Thursday, February 9, 2012

Driving Range Tee Line Complete

Completed Tee Line ready for play
The execution and completion of the new Driving Range Tee Line went off exactly according to plan. The motivation behind the project was an obvious need to replace the worn out artificial mats that are used for practicing when the driving range is not set up  the 23,000 square feet of grass teeing area.

Concrete forms for raising the
concrete pad.

This half acre of turf has never been able to sustain all of the driving range traffic and we have always needed to utilize artificial turf mats for a third of the member use at the club.  Additionally artificial surfaces are necessary during wet weather and sustained periods of recovery of the grass tee. 

Another issue that had been slowly developing was the concrete pad in which the mats are stationed had become lower then the ever increasing grade of the driving range tee, creating a basin that collected irrigation and rainfall. This situation required a remedy and after considering several options, we decided to raise the concrete pad and install new drainage to keep the new artificial turf from sitting in water.

Contractor pouring the concrete.
Members of the Granite Bay Golf Committee did the initial legwork and steered us in the right direction for the material to replace the old mats. The plan was always to move towards a continuous Tee Line rather then just mat replacement. With that in mind, the "driving range artificial turf sub committee" traveled around the State trying out the best Tee Lines they could find which lead us to Synthetic Turf International (STI), the most recognized brand in the artificial turf industry. STI's Tee Lines are the current standard in the industry and the EZ Turf Hybrid is latest generation, most advanced artificial turf driving range hitting surface available. By design the EZ Turf Hybrid is a little soft when first installed but will firm up slightly, but not too much, so as to maintain the most realistic feel throughout the life of the Tee line. Additionally the choice of a continuous Tee Line versus replacement mats will allow for hitting rotation and a life expectancy of  well over five years for the new turf.

GCM installing new drainage, backing up newly
raised concrete pad.

If you happened to take the time to look at some of the Tee Lines from  STI you will notice some installations appeared to have the regular turf in contact with the artificial turf and in some instances that is actually the case. Others have borders of wooden or recycled plastic 2" X 4" material to provide a barrier for maintenance edging. We felt strongly about some type of border and opted for a recessed area in the new concrete pad for the new Tee Line to sit in and be surrounded with a concrete mow strip of sorts. Built into the pad was a unnoticeable front to back 1% slope to facilitate drainage along with extra expansion joint like drainage channels at the rear of the pad to provide an escape path for irrigation or rainfall. 

Synthetic Turf International of Northern California
gluing down the new artificial turf
Tee Line. 

Real turf is always a better surface to practice on, and this new Tee Line will not change our intent or schedule of having our members practice on the turf Thursday through Sunday. However we all have to admit that the new Tee Line is a substantial upgrade from even replacement of the old, worn out mats and will hopefully not make it as hard to use when GCM inevitably has to close the grass tee for extended renovation and recovery.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Weather, Winter Progress & Green Speed

I find myself in the position once again to apologize to the members who enjoy the details I cover in these course updates as I have been negligent in updating  for too long. Much has been happening on the golf course as many have witnessed so I will briefly try to catch up with pictures along with sharing some details.

Strange Weather
Weather is the one variable that we all deal with and is the one factor from season to season that effect the golf course playing surfaces the most. Normal high and low temperatures, precipitation, humidity are accumulation averages over a several years that don't seem to mean that much as the here and now of our playing surfaces and how they are performing based on the weathers influence. Case in point, last winter the course experienced above average precipitation and played much  slower then the fast and firm surfaces we are experiencing this winter season. I have always believed that  the uncertainty of the weather, something we have absolutely no control over yet has the dramatic effect on the surfaces we play this great game from, is a big part of the games charm.  So we take what we get as far as the weather is concerned. What other choice is there? 

Generally speaking  these cool, dry weather patterns will always provide the best playing surfaces for Granite Bay. The logic is simple. If its cool, the turf grass is not growing and has minimal  to no irrigation requirements. If it is dry, playing surfaces firm up. The combination of minimal growth and minimal moisture produces less leaf surface and friction combined with the above mentioned firmness and we get the surfaces that most players love. GCM (golf course maintenance) loves these conditions as well because there is allot less effort involved in providing the surfaces that most players desire shifting our efforts to other tasks that beautifies the course along with making it easier to take care off during the upcoming summer, something we always have our sights on.

