Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Progress Review

As another year comes to an end and as we start looking forward to the next season it always seems fitting to review the progress and setbacks from the previous year. Weather extremes, tree replacement and removal, irrigation system advances, a maintenance yard burglary and substantial driving range improvements drove the largest changes at Granite Bay in 2013.
New rock landscape in the creek to the left of
#3 green. Next step new irrigation and
landscape plants.

The rain season for 2013 started in October of the previous year. We got off to a pretty good start with over 14" of rain recorded in November and December of 2012 recorded by our own weather station. Then from January 2013 to September 2013 we recorded only 4.99" of rain. In the 2013 calender year we recorded only 6.39" of rain, by far the lowest accumulation for a calender period in the history of Granite Bay Golf Club. The lack of rain and snow effecting upstream storage in Folsom Lake will be potentially be our challenge for the up coming golf season, but how much  remains to be seen. If something doesn't change soon such as a big series of storms producing both rain and snow, lack of irrigation water could be the golf course maintenance topic of 2014. 

Although 2013 was dominated by temperate & dry weather, we did have our share of extremes. For the year we had 15 days of freezing temperatures and frost delays and conversely 12 days of temperatures of over 102 degrees. One extremely rough period was between June 29th and July 5th where we experienced 7 days over 102 degrees with 5 of those days over 105 degrees. This is the period when #3 green struggled again. Temperature extremes are not unusual but the 5 days over 105 degrees and the 6.39" of measured rain for 2013 are historic numbers which could have ramifications yet to be played out.

# 3 green recovering a few weeks after heat wave.
Removing trees to the left of the green was crucial to
 providing necessary morning sun and air movement

 to the area

 # 3 green, July heat wave damage.

2013 Capitol Projects
One overdue and needed 2013 project that is scheduled to start this coming week on Monday 12/30/13 is cart parking expansion near Tilleys. The plan is to slightly cut into the bank adjacent to the #9 green along with some widening on the other side of the path, re-grading and replacing the concrete providing for diagonal parking on both sides of the area as opposed to the free for all parallel parking scheme currently in place. Timing for the project is as follows. Week of Monday 12/30/13: Removal of  one of the Blue Oak's close to the patio and wedding ceremony area which has been slated by our arborist as necessary for removal because of it's overall  lack of health and danger to the clubhouse. Week of Monday 1/6/13: Concrete removal, grading, forming and pouring of new concrete. Week of Monday 1/13/14: Re- irrigate and sod. Project complete.

Completed capitol projects in 2013 started by replacing all of the ball washers on the course and in doing so replaced the associated trash enclosures with wooden IPE trash enclosures that match the par three divot boxes and  sand bottle enclosures. These IPE accoutrement's were designed and built by 20 year Granite Bay employee partner Kevin Schuman.

#2 new ball washer adjacent to water station.

The Granite Bay Teaching Academy was completed in 2013 as well as replacement and extension of the driving range netting protecting the short game area. Netting replacement was completed in conjunction with re-locating the middle target green and bunker on the range providing a better target from the teaching center and to direct general driving range traffic more to the center of the range then to the right.  Any project of this type is not without its controversies but after completion the netting and teaching center building didn't detract as much as predicted and blends well in the surrounding landscape.

GCM finishing up the landscaping around the
Granite Bay Teaching Academy

GCM creating a new target green and bunker in the
driving range along with filling the bunker on the right.

Other completed capitol projects for 2013 included pond aeration systems in both ponds on the course and security fencing and alarm system in the GCM yard. Fencing and security were the result of a early in year break-in which we sustained some equipment losses down in the maintenance yard. The pond aeration systems were installed to help with aquatic vegetation accumulation as a result of the eutrophication process that golf course water bodies experience. We did achieve some aquatic vegetation reduction despite the late season installation of the  pond aeration system's and should experience substantially improved season long pond water quality now that we will start off 2014 with the systems in place.

Aeration diffusers in action right after installation
on September 9th.
Water quality 11 days later on September 20th

Replacing strategic trees that we have lost throughout the course over the years and proactive replacement of trees that we suspect could be lost in the future was another capitol project we got started on in 2013. Additionally we continued on irrigation coverage enhancements which we had additional capitol funds to draw off of in 2013. A large greens fan to alleviate the unique conditions we experience in the green complex of #3 was purchased in 2013 as a capitol expense as well. This fan will be moved to the area adjacent to #3 green in mid June and remain through August after which it will be removed. All electrical and fan mounts have already been installed. 

