Monday, November 29, 2010

Bunker Renovation

I want to address one of the biggest complaints that I receive about the golf course. “When are you going to do something about those bunkers?” Well the time has come. I have proposed a “master plan” to rebuild and remove bunkers on the course. Some of the bunkers on the course are no longer a real hazard. Many fairway bunkers are too short off of the tee. If they drained well and didn’t have rocks in them it would be a moot point, but they are in poor shape and either need to be fixed or removed. Removed is the more practical option for this situation. For those bunkers that are still integral to the design of the golf course, the “master plan” calls for a phase rebuild project. What this means is that over a period of 4-5 years we hope to renovate all of our bunkers, that will remain, that are not in good shape. The order to this work will be the worst bunkers get fixed first and the most playable will be fixed last. I have; #10 front left green side, #12 green side, #13 green side, #7 green side on the list for renovation in February of 2011. These bunkers are scheduled for elimination in December of 2010; #2, all of #3 fairway bunkers, #10 front right and back green side bunkers, #11 right fairway bunker, #17 back green side bunker.

The process of fixing a bunker is not as easy as most people think. I often get the question, “Can’t you just put some sand in the bunkers?” Simple answer, No. Full answer, we can’t do that because the pretty, expensive, playable sand that we put in the bunker will integrate with the soil like sand that we have in our bunkers now and be ruined in the first heavy rainfall we get. There are steps to properly rebuilding a bunker. The first step I take is finding the drainage out fall area. Without proper drainage bunkers become ponds quickly. After the outfall area is found we will redefine the edges of the bunker. We will have no more steep sloped faces on our bunkers. The steep faces are too labor intensive. The next step is creating the drain system; there are many different methods to drainage. I am going to go with the tried and true method of herring bone drainage. It is the same style that we used on # 11 fairway bunker and it has preformed beautifully. After the drainage is cut and cleaned the liners can be installed. Liners are a method of diverting water without diverting sand with it, and they are a barrier between sand and soil to prevent contamination of the sand.

The elimination process will consist of filling the existing bunker with topsoil to conform to the existing topography. Then in the spring we will come back with bermudagrass sod and cover the topsoil areas.

This project will be a major improvement to the golf course and will also greatly enhance play.
I can't wait to get started on it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Frost Delays

Unfortunatly, the cold weather is uppon us, and the number of days with good weather for golfing are diminishing rappidly. We have had great weather to this point though. we have had an unseasonably warm October so far. We are expecting a hard frost this weekend. I wanted to get some information out to our golfers to let you know that I don't allow you to play golf in the frost for good reasons. I thought I'd let an outside source do the talking this time. So here's an article from the GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America) about Frost Delays.

How can a footprint be a killer?

When it's a footprint made on a putting surface that's covered with frost. It's hard to believe that simply walking across a golf green covered with frost can cause so much damage, but the proof will be there in a few days as the turfgrass dies and leaves a trail of brown footprints. That's why most courses will delay starting times until the frost has melted. And it's also why golfers who appreciate a quality putting surface will be patient during frost delays.

Why does frost cause problems?

Greens are fragile. The putting surface, or green, is an extremely fragile environment that must be managed carefully and professionally. Remember that every green is a collection of millions of individual grass plants, each of which is a delicate living thing. Obviously, Mother Nature never meant for these plants to be maintained at 3/16 or even 1/8 of an inch for prolonged periods. This stress makes greens constantly vulnerable to attacks from insects, disease, heat, drought, cold -- and frost.

Frost is essentially frozen dew. It can form when the temperature (or wind chill) is near or below the freezing point. The ice crystals that form on the outside of the plant can also harden or even freeze the cell structure of the plant. When frosted, the normally resilient plant cells become brittle and are easily crushed. When the cell membranes are damaged, the plant loses its ability to function normally. It's not much different than cracking an egg. Once the shell is broken, you can't put it back together.

