Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Looking back on 2018

Every year brings it's own set of challenges and 2018 was no different.  Labor shortages and temperamental weather tested the metal of the grounds department.  Looking back I can say we rose to the challenge.  This is not so say, however, we didn't have some bumps and bruises along the way. 

grass clippings were common this year due to staff shortage
catching up on bunker details
We began our season as we always do, hiring and training our seasonal staff during the spring.  This year we started off projecting to have full staff in place by mid April.  We achieved that goal but by mid June, we had lost, for various reasons, almost 40% of our crew.  Despite advertising the position continuously throughout the summer, we were unable to fill those vacancies.  This meant we all had to work a little harder to keep the golf course standards up and meet the expectations of our members and guests.  This shortage was mostly felt within our mower operator staff.  We had to get very creative with our remaining staff to ensure all surfaces were mowed on a consistent basis.  Based on the feedback I got throughout the year, we met that mark and I couldn't be more proud of the guys diligence and determination.

The weather was another big challenge.  Plentiful spring/early summer rainfall brought heavy Bermuda growth during the warm summer months.  Losing almost all of your mower operators during periods of heavy growth are not ideal.  Despite this fact, the greenskeepers rallied and were able to help us keep up with this intense growth.  In order to accomplish this, some of the detail work throughout the golf course had to be put to the side.  During late July, there was a big cool down that helped suppress growth and also allowed us to spend less time watering greens.  This reduction in the workload took the pressure off the crew and allowed us to play catch up on details such as trim mowing, topdressing divots on tees, bunker details and clubhouse work.

I cannot say enough good things about the crew that we had this year.  We faced adversity and the guys put in the extra hours to ensure that our members and guests could enjoy a golf course they can be proud of.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Solstice

Today is the winter solstice which means it is the shortest day of the year and the official start to meteorological winter.  Leading up to today, we've had a very mild winter.  December has been above average for most of the month and November was also very mild despite getting a little snow on November 12th.  Golfers have been blessed with plenty of nice days to get out and enjoy their golf course.  It has also been nice for our department.  Warm, sunny days are always nice this time of year to be out conducting our work.

With all the nice golfing weather we've been having, the grounds crew has been busy most mornings preparing the golf course for the days rounds.  Aside from daily course preparations, the crew renovated the cart path extension left of #12 green (more info found here), applied wetting agent to collars, installed rock to #2 creek, refurbished the clubhouse patio furniture, trimmed trees, and many other miscellaneous activities. 

On December 1st, we said goodbye to our seasonal staff.  This day is always tough.  As a group, we have fought shoulder to shoulder through a tough summer and they should be proud of the golf course they have produced.  I know I am.  I don't know where life will take them but I would be proud to have them back next year.

Recently, we also said goodbye to our long-time Assistant Superintendent, Michael Liebe, as he accepted the Superintendent position at South Lakes Golf Course in south Tulsa.  Michael has worked by my side for a very long time.  He would have had his 10th anniversary this March.  For the past 9 years, Michael has been here helping us create stability and routine, renovate and improve, and helped us overcome numerous obstacles along the way.  I can say unequivocally, that Michael is a big reason we are who we are today.  I am indebted to him for all his years of loyal, dependable service and wish him much success in his new role as Superintendent at South Lakes.

Looking ahead to the rest of winter, we plan on doing quite a bit of tree work along property edges to improve visibility and airflow throughout the golf course.  We also plan on renovating the creek crossing behind #10 sometime within the next few weeks.  There will also be some drainage and irrigation work to be done as well.  Not to mention, all the budget and agronomic planning that always occurs during the off-season. 

#12 Cart Path Extension

By now, those that have played golf at Bailey Ranch in the past few weeks have noticed the renovated cart path extension on #12 green.  While this project has been complete for over a month, I still wanted to take a few minutes and shine a light on the great work our crew did with this project. 

Rough grading the path
As you can see from the picture above, the area left of the green on #12 had been, for years, a muddy, rocky, mess.  People have used this area under the tree to get off the cart path and get closer to the green surround.  I've tried for years to keep it presentable under this tree using mulch, but mulch moves around when it rains and needs to be replenished every few years to keep it looking nice.  Following the success of the project on #2 tee, we decided to do something similar on #12.  The pictures below so the process used and the finished product.  I am very proud of the staff for their hard work and determination and couldn't be happier with how it turned out!
With gravel installed, RR tie curbs are set
Dirt back fill and sod to tie-in project to adjacent slopes


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Fall Greens Aeration

It's hard to believe it's already that time of year, but fall aeration of our greens is next week!  Starting Monday, the front nine will be closed while we work on them and then the work will continue to the back nine on Tuesday.  As always, the front nine will reopen Tuesday while we work on the back nine.  On Wednesday, the entire course will be open for regular play.  You will notice, however, the aerifier out on the course performing a final, small-tine, aeration.  This portion of the project will have minimal impact on play and shouldn't affect putting quality.

