Monday, March 31, 2014

Course Update March 2014

March, in many ways signifies the end of our winter off-season, and the beginning of the golf season.  Seasonal staff begins to arrive to ready the golf course for the season, the weather starts warming up, winter projects are wrapped up, and many of our chemical and cultural programs begin.  The following is a brief update on what happened in March.

The grounds department began taking on seasonal staff, March 1st, to help keep up with the growing list of tasks and projects.  March is a time when course preparation tasks like mowing greens, raking bunkers, moving tees and emptying trash cans is done much more frequently and seasonal staff is needed to accomplish this.  Next month, 4-5 more seasonal staff will be added as the Bermuda begins to awaken and the summer mowing schedule is phased in.

In typical fashion, the weather over the past month has been anything but predictable.  The temperatures went from 7 degrees to 82 degrees in 9 days.  Some days the wind was calm and other days the wind gusted to 50+ miles per hour.  Despite the inconsistent weather, the grounds staff made the best of the situation and accomplished many tasks that are vital to a successful golf season.

North bunker edge reconstruction
The bunker project on #13 was completed.  This bunker required a little more work than just removing and replacing the sand and drainage material.  We determined that the northern edge needed to be elevated 12-14 inches so that water from the basin to the north would not back up into the bunker anymore.  This basin drains slowly which causes stormwater to back up into the bunker, bringing with it silt, grass and other debris.  Raising this bunker edge allows the bunker to only deal with the water that falls within it's own footprint, greatly extending the lifespan of the drainage.

Finished product on #13

Earlier this month, Doug our chemical applicator, finished applying the pre-emergent herbicides.  This process takes 2-4 weeks depending on the weather and is vital to the success of our weed control program. We always aim to complete the spring pre-emergent application prior to greens aeration, and Doug was able to meet that deadline.  The golf course is largely weed free and once the Bermuda starts coming out of dormancy, there should be an easy transition with little competition from weeds.

Although greens aeration had to be delayed one day due to frozen conditions, once we started, the project went as planned.  I couldn't be more proud of the staff and the finished result.  The process is very complex and involves many steps, the staff was able to complete all work on schedule completely in-house, with no temporary labor.  For a detailed look at the various steps involved, click here.

As I assess where the golf course right now, I believe the course is primed and ready for the warmer weather of April.  As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Course Update (Winter Recap)

The days are getting longer and, although we still have a few weeks of winter left, spring is just around the corner.  I wanted to take a few minutes and highlight some of the work the grounds staff has completed this past winter, which will improve playing conditions and make your round more enjoyable.

Behind #12 green looking to the NW
Each winter, the grounds staff spends 2-4 weeks pruning trees that are either damaged, overgrown, or are causing poor growing conditions for the turf.  Occasionally trees must be removed if they inhibit growing conditions around greens.  This year, the notable removals were behind # 12 green and right of #13 green.  These trees were causing thinning turf and bare spots within a short distance to the putting greens.  The ability to grow quality turf in these areas will have an immediate positive impact on playing conditions.

The latest project that was completed was a bunker renovation on #13.  Over the past year, we began to notice a decline in the bunker's ability to drain.  The grounds staff removed all the old sand and drainage pipe, then replaced it with new material.  The renovation process should give us 5-8 years of quality playing conditions.

Height of cut is maintained to the thousandth of an inch
During the off-season, Mitchell Pierce, our equipment technician, has worked tirelessly to ensure that all the equipment needed for the season is finely tuned and ready to go.  Much of his time has been spent sharpening cutting units, rebuilding hydraulics, replacing bearings, and other miscellaneous tasks.  Without his work, we would not be able to meet the expectations of the golfing public.

Douglas Knapp, our chemical applicator, has been hard at work this off-season, spot-treating weeds and applying our course wide pre-emergent products.  Thanks to his hard work, the golf course is weed free and ready for spring green up!

Spraying pre-emergent on #11 fairway
The weather this week looks warm, sunny and the golf course is ready, so come on out and kick off the 2014 golf season with us at Bailey Ranch!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bunker Etiquette

It's hard to believe, with snow on the ground, that the 2014 golf season is just around the corner.  Soon the grass will start coming out of dormancy and the course will start filling up with golfers.  With this in mind, I wanted to spend just a few minutes talking about bunker etiquette.  In my opinion, the golfer has the biggest impact on how a bunker will play each day.  The grounds staff hand rakes the bunkers each morning, but after that, the playing condition of each bunker is up to the golfer.  The old course etiquette adage "Leave the golf course as you found it" definitely holds true regarding bunkers.  As a courtesy to all golfers, please rake your footprints out after you play your shot.  This will have an immediate positive impact on the playability of the bunkers.  
Notice how his back foot digs in

Also, over the past couple of years, I've noticed a sharp increase in the number of golfers exiting bunkers toward the green, which is usually has the steepest slope.  Not only is this dangerous from a safety perspective, it has a direct negative impact on the bunker itself.  Climbing up the steep slopes of the bunker can cause the sub-grade, and drainage materials, underneath the sand to become compromised.  Once the drainage is disturbed, considerable labor and materials are needed to make the necessary repairs.  Stepping on the bunker noses also causes them to erode and the bunker lip can get damaged.  We please ask that everyone enter/exit the bunkers on the low side, usually opposite of the green.  Each morning, the grounds staff will place bunker rakes near entry/exit points to encourage proper access.  

With your assistance, we can keep the bunkers the best condition possible.