Friday, December 14, 2012

Storm Damage & Curbing Progress

Many of us are aware the granite Bay Golf Club is fortunate to have our own weather station that constantly records weather data which is used in calculating a ET or evapotranspiration rate. The weather station recorded data from a fairly decent winter storm which started on November 28th and did produce some damage at the club. Here are some data comparisons  to last year.

Left hand bunker #18 full of silt from flooding that occurred
 adjacent to the lower cart barn the morning of 12/2/12.  This silt
had to be removed by hand prior to raking the trap to prevent
sand contamination. Once the storm subsided the bunker
completely drained.

Rainfall Totals YTD 2012 - 26.79"
Rainfall Totals 2011 - 24.05"
Rainfall Totals July - YTD 2012 (rain season July - June) - 10.99"
Rainfall Totals  July 2011 - June 2012 - 16.61"
Rainfall Totals  October 2012 - YTD - 10.99"
Rainfall Totals October 2011 - December 2011 - 5.19"

Interestingly the October through December comparisons recorded over twice as much rainfall this year then in 2011. Over 7" of the 10.99" that we received since October this year fell in a 8 day period between November 28th and December 5th. The weather station records hourly data and on Sunday morning December 2nd we recorded .90" of rain between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM. We believe the vast majority of this .90" actually occurred between 8:30 AM and 9:00 AM in a deluge that did cause some problems at the club.

Storm damage to #5 fairway bunker awaiting repair. 

Our lower cart barn took on some water along with Tilleys and Kevin had to spend the week drying out golf carts which are now up and running, no worse for the wear and Mark had carpet drying to do. The sandtrap's for the most part had no standing water in them which is a testament to the drainage system. The flash flood did compromise the liner in some traps and caused some damage. The purpose of a bunker liner is to prevent contamination of the native soil with the sand in the bunker preventing discoloration and percolation of the sand. 

Above storm damage repaired with an
polymer / fiberglass infused
decomposed granite.
Only one tree casualty behind #8 green. 

Our plan to repair the damaged areas in the bunkers in #5 FW, #6G front, #12 FW is to patch these areas with a special polymer and fiberglass infused decomposed granite that we will pack into the compromised areas, let cure and replace the contaminated sand. This "bunker patch" material had to be made in dry conditions so we have just received a load and plan to start the repair process today, Friday 12/14/12. Next year in the spring or summer when conditions are dry we plan to re-spray our polymer liner over the patched areas which we hope will be a good recipe to fixing these issues in the future.

Green and Tee Curbing

As promised I wanted to provide a quick update on a project that anyone who has been out on the course playing the past month have noticed, and that is the curbing project  which we are just wrapping up. Firstly I want to apologize for not communicating the purpose and process of the project as thorough as I should have. I am keenly aware that the project has raised some eyebrows although I am confident that the finished product will not be an issue and vast improvement over stakes, chains and blocks in high impact areas around certain greens and tees.

#1 & #10 Tee Complex without the plastic blocks

Although this project was approved early in 2012, we got started on it later then originally planned and we need to complete it before the end of the year or lose the funds and have to go through another approval process. The purpose curbing in these high impact areas are to prevent the natural wear of turf along the cart path where players in golf carts instinctively pull over slightly to approach the green or tee. Repeated traffic in these areas produces worn out ugly turf which unless prevented can turn into ruts and mud holes. Traffic control measures prior to curbing were stakes, chains and blocks which  these new curbs will replace. 

Colored curbing during the finishing process

GB GCM personnel finishing curbing

Adding soil during the back-up process at #5 green
Having to complete the project before years end has not allowed us to "back up" the curbs as we go, which has probably caused the most questions as members are not seeing the finished product. Backing up these curbs is simply the process of filling the turf side of the curb with soil to grade and replacing the sod. This will create a easy transition to navigate by foot or with a push cart. The curbing has been designed with ADA  regulation's in mind  which requires reasonable access for potential disabled players. These access points will accommodate players with push carts that don't want to navigate the curbs. By the end of Friday 12/14/12 we will have backed up curbing on #2, #4 and #13 greens.

Replacing the sod during the back-up process #5 green.

The concrete pouring portion of the project will be completed next Tuesday 12/18/12. By the end of next week we should have all of the installed green side curbing backed up weather permiting, and by the end of the following week we should have all of the tee side curbing backed up. Some of the early curbing we poured did not have color in it. Subsequent curbs have been installed with color in the concrete and the  early curbing that doesn't quite match will be acid stained once properly cured and the weather is right. 

