Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Winter Solstice

Wednesday 12/21/22 is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and considered the beginning of winter by some, or midwinter by others, because every day forward logs an additional minute or so of daylight. Nighttime versus Daylight will still dominate our days until March 20, 2023 where we will experience the Spring Equinox where the  length of our day's and night's will be equal. 

These dates are helpful for us to follow in that we can plan for changes that affect how the turf  can be cultured and will react to golf course maintenance practices. For example adding a minute of daylight and the solar radiation it provides every day starting December 21st means that moving forward we will be getting that much closer to our Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda fairways waking up. Watching the seasons go hand in hand with watching the weather as they are perpetually linked and affect everything we do to prepare golf playing surfaces for our Members. 

Winter Solstice Sunset at Stonehenge, Wiltshire England.

Drainage Work

In a previous course it was mentioned that the need to install surface drainage in flow lines of fairways is very common after new construction. All of the surface drainage installed on the old fairways was either destroyed or buried during renovation and is no longer functional. And it became very obvious once we started irrigating last year where the new surface drainage was necessary.

We installed surface drainage on hole #'s 10, 4,8,12, throughout the summer to name a few. This week we are installing some more drains on #12 up towards the green. Look for more of this to take place this winter and into 2023.

New surface drainage being installed on #12 fairway between front two bunkers. Aerial view shows scale and length of this first drain on #12. 


As we all know, the golf course at Granite Bay went through drastic changes in 2021, and 2022 was an extension of those changes as we grew in the new turf and fine tuned maintenance practices on the new golf course. Some of the  changes were structural increases in turf areas. Besides the fairways converting to warm season Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda, they grew in size by 20% from 25 acres to 30 acres. The putting surfaces grew in both aggregate size by 30% as well as numbers from 21 greens to 23 greens.

 We  decreased our total  bunker square footage by 28% and went from 77 total sand bunkers to 67 sand bunker's. However the maintenance requirements and man-hours for  our new bunkers with more intricate scalloping edges and shapes is more then the older versions as edge trimming is more involved and we hand rake them rather then using a mechanical rake. 

We confirmed that we have some work to do on the irrigation system facilitating the need to water our new warm season Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda independently of our cool season Tall Fescue rough. And we also confirmed that continued sand topdressing and drainage work on these new fairways will give us the fast, firm & sustainable fairways we have yearned for here at Granite Bay for quite some time. 

We tied up quite a few loose ends from the 2021 renovation in 2022 as well, including supporting Diamonds Golf's return to the course to finish up water feature work on #12 and tie up some loose ends of their own. It was indeed a busy year including recruiting new GCM employee partners to get all of this work done. We appreciate all of the support we received during this time from the Granite Bay Golf Club Membership 

Thank You

The Granite Bay Golf Club Golf Course Maintenance Staff would like to again thank the Granite Bay Membership for their generous contribution to the employee partner holiday fund in which our staff are beneficiaries. Additionally we would like to Thank You for your support of our efforts in 2022. Cleaning up after 2021 was a undertaking and we couldn't have done it without your patience and  support. 

We would also like to wish You and Yours, from all of us in  the Granite Bay Golf Club Maintenance Department, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Weather Considerations

The sport we love is played outside on a living, breathing plant and weather will always play a big part in golf course conditions, as well as golf course maintenance practices. Weather in our part of the world can be somewhat predictable spring and fall, and less predictable summer and winter, and the unpredictable extremes of summer and winter and how they effect the turf is what we are always trying to mitigate.

 Measures such as  changing the grass type, or adding sprinklers, or applying products to prevent disease, or slow growth, or coerce the plant into staying green, it goes on and on. Many times these measures are successful in providing more consistent & aesthetic playing surfaces, many times weather wins out. 

How weather effects the course is not an excuse we use for varying conditions, it's a reality and a part of the game's charm. Upcoming pictures highlight recent GBGC weather related events as well as some our our weather related planning tools highlighting how weather tracking and data  is important in the day to day planning of golf course maintenance operations that ultimately affect course conditions. 

