bordering right of #13 & #14 and left of #16. Along with this area there is also some pruning work that needs to be done on the left of #13 & #14 as well. 

Fairway aeration process.
2011 Fall Aeration

On July 12th 2011, the Granite Bay Golf Committee unanimously approved additional alternating front nine / back nine closures beyond our normal alternating dates for putting surfaces to accommodate core aeration of the fairways and green surrounds. I mentioned the details of this request in the July 8th Granite Bay Course Update. As I mentioned in the update, my request was based on  the overriding principle that the cleanup of extracted cores during aeration must be allowed to dry for effective processing and the most productive and least obtrusive  way to achieve this is to allow for some additional F9 / B9 alternating closures. 

Hopefully the vast majority of the membership will see the upside to these additional alternating closures such as:                        
  • Quicker Recovery. Rapid  and even recovery of  fairways and surrounds due to as an example, finishing all fairways in two days rather then stretching them out for close to two weeks.
  • Better Job. Much more effective cleanup  due to being able to wait for the plugs to dry before the removal process. 
  • Timely Completion. We potentially can finish core aeration of the entire property in 5 to 6 weeks as opposed to 9 to 12.
  • No Complete Closure. The entire golf course will never need to be completely shut down.

In talking with Brad and Mitch, here is the schedule we plan on utilizing this coming October. Our plan is to try this schedule, evaluate the results, solicit Member feedback and then plan accordingly for future aeration cycles.
  •  Week of October 3-7
Tuesday 10/4/11  Core aerate front nine greens. Traditional GB F9 closure
Wednesday 10/5/11 Core aerate back nine greens. Traditional GB B9 closure
Thursday 10/6/11 Core aerate front nine fairways. New F9 closure
Friday 10/7/11 Core aerate back nine fairways. New B9 closure
  • Week of October 10-14
No alternate F9 / B9 closures for this week. We will however be aerating and overseeding tees and  the hybrid bermuda approaches on #14 & 16, working ahead of, during and around member play.
  • Week of October 17-21
Tuesday 10/18/11 Core aerate front nine putting surface surrounds. New F9 closure
Wednesday 10/119/11 Core aerate back nine putting surface surrounds. New B9 closure 
  • Weeks of October 24-28 & November 1-11 (3 weeks)
No further F9 / B9 closures planned. GCM will be working on core aerating all rough areas  ahead of, during, and around member play.

In conclusion we are adding 4 alternating closure dates to our aeration schedule but are hoping to complete the entire task more efficiently and cleanly in 5-6 weeks rather then 9-12.

Practice Area Progress

The newly renovated practice area is coming along nicely. The hybrid bermuda sprigs surrounding the green came in better then expected. Most areas are enjoying turf coverage of over 50% and the rest is coming on strong due to the aggressive stolons and rhizomes (creeping stems and roots) of the  hybrid bermuda. Its ability to cover bare ground is unsurpassed particularly with the warm weather we have been experiencing and it has been fun to watch the area transform so quickly. Soon we will overseed with perennial ryegrass  for winter color and after some grow in time we will be open for business. The only setback I currently see is the not as rapid establishment of bentgrass seed on the target green expansion.
Practice Area prior to renovation

Practice Area during construction 8/2011.

The expansion of the putting surface is definitely coming slower then the hybrid bermuda around it. Even though established bentgrass tends to be fairly aggressive in our summer climate, germinating bentgrass seed would prefer a little cooler weather. Our initial seeding was just over three weeks ago and we have applied a second seeding just recently which should germinate shortly especially with the upcoming weather changes.

Just prior to sprigging on 8/24/11

Hybrid bermuda filling in nicely 26 days
after sprigging on 9/19/11.

