Monday, March 31, 2014

Course Update March 2014

March, in many ways signifies the end of our winter off-season, and the beginning of the golf season.  Seasonal staff begins to arrive to ready the golf course for the season, the weather starts warming up, winter projects are wrapped up, and many of our chemical and cultural programs begin.  The following is a brief update on what happened in March.

The grounds department began taking on seasonal staff, March 1st, to help keep up with the growing list of tasks and projects.  March is a time when course preparation tasks like mowing greens, raking bunkers, moving tees and emptying trash cans is done much more frequently and seasonal staff is needed to accomplish this.  Next month, 4-5 more seasonal staff will be added as the Bermuda begins to awaken and the summer mowing schedule is phased in.

In typical fashion, the weather over the past month has been anything but predictable.  The temperatures went from 7 degrees to 82 degrees in 9 days.  Some days the wind was calm and other days the wind gusted to 50+ miles per hour.  Despite the inconsistent weather, the grounds staff made the best of the situation and accomplished many tasks that are vital to a successful golf season.

North bunker edge reconstruction
The bunker project on #13 was completed.  This bunker required a little more work than just removing and replacing the sand and drainage material.  We determined that the northern edge needed to be elevated 12-14 inches so that water from the basin to the north would not back up into the bunker anymore.  This basin drains slowly which causes stormwater to back up into the bunker, bringing with it silt, grass and other debris.  Raising this bunker edge allows the bunker to only deal with the water that falls within it's own footprint, greatly extending the lifespan of the drainage.

Finished product on #13

Earlier this month, Doug our chemical applicator, finished applying the pre-emergent herbicides.  This process takes 2-4 weeks depending on the weather and is vital to the success of our weed control program. We always aim to complete the spring pre-emergent application prior to greens aeration, and Doug was able to meet that deadline.  The golf course is largely weed free and once the Bermuda starts coming out of dormancy, there should be an easy transition with little competition from weeds.

Although greens aeration had to be delayed one day due to frozen conditions, once we started, the project went as planned.  I couldn't be more proud of the staff and the finished result.  The process is very complex and involves many steps, the staff was able to complete all work on schedule completely in-house, with no temporary labor.  For a detailed look at the various steps involved, click here.

As I assess where the golf course right now, I believe the course is primed and ready for the warmer weather of April.  As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Course Update (Winter Recap)

The days are getting longer and, although we still have a few weeks of winter left, spring is just around the corner.  I wanted to take a few minutes and highlight some of the work the grounds staff has completed this past winter, which will improve playing conditions and make your round more enjoyable.

Behind #12 green looking to the NW
Each winter, the grounds staff spends 2-4 weeks pruning trees that are either damaged, overgrown, or are causing poor growing conditions for the turf.  Occasionally trees must be removed if they inhibit growing conditions around greens.  This year, the notable removals were behind # 12 green and right of #13 green.  These trees were causing thinning turf and bare spots within a short distance to the putting greens.  The ability to grow quality turf in these areas will have an immediate positive impact on playing conditions.

The latest project that was completed was a bunker renovation on #13.  Over the past year, we began to notice a decline in the bunker's ability to drain.  The grounds staff removed all the old sand and drainage pipe, then replaced it with new material.  The renovation process should give us 5-8 years of quality playing conditions.

Height of cut is maintained to the thousandth of an inch
During the off-season, Mitchell Pierce, our equipment technician, has worked tirelessly to ensure that all the equipment needed for the season is finely tuned and ready to go.  Much of his time has been spent sharpening cutting units, rebuilding hydraulics, replacing bearings, and other miscellaneous tasks.  Without his work, we would not be able to meet the expectations of the golfing public.

Douglas Knapp, our chemical applicator, has been hard at work this off-season, spot-treating weeds and applying our course wide pre-emergent products.  Thanks to his hard work, the golf course is weed free and ready for spring green up!

Spraying pre-emergent on #11 fairway
The weather this week looks warm, sunny and the golf course is ready, so come on out and kick off the 2014 golf season with us at Bailey Ranch!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bunker Etiquette

It's hard to believe, with snow on the ground, that the 2014 golf season is just around the corner.  Soon the grass will start coming out of dormancy and the course will start filling up with golfers.  With this in mind, I wanted to spend just a few minutes talking about bunker etiquette.  In my opinion, the golfer has the biggest impact on how a bunker will play each day.  The grounds staff hand rakes the bunkers each morning, but after that, the playing condition of each bunker is up to the golfer.  The old course etiquette adage "Leave the golf course as you found it" definitely holds true regarding bunkers.  As a courtesy to all golfers, please rake your footprints out after you play your shot.  This will have an immediate positive impact on the playability of the bunkers.  
Notice how his back foot digs in