The recent storm of 12/9/22 - 12/12/22 brought only 2-1/2" of rain but some pretty fierce winds that brought down this 100' Digger Pine to the right and below of the sixteenth green. Dan Becker reports it has been leaning progressively a little more every year towards Linda Creek below it. Couple pictures below one an idea of the scale of the tree. It fell in a tricky location and will take us some time to process it and get it removed. This is a great example of a weather event unexpectedly affecting the golf course maintenance operations.

Frost delays are not super charming, but a common weather related consequence in the winter months. We are experiencing  more freezing days this year then the past few winters.

Predicting Weather & Making Plans

None of us have to rely exclusively on local weather broadcasts any longer to get our weather forecasts and data  as all weather information and much more is available at our fingertips.  

Its a way of life in golf course maintenance to be looking at the 10 day forecast several times every day, particularly in the winter and the summer. Weather forecasts are one of the main planning tools we use to determine all sorts of tasks for  the upcoming day and week from frost delays in the winter  to hand watering in the summer. 

We also try to look at long range forecasts to get an idea of what might be coming a little farther down the road. I like the Weather West website authored by Daniel Swain. He doesn't post on his website or social media unless he sees a significant change, most of the time before any other forecasters.  Weather drives allot of  planning decisions in golf course maintenance, so attempting to stay ahead of it is helpful.

 Mr. Swain has gained notoriety most recently with his co-
authorship of the scientifically published Climate change is increasing the risk of a California megaflood.  

A synopsis of Mr. Swains  scholarly article entitled    Climate change makes catastrophic flood twice as likely contained this picture from the 1862 flood.

Most of us are aware of the ongoing California Drought and the how it effecting all of us. The  State Department of Water Resources is the clearing house for all data collected  about water in California, and frequently updates the many graphs like this one of Folsom Reservoir (FR). FR is the source of the water that we irrigate the golf course with and  as well supplies fresh water for most of the residences in the area. With the recent December rainfall, the current trend line is starting to make an upward turn towards normal. I look at this graph at this time of year as the reservoir starts to fill as it is lifeblood of our operation.

I also look at this Snow Accumulation chart  after storms to get an idea of the real water storage mechanism in State, which is snow in the mountains.  The overall  213% of normal through mid December is a good start, but we have a long way to go and if the past two water  seasons are harbingers, this snow could dissipate as quickly as it arrived. Lets hope that is not the case.

One big picture trend that seems to be continuing is the lower snow accumulation in the Northern Sierra which has the largest reservoir in the State, Shasta. The 5000 foot difference between the Trinity Mountain Range that feeds Shasta, versus the higher Sierra Nevada's that feed's Folsom  and many of the smaller reservoirs in the middle of the state, is making a big difference in snowpack  during the drier, warmer winters we have been experiencing.

Granite Bay Golf Club has a weather station pin high and to the left of  the #12 green and can collect  and store site specific weather data use for historic tracking, planning and calculating site specific Evapotranspiration Rate or ET used to calculate irrigation replacement. This chart shows the accumulation of  18 years of GBGC rainfall data. This GBGC rainfall data is only relevant for our purposes. Snow in the mountains, Folsom Reservoirs  level, long range prognostications from weather scientist's, all posses more relevant weather planning data. 

Another weather related app that we use is called Sun Seeker. This cell phone app is a solar tracking and a compass that is very helpful for golf course operators to help determine the scope of  tree pruning and thinning. The app is a good tool to sell the necessity of tree thinning and pruning. Trees admittedly are an integral part of a parkland style golf course such as Granite Bay,  but the shade cast by them is one of the main detriments to quality turf. 

Screenshot of the Sun Seeker app in use on #13 green.


I'm stating the obvious that weather plays a significant role in the game of golf. It drives golfers decisions to play or not to play and it's considerations play a part in everything we do in golf course maintenance.  We cant do anything to change the weather, but we can plan for it, and around it, both short and long term. I like the adage "plan your work and work your plan" at the same time "dont worry about what you dont have control of". 