#5 green finished product

Thank you.

This will be the last course update of the year and on behalf of the Granite Bay Golf Course Maintenance team I would like to thank the Membership for their support of our efforts. This game played  on a living, breathing, evolving surface requiring both a scientific and artistic approach and most importantly, a collaboration between Members and we who are here to serve them. We are grateful for you generosity and patience as we continue to endeavor enhancing this great golf course which is Granite Bay. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tis The Season To Do Projects

Although we'll have some wet weather to maneuver, the late fall and through the winter is the best time to get projects done on the golf course. This is primarily due to turfgrass needs being minimal once the days have gotten shorter and cooler and we don't have to irrigate or mow as frequently. 

Forming curbs along #4 tee. This is a four week project
we need to complete before the end of the year.
We have a list of projects longer then our ability to complete with some of the usual suspects and some new for Granite Bay. New for Granite Bay and immediately following Thanksgiving we are going to start a curbing project along small sections of cart paths, primarily near tees and greens. Golf carts, as we all know, are a big part of modern golf and can be detrimental to the turfgrass playing surfaces making traffic control a necessity to protect the turf. Currently we employ an assortment traffic control measures including stakes & chains and those hideous 4 X 4 - 18" high plastic blocks on a spike along green and tee cart path edges to protect the turf from a cart drivers natural inclination to pull over when parking.

Shoveling concrete into the forms.

Covering the newly poured and finished curb #13 green.
Rainy weather is something we have to deal with while
doing projects at this time of the year.

These stakes & chains and blocks on a spike are marginally more attractive then the wore out turf they are in place to protect, hence the need for curbs. Admittedly this project is more about aesthetics then it is about playability although protecting turf along paths near greens is definitely a playability concern, not to mention eliminating the obstruction of the current traffic control measures. I will provide details on the process which gets started in earnest on Monday, November 26. We have four weeks to complete the project so it will be an all hands on deck effort. Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding.

Other projects that we have slated for the late fall of 2012 & winter of 2013  is the always well received pruning and clearing along with more irrigation coverage work. Additionally we have some diffused oxygen diffusers or bubbler's are slated for installation in both the irrigation pond between #1 & #9 and the pond in front of #3. These oxygen diffusers will add oxygen to the ponds and substantially help with the ponds biology and water clarity particularly in the summer months.

Painting the perimeter fence on Roseville Parkway
between storms.

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012 Fall Cultivation

Autumn is a favorite time of the year for most golf course turf programs in our area particularly if they are managing predominantly cool season turf. The vast majority of the turf varieties here at Granite Bay are of these cool season varieties and these types of grasses will always perform much better when it is cooler hence the classification. Cool season varieties actually start to vigorously grow again after a slowdown during hot weather along with a natural rejuvenation which makes this time of the year one of the best times to cultivate and help this rejuvenation process along. 

We have many different ways to cultivate turf on golf courses and have addressed many of these cultivation processes in past course updates. The two most frequently used cultivation techniques utilized by turf managers include Aeration  and  Vertical Mowing. There are many different ways to aerate or vertical mow utilizing many different pieces of equipment that are specialized for different areas of the course like putting surfaces or fairways. We tried a new cultivation technique on our fairways this fall that I think will be very beneficial moving forward.

Removing thatch #11.
The unique fairway situation we have here at Granite Bay has been addressed in the update "Why We Get Wet in the Summer". In short we have different grasses in our fairways with a large percentage of  the turf being bentgrass. Bentgrass by nature produces a very dense and soft thatch layer below the turf leaf surface that literally acts like a sponge. This thatch layer is what makes Granite Bay soft in the summer and incredibly difficult to irrigate. We spend allot of time and effort in Irrigation Management yet overall firmness in the summer continues to allude us. The culprit of this softness is this bentgrass thatch and the solutions are not without some sacrifice. 

The new cultivation tecnique that we just concluded has promise in the removal and dilution of this thatch and I am optimistic can be very beneficial to our fairways. Core aeration has always been our traditional method of removing thatch in the fairways. That process removes a core of  turf and thatch along with  soil and roots which is allowed to dry and are then picked up after chopping and dragging and vacuuming up whats left. We remove some thatch in the process but but the holes produced  become clogged up during the above mentioned cleanup and difficult to get our new founded allotment of topdressing sand into. This new allotment of sand should technically firm these surfaces up in time but we need to get the sand into the thatch layer to dilute, firm and facilitate further biological breakdown. 