Also, over the past couple of years, I've noticed a sharp increase in the number of golfers exiting bunkers toward the green, which is usually has the steepest slope.  Not only is this dangerous from a safety perspective, it has a direct negative impact on the bunker itself.  Climbing up the steep slopes of the bunker can cause the sub-grade, and drainage materials, underneath the sand to become compromised.  Once the drainage is disturbed, considerable labor and materials are needed to make the necessary repairs.  Stepping on the bunker noses also causes them to erode and the bunker lip can get damaged.  We please ask that everyone enter/exit the bunkers on the low side, usually opposite of the green.  Each morning, the grounds staff will place bunker rakes near entry/exit points to encourage proper access.  

With your assistance, we can keep the bunkers the best condition possible.   

Friday, February 21, 2014

#12 Greens Surround

Stumps removed and dirt work completed
Bare area behind green w/ trees removed
Finished product looking to the southeast

 Yesterday, the grounds staff finished the sod project behind #12 green.  Once this sod begins to green up this spring, the height of cut will be brought down to 1/2" so that it matches the rest of the greens surround.  The short turf will give a player plenty of options to get back onto the green if their shot releases off the back.

As with any new sod project.  This area will be marked ground under repair until the sod has had a chance to root into the ground, and stabilize.  The rules of golf allow for relief from ground under repair, so please do not hit balls from this area.  It will disrupt the sod while it has not yet rooted in.  Those who need to retrieve their ball, please do so carefully.  We appreciate everyone's help it keeping this sod intact until it grows in.

Finished product looking northwest

Monday, February 17, 2014

#12 Green Surround

Close up of tree work completed
I've been getting a lot of questions, and feedback, from members about the tree work behind #12 green.  While I will agree that the two trees that were removed did provide a visual backdrop, and framed the greens complex; the negative affects to the turf directly behind the green cannot be overlooked.  Bermuda has a very strict light requirement and is very intolerant of shade.  Our inability to grown quality turf in this area, coupled with the fact that it is only six paces, down hill, from the back edge of the green makes this area a clear choice for renovation.  Over the past couple of years, I've noticed a lot of players getting penalized for a nice shot that hits the green, but rolls off the back into dirt.  Our aim with this project is to bring the greens surround further down hill to give the player a short turf bail out where the ball can be easily played back onto the green.

The grounds staff is finishing up removing all tree material and should have all stumps ground by the end of the day Tuesday.  Once this step is complete, we will begin shaping the area and prepping for sod.  If all goes as planned, we expect to be laying sod by the end of the week.

In late spring, as the sod begins to break dormancy, we will start to lower the height of cut until it matches the rest of the surrounds.  We anticipate the finished product will be well-received as this greens complex is considered to be the toughest on the golf course.
View of green without trees

As always, if you have any questions, or comments, please feel free to let us know.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Golf Course Update

Over the past month, the weather has been the big story.  The temperatures have been much colder than we've become used to over the past few years.  Looking back over the past month, we've been below freezing a total of approximately 350 hours.  That's a little over 14 days or 50% of the time!  Also, during that same time, we've seen three snow storms, albeit small ones.  Next week we are expecting one last snow storm before the weather pattern appears to be changing.  We'll see if it comes true or not, but one thing's for certain,  we are anxious to get back on the course and wrap up some winter projects before spring arrives.  Before the cold temperatures set in, we started our spring pre-emergent application and also our bunker renovation on #13.  Once we get some cooperative weather, we will get out and get these finished fairly quickly.  I'm pretty sure I can speak for everyone when I say that I can't wait for spring to get here!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


In front of #18 red tee
This past Saturday, we came in to find that someone had driven their car on the golf course late Friday night.  The fact that it had just rained and the snow had just melted didn't help the situation.  It seems they came onto the course near the red tees at #18, drove up to the green and tried to do some donuts on the green.  As you can see, we escaped any major damage and amazingly enough, should only deal with some minor discoloration.  We think the fact that the greens were frozen helped us because we should have seen much more damage.  After they turned on #18 green, they drove down #1 and went all the way around the front nine back to #18, where they exited at the same place they entered.  Luckily, the worse damage to the Bermuda is in the rough directly in front of the red tees on #18.  The good news is that shortly after the incident was reported to the Owasso PD, they called back saying they had found the car parked at the apartments.  The last we heard, they had impounded the vehicle and arrested the individual.

#18 fairway

#18 green

#18 green