The Weather Outside Is Frightful, But The Fire Is So Delightful....   Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2022

Winter Conditions at The New Granite Bay

Last year in 2021 we re- opened the golf course  in October after a major renovation. The eight month project included re-surfacing the  greens, tees & fairways, converting the fairway turf from a cool season assortment  grass to a singular stand of warm season Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda, as well as  completely re-designing & re-building the bunkers.  The  golf course was still being grown in the winter following this re-opening in October 2021, and therefore was not a great example of a typical winter. Additionally we were cart path only through the entire winter into the spring of 2022, and the rain year was historically dry, highlighting this unusual first winter.

Fast forward to today to our first typical winter, and what we can expect as we move through it into the spring of 2023 and beyond. The winter season's declining daylight hours & solar radiation, along with lower overall temperature's, frosty mornings and potential rainfall all cause turf grass growth to slow down in the transition zone that our area resides. All of the pictures below highlight this, and also tell the story of what we might expect moving forward in the winter with the new Granite Bay.

Good graphic on where we live and the challenges of turf grass management in a true transition zone where there are distinct seasonal differences that can support both cool and warm season turf. 

Our new greens are now 100% creeping bentgrass just like what they started with in 1994. Creeping bentgrass in my experience acts like both a warm season grass and a cool season grass in our climate. It is less susceptible to summer heat then our previous poa / bent greens but slows way down in the winter when days are short and temps are low. The reason why they are generating the speed they are right now  is because the bentgrass is hardly growing and we are hardly irrigating them. When temperature's warm up spring through fall, creeping bentgrass starts to actively grow and  performance depends on the culturing practices of mowing, rolling, sand topdressing etc. In the winter we just mow them and they are off to the races. 

What To Expect In The Winter With Our New Greens: Expect the speed to continue as they wont start actively growing again until early spring. The down side to minimal growth is ball marks will not repair themselves as rapidly. Ball marks have been an issue with these new greens since we opened in October of 2021. Its every players responsibility to properly repair their ball mark after hitting the green.

Our new fairways are 100% warm season Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda. The best is yet to come on these fairway's as we continue to culture and sand topdress them. This grass thrives in the hot summer and fall months, slows down in the late fall, and stops growing and goes dormant in the winter. It wakes up in the spring and starts the cycle over again. Even though it stops growing in the winter, hybrid bermuda can be a very good playing surface, particularly when it is not getting allot of rain. This dormancy that Hybrid bermuda will experience like all bermuda grass is one of the perceived disadvantages, as it not only stops growing but can turn brown. We have treatments that can mitigate the color scenario but can do nothing about it's growth interruption.

What To Expect In The Winter With Our New Fairways: Both of the above pictures are examples of  our new warm season Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda Fairways right next to our cool season Tall Fescue Rough in early December 2022. Color is still pretty good in part because of our choice of the  Santa Anna variety, and in part because of bi-weekly pigment and iron treatments. We will continue these type of treatments every other Monday, but as we progress into the depth of winter in January expect a browner shade of green. The sharp definition of cool season Tall Fescue on the fairway / rough edge will provide a crisp contrast. Additionally,  the puffiness of the fairways are a result of our raising the height of cut on the fairways prior to their slowing growth habit. This was recommended to us as a best management practice for bermuda fairways in the winter because if they are too short and go dormant, the turf can get worn down to dirt from cart and everyday activity. 

What To Expect In The Winter With Our New Fairways (part 2): Above picture shows an unfortunate reality of dormant bermuda, lack of divot recovery. These divots will recover rapidly once the fairways wake-up in the spring but until then, they will be  filled with sand.

What To Expect In The Winter With Our New Fairways (part 3): These pictures were taken in early December 2022 and closely depict both the puffiness from raised height of cut and gray-green color the Santa Anna takes on in the winter. You can also see remnants of the green pigment treatment we applied to help reflect the green chlorophyll still remaining in the plant. Some of the bermuda course's in the south and desert that do not overseed but use turf paint and apply it to their fairways providing a green color on the straw brown bermuda. We have opted, at least for now, to use the above mentioned pigment and iron,  ceding the bright green look for a more natural grey - green  winter color. Expect the fairways to continue to go off color but hopefully remain a shade of grey - green and  still framed nicely by the distinct green of the Tall Fescue Rough.

