Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Weather Update & Look Back at 2014

I've shared the most recent forecast for the upcoming winter weather courtesy of the Gary McManus, Oklahoma's Climatologist for the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.  It's a funny take on recent weather events as well as a thorough look back at the weather we experienced this past year.  Enjoy!

December 29, 2014  December 29, 2014  December 29, 2014  December 29, 2014 

The excitingly boring weather of 2014

It's hard to look past the coming arctic blast to end 2014 to look BACK at the
past weather of 2014, so let's get the future excitement out of the way first.
Okay, to start off with, since freezing rain has mentioned, we are officially
moving the BRAUM'S BREAD-AND-MILK DEFCON LEVEL to THREE!!! I repeat, we are
officially moving the BRAUM'S BREAD-AND-MILK DEFCON LEVEL to TWO!! (see how
quickly we react here with up-to-the-minute hysteria??)


Yes, we've gone to "KNOCK PEOPLE OVER IF YOU HAVE TO" level. Mostly bombastic
and reactionary, of course, but just our effort to try and keep folks from
driving on ice (DISCLAIMER: should ice occur).

Here is the setup as provided in pictures from the local NWS offices.


Remember, this is winter weather we're talking, so the forecast is going to
change between now and ICE-MAGEDDON. So keep track of the changing conditions
as we get closer because the precipitation type is vitally important. However,
the arctic blast is a certainty.

The beast is poised to our north as we speak.


So prepare for this, because it's coming.


I'm afraid there won't be any melting on the roads with this coming system.

Okay, enough hysteria. Let's turn back the clock and take a look back at 2014.


The weather of 2014 would probably be considered boring by most, and rightfully
so. After all, there were no EF-5 twisters ravaging the countryside, nor was
there a never ending onslaught of days with triple-digit heat. The blizzards
of the last few years never materialized, nor did that other unwelcome winter
visitor, the ice storm. What we did have, however, was drought, the most boring
– if not most damaging – of Oklahoma's weather hazards. That particular guest
has been plaguing Oklahoma's ecosystem, agriculture and economy since its
beginning in late fall 2010 to the tune of several billion dollars in damage.
The spring rainy season was mostly a bust, although a return of moisture in
late May paved the way for more rain during June and July. That
uncharacteristically timed relief delayed the re-intensification of drought
that started earlier in the year, but more dry stretches from August forward
left over 60 percent of the state in drought at year's end. The year ended with
a dark, dank and dreary December in which the sun was mostly a no-show at only
35.4 percent of possible sunshine according to the Oklahoma Mesonet's solar
radiation sensors.

In the end, 2014 left us with memories of a (mostly) cold and (mostly) dry
year, with a few bursts of excitement to satisfy most weather enthusiasts. Here
are a few or the more notable weather highlights (or lowlights) from 2014, as
well as the top extremes as measured by the Oklahoma Mesonet.

2104 Oklahoma Weather Highlights
• According to preliminary data from the National Weather Service (NWS), 2014
  ended up with a total of 16 tornadoes, the lowest count since accurate
  records began in 1950. That bests the previous minimum annual twister count
  of 17 back in 1988. That stands in stark contrast to recent years that ranked
  near the top for annual tornado totals. The record of 145 is still held by
  1999, but 2011 and 2010 rank with the second- and fourth-highest totals at
  119 and 103, respectively. And 2013 tied for ninth highest at 82. The annual
  average tornado total for Oklahoma is approximately 56.
   o The strongest 2014 tornado listed was an EF-2 that struck the small
     town of Quapaw in Ottawa County, killing one and heavily damaging as
     many as 50 structures.
   o A tornado touched down near Lake Arcadia in central Oklahoma on the
     December 14, only the 25th tornado since 1950 for that month.
   o Of the 16 confirmed tornadoes, 11 were of the weakest rating of EF-0.
   o Although not associated with a tornado, a thunderstorm near Burneyville
     on July 30th produced a wind gust of 106 mph, tied for the fourth highest
     in Mesonet history.