GCM planting replacement trees

Newly planted replacement trees on #1

2014 Plans
Capitol funds for 2014 that we plan to spend on the golf course revolve mostly around continued irrigation improvements. Irrigation components such as sprinkler heads and controllers are 20 years old and a replacement program needs to get started. Some of these replacements will result in upgrades and additional features that will help with irrigation coverage, control and  water conservation which is timely and will be a defining issue of the course in the years to come.

The Club has partial responsibility for landscape and sidewalks along Roseville Parkway & Barton Road so capitol funds have been earmarked for asphalt repair and sealing as well as landscape plant replacement. Along with that we have some tee expansion plans and  long overdue drainage work in the driving range that we plan accomplish with capitol funds in 2014.


I'm sure Ive mentioned more then once, realizing I'm stating the obvious, that golf course's are in a constant state of change that begins when the first seed touches the ground. We go from season to season and year to year making plan's, adjusting to the whims of nature, trying to stay ahead of the next issue. The task of shepherding these changes, as much as one can, is much more rewarding when one has support of those whom benefit the most from these efforts. Therefore I know I speak for the entire golf course maintenance department when I say, It continues to be our pleasure to serve the Membership here at Granite Bay. Thank you for your years of continued support of these efforts.

2013 work on a bunker on #15.
This kinda work is ongoing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tree Planting and Restoration

We have recently begun a phase of tree restoration / planting project here at Granite Bay. This restoration was motivated by the  Granite Bay Golf Committee several years ago in response to the natural decline and death of the courses native oak trees over the years. Our trees are an important design feature and aesthetic component of the course and have some history over the past 20 years.

The overall design concept of Granite Bay falls into the general classification of a  parkland  golf course which is an inland course that accommodates the natural trees and hills in the surrounding environment. The vast majority of native oaks in Granite Bay are Blue Oaks (quercus douglasii) and Interior Live Oak (quercus wislizeni). Additionally growing along Linda creek and planted during early construction are some California and Sacramento native Valley Oak (quercus lobata) and Coastal Live Oak (quercus agrifolia) which were planted as screening trees, a good example of which would be behind #15 green and #9 tee.

Specimen replacement trees being delivered to GBGC

Native Live Oaks awaiting planting as screening trees
along #4 and #6 fence lines.

Several years after construction (2001 - 2002) a group non California native oaks were introduced on the course mostly on holes #8 & #5 but also a few behind #10 and near #15 green. These varieties were Red Oak (quercus rubra) and Pin Oak (quercus palustris). The decision to plant these non California native species of oaks was unfortunate in my opinion as I think the design intent and features of Granite Bay lend more to the native species. The thought process behind planting the non-native species were that these Red & Pin Oaks could take the summer watering of trees growing in turf which does need to be considered as some California native oaks are not as tolerant.

Non-native Red Oaks planted between #8 & #9

With all of this in mind, the Golf Committee and GB Management began to develop a  tree replacement plan to address  areas on the course that we have both lost native oaks and are in jeopardy of losing more. More then just replacing lost trees we wanted to be proactive in starting replacements for trees that are suspect to future decline and death along with phasing out of the non California native species over time. These thoughts were discussed a few years back when we did a course tour with Kyle Phillips. Many issues were discussed at this meeting and tree planting was one of them. Kyle's overall assessment regarding tree planting was sticking to original design intent which was not necessarily a tree lined parkland course, but one in which trees are part of  a golf holes defense along with room for bailouts and  interesting golf shots lending to clusters of trees. Kyle also mentioned the introduction of non native species as something that was never part of the original design intent.

Interior Live Oak - left hand side of #4. A native tree that is a
design feature of the hole. Currently the tree is showing little sign
of future struggles, however if it were it would be a good idea
to get a replacement going.