Our tees were all re-surfaced with Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda like the fairways, but many levels are just too small to get through the winter without  being overseeded. Therefore we did overseed our tees this fall but purposely at a medium / light rate so the overseed would not be overly competitive with the Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda when it awoke in the spring. We will have to see how this strategy plays out this winter, and adjust accordingly next season if necessary. Additionally as I've mentioned in previous updates, bermuda in general does not like shady conditions and the course has an abundance of shade from trees particularly in the winter months when the path of the sun is at a lower angle.

What To Expect In The Winter With Our New Tees: Many of our tees have always struggled in the winter months. Turf growth slowing down, small tee levels and shade associated with many levels are all a bad combination for success and unfortunately our 2021 renovation didn't universally address this issue. More tree pruning to mitigate shade issues as well as construction of new additional tee levels are all on the table for future improvements.

What To Expect In The Winter With Our New Golf Course:
A little frost, hopefully allot of rain for the big picture, and some clear weather in between so you can enjoy the Oasis & Home Away from Home that is Granite Bay Golf Club as described in some recent surveys. 

We in GCM want to thank our Members for all of your support and hope you all are having a great start to this Holiday Season! The Best Is Yet To Come!

Friday, November 18, 2022

Fairway Drainage & Traffic Control

 Fairway Drainage

Last week we received 1.5" of much needed rainfall here at GBGC and lets hope we get more as we move into the rainy season here on the west coast. The amount of rain in a short period time exposed some drainage patterns on the golf course that needed immediate attention, namely the very front portion of #4 fairway. There are, and will be other areas that will need surface drainage installed which is very normal for new fairways that have undergone the renovation and turf conversion ours have. 

Trenching for drainage on Monday 11/14/22. We trenched and installed 300' of surface drainage which involves trenching a 12"- 6" deep trench,  6" wide, remove the soil, add 1"-2" gravel, install 4" perforated drainage pipe tied into existing sub surface drainage system, bury with gravel 1" from top of trench, add sand to top, replace removed sod.

We dont point out enough one of the main issues with all turf at Granite Bay is we are growing grass on top of, in many cases, a decomposing rock. This photo illustrated this realty. The white area is a granite rock that we had to saw through to install the drainage. These type of conditions exist through the soil profile here at Granite Bay.

The finished product after sod replacement and some sand topdressing. Members playing the course had some fun with this drainage work as well as we dident quite finish the 300' of drainage on Monday, so we moved all tee blocks forward 100 yards onto a flat spot in the fairway on Tuesday and Wednesday  so we could finish the work and stay out of everyone's way.

Traffic Control

I know we all wish it were not so, but  reality is golf cart traffic  is hard on a golf course. Therefore is is incumbent on golf course maintenance to develop and execute a golf course traffic control plan that fits the club and protects the turf. Our goal is to elevate our current traffic control protocols in the coming months so we can further protect the course from golf cart traffic.

I would like to thank all of the members who are diligent in following the cart traffic rules we have in place such as entering and exiting through the traffic gates and staying on the cart paths when the hole is closed. During the recent seeding of the course we used signs indicating holes that were cart path only with very good success. Most members and guest abided by the restrictions and we had a successful rough seeding in part because of it. 

Restricting cart traffic on two holes for a week at a time is a traffic control measure we have contemplated doing for quite awhile. We started this past week with cart path only restrictions on #'4 & #17 using the multiple sign approach used for seeding to inform players.  Par 3's are a no cart traffic zone already, so by  adding the additional two holes, members will be able to use carts on twelve holes on the course at any given time and theoretically every par 4 & 5 hole will get a break from cart traffic for one week out of six. The plan is to restrict cart traffic on one hole on the front nine, and one hole on the back nine for a week then rotate to two more the following week. We'll see how it goes.