New Divot Mix

Some of you might have noticed a new divot mix starting to surface in the divot bottles and on the course. We built a large bunker in the maintenance yard to store sand during sand trap renovation.  Now that this renovation is complete, we can use this bunker to mix and store a divot mix for divot's and course repair rather then just straight sand. This 50/50 sand - compost blend will aid in the germination of seed  which is added to the mix along with providing a camouflaged appearance on the course as opposed to all of the white patches.  The current mix might have a little too much compost in it so we will continue to fool around with the recipe of our blend until we find just the right mix for Granite Bay.

Rolling out this new mix just happened to coincide with a recent "Sand-n-Seed" Outing hosted by the Granite Bay Golf Committee. The following is an excerpt from a re-cap of the outing provided by Craig Johns.

"The first installment of the "Sand-n-Seed" Outing was, from my perspective, a fantastic success.  Although the head-count was only 18½ people (my four year old, Jackson counting for the "half"), it seemed as if there were dozens of folks out, enthusiastically helping to improve the conditions of our golf course.  My personal goal for the evening was to get six holes of divots filled, the crew was able to finish the entire Front Side just as dark descended.  And while we didn’t fill in 100% of the divots on those nine holes, an unscientific assessment (after checking out the course this afternoon) is that we managed to get about 90% of them."

I was concerned / curious about how the group would view the new divot mix because it is a bit pungent but reports were that the group liked the appearance of the mix on the course as opposed the straight sand despite the bouquet. One consequence that I have noticed with the mix as opposed to straight sand is that if a divot is filled to high and not smoothed before it gets irrigated, when the mowers go over the wet mound of mix it leaves a streaking mark that is not the most attractive.  I think getting more sand in the mix will help with this situation along with smoothing out the mix. Our Thanks to everyone who volunteered. I look forward to being a part of the next outing.
Large mixing bunker with new divot mix.
Thank you for the kind words and support of our efforts in providing the membership a course you can be proud of. It is our hope and desire to build on the success's of this 2011 summer and create even better conditions for  future summers. This would not be possible without your support. Thanks again.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Short Game Practice Area Complete

Last week we put the finishing touches on the practice area by laying out 200 bushells of Tiffway II Hybrid Bermuda sprigs. This was the culmination of four weeks of work where we transformed the area by enlarging the target green and softening or flattening all usable areas around the green.

Short game practice area under construction.

Filling the old bunker so we can dig it out and make new ones.

Drainage pattern in the new shallow bunker.

Additionally we removed the left hand bunker when looking at the green and made two more usable bunkers, one shallow and one deep, out of the large bunker on the right. As I mentioned in a  earlier update, the vision for the changes to the area  are the result of Craig Johns countless hours of thought on how to make this area more usable. The goal was to make a functional area to practice as many representative Granite Bay short shots in the limited space we had to work with and I think the collaboration worked. Once opened, I believe the members who use the short game area will find it much more practical and hopefully the area will entice members who never used the area prior.

Excavating cavity for green expansion.

Adding gravel to the sub base of expanded cavity.

Graded 4" gravel layer in expanded green cavity.

Adding greensmix consisting of a 80/20 mix
of USGA sand & peat moss.

12" of greensmix.

The decision to get a base of hybrid bermuda established in the area was mine. I believe  the durability that hybrid bermuda provides particularly in the summer months will be a great advantage to the area. We will overseed it with ryegrass in the winter so it will always be green although hybrid bermuda is not like its grandfather common bermuda. It's much finer textured, does not go dormant as early as common and greens up much earlier. It is the grass that is on most of our tees and will be on all of them by the end of this golf season.

Construction busyness.

Sod ring defining greens edge.

Ready for sprigging.

The project is right on schedule if you recall the construction goals we set earlier in this blog. Week 5 was when we planned to sprig the area and seed the green and that is exactly when we did it. For the next 5 weeks we plan to push the grow-in of the hybrid bermuda and then overseed with ryegrass. Next we will let the ryegrass establish for another 4 weeks and then the area will hopefully be mature enough to open. If it is not mature enough, we'll let it mature a little more. Our initial 13 week construction goal's were to re-open in mid October and that is still the goal, however we will not jeopardize the work and investment that has gone into the area by opening too soon so we'll just have to see how it goes.

