Friday, November 4, 2016

Golf Course Weekly 11/4/16

Perfect Fall Weather

I have shared many many times about the Fall Equinox being a key time for our golf course and this year above all others have illustrated why we in golf course maintenance look forward to it.  The turf conditions at Granite Bay are currently as healthy as they have been after the summer season and midway into the fall. Part of these conditions are due to added resources in our golf course maintenance program in 2016 that helped to prevent summer cool season turf thinning and losses. Another contributor is the absence of severe drought restrictions this year. However the weather during the month of October has been PERFECT for the recovery and further establishment of cool season turf and again is evidenced by the thick and dense turfgrass conditions we are experiencing. 

Thick conditions on #12 resulting from a perfect storm of seed, rain and mild temperatures.

Rainfall is a large part of the October weather we've experienced this year and the local accumulation is by some accounts historic. The last12 years of  rainfall data accumulated by our own weather station here at GBGC shows we received 5.48" of rain in October, the most we have received in October, ever. This rainfall, combined with earlier in the month aerification, the application of over 8 tons of ryegrass seed and  high temperatures in the mid 70's and lows  in the mid 50's, created the perfect storm for some thick and lush turf. No one is complaining, however it was a bit of a challenge to get the course mowed down and playable prior to the Jones Cup on November 3rd and 4th. Forecast for the first part of November is dry with temperatures remaining in the high 60's and low 70's as well as night time temps in the 50's. This means we have more thick turf in our future but drier and better playing conditions.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Golf Course Maintenance Weekly 10/7/16

Fall 2016 Fairway Aeration

 Linked here is another article from the USGA that addresses Aeration Timing and the perfectly legitimate question of why do "they always aerify the golf course when everything is perfect". Also in the spirit of managing expectations and communicating the hows and whys of what we are doing on the golf course, below is another pictorial covering recent fairway aeration for those interested members. 

Step #1 - Flag sprinkler heads. A HUGE necessity of  the aerification process is avoiding hitting sprinkler heads with the aerifier. We also have to flag yardage markers and drainage inlets so the equipment operator can see them and maneuver around or in most instances lift and lower aerifier over sprinkler head

Step #2 - Aerify the fairway. Above picture is a brand new aerifier that we are using for the first time here at Granite Bay. Very smooth piece of equipment that is designed so tractor tires don't run over wet cores which smash cores into turf which is hard to mechanically pick up.

First pass on #15 fairway. The voids are where the aerifier was lifted over a sprinkler head, yardage marker and / or drainage inlets.
 Step #3 - Dragging aerification cores to break them up. All of the pictures we have been presenting have been taken in daylight. Much of the actual aerification is done in the dark early morning hours so when these cores are removed they are wet. It is imperative that the cores are allowed to dry to a certain extent before we attempt to process and remove. Believe me, we have tried removing the cores directly after they were extracted resulting in a muddy mess that requires more cleanup and an inferior result of mud smashed into the fairway surface. We do turn the water off to a certain degree to mitigate wet conditions, but if the the turf  is overly dry during aerification substantial damage will occur as well.          The need for this necessary drying is what drove the decision years ago to have alternating F9 / B9 closures during the aerification season. 

Step #4 - Vacuuming / Sweeping debris. All of this debris is stockpiled and composted in the nursery green area off of #4 fairway.
Another reason for the alternating closures is this is a noisy, dusty dirty process that is best done without the presence of golfers.
Step #5 - Blowing behind the sweeper to get the surface even cleaner.
Step #6 - Mowing to clean up little tufts that are drug up during the cleanup process.
Step #7 - Broadcasting seed. There are many ways to introduce seed to the turf canopy. Here we are broadcasting seed over the aerified, cleaned & mowed fairway surface ahead of applying sand topdressing. 
Ryegrass in the spreader hopper.
Step #8 - Apply sand topdressing. 
Old Tom Morris. His battle cry was rumored to be " more sand!"

Step #9 - Dragging in the sand topdressing.

After this dragging of the topdressing we normally mow again to even out the playing surface and mow down the tufts created by the drag mat. With all of that seed and sand down we do need to keep things moist to ensure good seed germination. Weather forecast for the next 10 days are for highs in the mid 70's to mid 80's and nighttime lows in the low to mid 50's which is perfect for cool season turf recovery and ryegrass germination. We should be in very good shape by the time Jones Cup rolls around. 