We are committed to the 2 hole rotating cart traffic closures using multiple signs along paths to inform members, therefore will be updating our signage in the near future.

Ropes and stakes are a big part of traffic control. Additional changes in the traffic control arena is we are gravitating toward these 12" stakes rather then the 18" previously used. 

Gates for entering and exiting the the golf hole will still be used.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Overseeding & Irrigation

Driving Range Tee Overseeding

After a rainy beginning of the week we were able to overseed the driving range tee on Thursday 11/10/22 as planned. As I mentioned in the previous course update, we are a little late in getting seed down on this tee and it will take some time, likely several weeks, before we can use it again. If we opted not to overseed this tee, we would not be using it again until the Hybrid Bermuda came out of dormancy and filled in voids in the spring. This overseeding will give us the option of using the tee to some extent this winter, however until it is ready we will be on mats. 

We plan to transition out the cool season overseed in the  late spring / early summer months allowing the Hybrid Bermuda base to excel without competition all summer and fall.

GCM spreading seed on the prepared Driving Range tee on Thursday morning 11/10/22.

Sand topdressing on top of the seed

Dragging in the sand topdressing

Supplemental Irrigation Install Begins

I have mentioned on several occasions in our course updates recently about the crucial need for irrigation infrastructure that can irrigate our new Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda Fairways independently of our new Tall Fescue Rough. We started this week on what will be the long process of this retrofitting our current irrigation system to accomplish this necessity. I'm going to write and talk allot about this process as we proceed, as it is critical to our success moving forward. Until then, a few pictures are worth a thousand words.

The first dirt to be moved in what will be a lengthy endeavor to retrofit our irrigation system with the ability to deliver the very different irrigation needs of our cool season Fescue and warm season Hybrid Bermuda as independently as possible. We started here on the bunker of #8 because it is one of the worst areas on the course where the Fescue adjacent to  the steep banks of the bunker faces orientated to the southwest really struggle in the summer. If we irrigated to meet the demands of the Fescue around the bunker, the Hybrid Bermuda around the area will get soft which is one of the main reasons we changed to Hybrid Bermuda, namely firm playing conditions and water savings. 

Its allot of work to add a dozen or so little pop-up sprinklers to an area, but it will be worth it. Above picture depicts the scale of this work well after layout and trenching. However by Friday you'll hardly be able to tell we were there. Prior to the 2021 renovation we did have small pop-up heads around the bunkers that were removed during construction of the new bunkers last summer. The nature and pace of the project dident allow for these small sprinkler's to be replaced at that time, although we knew we would have to at some point, so here we are. Again this is just the beginning of this retrofit.


After trenching and plumbing new irrigation lines it is important to compact the soil so there no settling under the sod. 

Above depicts a trench section that has already been compacted over the new plumbing, fine graded and ready for sod replacement

End result is is a pop-up sprinkler that will add supplemental irrigation to the steep cool season Fescue banks independent of the irrigation heads watering  the adjacent Hybrid Bermuda. The big "golf course" sprinklers that water the large scale areas will still apply  irrigation to these Fescue areas, but these new pop-ups will add extra water to an area that needs extra water. This allows us to reduce the time of  irrigation with the big heads keeping the Hybrid Bermuda drier, firmer and happier, and supplement  extra irrigation where it is needed on these steep cool season Fescue banks with these pop-ups.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Overseeding Tee's

Our teeing surfaces have a base of Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda on them,  just like the fairways, including the driving range tee. The Hybrid Bermuda growth habits have already started to slow down with the advent of fall and will continue to do so as we transition into winter. Our plan is to never  overseed the fairways as dormant bermuda can be a very good playing surface. We have some things we can do to keep the fairways aesthetically green, however at some point the recovery of divots and growth in general will cease altogether until the hybrid wakes up again in the spring.

The decision to not overseed fairways  is becoming very common on warm season golf courses for a multitude of reasons. But for our tees at Granite Bay, its not really an option, because of the overall size of our teeing areas and the activity they get all winter long. 

