Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Solstice

Today is the winter solstice which means it is the shortest day of the year and the official start to meteorological winter.  Leading up to today, we've had a very mild winter.  December has been above average for most of the month and November was also very mild despite getting a little snow on November 12th.  Golfers have been blessed with plenty of nice days to get out and enjoy their golf course.  It has also been nice for our department.  Warm, sunny days are always nice this time of year to be out conducting our work.

With all the nice golfing weather we've been having, the grounds crew has been busy most mornings preparing the golf course for the days rounds.  Aside from daily course preparations, the crew renovated the cart path extension left of #12 green (more info found here), applied wetting agent to collars, installed rock to #2 creek, refurbished the clubhouse patio furniture, trimmed trees, and many other miscellaneous activities. 

On December 1st, we said goodbye to our seasonal staff.  This day is always tough.  As a group, we have fought shoulder to shoulder through a tough summer and they should be proud of the golf course they have produced.  I know I am.  I don't know where life will take them but I would be proud to have them back next year.

Recently, we also said goodbye to our long-time Assistant Superintendent, Michael Liebe, as he accepted the Superintendent position at South Lakes Golf Course in south Tulsa.  Michael has worked by my side for a very long time.  He would have had his 10th anniversary this March.  For the past 9 years, Michael has been here helping us create stability and routine, renovate and improve, and helped us overcome numerous obstacles along the way.  I can say unequivocally, that Michael is a big reason we are who we are today.  I am indebted to him for all his years of loyal, dependable service and wish him much success in his new role as Superintendent at South Lakes.

Looking ahead to the rest of winter, we plan on doing quite a bit of tree work along property edges to improve visibility and airflow throughout the golf course.  We also plan on renovating the creek crossing behind #10 sometime within the next few weeks.  There will also be some drainage and irrigation work to be done as well.  Not to mention, all the budget and agronomic planning that always occurs during the off-season. 

#12 Cart Path Extension

By now, those that have played golf at Bailey Ranch in the past few weeks have noticed the renovated cart path extension on #12 green.  While this project has been complete for over a month, I still wanted to take a few minutes and shine a light on the great work our crew did with this project. 

Rough grading the path
As you can see from the picture above, the area left of the green on #12 had been, for years, a muddy, rocky, mess.  People have used this area under the tree to get off the cart path and get closer to the green surround.  I've tried for years to keep it presentable under this tree using mulch, but mulch moves around when it rains and needs to be replenished every few years to keep it looking nice.  Following the success of the project on #2 tee, we decided to do something similar on #12.  The pictures below so the process used and the finished product.  I am very proud of the staff for their hard work and determination and couldn't be happier with how it turned out!
With gravel installed, RR tie curbs are set
Dirt back fill and sod to tie-in project to adjacent slopes


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Fall Greens Aeration

It's hard to believe it's already that time of year, but fall aeration of our greens is next week!  Starting Monday, the front nine will be closed while we work on them and then the work will continue to the back nine on Tuesday.  As always, the front nine will reopen Tuesday while we work on the back nine.  On Wednesday, the entire course will be open for regular play.  You will notice, however, the aerifier out on the course performing a final, small-tine, aeration.  This portion of the project will have minimal impact on play and shouldn't affect putting quality.

Once the process is complete, we expect to be healed in and back to normal within 10-14 days.  Aeration naturally softens the surface so ball marks will be an issue until we heal in and our surface firmness returns.  During this time, do your fellow golfers a favor, and fix your ball marks!

As always, we appreciate your patience while we conduct this vital work to improving the quality of our putting greens.  If you have any questions, please contact me at, or find me on the golf course.  Thanks!

Friday, August 17, 2018

#12 Fairway Update

It's been over 35 days since we planted the new Riviera Bermudagrass on #12 fairway and we are very pleased with our progress thus far!  Now that the canopy has achieved full coverage, we will begin to work on density as we look to get the turf ready for winter.  We have about 45 more days of good growing weather and we need to get the young seedlings as healthy as possible.

We planned on pulling ropes down this weekend, but the rains and wet conditions have forced our hand and now plan on opening that fairway to cart traffic on Monday.  Once the ropes are down, we will be better able to integrate the new fairway into our existing fairway management program.  We will begin mowing the new fairway 3 times per week, fertilizing as necessary and begin spraying growth regulators to improve density by increasing the number of leaf blades per inch.  Riviera is by nature, a very winter hardy grass, but all juvenile turf is vulnerable to stress and we need to be sure the new turf is ready for whatever this winter has planned. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

#12 Fairway Conversion Update

7 days after planting
It's been over 30 days since we seeded the new Riviera Bermudagrass in #12 fairway and it's looking good!  As you can see from the picture on the right, we had germination about 7 days after planting!  Over the past few weeks, the new turf continued to make significant progress. As turf got taller and began to fill in, we increased the mowing frequency to match the growth.  Last week, we began the same mowing schedule as the other fairways.  Now that the Riviera is growing in quickly, it is almost time to pull down the ropes and open it to cart traffic!  The plan right now is to let these storms pass through over the next few days and hopefully dry up enough to open it on Saturday.  Over the next few months, we will be pushing turf to grow more aggressively to finish filling in before winter. 