Blue Oaks are the dominant native  varieties of oak trees in the Granite Bay area, but some  unfortunately don't seem to be able to take the summer watering that turfgrass requires. I fear that over the years we would have lost more Blue Oaks if early on Placer County had not required the club to pull irrigation away from many of these oak stands on the course, which are now in our walnut shell areas. After consulting with tree professionals we decided that Valley Oaks would be the best native substitute for the Blue Oaks because they can tolerate a turfgrass condition much better. Valley Oaks are similar in size and will blend well with the Blue Oaks in a California native oak woodland and are native to the Sacramento area. Additionally several Valley Oaks have been planted on the course and are doing well.

Struggling transplanted Blue Oak (20 years ago) next
to its Valley Oak replacement.  In the foreground is a
non-native Red Oak planted 12 or so years ago.
We planted a large Valley Oak this week 11/12/13, in front of the dying Blue Oak on the right  of #4 to protect the right side of the hole from the big hitters. Throughout the remainder of the week we placed trees in potential approximate locations on the course keeping in mind we are replacing lost trees along with planting potential replacements for struggling native Blue Oaks and non-native Red Oaks. Additionally there were some Blue Oaks that were required to be transplanted during construction that have have not taken or grown a bit in 20 years and are really struggling  that we we plan to replace.

Planting a 60" Valley Oak as a future protector of
the left hand side of #4

Valley Oak planted in front of the dying Blue Oak on #4

Varying opinions are always part of any new project we embark on here at Granite Bay and tree restoration / planting will be no different. We do want to remain true to original design intent and intend to maintain the the courses integrity as objectively as possible.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall Aeration Progress

The aeration process appears at times like taking a step backwards before we take a bigger step forward. It is definitely one of those necessary evils. The consequences of neglecting aeration must be considered as well as embracing this opportunity to incorporate sand and calcium and seed. Without opening the surfaces up, it is hard to get these very beneficial elements into the soil and refresh some old tired areas with new life in the way of seed not to mention  providing opportunities for air and water to infiltrate the root zone as well as removing excessive organic matter or thatch.

Seed for the Fairways - Too much $$$ to Allow to Dry Out

 One thing that I have neglected to mention in the past is the fall aeration / turf renovation process temporarily exposes turf to the elements making them prone to drying out. Additionally the processes are done in conjunction with turf over-seeding in which it is essential that soil remains damp during seed germination. Therefore the golf course will be wetter then normal during this process. 

  • Tees - Tees were over seeded on 9/16/13 with the exception of the forward pebble tees which needed to be undisturbed for the GBLGA Friendship Cup. All other tees that were over seeded on this date have germinated ryegrass on them and the forward tee which were seeded on 9/20/13 are two weeks behind. Our hybrid bermuda tees will go dormant and brown hence the need for timely over seeding. 

Preparing #3 Tee for Over Seeding

Two Weeks After Over Seeding

Pebble Tee on #4 Awaiting Ryegrass to Germinate

  • Greens - Process went well with very few issues or setbacks. We did not aerate main PG because I thought it would benefit from a week or two with some extra fertility and "thicken up" a little bit before we aerate. We plan to aerate this green on Monday 10/14/13. This coming Monday 10/7/13 we are going to vertical mow X2, seed, apply potassium and a high phosphorus fertility, roll and water all regulation greens along with tilleys and the Chipper. We will roll through this weekend and mow them 7 days after aerated on Tuesday 10/8/13. 
Aerating #9 Green on Tuesday

#2 Green on Thursday Afternoon after Topdressing
and Several Afternoon Brushings

  • Fairways - Completed  core aeration and vertical mowing on 1,2,4,5,6. Completing solid tine aeration, scarifying, vertical mowing on 10 -16 right now. Our intentions were to core aerate, allow cores to dry, process with the scarifyer and sweep and mow. This process proved to be too aggressive  and we had to change it up. Even with  going back to solid tine aeration  the scarifyer or deep vertical mower set at the same depth as it was last year was too aggressive and we had to raise it up. Raising the blades up is not removing as much thatch but it is not damaging areas that are on the dry side and it is making a nice slit for seed and sand. 
Aerating #4 Fairway
Scarifying #10 After Some Adjustments

  •  Next Week - As planned driving range tee, targets, old sandtraps are slated for aeration and over seeding on Monday 10/7/13 as well as the practice area. All week we plan to continue topdressing and seeding fairways along with finishing the aeration of fairway #'s 8-9 & 17-18.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Autumn 2013 is Here