• According to preliminary data from the Oklahoma Mesonet through December 28,
  the statewide average precipitation total for the year thus far was 28.56
  inches, 7.74 inches below normal. Depending on what possible precipitation
  falls in year's final three days, it is estimated that 2014 will rank
  somewhere from 25th to 30th driest since 1895 (note: the rankings in the
  statistics table below are since 1921).

   o The Mesonet site at Kenton recorded 13.2 inches of precipitation during
     2014, the lowest such total in the state. Broken Bow and Clayton led the
     state with 50.8 inches each.


   o The spring (March-May) rainy season was the 11th driest on record with a
     statewide average of 6.57 inches, more than 5 inches below normal.


   o The January-May statewide average was 7.39 inches, the 3rd driest first
     five months of the year on record.
   o June and July combined were the 15th wettest on record across Oklahoma
     with an average of 10.28 inches, nearly 3.5 inches above normal.


• A no-show summer and a frigid first few months of the year guaranteed a cool
  2014, and the statistics back that up. Preliminary data from the Oklahoma
  Mesonet place the statewide average temperature for 2014 at 58.9 degrees,
  about a degree below normal. Depending on what occurs the last few days of
  the year, that would rank 2014's temperature somewhere in the 20-30th coolest
  on record range. Interestingly, 2013's final statewide temperature also
  finished at 58.9 degrees.
   o Summer itself was the 24th coolest on record with a statewide average of
     78.6 degrees, 1.1 degrees below normal.
   o July was the fifth coolest on record and 4.3 degrees below normal.
   o A brush with frigid weather in the middle of November proved to be one of
     the most significant early-season winter outbreaks on record for Oklahoma.
     The cold snap began with a cold front on the 11th that dropped
     temperatures from the 70s and 80s into the 30s and 40s. The Oklahoma
     Mesonet station at Boise City struggled to a high of 15 degrees on the
     12th just two days after reaching a high of 81 degrees. Most of the state
     had spent from 100 to more than 150 hours below freezing. The event also
     came with a statewide blanket of snow. Amounts of 3-4 inches were common
     across parts of western, northern and central Oklahoma.
   o December finished the year off with one last warm month, but not in the
     way one would normally think. There were very few pleasantly warm
     afternoons, as daytime highs were actually a bit below normal. The morning
     lows, however, were another story. Through the 29th, the statewide average
     low temperature was 35.2 degrees, 7.7 degrees above normal. Overall, the
     statewide average through the 29th was 3.4 degrees above normal. The last
     two days of December promised to be quite chilly, however, which could
     bring that average down just a bit.

The 2014 Oklahoma Mesonet extremes

Maximum Air Temperature
FREEDOM  106.9 F  07/26/2014

Minimum Air Temperature
NOWATA   -12.1 F   01/06/2014

Maximum Heat Index
LANE     112.6 F   08/08/2014

Minimum Wind Chill
ALVA     -25.0 F   01/06/2014

Greatest 1-hour Temperature Change
KENTON   32.9 F   (80.6 F 11/10/2014 21:55 to 47.7 F 11/10/2014 22:50)

Greatest 24-hour Temperature Change
SLAPOUT  66.2 F   (84.6 F 11/10/2014 20:40 to 18.3 F 11/11/2014 13:15)

Highest Dew Point Temperature
BROKEN BOW   81.3 F   07/27/2014

Lowest Dew Point Temperature
MIAMI   -18.8 F   01/06/2014

Greatest 1-hour Rainfall
HINTON  3.07"   06/19/2014

Greatest 24-hour Rainfall
CLAYTON   6.60" (07/30/2014 - 07/31/2014)

Wind Speed
Maximum Wind Speed (5-minute average)
BEAVER   59.7 mph   07/01/2014

Maximum Wind Gust
BURNEYVILLE    105.8 mph   07/31/2014

Highest Mean Sea Level Pressure
CHEROKEE   1044.55 mb   01/23/2014

Lowest Mean Sea Level Pressure
MAY RANCH   989.17 mb   04/27/2014

Gary McManus
State Climatologist
Oklahoma Mesonet
Oklahoma Climatological Survey
(405) 325-2253