I know everyone will be excited to get out on the new turf and I sincerely appreciate everyone's patience throughout this whole project.  Looking forward to seeing everyone out enjoying the new fairway soon!

30 days after planting

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

#12 Fairway Conversion Update

As of Tuesday, July 10th, the fairway on #12 has been seeded!  I know everyone has been anxiously waiting for this day.  The next time you're out on the course, you'll notice ropes have been installed around the perimeter of the fairway to prevent cart traffic from entering the fairway.  The fairway is still in play and there are no other use restrictions besides the carts.  Over the next 30 days, the ropes must stay up to allow the new seedlings time to establish and begin to grow.  Once we begin mowing regularly the ropes will be pulled down and the fairway will reopen to cart traffic.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#12 Fairway Turf Conversion

A lot of people have been asking about #12 fairway lately, and I'm sorry it has taken me this long to put out more information about what we have been doing over there.  For those who may not know, we are planning on converting #12 fairway from Common Bermuda to Riviera Bermuda.  Riviera is a seeded variety that has many improvements over Common.  It is more heat, drought, disease, and cold tolerant.  It has better density and color.  Riviera also greens up sooner in the spring and stays greener later into the fall.  During the next few years, we will observe this new grass and see if it will meet expectations for a larger project to re-grass all our fairways in the future.

Currently, the grounds department is killing the existing common Bermuda grass in preparation for seeding on July 10th.  Bermuda is a very resilient turf and can be quite difficult to fully eradicate.  As of today, we have sprayed Roundup three times over the past month and still plan on one more application a few days before seeding.  Why go through all the trouble?  Well, in order to get the full benefit of the new turf, we must completely kill the original stand of grass so that it won't contaminate the new fairway.  The color and texture of the old and new grasses are different enough that any remnants of the old common Bermuda would stand out and reduce the overall quality of the new fairway.

Once we have the seed in the ground, the fairway will be roped off from golf carts until the new turf is established and we begin mowing regularly.  Just to clarify, the hole will remain open and shots can be played off the fairway, we just cannot allow carts on the fairway until the ropes are taken down.  The establishment process should take 30-45 days and then we will be pushing the new fairway with water and fertilizer to achieve full density before winter.

We realize this project is an inconvenience, but feel that the long term benefits will be worth it.  If anyone has questions about the project or anything else for that matter, please feel free to contact me.

As always, see you on the course!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Collars: Winter Injury Update

Picture taken April 26th
After a cold, dry winter, and the second coldest April on record, the hot topic among superintendents in our region has been winter injury in collars.  Talking with quite a few of my colleagues throughout the area, it seems that everyone has needed to replace turf in collars, or is planning on it soon.  As you probably know, we also experienced winter injury on collars.  The first question that comes to mind is: why?  Well, the short answer is that many golf courses in this area, ourselves included, that have Bentgrass greens and Bermuda collars are at risk of the collar encroaching into the green overtime.  As the green gets smaller, the collar "moves" onto the greens mix.  This creates a collar that is on top of the sand greens mix instead of the clay that the original collar was built on.  Sandy soils get much colder and dryer than clay during the winter.  This puts the Bermuda in the collar at a high risk for winter injury relative to the Bermuda that is on the clay in the fairways and surrounds. 

As you can see from the pictures to the right, time and good growing weather have fixed many of the areas that were slow to come out of winter.  There will, however, still be some sod that needs replaced (portions of the collar on #'s 10, 12, and 13 come to mind).
Picture taken May 14th

So, how can we prevent this from happening in the future?  We are currently working with Oklahoma State University to come up with a preventative plan to minimize the risks of winter injury on our collars.  The best way to solve this problem would be to expand the greens to their original dimensions effectively pushing the collars back onto the clay where it is meant to be.  This is a very costly and invasive project and isn't likely to happen in the near future.  Other alternatives are to utilize more cold and drought tolerant Bermuda varieties that can tolerate growing on sandy soils.  This is less expensive yet still cost prohibitive to replace all our collars.  We do plan on planting some different varieties over the next year or so as a trial to see how they perform.  In the short term though, we plan on continuing our cultivation program to improve the health the Bermuda we have, and plan on incorporating amendments into the sandy soil in the collars to help hold more moisture.  Increasing soil moisture is one of the best ways to mitigate winter injury besides using covers, which isn't practical.