The proof is in the prints

Although you won't see any immediate damage if you walk on frosted turf, the proof will emerge within 48 to 72 hours as the leaves die and turn brown. And, since just one foursome can leave several hundred footprints on each green, the damage can be very extensive.

Thanks for understanding

The damage isn't just unsightly -- putting quality will also be reduced until repairs are made. Those repairs are expensive and, in some cases, the green may have to be kept out of play for days or weeks until the new turfgrass is established. A short delay while the frost melts can preserve the quality of the greens, prevent needless repairs and may even save you a few strokes the next time you play.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Anyone who has played at the course in the last week knows that we have aerified the greens last Monday. They have been healing in great. Unfortunately on the day that we had planned to start the temperatures reached a scorching 96 degrees and caused a slight degree of damage to 4 greens. It is not severe damage, as I look through the damaged canopy area I could see green leaves trying to emerge within 3 days of aerifying.
I am trying some different methods this time, and so far I have been pleased with the results. I have increased the fertilizer levels by 25%. I have changed the type of initial fertilizer that I use also; the jury is still out on that one. I have also decided not to increase the height of cut drastically this year during the grow-in process. I am hoping that a tighter mowing practice through this time will encourage more lateral movement by the plant. I am happy with this process so far.
I know that nobody likes playing on greens that have holes and sand all over them. Keep this in mind, Tom Watson shot his personal best record low round on aerified greens. So, remember to hit it firm and at the back of the cup. We should be healed within the next 2 weeks.
Thanks for bearing with us.

Native Areas

It is finally Fall! Temperatures are falling, as the leaves start to also. This has been the hottest summer season that I can remember going through in the last ten years of working on golf courses in the middle Tennessee area. Thankfully, that is all over for now. Now is also the time to plant any cool season grasses that you might have been contemplating in your yard if you have bluegrass or fescue. I am taking advantage of this time of year to plant some natural areas in some wasted space on the golf course.
I am sure that most of you have noticed the dead tilled areas on the course where we have been working, sometimes creating a dust bowl. All of these areas have been seeded or will be seeded with a 3-way blend of tall fescue. After seeding we will do everything that we can to get as much water on the seed as possible, with a little help from Mother Nature hopefully. So if there is water running close to these areas please don’t call it in to the golf shop. After we see some seedlings emerging from the soil we will apply a starter fertilizer to really get the plant some food after it uses up its own reserves. We will continue watering throughout the whole grow in process.
When this project is complete we should have some areas that create a certain amount of separation between holes, provide barriers for homeowners, provide a natural habitat for animals, redirect cart traffic in the correct direction, and reduce some maintenance time so that we can work in other areas of the course. I have been approached by a few homeowners that have referred to these areas as weed areas. This is not correct. A weed is defined as any plant that is growing in an area that it is not desired. They are Native areas that serve many purposes. When they are all complete they should be about 3-4 foot tall large expanses of seed heads. It may take one growing season to get the plant to maturity. So, please bear with me on these areas I think that in time they will benefit the course greatly.
And, please, please, please don’t drive in these areas.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August Again

Well, were back in the thick of it again. August is here and feels as if its been here for the last 2 months. This summer has not been very kind as far as the weather has been concerned, but it is what it is and we will deal with it to the best of our ability.
I would like to thank all of you who have been comming out and playing over the last 2 months. It has not been the most comfortable weather in which to play, but thanks none the less for comming out.
I have been watching people carefully here in the last month or so to try to determine some of our ball mark problems, and other areas that we could get batter. I have noticed that most people do not know how to properly repair a ball mark on the Green. Most people are sticking the repair tool in the ground at a 45 degree angle, and proceeding to lift the injured center of the mark up until level. This is incorrect. I would prefer that you stick the repair tool in the ground at a 90 degree angle on the outside edge of the mark and push the good grass to the center of the mark. Twisting the mark to get the grass to the center is also an acceptable method.
I have people tell me all the time that they fix theirs and any more they see while their out there. I greatly apprecieate their efforts, and I wish that everyone did this. But, we have to make sure that we are repairing the marks properly or it will not heal for quite some time. If they are repaired properly they should heal in about one week.
We are also dealing with soft greens right now, due to shallow roots under the surface. This makes it very easy to leave big ball marks. which is all the more reason to repair yours and someone elses.
I do have a video posted on the blog in the archives of how to properly fix a mark. Please if your not sure on my description, check it out.


