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.