Summer is here and great Bermuda growing weather is here to stay, so our collars will only get better and better for the rest of the season.  We appreciate everyone being so understanding while we work through this issue.  As always, if anyone has questions feel free ask.  See you on the course!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Course Update: Sprinter?

Snow on April 7th!?

Last month, I wrote a short post about how the mild temperatures of spring were signaling all the Redbuds, Forsythia and Pear trees to bloom and how the turf growing season would be just around the corner. it turns out, Mother Nature had other plans.  As I sit here today, the spring bloom has come and gone, but our Bermuda turf has actually taken a big step backwards into winter dormancy over the past few weeks.  We were more green going into April than we are right now.  This is due, in large part, to multiple frosts, and a deep freeze of 25 degrees on the 7th accompanied by about an inch of snow.  In fact, April has been so cold that, so far, we've had 9 morning lows at 32 degrees, or lower, out of the first 20 days of April.  This winter was by most accounts dry and quite cold at times.  When this happens, winter injury on Bermuda begins to be a concern.  I'll admit that winterkill was a frequent topic amongst area superintendents this winter, but despite our concerns, the consensus was that while we were monitoring it closely, no one had seen any evidence of widespread injury.  We seem to have come out of winter largely unscathed, however, we are not without our scars.  There are a few areas on collars that I'm not optimistic about.  We will monitor these areas closely and make a determination for replacing the sod in the coming weeks.  In the mean time, our staff will do everything they can to minimize mechanical and chemical stresses on our collars to assist in their recovery. 

Speaking of recovery, as you are likely aware, our greens have still not fully recovered from core aeration back in late March.  Although recovery from Spring aeration inherently takes longer than in the Fall, we are definitely behind schedule.  This difference in recovery is largely due to soil, and air, temperatures being much higher in the Fall and therefore plant growth is more aggressive.  Having said that, I typically expect Spring recovery to take 14-21 days and we are at about 90% recovery after 27 days.  Greens can take 10-14 days in the Fall to fully recover. 

Winter injury on #10
The good news is that these cold temperatures can't last forever.  The one silver lining to all this cold weather is that since it has restricted Bermuda growth, we have more time to hire staff and get them trained.  We are currently at about 50% staffing and these cold temps have been a bit of a blessing in disguise.  Filling out the rest of our team is one of my top priorities right now and I feel confident we will get staffed before mid-May.

April 4th
Besides spending time training new staff on mowing, our greenskeepers have been busy preparing the golf course each day for tournaments.  This is the busiest time of year for school tournaments, as their season is quite short.  It is not uncommon to have 2-3 tournaments a week during late March through April.  Once we get past early May, the school events will cease and we will phase over to corporate and fundraising tournaments for the remainder of the season.

While our focus remains on daily conditions and tournament preparations, we are shifting our attention to early summer.  There are still many tasks to be completed to prepare the golf course for a busy summer season.  Over the next few months, the grounds staff will be very busy applying fertilizers and plant protectants, performing cultural practices to various surfaces, and working into our weekly routine.

Spring is always an exciting time of year on the golf course with plenty of suprises!  Summer is coming, and we'll be ready!  As always, we look forward to seeing you on the course!

New temporary lake on #9 fairway after 4 inches of rain March 26th

Sod Project on #14 Cart Path

Over the past few days, the grounds staff has been working on regrading and sodding bare areas along #14 cart path.  This afternoon, all the sod has been laid and now we begin the grow in process.  During grow in, is when the sod is the most vulnerable to damage from cart and foot traffic.  Even though ropes and signage have been place around the sod areas, I would encourage everyone to use caution in the area and avoid walking, or driving, in these areas until these areas are reopened and the rope is pulled down. 

While new sod is trying to take root and start growing in, the soil underneath is VERY vulnerable and can easily rut, or shift, under any kind of weight, especially after a rain storm.  We are expecting rain this weekend, so please avoid these areas next week as they will be very soft.  We are very happy with the finished product and appreciate everyone's cooperation while we work to grow in the new sod!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Let's Talk About Bunkers...

Spring has begun, the days are longer, and everyone is dusting off their clubs to get out to enjoy the warmer weather.  While it's great to see everyone out enjoying themselves, I am noticing a disturbing lack of etiquette regarding bunkers.  Now, I know what you're thinking, "the superintendent is just mad because a few people forgot to rake a few footprints, what's the big deal.  The grounds crew is just going to rake them in the morning!"  While it is true, the grounds crew is going to go through all the bunkers the next morning, and rake them before play, this line of thinking misses the point.   The bigger issue for me is that it shows a lack of regard for the golfers behind you.  When I see footprints in a bunker, like the one pictured above, I'm not mad that we had to rake it, I'm frustrated that those footprints were there all afternoon, negatively impacting the conditions for other golfers. 

