Monday, May 23, 2022

Driving Range Tee Fraze Mowing

After decades of intense play and millions of divots, the Driving Range Tee box was in need of leveling. Our staff have been diligently topdressing divots every week for years, but despite all this hard work, we determined that something needed to be done to make the tee more level. Stripping/grading and sodding the tee is an option; similarly to what was done to the Par 3 tee boxes last year. However, we didn't want to close the range for an extended period of time and the costs involved weren't in the budget. One technique that has become more popular over the past 10 years is fraze mowing. Fraze mowing is the process were a tractor mounted machine "scalps" down to a predetermined depth to remove as much foliage and thatch as possible, while leaving enough vegetation at the surface to allow the turf to recover. As you can see from the pictures, this process is invasive and we knew we would need to give the turf time to recover. Thankfully, we have artificial turf mats along the backside of the range tee. This allowed us to complete the work and keep the range open for play while the turf recovered for a few weeks. Last Friday, the turf on the range tee recovered enough to allow players back on the tee box. We appreciate everyone helping us by staying on the mats and being patient while the turf grew back in. The process was a huge success and we expect to schedule this to be done every few years as needed to ensure a smooth, firm practice tee.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Course Update

Winter wonderland!

Covers coming off for hopefully the last time
    Spring is in the air and a lot is happening around the golf course!  Last week, we hopefully had our last greens covering event and winter storm.  The course received 2-3 inches of snow last Friday that helped insulate the greens from the 14 degree low Saturday morning.  Thankfully after Saturday, we quickly warmed up and uncovered Sunday.  From there, we jumped right into tournament preparations for the Rogers State University Hillcat Invitational last Monday and Tuesday.  We hosted numerous division II teams and by all accounts, the course played well and feedback was positive. 

Regarding the greens, anyone that has played in the last few weeks can see that they look kinda funny.  While at first glance it may be concerning, our team has thoroughly inspected all the greens and although some areas of greens look void of any green grass, there are viable stolons and other plant parts under the surface.  This means that these brownish areas, are just more dormant that other parts of the green and we fully expect these areas to quickly green up once the temperatures warm up consistently and we get further into spring.

Over the past few weeks, the team has been working hard to not only prepare the golf course for play, but finishing our winter to-do list so we can begin all the spring tasks that will set the turf up for a successful growing season.  The team has been busy working on irrigation repairs, painting equipment parking spaces in the shop, removing/pruning trees, repairing cart path sections on #9 and #11 and installed a new stone path at clubhouse. 

Spring is not only a transition for the turf, but for our staff.  This week we welcomed back several seasonal greenskeepers from last year.  We are grateful for them returning this year and already our department feels more productive.  We still have a long way to go before we are fully staffed, but we feel that we are off to a positive start.  Over the coming weeks, we will be interviewing candidates and on-boarding new hires.  This is always an exciting time as we get to know all these new faces and get them trained and ready for the demands of another golf season.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Greens Covering


    Without a doubt, the biggest health risk for ultradwarf Bermuda greens in Oklahoma is winter injury.  Ultradwarf Bermuda greens love our long, hot and humid summers, but our winters get plenty cold enough to warrant covering them with tarps to protect them.  The decision to cover greens, or not, is largely based on if the temperature drops below 25 degrees for more than 4 hours.  Greens will remain covered until the weather goes above 40 degrees for more than 4 hours.  If not, the greens will remain covered until such conditions occur.  Once the grounds department decides to uncover the greens, they will begin once the temperatures reach 40 degrees, or the frost has lifted.  Tee times made during this time of year should be considered tentative and subject to change on short notice depending on the weather.  The best thing for golfers to do is call the pro shop to check on the availability of the course before they arrive. 

    Although we are new to the covering process, thanks to the experience and leadership of our Assistant Superintendent, Shane Brown, our team has acclimated to the task quickly.  The first time we covered, it took 6 people 5 hours.  Now we have it down to 2.5 hours with 8 people. Covering greens was something I was anxious about since it is labor intensive and we don't have a very big crew (there's only 4 of us).  Thankfully, we have such an amazing team, here at Bailey Ranch, that staff throughout the facility continues to step up and help.  We routinely get 8-10 volunteers to help out, which makes the process so much faster and easier on everyone.  Our GM, Head Professional, F&B manager, cart staff, and members have all gotten in on the action.  So grateful to be a part of such a special group.  We've turned covering greens, which many consider to be to big of a downside, into a team building exercise.  Everyone is engaged, committed and pushing each other to get the job done.  