Although much of the winter has been cool and dry, a
recent storm in late January brought almost 4" of rain
over a few days. This is the front of #13 during a storm.

Green Speed
Of course the most noticeable surface is the putting surface. We have been experiencing green speeds in the 12 foot range almost all winter. The above mentioned weather scenarios can claim most of the credit as cooler weather slows growth rate down and lack of rain firms things up along with allowing GCM  to roll the surfaces more frequently. However I believe  much of the recent firmness of our putting surfaces has more to do with aggressive aeration that we have employed over the last year and a half then the  increased rolling and decreased rainfall. Ten percent of our greens surface are has been removed on each aeration event totaling 30% since we started aggressive aeration. All of this removed organic matter was displaced with  topdressing sand and many of you have told us that you have noticed a progressive firming of the greens as evidenced by lack of foot printing which has been our observation as well. We have also observed less disease activity, a virtual elimination of anaerobic black layer and just a healthier condition in which the turf responds to fertility and other inputs accordingly.

Jogi checking green speed on #9 with stimp meter.

What does show up very well at this time of the year on our greens is the poa annua population. The reason for this is that in colder weather, particularly frosty and frozen weather, the bentgrass on our greens slows down to almost a complete dormancy where as the poa is still growing and beginning to thrive. If it seems like the poa population is greater on our greens then it has been in the past, it is probably because it is for the most part. Unfortunately it is the nature of the beast to continue its encroachment no matter what strategies we employ to push it back. Bottom line, it is not uncommon for poa annua and bentgrass to coexist on putting surfaces that are the age of ours which is coming up on 18 years. Pure bentgrass greens are something special to putt on, particularly the new bentgrass varieties however there are some very good putting surfaces in  the world of golf that have a substantial amount of poa annua in them. What is difficult to maintain with a poa-bent or bent poa surface, depending how you look at it, is consistency.

#10 Green exhibiting a 50/50 bentgrass-poa mix.
The poa is the brighter green patches.
The bentgrass is the more grey-green.

Granite Bay's putting surface consistency from season to season & day to day admittedly has been elusive. However the progress made in organic matter reduction in the top 3" of our surfaces via core aeration in the spring and fall sets up better success when it comes to consistency because the overall health of the surface is better. Our goal for these surfaces in 2012 is to maintain consistent, smooth ball roll with speeds between 11 and 12 feet by:

  • Continue aggressive core aeration Spring and Fall.
  • Better control over poa annua seed head utilizing growth regulator applications.
  • Consistent surface management strategies including brushing, vertical mowing & light topdressing.
  • Continue successful walk mowing and rolling regimen
  • Fertility strategy that includes acidification which will refine leaf blades (make them skinny and wiry) reducing friction and increasing ball roll without the need to lower the height of cut.
The coexistence of bentgrass and poa annua in relation to the quality of the putting surface is a topic unto itself. Short of re-surfacing, we have to work with what we have in the  here and now. The above strategies can and will produce scenarios where the bent will thrive at certain times in the season and the poa thrive in others. Bottom line if the surfaces are healthy, firm and ball roll is consistent and true, we will have achieved our goals and membership will have surfaces that are fun, challenging and can be proud of.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Because I have admittedly been negligent in updating details of GCM activities of late, I thought I would catch up with pictures and  brief associated details.

Recently cleared rocks below the upper tees on #14.
Unfortunately I don't have a real good before picture
however I think we all remember the berries and
scrub oak that completely covered these beautiful rocks.

Working on the left side of the lower bridge on #14 primarily
to facilitate out tree service contractor so they could top the
live oak that are close to blocking the hole from the upper tees.

Starting to clean the outgrowth on the right hand side
of #14 below the lower tees.

Finished view from the club tees on #14 after clearing.
The straw area is covering for fescue seed and the straw
waddle at the top of the cleared area is to prevent erosion
during rainfall. The 4" storm in late January didn't erode
the area at all.