Next week we will finish fairways on Monday and start surrounds  Tuesday on the back 9.  Below I have included the 2016 Fall aerification schedule again for a reference.   Thanks

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Golf Course Maintenance Weekly 10/5/16

Fall 2016 Putting Surface Aerification

A great article on Why Do Golf Courses Aerate is linked here and does a concise job on explaining the whens and whys of aeration of putting surfaces. Below is a pictorial of the process we did yesterday (Tuesday, October 4, 2016) We did have a hydraulic malfunction on the piece of equipment the we use to remove the aeration cores first thing in the morning on #12 green. This will require some re-sodding from our nursery green next week. Other then that, the process went well as interested members can see from the below pictures.

Step #1 - Core aerify. This is the process that removes an actual core of  grass with attached roots and sand. Benefits are removal of excessive organic matter and relief of surface compaction & drainage.

This is what a green looks like when almost completly core aerified ahead of cleanup.

Step #2 -  Core Removal. The above machine is called a core harvester and is a big part of getting all of the greens done in a day here at Granite Bay. This front section corrals the aeration cores into an elevator belt with paddles that......
....... dump the cores onto a cross conveyor that ejects the cores into the back of a workman utility vehicle. We utilize an extra guy to keep the cores from piling up and obstructing the cross conveyer.

Another crucial part of cleanup is to keep the path clear so the core harvester doesn't run over wet plugs smashing them into the turf canopy. 

Step #3 - Apply sand topdressing.

Step #4 - Deep Tine Aerify. We run a separate aerifier over the topdressd surface that does not remove a core but pokes a hole 6" to 8" deep. This helps break up layering that can impede rooting and created a deep channel for air and water. 
Close up of the "VertiDrain" deep tine aerifier.
Step #5 - Apply soil amendments.  When the green is opened up during the above mentioned practices it is a logical time to add soil nutritional products. We usually add organic carbon based fertility, calcium in the way of gypsum and a coated slow release  potassium product.
Step #6 - Brushing in the sand and amendments.  This is a time consuming process that must be done when everything is dry. Time consuming because it does take some doing to get the 6" deep holes from the deep tine aerifier filled. Additionally if this step is done improperly or  in a situation where it is hot you can really experience some bruising and burning to the turf surface. Fortunately yesterday the weather conditions were perfect.
Step #7 - Rolling. This step is repeated for several days and a key to getting the surfaces smoothed out. 

The aerification holes will typically recover in 10 to 14 days and full putting quality can return in 21 to 28 days give or take. We typically like to let sand in the holes settle and then verticle mow and seed along with another light topdressing 6 days after the initial aeration process. Something  that was slightly different this fall is the coring tines we used were longer and we set the machine deeper in an effort to get deeper rooting which has been elusive amongst all of our successes with these putting surfaces. Time will tell. 
Thanks for your support!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Golf Course Maintenance Weekly 9/26/16

The 2016  Fall Equinox occurred last Thursday on the 22nd of September. This day marks the end of summer and ushers in the 90 day fall period which is the ideal a time of the year for growing and recovery of the cool season turf here at Granite Bay.  Fall is the time of the year that the irrigation requirements of the course start to substantially go down and hence the playing surfaces firm up. Additionally it is the time of the year that we can safely start the aggressive cultural practices of turf aerification, topdressing and slit seeding without risking damage.

Mid morning long shadows from the trees on the right hand side of  #1 fairway on 9/22/16, the day of the 2016 Fall Equinox.

We overseeded the tees on the course a few weeks ago. Overseeding our tees is necessary as the base turf in all teeing areas is hybrid bermuda which will turn brown in the winter during dormancy. Overseeding is the process of  slicing and seeding ryegrass into this bermuda before it goes dormant with ryegrass. The ryegrass germinates rapidly during the late summer / early fall and will give us a nice green surface to tee off of this winter. When next summer comes along, the bermuda which loves the heat will dominate the ryegrass then we will start the cycle over again next fall.

Jogi & Miguel spreading seed on a prepared
hybrid bermuda target green in the driving range.

Balander applying sand topdressing to forward target
after seeding prepared surface.

Enrique using the FW topdressor to apply
sand topdressing to overseeded driving range tee.

