Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Spectacular Fall of 2023

Thirty days into the Fall of 2023 has proven to be perfect weather for the golf course. Weather has  been ideal for overseeding tees and other hybrid bermuda areas as well as  interseeding cool season rough. It's also been perfect for color and growth of our Santa Anna fairways. The best of both worlds.

However, the long range weather forecasters have been doubling down and now officially declared that El Nino has arrived. What is El Nino was recently discussed by Scripps Oceanography experts who state it is a weather pattern that irregularly shows up every three to seven years and lasts between nine and twelve months. El Nino effects have been associated with some of our wettest years in Northern California but for now, the 2024 El Nino is predicted to be of moderate strength. What does this mean for California and Granite Bay? Time will tell, but the professionals are forecasting above average temperatures & above average rainfall.

What Have We Been Doing with All This Spectacular Weather? 

I mentioned previously we have been doing allot of seeding of the golf course on multiple fronts. We started with seeding rough, which needed recovery from another Granite Bay Summer. We also needed to overseed the tees for winter and just this week decided to overseed some select Santa Anna patches in shady areas near greens. Additionally, we recently got started on some cleanup work in native areas as well as checking some irrigation system infrastructure items off our big list. 

I for one am hoping for this "moderate El Nino" with associated light rainfall and warm temperatures so we can continue on a long list of cleanup areas that was interrupted last fall / winter by major tree ravaging storms and record rainfall. This makes it much easier for us to keep checking things off our list as opposed to constantly cleaning up after devastating weather events. But hope is not a strategy, so we'll wish for the best and prepare for the worst. Enjoy the pictures below of recent progress and near future plans.

This image is a section of rough along the cart path on #12 looking back on the hole. We highlighted the initial recovery seeding of this area in late August (8/24/23). 58 days later the area has recovered. 

It's amazing how perfect weather, adequate irrigation, fertilizer and seed can affect plant life. The thick results of our rough have prompted comments like "when are you going to mow it?".  I can assure you we are mowing the rough and mowing most of it twice a week, it's just very happy right now. 

The tee tops were overseeded just a couple weeks ago. The process was to scarify, clean, seed and sand topdress then irrigate by hand. Above image is what they looked like directly after the process.

And here they are today after all of the seed has germinated. The mowing height for the tees is a little longer then where we normally maintain them, which is normal procedure for newly overseeded tees. These heights will be lowered soon and successful overseeding will provide grass filled teeing surfaces all winter.

Another area that we overseeded and sand top-dressed was our tall fescue collars. This has been long overdue and has already produced great results in density and evening out some grading inconsistencies left over from 2021.

In the center of this image is a section of Santa Anna Hybrid Bermuda behind #10 where much of it struggles in the winter months because of associated shade from trees and short days. Rather than struggle with these areas this winter, we decided to overseed them like we did the tees. Continual overseeding of the Santa Anna over time in our transition zone can crowd out the hybrid bermuda and we are right back to where we started, so our plan is to "transition out" the cool season turf in the late spring with products that will slow down the cool season growth allowing the warm season Santa Anna to overtake it so we don't end up back to where we started with soft, poa ridden turf. We applied the same overseeding strategy to sections of Santa Anna surrounds on #2, #3, #6 & behind #13 

The Santa Anna in our Fairways, which for the most part are in the full sun, will not be overseeded and we can keep it a green color by applying iron and pigment all winter, weather permitting A best management practice before going into winter with these surfaces is the raise the height of cut. We do this so we don't wear out the surfaces in winter with cart traffic because it is not growing which can lead to surfaces worn out to dirt. This raising the height of cut is what causes the puffy appearance in the surfaces. We hope to mitigate this puffiness with some new equipment in the future, but the process of raising this height of cut is essential to the health and playability of the surfaces through winter. 

Our putting surfaces have been performing well as fall brings a time where irrigation can be scaled way back. Less irrigation means firmer surfaces, firmer surfaces mean faster surfaces that are less prone to ball marks. Faster & firmer and less ball marks means better greens. We are still working on getting deeper rooting into our new greens and our overall lens in which we maintain the greens from a cultural standpoint is do whatever it takes to prevent poa annua. So the strategy remains small deep holes and light sand topdressing frequently, keep our surface density tight and continue our efforts to get more root depth and root density allowing us to irrigate less during the heat of summer.

The small hole, deep tine aeration that we planned the end of September (9/25/23) was postponed due to mechanical issues with the Vertidrain Aerator. We were not able to re-schedule until this coming Monday 10/23/23. Our plan is the same, small holes and a medium amount of sand. In the following days putting quality will still be good albeit a bit slower for a short period of time.

We face ball marks like this every morning when we mow greens. No matter what the condition of the greens are, wet or dry, it is the responsibility of the golfer to repair the ball mark. This is an example of a mark that we can assume was made late in the day that the golfer didn't even try to find and repair it. The greens are not fragile like they were in October of 2021. We might lack root density in the 6"to 8" depth but we have plenty of root density in the 4" to 5" depth, so I believe our issue with ball mark repair is still more of a will to do it rather than a technique in repair. Our stated goal is to make these greens so hard that ball marks will be difficult to make but we as a club have a way to go on the will part of mitigating ball marks. More to come on this. 

We had an opportunity to utilize some contract labor from a contractor who was between jobs recently and we jumped on it to get some small soaker sprinklers installed around a few bunkers. We addressed the two left hand fairway bunkers on #2 as well as the two right hand fairway bunkers on #4.  Additionally, we addressed the lone left-hand bunker on #15. This work along with all of the above-mentioned seeding has made for a productive and successful first 30 days of fall in 2023.

Starting in November we plan to pick up where we left off last fall / winter season with cleaning and pruning the area behind #14 green and adjacent to Turkey Cove putting green all the way to the back of Volcano Ridge behind #17 green.

Additionally, directly behind the Turkey cove green we will be planting some good neighbor screening using some live oaks. More to come on this as well.


Fall is a busy time of the year for golf and for golf course maintenance at Granite Bay Golf Club. Even when we mitigate summer losses in the rough, there will always be seeding and aerating to do because it is one of the most opportune times of the year to renovate and grow grass and prepare for winter which is necessary for year-round golf. It's also a great time of the year to play golf and have member events and host tournaments. This conflict has always been a part of Granite Bays history and I will say a conflict for most golf operations in our marketplace because in this transition zone we can play golf all year round. Some conflict is part of the dynamic nature of a year-round golf course just like weather and seasonal changes.  Always has been, likely always will be. 

Onward, forward. The best is yet to come.

Thank You for Your Support. 

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