Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Fairway Slicing

It's that time of year again!  Time to loosen up the soil and encourage new growth on our short turf.  This week, the grounds staff is using our shatter tine machine on fairways.  This machine does a great job improving drainage, oxygen content and loosening up the soil.  The tines are solid and do not remove any soil, but are curved and so they "shatter" the soil as they go in and come back out.  Once the fairway has been sliced, the fairway mower and tractor blower do a great job cleaning them up.  Below is a video showing the debris that is removed from the process.  After the process is done, the slit left behind is very minimal with almost no disruption to the surface.  The soil should continue to warm up quickly due the the increase in warm air in the tine holes.  This will encourage a quicker green up of the Bermuda.  Next week, the grounds staff will repeat the process on the tee boxes.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Landscape Bed Work

After setting up the golf course for the first Owasso High School tournament this morning, the staff kept off the golf course and spent some much needed time working in the landscape beds at the clubhouse.  The one bed that needed the most work was the landscape bed at the northeast corner of the building between the F&B area and the putting green.  This bed has always been an issue due to it's Northeast exposure and poor drainage.  Before the staff planted a whole bunch of new shrubs, we took the time to address some of these issues.  First, a new drain pipe was installed to take the downspout water underground to the east and it exits near the cart path.  This will reduce the amount of water in the bed and should allow us to maintain drier conditions.  The northeast exposure means that there is very little direct sunlight on this bed and any moisture in the soil takes much longer to evaporate that other beds around the building.  This slow dry time, coupled with the excess water coming off the roof effectively drowned the plants that were there.  Now that the drainage issues have been resolved, new shade tolerant plants have been added.  Slow release organic fertilizer and mulch were then added to finish the project.  The staff did an amazing job getting this done in such a short amount of time.  The beds on either side of the F&B entrance are next on the list.  More soil needs to be added and the plants replaced.  We should have all the landscaping done by the end of the week.

Friday, March 20, 2015

#9 Greenside Bunker

This past Thursday, the crew took the left over sand from greens aeration and filled the two greenside bunkers on #9.  The sand depth in these two bunkers had become too shallow and the risk of contamination had become too great to ignore.  Approximately 10 tons of sand was added to the two greenside bunkers.  The fresh sand made an instant impact on the aesthetics and playability of these bunkers.  The grounds staff did a great job getting this project done in such a short period of time.

Depths are checked and sand is added to create consistent depth throughout the entire bunker

Playability and aesthetics are greatly improved by adding the new sand!

Spring Greens Aeration

The weather and fertilizer perked the greens up quickly
Pulling a lot of thatch out of the putting surface!
  Earlier this week, the grounds staff completed our spring greens aeration.  This is always a busy few days for the crew and this year they did an amazing job getting all the work done on schedule.  The weather leading up to aeration improved and allowed the greens to wake up just in time for the process.  One week before we were scheduled to start punching holes on the front nine, Doug, our chemical technician, applied some granular fertilizer to the greens to help wake them up from dormancy and get them growing.  We time the fertilizer to kick in just as we start the project so that a quicker recovery is encouraged and the greens will be back to normal as quickly as possible.  The weather post aeration is also very important to how long the recovery takes.  The weather has been ideal, with several rain showers, sunny days and mild nights.  It seems we are right on schedule for our usual 1-2 week recovery window.

Most golfers deal with the after affects of aeration on putting greens, but few know exactly how it is performed and why we must go through the process.  While there are many ways to perform core aeration, this is the process that works for us.  First, the greens are "verticut" with our greens mower two times at perpendicular directions.  This creates little square grooves for sand to settle into.  More information about verticutting can be found here.  Then we mow the greens to clean up the longer leaves that are left behind the verticutter.  Once the green has been mowed, the aerator pulls the cores out of the green and pulls them to the collar for removal.  As you can see from the picture on the right, the aerator removes a large amount of soil.  This sand based soil contains built up organic matter that can create wet, soft conditions and harbor disease.  Removing this material, and replacing it with straight sand allows us to maintain drier, firmer, healthier putting surfaces.  After the cores are all cleaned off, the greens are then blown completely clean so the holes are all open and ready for sand.  The next step is to topdress the greens with a very specific amount of USGA topdressing sand.  This sand has a very specific particle size that is compatible with the sand found in our greens profile.  This sand is allowed to dry completely and then is drug into the holes using a drag mat towed behind a utility vehicle.
Sand is heavily applied and left to dry before dragging into holes
Once the sand is worked into the holes, the greens are rolled to smooth out any depressions from tire tracks or footprints.  The greens are drug once again to be sure to incorporate as much sand into the holes as possible.  Water is then applied to settle the sand into the holes and keep the grass from stressing out from all the aggressive cultural practices.

The greens are then left to rest for a few days so the grass can begin to fill into the holes we made and allow the sand at the surface to integrate into the canopy.  Today, the staff spent some time rolling, dragging and mowing the greens to get them as good as possible for the weekend.  Over the next week, the greens will seem less sandy and the turf growth integrates the sand into the canopy and normal putting conditions return.  We appreciate everyone's patience during this time.

Monday, March 2, 2015

February Course Update

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The weather started off mild and the grounds staff was in high gear working on our winter project list. We began spraying our course wide pre-emergent, continued sodding bare areas along cart paths, and topdressing divots on the driving range tee box.  The staff was busy preparing our equipment to begin our annual tree maintenance work, when the course received over 4 inches of snow on Sunday the 15th.
Embedded image permalinkThe snow halted all progress on the golf course and forced the staff to stay in the shop.  Since we couldn't get onto the golf course, the staff got to work on some shop projects to keep busy.  The staff built bird houses, wash racks, and tee markers.  They striped the floor in the equipment bay to create safe walkways, and designate where machinery should be stored.  Dan, our equipment manager, began working on all the equipment that will be needed for our March greens aeration.
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During the last week of February, Michael, our assistant superintendent and I, went to the Golf Industry Show.  This conference is hosted by our national golf course superintendent association.  Each year superintendents and other golf industry professionals come together to network, attend educational seminars, and walk the trade show to mingle with colleagues and learn about the latest equipment and supplies we need to improve our golf maintenance operations.  Each year, when I return from this trip, I am invigorated to start the golf season and give the members and guests of Bailey Ranch the best golf experience possible.
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It seems the winter weather will stick around for another week or so, then we should start to experience some milder, spring-like, weather.  Spring is just around the corner and the grounds staff will begin ramping up their agronomy programs once we warm up.  Our spring greens aeration is scheduled for March 16th and 17th.  Once we get that process done, we should be into warmer days and the beginning of the 2015 golf season!  

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