Deep slicing to a depth of 3/4". We feel this process removes
more thatch while facillitationg sand and seed  along with
being less disruptive then core aeration.

Harper verticle mower in action removing spongy thatch
only, no soil.

Therefore we tried a different process this fall which is a form of vertical mowing. Vertical mowing remember is the cultivation procedure where verticle blades actually slice into the turf canopy removing thatch in the process. Getting down deep enough to actually thin out this spongy thatch required a new piece of equipment that worked very well. The process removed over twice as much organic matter then core aeration and no native soil so the cleanup process was  much quicker allowing us to get sand and seed down directly after cleanup and into the narrow slits effectively diluting the bentgrass sponge layer. After going through the entire process, I believe it is a superior way of thatch removal for our fairways as opposed to core aeration. Punching holes to provide air in the root zone is necessary and beneficial for our fairways however can be achieved with solid tine aeration in conjunction with this new deep vertical mowing. Again I really think this procedure can make a diffrence with what I would considor less disruption and quicker recovery.

Cleaning up the mess

Applying topdressing sand immediatly after cleanup of
the deep verticle mowing.

Weed Control
Directly ahead of our fall fairway cultivation we sprayed out a weed called Knotgrass (paspallum distichum) which has been encroaching in certain areas of the course for awhile. Currently there are no good selective control products available for Knotgrass, (herbicides that remove the weed and don't effect the desirable grass) and we should know as we have tried a number of them over the years. The Knotgrass encroachment reached unacceptable levels this summer so just prior to fall cultivation we treated the areas of encroachment with a non selective product (herbicide that kills vegetation indiscriminately). The treated areas are  currently very noticeable but have been seeded and will in a short time fill in with desirable          turf. It is currently the best season for germinating seed hence our timing of treating the Knotgrass just prior to cultivation. 

Closeup of Knot Grass (paspallum distichum). This is a perrenial
weed that will come back every year from dormant roots and
cintinue to spread.

Spot treated fairway in an attempt to selectively control
Knot grass with an experimental product. The combonitation
experimental product worked better in the desireable  turf
so we treated with a non selitive product and followed up

Putting Surface Aeration
Two weeks ago we completed the 5th aggressive aeration to the putting surfaces. Since employing this aggressive procedure in the fall of 2010 the surfaces have improved however have not been with out issues. On the improvement side they have gotten firmer and recent physical soil analysis has shown that air pore spaces vs. water pore spaces in the top 3" have moved from 4 to 1 respectively to 2 to 1. Ideally we would like to get to 1 part air to 1 part water holding as far as soil pore sizes are concerned in the top 3".  These changes are due to the aggressive core aeration we have adopted which removes excessive organic matter and dilutes the profile with mineral sand. The goal of a 1 to 1 ratio is achievable considering the movement that has been made in two years . Setbacks this past year were  root disease issues that still have a link to organic matter and its moisture holding capicity so continued diligence in core aeration is a must. Additionally the bad batch of sod and the rush job in which we replaced the perimeter of #14 green awhile ago is not acceptable so we are replacing it with thick cut homegrown nursery sod this week. At some point we just have to  literally "cut" our losses. 
Continued agressive core aeration will be the key to getting
the putting surfaes at Granite Bay performing the way we
all want.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Dog Days of Summer 2012

"The Summer Demands and Takes Away too Much."
John Ashbery

The  Ancient Romans who associated the Dog Days of Summer  with the rise of the "Sirius" or the "Dog Star". According  to Wikipedia they even sacrificed a brown dog in an attempt to appease the rage of Sirius believing the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather. Although my research has led to differing dates of the "Dog Days", I consider them right now, the next 50 days between the beginning of August till the Fall equinox in mid to late September. 

These are the days  that the cool season turf at Granite Bay  can start to fade and thin in areas. The time in which certain opportunistic weeds start to emerge and take hold and disease pathogen's thrive. The time in which the bentgrass in our fairways start to get soft and the hybrid bermuda on our tees thrive. In short,  the Dog Days always have been, and always will be the most stressful period for this golf course requiring an all hands on deck approach to get us through with a minimum of casualties.