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Equipment

It's not a secret that mowing equipment is an indispensable asset to any golf course.  Mowing is the one job that is done most frequently and has the biggest impact on the condition of the golf course.  From the first moment I saw our mowing fleet back in 2007, I quickly realized that a plan would be needed to phase out some of this old equipment to improve productivity and course conditions.  Over the years, we've had some success replacing certain machines, but never really made a big dent in the problem due to budget constraints.  We determined, that due to the condition of our old fleet, we wouldn't ever realize the increases in efficiency and course conditions if we just picked at the problem by buying 1-2 machines a year.  Keeping all this in mind, the grounds staff determined that leasing to purchase the entire fleet in one package would be most cost effective option.  The staff demoed equipment over the past year to determine which equipment would meet our needs.  Through this process, we quickly realized just how much inefficient our old fleet really was.

On November 18th, 2014, a recommendation for approval of a lease agreement was presented to the Owasso City Council.  The council, after some thorough questioning, unanimously approved the agreement.  I'd like to take a minute to recognize the council, as well as the leadership at Owasso City Hall.  The administrative staff at the City has been extremely supportive throughout this process.  I left that council meeting humbled by the strong vote of confidence by the Owasso City Council, thereby affirming their support for everything that the Bailey grounds department has done over the past several years to get the golf course back into something the community can be proud of.

This past week, the Bailey Ranch Grounds Department took delivery of the new fleet.  After years of struggling to keep the old equipment running, words cannot describe how grateful we are to have this new equipment!  The grounds staff will do everything in their power to ensure this equipment remains the best possible condition.

With all this new equipment sitting ready to go, we cannot wait to get started on a great 2015 seaon!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Divot Pattern Reminder

Now that the Bermudagrass on the driving range is fully dormant, the divot pattern used by golfers will become increasingly important due to the lack of recovery by the turf.  Typically, the Bermudagrass will not grow aggressively enough for quick recovery from divots until late April.   This fairly long dormancy period, coupled with the intermittent mild weather we experience, can leave the quality of the driving range tee in less than ideal condition.

As I've mentioned before, the divot pattern in the graphic to the right, is the preferred pattern all year long.  It allows for quicker recovery through the growing season and allows us to maximize the dormant turf throughout the off-season.

The grounds staff would ask that you please follow this simple technique to preserve as much grass as possible so that we can maintain the highest quality turf possible until the plant begin to recover in spring.

Monday, November 24, 2014

#15 Cart Path

Removing old cart path
If I asked anyone who plays at Bailey Ranch where the roughest piece of cart path was on the golf course, I'm sure #15 would be at the top of everyone's list.  It's no secret that the area at the bottom of the hill has been a problem for longer than I'd like to admit.  Several years ago, this portion of the cart path began to settle and asphalt was brought in as a temporary solution to smooth out the cart path.  This seemed like a logical solution at the time, but admittedly coming back to this project to fix it the right way was lost in the shuffle over the years with regarding project priorities.  Since there are fewer projects on the list, and with the growing season behind us, I decided last week to make this project a priority.

Last week, staff began the process of removing the old asphalt and concrete to make way for the new material.  Once the old cart path was out of our way, forms were installed and new gravel was added, then compacted.  Long pieces of re-bar steel were laid in a grid pattern on top of the gravel to give the new concrete additional strength and guard against cracking in the future.  On Thursday of last week, the new concrete was poured and left to cure over the weekend.  Today the staff removed the forms, back filled soil along each side of the path and laid fresh sod to complete the project.  

I couldn't be more proud of the work the staff put into this project.  Although this kind of project may be a little outside their normal scope of work, they all worked together and the finished product speaks for itself.      
New gravel base being compacted
Brushing the concrete provides traction

Finished product

Friday, November 14, 2014

More Drainage

Digging up box right of #6 green
This off-season, one of the major objectives for the grounds staff will be drainage work.  Over the past twenty years, much of the drainage infrastructure that was installed, has aged and is in need of repair.  The staff will not only be adding new drainage to certain areas around the course this winter, but adding, repairing and leveling existing drainage.