Thursday, June 24, 2010


For those of you who don't know, as of last year we started accepting reclaimed water from the General Mills plant across the river. They were kind enough to want to help a small business such as ours rather than send it back to the city for treatment. They invested a lot of money into getting us the water, which they want us to use. For those of you who already knew this, I have been trying to put out as much water as I possibly can in our 8-10 hour watering window. Unfortunately we have a lot of electrical issues on the course that kind of hamper our ability to put out water. We have 12 satellites on the course that control all of the heads on the course. each controller governs from 1-3 holes (up to 68 Stations). A Station is a wire path from the Satellite to the Sprinkler Head(there may be up to 3 heads per station). The heads and the wire paths are where our problems lie. The wires have been nicked or broken in many places which will cause what we call a ground fault. Some of the heads just have prior damage to them in the form of a blown solenoid, or have been manually shut off. of the 850 heads that we have on the course I would say that 50% of them operate on a programmable basis. Many of these heads will come on if I go out and manually turn them on, but I do not have the time in a week to operate all of the missing heads manually, and I doubt that you as a golfer enjoy coming up to a fairway with 12 heads running in the landing area. Believe me, I wish that I could push a magic button and make this place nice and soft and green all of the time, but the reality is there is no quick fix. I have purchased a piece of equipment called a ground fault locator. Hopefully this will help me track down some of the shortcomings of the irrigation system this winter. The other issue with putting out water is the fact that we do not have a central control unit to run our irrigation system. A central control unit is a computer that maximize and prioritize the amount and location of water that goes out overnight. Now I am programming by the satellites. This means that I have 12 satellites fighting for program time, essentially competing with each other. The central control would coordinate the programing to where the satellite stops the program because it knows that another needs the water.
This is not a lobby for new equipment. I am simply trying to have something out there for the member or other patron who might wonder why we have so many dry spots on our course.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I would like to take a moment to remind everyone that there is NO FISHING in the ponds. I know there are a few homeowners that like to catch and release in the ponds on the course, unfortunately I cannot allow this anymore. Due to the reclaimed water source that we are using I cannot risk the legal repercussions of something happening. Now that we have fountains back in the ponds on # 12 and #13 we have to pull them out occasionally for maintenance. Last time I got an old hook in my hand that someone hung on the anchor rope for the fountain. On the positive side the fountains and the chemical applications that we are making in #11-13 ponds seem to be having good effect on the plant life that is targeted for removal. Unfortunately, I cannot make the same chemical applications in the pond on #18 due to the fact that it is the pond that we draw water for irrigation. Chemical label restrictions will not allow me to apply certain chemicals in this pond at certain times. I am constantly looking for a solution for the problem to the duckweed on #18. Just to solve the issue the lime green stuff floating on the surface is Duckweed, The plant like material that puts out a yellow flower is Primrose, pretty at times but a weed none the less.

Finally Green

Thankfully we made it out of the brutal winter that we had, and we're seeing green grass now. Unfortunately, some of the tighter mown areas (below 0.75") are having trouble making it into the new season. You may have noticed that we are in the process of re sodding the collars around the greens where the current turf is weak or non-existent. We are re sodding the collar with Zoysia Grass, which will benefit us in many ways. It will create a border to keep back encroaching Bermudagrass, It will also come out of dormancy earlier than Bermuda will, and hopefully it will provide a better playing surface for a collar mown at about 0.300".
You may have noticed that some of the areas in the fairways look a little sparse. Most of these areas are the same areas that We had trouble with two years ago. They seem pretty confined to landing areas and north facing slopes. Fortunately we have ryegrass out in these areas to fill in the gap for now. Unfortunately, the Ryegrass can help contribute to the fairways coming in slower than normal. The rye and bermuda are competing for food, water and sunlight. the bermuda will win the competition once the temperature gets high enough, and whatever can't stand the heat will be sprayed out by us to give the bermuda full reign of the tees and fairways.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Green Up