Ever since June 21st 2013, the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, we have been looking forward to Fall Equinox on September 22nd. This 104 day period between the Solstice and the Equinox has always been and will always be the most difficult time of the year for the turf at Granite Bay. I would not consider this summer either an extremely hot summer overall, or a classic mild summer. However it was on the different side. Some weather data examples taken from the weather station here at the course back up my thoughts. Prior to the solstice on June 21st we had a two day mini heatwave where daytime highs hit 103 and 106 that were immediately followed by a high of 84. That's different. We did get hit with a classic heatwave between June 29th and July 5th, seven days of triple digit temperatures with a 107 on 7/5/13 followed by a high of 90 degrees on 7/6/13. A 17 degree swing in one day following a week of intense heat seems different then a typical summer pattern. Lows during this period of time were in the mid 70's and we did record 5 straight days of temperatures over 105. Overall we  recorded 15 days over 100 degrees, 47 days in the 90's and 27 days in the 80's with an average high temperate of 92 and an average low of 62. Maybe not so different, it just seemed that way to me.

#3 Green in full sun at 8:00 AM after tree removal

Installing electrical conduit for greens fan #3

#3 Green

Our #3 green and to a lesser extent the left hand edge of #14 which were damaged during the seven day heatwave in early July. I mentioned the steps we planned an taking to alleviate the chronic problems we seem to experience with #3 in  a previous course update and we have made some pretty good progress on these steps since then. Firstly we have grass on the green which is nice, albeit the green is slower then the rest. We have be reducing the height of cut on the mower that we use to mow the green  over the past couple of weeks and it is almost where the rest of the greens are. (0.140" compared to 0.110") We removed the two trees to the east of the green that were blocking the the morning sun which seemed to make a big difference immediately with recovery and air movement. Additionally we secured capitol funding for a greens fan which is due to be delivered next week. Electrical service for the fan along with the base that the removable fan slides in and out of is in process. The usefulness during severe summer weather has past in 2013 however everything will be in place for next summer although we most likely try it out this winter to prevent frost on this green which is the last one to thaw out.

Air diffusers that are installed in our ponds that will
supply diffused air. Pond at #1&#9 has 6 diffusers
and the pond in front of #3 has 4.

Pond Aeration

Another 2013 project that I have mentioned a few times was the installation  of a aeration system that would supply diffused air to our ponds on #1 & 9 as well as in front of #3. Adding diffused air to these ponds will go a long way to reversing the aging or eutrophication process. Our ponds are 20 years old with a very naturalized design that are predisposed to an accumulation of organic matter settling in these ponds because of the plant material surrounding them. The breakdown of this organic matter rapidly increases the nutrient load in the pond, creating an an environment for floating aquatic weeds such as algae and mosquito fern. The growth of these plants effect water aesthetics and  water quality by removing oxygen crating a cycle of decline.

Mosquito Fern (azolla sp.) in the pond between
#9 & #1.

The aeration system has been operational in the pond in front of #3 for a couple of weeks and there is already a noticeable improvement in water quality and algae reduction. The diffusers and aeration system in the #1 & #9 pond are installed but just awaiting electrical service hook-up. Installation of these systems systems, like the fan on #3,  will be helpful in 2013 but should really be effective when we turn them on first thing in the spring of 2014 and just let them run as designed.

Aeration diffusers in action in the pond
in front of #3

Aeration diffuser compressor awaiting electrical
service activation.

Fall 2014 Course Aeration Schedule

With fall comes playing surface aeration, which the necessity and benefits  have been covered extensively in these Granite Bay Course Updates. If you happen to be reading these updates for the first time and want to catch up, you can click on the Aeration Labels to the left of this update to check out process details and  a good explanation of why we get soft in the summer which is very much related to our Granite Bay aeration philosophy. As we been doing the past few years we have a schedule of alternating front nine and back nine closures to accomplish aeration of the areas of the course that are very difficult to perform properly in the midst of member play. Below is the schedule for fall of 2013.