One of the projects that has been on my list for quite some time, has been raising drainage boxes in basins throughout the golf course.  The majority of these drain boxes have sunken so far down that they have made it difficult to mow without damaging the turf and/or mowing equipment.  As you can see in the picture above, each box must be dug up, raised up to grade, back filled, then topped with new sod.  Drain basins in green surrounds are our first priority.  Once these are complete, the staff will move on to the remaining basins.

Finished product left of #6 green

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#6 Drainage Upgrade

New basin going in
Last week, our irrigation technician, Joe Miller, spent some time upgrading the drain basin on #6 fairway.  We've had trouble with the basin washing out and eroding over the years.  It was determined that the basin would need to be enlarged to handle the water that flows into the basin from the tee box and upper portion of the fairway.  Since this basin sits approximately half way down the hole, there is a fair amount of acreage that this basin must drain. The original drain basin, which is in the top of the picture to the right is a 12" square box that is designed for 4" drain pipe.  There is 6" drain pipe already in the ground, so all that water coming down hill had to squeeze through that smaller box and continue down hill.  It's no wonder this box failed.

Joe tore out the old box and built a custom 18" circular basin which will handle significantly more water.  We shouldn't have any more problems with water backing up and pooling in this basin.  Yesterday Joe dressed up the basin with new sod and put up some rope to keep people out of the area.
Finished product

Friday, October 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014 Growing Season

Based on the forecast low temperature of 27 degrees for tomorrow morning, I think it is safe to say goodbye to the 2014 growing season.  The low temperature, calm winds, and dew point should coincide with a heavy frost which will force the Bermuda to shut down pretty quickly.  This time of year is a big transition period for us as we park our mowing equipment until spring, cut back on our set up schedules and say goodbye to our seasonal staff.

I find myself looking back, at the season as a whole, and am very proud of our staff, and the work they've accomplished.  I feel like we were able to provide a great product throughout the year and had a strong finish.  I can't wait to tackle some projects this winter and get geared up for another great year in 2015!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#18 Drainage Project

Checking the grade of trench
This afternoon, the grounds staff completed the installation of a new drainage structure along the cart path at #18 tee box.  The staff installed three catch basins in key areas along the path to allow the surface water to move underground.  The cart path has a subtle low spot which kept the water from naturally moving downhill and out of the way.  Water would collect in low spots along the path as a result.  Golfers and maintenance staff that would pull off the path would cause these wet spots to turn into potholes.  Once the potholes developed, the areas would never dry up resulting in a persistant problem.

Now that the drainage is in place, the cart path edge will stay dry and we shouldn't have any problems with potholes any more.  Since we have fresh sod down, I would like to remind everyone to please use caution while walking to and from the cart path, as the sod has not rooting into the ground and it could be unstable.  The area has been roped off to keep carts on the path and we ask that golfers slow down as they drive through this area.  With your help, we can keep the area as nice as possible.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Thank you.

Drainage installed,  trench being backfilled
New sod laid over trench

Finished product
Potholes along path before project

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Detail Work

Joe leveling valve boxes and sprinkler heads at #13 green
Cooler temperatures and longer nights have significantly slowed down the growth rate of the Bermuda.  This has allowed the seasonal staff to allocate more of their time to detail work.  Topdressing divots on tee boxes, edging drain basins, leveling valve boxes, string trimming, back filling pot holes along cart paths, blowing divots and leaves off fairways are just a few tasks we are finally able to address.  Individually, these details may not be that noticeable, but cumulatively, they can have a big impact on the overall appearance of the golf course.  The staff has done a phenomenal job over the past few weeks getting some of these tasks completed.  
Joe's finished product on #2 green

Crisp edge around sprinkler heads
Sharp edge around basins

Deep Tining Greens

This morning, the grounds staff has begun deep tining greens.  As you can see from the picture, there is minimal disruption to the surface, and all that is required is a light roll afterward to get them smooth again.  The holes that are left behind are only 1/4" wide, but go 8 inches down.  These channels will not only allow water to freely drain down through the profile, but also increase oxygen content at the bottom of the root zone.  This increase in drainage and oxygen content, combined with the cooler weather, should encourage deep rooting as we phase into late fall/early winter.