Spring came early this year. I can't remember an April this hot and dry. The golf course is reflecting the weather we are going through. Club selection can be a little harder when your ball will get 20 yards more roll due to the firm fairways. Thankfully we are seeing temperatures that are below the 80 degree mark again. I think we actually hit 90 for a day or two around the middle of the month.

You may have noticed that our collars have some areas that do not want to grow in this spring. Some of these areas were weak last season but some areas were good and just don't seem to want to come back. I am attributing this to lack of fertility, traffic, and tighter mowing heights during an unseasonably cold winter (one that I am glad we are out of). We will start sodding some of theses areas in the next few weeks.

You may have also noticed the areas in the fairway and the rough, that are high traffic areas, that are not wanting to come back very well. Well, the only way I know to put it is that this is why we have cart path rules. Please follow the cart path rules. It's not a free-for-all after you hit the tee ball. I'll leave you with a image or two of what I'm speaking about.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring Aerification

Well it's that time of year, time to poke holes in the greens again.
I thought I'd take a minute and explain the process and why we do it. I know everyone hates playing on aerified greens, myself included, so why not give an explanation to why.
There are several reasons why we do this; to increase the oxygen available to the plant, relieve compaction, remove excess thatch in the soil, create a firm playing surface for the upcoming season.
First off, by removing cores of old soil from the greens we remove a percentage of thatch, dead organic material in the soil structure. The dead organic material, plant roots, clog up macro pores in the soil structure no longer allowing them them to hold oxygen. Once these macro pores have the dead material in them they are referred to as micro pores, which will really only hold water and will not allow the soil to become firm. We are replacing the old soil with sand. The sand has no thatch and lots of macro pores. This creates new channels for roots to grow freely down through the soil where they can still receive proper amounts of oxygen. Another benefit to these deep channels of macro pores is increased drainage. These large pores don't really hold water that well, they give surface water a better route to escape to the subsurface drainage.
I hope this gives anyone who's interested a better idea of why we go through this process every six months or so. We are scheduled to start on March 15th weather permitting. hopefully we will be grown in about 3 weeks later with a little help from Mother Nature.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Items on the Course

With the extremely cold and wet weather we have had so far this year, we have had plenty of time to work inside on some items to make the course look a little better.
We made new O.B. stakes for the front 9 out of the old range net posts. They are clearly visible at 3' tall and 4" wide. They will be much more durable than the old 1" PVC and painted Grade Stakes. The Idea is to have the course marked more clearly with a product that we do not have to intensely maintain. I am hoping that we will be able to get to work on the back 9 stakes soon.
We have also made new Tee Markers. I wanted something that would reflect the course at every Tee. The old 4X4 blocks did not. We cut out an arrow head shape out of recycled plastic decking material, painted them and put a stake in the base. Hopefully, this will add to the character of the course.
We have also been working on new water cooler stations that we will put out in the spring. The old ones were permanently fixed on the course. They were rotting and falling apart from the continued exposure to the elements. The new ones are less intrusive, and movable. We can take them off the course and store them inside when they are not needed to prolong their lifespan.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Roundup Application

Finally, the cold weather broke last week. Now we can go out and start spraying roundup on all of the dormant Bermuda grass on the course. We do this every winter to kill any existing weeds from last year. We started spraying out around the Tees late last week when the temperatures broke the freezing mark. Today we will begin cutting in around the Greens. We will have to divert traffic on the course for about an hour or so to allow the chemical time to dry on the plant. If we have premature traffic, we could see transfer of the roundup onto the Greens surface. This should only take us one or two afternoons to complete.