Irrigation Management Improvements 

Granite Bay GC weather station.
Our own weather station which collects hourly / daily
high / low temperature readings, humidity, wind speed and
solar radiation (Langley's)
Thankfully so far the summer season of 2012 has been fairly mild. We have had three periods of triple digit temperatures through July but they have been followed by cooler weather ushered in by the delta breeze and most importantly low evening temperatures. This type of weather certainly makes the battle easier, but we still have cool season turf  that would prefer maximum temperatures in the 80's growing in heavy decomposed granite soils. We still have to irrigate nightly and although we have great water quality to irrigate with, it still does not readily move through the heavy native soils. This requires an intense micromanagement of the irrigation system that I believe our GCM staff has gotten much better at and with future infrastructure improvements can improve even more.

Granite Bay of course has an automatic irrigation system which has a central computer that assimilates  weather data provided by our weather station and in turn calculates a  irrigation replacement quantity based on what is known as an evapotranspiration rate. This central computer has a software program called Cirrus which has a myriad of ways to apply this calculated ET rate to the site specific areas of the course. But it is not as simple as turning on a switch and letting the computer take care of everything. On a golf course there are  different types of playing surfaces, different species of turf and different sub and micro climates. Examples are shady area's  versus a south facing  hot bank's or hillside's. Topographical differences of a mound versus a low lying area of a fairway along with  different native soil types on one property and the modified soil types (sand blends) of the greens and tees are examples as well. All of these micro climates have different irrigation requirements that have to be taken into consideration. Sometimes the same irrigation heads or stations cover adjacent conflicting areas that have distinctly different irrigation requirements. All of this necessitates an intense micromanagement of the irrigation system. 

Screen shot of  "program detail" from our  Rainbird
Cirrus Central irrigation Computer located in the GCM offices.
This central computer is the brains of the irrigation
system and is where all run times are calculated,
adjusted and started.
Therefore one of the best management practices we have developed for Granite Bay, and are continuing to fine tune are daily individual station adjustments to the  automatic irrigation stations and heads throughout the golf course. Through the Cirrus software in the irrigation computer we can manipulate percentages of ET up or down based on conditions on the ground of individual stations and heads. In extreme situations where an area has become over wet or dry we can temporarily adjust the station up or down or off for a specified amount of time again based on these conditions. Stations are grouped in the software by golf course nomenclature such as greens, tees, fairways and rough and are put in programs that can be adjusted by area type and hole as well. The first line of micromanagement of the system is making these adjustments on a daily basis based on that days conditions. 

Jogi making daily irrigation adjustments to individual
stations and sprinkler heads via an IPad

IPad connects to the central Ranibird computer
wirelessly allowing for efficient, real time changes
 on the course exactly where we need them. 

We typically maintain program averages within Cirrus below our the ET rate that is calculated by the weather station. At Granite Bay we have found that  maintaining these percentages at the calculated ET rate results in undesirably wet conditions. Running programs below the adjusted ET rate necessitates the second line of irrigation of micromanagement, hand-watering. We have made a tremendous amount of infrastructure improvements to the irrigation system the past few years improving irrigation coverage and have more planed in the future. All of these changes have improved conditions throughout the course and have taken the strain off of our hand-watering regimen. That being said there will never be a substitute for a man on a hose. Irrigation systems at best can be 60 to 70 % efficient as compared to rain and if we purposely water below adjusted ET rates to avoid overly wet conditions at Granite Bay we must supplement with guys on hoses putting water exactly where it is needed.

Hand watering is the backbone of  micromanagement
of the irrigation system. There is no substitute for a
guy on a hose

Screen shot of our weather / irrigation tracking
which showing 2012 YTD water usage below the
adjusted ET rate. In the past when this line has been
closer or even over the ET rate the course has
been too wet.

Watering Putting Surfaces based on Volumetric Water Content

Another industry wide best management practice is the use of moisture sensors to determine volumetric water content or VWC and irrigating based on this data. The use of property wide VMC as a substitution to ET based program's could change the way we look at irrigating golf course turf but are still aways off from perfection.  However the use of hand held meters checking the VWC of putting surfaces has been noted as a best management practice by the USGA Green Section for some time. We have been using a Spectrum Technologies Field Scout TDR 300 soil moisture meter diligently for the past couple of months and are starting to experience good results from it's use. We check the putting surfaces in the morning and record VWC averages and note highs and lows and hand water and adjust individual heads according to the data we collect. Additional readings are taken in the afternoon giving us further data to work with. We started using the meter in reaction to inconsistencies and a nagging pythium root rot issue. Even though the daily use of the meter has added to our maintenance program, I believe that the data collection and adjustments based on  this VWC data will be a big help with surface consistency and health moving forward.