Week of 9/6/13 - Overseed  Tournament, Granite, Club & Cobble Tees 
Monday 9/30/13 - Overseed Pebble Tees, Aerate Practice Greens
Tuesday 10/1/13 - Aerate 1-18 Greens / Back 9 Open in the AM Only
Wednesday 10/2/13 - Aerate FW's 1-5 / Front 9 Closed
Thursday 10/3/13 - Aerate FW's 10-16 / Back 9 Closed
Friday 10/4/13  - Aerate FW's 17&18 / Front 9 Start. No Alternating Closures
Week of 9/7/13 - Overseed Driving Range Tee & Short Game Area / NO Alternating Closures
Tuesday 10/15/13 - Aerate Front 9 Surrounds / Front Nine Closed
Wednesday 10/16/13 - Aerate Back 9 Surrounds / Back Nine Closed
Week of 10/21/13 - Aerate Front 9 Roughs / NO Alternating Closures
Week of 10/28/13 - Aerate Back 9 Roughs / NO Alternating Closures

Aeration pattern on
putting surfaces.

This schedule could be adjusted because of inclement weather, as these process's have to be conducted during dry weather, or mechanical breakdown which is always a possibility. We will communicate our progress and potential changes to this schedule through the golf shop daily morning update.

De-thatcing fairways as part of the aeration process.

Topdressing fairways.

As always, Thanks for your support and patience.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Club Corp Top Agronomist Visits Granite Bay

Doug Miller, VP of Golf Course Management paid a visit to Granite Bay this week to tour the course and help with strategies for all of the turfgrass issues we have here at Granite Bay including our recent summer stress issues with #3 and #14 greens. Doug's got a pretty cool job. After hes done negotiating with  the major equipment, irrigation, chemical and fertilizer companies securing the best possible pricing for over  100 golf courses in the USA and Mexico, he gets to oversee the overseer's on major golf course renovation and conversion projects. Projects like a club in Philadelphia converting their ryegrass fairways to bentgrass or a club in Atlanta finally giving up on bentgrass greens and going to ultra dwarf bermuda. He sees first hand the newest innovations in golf course maintenance and get to determine over time when and where these innovations work and where they don't. Of course he gets to see a lot of things he'd rather not see like struggling greens and turf  in different regions and climates which allows a perspective and observation database that is invaluable.

Doug Miller, VP Golf Course
Maintenance, ClubCorp

Naturally Doug has been to Granite Bay before but getting him  out here  and spending some extended time in the summer was great because, as we all know, the summer months are when we experience most of our turfgrass issues from weeds to disease and troubled greens. We talked about our  aging fairways and issues with softness and divots in the summer along with encroaching weed issues where we just don't have the selective herbicides available  in CA to remove them. We talked about varying pre-emergent strategies and trends, problems & practices that extend across the nation and how they relate to what we are doing here at Granite Bay. It was great to get that second set of eyes out here especially when they are attached to someone who can help make things happen. 

Stressed Putting Surfaces

After discussing soil tests, pathology reports and weather data Doug and I inspected the #3 green complex. Doug had of course been updated on the greens history, and current conditions and his first impressions were that recovery was in process and the situation improving from pictures he had seen. The first long term  solution he  recommended was a fan. He told me "I was skeptical of fans at one time but in every location where we have installed them they made THE difference. We are adding fans all over the country" The second long term solution he recommended was opening up the area to the left of the cart path where the trees are shading the morning sun from the #3 green. As I have explained in the past, morning sun is the most important sunlight for a putting surface as the they do most of their photosynthesising in cooler morning temperatures particularly in the hot summer months. The USGA has many publications Addressing Shade Issues if you are interested.  Thirdly Doug recommended putting some real  traffic control in place  that cannot be stepped over on  the walk-up and exit of #3 green to prevent unnecessary foot traffic on the area while it is recovering.

# 3 green 7:45 AM  8/2/13. Granted there are many putting surfaces
in the world that have to deal with shade issues and morning light issues.
However this green in this location can use all the help it can get.

When we looked at #14 green along with soil profiles and  Doug's recommendation's were more of the same. Enhance morning sunlight by thinning branches in trees, improve air circulation during hot summer months and if effective traffic control is needed during stress periods, put measures in place proactively. Additionally he recommended some more re-sodding in the extremely bare areas and some surface drainage relief of a potential "collar dam" that is adjacent to the bare patch that potentially could be holding up surface drainage and causing problems. 

A pretty good article from the USGA Green Section entitled Heat Straining Golf Courses covers these exact things Doug brought up and we suspected along with management practices that are employed here Granite Bay, however need to be constantly reviewed particularly before and during stress periods.

