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.