Friday, August 25, 2023

Seeding The Rough

The cool season turf in our roughs has thinned and struggled in many areas of the course this summer, which is nothing new, but nonetheless disappointing. Our 2021 renovation didn't address the rough other then turning off the irrigation for months and driving on them with heavy equipment. Irrigation of the rough resumed in phases as we started watering fairway sprigs which revived some of the sturdiest rough turf like common bermuda. However much of the bare earth sprouted weeds such as Common Purslane which we never combatted here before 2021 and continue to combat into 2023.

Common Purslane at GBGC.
All parts are edible. It has a slightly salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, North Africa, The Middle East, Asia & Mexico."
(wikipedia - portulaca oleracea).
GCM staff uses it in salads. Our current strategy is to hand pull the areas where we have heavy infestation. Yours truly has been therapeutically leading the charge on removal, and been getting 10 to 20 gallons per day for the past couple weeks although I haven't tried it in my salad.

When fall of 2021 finally arrived and we reopened the course from renovating, we were in the process   of seeding the rough with Tall Fescue and followed up that seeding with another in the fall of 2022. The choice of Tall Fescue, a hardier cool season turf, was made because of the treelined style of our course and associated shade which the new hybrid bermuda fairway turf would not be able to thrive in, and the cool season fescue could.  Our strategy and hope was that by just getting this hardier and more heat tolerant Tall Fescue established in the rough, we would solve many of our issues. Nothing like a Granite Bay summer to produce a reality check. Heat and difficult soil is a bad combination and cool season turf is still cool season turf, and will now and  always be the weak link at Granite Bay in the summer. If we do not do the right things in the right season to our cool season rough such as  core aeration in the spring, we are likely to experience the same results. We have much more to do, but first things first. Recovery.

We are getting started with seeding into our rough a little early this year.  Typically, we wait until the weather cools down near or after the fall equinox on 9/23/23 to start seeding, but we wanted to get started earlier to hasten recovery in the thin areas of our rough. This is also due to the hardiness of the tall fescue variety we are trying to convert our roughs to. Our observations are that it comes up quickly but takes some time to establish so we hope that the warmer weather of late summer early fall will help with this establishment. It's a bit of a gamble, as there is still summer to be had, and our soil temperatures are a little higher than ideal for Fescue germination, but fingers crossed we could be on our way to recovery by the equinox. 

Triwave Seeder seeding  thinned out rough on #12 the morning of Thursday 8/24/23.

The great thing about the Triwave Seeder is that it is minimally invasive to the existing stand of turf  which is ideal as the plants that have survived summer will and are starting to thrive with shorter days and cooler nights and will be apart of the recovering turf stand. 

Closeup of the slicing of the Triwave Seeder through existing turf and the little to no damage created by the seeder.

Cart Restrictions Return

We have not had any cart path restrictions since June purposely so The Membership could fully enjoy the golf course this summer. As we start to seed, we will have to return to  cart restrictions on certain holes to keep cart traffic from hindering new seed germination and establishment. We will close the individual holes utilizing the hole closed signs. On holes that have not been closed we plan to vigorously promote the use of the entrance & exit gates and  driving exclusively on fairways as the  fairway turf can handle the traffic and the newly seeded rough cannot. Many members are already following this protocol, so a push to get even further compliance will pay dividends in the recovery of our cool season rough. 

Holes closed during seeding will be identified in AM e-mail communication from the golf shop as well as our cart path only signs.

Original overhead description of utilizing the gates to both enter and exit the hole and drive exclusively on the fairway turf  while our rough is recovering this late summer through the fall.

Non-Negotiable Rough Aeration

Its easy to neglect the rough in the springtime when there is a myriad of things to do on the golf course and the rough seems pretty good. And springtime core aerating and culturing is very time consuming and typically hindered by weather, so the job stretches out. But summer is coming, and the reality is that the springtime aeration and cultural practices to the rough as well as some irrigation infrastructure improvements are essential to mitigating cool season turf losses and mediocrity of our rough in the summer. Non-negotiable aeration doesn't mean we have to close the golf course, just limit cart traffic on the holes we are working on, a few holes at a time. More importantly it means that it must be done no matter how many projects we have on our plate. GCM can do multiple things at a time, but moving forward, putting off or skipping springtime core aeration of our rough has to be a non-negotiable. 

Refreshing Bunker Sand

We started some Bunker Sand Refreshing back in May and have picked up where we left off targeting the completion of the greenside bunkers. We still have to re-fresh sand in  the greensides on #2, #14, #15 & #17. The timing of the refreshing has been somewhat contingent on sand delivery which is coming all the way from Idaho. Below are some pictures of recent progress.

White gold in the parking lot.

Adding new sand to rear bunker on #15.

Spreading the new sand on #17.

Tire packing the sand in #15 with a sand pro.


I've said it before that golf courses are a dynamic, living and breathing thing that we play a game on. Summers come and summers go yet they always leave a mark on most to all of our regional golf courses in one degree or another,  and likely always will. I've experienced 15 of them here at Granite Bay and we are no exception. But I still believe that the best summers are yet to come for Granite Bay and I couldn't have said that before 2021. Onward, Forward.

Thank You For Your Support

Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Dog Days of Summer 2023


Here we are again, The Dog Days of Summer at Granite Bay. The "Dog Days", as the ancient Romans called this period of time, was not about the weather being unfit for a dog, but an astrological event where the Sirius "Dog Star" and associated constellation rises with the sun for 40 day's in early July through mid August. The ancients believed the extra heat experienced during this stretch was the combination  of  heat produced by The Dog Star and The Sun's close proximity. But science tells us the dog days are the result of the earths tilt in the Northern Hemisphere related to the sun, where the angle of the suns rays hit our part of the world more directly,  and for a longer period of time. 