Gama checking and recording VWC data.
This has become a every morning task.

Spectrum Technologies Field Scout TDR 300
soil moisture meter.

Granite Bay's Irrigation Future

We have many plans for the future having to do with the irrigation system. We hope to finish all of the irrigation coverage issues this coming winter. When Mitch works his magic with corporate and gets the capitol funding we submitted released early,  we will be off to the races this winter and will get this work completed before we start irrigating in 2013. As I have stated many times before, without exception every place we have completed this irrigation enhancement work has resulted is superior turf and a much reduced need for labor intensive hand watering. Secondly we have some irrigation as-built mapping to take care of that will give us the kind of information we need for further 2014 irrigation enhancements which will give us single head coverage enhancing even further our ability to micromanage. More on this to come.

Given the importance of irrigation here at Granite Bay all of these type of improvements will help us micro-manage the irrigation system creating better conditions in the future Dog Days of Summer. And the one thing we can count on every year is that the Big Dog will be back.

"I purpose to fight it out on this line if it takes all Summer."
Ulysses Simpson Grant 1869

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Summer Solstice at Granite Bay

"Summers Lease Hath All To Short A Date"   William Shakespeare

I'm not sure I agree with Mr. Shakespeare analysis of summer as we try to provide firm and somewhat fast  cool season turf grass playing surfaces alive in the Sacramento valley. Nonetheless this past Wednesday June  20, 2012  marked the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year and the beginning of the most stressful period for the turf at Granite Bay golf club. This 94 day period until the fall equinox on Saturday September 22, 2012 is when our "hemisphere receives more direct rays from the sun then the southern hemisphere where it is winter. In the winter, the suns energy hits the earth at oblique angles and thus less concentrated. During the spring and fall the earths axis is pointing sideways so both hemispheres have moderate weather as the rays of the sun are directly over the equator." Matt Rosenberg -

As most of us are aware this is the  period in which the course is most at risk and can struggle. Our irrigation system  improvements over the past couple of years has made a big difference so far. Our hand watering regimen and continued focus on daily irrigation adjustments have paid off as well but the upcoming 94 days will really tell the tale. We have not received too much  really hot weather so far and will keep our fingers crossed, light a candle and say a prayer that the summer would be kind and our continued diligence steady. 

Summer Putting Surface Aeration / Spiking

This coming Monday June 25, 2012 we will be spiking the greens with 1/4" hollow tines and applying a very light topdressing of sand. The process will have a minimal if any effect on putting quality along with being very short lived. The benefits include removal of an additional 4% of thatch from the putting surfaces along with providing avenues for soil oxygen for plant transpiration or cooling down. Forcasted temperatures are supposed to be mild making this a great opportunity going into summer. 

Below is a video entitled Aeration: A breath of fresh air from Pace Turf. The principles and benefits described in the video apply to the aeration / spiking event we have planned for Monday  however we do not have an aggressive event planned and it is worth repeating will not effect putting quality for any length of time. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why Does Turf Die in the Summer?

Below is a interesting video that explains why cool season turf struggles and even dies in the hot summer weather. The video was done by PACE TURF which is a  turf grass consulting and information firm that conducts research and makes available its conclusions to its member clubs which includes Granite Bay.  Dr. Larry Stowell, a plant pathologist and his wife Dr. Wendy Gerlanter, an entomologist are based out of San Diego and  the principles who own and operate this widely respected and utilized service throughout the golf industry. 

The golf course maintenance department at Granite Bay has embraced many different strategies to mitigate the effects of heat and drought including those mentioned in the video above.  Strategies have included irrigation infrastructure additions and enhancements, utilization of hand watering and deficit irrigation scheduling including daily detailed adjustments to the automatic irrigation system. The total effect of all of these strategies have created some success in recent seasons and so far this season we are doing well with a minimum of soft and overly wet areas as well as the absence of total dry areas.