You probably noticed the tees got a little "hairy" or long a couple of weeks back. That was because after overseeding we allow 14 days for the new ryegrass to germinate and root down before mowing for the first time. When we did mow them for the first time last week, we mowed boxes for a entirely different look for Granite Bay. We still have a little tweaking to do to the new tee box configuration but the look has been well received by the Membership.

New "tee box" on #9

The driving range tee was overseeded this week on Monday 9/26/16 as we needed to have it available for Club Championship the weekend of September 23rd and 24th. We will give the driving range grass tee at least 4 weeks for ryegrass establishment before re-opening  which will bring us to the end of October. In the meantime we will have to use the synthetic tee line mat for practicing at the driving range.

The above course aerification schedule was first published a few weeks ago in these course updates and is worth putting out there arain as the aerification season is upon us. We are going into aerification in pretty good shape so surfaces should bounce back from these cultural practices fairly rapidly. We will be incorporating a lot of seed (10 Tons) during the process into the fairways, green surrounds and rough which will need to remain moist to germinate and establish. The inevitable wet and softness that occurs after aeration as holes are opened, soil exposed and seed incorporated will be short lived. This is because fall weather with its short days and cooler temps creates the best possible growing, recovery and rapid germination weather we could ask for. After the aerification recovery and seed germination occurs we will be able to drastically reduce irrigation and eventually get to the point where we can turn it off. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Golf Course Maintenance Weekly 9/5/16

Resurfacing #9 Tee

We have been resurfacing various tee level's  throughout the course  this season such as Club level's on #7 & #13, Granite level's on #7 & #12, Pebble level's #10 & #17 and Tournament levels on #13. Tees start out flat but become crowned or unlevel over time because of wear and sand topdressing.  Another tee level we wanted to complete this year because of some substantial crowning is the Granite and Tournament level on  #9. Below is a pictorial of fixing this level.

In addition to being crowned this entire tee level points away from the center line of the fairway so we decided to do a little more excavation then a normal re-surfacing. 

After re-locating the sod from the tee on some bad spots on the walk up to #2 tee and below the first tree on the left hand side of #2 fairway we excavating and moving some of the soil on the tee to get the entire level pointing toward the center of the #9 fairway. Additionally we decided to slightly raise the rear tournament creating the customary separation of most of our tee levels se here we are re-locating some dirt to create the raised level. 

Leveling and shaping

Finished grade. We also have been entertaining the idea of making our tee levels into tee boxes. I'll address the process and challenges of this in a separate course update but I personally feel it would be a good look for the club.  It also makes allot of sense to square this one up because of the minor changes we made. 

New hybrid bermuda turf.

Not quite a finished product but a re-surfaced and re-sodded product. The levels have been overseeded, topdressed and fertilized and should adequate for use by the Club Championship on September 23rd.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Golf Course Maintenance Weekly 8/31/16

2016 Fall Overseeding and Aerification Schedule

Twenty two days from today is the beginning of fall marked by an equal amount of daylight and nighttime. We have mentioned many times that this is the time of the year that the cool season turf at Granite Bay thrives and the time that corresponds with the  turf cultivation practices of aerification, de-thatching, inter-seeding and overseeding.  Aerification is when we poke a hole in the turf and remove a small core of grass, thatch and soil. De-thatching is when we run over the turf with machines that have verticle blades that cut a line in the turf removing excess thatch. Inter-seeding is the process of introducing seed into the turfgrass stand using a variety of techniques and methods with the goal of thickening up an areas of turf that have thinned out during the summer season. We will address the specifics of each of these procedures closer to their starting dates but since Overseeding Tees is starting next week we can address some of those details now.

Overseeding is a little different then interseeding. Overseeding is typically done in the late summer early fall to a warm season turf surface such as bermuda to keep it playable during the cooler winter months when the bermuda usually goes straw brown dormant. The tees at Granite Bay are hybrid bermuda which is very durable in the summer months but needs to be over-seeded for winter or they will be brown and more importantly susceptible to wear. Timing on overseeding is important. You need some warm weather to get the seed to germinate quickly but no too hot jeopardizing germination. We consistently start overseeding the tees right after Labor Day which will be next Tuesday 9/6/16. We do not need any course closures or alternating F9 / B9 closures for overseeding tees as we can move tee markers to different levels and work around member play. Below are some pictures of the process.

