Friday, March 25, 2011

Progress & Preperations

I think part of the greatness of this game of Golf is that the surfaces we play the game on are ever changing. They change from year to year, season to season and even  day to day. They are constantly being either nurtured or attacked by whatever weather patterns nature has in mind. Its part of the game, part of the experience, part of the challenge. Preparing and maintaining consistent surfaces is something we are charged with as greenskeepers. We mow and roll and punch and sand and spray in search of that elusive "consistent  consistency". We are all want surfaces that are green, alive, fast, firm, smooth and dry but this wet winter keeps getting in the way. Currently the calender says it is springtime but it still feels allot like winter to me. Hopefully the real spring will  show up as forecasted next week and give us a taste but then it might retreat again. We only know  that spring will be here and behind it the  demon summer.

#3 green during a recent storm Thursday 3/24/11
Rainfall accumulation is measured by weather people from July to June. Using those parameters the weather station at Granite Bay Golf Club has measured 27.23" of precipitation to date in the 2010-2011 rainfall season. Compare that to 13 inches in the 2009-2010 season. And we are most likely not done yet this year. Obviously this type of weather affects the consistency of the surfaces. It affects what we can do to produce consistency, speed etc. It also affects our preparation's. We cant aerate, top dress, roll, we cant even mow when it is  this wet. It's just the reality of our current situation that could change rapidly. So as we make plans, and as I outline them below, keep in mind things could change. We have to be able to adapt to "conditions on the ground" to use a military metaphor. Its all part of this great game, the game you love playing, the surfaces we love preparing and this place Granite Bay we all love calling home.

Hail at GBGC Monday 3/21/11


In two weeks we start the aeration of the golf course. Core aeration is what we will do to most of our surfaces this spring. In review this is the process of  removing plugs of turf providing air passages for necessary oxygen to the root zone. Additionally core aeration relieves compaction, allows for rapid surface drainage and most importantly for us, removes  part of the accumulation of thatch which has become excessive on most surfaces at Granite Bay. Below is a tentative schedule, weather permitting.

Week of April 4th - Putting Surfaces
Week of April 11th - Fairways & Tees 
Week of April 18 - Fairways & Tees
Week of April 25th - Green Surrounds
Week of May 2nd - Green Surrounds
Week of May 9th - Rough
Week of May 16th - Rough

Putting surfaces will be aerated aggressively like last fall using 5/8" holes on 1x2 centers displacing 10% of the surface area. Greens will be heavily top dressed as usual. Fairways will be core aerated and de-thatched. The fairway procedure will be the one that will require coperation between  golf course maintenance and players because the cores that are removed must be dry in order for us to pick them up. There will be times when cores, and remnant's of cores will be  present and  players will need to take relief from them while we are in the process of cleaning them up. If we could do the process at night we would, but as I explained above, we need drying weather to complete the task. Green surrounds and rough are similar to the fairway process,  we can and will punch holes early before you players begin  but we need  the drying weather to remove the plugs and clean up. We wont do the whole course at one time so it will be selected areas that we will have to work together on during the process.

Aggressive core aeration to the putting
surfaces last fall

Core aeration of #15 fairway last fall. These cores need to dry before we pick them up

We will work around Monday events and strategic afternoons and get a good proportion of these tasks done when member play is light but inevitably some of it will have to be accomplished during play. This work has to be done and it has to be done in the springtime when the weather is temperate. We will be poking holes in the summer ( more on that later) but the holes will be small and non disruptive so they don't effect playability and  further expose the turf to summer extremes. This necessary evil can be painful but a big part of our potential sucess.


Even though this winter has been wet, we have been able to make great progress on the goals we set for our department. Those goals were:

  1. Continued Fairway Bunker Renovation
  2. Brush Clearing and Pruning
  3. Irrigation Enhancements
Bunker renovation could only be done when the weather was dry although we pushed the envelop on occasion. Out of the 20 on course fairway bunkers we have completed 11 since we started last fall. We currently have 9 on course fairway bunkers to complete and with a clear week forecasted next week we plan to push and complete the 3 fairway bunkers on #10. This will leave us with 6 left to do, #5, #6 & #9 on the front side. Along with  #13, and 2 on #15 on the back. Our goal is to complete all of these fairway bunkers by early June.

Filling fairway bunkers ahead of a storm on #4
I think we made great progress on brush clearing and pruning as well. On the pruning front the maintenance staff worked from the ground by pruning up many trees around greens that struggle with shade issues namely #7, #13, #16 and the large practice green. Next week we have a arborist, Dave Mullen from Golden State Tree Care that is coming out to remove some more branches up in the trees in these areas, creating more light. My plan is to annually do some work to these trees to not only keep them healthy but to continue to allow more light to shine on the turf. In the following weeks, Dave is going to spend some time working on trees that are getting close to making the fairway unacessable from the tournament tees on #15. Visibility of the fairway has long ago been obstructed by these trees so we need to get at them. Dave gets opportunities to play the course as a guest on occasion and plays from back there. He told me he has been chomping at he bit to get into those trees for awhile.

#10 Tee March 2011

#10 Tee December 2010

On the clearing front we made great progress as well. Willows on #1 and #9 obstruction tee and approach shot were pruned down early in the year. And recently we started work in front of the #10 tee opening up the periphery and exposing some of the most beautiful rock formations at Granite Bay. Additionally behind the ladies tee on #1 we did some clearing and mulching exposing more rocks and enhancing the view from the MacKensie Grille. Night lighting was installed in these areas years ago to illuminate golf course features enhancing ambiance from the dining room.

MacKensie Grille before view #1 bridge

MacKensie Grille view of in front #10Tee

MacKensie Grille after view #10 bridge

Irrigation work around the greens is complete. We have what maintenance considers 21 putting surface surrounds at Granite Bay, 3 of them are the practice areas, large PG, small PG & the chipping area. Of these 22 green surrounds we addressed  11 of them this winter, some of the work was substantial. In 2010 we addressed 6 of these areas and will address the chipping area later this year. This work was on our list of goals because it was important.   The heavy lifting is now done and I am confident that what we completed will be a part of our overall strategy for summer success in 2011 and beyond.

Recent irrigation work along path #18
Hopefully everyone has had a chance to check out the new divot mix and divot bottles that were made by Granite Bay's own craftsman extraordinaire Kevin Schumann. Par three divot mix boxes are out there along with divot bottle boxes containing cart and walking bottles  on every other tee. Water station containers are currently in the shop and will be out on the course re-sided with IPE wood next week. And for those of you that notice the plastic scorecard boxes on #2 & #11 standing out like a sore thumb next to our new wooden cabinetry, don't worry, Kevin is making replacements for those as well. Additionally we realize that some signage is necessary even though we keep it to a minimum at Granite Bay. That being said some of our signs have gotten pretty ugly over the years and need replacement particularly the slippery when wet at the bridges and required environmental signs.  Look for replacement of all of these signs soon.

Kevin re-siding our water cooler stations

New Divot Bottle Boxes with soon to replaced scorecard holders

We actually feeling pretty good about our progress this past winter and are optimistic about a successful summer as well. It would be a fib if I said I cant wait for the demon summer to arrive, however we have made our plans and we have made progress. Come what may, we are ready. Thanks as always for your support.

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