Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Great Rain of May 2019!


Image result for stock canoe photo

Everyone get out their canoes and kayaks! Just about the only way you would be able to get around the golf course this morning after the rain we just had.  In all seriousness, the weather in May can be unpredictable and recently we've had more than our share of storms.  In the past 24 hours, we've had almost 8" of rain. May is historically the wettest month of the year, with just over 6" average rainfall, and we surpassed that mark in less than 24 hours!  This is on top of the almost 5" of rain we've received thus far in May.  To say it's been wet lately is a huge understatement.

The tunnel ceiling is almost 10 feet tall. 
After the tornadoes and lightning moved off to the east this morning, we set out to assess the damage.  Besides being incredibly wet, the golf course fared well.  We didn't have any major flooding damage, except for some limbs and miscellaneous debris in some fairways.  The rain came down so fast that it overwhelmed the tunnel pump and we had to ask for help from the Public Works department to get it pumped out.  Our drainage infrastructure handled the water well, it just took most of the day to drain out the excess water off the golf course.

All contaminated sand with mud will have to be removed and replaced
The one part of the golf course that didn't survive the storm was our bunkers.  The majority of the bunkers look like the picture of #5 bunker complex shown to the right.  Significant sand movement
and exposure of the sub-grade.  This will require an extensive amount of work from our crew to get them back into normal playing condition.  Typically, when we get an inch or two of rain, our crew can spend the next day putting them back together and we can move on to another task.  This time it feels different.  The damage so extensive that I feel we will have to completely remove and replace the majority of the sand on the golf course.  This will drastically extend the time to get them back into playable condition. Several dump truck loads of new sand will need to be hauled out and placed into the bunkers.  This process will begin tomorrow and could last all the rest of the week, possibly into next week.  We appreciate everyone being patient with us while we work to restore the condition of the bunkers and please realize that a few other tasks will be deferred so we can focus our resources on making this process go as quickly as possible.   

Monday, May 13, 2019

Spring Update

For those who read this blog regularly and have been looking for new posts, I apologize.  I don't update this blog nearly as often as I should but am trying to continue to post content periodically throughout the year.  Spring is always a busy time of year on the golf course, and this year is no exception.  We have been working on wrapping up some last minute winter projects and preparing the course for the beginning of the new growing season. 

One of the most important spring activities each year is spring greens aeration.  This year, based on our annual soil testing, it was determined that we should aerate our greens twice.  Not wanting to disrupt the golf calendar more than necessary, we decided to complete the two aerations back-to-back.  This minimized the recovery time and greens were back to normal in 10-14 days.  Almost two months have passed since we finished the aeration process and greens have been very healthy and smooth. 
As a part of our yearlong cultivation plan, we decided to go out last week with another mini-tine aeration to continue to pull more organic matter from the putting surfaces.  This aeration is non-invasive and greens never lost smoothness or speed during the process.  Due to the aggressive nature of our aeration plan this year, we are already 80% toward our goal of displacing a minimum of 20% of the surface each growing season.  This will set us up well for the stressful summer months, and will set us up to meet our goal of displacing almost 30% of the surface.  Given the age of our greens, this aggressive goal will allow us to keep the greens healthy, firm and quick more often throughout the season.

Spring green up of Bermudagrass is notoriously slow in this part of the country.  Temperature fluctuations and unpredictable weather always seems to confuse the Bermuda until we get into mid-May.  This year has continued that trend.  We began to green up back in mid-March, but haven't seen active growth until the second week of May.  We are scheduled to apply our first course-wide fertilizer application on May 14th.  This will force the plant to grow along with warming temperatures. 

National Golf Day, in Washington D.C., was on May 1st this year and for the first time, I was able to attend, on behalf of the Oklahoma Golf Course Superintendent Association.  This was my first time attending National Golf Day and I was honored to be chosen to represent the OKGCSA in Washington D.C.  The GCSAA and We Are Golf organize the entire event and have done a great job coordinating congressional meetings and volunteer activities around the Mall for over 200 superintendents from across the country.  We completed needed landscape work around the memorials in the national Mall on Tuesday April 30th and then on Wednesday May 1st, we spread out at the Capitol and meet with over 210 congressional offices about the value of the golf industry.  It felt so rewarding to meet with Senators and Congressmen that represent our great state and tell them about the many benefits of the over 200 golf facilities in Oklahoma.





Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Please Repair Ball Marks!


Thanks to the hard work of the grounds staff, spring greens aeration is behind us.  Now that the course is back open for play, the grounds staff will shift focus to improving the surface quality of the greens.  The staff will be out several times over the next few days rolling, brushing and mowing the greens to get them as smooth as possible.  During this time, as with any aeration, the surface will be softer than normal and especially prone to ball mark damage.  While the surface is recovering, ball marks will be deeper and bigger than other times of the year.  Please help out everyone else that enjoys the golf course by seeking out and repairing any ball marks on the greens.  We appreciate your cooperation!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Brush Clearing


While our golf course doesn't have very many trees in play, there are quite a few wooded areas along property edges that require occasional maintenance. Each year, during the off-season, we pick a few areas and clear them out for various reasons.  Could be a request from a concerned neighbor, to improve air flow or sunlight to a green, or to improve the view across the golf course. This year, we decided to tackle several areas throughout the course we have never been to.  Once we had the areas we wanted to clear out identified, we quickly realized that the amount of tree and brush removal was going to be a lot more than we could handle doing the work by hand.  So we decided to bring in a special skid loader attachment specifically designed for clearing wooded areas such as this.  This forestry cutter, pictured above, was the perfect tool to quickly mulch all the trees and shrubs we wanted to remove.  I estimated the amount of work we wanted to complete would have taken our entire crew 2-3 weeks to do by hand and with this machine I was able to do it in 20 hours by myself.  Turned out to be a very efficient way to go!

Before
The first area we wanted to focus on was along 86th street, just west of our shop.  This area is overgrown and views of the golf course are limited during the growing season due to all the vegetation.  Even though the picture to the right was taken during winter, you still can see how big of an impact the vegetation has on the view from the street.  Now that the brush and small trees are all gone, the view of the golf course from the street is much better.


After


























#15 looking at #14 green- before
The next area we focused on was behind #14 green.  I've wanted to remove the trees and brush behind this green for a few years but just couldn't bring myself to spend the time on it until now.  The machine we used for this project is perfectly suited for the small trees and brush that is found in this area.  Despite being heavily wooded and untouched for decades, I was able to grind everything down to the ground in less than 4 hours!

After



#16 tee looking back to #15
The last area we we cleared out was south of #16 tee box.  This area has long been know to be one of the hottest places on the golf course during the summer, mainly due to the lack of airflow.  I figured that while I had the machine, and we were ahead of schedule, I'd take some time and clear out what I could.  As you can see from the picture on the right, we were able to accomplish quite a lot.  Airflow should be much better from now on and we will also get more sunlight to the tee bank behind the water cooler.  This has been a muddy, bare spot due to the shade over the years and Bermuda should take back over now that there is plenty of sunlight.

Now that the vegetation is removed, the work to convert these areas to native grass will begin.  Many of the native grass species will begin to move in naturally, however, there will be a lot of weed pressure and many of the tree and brush species will attempt to reestablish.  The grounds staff is planning on seeding these areas with Tall Fescue to help speed up the establishment process, and there will also need to be occasional herbicide applications to these areas to ensure trees and annual weeds don't reestablish.  The finished product will be consistent with the rest of the native areas throughout the property.

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.