Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sneak Peek! #2 Tee Cart Path Extension Project

removing tree stumps and roots
For those who have been playing the golf course over the past two weeks, it is no secret that the grounds department has been working hard on some much needed improvements near #2 tee complex.  Although the grounds staff has not yet finished the project, I wanted to give those who have not been on the course lately a sneak peak at what has been going on. 

The mulch cart path extension at the middle tee on #2 has, for years, been difficult to keep in good condition.  Mulch tends to wash downhill during storms, and we have not had the budget to keep replacing it.  In the absence of mulch, the soil eroded downhill exposing the roots from the nearby Elm trees.  This has left us with a less than acceptable cart path area.  This past spring, the two elm trees that provided shade to this area never leafed out and by summer it was clear they weren't coming back.  When it came time to cut them down for this project, we discovered Dutch Elm disease to be the culprit.  The need to remove the trees helped to convince us that we ought to go ahead and get this project underway.

gravel path being installed

I had the idea of using gravel because we did some work last year to the service path behind #8 and the cart path approach on #3 and it has performed well.  Based on this information, gravel seemed to be a viable option in lieu of concrete, as long as the right size of rock is chosen.  Crusher run, which is a smaller, dust-like limestone gravel, was used on #3 and it likes to move downhill when it rains.  Since we've had a history of mulch floating downhill on #2, I knew I needed to choose a bigger size rock that would resist moving.  The rock I went with is called "Ag base", which when wet, packs very tight and should provide a smooth surface.  I chose to use railroad ties as curbs, because they are a cheap alternative to concrete and they fit the ranch aesthetic found throughout the rest of the property.  The guys did a great job this week getting all the cart path materials finalized.  Now we get to move on to the more creative aspect of the project: the landscaping bed that will be located where the elm trees used to be.  Over the next week, work will continue on the landscape bed.  Please be aware while we work to finish the landscape bed, the concrete path will be closed.  The new path will be open to allow easy access to the tee box.  Please use caution while walking on dormant sod, it may shift underfoot when wet.

The grounds staff and I are very excited about this project and thus far member feedback has been very positive!

gravel down, RR ties being secured, and soil back fill getting ready for sod

Daylight Savings Time

When Daylight Savings Time ends each November, the golf course undergoes the transition from Fall to Winter.  The onset of frosty mornings brings an official end to the growing season by pushing the Bermuda into dormancy and significantly slowing down shoot growth on our Bentgrass greens.  This can often be the best time of year to play on transition zone golf courses.  The recently dormant warm-season grasses have likely been left to leaf out a little bit to ensure winter survival, winter cart traffic has yet to shear off the dormant leaves, and greens, no matter the type of grass, are likely as firm and fast and you could want.

As I have driven the golf course over the past few weeks, I can honestly say that we meet the scenario mentioned above.  Since we've had a frost recently, but have not had a hard freeze, we are enjoying a nice bit of color contrast between our rough and short grass surfaces.  As you can see from the picture above, the recent frost caused the rough, which is cut higher than the nearby tees, to go almost completely dormant.  The shorter turf on the tees, fairways, and surrounds was almost unaffected by the frosts and has retained significantly more green leave tissue.  This won't last, however, as pending cold weather will send the rest of the Bermuda into full dormancy.  Once this occurs, the Bermuda throughout the golf course will take on a biscuit brown appearance.

#15 Drainage Project

removing old drain line
A few weeks ago, the grounds staff finished a much needed drainage project on #15.  For too long, irrigation and storm water runoff from the neighborhood to the east of #15 green had caused the end of the fairway to be saturated.  The saturated soil led to tire ruts, and plugged lies.  With a reduction in mowing frequency, our staff is now able to tackle small projects and details.  I knew that once I felt we could afford the time necessary for this project, I'd put it on the schedule.

My main objective on this project was to renovate the existing drainage, and install additional drainage, so the system can better handle the runoff from the neighborhood.  The first step was to replace the damaged drain line that ran down the cart path and then across the fairway to the west.  After that, additional drainage was installed uphill so it would connect with a new basin.  Once that was replaced, a drain basin on the east side of the cart path was installed to capture the runoff from the neighborhood and get it underground.  This required a portion of the cart path to be removed so a line could be installed.  With a new pipe installed, the cart path was repaired with concrete.

Removing sod, getting ready for trencher
I am very proud of the crew for their high quality work on this project.  As you can see from the pictures shown below, the project turned out great!

Trenching new line, ready for pipe
New pipe being installed
New  basin installed east of cart path
Finished product

Fall Course Update

I am sorry it has been quite a while since my last update.  Summer always seems to fly by in a blur and now that I have more time to spend in the office, my goal is to update this blog with more timely information.  This post will hopefully catch everyone up on what has been going on around the golf course over the past few months.

For most of the summer, we had above average rainfall with average temperatures.  This is ideal growing weather for Bermuda and our members and guests enjoyed some of the best playing surfaces we've been able to create in my tenure here.  The first half of August continued this trend of average temperatures and above average rainfall.  To illustrate this, we received 6 inches during August, and all of it occurred during the first two weeks.  By mid-August, the weather pattern changed and much drier weather set in.  This drier weather pattern lasted through September into early October.  The golf course received only 42% of our normal amount of rainfall during September.  As you can see from the picture on the right, this lead to some very firm and dry conditions during September.  

Besides the reduction in color of our Bermuda surfaces, I was very pleased with the density and quality of the turf.  Fall greens aeration went very well and the subsequent recovery period was brief, due in large part to the ideal growing weather in September.

Thankfully, October brought us some much needed rain!  On October 4th we received 4" of rain.  The biggest single day rain total since September 21st, 2009!  This much needed rain soaked into the ground slowly and the response from the turf was apparent within a week. 
The crew has spent the past month mowing our Bermuda surfaces as necessary to keep things looking clean and sharp.  They have also spent a lot of their time performing cultural practices on greens that promote firmer surfaces and increased root depth.  Vertical mowing, rolling, sand topdressing, brushing and deep solid-tine aerating have all been completed during October.  Due to these processes, the greens have been right on target in relation to soil moisture, root depth, firmness and speed.  

Looking ahead, we are expecting our first frost delay this Saturday.  If we have a significant frost, one could expect much, if not all, of the Bermuda throughout the golf course to go into dormancy.  This week an application of iron sulfate will be applied to all tees, fairways, approaches, collars, and surrounds to help keep some color.  Even if the Bermuda doesn't do dormant after this weekend, the writing is on the wall and winter is just around the corner.  2017 has been one of the best Bermuda and Bentgrass growing seasons I can remember.  This golf course is in great condition going into dormancy and barring any unusual weather this winter, should be primed for a great start to the 2018 golf season!