Foot traffic control measures put in place around
walk-up to #3 green. Bound to be unpopular but a
necessary evil helping re-establish grass on the green

Directing foot traffic around this area will help
with re-establishment.

Our Plans Moving Forward

Mitch instructed me to gather pricing and submit a capitol request for a stationary fan for our #3 green complex immediately. This process does take some time and by the time it gets approved and installed its usefulness for this summer will have passed but at least it will be in place for 2014 if approved. As I mentioned in the previous update, #3 is an good location for a fan as we might be able to keep its precise location on the east side of the cart path ( exact location is still not determined ) and power is close by. Another good USGA Green Section Article entitled Using Turf Fans In The Northeast is one of many articles detailing turf fan use and their multiple benefits.

Stationary Turf  Fan. Capable of  47,000 CFM covering
170 feet. Removable when not in use. Precise location for
#3 green site yet to be determined.

Additionally we will be doing some extensive tree work to the left of the green with the goal of achieving more morning sun and improve air flow in the area. Effective traffic control stakes and rope are already in place which will help with recovery,  which we will be able to use proactively in the future in smaller sections before the onset of heat stress.

Over the years these trees have grown up and keep #3 in the
shade until mid morning during the heat of summer.
Again, this green can use all the help it can get.
On #14 we will be submitting a capitol request for 2014 for a portable fan that we can use up in that area and move around to different green complexes as needed in the summer months. We will also do some sod work and continue to incorporate seed and fix some of the potential surface drainage areas starting next week. A increased frequency of soil chemistry monitoring  along with tissue testing  on both #3 and #14 is something I plan to do to make sure nutrients and minerals are in balance. 

Portable greens fan we hope to have in place in 2014.


Granite Bay Management, your GCM department and ClubCorp  want our members to be proud of their Club. We also realize that a golf course is in a constant state of change and despite all  of our proactive plans we must reactively deal with the reality of the dynamic nature of the surfaces we play this great game from. Having that support and insight from extra set of eyes this week has been invaluable and I am looking forward to some positive results in these areas that have chronically struggled. 

Thanks as always for your support.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer 2013

Golf courses such as Granite Bay with predominately cool season turf inevitably will have issues in the summer months. Not all summers are the same and 2013 will go down as a warm one to be sure. Thankfully the delta breezes have surrounded the heatwaves and kept things bearable. However starting Saturday 6/29 we experienced 7 days over 102 degrees and from Monday 7/2 we never recorded highs below 105 degrees with low temperatures in the 70's.

                                                  date         low             high
                                                 6/29   73.00 102.54
                                                 7/1     72.72 104.00
                                                 7/2     70.65 105.40
                                                 7/3     77.16 105.48
                                                 7/4     71.42 106.30
                                                 7/5     74.71 106.07
                                                 7/6     69.85 107.10

Number 3 Green

Unfortunately this heatwave in late June and early July took it toll on our precarious #3 green. If I knew the absolute cause of this greens seasonal troubles and hence the remedy to fix it once and for all I would have recommended the solution and we would have done it. I can tell you what we know resulting from soil testing both physical and chemical along with pathology (disease) testing along with all of the options we are looking at moving forward to solve this greens chronic summer decline.

Pathology Testing

The heat heat of course was the impetus for decline but why always this green? It has been a indicator green for disease in the past but I did not suspect disease based on the knowledge of the disease prevention we had in place prior to the heatwave on all of the greens. That being said after the greens decline we sent a pathology sample to a lab to either confirm or rule out a disease infection. pathology report did come back positive for a disease called Take All Patch. We naturally treated for the disease because of the positive diagnosis however this disease is normally associated with new bentgrass greens in cooler weather with a high soil Ph none of which was the case for our #3 green.

Pictures from the lab that are kinda cool to look at if you are a plant pathologist.

Chemical Soil Testing

We do annual soil testing to determine where we are at with soil chemistry. In conjunction with the pathology testing we  did after our issues on #3  we opted to do some more extensive soil testing on not only #3 but #14 and #7 which also incurred some stress during the heatwave. This testing included site specific saturated paste testing which reports what elements are available in the soil to the plants at that time. The saturated paste test indicated, that despite having adequate calcium in the soil determined by standard soil testing, the available calcium in solution is currently low. 

