Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sod Work on Misc. Collars

This week, the grounds staff added new sod to a few miscellanous areas in the green surrounds on #2, #3, #10, #12 and #13.  A few of these areas came out of winter a little too thin and some of these areas were not level and needed redone.  One spot in particular, the area behind #3 green, had numerous sunken spots from years of gopher damage.  

Similar to previous sod projects, these areas will be marked ground under repair and we ask that everyone stay off the sod for the next few weeks.  Once the sod is rooted in, the soil underneath will stabilize and the sod will be ready for foot traffic.  After the sod gets established and starts to grow, the staff will begin lowering the height of cut down to it's eventual .4" cutting height.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Course Update for March/April

March and April are always exciting months for the Grounds Department.  We begin hiring and training seasonal staff, the weather begins to warm up, and the golf course begins to wake up from its winter slumber.  This year, the weather has been somewhat upside down.  March started out warm and dry and April ended up being cooler with a considerable amount of rain.  The picture above was taken during early March and you can see the weather caused the Bermuda to green up very early in the season.  During this time, certain maintenance activities are done to prepare the golf course for the season.  In mid-March, the staff completed our annual bunker audit.  This is done each spring, before the golf season kicks off, to ensure the sand depth in each bunker is within specifications.  Keeping the bunker sand depth consistent creates consistent playing conditions from one bunker to the next.  The staff also completed our first greens fertilizer application one week prior to greens aeration.  We've found that applying Nitrogen before aeration always does a good job of waking the Bentgrass from dormancy and forces it to grow aggressively.  The aggressive growth is key to a fast recovery from core aeration. Greens aeration was completed during the third week of March, right after the Rogers State Invitational.  As usual, the staff did an amazing job and the greens were aerated ahead of schedule and the finished product turned out great.  The weather in mid-March was very mild, almost hot, with a record 92 degrees on March 20th.  This hot weather caused our Bermuda to jump out of dormancy quickly and the tees, fairways and surrounds greened up considerably over the second half of March.  As March came to a close, we were pretty pleased with where the condition of the golf course was.  The picture below and to the left was taken mid-March and the picture to the right was 14 days later.

The weather in early April was similar to the end of March.  Then the spring rain season began and the temperature dropped.  Over the past several weeks, the golf course has received over 10 inches of rain.  The cloudy, cool weather coupled with this much rain has had a negative impact on our Bermuda.  The turf quality throughout the course actually decreased in April compared to March.  Recently, we've seen some moderate amounts of disease on portions of our fairways that are a direct result from the amount of rain we've received.  This disease is more of a nuisance than anything, but does temporarily affect the quality of our fairways until the plant can recover when warm, drier weather sets in.  You can see in this picture of #10 fairway that the improved Bermuda in the foreground is unaffected and healthy, while the common Bermuda uphill has been thinned out due to the disease.  The pictures below give a closer look of both grasses.  This seems to happen every spring, to some degree, and isn't a cause for concern, especially since the weather looks like it will turn warmer and drier starting next week.  Once some warm weather, and sunlight, hit the Bermuda, it should recover quickly over the next few weeks.

Maintaining the bunkers has been a challenge over the past few weeks.  Any rainfall event over .75" causes our bunkers to wash out and our staff has to spend the next day putting them back together.  You can see, from the picture to the right, what happens when we get several inches of rain at once.  This requires a lot of shoveling and raking to get them back into acceptable condition.  I'm very proud of our staff for showing the diligence and resiliency needed to keep up with these bunkers during this time of year.  Through out this rainy few weeks, the bunkers have been in great shape and are a testament to their hard work.

Lastly, you may or may not notice, as you drive the cart paths during your next round, but the staff spent some time last week grinding some of the high spots out of the cart paths.  Over the years, as soil moves, some of the cart path cracks had raised up and have caused a rough ride.  Grinding off these high spots proved to be a cost effective way to solve this problem.  Wrangling these machines all day for two days was a lot of work and the staff did a great job getting the project done.