Scientifically installing the hybrid bermuda sprigs.

Rolling the sprigs to insure good soil contact.

Speaking of the Tees

Another goal that we have not really talked about much this year is the continuing resurfacing of our tees. This project hat was started over ten years ago will be completed in the coming months as we only have seven of tee surfaces left to do. We will be completing the tournament & club tee on #2 this week and will be working on the cobble / combo tee on #2 along with the pebble & nugget on #4 over the next couple of weeks.

Anyone that wants more details on the history and replacement of our tees  then what has been provided here can just go to the  archived  course update Granite Bay Tees.

leveling tournament tee surface #2

Installing hybrid bermuda on #2 club tee.

Putting Surface Progress
Our greens are progressing nicely due to the aggressive core aeration we started almost a year ago and plan to continue this coming  October. The turf is maintaining a root depth and the soil profile is void of the anaerobic black layer that sporadically developed last year and caused us problems. Our only issue has been with the sod we installed at the back and front left of #7 & #14. These areas started drying out much more rapidly then the rest of the green after the rain stopped this past spring. We determined that we made a miscalculation in amending the soil underneath the sod last year when we replaced it. The soil was too dry and hindered deep root development. This forced us to mow the areas with a different mower at a higher height of cut and spike and amend the soil profile by brushing in amendments from the surface to encourage proper rooting. It never has been or is our intention to reduce the size of these greens. We are actually starting to mow these areas down now and should have them at normal greens height in the next few weeks.

Perimeter turf on #14 green. Temporilarily mowing at a higher height of cut
has allowed turf to  properly establish and is now being gradually brought down
to the same height of cut as the rest of the green.
 We will be core aerating the surfaces aggressively again this fall albeit earlier in October so I do not anticipate any recovery issues. After this forthcoming aeration we will have removed over 30% of our greens surface area since last fall. This is definitely a recipe for success as I am sure will be confirmed by physical soil testing slated to be performed later in the year.


These "Dog Days" of summer are the times that try greens keepers souls. Along with fighting dry spots it is not unusual to fight more wet spots at this time of the year then in the winter when it is raining. You might ask why? Its probably a combination of things from our unique cacophony of turf types, (at least for our area) to the heavy native decomposed granite soil beneath it. The weather has been fantastic for summer but it still is summer with its long days and higher then ideal temperatures for cool season turf. And I believe up until recently we have been able to avoid many of the overly dry and overly wet areas on the course by a stepped up hand watering and irrigation management regimen. But now we seem to have saturation in  some typical areas that  just need some drainage attention. We have a  area near the 100 yard marker on #12 and another about 175 yard out on the right of #4 that we have slated for some drainage work  in the coming weeks.

A pretty good synopsis describing the details of  Why We Get Wet in the Summer is a good reference specific to Granite Bay Golf Club for these "Dog Days". Its short, has a lot of pictures and explains some of the history of our turf.

Course Etiquette and Traffic Control

Filling divots and fixing ball marks fall into the realm of golf course etiquette that should be automatic to all of us who play golf. It is one of the first things that we teach our children learning to play even before the details of the golf swing. The Granite Bay golf committee and board of governors have and will continue to push initiatives to to change habits amongst all of us who play the course to take ownership by stepping up our efforts in ball mark repair and divot filling. My observation is that these efforts have helped and I hope will continue to improve.

If there was ever a time of year that these efforts would be more important it would be now. Our golf course will always be at its most stressed out point in August and September. Anything that we can do to further its inevitable upcoming recovery would improve and expedite good conditions this fall.

Unfourtunatly not an uncommon sight when tires of any vehicle
travel on stressed turf. Avoiding driving on brownish or grey in color
turf in the afternoons can really help minimize this ugliness.
Divots and ball marks are one thing but vehicle traffic, carts and maintenance equipment alike,  will cause more damage to the course then anything else I can think of. Please use the cart paths and walnut shells whenever possible and avoid obvious stressed out turf areas. These areas can be identified by brown or grey color to the turf particularly in the afternoon. It is a different golf course from morning to afternoon especially this time of year as we tone down the irrigation to keep from getting too soft.