This process, although very important, does take quite a long time to complete.  The tractor can only travel about a half-mile per hour.  We hope to have all the greens done by Thursday afternoon.  During the next two days, we realize we will be out amongst golfers.  Our staff will do their best to remain courteous while staying productive.  We appreciate your patience as you make your way through the course over the next few days.

As always, if you have any questions about the process, or the benefits, please don't hesitate to ask.  Thank you.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Aeration Recovery

It's been just over 14 days since we began the fall aeration of greens and I have to say the recovery process went just as planned.  Ideal weather had a big part to play in the success of the process, however, I cannot diminish the efforts made by our team.  Timely applications of fertilizer, and diligent hand watering have kept each green in optimum health to minimize the time required for recovery.

Now that the holes are over 95% healed in, our focus this week has been to improve the playability of the greens.  The application of a growth regulator this past Monday has significantly reduced the amount of clippings collected each day, which will prolong the cut and improve ball roll.  Yesterday the staff ramped up efforts to improve smoothness by mowing the greens at .130", which is .005" lower, and then rolling the greens.  We noticed an immediate increase in both speed and smoothness after this process.  Today, we continued this process by double cutting greens at opposite directions to ensure all grass is cut and we continue to smooth the putting surface.  Tomorrow morning, the cutting height on greens will be lowered another .005" to .125".

Overall, we felt like the aeration process, and subsequent recovery, went very smoothly.  The weather has been ideal and we feel that the greens are set up perfectly for fantastic finish to the 2014 golf season!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Greens Aeration Recovery

These 5/8" holes are almost filled in
It's been just over one week and greens seem to be right on track regarding aeration recovery.  Aeration is an aggressive process that takes typically 7-14 days for full recovery depending on several factors such as: tine size, soil moisture, weather and the growth rate of the turf.

Leading up to the process, the soil moisture is carefully monitored and nutrients are applied to maximize the growth potential.  After the process is completed, the greens are rolled and brushed for a few days until we feel that the sand has been worked into the canopy as much as possible.  Mowing is withheld during the first few days after the process is complete to allow the turf to growth through the sand and to allow the roller a few days to smooth the surface.

The first few days of mowing are primarily used to pick up the larger granules and excess sand that won't work into the holes.  This is a messy process which quickly dulls the mower blades and requires the staff to clean up the debris left behind.  Each day the clippings that are collected are inspected to monitor the ratio of sand to grass.  Initially, the buckets will be mostly sand and very heavy.  After a few days, the sand amount will
Minimal sand in clippings
decrease and the ratio will become about 50/50.

With almost a week of mowing sand, the reels were very dull and in need of sharpening.  This morning, with a freshly ground reels, we were pleased to see almost no sand in the buckets.  The photo on the right shows a handful of clippings from this morning.  Now that we are phasing out of the sandy portion of the recovery process, we will begin using our newer greens mower which will give us a much better quality of cut.  Once all the holes are filled in, we will slowly lower the height of cut from .135" back down to .120" for the fall tournament season.

As always, if there are any questions regarding the aeration process or subsequent recovery, please feel free to ask.  Thank you for your patience during this time.  

Bunker Maintenance

Sand is added where needed
Today, the grounds staff has begun checking sand depths in bunkers.  The grounds department completes this process 1-2 times a year depending on weather, play and other factors.

The staff takes measurements throughout the bunker looking for sand depths to be approximately 4-5" in the bottom and 2-3" on slopes.  Sand is then added to areas that do not meet this requirement.  We've just about got the front nine done and will work to finish the back nine by next week.

Then spread around until depths are on target
The grass around bunker edges has gotten away from us lately and we will be putting a fresh edge on them next week as well.  The staff should have the bunkers shining by the end of next week.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fall Aeration Rescheduled

After looking ahead to next week's weather, the decision has been made to postpone greens aeration until Tuesday September 9th and 10th.  The forecast calls for highs in the mid to high 90's, which is too hot to complete the process.  Aeration is inherently a stressful process and we need the greens to be ready to handle the stress.  If they are under heat, or drought stress, they will be more prone to injury during the aeration process.  We believe that pushing back the process one week, should allow the temperatures to come down into a more favorable range.