In our next course update I plan to go into detail on how Granite Bay is irrigated for those interested members who like the behind the scenes details. Additionally I hope to continue to add videos from PACE TURF from time to time and perhaps make some of our own. As always the GCM department thanks our members for their support as we strive to make this great course better one week at a time.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Traffic Control in Palce

As the seasons change different environmental stresses start to affect the playing surfaces her at Granite Bay and these stresses require different strategies to protect the turf. We can all agree that the stress level of the playing surfaces  at Granite Bay are more elevated  in the summer months then they are in the spring, fall or even winter. Golf cart traffic is one of those stresses that can really take it's toll in the summer months, and it is one that we can put some control measures in place to mitigate this stress. Of course golf carts are a way of life on most golf courses including Granite Bay, and can be attributed in part to the growth and success of  modern day golf by making the game accessible to more players. However uncontrolled cart traffic channeled into concentrated areas will wear turf down to a dirt path. We have all witnessed many examples here at Granite Bay of cart worn turf.

Traffic Control in place on #2

Protecting the turf is why we initiate traffic control measures by alternating wear patterns and alleviating traffic on entire holes giving that hole some relief. This proactive approach, which we initiate in the early spring, was at the behest of the Granite Bay Golf  Committee.  I was asked awhile back about traffic control on the course and if we had a actual plan and rotation that we follow. The answer is yes and no. As I mentioned above, golf cart traffic is more acute during the summer months then any other season of the year. In the spring and winter  if the course is too wet we restrict cart access to paths anyway so there is rarely a need to rope off a entire hole to control traffic. When it is dry enough for carts to travel on the turf during those months it is normally not hot enough to cause stress so we again do not need to rope off entire holes. In the late spring and summer months when high  turf stress periods begin,  we have certain holes that are prone to intense channeling of cart traffic. We have experienced very positive results by proactively relieving the traffic in these areas.

Cart Directional Sign
Hole #10 is the greatest example of this as most carts enter just beyond the ladies forward tee and then travel  in a direct route to the left side of the hole to the #11 tee. Another example of intense channeling of golf cart traffic is the exit area on #13 although course design is somewhat prohibitive for traffic control. The course was originally designed primarily as a walking course so only a few paths were part of the original concept. After some time, the concept changed and  continuous cart paths were installed. Starting the path up the right hand side of #13 would necessitate crossing the fairway at some point which is not desirable, so the path was installed left. Roping off this fairway would be difficult for many Members because they would have to navigate the steep hill above the path to get to their ball. This is the reason we do not rope #13 for proactive traffic control even though it has a traffic issue exiting the fairway.

Unsightly cart traffic on a drought stressed portion of turf.
Our goal in golf course maintenance is to prevent the majority
of these areas by hand watering  but there will always be some
to contend with. Players can help by identifying these areas
 which typically appear in summer afternoons and avoiding them
with golf carts.
So our traffic control rotation plan is somewhat fluid taking into consideration  above mentioned examples.  Starting in the late spring  we try to keep one hole on the front side and one hole on the back side roped off to relieve cart traffic. We typically keep the ropes in place for 2 to 3 weeks to give the hole a good rest. Par 5's are generally not roped off as they have numerous options for carts to enter or exit and fortunately do not have the traffic issues as other holes. We have not up to this point roped off  #13 because  of the above mentioned access issues along with perceived  pace of play and safety issues. If it seems like #10 is roped off more often on the backside, it is because it is due to its exhibiting the most traffic worn turf in the past. When we shift the ropes more often then not we are looking to see what hole could benefit the most from the relief. Course access flags are  available in the Golf Shop for Members that have physical limitations and we leave access points in the fairways when we rope them off.

90 Degree Rule vs. Carts Scatter

After observing golf cart activity and driving habits for awhile I have come to the conclusion that the 90 degree rule is rarely observed and can be counter productive as a traffic control measure.  First for the rule to be effective players would have to return to the cart path after playing their shot, drive forward on the path and take a 90 degree line to the next shot. Exiting the fairway cut of grass and driving up the rough line only compounds traffic issues encouraging concentrated traffic at the fairways edge which subsequently  causes worn out turf. Secondly it appears that  most golfers don't follow the rule anyway. The 90 degree rule's implied meaning to most of us is  that carts don't have to remain on the path.  Another observation, and I could be wrong, but if everyone followed the strict meaning of the  90 degree rule we might have a hard time maintaining the 4:13 pace of play that is part of our Granite Bay culture.  The only time that I am in favor of a strict interpretation of "90 degree rule" are times following a rainy period and we are allowing carts off the path and ask that a strict 90 degree back to the path or shells be followed.