Newly constructed nursery area to the left of #4 on the
corner of Barton and Roseville Parkway.  The area was
actually irrigated for a nursery area but had overgrown
so we cleared the overgrowth, completely re-did the irrigation,
graded the rough area along the Parkway and organized
the entire area for processing the the large amount of
green waste that is developed on a course like Granite Bay.
In the nursery area we will establish sod for our greens with
cores removed from this springs aeration, grow our own  native fescue
and use the area as a storage area for purchased sod.

The large pieces of the old concrete removed from #18
when we installed the path to the upper tee. These concrete
pieces were hauled over to the area that we made into the
nursery / recycling area and have now been used to
retain a bank.

Repairing the front lip on the large bunker in front of #1 green.
When we renovated the bunkers not that long ago we did some sod work
around the bunkers edges, but our primary focus was to replace drainage,
install liner and replace the sand. Now that the bunkers have sand
in them, as opposed to virtually none prior to renovation, we are
experiencing a accelerated buildup of sand on the front edges that
need to be fixed on some of our bunkers. When we do this work we
also "softening" the front lip of the trap with the goal of mitigating
some of those unplayable lies in the hazard.

#1 complete with new sod. Other bunkers we plan to address
in February are the two on #14 and the two on #13.

Looking down on another area that needed some clearing work
to the right and pin high to the green on #14. Its cleaner,
easier to find you ball but still a pretty tough shot.

Irrigation enhancement around the bunkers on #14.
we did replace the little pop-ups during renovation on these
bunkers 3 to 4 years ago but are not happy with their
performance. I know it seems like we were just working there
and we we're I suppose although I will tell you that everywhere
we have installed the type of sprinklers we are installing
here it has made a HUGE difference in turf quality
and our ability to maintain these areas in the summer. The vast
majority of this work was done last winter but we still have
more to do.

Forming the new raised pad for the new continuous Tee Line
of artificial turf. Raising of this pad was necessary as the pad
was low and collected water as the turf around it raised over
the years from topdressing.

Pouring the concrete.

GCM installing drainage behind newly raised
driving range tee pad.

GCM installing sod to back filled raised pad.

Newly renovated tee markers. The motivation behind renovating
our tee markers was first and foremost our tee markers were
old, stained and in dire need of replacement. After pricing new ones
we concluded that this was a "more for less" opportunity and started
playing with different epoxies, colorants, sands and have now come
up with what we think is a better, and substantially more economical
duplicate version of Granite Bay's tee marker. The red and purple
markers you currently see on the course are actually renovated
markers that we have cleaned up, colored and treated with epoxy
and replaced on the course. The next markers you will start to see
on the course will actually be ones we casted ourselves.

Along the same motivation of the tee markers we priced sign
replacement for the many signs around the clubhouse and on
the course and decided to purchase a computerized
carving machine and do them ourselves. All signs around the
clubhouse have been completed and we are currently working
on signs on the course.

The first phase of signs going out on the course. We changed
color themes to blend with the divot boxes and course water
dispenser enclosures. Additionally we have started to add
Audubon signage to the course which is an actual requirement
of belonging  to Audubon. It does not fit, nor is it our intention
to increase the presence of signs at Granite Bay, just replace
the worn our wooden signs along with proudly displaying our
Audubon Signature status.

I hope your opinion is that as a club we have come  along way as far as providing and distributing information about what going on around the club and on the golf course. This course update, the very popular daily  Golf Shop update which is distributed daily to over 300 members, the brand new Granite Bay Golf Shop blog are just some of the information and promotional pieces associated with Granite Bay. I totally get that not everyone is interested in the "grass growing, vertical mowing, cinch bug" details of golf course maintenance and I for one am sensitive to overloading peoples inbox with web links and attachments ect ect ect. Additionally it becomes a task to update course details  primarily because I wait too long and then the update itself becomes lengthy rather then short and sweet on a weekly or semi weekly basis. So I am going to adopt the strategy of Heather and Brad with their new Golf Shop update. Anyone interested in receiving notifications when this blog is updated simply add your e-mail to the "follow by e-mail" in the upper right hand corner so you can be automatically updated through your inbox.  This way whoever wants to see the information can get it, and I can update it briefly and frequently without worrying about being a pest.