Once the process is complete, we expect to be healed in and back to normal within 10-14 days.  Aeration naturally softens the surface so ball marks will be an issue until we heal in and our surface firmness returns.  During this time, do your fellow golfers a favor, and fix your ball marks!

As always, we appreciate your patience while we conduct this vital work to improving the quality of our putting greens.  If you have any questions, please contact me at, or find me on the golf course.  Thanks!

Friday, August 17, 2018

#12 Fairway Update

It's been over 35 days since we planted the new Riviera Bermudagrass on #12 fairway and we are very pleased with our progress thus far!  Now that the canopy has achieved full coverage, we will begin to work on density as we look to get the turf ready for winter.  We have about 45 more days of good growing weather and we need to get the young seedlings as healthy as possible.

We planned on pulling ropes down this weekend, but the rains and wet conditions have forced our hand and now plan on opening that fairway to cart traffic on Monday.  Once the ropes are down, we will be better able to integrate the new fairway into our existing fairway management program.  We will begin mowing the new fairway 3 times per week, fertilizing as necessary and begin spraying growth regulators to improve density by increasing the number of leaf blades per inch.  Riviera is by nature, a very winter hardy grass, but all juvenile turf is vulnerable to stress and we need to be sure the new turf is ready for whatever this winter has planned. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

#12 Fairway Conversion Update

7 days after planting
It's been over 30 days since we seeded the new Riviera Bermudagrass in #12 fairway and it's looking good!  As you can see from the picture on the right, we had germination about 7 days after planting!  Over the past few weeks, the new turf continued to make significant progress. As turf got taller and began to fill in, we increased the mowing frequency to match the growth.  Last week, we began the same mowing schedule as the other fairways.  Now that the Riviera is growing in quickly, it is almost time to pull down the ropes and open it to cart traffic!  The plan right now is to let these storms pass through over the next few days and hopefully dry up enough to open it on Saturday.  Over the next few months, we will be pushing turf to grow more aggressively to finish filling in before winter. 

I know everyone will be excited to get out on the new turf and I sincerely appreciate everyone's patience throughout this whole project.  Looking forward to seeing everyone out enjoying the new fairway soon!

30 days after planting

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

#12 Fairway Conversion Update

As of Tuesday, July 10th, the fairway on #12 has been seeded!  I know everyone has been anxiously waiting for this day.  The next time you're out on the course, you'll notice ropes have been installed around the perimeter of the fairway to prevent cart traffic from entering the fairway.  The fairway is still in play and there are no other use restrictions besides the carts.  Over the next 30 days, the ropes must stay up to allow the new seedlings time to establish and begin to grow.  Once we begin mowing regularly the ropes will be pulled down and the fairway will reopen to cart traffic.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#12 Fairway Turf Conversion

A lot of people have been asking about #12 fairway lately, and I'm sorry it has taken me this long to put out more information about what we have been doing over there.  For those who may not know, we are planning on converting #12 fairway from Common Bermuda to Riviera Bermuda.  Riviera is a seeded variety that has many improvements over Common.  It is more heat, drought, disease, and cold tolerant.  It has better density and color.  Riviera also greens up sooner in the spring and stays greener later into the fall.  During the next few years, we will observe this new grass and see if it will meet expectations for a larger project to re-grass all our fairways in the future.

Currently, the grounds department is killing the existing common Bermuda grass in preparation for seeding on July 10th.  Bermuda is a very resilient turf and can be quite difficult to fully eradicate.  As of today, we have sprayed Roundup three times over the past month and still plan on one more application a few days before seeding.  Why go through all the trouble?  Well, in order to get the full benefit of the new turf, we must completely kill the original stand of grass so that it won't contaminate the new fairway.  The color and texture of the old and new grasses are different enough that any remnants of the old common Bermuda would stand out and reduce the overall quality of the new fairway.

Once we have the seed in the ground, the fairway will be roped off from golf carts until the new turf is established and we begin mowing regularly.  Just to clarify, the hole will remain open and shots can be played off the fairway, we just cannot allow carts on the fairway until the ropes are taken down.  The establishment process should take 30-45 days and then we will be pushing the new fairway with water and fertilizer to achieve full density before winter.

We realize this project is an inconvenience, but feel that the long term benefits will be worth it.  If anyone has questions about the project or anything else for that matter, please feel free to contact me.

As always, see you on the course!