The grounds department takes the condition of our bunkers very seriously and will continue to provide the best possible playing conditions, but cannot control how they are maintained after we leave for the day.  We feel that if everyone was more mindful of the golfers playing behind them, negative course conditions like this would take care of themselves. 

If anyone has any comments or concerns regarding bunker maintenance, please fee free to contact me.  Thank you and, as always, see you on the course! 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Spring Is In The Air

Spring is almost here and the signs are all around us.  Daylight savings time begins this Sunday and the first official day of spring is Tuesday, March 20th.  The days are gradually getting warmer and spring storms are beginning to push out the drier air that is typical during winter.  We are beginning to see signs of spring on the golf course as well.  Trees, shrubs and flowers are waking up and beginning to show their colors.  The grasses are beginning to wake up and the grounds department is reacting with increased activity.  Spring greens aeration typically kicks off our growing season and this year aeration will be on March 21st and 22nd.  As usual, the front nine will be completed the first day and then open back up the next day while the back nine is aerated.

All of this means that the 2018 golf season is underway.  The grounds department is excited and ready for the challenge of providing the best possible conditions for our members and guests to enjoy this year!       

#12 Road Crossing Update

I am happy to announce that the road work between #11 green and #12 tee is complete!  This means the cart path is back open and ready for cart traffic.  We understand this project was an inconvenience and we appreciate everyone's patience and cooperation over the past few weeks. 

The contractor still has to lay some sod, and other miscellaneous work to finish, so please use caution while crossing the road.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Road Repair at #12 Tee

Last week, the City of Owasso began replacing portions of the street between #11 green and #12 tee complex.  As of today, all the old concrete has been removed and new gravel has been placed.  This week, new curb and gutter will be poured on both sides and next week, each side of the road is scheduled to be poured.  This means that over the next few weeks, this road crossing will be closed 4 times for approximately 8-10 days total.  The golf shop is in communication with the City of Owasso Public Works inspectors and will have the latest information regarding this project.  Please use caution and follow all on-site signage.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Where Does the Time Go

It just occurred to me that I'm starting my 12th season as the golf course superintendent at Bailey Ranch Golf Club!  Where does the time go?  Winter is often a time for reflection.  How well did we do last year?  Were there things we didn't do as well as we would have liked?  What can we improve upon for the next year?  But as I sit here thinking about the last 11 years, I cant help but think about all the progress we've made in this department.  Progress, despite challenges that seemed overwhelming at times.  Ice storms, historic droughts, winterkill on fairways, vandalism, equipment breakdowns, constant irrigation system failures, greens renovations, cart path repairs, bunker conversions and renovations, and bridge renovations were just a few of the challenges we faced with minimal staffing and limited resources.  This was just within the first 4 years!  
Thinking back upon all these challenges brings to mind all the people that have helped make it possible.  Over the past 11 years, we've had various full-time staff come and go, and over 100 part-time and seasonal staff members come through and leave their mark on this place.  The support of our Director of Golf, Corey Burd, and the Golf Shop, lead by our Head Professional Jeff Moore, has been invaluable and we have always felt like a team.  Even through all the stress, there never was a time when it felt like we didn't have their support. Not to mention the unwavering support from the other departments within the City of Owasso.  There is such a wealth of expertise at the City and they have helped us in numerous ways: project design assistance from the engineering department, construction equipment from public works, irrigation and drainage assistance from public works, loaner tractors from the Parks department, and countless other opportunities.  There can be no doubt we wouldn't be where we are without their support!

Facing these challenges head on was daunting at times, and often seemed to be too much, but we put out heads down and got through it together.  When I first got to Bailey Ranch, the golf course had been neglected for quite a while and therefore the condition of the golf course was volatile.  Conditions were good when the weather cooperated and bad when it didn't.  Anyone who has lived in this area for any length of time knows the weather is very unpredictable, and due to this, we struggled to be consistent the first few years I was here.  Now, I can honestly say we have come out the other side with a much more sustainable golf course.  We aren't as prone to the whims of nature, and we have created a product that is much more consistent throughout the year.  This has been my greatest pleasure, to create a product that our members and guests can enjoy, and be proud of.  At the beginning of each year, I get excited for what the new year will bring, and this year is no exception.  I am excited for the chance to make Bailey Ranch even better in 2018 than it was in 2017!

As always, see you on the course!