Saturday, January 19, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  It looks like 2019 will start the way 2018 ended in terms of rain, snow, and soggy ground.   We are handcuffed in terms of doing any work that requires getting off of the cart path.  For the time being we are getting dead and/or troublesome trees removed along cart paths.  We need conditions to improve in order to make a dent in many of the things that are on our list.  Things like winter weed control in the fairways, drainage work, bunker work, irrigation repairs, etc... require better ground conditions than what we've had since Labor Day.  It's tough on a few staff members who don't get hours when the weather is this bad.  We have plenty to do, but can't do it in these conditions.  Hopefully, for the sake of the course and the staff, we can get some breaks in the winter weather soon.  On the bright side, snow and ice have given us time to focus on some indoor jobs like equipment repairs, tee marker construction, painting course accessories, and helping as needed with the clubhouse expansion.  We'll gladly put those jobs on hold as soon as conditions let us get on the course.

The course is obviously unplayable at the moment and demand for playing is near zero.  The question is...when will it re-open?  Looking at the forecast I am afraid to guess as the rain we are getting on top of the remaining snow is going to be followed by extreme cold.  The course will freeze and then later in the week begin to thaw out.  It is going from a block of ice back to soggy ground when the course is most vulnerable to damage from traffic.  We'll need to let a few more days pass before taking a guess on when the course will be open for play.  

This is what the new markers will look like.  The stripe will match the colors on the scorecard. 
It takes 160 to make one set and we need at least two sets in order to keep them looking clean. 
Hopefully this new look will be much easier for us to keep up with than the ones we've
had since we opened 25 years ago.  

We needed to replace our two utility trailers from 1996.  Rather than spend a few thousand bucks,
Mike repurposed two of our spare greens mower trailers for a couple hundred bucks. 
New tires, some welding repairs, steel tubing, etc... and we have two trailers custom made
for our specific needs.  When it warms up they'll get a coat of paint.
A little welding

All that's left is some painting
Bean is our newest family/team member.  She's from South Carolina, but still loves the snow. 

Ivy put the snow to good use as well

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Winter Course Update


The time has come to make the move to winter hole locations.  We can't cut a hole in the green when it's frozen so we typically put multiple holes in each green in the winter.  Our staff will move the flag from hole to hole as dictated by play and/or green conditions.  This year, due to conditions, we are going to add just one extra hole per green.  Lately we've rotated with three holes in the winter, but the ground is so wet that it's not easy to find three suitable locations on every green.  The locations won't follow a real pattern as they are chosen based on where the turf is best.  The flags do, however, have reflectors built in, so rangefinders can help pin point your distances.  We'll bump tee markers up some to offset the cold temperatures and wet ground.


At times it may be necessary to keep the course closed even when weather is "nice".  When the ground is saturated and there is a frozen layer somewhere beneath the surface of the green, it is best to remain closed.  Often times this occurs on just a few greens and we'll open all the other holes.  Sometimes it's widespread and we must remain closed.  Typically this situation pops up when temperatures rise after a long frigid spell.  Our greens do not drain very well and they have been saturated for the better part of 3 months.  It will be in everyone's best interest to play it safe this winter.


Rains have not let up and the 6" snowfall last week needed over an inch of rain to make it melt.  It's rained 44 out of the past 100 days for a total of 22".  It's been cloudy, misty, and dreary on many of the days when rain didn't fall.  22" is a lot of rain in three months.  Well over 50 days with no sun when we are trying to push turf to recover from summer is not helpful either.  Temperatures have fallen too far for us to grow grass anymore this year.  We will have to be creative and aggressive when spring arrives. 

