Friday, December 30, 2016

Drainage Work on #10 Approach

A few weeks ago, the grounds staff completed a drainage installation in #10 approach.  Over the past few months, this area has been very wet.  Initially we suspected an irrigation leak due to how suddenly it seemed to appear.  However, after digging up the irrigation system to look for a leak, we realized the ground became drier the deeper we dug.  This indicated to me that we had a surface drainage problem and that we needed to give that water somewhere to go.

The decision was made to install a drain basin in front of the green-side bunker and reshape the approach to funnel the water into the new basin.  The first task of the project was to remove the sod so the necessary dirt work could begin.  As you can see from the picture above, the sod was cut, rolled, and removed.  The next task was to begin installing the drain basin.  The design for the basin was completed in-house based on survey measurements taken previously.  Once we had all the reference points for the laser level, the dirt work began.  After the basin was installed, the trench for the drain pipe was cut.    Lastly, all trenches and holes were back-filled and the sod was replaced.

Right now, this area is kind of easy to spot.  The grass height is too tall in the approach and the whole area looks a little sandy.  Both of these issues are cosmetic and will work out with time.  As will any sod project, this area will play as ground under repair until further notice and we ask that you keep out as much as possible.  If you have any questions about this project or anything else, just let us know.  Thank you.

Course Update for November

Now that winter has set in, and Christmas has come and gone, I've got a little more time to spend in the office catching up on some office work.  The weather was so nice in November and the golf course was so busy, there wasn't much time to spend updating this blog.

The temperatures at the beginning of November were very mild.  The warm fall weather pattern we had in October continued well into late November.  This meant we had a lot of great days for playing golf and growing grass.  The short Bermuda found on our tees, fairways and surrounds held it's color up to Thanksgiving, but stopped growing by mid November.  Our last official mowing on tees, fairways and surrounds was on November 10th.  The Bentgrass, however, thrived in the cold nights and warm days and playing conditions were perfect throughout the month.  By the end of the month, the temperatures kept creeping down and growth on the greens had almost stopped.  On November 19th, we recorded our first official freeze of 30 degrees.  This shocked the taller rough into dormancy, but the shorter grass on our tees and fairways held some green leaf tissue until November 28th, when freezing fog set up widespread heavy frost.  All our Bermuda went into dormancy after that.

One of the highlights of November, for me personally, is always Thanksgiving.  A time when family gets together to spend some quality time sharing food and football.  Each year, the staff at Bailey Ranch sits down to a wonderful Thanksgiving feast to share in our accomplishments and bond.  This year, our Food & Beverage Manager, Dawnie Aurelich, out did herself and the food was amazing.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Course Update for October

This past October was unusually warm compared to previous years.  Gary McManus, the state climatologist, with the Oklahoma Climatological Survey said that the statewide average temperature was over 6 degrees above normal, making it the fourth warmest October in history.  As you can see from the picture on the right, the entire state was affected.  The total precipitation fell about 50% below normal levels also.  This dry, warm weather felt like having two Septembers.  The mild weather gave us plenty of great growing weather for the turf, not to mention ideal weather for our members and guests to get out and enjoy plenty of golf.

Due to this nice warm weather, the turf throughout the course has held up very well, especially the cool-season Bentgrass on our greens.  The optimum growing temperature range for Bentgrass is 50-80 degrees, and because of this, the greens are at their best right now.  Excellent density and color with minimal growth have the greens rolling as smooth and fast as they've been all year.  

Despite being over 50% understaffed during October, the crew has done an amazing job getting the course ready each morning and still working hard to complete various tasks that must be done to get the course ready for winter.  Pre-emergent herbicide applications, covering greens fans, pump house winterizing, irrigation repairs, ornamental grass plantings, cart path repairs, and blowing leaves, are just some of the tasks that were completed in October.  The extended growing season should set up the golf course to go into winter as healthy as we've ever been.  This bodes well for a fantastic start to the 2017 golf season, baring any severe weather this winter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Driving Range Mats

Starting this week, we ask that all members, and guests, restrict their practicing on the driving range to the artificial turf mats located on the back of the tee box.  Each year the winter golfing season produces a lot of great golfing weather.  This causes a lot of divots to accumulate on the driving range.  The dormant Bermuda cannot regenerate and by spring, the surface of the range is completely used up.  Often, by March, there is almost no turf left to hit off of.  By hitting off the mats during the winter, we can ensure a full, dense, and divot free, surface that is ready for the 2017 golf season.  We appreciate your cooperation and as always, if you have any questions, please contact anyone in the pro shop, or grounds department.  Thank you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Course Update for September

Sorry, I'm a little late for my September course update, but since our seasonal staff left to go back to school, it's been hectic around here.