We will continue to monitor the weather and post any further changes, if any, to the schedule.  Thank you

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fall Greens Aeration

It's hard to believe, with this current heat wave, but fall aeration on greens is just around the corner.  On Tuesday September 2nd, the grounds staff will begin aerating the front nine greens.  This will allow play to continue on the back nine.  On Wednesday September 3rd, the front nine will be back open and ready for play while the back nine greens are aerated.  The practice greens will aerated on Wednesday morning.

Aeration is a key practice performed each spring and fall that promotes improved soil drainage, oxygen content, and root density.  For more information about the process and how it is performed, stay tuned.  Once the process is complete, I will post pictures that help explain how it is done.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Getting Caught Up

Embedded image permalink

This week, the grounds staff has been hard at work getting caught up on all the mowing on the golf course.  Tees, fairways, approaches and surrounds have all been cut at least twice this week.  The height of the rough was the main topic of conversation over the past week and we have made a lot of progress.  By the end of the week, we will have all rough cut back down to two inches.  Please excuse all the clippings in the rough as a result of all the mowing.  The staff will work hard to ensure all short turf is cut and clean for the weekend.

One Last Meal

Each year, in August, the grounds staff focuses on giving the course one final dose of food to get carbohydrates stored up before winter.  Winter injury of Bermudagrass is a big concern in this part of the country, and while we can never truly prevent winter injury if the weather gets really cold, providing a timely amount of the right nutrients will give the plant a fighting chance.  Douglas Knapp, our chemical applicator, has been hard at work this week applying a 10-5-22 blend of fertilizer "wall-to-wall", meaning that all maintained turf on property, minus greens, was treated.  There is approximately 77 acres of maintained Bermudagrass on property that had to be treated and the staff was able to complete the application in about 10 hours.

For those who may not know, whenever you are looking at fertilizer bags, the three numbers on the front label are the percentages by weight, of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, in that order.  For fall applications on Bermuda, we always look for just enough nitrogen to sustain growth into October and let the plant naturally slow down into dormancy.  You never want to apply high rates of nitrogen past mid-September, because it will cause the plant to become succulent and it will be susceptible to winter injury and disease in the spring.  The main reason we choose this analysis is for the last number, the Potassium.  Potassium has shown to be helpful in reducing the risk of winter injury in Bermudagrass in the transition zone.  This analysis allows us to give the plant a high dose of this key nutrient just before it starts storing energy for dormancy, while keeping the amount of applied nitrogen relatively low.  Also, there is a small amount of Phosphorous included in this mix to help encourage root density going into winter.

Once watered in, the fertilizer should begin to take effect just in time for Labor Day weekend.  The plant response should last through October and set the course up very well for the upcoming busy tournament season!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tall Rough

With all the beautiful weather lately, it's hard to find many things to complain about, but one issue that has surfaced a lot lately is the height of our rough.  I couldn't agree more.  The recent rain storms have prevented us from sticking to our mowing schedules but have managed to keep up with our tees, greens, fairways and surrounds fairly well.  The main factor contributing to the tall grass has been the numerous mechanical issues we've encountered with our rough mower.  We've been borrowing and renting equipment, to do our best to keep up, but haven't been quite able to get 100% of the rough cut each week.  This leaves us with rough throughout the course with various stages of growth.  Some areas aren't too bad, while other areas, mostly wet areas, are getting very tall.  Mitchell, our equipment manager, has worked tirelessly to remedy the mower issue and we are looking forward to a dry week next week so we can get caught up.  I realize this is frustrating and appreciate your patience during this time.

