Saturday, May 18, 2019

Range Tee Reminders

We've been back on the grass now for a few weeks and the zoysia is finally starting to grow.  Even at its peak it's a relatively slow grower.  In order to have grass to hit from it is critical for us to get divots healed in 3-4 weeks.  That's how long it takes us to rotate the hitting area around the tee.  We shift the hitting area in small increments daily to try and get 3-4 weeks of practice time before going back to the starting point.  If divots are taken in the manner illustrated below and on the sign at the tee, the turf should be almost fully recovered in this 3-4 weeks.  Our staff fills divots multiple times per week. 

This crime scene will be evident in October 



Thursday, May 2, 2019

Zoysia Update / Heads Up

The zoysia in fairways and approaches is getting close to full green up.  The transition from winter dormancy to summer peak is bumpy sometimes.  Meyer Zoysia goes through a few phases each spring before it becomes worthy of a picture.  It's a roller coaster as it starts to look great and then takes a step back with cold nights and cloudy days.  The seed head phase is in full swing now.  The seed heads are a dark color and they don't mow very easily.  Sometimes the seed head gets mowed off, but the stalk remains.  Either way it's an ugly phase that we go through each spring.  The seeds are not viable and will not germinate as Meyer Zoysia is a hybrid variety.  Mike works hard to keep the reels razor sharp to help us look presentable during this time.

Additionally, we just applied a product to control Kyllinga, our biggest weed issue (besides bermuda) in zoysia.  This product is fantastic except that it turns the zoysia an ugly color for a few days.  So now we'll have ugly seed heads and self inflicted pain.  It's very temporary thankfully, but it can cause some fear among those who don't follow this site.  If you are one of my loyal followers, please help spread the word if/when needed.  Fairways will be bright green soon.

Zoysia seed 

Kyllinga infested fairway from a few years back

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Big Staff News

Friday, May 3rd, will mark the end of a 27 year career for James "Jimmy" Lee, one of Fawn Lake's original team members.  He's decided to retire from the golf business and pursue a new career.  When I was interviewing for my current job 20 years ago I remember asking some questions about the current staff.  "Jimmy is the best guy you'll ever work with" or something very similar is what I was told.  "He can do anything" is another quote I recall.  I accepted the job in part because of guys like Jimmy.  A good team is a must, especially for a first time superintendent who was younger than almost everyone on the staff.   I would not have survived without the talent and effort of Jimmy and he will be sorely missed.  

Before the golf course was built, Jimmy was heavily involved in the upkeep and construction of the development.  As the course broke ground and began to take shape he moved into his current role.  His fingerprints are all over this place.  All of the hundreds of projects we've completed, are a direct result of Jimmy's effort.  He's at the center of every job we do.  His title is Second Assistant/Irrigation Tech, but he's a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, a farmer, among many other things.  We are going to have a huge gap to fill and it will take time for us to adjust to his absence.  

If you happen to see Jimmy over the next week, please make it a point to give him a big "thank you" for all he's done for Fawn Lake.  

With Arnold Palmer a few years ago
Winner of our annual Maintenance Staff World Championships


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Greens Aeration "Complete"

The weather was almost perfect for us throughout the week and the process was "completed" today.  There is still some work to be done getting the excess sand off the surface and finding open holes to fill, but the bulk of the work is done.  Rain is expected tomorrow and that should help clean things up and get grass growing again.  We'll have some more clean up to do over the next few days following the rains tomorrow.

Compared to last year we are already way ahead.  The coldest winter in our existence last year meant that the turf was not growing when we aerated.  In fact, despite going a week later on the calendar last year, we had a lengthy frost delay on the first day of aeration.  Recovery didn't get started for a couple of weeks following the job.  This year we've been getting much more clipping yield from daily mowing and the weather is far better for recovery.  I expect faster healing this year.

Thank you very much for providing us with the time to accomplish this task the right way.  I know it's hard to give up the course on such nice days, but having the time to do the job right means that we'll have better greens sooner.  Please forgive the condition of the rest of the course for the moment as all hands have been on deck with aeration.  We'll be playing catch up on mowing and other duties now that aeration is complete.  Things will be back together soon. 

See you on the course!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Greens Aeration Day 1 Update

For the first time in a long time, the weather actually helped us with aeration.  Ideally we get firm ground, a cool morning, clear skies, a light breeze, and a sunny afternoon.  We got all of that today and it looks like more of the same tomorrow.  While the weather couldn't have been better, the glitches with equipment got us off to a frustrating start.  A broken hydraulic pump on the greens roller, a blowout on a perfectly good topdresser tire, and an irrigation geyser from a broken sprinkler head all happened within 30 minutes of one another first thing this morning.  Mike and Jimmy got two of the three issues solved quickly.  We'll have to wait until next week to have the roller up again.  Of course it was only a few months out of warranty as Murphy's Law rules again. 

The contractors did a great job with the deep tine machines and completed all 20 greens by 11:30.  Our machine is much slower and it wrapped up 10 greens of core aeration around 2:00.  The guys running the aerator then jumped back to help with the clean up and topdressing.  We completed the front nine and both practice greens today at about 4:30pm.  I'm happy with the results and hope we can have another good day tomorrow. 

It should be noted that we would not have had the success we had today without the help of some dedicated students.  Ryan Bastianelli, Will Wonsik, John Gordon, and Tyler Evans all chose to spend their spring break with us instead of at the beach.  Max Radel had a day off at Mary Washington so he pitched in as well.  These guys made a huge difference and I can't thank them enough. 

Step 1

The roller about 15 minutes before the hydraulic pump broke

The broken greens head on 6

Andrew and Shane making a mess

Trevor, John, Ginny, and Max cleaning up mess

Impromptu irrigation project

Mike using with a modified blower to help get sand moved into holes.  Thanks to
other superintendents for sharing this on twitter.  It's a great tool.

Another brush following the blower

Bean inspecting the end result on one

It's ugly, but I think it will recover quickly.  The greens needed this day in the worst way. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Final Reminder

Aeration week is here.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the golf course will be closed so that we can complete the much needed aeration of greens.  The course is available for play on Monday and the practice facility will be up and running through the week. 

A small sample of what we are doing...

Soil Reliever goes first with deep solid tine aeration

We follow with core aeration using 1/2 inch diameter coring tines and shovel plugs up

Topdressing sand is applied

Topdressing is brushed in

Hopefully it looks like this in week or less

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Aeration Reminder

Important Reminder...

Greens Aeration is April 23rd-25th.  That's actually a Tuesday-Thursday this time instead of Monday-Wednesday.  A contractor will help with a portion of the process and we can't start until that step gets going.  A machine called a Soil Reliever will aerate using very long solid tines on Tuesday.  We'll follow that process with our core aerator using 1/2" diameter tines about 3" deep.  Soil amendments will be applied and then sand will be spread and brushed into the holes.  The process is very labor intensive.  In order to get the best result possible, we need time to go back and touch up the topdressing sand and get the holes completely filled.  We hope to finish this up Thursday.

As you remember from last fall, we were rained out on multiple attempts to aerate greens.  Eventually we opted to do some very light duty aeration between storms.  The greens need much more effort this year and in the future in order to stave off a major project.  Aeration is a dirty word among most golfers, but I think everyone would agree that it's better than the alternative.  Please support the effort to perform this much needed task.  Greens are the most valuable asset at the club and they have had a tough few months.