September has always been a transition month were the first half of the month still feels like summer and the last half starts to feel more like fall.  This past September was very similar.  The only real difference was that we missed several good chances at some rain.  As you were likely aware, we had a minor drought over the past few months.  Several heavy downpours have missed us to the south, east and north, leaving us with only 2.3" total for the month.  This is about half of what we average during September.  The lack of rain didn't help our irrigation water supply issue we've been dealing with all summer and left us still hoping for a big pond filling rain.

Aside from the weather, several noteworthy projects were completed during September.  Our annual fall greens aeration was conducted on September 13th and 14th.  As usual, our staff did an incredible job and I couldn't have been happier with the finished product.  The other big project that was going on was the pond dam project on #3.  Based on the amount of questions and comments I received during the project, there seemed to be a considerable amount of interest.  Everyone seemed interested in the process and were excited to see the finished product.  For those who are interested in more information about this project, I've written a more detailed blog post that can be found here.

Monday, October 10, 2016

#3 Pond Dam Construction Complete

Pond dam before project.
Last Friday, Lowry Construction officially completed the dam reconstruction project on #3, and the #3 tee complex was reopened for regular play on Saturday October 1st.  Over the past month, this project has been the source for the most frequently asked questions while I've been on the course.  It's been exciting to see the project progress from beginning to end and we couldn't be happier with the final product.  Since not many people got to see the daily progress like I did, I've decided to share some pictures I took along the way.  Hopefully you'll find them interesting.  Enjoy.

Once dirt and limestone rocks were removed,
the contractor chiseled into bedrock
to prepare for weir footing.

The footing was chiseled 2' into the bedrock,
then a rebar frame is installed.  
Once the rebar was installed, concrete for
the footing was poured.
The footing cured for almost a week, then the wall forms were installed and
concrete was poured.

After 3 days, the formed were removed and we had "a wall in a hole"
as one of our members put it.  At this point it's still hard to visualize
what the finished product will be.

With all concrete work completed, the contractor got busy installing the clay
on either side of the wall.  Starting to look like something now.

All of the limestone that was discovered early in the project was reused to
stabilize the pond banks and give the downstream side more character

Finshed the project just in time to get a big rain and fill the pond behind the weir.  Couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

#3 Pond Dam Construction Project

Yesterday, was the first day of the pond dam reconstruction project on #3.  The earthen dam between the middle pond and lower pond at #3 washed out several years ago.  Early on during the planning phase of this project we discussed not just replacing the dam with clay, but installing a concrete weir with native rocks so this hole would have a water feature.  Design plans were created and the necessary funds were included in this years budget.  The project kicked off yesterday and is expected to last up to 90 days depending on the weather.

While the contractors are working on this project, hole #3 will play as a temporary par 3.  The tees have been moved to the fairway to ensure the safety of the construction workers while they are on site.  The picture on the right shows the signage located at the tee complex.  The aerial photograph pictured below depicts the general location of the work site relative to the in-play areas in the vicinity.  Please note that in order for the project to be completed on schedule, the contractor will be working while golfers are in the area.  We appreciate your patience and understanding while we work to complete this project.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fall is Coming!

This past weekend brought us some much needed relief from the recent high temperatures and intense humidity that we experienced for the last month or so.  It appears that this cooler weather may stick around until the end of August.  Usually after Labor Day weekend, the daily high temperature falls down into the 80s and continues to cool off through fall.  This could mean that we are done with the extreme heat of summer… hopefully.

The cool-season Bentgrass on our greens enjoys the cooler weather just as much as we do.  When the soil temperature cools down into the 60s, new roots are initiated and the plant begins to rebuild the root system.  As a more vigorous root system is reestablished, the turf requires irrigation and is better able to handle aggressive cultural practices such as rolling, verticutting, grooming and topdressing.  The reduction in handwatering and increased frequency of cultural practices will allow the Grounds staff to increase putting green firmness, speed and smoothness.  We appreciate everyone being patience with the slower than desired green speeds during summer.   

