Friday, January 7, 2011

Continued Wet, Winter Progress

It has been awhile since we have had a winter as wet as this one has been so far. The golf course is as soggy as it has been in many years and  those brave souls that have been out playing between and during storms know exactly what I mean. When a golf course gets saturated for an extended period of time you have to get a little creative just to maintain and mow it. We have been using triplex mowers, which are small mowers that we normally mow tees and sometimes greens with, to mow fairways. The large mowers that we normally mow the fringe grass around greens are far to heavy to use in these conditions so we have had to resort to using walk behind rotary mowers to get the job done.

Jogi Triplexing a wet Fairway

Fortunately the turf is not actively growing so the extra time it takes to get these tasks done with smaller equipment does not set us back. Normally when we get mowers out on the course we are able to allow carts off the path but that is not the case in our current situation. We are still far to wet for cart traffic.  If we were not afraid of the turf growth getting so far ahead of us that we would be "bailing hay", we would not even be mowing.  I can only imagine what it was like during past wet winters maintaining and maneuvering around this course without cart paths or for that matter maintaining the old bunkers. A nice reminder that   progress has been and is being made.

Hand mowing around the Greens

On a similar note the putting surfaces continue to drain and perform well despite all of the wet, dark weather. I attribute this to the aggressive core aeration that was performed in October and am even more optimistic that this new approach will give us the surfaces we desire. They are not as fast as they were in previous drier winters, but they are healthy and their root mass and depth is increasing. We could achieve more speed by rolling the greens but that would not be prudent in these wet conditions and I'm afraid would set-back the progress we are making. We are just going to have to be patient. Below are the current rainfall accumulations through December measured here at Granite Bay.
              Granite Bay Golf Club - Rainfall Comparisons in Inches

                                                   2008          2009          2010
                        September           0.00            0.13           0.00
                            October           0.53            2.53           3.17
                        November           2.16            0.70           3.60
                         December          2.65            3.58            7.22
                             Total             4.81            9.94           14.00

Despite the wet weather we have been able to make good progress on the three major goals we have set for ourselves this winter. These three goals again are: Fairway Sand Trap Renovation, Tree and Brush Pruning and Trimming and Irrigation Triangulation around Greens.

Because the weather has been so wet we have not made the kind of headway on fairway bunkers as we did with finishing green side bunkers last winter but progress is being made none the less. We have been targeting small and non-draining bunkers because of forecasted weather patterns trying not to get caught mid process and having all of our work wash away. Since our last update we have only completed one additional fairway bunker, the one in the middle of #6. Then the December rains came and we had to back off. We had a dry week this week and jumped back into action, tackling the fairway bunker at the very front of the #17 fairway. This one was chosen primarily due to it's proximity to a cart path as the course is too wet to be tracking equipment across it to renovate bunkers. We hope to continue with the fairway trap on #18 next week if the forecast holds with another week of dry weather. If the course is still to wet to maneuver over to that trap we will tackle the fairway bunker closest to the green on #12. Once we commit to the right hand fairway traps on #12 we want to complete all three.

Completed Fairway Bunker #6

Completed Fairway Bunker #13

Even though the wet weather of December stalled progress on fairway trap renovation we were able to continue progress on our tree and brush trimming list. We complete pruning of the obstructive willows and brush on the banks of Georges Lake between holes #1 and #9. This re-establishment of the original lines and view of your tee shot on #1 and approach shot on #9 was high on the golf committee list and confirmed with comments made by Kyle Phillips during our Summer visit. We plan to manage the re-growth of these areas so we maintain the current vision and eliminate the future need for aggressive pruning.

#1 Tee Before Pruning

#1 Tee After Pruning

Irrigation work around green surrounds is proceeding as planned and we have three more green complexes to complete on the front side. These are #4 which is currently in progress, #6 and #8. We should wrap this work up by the end of January and take the month of February and hopefully just part of March to complete the same kind of work on the back nine. Holes that need to be addressed to varying extents  on the backside are #10, #12,  a little more on #13, #15 & #16 and #18. Again this is not really sexy work but it will pay off in the summer months moving forward.

#9 Approach Before Pruning

#9 approach After Pruning

Speaking of a sexy project, we have one that we hope to completely have rolled out by springtime and that is additional divot mix boxes throughout the course. As you have probably heard, the Granite Bay Golf Committee is making a big push to encourage Granite Bay Membership to  take more ownership of certain aspects of course care, namely divot and ball mark repair. Ball marks have begun to be addressed with the committees "Adopt-A-Green" program that has been recently rolled out and is making a difference already.

When the discussion of imparting ownership to divot repair and filling it became apparent that the course had some infrastructure issues that needed to be addressed namely the location and amount of divot bottle boxes along with the complete lack of divot mix containers on our par three tees. These issues were brought to Mitch's attention and he secured some capitol finances and we are in the process of securing materials for building new divot boxes. We plan to build par three divot boxes for all par three tee locations and divot bottle stations which will house divot bottles for carts and the nice divot bottle tubes for walkers. We have decided to go away from the green recycled plastic and move towards natural hardwood as we feel that this is more of a aesthetic match for Granite Bay. We have chosen IPE wood, which is a hardwood out of the rain forests of Brazil that is weather proof and very attractive. Since all of our divot boxes will be made out of this material we plan to re-side our water jug stations with the same material maintaining this look throughout the course. We hope to have all 20 of the par three boxes in place  by mid February and shortly following have the 10 divot bottle boxes ready.