Monday, December 12, 2011

Tree Removal

Tree removal can be a touchy subject with some people, and I am gradually becoming one of those people. I used to not have a problem cutting down a tree if it would give me the ability to grow grass better. After a while I started looking into environmental programs. I have since partnered the golf course with the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP). We are not a Certified Cooperative Sanctuary yet. Hopefully with some effort we will get there some day. I am getting a little off topic though.

I am making an effort not to fully remove trees unless there is no alternative. The rule for me is if the tree may pose bodily harm or harm to personal property it must be removed. Live trees serve a function as well as dead trees. Dead trees have a function? Yes, they are a food source to insects, and the insects are a food source to birds and bats. Dead trees also serve as shelter to animals and insects such as honey bees. Now I have to really judge the situation before we decide to remove a tree.

Unfortunately, I had to remove a tree on #14 Friday. The tree had been losing many large limbs in high winds. Upon further investigation the tree was about 90% rotten. The tree was to the point where it had to be removed. When we cut the tree down a opossum came running out of it. Unfortunately we removed the opossum's home but we also removed a risk for our patrons and neighbors. Below are some pictures of how far gone the tree was.

If you would like more information about the ACSP please visit

Bunker Removal

We have begun working on bunkers again this winter. A few of the bunkers did not make the cut to be rebuilt. Two of the bunkers that we are removing are #12 fairway bunker and #14 right side fairway bunker. We are removing some others also but these two are different. In the past we have converted bunkers to Fescue grass bunkers and some we have back filled and sodded with Bermuda. With these two we are using a different method.

I decided to create playable space where there used to be a hazard. We took a tractor with a six foot tiller on the back of it and thoroughly tilled up the lower end of the bunker. We could then use the front end loader to fold the lower end into the upper end of the bunker to create a burm. we then came out with a box blade and did some shaping and smoothing before seeding it with Rye for the winter. The Rye is primarily to prevent erosion in the winter months. Next year we will kill out the Rye and sod with Bermuda and keep it mown at primary rough height.

My thinking is that the burm will still stop a ball that may be headed for trouble and create an off balanced lie for the golfer, while maybe being able to expand the fairway in some cases. Below is a picture of #14 shaped and seeded. I hope that some of these areas will help the higher handicapper while still leaving a little challenge for the scratch golfer.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

State of the Union Address

It's been a while since I posted any information on here this year. I apologize for the delay. We have had a really busy year on the golf course, the season is by no means over but it is on the decline. We have had many things going on with the course this season, both good and bad. We also have some changes that are still in progress.

The new bunkers that we built last winter were finally opened this spring. It is so nice to hit out of some actual sand when you get in a bunker. We have had nothing but compliments on them. We are getting ready to start working on some more of the problem bunkers on the course by either removing them or rebuilding them. I hope to redo 3-4 bunkers this winter and remove about 5 more. Hopefully one day we will finally finfsh the bunker project.

Irrigation has been a large headache this season. If you have ever spoken to me concerning our system, I probably said," It's our system and it is what it is". This is not a negative statement, we have a 25+ year old irrigation system, and that's what we have. It is not going to work like a brand new one, but it will get the job done for now. I spent the majority of the first part of the summer chasing heads around the course trying to get them to shut down or come on. I ended up replacing about 22 old sprinkler heads this season with new ones. We still have a few to go (850 heads on the course, replaced about 115 = about 15%).

The ponds on #11 and 12 have been an issue again. The fountains have been turned off. They are too small to operate in water that dirty. I wish they were the answer but they are not. There is a question to ask, why does #12 look so bad and #13 look so good? The answer is pond construction. The ponds are attached and #13 is filled with water from #12. #12 Pond is about 4 feet deep and #13 pond is at least 10 feet deep. In the deeper a pond it is less likely that sunlight will reach the bottom floor of the pond, and create breeding grounds for algae. I do not know if we will be able to fix the problem with #11 and 12 without starting over with new ponds.

We are in the middle of creating new natural areas. We have about 6 acres of new natural areas in the initial growth stage on #'s 8,9,10,11,12,13 and 18. The seedlings are just emerging from the seed, and we are getting ready to fertilize these areas. Most of the areas are irrigated. We are running programs with our irrigation system to make sure that these areas are watered thoroughly and have plenty of moisture for grow in. The bulk of these areas are on #11-13. When these areas have matured this area of the course will not play much differently, but will be more vsually appealing from the tee. Please keep all traffic out of these areas, and play them as ground under repair for the time being untill we establish a hazard ruling on these areas.