Monday, July 25, 2016

Collar Sod Project

Recently, the staff resodded a few bare spots in the collar on #12 and #13 green.  These areas have struggled for a few years due to foot traffic and shade issues.  The bare spots were stripped out with a sod cutter, replaced with new sod and then topdressed with sand to knit in the seams.  Over the past few weeks, the height of cut of the sod has been lowered from 2" to .450".  During the next few weeks, the sod will continue to be topdressed to smooth any low areas and the height will be lowered to our collar height of .250"

Dog Days of Summer

As we enter the hottest part of the summer, you’ll notice the grounds staff periodically syringing the greens throughout the afternoon.  This practice is critical to the survival of the Bentgrass greens during these extreme temperatures.  When the golf course is packed with golfers, it can be very difficult for the staff to visit each green quickly enough.  

A few things to consider while you are out on the course:

  • the staff has been trained to do their work while staying out of the way as much as possible
  • it is inevitable that you will encounter a staff member watering a green during your round
  • if a staff member is watering a green and the flagstick has been pulled out, please let them finish watering that green, it will only take a few minutes

It takes a team effort to get the greens through this most stressful time of year.  Your cooperation with the grounds staff while they are watering will ensure that we have healthy, vibrant turf throughout the rest of the season.  Thank you for your cooperation. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Edging bunkers

The staff has been hard at work over the past few days putting a fresh edge on bunkers.  The perfect growing weather we've had lately has caused the Bermuda along the edges of our bunkers to grow very rapidly.  This time of year, the bunker edges must be cut every other week to keep them from looking shaggy.  The finished product looks great and very proud of the staff for all their hard work!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fairway Slicing

This week, the grounds staff finished the fairway slicing project using our Aerway solid tine machine.  This machine has blade shaped tines that fracture the soil as they enter and exit the ground.  Sometimes referred as "shattertining", this process helps to reduce compaction, incorporate oxygen into the rootzone, and improve drainage.  As you can see from the picture on the right, the slicing tines cause very little surface disruption.  Once the fairway is sliced, the turf is then mowed and any remaining debris is blown off the fairway. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

May Course Update

I'm a little late in writing the May course update but better late than never.  May started off nicely with good weather and just enough rain.  New seasonal employees continued to come on-board, and my assistant and I spent most of our time getting the new staff trained on various mowing and course set up jobs.

May is the first good month for growing turf in Oklahoma.  Air and soil temperatures rise and become favorable for steady growth.  The temperatures and moisture are especially ideal for the Bentgrass on our putting greens.  As the turf grows more aggressively, we begin to implement cultural practices such as: verticutting, topdressing and grooming.  These practices remove troublesome thatch and improve putting quality.  The warmer temperatures also mean that the Bermuda has fully woken up and needs it's first big meal of the season.  The grounds staff went out in mid-May with a course wide granular fertilizer application.  This fertilizer allowed the Bermuda to fully thicken up and quickly improved the overall quality of the playing surfaces.  Each month, throughout the growing season, the Bermuda will be fed with various amounts of fertilizer to sustain quality turf. 
Close up of Vcut on greens
The temperatures and consistent rainfall, during May, are ideal for the Tall Fescue, in our native areas, and this year was no exception.  As you can see from the picture of #8 below, it has been a great year thus far for our native areas.  These areas will be cut during June to discourage summer annual, and woody weeds, such as sumac, thistle, ragweed, and various trees.
Close up of topdressing
The latter half of May was very wet.  Multiple rainstorms kept the soil saturated and the grounds staff was unable to keep up with our mowing schedule.  For almost two weeks, the fairways were unable to be cut.  However, the staff stayed busy, during the stormy weather by repairing bunkers, edging sprinkler heads, edging drainage basins, and string trimming throughout the golf course.  The last few days of May were dry and the staff, through their hard work and diligence, was able to catch up on mowing just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

Heavy topdressing smooths and firms the surface

Walkway on #8 tee
Detention area L of #9 fwy (note the high water mark in middle of fwy)
The rain came down too quickly for parts of our drainage system
Catching up on mowing before Memorial Day weekend

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Mowing Native Areas

Bailey Ranch Golf Club has over 50 acres of low maintenance, pasture areas that are designed to create a links aesthetic, penalize errant shots, and reduce operational costs.  These native areas cost far less to maintain than the in-play rough, which requires frequent mowing, irrigation, herbicide treatments and fertilizer.  The native areas are mowed twice a year typically around June 1st and October 1st.  This timing favors the Tall Fescue, which over the past five or six years has become the dominant grass.  Allowing the Fescue to dominate creates a more consistent stand of grass and presents a nice links aesthetic.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tee/Collar Core Aeration

This week, the staff is core aerating all tees and collars.  This process is vital to the long-term success and sustainability of the turf.  Aeration loosens the soil which encourages more vigorous rooting and a healthier plant.  We do not close the course during this process, so inevitably there will be debris on some of the tees during your round.  Rest assured that the staff is working hard to clean up the debris as quickly as possible.  We plan on having the entire project finished by Tuesday afternoon.  We appreciate your patience. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fertilizer Application