90 degree rule. What does it really mean?
Therefore in most instances scattering traffic on the course is much better then 90 degrees back to the rough line. Naturally golfers riding carts should follow  directional signs and enter and exit at points that are designated by stakes and chains and or signs, keep carts away from greens and avoid stressed out areas particularly in the afternoon during the summer stress periods. These stressed out areas can be identified by the grey or brown hue that's highly visible in the afternoons. The "90 degree rule" is still the term that we all know and  there is no need to create confusion by changing terms especially because most players already scatter.

In a Nutshell
  • Use cart paths or walnut shells whenever possible. 
  • Scatter traffic up the fairway rather then taking a 90 degree line back to the roughs edge and wearing a path there.
  • Avoid stressed out turf areas identifiable by a brown or smokey gray color particularly in the afternoon.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Sand, More Sand"

Old Tom Morris
A story is often told of Old Tom Morris when asked what made his greens so good. His reply was "Sand, mare sand and the Sabbath" Most courses today are not blessed with the good sandy links land of St. Andrews, but greenskeepers like Old Tom understand the benefits of sand topdressing for golf playing surfaces. It's common throughout golf to utilize sand topdressing in varying amounts and frequencies for putting surfaces yet the investment to purchase and ship quantities enough to apply to fairways is prohibitive for most operations. 

Spreading sand on fairways at Granite Bay

Light sand topdressing on the practice green

However I am happy to report that Mitch has worked his magic with the powers that be at Club Corp. and secured funding for Granite Bay to start a topdressing program not just for this season but for seasons to come. The results with sand topdressing are cumulative so as the years go by and we continue to topdress, we will  see a progressive firming of our fairway surfaces.  Our plan for this season is to double up in landing areas and around drainage inlets in the fairways which when coupled with continued emphasis on irrigation management, should help produce firmer summer surfaces this year. This is a exciting addition to our maintenance program and  we are looking forward to these multiplying results. 

Core Aeration Progress

Last Wednesday 4/25/12 the weather forecast in the morning had changed from the previous day's forecast of 70% chance of rain to a 30% chance of rain according to the weather channel. A 30% chance of precipitation on many occasions has amounted to nothing and we wanted to get going and complete the core aeration of the rough so we decided to proceede. We  core aerated the rough on holes #1, #2 & half of #4 before it started to drizzle. This drizzle evolved into light showers which stalled our cleanup process. These light showers turned into actual rain during the evening producing 1/2" of precipitation on the extracted aeration cores rendering them impossible to pick up.

Core aerating rough last week.
We actually started the fairway topdressing this morning because of more forecast-ed  rain and I didn't want to make the same mistake twice in two weeks and continue with core aeration in the rough. It is a challenge to get all of this aeration done between weather and spring time golfing events but we'll keep at it and continue to keep you informed of progress and set-backs. Thankfully the crucial areas of fairways, green surrounds and greens are completed thanks to aforementioned alternating F9 & B9 closures.

Wet aeration cores from 1/2" of rain.
Impossible to clean up until dry.

Tee Leveling & Re-Surfacing

We have gotten to that time of the year that golfing events hinder our ability to complete tasks such as core aeration of the rough prior to morning shotgun tournaments so to remain productive this week and next we plan to get some tee leveling done. This work actually works out pretty well because the turf on the tees is in decent shape and we are able to remove it, level the sub grade and put a good portion of the sod back down on the newly leveled tee. We have identified four  tee areas that are in need immediate leveling namely Tournament and Granite on #18, Granite on #13 and the Pebble Tee on #11. We understand that         there are a few more that could use some help, however these are the four levels we will take care of this spring. 

Tournament and Granite Levels of #18 tee in the process of
leveling and re-surfacing

Both levels on #18 are in the process of being completed today, Thursday 5/3/12. We will have to take some hybrid bermuda sod from the rear of Granite #13 to complete them, but plan to completely strip this tee next  week move that sod to Pebble  #11 after leveling, and replace the sod on #13 with new the week of 5/14/12. While Granite #13 is bare players will get a variety of looks with the markers placed at the rear of the club level and the front of the Tournament level.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekly Course Update

Springtime is the time in golf course maintenance in which everything happens at once. last week at this time I was talking about rain and how it hurt or helped aeration along with cart path restrictions for the weekend. What a difference a week makes. The grass is growing faster then we can mow it, we are still finishing aeration, the to do list is growing faster then we can check off completed tasks and believe it or not we will be irrigating the entire course tonight. Typical spring. I have no complaints though, for I realize that not everyone gets to come to work at a place as beautiful as this.