Physical Soil Testing

We did physical soil testing on #3 green last year which test for things like infiltration rates, air and water porosity (pore spaces) along with organic matter content. This testing was done down to the gravel layer above the drainage system of the green. Testing showed substantial progress in the organic matter reduction in the top 3" of the green. The middle section of the green tested good for infiltration  but the very bottom layer of  green next to the gravel layer infiltration rate is slow. 

Irrigation Water Testing

Our situation with water here at Granite Bay is enviable. It cost's us allot less then many courses in our geographical area and substantially less then course nation wide. Our water originates as snow melt from the Sierras and is void of many of the salts and minerals that are present in much of the ground water in the Sacramento region. Its problem is that it is too clean which believe it or not prevents it from infiltrating as well as water that has some sodium or calcium in it.

".....Green #3’s 2nd tier infiltration rate at 42.69 in./hr. and air porosity of 27.85 percent
shows the potential of the underlying root zone mix; unfortunately the 3rd tier infiltration rate at
only 6.92 in./hr. despite a similar OM content & particle distribution highlights the impact of the
ultra pure irrigation water. Treatment of the water and/or soil amendments that emphasize the
replenishment of calcium, bicarbonates, carbonates, salts, etc. will continue to play a key role in
managing the impact of the water." (ISTRC system report GBGC 10/10/12)
We have injected various compounds into the irrigation system keeping our water condition in mind with varying successes. Injecting fertility compounds into the irrigation water have helped supply nutrients to the turf and helped the irrigation water penetrate better but side effects such as the staining of non-turf surfaces and excessive growth has caused us to look at other options such as injecting gypsum as a calcium source

Observations and Conclusions

The location of #3 green is unique to others at Granite Bay. Air movement is limited in the area particularly during high pressure weather systems. This is something that is shared to a lesser extent with #7 and #14. 

The third green easily drys out and  easily gets wet. And when it gets wet it stays wet. Probably a combination of its capacity to drain and limited air movement. During the heat wave it started showing drought stress on the slope in the middle of the green which we of course remedied by watering. The green then got wet, it got really hot, we reacted to the high canopy temperatures by slightly cooling down the green with light applications of water which even though they were light, added to soil moisture and we are right back to where we land most summers with this green.

So what do we do from here?
  • Continue aggressive core aeration in the spring and the fall.
  • Start applying more calcium in  many different forms and methods. Foliar applications, granular applications at aeration and during rain events in the winter to drive the calcium down deep into the soil profile along with injecting calcium into the irrigation water. Further balancing of the soil on this green will help with water management moving forward
  • Continue fine tuning water management. The fine line between too wet and too dry is difficult on this property in general and critical on this green. 
  • Possibly install a high velocity greens fan near the green that will alter the environment during the hot still periods of summer along with helping with drying the surface out. Fortunately we are close to power and have installation locations that can be hidden nicely.
  • Get some drill aeration done in addition to and conjunction with on this and some of our troubled greens.This process drills deeply into the green with little to no disruption helping drainage deep into the subsurface of the green.

  • Do some tree trimming around #3 along with continued trimming around #7 & #14  increasing more morning sunlight on the surfaces which is the most important light a putting surface can have. The walk-on portion of the #3 green is in shade until 10:30 AM at this time of the year. Temperatures can be approaching 90 degrees by then beyond the optimum temperature for putting surface to make food for itself through the photosynthetic process. 
  • Potentially re-build the green. There are allot if issues involved with re-building. Consistency, timing, member inconvenience during the process just to name a few. My greatest concern is not solving the reasons why #3 struggles so consistently during the summer, re-building and have the same thing happen. Doug Miller, director of Golf Course Maintenance for ClubCorp is paying a visit later this month and will be looking at the situation to help us weigh all of our options.
For those of us who take care of Granite Bay this is a very difficult thing to keep going through. We want more then anything to provide the playing conditions our Members want and deserve. We feel progress has been made but overshadowed by the issues on these greens to some extent or another every summer. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

2013 Spring Aeration Progress

After a very dry January, February and March we are finally getting some much needed rainfall and it just happens to be coinciding with our scheduled spring aeration. I have explained on many an occasion that for all of the processes of this job  conditions need to be dry and it almost seems predestined when we schedule aeration it's going to rain. 

