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.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Course Update for October

This past October was unusually warm compared to previous years.  Gary McManus, the state climatologist, with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey said that the statewide average temperature was over 6 degrees above normal, making it the fourth warmest October in history.  As you can see from the picture on the right, the entire state was affected.  The total precipitation fell about 50% below normal levels also.  This dry, warm weather felt like having two Septembers.  The mild weather gave us plenty of great growing weather for the turf, not to mention ideal weather for our members and guests to get out and enjoy plenty of golf.

Due to this nice warm weather, the turf throughout the course has held up very well, especially the cool-season Bentgrass on our greens.  The optimum growing temperature range for Bentgrass is 50-80 degrees, and because of this, the greens are at their best right now.  Excellent density and color with minimal growth have the greens rolling as smooth and fast as they've been all year.  

Despite being over 50% understaffed during October, the crew has done an amazing job getting the course ready each morning and still working hard to complete various tasks that must be done to get the course ready for winter.  Pre-emergent herbicide applications, covering greens fans, pump house winterizing, irrigation repairs, ornamental grass plantings, cart path repairs, and blowing leaves, are just some of the tasks that were completed in October.  The extended growing season should set up the golf course to go into winter as healthy as we've ever been.  This bodes well for a fantastic start to the 2017 golf season, baring any severe weather this winter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Driving Range Mats

Starting this week, we ask that all members, and guests, restrict their practicing on the driving range to the artificial turf mats located on the back of the tee box.  Each year the winter golfing season produces a lot of great golfing weather.  This causes a lot of divots to accumulate on the driving range.  The dormant Bermuda cannot regenerate and by spring, the surface of the range is completely used up.  Often, by March, there is almost no turf left to hit off of.  By hitting off the mats during the winter, we can ensure a full, dense, and divot free, surface that is ready for the 2017 golf season.  We appreciate your cooperation and as always, if you have any questions, please contact anyone in the pro shop, or grounds department.  Thank you.