The Dog Days and summer in general have always taken its toll on GBGC, but if one is to be fair and search ones memory of past summers here, you would have to come to the conclusion that we are better in the summer now since we converted fairways to Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda. However since our cool season rough encompasses more of the golf course then our new warm season fairways, we are still susceptible to summer heat and 2023 is no exception. 

Collar Sod Replacement

One of the areas on the course that did take a hit this summer was some of our collar sod. Whether it struggled, thinned and in some cases died from any combination of heat, bad soil, lack of moisture, too much moisture, vehicle and foot traffic, bad luck, it ended up dead. And no amount of seeding will bring it back quick enough, so we are in process of re-sodding portions of the collars.

GCM staff re-sodding walk-up collar on #3.

There are some challenges with re-sodding parts of  our collars. During 2021 construction, a tall fescue blend of sod was chosen as the collar sod to hold back the encroaching Santa Anna into the newly seeded greens which was a real issue at the time. Tall Fescue was chosen for its heat tolerance, and it is, despite our current losses,  more heat tolerant then other choices such as ryegrass. However tall fescue sod  is not commercially produced at the lower heights of cut that we maintain our collars at, so we have to install the taller sod 1/2" deep and sand topdress the difference so when we eventually mow the sod down to match our current collar's level, we dont mow the Turfgrass Crown of the individual grass plants that make up the new sod and kill them. Therefore we have to slowly  bring the height of cut down as the new sod roots into the soil  as well as continue to topdress the aforementioned 1/2" gap. This will take some time so the new sodded areas will be painted as GUR so golfers can get relief from the taller replaced collar sod.

Completed collar replacement will be marked GUR for awhile as it roots down and establishes. 

Recent Drainage Installation

Our recent fairway aeration and topdressing in late July exposed some fairway drainage work, that although we knew existed, we believed  necessary to repair sooner rather then later. Therefore shortly after aeration we installed 100' of surface drainage in #15 in one location  and almost 500' on three separate locations on #9. We still have more topdressing to do to smooth these areas out and will continue to do so until the areas blend with existing fairway turf. 

GCM staff installing surface drainage on #9 FW.

Shortly after installation. The work is serving its purpose moving water off of a low areas in the fairway. Subsequent topdressing's and sod establishment will rapidly make tis go away at this time of the year as hybrid bermuda loves the heat.

Minks Getting Established

Mink sightings on the course are becoming more and more numerous. Michele McCormick, frequents the course on closed Mondays capturing nature through her spectacular photography. On a recent Monday she got the below shot of a Mink swimming in the pond between #1 and #9. Recent sightings by GCM staff included a small family of four minks sticking their heads up through the rocks in front of #3 green as well as numerous sightings of them running along those rocks, and another chasing a goose off of #10 fairway early in the morning. They could have had something to do with our missing baby swans and perhaps are another reason why geese are not overnighting on our ponds. Additionally, and this is just an anecdotal observation on my part, but I dont notice as many ground squirrels around. As is all things related to nature, be carful what you wish for, but if the Minks establishment help keep the geese and ground squirrels in check, we might have a good thing going.

Great capture of a Mink swimming in #1 & #9 ponds.

Another great shot of a Hawk and a Lizard

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Canada Geese

We all know that GBGC is a magnet for the pesky Canada Geese, and despite some early season successes in humanely chasing them off the course, we have had a resurgence in what we believe are regionally migratory geese, who are moving around the area.  We speculate this because they do not overnight on our ponds thanks to the Away With Geese lighting we have placed on the golf course ponds that disrupt the sleeping pattern of the geese, forcing them to slumber somewhere else. My guess is Folsom Reservoir, which as the Goose Fly's is just over a mile.

Folsom Reservoir is a almost nothing flight for a Canada Goose.

The Away With Geese Lights do exactly what they are designed to do, keep geese populations from getting really comfortable by overnighting on our ponds. These simple solar powered flashing lights do keep them away at night.

How do we know these geese are not overnighting? GCM starts each and every day in the dark, and the lights are flashing and the geese are not here. What we are observing are these  regional migratory flocks arriving later in the day to feed as food sources are far and few few between this time of the year. They seem to like eating the cool season rough grass lining the fairways in the #9, #8 & #5 areas predominantly, but they are foraging and leaving behind their mess all over the course.

What are we doing about the problem? We have been stepping up our dog chasing  efforts which historically has kept the Geese populations in this property. Granite Bay has been using  Dog & Whistle Goose Control to chase and harass Geese since 2009. Dog & Whistle adopt and train rescue Border Collies, a natural herding breed with a "supernatural amount of energy and stamina". They are trained to get into the water which is a must for hazing Geese as the birds first instinct when being chased on land is to go into the water. When the pressure continues from land into water over and over again they will go else where to find a food source. 

Timing on the flocks arrival varies day to day  so GCM is using our large fairways blowers to harass and blow off Goose droppings at the same time in the early afternoon using two blowers, one on each side of the pond on #9. Since the blowers cant go into the water, we are trying some remote control boats to chase them once they have landed there. After GCM goes home, Dog & whistle comes out and applies more pressure with the Border Collies. Hopefully this multi-faceted approach will keep this regional group in check until rice harvest, only a month away and another desirable food source.