Thank you for your support and efforts on this front.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Practice Area Progress

We are excited about the progress that has been made on the renovation of the short game practice area between the range and #7 green. As I mentioned in the last update, the project is the brainchild of our own Craig Johns, and he has been working closely with the Granite Bay Golf Course Maintenance Department with design specifics. It is obvious that Craig has given the area allot of thought , contemplating the different  short game shots that Granite Bay provides and trying to replicate them into the limited area we have. It is also apparent that he has been consulting with anyone in the membership that has opinions on the area making this a truly collaborative effort on all fronts.  

Granite Bay practice area prior to renovation

Its hard to see from this picture but the area below the
actual usable area below the green has been brought up
over 24"We estimate we have hauled in close to 200 yards of "old
bunker sand" to this area alone

We are trying to progress as quickly as possible not only to get the area back in play but also get some warm season turf established ( hybrid bermuda ) which will provide durability to the area which I believe is important. Hybrid bermuda sprigs are to be installed on Wednesday the 24th so we have only next week and a couple days of the following to wrap up. Below is a re-cap of progress prepared by Craig for the Granite Bay Golf Committee which details progress to date.

                       Granite Bay Golf Club
Short Game Practice Area Remodel Project
Golf Committee Update – August 8, 2011

                      Submitted by Craig Johns

(1) Removal of the three, scrawny blue oak saps previously located below and to the right (as one would look from the lowest topo point, away from the Club entrance road) of the chipping green;
(2) Cut and fill of the practice bunker area closest to #7 Green and substantial grading of entire left side of practice green area to create ‘softer’ slopes and enlarged area from which to practice downhill chip and pitch shots;
(3) Import and distribution of many hundreds of cubic yards of fill soil on and around the shallowest areas of the "fairway" and "rough" hitting areas, thus raising the overall level of the entire practice facility;
(4) Grading areas above the existing green to create ‘softer’ slopes and enlarged area from which to practice downhill chip and pitch shots;
(5) Grading of areas to the left and in front of the existing green in preparation for expansion of green overall;
(6) Cut and fill of practice bunker area to the right side of the existing green (closest to the Driving Range) in preparation for creation of two (2) new practice bunkers, both located on right side of green, and creation of large ‘median’ between two anticipated bunkers that will be seeded to fairway height to provide new variation of side hill chip and pitch shots.
There still remains much work to complete before the Remodel Project can be declared complete. Some of the major items remaining include:
(1) Final shaping and completion of the two new practice bunkers, including sub-drainage system similar to on-course bunkers;
(2) Bermuda seeding of entire practice area upon final grading of lower green and bunker surrounds;
(3) Installation of expanded irrigation system to accommodate expanded green complex
(4) Installation of higher protective nets along entire length of Short Game Practice Area.

Santiago shaping the area around the new bunker's
on the right hand side of the green. Upper bunker will
be a shallow bunker, the lower one will be a deep one.
Hauling in soil to shape the new bunkers.

Excavating the green cavity for expansion. A layer of gravel
will be placed in the bottom of this cavity followed by 
twelve inches of a 80/20 mix of sand and peat moss.

Jackson Johns doing a little shaping
with Santiago.

Summer Course Conditions

Course conditions have remained good through the summer so far. The weather has been very kind for cool season turf although it is still summer and it is a constant battle between too wet and too dry. I am particularly happy with our green surrounds this year as we have put allot of effort into those areas to combat the mediocrity we experienced in summer's past. Irrigation enhancements, different fertility regimen's, preventive applications for our chronic southern blight problems. e have grass is areas where there typically was very little in summers past and can look now at these important areas as a Granite Bay sucess story.

