Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bunker Update

Sunday night was a doozy.  Almost 3 inches of rain in a little over five hours did a number on our bunkers.  The course was too wet for us to get equipment to the bunkers upon arrival Monday, so we focused on cleaning up the mess around cart paths.  Tuesday and Wednesday were spent dealing with the typical mud shoveling and sand pushing that follows a heavy rain.  We are not at full staff yet, but we've put 5 guys in bunkers for two straight days.  That's 80 man hours so far and Thursday will require a few more to wrap up. 

Noteworthy... the bunkers we just renovated at the chipping green required one person and about 5 minutes of effort after 2.7" of rain.  Having additional drainage and adequate sand makes a big difference.  It was probably better immediately after the rain than most of the other bunkers were before the rain. 

We've put out 5 truckloads (110 tons) of sand so far and hope to bring in another 11 loads (242 tons).  The first priority is greenside bunkers, but 11 loads will be a slim number relative to the need.  We will do our best to allocate the sand budget in a way that makes the most positive impact on the playability of the course. 

This is the bunker immediately after receiving 2.7" of heavy rain 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Spring Reminders

Now is a great time to offer a few reminders for a new golf season.  Golf course conditions, your level of satisfaction, your scores, and the maintenance budget are just a few of the areas that will be affected by your attention to the following details....

When conditions allow carts to leave the path, please remember to:
  • park all four tires on the pavement when stopping at the tees and greens
  • stay on the path on each hole until you pass the first white topped post
  • return to the path before you pass the second white topped post
  • keep your cart out of the rough at all times.  You may only drive in the rough when going to/from the path/fairway
  • keep your cart on the path on all par 3s (4,8,12,15)
  • follow all signage 
  • pair up whenever possible.  No more than two carts per group may leave the path on any given hole.  
Repair as many ball marks as you can without delaying play
  • It's not hard to repair at least two ball marks on each hole and still keep a good pace of play
Carefully rake bunkers
  • This includes the practice bunkers
  • Remember that your fellow members may have to play from the same place you did
Monday play
  • On Mondays when there is no event scheduled, you may play after 12:00
  • All play should start on hole 1
  • All play should sign in on the form outside the golf shop
  • Staff has the right of way on Mondays.  All play should yield to course maintenance and skip around any staff in the process of work on any given hole

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Timing is Everything

Here is a recent article from the USGA Green Section about the importance of timing course maintenance...

Do The Right Thing at The Right Time

Many courses in the Mid Atlantic are aerating greens soon if they haven't already done it.  We are scheduled to do it later than most.  Recovery is much quicker if we wait for the soil to warm up.  We also feel like the greens hold up better in the summer if we can wait until just before the heat kicks in to aerate.  Additionally, The Masters in early April is when many get the golf bug and we don't want you to deal with freshly aerated greens at that time.  We wait until mid-late April and find a date that works best for everyone.  This year those dates are April 30th, May 1-3.  We will do most of the work on the first two days and then work on getting the holes filled with sand and the clean up details on days 3 and 4.  The course will be closed for the first two days and opened to some degree on the last two days.  Stay tuned for more reminders and info.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Recent FAQs

Golf season is cranking up slowly but surely.  This week we had a few questions about conditions and why we do or don't do certain things.  Here is a summary of what we've been hearing either directly or through the grapevine...

Question:  How often do you change the hole locations?  
Answer:  For now it depends on weather and play.  For the past week the greens have been frozen each morning and we've had very little play.  As weather improves we will transition to our routine of changing hole locations Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  We may add or subtract a day depending on play and/or weather. 

Question:  Did you mow the greens today?
Answer:  No.  The greens were frozen first thing this morning and mowing on frozen ground is not good for the turf or soil.  This week we've had frozen ground each morning and have opted to get staff going with project work first thing in the morning.  We could linger until the ground thaws, but that would be very inefficient use of our largest budget line item. 