As always, if you have any questions, or additional concerns, just let me know.  Thank you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Course Update

The recent cool down in the temperature has allowed me to take minute and reflect on the weather and other topics related to the course in this latest course update.  The weather, good or bad, always seems to be the main topic when discussing the golf course.  Although we recently had some hot weather, overall, the weather has been very mild.  Daily highs have been very close to seasonal averages, which seems very cool compared to the past few summers.  Due to this cooler weather, the turf across the entire course is loving this weather.  The cultural practices, fertility program and water schedule has all complimented perfectly with the weather to produce some of the healthiest greens we've ever had this time of year.  The picture to the right shows roots coming out of the bottom of the 5.5" soil probe.  Usually, during July, we are trying to hang on to 3" roots until fall.  Longer roots have allowed us to keep firmer conditions while maximizing plant health.

As for the rest of the course, the staff has had their hands full keeping up with the mowing schedule for all short turf (tees, fairways, approaches, collars, and surrounds).  The intense growth rate has caused us to stay very busy keeping up.  The rough has been the only real concern this year.  Due to some mechanical issues with our rough mower, we've had to utilize rental mowers and loaners to keep the rough cut.  During this time, portions of the rough have gotten away from us and have become unacceptably tall.  We apologize for this and are working diligently to get the course cut back down to improve playability.
Rough at edge of fairway on #11

Over the past few weeks, staff has been working hard to get all the native areas and pond banks cut down.  Mowing these areas 2-3 times a year helps to clean out all woody plants and gives the native grasses the advantage.  Over time, the grasses in these areas will continue to thicken up and the end result will be a nice, clean stand of turf.

 Over the past month, golfer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with many people commenting that they haven't see the golf course this nice in many years.  We, in the grounds department, appreciate all the compliments and will continue to work hard to make Bailey Ranch the best value in the Tulsa metro area.

Looking ahead to the fall, the golf course should continue to shine and as the weather cools down.  We are looking forward to finishing 2014 golf season on a high note!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tee Aeration

Kyle pulling cores on #10 tee 
Those of you who've been out on the course the last few days have noticed the grounds staff pulling cores on tee boxes this week.  You may be wondering why we are messing up the tee boxes when they look so nice.  Core aerating any turf when it's at the highest growth potential will minimize recovery time, and mid-summer is the ideal time for aerating Bermudagrass.  As you can see from the picture to the right, the first step is pulling a core with our tractor mounted aerator.  Once the cores have all bee pulled, the tee is drug with a steel mat to break up the plugs.  The soil from the plugs is re-incorporated back into the holes, while the thatch is left at the surface to be blown off into the rough.  Once the tee is cleaned off, the tee is mown again to finish off the process.

Pulled cores on #4 tee
Over the years, I've spoke of the benefits to aerating turf many times, but it's importance can never be understated.  Aeration is critical to the overall health and sustainability of any turf by providing key benefits such as: promoting deeper roots, increasing soil oxygen content, removing thatch, reducing soil compaction, and improving soil drainage.

Staff cleaning up cores on #6 tee
It should go without saying that there is a lot of hard work involved with this process, and although we would love to accomplish this project without impacting play, we realize that is not feasible.  We appreciate your understanding and patience during this process.  As always, if you have any questions, or concerns, regarding this project, please let me know.  

Finished product on #6 tee

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thoughts on US Open


Over the past few weeks, leading up to the U.S. Open, I've been increasingly asked about the new look of Pinehurst #2.  In general, reactions to the changes that have taken place are mixed at best.  It seems that you either love it or hate it.  I for one love it.  For a long time, I've lamented the perfect, verdent conditions our member,s and guests, see on TV each weekend.  While I'm sure none of them expect the same conditions at our facility, given our resources, it's impact on our industry is not lost on me.  For decades, golf course conditions on TV have influenced general opinion in this country about what a good golf course should look like.  This is typically referred to as the Augusta Syndrome.  The USGA, to their credit, has had sustainability and water conservation at the forefront of their efforts for several years now and it seems coordinating back to back mens and womens U.S Opens this year at Pinehurst, and next years Men's U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, is no accident.  It seems they indend to put firm, fast, and brown courses in front of the masses in hopes of curbbing public opinion.  Will it work?  I hope so.  My biggest hope is that by watching these tournaments, the average golfer will realize that courses don't have to be lush and green to be considered good.  Using a little less water and fertilizer is not only cheaper, it's better for the environment, and playability is often improved.  Drives roll farther, and greens roll faster. 