Putting surfaces are much healthier then last year. Improved root depth, overall lack of anaerobic black layer and dense stand of turf are all indicators of conditions that are improving. This improvement has allowed us to employ some strategies that can with diligence reduce our poa annua populations on our greens. This will hopefully create more  putting consistency, an area I believe needs to be improved upon.

Prepping a new on #5. Has since been re-surfaced
with hybrid bermuda stripped from the old
short game area.
Ten years ago we started replacing the bentgrass turf on our tees with  more durable, summer tolerant  hybrid bermuda. The practice area renovation had allot hybrid bermuda in and around it and during initial stages of renovation we we able to move this sod to some old bentgrass tees. All of the  tee surfaces on the west side of Linda Creek & Georges lake have now been replaced with hybrid bermuda and we hopefully will have the remaining tees finished by the end of summer. Tees left for resurfacing are #2 Tournament & Club, #4 Club & Pebble, #11 Club, #12 Tournament, #17 Tournament.

We went into 2011 with a plan prevent mediocrity on and around the greens, finish the renovation of the bunkers and finish the re-surfacing of the old bentgrass tees. Renovation of the practice area got thrown into the mix at some point but we are still tracking to meet  initial goals. There is still much to do in the way of tree pruning and brush clearing  starting in the triangle of native that skirts #13, #14 & #15. We have our sights set on more irrigation system enhancements of the same type we installed around greens throughout the course to improve  irrigation coverage. These enhancements have proven to create better environments for turf health and playability because soil moisture is easier to maintain at perfect levels rather then too wet or too dry. Additionally we hope to get some capitol funding approved for some cart path curbing around greens and tees which protect the turf in these areas and allow the elimination of cumbersome stakes , chains and those ugly traffic blocks. Even more importantly were hoping to get capitol for more practice area / driving range enhancements in 2012. More details on these improvements to come, but as you can see the plan is to continue to move the course and club forward. We couldn't do it without your support.  

Thank you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

On Course Bunkers Complete

In April of 2008 the Granite Bay Golf Club Maintenance Department embarked on a bunker renovation project which we can now say is complete, at least for the on course bunkers. The project was  originally slated for completion in 2010 however capitol funding was delayed in 2009 which effected the projects conclusion. We are ecstatic to have this project behind us as it has been taxing at times to keep up with normal golf course maintenance tasks along with keeping up with our construction goals. We still have many plans to continue moving the property forward from  the pruning and  brush clearing  work we have already started to installing cart path curbing, tee re-surfacing and continued irrigation system enhancements. However the job of renovating 67 bunkers with over 2 acres of surface area is larger in scope then any other golf course project on the horizon and I am sure everyone is glad that we are finished. 

The last completed fairway bunker on #9.

The "old" Granite Bay Bunkers were only 14 years old when we started the renovation process but had aged more rapidly then most due to some bad luck early in the life of the club. Granite Bay opened all 18 holes for play in December of 1994 which was directly proceeded by the 1995 La Nina storms which produced rainfall events of up to 5" in 24 hours. These storms washed the sand off the faces of the brand new bunkers and proceeded to erode the decomposed granite (DG) faces. This action moved native soil material onto the washed out sand in the bottom of the bunker mixing it with the sand and contaminating it. Maintenance crews attempted to remove the obvious top layer of emulsified DG from the bunker sand after the storms subsided but the weather patterns were persistent in contaminating the sand further after every event. Every subsequent winter storm that has washed out the bunkers since 1994  added to this contamination, producing bunker sand with very low percolation rates and a drainage system that was rendered ineffective from silt and fine sand and clay.