Question:  Some of the holes that are Cart Path Only are dry.  Why do we have to stay on the path?
Answer:  Being dry is not the only factor that we use to decide if it's ok for carts to leave the path.  In some cases we have newly germinated fescue in the rough that we are trying to protect.  In other cases we have very weak zoysia that we would like to protect.   It's been a tough winter for the warm season grasses and those that are poorly drained, get too much shade, or were weak going into winter are very sensitive during the spring green up phase. 

Question:  When are we going to be able to use the grass on the practice tee?
Answer:  We typically open up the turf once the grass has turned green and started growing again.  That is usually sometime in April.  Zoysia has a short growing season and we have a small tee.  If we want to have grass to use all summer and into early fall, we must be patient and let the zoysia wake up before we start taking divots from it. 

Practice Area Upgrade

We've been working on the chipping green bunkers for the past week and hope to have them ready for action early next week.  The sand delivery trucks laid an egg on Thursday or we would have finished them already.  Essentially we removed the old sand which was contaminated with clay and pea gravel from the drain lines.  We then added new drainage, re-shaped the worn edges, and replaced the sand.  As is usually the case with a project, we ran into some complications.  The drain lines that come out of both bunkers as well as the exit line for the chipping green were all crushed beneath the cart path.  We cut the cart path, dug out the crushed lines, replaced the pipe, and put the path back.  Some day I'd love to re-vamp the short game area into something more user friendly, but for now we have fixed up what we have.

The chipping green bunkers were first on our bunker "hit list" for a number of reasons.  The lack of sand was the main issue and that contributed to a list of other issues....

  • The pea gravel from the drain lines was exposed and could be found throughout the sand.  
  • The red clay beneath the sand was contaminating the bunker sand
  • Neither bunker drained effectively
  • The bunker slopes between the green and bunker were in rough shape from all the sand deposited from practice
  • The first part of the course you see as you travel towards the club is the practice facility.  We needed to improve the appearance.

More Pictures....

Friday, March 9, 2018

Cart Traffic

After last week's 3 day wind storm and a short stretch without rain, we finally dried up enough to be able to get the fairways sprayed on Monday.  We made a few messes where the ground was soft and we dodged a few areas where it was far too wet, but for the most part we were OK.  However, Tuesday brought another 1/4" of rain making things soggy again.  Things are drying up now, but as of this morning we still have a lot of areas that I believe are too soft for traffic.  That doesn't mean that you won't find dry areas, but if you want smooth fairways in the spring we need to be patient.  We saw a cart on the fairways yesterday despite the cart rules.  We also saw a foursome with 4 carts.  Those folks walked a lot more to and from the cart paths than they would have if they'd paired up.  I think we are close to a point (weather permitting) where we can open up some of the course to cart traffic, but for now it's best to keep the tires on the path. 

Thanks for your patience, understanding, and cooperation. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Spring Break

Today was a big day for us.  We have a few extra hands on deck due to spring break and for the first time in a long time conditions were suitable for some things we've been anxious to do.  The wind from these past few days left us with about a dozen trees and a lot of debris to clean up.  The fence behind the shop blew down and lots of leaves have reappeared.  However, with rain in the forecast for the next few days we opted to put storm clean up on hold and get some things done that require dry ground.  We can get the trees cleaned up and the fence put back after the rains.

Back nine tees were aerated.  We punted on this late last year when rainy weather interfered.  The plugs were all removed and placed in some of the wildflower beds to be spread out.  We will finish the clean up and get the sand spread as soon as possible.

All the fairways were sprayed with a product called Revolver.  We have a lot of poa annua (annual bluegrass) and it needs to be removed.  Typically we use Round Up in January/February, but conditions haven't allowed us to spray this year.  Now that the zoysia is just beginning to green up,  Round Up would probably be too risky to use.
You can see where we were able to get the edge sprayed one day in early January.
To the left is a nice crop of nasty annual bluegrass.  

Bunker repairs were started at the chipping green.  We removed the sand from one bunker and will be adding drainage and new sand very soon.  We will be working on other bunkers as weather, time, and resources allow.
Once Andrew, Max, and Timmy got the old sand piled up, Alan loaded it up.