We have just finished aerifying the greens for the fall. I am really happy about the sand application that we made. I believe that it was the perfect amount. I played 9 holes the day after we finished, and truthfully thay are not bad to play on. Putts were not jumping around and breaks are minimal. Remember that aerified greens make your short game much better. We are already mowing the greens for the first time since punching them. I think we will get a great heal out of them.

I know this was a lot of information for one post, and there weren't a bunch of happy pictures to look at. I will do my best to get some pictures next time. And I will do my best to get more information back out to you the golfer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bunker Renovation

Well, it's starting to warm up out there. The Bermuda is starting to break dormancy. The practice tee is now open for use. We have one big project that we need to finish before we really get into the heat of the year, finish rebuilding the 4 bunkers on our list. I know it has seemed slow, but there was some visual progress made today. The green side bunker on #10 got drainage, liners and sand installed today.

Getting back to the slow part. The reason it seems like it is very slow is that the drainage and the floor sub grade is the most important part of a bunker. The floor of the bunker dictates the contour of the sand in the bottom of the bunker. If it is pitted we end up with pockets of heavy sand versus areas of thin sand, which will hold moisture differently and in turn play differently. The drainage is the most important part of the bunker. Inadequate drainage is not an option. However, I am trying a new type of drainage system. By new I mean new to me. Typically I would use 4" corrugated pipe covered with 6" of washed aggregate stone. In this run I am going to try using a prefabricated drainage system. The principal is the same it just replaces the aggregate with foam packing peanuts. I am very hopeful that it will work equally compared to the old method. This process takes a while to get right doing it "in house". I do appreciate everyone being patient. We are moving as fast as we can with the project and will finish it soon.

I have added some pictures to better show the subgrade and drainage system.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Why We Apply Roundup

Every winter we have a period of time where we spray almost the entire course with herbicides. What we are trying to achieve with this practice is the removal of all unwanted grass species, weeds. The definition of a weed is, any grass that is not desired in a certain area. In our case we want 419 Bermudagrass and Meyer Zoysiagrass as our two higher cut grasses. In order to maintain the two main types of desirable grasses we have to apply pre emergent and post emergent herbicides. Typically a stand of turf should have a pre emergent herbicide applied in the Spring and the Fall. Each one of these applications should last about 6 months. They prevent any new seeds from germinating in the soil. Unfortunately we only apply one pre emerge application per year. We couple this with a "Round Up" application in the dead of winter when the Bermuda and Zoysia are completely dormant. This way we can kill any weeds in the Bermuda and Zoysia without harming the desired turf. This year we are focusing on removing any of the existing over seeding from last year that may still be hanging around. I have a few pictures below to illustrate the timeline of damage.
This is the Chipping Area. It has not been sprayed with "Round Up" at this time. You can see the Ryegrass is nice and green.
This is the right edge of the Putting Green Collar. If you look carefully you can see the defined line in the middle of the picture where the "Round Up" has been sprayed 27 days ago. The right side of the line is Bentgrass in the collar that is starting to yellow out.

This is the front left corner of the Driving Range Tee. We sprayed the Range Tee with "Round Up" 33 days ago. You can see the Ryegrass that has yellowed and is very close to death.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's Winter

Well it appears that the almanac was wrong. All I heard this fall was how the winter was supposed to be mild this year. That appears to be a load of hogwash. Between some of the bitter cold temperatures we have had and the last snow fall that lasted for 8 days we really haven't been able to accomplish much outside. We are supposed to be spraying roundup and a pre emergent herbicide on the course right now. Usually I start this practice on Jan. 1st, but, thankfully, I had our Chemical Technician start spraying Tees and Fairways back in December. since January we have only had 2 days that we have really been able to spray. For those two days we spent our time cutting in the greens edges, slopes and other tight areas on the course with roundup. Below is a picture of us cutting in #1 Green.
We have also had the chance back in December to start working on the Bunker Elimination Project. We have back filled the following bunkers; #2 green side, All of #3 fairway bunkers, the front right and back green side bunkers on #10. We have also started to define the bunkers that we are going to rebuild;#7 #10 front left green side, #12 green side, #13 green side.
Jim Mcelyea and I have created a kind of "Storyboard" that shows the projects and improvements that we would like to make to the course over the next few years. Hopefully this is a helpful communication tool for us both. It is located in the Golf Shop by the counter for anyone who would like to view it.
I have a few pictures posted below of the work we have been doing lately.

The future shape of # 7 Bunker.

The future shape of # 10 front left Bunker.

The future shape of # 12 green side Bunker.
The future shape of # 13 Bunker.

This is the result of our fescue natural areas that we planted back in September on # 3 and #4.