Winter storm November 2007 below #14 green


Familiar sight in the winter prior to renovation. #15 greenside
bunker November 2007.
 Our renovation goals were to prevent this type of contamination from happening again.  We settled on a somewhat unorthodox drainage system that we believed would rapidly move water out of the bunker during a rain or deep irrigation event. The thought was the quicker we could get the water out of the bunker the less chance for exposure of the native soil leading to washouts and contamination because the sand above would not load up with water and stay put. We did spray a liner to prevent erosion in the inevitable event of some washout but our overriding concept to prevent native soil contamination of the sand was to provide an avenue to get the water out of the bunker quickly. We also felt that if we could prevent this type of contamination that this drainage system would remain functional for a much longer period of time then a traditional 4" perforated drainage pipe. There are bunkers in the eastern part of the country with much higher average rainfall amounts then ours, with the same type of drainage system we used here at Granite Bay that 10 years later drain the same as they did when first installed. That's what we were and are looking for at Granite Bay and what I believe could set our bunkers apart in the future.

Recent view of the drainage system in the fairway bunker
on #9

Drainage chambers used in our drainage system.
Notice the amount of light or the size of the drainage slits.
When coupled together and wrapped in a geotextile fabric
and surrounded by sand, this voluminous subsurface system
almost sucks the water out of the trap.

Traditional 4" drain pipe. Historically slows down
and becomes almost ineffective over time.

We realize that just because we have completed renovation and have replaced the drainage system and sand that our work is not done with these bunkers. Bunkers in general require allot of maintenance, particularly for a part of the course that is deemed a hazard. The almost constant moving of sand from the trap to the surrounding turf areas from players and maintenance equipment causes a structural change to these areas that requires diligent attention. Hand or mechanical raking, monitoring proper sand depths on faces versus bases, trimming, sod replacement, irrigation enhancements are a few of the necessary tasks to maintain the  original vision of our bunkers and facilitate a fair test of golf. We already know just from last winters storms that with the new sand, drainage system and a bunker liner in place these traps don't hold water nor contaminate the new sand. This should result in our ability  to devote the same amount of time to these bunkers as in years past yet achieve better results.  

No Rest For The Weary
Practice Area Renovation Project Begins Monday July 25th

We plan to start working on the short game area  starting next week. The end result is something I know many of you have been looking forward to for quite some time. My goal is to chronicle weekly or at least biweekly progress of this project via this course update. The push for starting and completing this project right now is twofold. First to provide durability I think the area should  have at least a contingent of warm season turf in the way of hybrid bermuda and we are running out of time to get it propagated for this season. Secondly many of the member's who use the area are looking forward to a functional area to practice.

Creating this functional area is a bit of a challenge as we are limited by it's overall size. That being said the scope of work includes removal of the scraggly oak below the green and pruning two of the trees at the back of the area hopefully achieving at least a little expansion to the size of the  area. Next we want to fill the entire lower area to create  a more usable grade when chipping to the green. Additionally we plan to slightly expand the size of the green, remove the left hand bunker and make two bunkers out of the one bunker on the right. The project is the brainchild of our own Craig Johns who will be intricately involved in the "ongoing" design process.

Current view from below the short game area.
Scrub Oak to be removed and fill to be brought in
to soften / flatten the lies in front of the green.

The following is an outline of construction goals and timing.

Week 1.       7/25 - 7/29  Tree trimming and removal. Identification and protection of irrigation heads.  Removal  of sod and transferring usable sod to #6 & #8 tees. Hauling of additional sand as fill. Start shaping of approach and surrounds.

Week 2-4.     8/1 - 8/19  Continued shaping of the area, expansion of the green, expansion of the irrigation system, re-shaping of the left hand bunker(s). (3 weeks)

Week 5.         8/22 - 8/26  New sod around green and new bunkers. Install hybrid bermuda sprigs.

Week 6-9.      8/29 - 9/23  Grow in the warm season hybrid bermuda sprigs. (4 to 5 weeks)

Week 10.        9/26 - 9/30  Overseed with bluegrass & ryegrass.

Week 11-12.  10/3 - 10/14  Grow in  cool season bluegrass & ryegrass. (3 to 4 weeks)

Week 13.        10/10    Tentative Re-open

Rough concept of what we want to do to the short game area

I do not anticipate being able to re-open the area sooner then early October, if anything I could seeing us re-opening later then the October 10th goal. We'll just have to see how it goes.