The new tees on the golf course were overseeded last year but we did not overseed the driving range tee because of its youth at the time. Last week we overseeded the golf course tees on Monday 10/24/22 which is a little late in the season. However we did not overseed the driving range tee because of Jones Cup the following week on 11/3 through 11/4.

Even though it is even later for the driving range tee, we plan to overseed it this coming week of November 7. Unfortunately, or  fortunately depending how you look at it, we have rain forecasted for  Monday 11/7/22 when we are closed, so will likely not be able to do the work then. Next forecasted clear day is Thursday 11/10 so we will tenitively plan to overseed the tee that morning.

 Bottom line, timing of the driving range tee overseeding will be weather dependent and we will do it at the very next opportunity as time is of the essence. We will communicate through the golf shop morning e-mail the precise morning we plan on doing the overseeding. Range will be closed the morning of overseeding and we will be using mats until the new seed establishes properly which will take a bit longer then if we were to have overseeded in early October. 

Driving range tee picture taken in the morning on 11/3/22. Color is still good but the turf is not recovering from use as the days of fall are much shorter and temperature's are much cooler.

Close-up of the divot patterns which are not recovering. If we have any hope of using the tee this winter we have not choice but to overseed it. And because we are doing the overseeding process late. we likely wont get on it to use  the grass until sometime in December. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Tall Fescue Rough Establishing Nicely

 It seems a little longer, but it was just  a little over a month ago that we started aggressively aerifying our primary rough followed by a substantial seeding of the areas with Tall Fescue. The seeding process was a great success as we experienced rapid germination and establishment throughout the golf course. Thanks for enduring cart restrictions & ropes & signs & and wetter then ideal conditions. These restraints and nuisance's were necessary to achieve the results we are currently watching unfold before our eyes. 

Cooler weather is on the horizon which will allow us to further cut  back the irrigation on these new seedlings. The most mature seedlings are just  twenty days old on the front nine and just two weeks old on the back nine. Therefore we are still going to ask cart operators to use the gates to enter and exit the golf holes and when driving on the hole we'll ask that you drive on the fairway turf only. This will go a long way to helping this turf establish and mature further. 

On Monday 10/24/22 we will be overseeding the tee tops. We are not planning on an aggressive procedure so the only thing members will notice this week is a little extra sand. Next week and beyond you will notice the new fresh seedlings, which will be the turf we will be teeing off of all winter long.

Enjoy some current pictures below and thanks again for your efforts in helping get our primary rough recovered from summer setbacks. 

A lot of fescue seed was sliced into established rough which we will continue for the next few Septembers & Octobers in an attempt to convert all of our rough into a more heat and drought tolerant tall fescue stand of turf. 

tall fescue coming up in the bank behind #4 tee. This fescue was seeded into a hybrid bermuda bank  so we will see how the two co-exist. 

We aggressively seeded the rough edge just adjacent to the fairway line to give us really good definition for winter. The new hybrid bermuda fairways will change and start to go into dormancy  the further we go into winter. We do plan to apply iron and pigments, not paint, which will  keep them a green color. The very defined contrast of bright green rough next to the olive green will be much better this year compared to last because of this focused seeding

I've been writing so much about the seeding of the rough as of late, I neglected to mention we raised the height of cut on the fairways in preparation for winter several weeks ago. This is a best management practice on hybrid bermuda providing a much better surface for winter play. If you continue to mow the hybrid bermuda at low heights and cold weather arrives, and the hybrid bermuda stops growing, we can run the risk of of thin and bare turf areas all winter long until the growing season starts again and the hybrid can grow out of it. Granted, you'll get not as much roll in October but something to play off  of in January & February.

Close-up of the higher height of cut, only 1+ year old Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda.

Another look at the hybrid bermuda with a raised height of cut.

#3 Tee after overseeding and watering in  of the associated seed and topdressing.

Close-up of the tee turf on #3 Tee after overseeding and topdressing.