Virginia Golfer Magazine


The most recent issue highlights the challenge faced by golf courses in Virginia this year.  We can be thankful that it wasn't as bad for us as it was for some.  For certain, those clubs that place a premium on course conditions fared better than most.  In the future, 2018 should be an example of what happens to a course when golf schedules trump maintenance needs.  Weather caused delays and adjustments to maintenance practices.  If golf schedules were not tweaked to accommodate maintenance, courses didn't do so well.  We tried multiple times to get greens aerated this fall, but the weather just wouldn't cooperate.  We will have to work extra hard to get back on track next year.

My friend and fellow superintendent, Brent Graham from Two Rivers CC, is on the cover.  He makes some great points in the article.   Brent is really good superintendent even though he went to Ohio State. 

Virginia Golfer- Riding Out The Storm

Overcoming Extremes


Friday, December 14, 2018

Goose Patrol

Our golf course is a magnet for geese.  14 ponds plus a 288 Acre lake at the 18th green make this a dream hang out.  In the winter, when golf and maintenance traffic is light, the golf course is even more inviting.  For years (15 to be exact) we tried all sorts of tricks to discourage geese from settling on the course.  Lasers, noise making guns, string around ponds, fox urine tablets, floating alligator heads, remote control boats, repellent spray in the grass around ponds, and a few other odd ball methods were all unsuccessful.  Oiling eggs worked when we could find the nests, but there were always nests that we couldn't find and more incoming geese dropping in.  We scheduled "poop patrol" daily and had a course that was littered with poop to the point of being unplayable at times.  Labor to blow off greens and tees only meant that the areas around greens and tees was quickly made unfit for humans.  Fairways on holes 3, 6, 13, 16, and 18 were completely covered.  In short, it was costly to clean up the areas we were able to get to and disgusting in all the areas we couldn't.  The first question I got at every spring kickoff meeting was "what are you going to do about the geese?"  I always knew the best solution was a border collie, but previous ownership would not allow it.  A few years ago we finally took the plunge and we haven't scheduled "poop patrol" since.  Eye Dog, a local business owned by Jeremy Austin, made an immediate impact in our problem.  This year, for the first time ever, we had no nests on the course.  Geese flying by will continue to see Fawn Lake as a perfect place to settle, but as long as we have the dogs, they will quickly go elsewhere.

Article on Eye Dog

Winter Reading

The USGA Green Section is a great resource for superintendents, avid golfers, and club officials.  Below is a link to articles written specifically for golfers.  Bunkers, greens, and number of other topics are covered.  Hopefully this will help pass the indoor time that winter weather has given us.  

FORE the Golfer

6" of snow last Sunday
Ivy got a few runs in on Monday

Thursday, November 29, 2018

USGA Green Section Update

We have a number of signs throughout the golf course that read "Park All Four Tires On Path".  We don't have curbs, so keeping grass healthy along the edge of the path is a real challenge.  When carts pull off the path to park it makes growing healthy turf impossible.  If we don't have healthy turf we'll have weeds.  If we have weeds (mainly goosegrass in the summer), we'll have weed seeds.  If we have weed seeds, we'll have more weeds.  It's a vicious cycle that can be broken by simply parking all four tires on the path.  The USGA Green Section just posted an article on this issue.  Putting in curbs is out of the question, but parking on the path is easy and can do a lot of good.  Promoting Positive Parking Procedures

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Leaf War

The task list has been easy to put together lately.  Everyone is assigned to leaves.  They are moving them off grass, mulching them in the woods, vacuuming them, and/or hauling them away.  The parking lot at the clubhouse, tennis courts, pro shop grounds, and golf course are all under attack at the moment.  Due to the rains, we've been limited to using backpack blowers and rakes instead of our tractor and big blower.  The vacuum has had to stay on the path so it's taking a lot longer to get things cleaned up.  Monday was a great day, but Tuesday came and you couldn't tell we'd done anything.  Looks like we'll be getting more rain soon so the process will have to continue by hand for the foreseeable future. 

This tee was spotless an hour before this picture

4 backpack blowers pushing leaves to the path for the vacuum.
The big blower would take 1/2 the time and 1/4 the labor, but it's too wet.