Not Granite Bay, but a good example of overseeding results. Tees and Fairways are overseeded with ryegrass and rough is not overseeded and allowed to go into complete dormancy.

Above are verticle mower blades which are used to scarify or slice tee surfaces creating a exceptional seed bed for ryegrass to germinate in.

Vertical mowing or scarifying bring up a substantial amount of thatch and organic matter that needs to be cleaned up after the process. After sweeping up the mess (above) we typically mow and then broadcast ryegrass seed.

Ryegrass seed in a spreader.

After applying seed we cover the seed with a sand topdressing.

Timing for overseeding this year will be perfect as our Club Championship will be played two weeks after overseeding. This will give the seed plenty of time to germinate and the tees to be in good shape for the Championship

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Golf Course Maintenance Weekly 8/23/16

Clarification of Cart Scatter Rules

We have had a few members ask regarding our new approach to cart traffic on the golf course so we wanted to clarify our new scatter rule again. "What is this blithering 90 degree rule"  was just one article linked to a google search on the infamous 90 degree rule. It was written by a British golfer when confronted with a 90 degree cart rule in America. Evidently carts are the exception in Great Britain whereas  they are commonplace in America. During this google search I also found as many definitions of "The 90 Degree Rule" as there are golf clubs that post their rules on line therefore not really helpful in acquiring a definitive history of the rule.

One could speculate that the 90 degree rule came into effect sometime after Merle Williams, an early innovator of the electric golf cart, began production in 1951. Because continuous cart paths likely followed the golf cart, it is also easy to speculate that the 90 degree rule came about as club officials observed ill effects of these new vehicles and limited their use in one fashion or another to the rough.

Granite Bay's and many golf clubs definition  of  the 90 degree cart rule  basically was was to  drive along cart path until you are at a 90 degree angle to your ball, then enter the hole to you ball and play it. Next drive back to the rough line and precede to a 90 degree angle to your partner's ball and repeat the 90 degree process eventually exiting the hole to the cart path near the green.

Our observations using this definition of the 90 degree rule was and is: 

1.    For those who observed the 90 degree rule, driving along the rough line created concentrated traffic resulting in extreme turf grass wear and loss along with severe compaction in those areas.

2.   Most people dident observe the rule and entered the hole at a traffic controlled spot (ropes) then drove up the fairway  playing balls along the way and exited near the green.

 One of the main tasks of golf course maintenance is controlling traffic to alleviate concentrated wear, as golf carts are a big component of the game and they do play a part in turfgrass wear. Concentrated traffic will result in  turf grass death therefore spreading out the traffic to avoid these concentrated traffic areas is essential, and was the main problem with our original 90 degree rule directing travel along the edge of the rough. Ideally cart traffic should then be spread out or scattered on the course avoiding at all cost this concentrated traffic.  In a sense our scatter rule is a controlled version of what we observed most golfers doing anyway and  a different way of saying carts allowed on the course or what many have understood industry wide to be the meaning of the 90 degree rule. So here is what we think is the best way to not concentrate golf cart traffic which commonly end in turf grass death.

1. Use Cart Paths Whenever Possible

We are stating the obvious here, but the more cart traffic on the concrete cart paths, the less wear and compaction on the turf grass playing surfaces.

2. Enter At or Beyond the Green Stakes

The green stakes are an indicator of the starting point on where we would like carts to enter the golf hole. There is absolutely no harm in entering after the green stakes  say 90 degrees from your ball as this does not produce concentrated wear which is the main thing we are trying to prevent with all of our traffic control measures.

3. Exit Before or At the Red Stakes

Exiting the turf back to the path needs to happen before or at the red tipped stakes. We do not want cart traffic close to putting surface or putting surface surrounds.


4. Please be Patient with Seasonal Cart Restrictions

Seasonal cart restrictions are necessary during wet weather in the winter months and extremely hot weather in the summer months to protect the turf. We are blessed with a golf course that drains well after a rain and carts can get back on it relatively quickly even after a significant rain event. We have gone to roping some select holes where we asses the unique  natural concentrated traffic patterns ( example #10 in above picture) to be so damaging that roping off for extended periods of time has proven to be a successful practice.  ( Does everyone remember what the above area used to look like in the summer before current traffic control measures?)