Friday, July 26, 2013

Driving Range Tee

I wanted to take a minute today and discuss some driving range etiquette with you today.  First a couple of things about our range that you might not know.  There is a hole behind the range that people play on and that is the reason for the range net that we put up last year.  From the center of the range tee it is only 185 yards to the near range net (left side) and about 220 yards to the far side net (right side).  Our range has to be irons only when we are on the front half of the tee because the yardage is so short to the net.  Also, the range is a living breathing organism and has to be maintained.  That means that we have to mow the target area of the range once a week.  Since our rough mower does not have a protective cabin on it we have to close the range tee on Friday mornings to mow without endangering our employees.  We have range tee dividers setup every day for your daily practice area.  We move them daily to ensure that there is adequate good turf to hit from.

As I stated earlier our range has to be irons only to protect the golfers playing on #8.  The landing area for the tee shot on #8 is at the short side of the range net (left side).  If you are one of those young strong semi-pro golfers that can carry the range net at 185 yards with a 4 iron please aim to the deep side of the range when we are "irons only".  I get a lot of comments that sound something like, "Well, I can't hit my driver 185 yards."  I am sorry but our policy currently has to be a blanket policy that covers every person at the range.  Unfortunately I cannot sit there all day watching for who hits the ball too far with their driver.  "Irons Only" means irons only, hybrids are not irons.  Hopefully we will have a resolve in the near future that will allow us to have a Drivers allowed section at all times.  But, until then we will split time 50/50.
Oh, don't be the guy who says lets see if we can hit it over the net.  If you clear the net and hit a golfer you are the responsible party.  We have instructed you on how you are to conduct yourself at the range.  If you decide not to then you open yourself up to very bad possibilities.  A golf ball has killed a person on more than one occasion.

Please keep in mind that several people throughout the day will probably use the same hitting area that you are using.  When you hit every range ball that you have 6 inches away from the last one and take a big "beaver tail" (divot) on each swing you don't leave very much area for the next guy to practice.
This is a example of a very poor divot pattern.
In the above picture the golfer only hit about 15 balls but he ruined 25% of the hitting area for the next person.
Below is a example of the way to pattern divots.
The person who made this pattern hit about 35 balls, but they only used about 1/16th of the daily hitting area.  I'm not saying that everyone needs to make range divot marks like Tiger Woods.  I would just like for you to be considerate of the patrons who are coming after you.  

As I stated earlier we mow the range target area on Friday mornings If we don't mow it the grass will not allow us to pick up the range balls.  I like our guy that mows the range and I don't want him to get hurt.  He wears a soft plastic Bee Keepers Hard Hat at all times as a safety precaution.  I'm sorry if Friday morning is when you were playing golf but you can still chip and putt before your round at are practice facility.

The rules that we have are for safety purposes.  We are not trying to hamper your game, drive your patronage elsewhere or aggravate you in general.  We are simply making a policy that covers everyone's best interests.  Hopefully we can devise a plan that will make our range more functional to all of our golfers in the future. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Home Lawn Care

The heat is here and those of you with Bermuda yards are probably loving life with all of the rain that we have received this year.  The temperatures have been pretty average so it's been a pretty decent year for Bermuda so far.  During these summer months you want to make sure to fertilize your yard with about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 ft2.  The analysis of the fertilizer should be something close to a 25-0-7 (N-P-K). An easy calibrating method would be to look at the number on the bag as a percentage of a lb/Acre.  If you have a 1 Acre yard you need 4 bags of 25-0-0 to get 1 lb of Nitrogen.  Really all you Bermuda people need right now is N, our soils in this area are naturally rich in P.  I like to put out 1 lb of fertility per month when the Bermuda is actively growing with August be the last application.  
If you really love your Bermuda you will aerify it NOW.  Aerifying you yard helps with water infiltration and gas exchange in the soil.  
For you Fescue people.  Now is usually the time that your yard is hating life and you are usually praying that your yard will make it through the next month.  Which is the same mindset that I have most of the time in the summer about my greens.  Some of the things that you can do to make it easier on your Fescue are: Watch out how much water you are using.  When it's hot out too much water is worse than too little water.  Try to only irrigate in the early morning.  As the day goes on and the temperatures rise the moisture level needs to be low, not non-existant but low.  If you are seeing some greying of the plant that is wilt.  It means you need a little more water in that area.  If you see any yellowing that is wet wilt.  It means that that area is getting too much water and in all likelihood is about to die.  There are some specialty fertilizers that you can buy at the lawn care stores to help your Fescue through the summer.  Also, make sure your cutting it at 3.5-4" tall the taller it is the more drought resistant it will be.  
I hope that these are some helpful summer stress tips.

Pond Management

We have made great strides in cleaning up our water features on the course in the last year or two.  Last year our ponds and retention areas were the best that I have ever seen them look.  This year we have only 1 pond that has been giving us a headache, #12.  I was very optimistic that our management strategies from last year would carry over into this year, but that was not the case.  The algae blooms started coming out in late June because the temperatures have been so (I want to say mild but the correct terminology would be average) average.  In a hotter year i.e. 2012 the blooms would have started in April or May.  
Last year we used Red belly Tilapia as out control method for Algae on #11, 12, 13 and 18.  It worked great so we are doing the same this season, only on #12.  Here is a picture of what they look like.
 We purchased 30 lbs of fish for the pond.  They were delivered in a mobile aquarium.  It was essentially a very large ice chest with a hose running from the cooler to an oxygen tank similar to a helium tank that you might see at a party supply store.  Seen below.
Adding the fish to the pond is a very manual operation.  Scoop them out with a net, load them in a laundry bucket and dump them in the pond.  Seen below.
This pond is actually more of a retention area.  It's only about 4 feet deep and has a rock floor under the sludge on the bottom.  (We found this out when we were installing Wood Duck houses in the area.  It's hard to drive a post into rock!)  The pond being large and shallow means that it is easier for light to penetrate to the floor of the pond where algae blooms with light sources.  When we sprayed chemicals in the past to control the algae it did kill the algae.  But, as it decomposed and sank it was converted to a food source(fertilizer for the blooming algae, so it actually magnified the problem.  
It seems like the fish are the best method of control that we have found yet, and it reduces our chemical usage. 
There is a downside to this method of control.  The fish die.  They are warm water fish.  when we get a massive cold rain in November they will start floating, and there will be a lot more than 30 lbs worth.  I think that the trade off of smelly fish for 1 week is worth the clean ponds for the summer.
Please remember that we do not want any fishing in the ponds on the golf course.  there is effluent water in every pond on the course and are not meant for swimming or fishing.