It appears that the unstable weather pattern may be breaking down, which should allow the staff to get into a bit of a rhythm regarding routine weekly maintenance such as mowing and other activities.  As the Bermuda begins active growth in May, the condition of the golf course will improve and we are excited to begin a busy summer season!  See you on the course!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spring Greens Aeration

I recently wrote a post about spring lawn care that can be found here.  One of the most important processes that we complete each spring is core aeration on our putting greens.  This process is critical to the long term health and sustainability of our most valuable asset.  This year, aeration of the front nine greens is scheduled for Wednesday March 22nd and the back nine greens are scheduled for Thursday March 23rd.  Please note that each set of nine holes will be closed for play during the scheduled work and the full 18 holes should be open back up for play on Friday March 24th.  We realize that aeration is disruptive and never a popular process.  We appreciate your patience during this process and, over the next few weeks, while the turf recovers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring Bunker Audit

Each year, prior to the start of the golfing season, the grounds maintenance staff conducts an audit of sand depths to ensure our bunkers meet the standards of our member and guests.  Maintaining consistent sand depths in our bunkers allows us to create consistent playing conditions no matter which bunker you land in.  Bunkers that have too much sand in them tend to be fluffy and will produce buried lies.  If the bunker sand is too thin, it tends to be too firm.  Thin sand depths will also increase the risk of silt and gravel contamination.  This contamination will effect the performance of the drainage over time and dramatically reduce the lifespan of a bunker.

The sand depth audit process is pretty simple.  First, small holes are dug throughout the bunker to measure the sand depth.  Then, if certain areas of a bunker have too much sand, and other areas have too little, the sand can be moved around accordingly.  If a bunker is found to have too many areas that are thin, new sand is brought in and spread around to create the necessary depth.  Ideally, once the process is complete, all bunkers will have 4-5 inches of sand in the bottom and 2-3 inches on the slopes.

Bunkers continue to be of significant importance for our members and guests.  If anyone has any questions, or comments, about our bunkers, please fee free to contact someone on the grounds department while you are out enjoying your round.  Thank you and look forward to seeing you out on the course!

Spring Lawn Care

Although we've had some cold weather lately, the signs of spring are all around us.  The Redbud trees and Forsythia bushes are in full bloom, bluebirds are beginning to make their nests, and Bermudagrass is beginning to wake up.  Once we get into March, I usually start getting a lot of questions about what people need to do to get their yards ready for the season.

In general, once you begin to see the Redbuds begin to bloom, it's time to put down a spring pre-emergent herbicide.  A healthy, dense stand of turf is the first line of defense against weeds, however, a consistent pre-emergent program is the foundation of any reliable control of annual weeds.  As the name implies, these herbicides only work by killing weeds as they emerge from seed.  They will not work on already established weeds.  

Pre-emergent herbicides can be found at any local home and garden center and are usually blended onto a fertilizer for ease of application and are most often labeled as crabgrass preventer.  This type of labeling can be misleading because these products don't just work on crabgrass.  They usually control a number of summer annual weeds besides crabgrass such as: foxtail, goosegrass, oxalis, spurge, and knotweed, just to name a few.  Whenever you are purchasing pre-emergent herbicides take a minute and look at the ingredients.  The most common pre-emergent herbicides for home lawns are prodiamine, pendimethalin, and dithiopyr.  The generally accepted cut off for applying pre-emergent herbicides in our area is April 20th.  There is a little variability in this date due to temperature fluctuations from year to year.

Besides applying weed control products, it's also time to trim any ornamental grasses that you may have around the landscape.  Similar to the Bermuda in your yard, these grasses are beginning to wake up from dormancy and need room to grow.  Cutting off the dead growth from the previous season will allow the new shoots access to the necessary sunlight they need.  Once you get them all cut, don't forget to apply a fresh layer of mulch to get your landscape areas looking their best for the upcoming growing season! 😀

Friday, March 10, 2017

#11 Green Complex Drainage Project

During the last week of January, and the first week of February, the grounds staff completed a sizeable drainage project behind #11 green.  For years, when it rained, surface runoff would flow down onto the green from the cart path area behind the back left of the green.  The additional water running onto the green has caused some thin turf along the back left edge of the green over the years.  While the symptoms are temporary, and the turf always recovers, this issue is something I've been looking to take care of for some time.

The plan was to install a catch basin to intercept the runoff before it could run onto the back of the green.  This meant that the basin had to be connected to the existing drainage system.

As you can see from the pictures, creating a new basin, and then connecting it to the existing drainage system was quite the process.  The guys did a fantastic job and I couldn't be happier with the finished product.  While the sod is still dormant, please avoid walking around on it.  It hasn't rooted into the ground yet, and can move under your feet, especially after a rain.  The area has been roped off, and we appreciate everyone's patience and cooperation while the sod grows in.