    So far this winter, we have had to covered/uncover greens 5 times since New Years Eve, for a total of 26 days covered out of 41.  That's a cover rate of 63%!  Talking to other superintendents around the state that also have Bermuda greens, it sounds like the frequency and duration of the covering events is unusual.  I've been told that, although each winter is different, typically courses will cover 5-8 times on average and the duration may only be a few days each time.  Despite the unusually cold past 6 weeks, the covers seem to be doing their job and the greens look great.  Hoping for an early start to spring so we can stay open and get the growing season underway!    

Friday, November 5, 2021

Driving Range Tee Overseed

On October 5th, the grounds crew closed the east half of the driving range tee to begin the overseeding process.  We decided to overseed the driving range tee with Perennial Ryegrass to give our members and guests green grass to hit off of during winter.  We hadn't done this for many years, but decided with all the recent course improvements, this additional amenity was something we could do to bring even more value to the golfing experience at Bailey Ranch.  The recently upgraded driving range tee irrigation allows us to more easily halve the tee so we could close one side and water in the seed as needed, while leaving the other side of the tee open for play.  

On Tuesday October 12th, we mowed the seedlings for the first time and a week later, on October 19th, we opened the east side to play and seeded the west side.  The west side has taken a few days longer to germinate, and establish enough to open, due to colder weather, but we will be ready to open entire tee to regular use on Tuesday November 9th.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Winterkill Recovery

One of the biggest unexpected jobs that we had to contend with this summer during our greens renovation was repairing the winterkill damage that occured this past winter.  As you may recall back in February, we spent over 300 hours below freezing, almost breaking a 40 year old record for consecutive hours below 32 degrees.  Not to mention, the snow we did get during the coldest part of that two week event blew off many of our north slopes and hill tops.  This exposed the Bermudagrass to some of the coldest air we've seen in a generation (-14 actual).  Predictably, many areas on the fairways and roughs didn't survive.  So, along with the work required to prepare and grow in the new tees, greens and collars, we had to sod cut, remove the dead turf and resod many areas throughout the golf course.  I'd estimate we lost almost 10% of the bermuda on the golf course (8 acres). Our team has spent hundreds of hours this summer laying sod with the goal to be filled in by opening day.  As of today, our team has laid over 60 pallets of sod on fairways and surrounds.

As you can see from the pictures below, we are still growing in areas and will likely not have all the repaired turf grown in to the extent you can't see the sod lines.  There will be visible sod lines and/or sprigged areas that will need time this fall to fill in before winter.  Please help us by keeping carts off these areas until they finish filling in.

Damaged turf was sod cut and removed

#11 all ready for new sod!

Once new sod is laid and begins to root, it is shaved down to height

After a few weeks, the new sod acclimates to the new cutting height. Sod lines will be gone by next summer

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

TifEagle Grow-in

 One of the most critical phases of the project was to sprig then grow in the new grass on the greens.  As I've shown in previous posts, an enormous amount of work went into preparing the new greens for sprigs.  This work can be seen here.  Once the new sprigs are down, the grow-in phase begins.  As you can see from the photos below, this grass gets settled over the first week or two then takes off.  It has been so impressive to watch this grass spread and fill in so quickly.  Within the first 6 weeks, the greens went from sand with sprigs to 100% coverage.  I can't say enough great things about the vigor and resiliency of this grass.  

Now that the greens are 100% filled in and we about 3 weeks out from opening day, we are phasing from grow-in mode to maintenance mode.  We are backing off fertilizing, increasing mowing and rolling frequency, verticutting and topdressing each week to work on surface texture and smoothness.  The team has been working hard all summer and we can see the finish line approaching.  They are determined to make these greens as good as they can be for opening day and I have no doubt our members and guests will be pleased with the finished product.  I know I am!  

Putting Green Day 1

Putting Green Day 7

Putting Green Day 28    

Putting Green Day 52

Putting Green Day 76

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

#1 Putting Green

You can see the original green dug out and the new green marked in orange paint

One of the main objectives for our greens renovation project was to increase the size of the putting green behind #1 tee box.  This green has long been a popular spot for golfers to spend some time while they wait for their tee time at the first tee.  On busy weekend mornings, there can be quite a few people trying to use this green.  The biggest issue we've had over there is that the green is way too small.  If more than a few people try to use it at a time, it gets too crowded to be useful.  I knew if we were going to keep the green, we needed to take the opportunity and make it more functional.  The new green will be considerably bigger than the old one.  As you can see from the picture above, this green will increase in size from approximately 900 sq.ft. to 3,000 sq.ft!  With such a large increase in size, we expect to be able to have 2-3 holes on that green and be able to handle a lot more golfers, which will help give everyone somewhere to practice on those busy weekend mornings.  We cannot wait to unveil this new practice green to our members and guests this fall!


Excavating the new green cavity

Green cavity dug out and ready for drainage and gravel

Installing new drainage pipe and 4" gravel layer

New practice green all finished and sprigged!