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!