Cart Restrictions

Over the past few months, we've seen an increase in the amount of golf carts driving too close to the greens.  There is a direct correlation between an increase in cart traffic and an decrease in turf quality, especially while the turf is dormant.  Right now, the Bermuda is spending it's last energy reserves trying to wake up from dormancy.  Excessive amounts of traffic stress will delay this process causing the turf to green up much more slowly.  Our goal is to have the best possible turf quality around the greens.  With this in mind, the staff has decided to restrict carts from accessing the green surrounds.  While you are out playing, please watch for the markings shown in the picture above.  We would like for carts to stay behind the red line.  This will assure the turf in the greens surrounds a quick recovery.  We appreciate your cooperation!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Course Update for December

The beginning of December ushered in typical winter temperatures.  As stated in previous posts, the fall had been unusually warm until Thanksgiving.  After that, more seasonal cold temperatures set in and frost delays became a daily occurrence.  Since the greens were frosty each morning, and greens set up could not be performed, the staff used this down time to begin some drainage projects.  We'd been anxious to get started on these projects, but couldn't dedicate the time needed while the weather was so mild and the course was so busy with members and guests.  
The first project we started was the wet area in front of #10 green in the approach.  This area was originally believed to be an irrigation leak, but was after some digging, it was determined to be a surface water drainage issue.  A drain basin, was installed in front of the green-side bunker, and the approach was regraded to feed the surface water to the basin.  This project was explained in greater detail in a previous post that can be found here.  

After that project was complete, the staff moved on to another drainage issue we've dealt with for some time.  The wet spot on the right side of #11 fairway.  This area is about 60 yards away from the green down the hill.  The source for the moisture has been determined to be a homeowner up the hill to the west.  After numerous attempts to remedy the issue with the homeowner, we determined that the best course of action was to install a catch basin in the native area.  This will get the surface water below ground which will allow the area to dry enough to be maintained and playable again.  

Once we completed the drainage project on #11 fairway, it was almost Christmas.  Typically, the last two weeks of December are pretty quite in our department.  Most of the staff are taking time off to be with their families.  This is a very important time to recharge the body and mind before another busy year on the golf course gets underway.  After the new year begins, and everyone is back from vacation, the staff will ramp back up working on projects.  There will be 90 days until the beginning of the 2017 golf season and the staff will be "on the clock" to get all our projects accomplished.

The last week of December ended with some very nice weather.  This mild weather coupled with many members and guests taking time off for the holidays caused us to be very busy.  This allowed December to end on a high note, financially speaking.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Drainage Work on #10 Approach

A few weeks ago, the grounds staff completed a drainage installation in #10 approach.  Over the past few months, this area has been very wet.  Initially we suspected an irrigation leak due to how suddenly it seemed to appear.  However, after digging up the irrigation system to look for a leak, we realized the ground became drier the deeper we dug.  This indicated to me that we had a surface drainage problem and that we needed to give that water somewhere to go.

The decision was made to install a drain basin in front of the green-side bunker and reshape the approach to funnel the water into the new basin.  The first task of the project was to remove the sod so the necessary dirt work could begin.  As you can see from the picture above, the sod was cut, rolled, and removed.  The next task was to begin installing the drain basin.  The design for the basin was completed in-house based on survey measurements taken previously.  Once we had all the reference points for the laser level, the dirt work began.  After the basin was installed, the trench for the drain pipe was cut.    Lastly, all trenches and holes were back-filled and the sod was replaced.

Right now, this area is kind of easy to spot.  The grass height is too tall in the approach and the whole area looks a little sandy.  Both of these issues are cosmetic and will work out with time.  As will any sod project, this area will play as ground under repair until further notice and we ask that you keep out as much as possible.  If you have any questions about this project or anything else, just let us know.  Thank you.

Course Update for November

Now that winter has set in, and Christmas has come and gone, I've got a little more time to spend in the office catching up on some office work.  The weather was so nice in November and the golf course was so busy, there wasn't much time to spend updating this blog.

The temperatures at the beginning of November were very mild.  The warm fall weather pattern we had in October continued well into late November.  This meant we had a lot of great days for playing golf and growing grass.  The short Bermuda found on our tees, fairways and surrounds held it's color up to Thanksgiving, but stopped growing by mid November.  Our last official mowing on tees, fairways and surrounds was on November 10th.  The Bentgrass, however, thrived in the cold nights and warm days and playing conditions were perfect throughout the month.  By the end of the month, the temperatures kept creeping down and growth on the greens had almost stopped.  On November 19th, we recorded our first official freeze of 30 degrees.  This shocked the taller rough into dormancy, but the shorter grass on our tees and fairways held some green leaf tissue until November 28th, when freezing fog set up widespread heavy frost.  All our Bermuda went into dormancy after that.

One of the highlights of November, for me personally, is always Thanksgiving.  A time when family gets together to spend some quality time sharing food and football.  Each year, the staff at Bailey Ranch sits down to a wonderful Thanksgiving feast to share in our accomplishments and bond.  This year, our Food & Beverage Manager, Dawnie Aurelich, out did herself and the food was amazing.