These cultivation practices are a necessary evil for turfgrass playing surfaces to maintain the quality we desire. Core aeration is where a core is extracted from the playing surface, picked up and removed, and in the case of greens, a sand topdressing is applied and swept into the holes. This process allows avenues for  necessary air to infiltrate the root system, removes excessive organic matter and relieves surface compaction creating rapid surface drainage. De-thatching is a new process we adopted for our fairways last fall which vertical blades set 3/4" deep remove the thatch which is the culprit of our soft conditions in the summer. This de-thatching or deep vertical mowing is the process that makes the visible lines in the fairways and creates a superior avenue for topdressing sand to work it's way into this thatch layer and dilute it. 

Aerating Greens

Removing Cores

Sweeping in Topdressing

A full inch of rain fell  on Sunday 3/31/13. The course took this amount of rainfall eagerly however conditions were too wet to get started on the practice greens the next day, Monday 4/1. The following day we were planning to finish up with all of the greens but conditions were still wetter then ideal making our process slower then normal. We had a back nine closure scheduled the following day, Wednesday 4/2 and perfect weather so we were able to finish the remaining greens and aerate, de-thatch and cleanup #10, #11, #12, #13 & #15 fairways.

Deep vertical mowing in process. This is the second time
Granite Bay has undergone this process. I feel this is a
superior method to removing thatch or organic matter
from our fairways as compared to core aeration because
of the greater volume of thatch removed, better avenue
of working sand topdressing into the surface and a much
cleaner finished product.

Close-up of the actual blades that cut into the surface 3/4"
deep and bring up the thatch. 

The next day Thursday 4/3 rain had been fore casted but it wasn't raining in the morning at 5:00 AM and we had a scheduled front nine closure. So we went ahead and got started de-thatching and aerating #1 fairway and then it started to rain lightly. It never really poured but it doesn't take much to make a real mess and nearly impossible to mechanically pick up the thatch that is laying on the ground getting wet. We ended up having to remove a  large portion of the extracted  material with rakes and shovels. Good times.

Air in the rootzone is necessary  for fairway playing
surfaces as well so we are punching holes with solid
tines just ahead of the deep vertical mowing process. 

Removing extracted thatch with sweepers, an impossible when wet.

We will get a few fairways done today Friday 4/5, grind out a long day on Monday 4/8 and be right back on schedule weather permitting. We still have two alternating closures next week on Tuesday and Wednesday to core aerate the green surrounds and approaches so by Friday 4/12 we will have completes aeration on all high impact areas that are difficult to do during member play namely greens, fairways, green surrounds and approaches. This completes this job in nine working days utilizing five alternating closures and a completely closed Monday to aerate, de-thatch 3 acres of greens, 28 acres of fairways and 10 acres of green surrounds and approaches. Without the additional 3 alternating closures that we adopted a year ago this same amount of work would have easily consumed 20 working days and an intangible amount of distractions to our members and guests.

Removed thatch waiting to be picked up on
#9 and #12 fairways

Completing these high impact areas by next Friday 4/12 will allow us to work  on tees and rough through the last two weeks of April. These areas are easier to work on amidst  member play as we can shift tee locations around and work aerating and cleaning the rough much easier then fairways and green surrounds.

Removed thatch from fairways. After a few years of composting it can
be returned to the golf course as an organic nutrient source.

Aeration needs to be a scheduled event. We plan events and and associated staffing around aeration in all departments of the club. Members obviously schedule their golfing time around aeration. What I am getting at is we have to set these dates and adjust to the weather that befalls us. With this in mind a collaborative decision between GBGC Management and the Golf Committee to move our spring aeration dates back to the second week in March starting in 2014. The upside's are we will potentially be farther along if not recovered by the end of April which is a much more desirable time of the year for golfing and non aerated playing surfaces. Getting the greens punched earlier and subsequently healed earlier might bypass some of the springtime inconsistencies we can experience with  the poa on our greens "waking up" earlier then the bentgrass. Downsides with earlier aeration scheduling can be a heightened readjustment to the weather as March is historically wetter and cooler then April along with the associated slower recovery. It will be worth a try as it seems like we have to re-adjust to weather conditions to some extent in April anyway. Thank you all for your understanding and support