Now, I realize that not all facilities are going to be able to do what Pinehurst has done, but I believe they must take steps, however small, to reduce their footprint and cut costs.  I think that the ability of any golf course to reduce its inputs depends on it's geography, design, and whether or not they have grasses that are adapted to the area.  Courses in the transition zone with cool-season tees, fairways, and rough, are going to have a very tough time reducing water usage, and other inputs, without losing grass.  Courses like Pinehurst and Chambers Bay, contain grasses that are acclimated for their locations and can withstand a fair amount of environmental stress without dying.  

#14 fairway
Here at Bailey Ranch, we've always been strigent with our inputs.  We rely exclusively on stormwater runoff which forces us to use water sparingly, and limited coverage with our irrigation system causes the turf in the fairways and rough to turn dormant.  The membership has been very accepting of this due to the increase in ball roll in fairways and thinner lies in the rough.  Also, the drier conditions fit nicely into the links design aesthetic of the course.  Over the past few years, our department has converted 10 acres of maintained rough without irrigation coverage to native areas to help further reduce inputs and increase native habitat. 

Many colleagues at courses similar to us will be able to say they're doing, or not doing, the same things that we are, mostly due to budget constraints, but my point is that its nice to finally see a course on TV that isn't perfectly manicured from edge to edge.  Even if their budget is still 2-3 times ours.  It's important for the future of the game that water conservation, and sustainability, not just be talked about, but put on display for the public to see and get comfortable with.

#8 native addition

Friday, June 6, 2014

Project Bluebird Update

Bird box near #10 tee
  In February, the grounds staff, cooperating with the Oklahoma Bluebird Society, constructed and installed Bluebird boxes in select areas around the golf course.  During the initial stages of this project, we quickly learned that there was a lot we didn't know.  The boxes were constructed and redesigned several times to ensure the birds would use them, and that other animals, such as snakes, squirrels, and other bird species, couldn't interfere.
Throughout spring, we began to see an increase in bird activity near the boxes, but hadn't seen evidence of nesting.  Over the past few weeks, we've noticed some nesting building.  I peeked into the box near #10 tee and saw a large nest containing eggs and what appears to a hatchling.  Incubation is only 12-14 days from the time they are laid to when they hatch.  Once they hatch, it takes only 19 days until they can fly from the nest.  The old nest material will be removed once the young are fledged from the nest.  Bluebirds can have 2-3 families each year and a new nest will be build each time.

I am very excited to have this much activity in our nests in our first year.  I hope that each year, the population grows, and we can incorporate more boxes throughout the property for everyone to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Course Update for May

May is typically a transitional month where the cool nights and days of spring give way to the warmer weather of summer.  Although delayed, this May proved to be no exception.  The first three weeks of May were anything but ideal weather for Bermuda growth.  Cool nights, cloudy days and lack of rain, had our Bermuda on "stand-by" waiting for summer come along.  Then all of the sudden, the pattern changed drastically with day temps in the high 80's to low 90's, and abundant rainfall.  If you include the rain from last Monday morning, we've had enough rain in the past seven days to double our annual rainfall total.  
Removing thatch from green
May is also a time full of transitions operationally.  Seasonal staff have been brought in to begin mowing schedules as well as cultural programs such as verticutting, slicing, and topdressing.  Douglas Knapp, our chemical applicator, is going full throttle keeping up with all our fertilizer, and pesticide applications.  Joe Miller, our irrigation technician, is busy maintaining our irrigation system.  Lastly, with more equipment leaving the shop each day, Mitchell Pierce, our equipment manager, has to spend most of his time adjusting and sharpening mowing equipment.  
topdressing green to dilute thatch and firm surface
Despite a slow start to the month, I feel that all the work completed by our dedicated staff, coupled with favorable weather, caused the course to peak right before Memorial Day weekend.  June is starting out with great conditions on the course and should be a great month for golf!

Bermuda is flush with growth from recent weather!