Core aerating the surround of #9 green this morning. Of all the areas we
aerate the green surrounds are the most tedious and labor intensive
 in that they require the most hand work to process and remove the
extracted cores
Today we finished core aeration of the green surrounds that were remaining when it started to rain last week.  We started the aeration process this spring on Monday April 2nd and have completed greens, fairways and green surrounds in three weeks. And last week of course it rained and stalled progress. Next aeration event our goal is to complete these areas in two weeks, weather permitting. This would not have been possible if not for the alternating F9 / B9 closures. 

Putting surfaces have recovered nicely. We gave them a light topdressing of sand this week and the vast majority of  aeration holes are now covered. We will start using walking greens mowers on them tomorrow along with rolling through the weekend. Next week brushing and additional surface management along with growth regulator applications and we should be close to our desired speed of 11 feet or close to it. When we checked green speed this morning the surfaces rolled just under 10 feet. 

Close up of recovery progress on the greens
just this past Monday 4/16/12.

Close up of recovery progress 4 days later on Friday

For the next two weeks we plan on aerating rough. We will probably target a couple, three holes a day, alternate front and back nine starts to allow for aeration cores to dry. Look for daily course updated from the golf shop to keep you appraised of progress and where we are working. Additionally we are going to start topdressing fairways and approaches next week and I'll explain more about that next week. 

Jogi on core processor. This machine grinds up the cores
which are a mix of organic matter and native soil.
This machine will make short work of aerating
 the rough next week. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Current Weather and Spring Aeration Progress

I have been asked on many occasions by members if rain will hurt us when it comes to turf aeration. There is no real short answer to that question except it depends on when it rains. The actual process requires dry conditions, so in that sense any rainfall either before or especially during an aeration process will hurt us. If it rains heavily, like it has this past week, we cannot proceed however the rain pounding on newly aerated putting surfaces can be beneficial. 

These type of conditions are difficult to play in much less
core aerate in. #12 fairway right after a downpour on Wednesday 4/11
Our current strategy for aeration greens is to punch 5/8" holes on a 1" X 2" pattern. This produces 48 holes per square foot and displaces close to 14% of the actual putting surface. This is considered an aggressive aeration by industry standards.  When the heavy rain we are currently experiencing subsides, all of those sand filled holes  will allow a tremendous amount of air to be "sucked" via  soil capillary forces into the root zone of the green. Air in the root zone is necessary for root growth and all plant functions so the more the merrier especially with a highly maintained putting surface. Another benefit with this heavy rain on the putting surfaces is the sand between the aeration holes will be driven into the turf canopy more effectively then it would if we were irrigating the green. Will the heavy rain help the greens recover sooner? The current storm has been warm and steady, so combined with the  above mentioned benefits along with the sunshine that will follow the storm, I think we could have a fairly rapid recovery.

This picture was taken this morning Friday 4/13/12 while it was
raining on our #2 green. Notice how there is no standing water and
no apparent sand or open aeration holes at least from this view.
The other side of the question does the rain hurt us during aeration has to do with progress. Because this process cannot be done when conditions are wet aeration progress is stalled. However we made great progress last week Monday 4/2/12 through Monday 4/9/12. We completed all putting surfaces, fairways and over half of the green surrounds, the areas that are difficult to do around member play. Additionally we were able to get the areas completed cleaned up much better on Tuesday after getting our vertical mowers up and running properly so at this point we are very happy with the progress on core aeration thus far, despite the weather. 

Close-up of #2 green taken at the same time as the picture above. The fuzzy yellow stuff is flowers from
the Oak Tree behind and to the right of the green. Notice again no standing water, and almost
covered aeration holes. 
Our plans for next week, Monday 4/16/12 through Friday 4/20/12 are as follows. We anticipate the soil still being too wet to continue core aeration on Monday but by Wednesday we should be good to go. On Wednesday we plan to have a normal front nine start and complete the green surrounds on #16 & #18. Thursday and Friday we plan to have back nine starts and to complete the green surrounds on hole #'s 4 through 9. The back nine starts will allow some drying so we can process the cores prior to the bulk of member play. I'll post another update next week with progress and plans for the following week. With any kind of luck we will have the entire property core aerated by the first part of May.