On Tuesday May 10th, the grounds staff applied fertilizer to the entire property (except greens).  The process took two full days and was a coordinated effort from our entire staff.  Douglas Knapp, our chemical applicator, was on the tractor spreader, while someone else followed behind him placing wire flags along the edge of his pass.  This technique assures that fertilizer skips and overlaps are eliminated.  Another person followed Doug in a utility vehicle loaded with product so he could be reloaded quickly and downtime was minimized.  A three person push spreading crew followed the tractor to tie in any small areas or places it couldn't get.  These guys had the hardest job, pushing the spreader over hills, along street crossings, bunker noses, through swales and around greens.  They also had to be sure that any fertilizer that bounced onto the greens was removed with a backpack blower so that the fertilizer wouldn't burn the Bentgrass underneath the granule.

The crew did an amazing job working together to be sure the entire property was treated as evenly as possible.  Over the next few weeks, the color and density of the Bermuda will improve considerably.  Just in time for Memorial Day weekend!

April Course Update

April is always a difficult month for me as I drive around and assess the turf on the golf course.  I call it the ugly duckling phase for the Bermuda on the golf course.  The Bermuda is green but hasn't completely filled in yet.  The mid-season color and density is still a month or so away.  This slow green up is frustrating because once we see green turf, I get excited to start mowing, fertilizing and grooming the surfaces for the season, but the soil temperatures are still not ready to promote steady growth.  Pressure from weeds is typically high during this time while the Bermuda is still not growing and we had our hands full dealing with winter annuals in the rough.  Doug Knapp, our chemical applicator, was very busy spraying selective herbicides throughout the golf course to clean up all remaining weeds.

Was great to finally topdress the entire range tee.  Much needed!
Although the weather wasn't conducive for growth for Bermuda, it was ideal for the cool-season Bentgrass on our greens.  Bentgrass loves temperatures in the 60s and 70s with occasional rain showers.  A few weeks of good weather had our greens completely healed in from aeration and looking strong.  This gave us a chance to start mowing and rolling more often to get them ready for the busy spring tournament season.

First edging of the season
A few new staff members were brought in and Michael Liebe, our assistant superintendent, has been busy training them on course setup.   In mid April, Joe Miller, our irrigation technician, spent a few weeks cleaning debris out of our greens drainage.  Keeping the drainage system working is critical for the sustainability of our greens.  They cannot survive our Oklahoma summers if they cannot drain.

Besides mowing the tees, fairways, rough, collars and surrounds as necessary, the staff began some of the other regular maintenance tasks such as: edging bunkers, string trim mowing, topdressing divots on tees and mulching the clubhouse landscape beds.  We had planned on using our Aerway slicer on tees and fairways in late April to alleviate compaction from winter cart traffic, but wet conditions kept us from getting that done.  More information on the Aerway process can be found here.

Spruced up clubhouse w/ help from Owasso Rams boys golf team
Although May is usually our wettest month, we tend to have enough nice days to get projects done.  The plan for May is to fertilize all Bermuda course wide, increase mowing frequency, and slice tees and fairways.  This should set the golf course up nicely for Memorial Day weekend and the summer golf season.

Bermuda was green but not growing much during April

Friday, April 22, 2016

Greens Drainage Preventative Maintenance

Now that the rainy season is upon us, and summer not far behind, it is the perfect time to perform some preventative maintenance on our greens drainage.  As you can see from the picture above, Joe Miller, our irrigation/drainage technician, spent some time this week flushing clean water through the drainage pipe under the greens. Joe uses a special nozzle, pictured to the right, that does a great job clearing out any debris found in the pipe.

Over time, the drainage system will collect debris and may eventually become clogged.  During frequent irrigation, or rainy weather, the soil inside the greens can fill up with water rather quickly.  A clogged drain doesn't give the water anywhere to go, therefore the root zone will become saturated and stay that way.  This causes the greens to become very soft, disease is more frequent, and the roots will die back up to the surface (making them very short).  This compromised root zone does not allow the turf to handle all the typical stresses of summer, and often results in thin, or dead, turf.

Realizing how important the drainage system is to our success, flushing out the drainage has become a fixture on our annual preventative maintenance schedule.  We feel that by keeping our drainage system working properly, as well as a comprehensive cultivation program, we have the best chance to maintain quality putting surfaces year to year despite whatever weather challenges we may face.