|Clippings wouldn't be so much of an issue if we could mow more often|
|10 more would be about right|
|Clippings wouldn't be so much of an issue if we could mow more often|
|10 more would be about right|
After almost 2 full weeks of rain, parts of the course are finally dry enough for us to mow. Saturday, we snuck in some work on the back nine rough before play caught us. We got one of the mowers stuck in a wet spot on 17 so it wasn't a perfect outing. Today, we (me included) spent all day on mowers. Mowing under the current circumstances is a very slow process. Clean up takes as long as the actual mowing and the mowers must move at a crawl to get through the mess. We were able to mow all the approaches, half the fairways, and a good portion of front nine rough. Unfortunately, the recent loss of several staff members (school) kept us from multitasking as much as we would like. Ideally when we get a full day to work on the course we have every mower occupied and lots of things are happening at once.
The greens were mowed yesterday for the first time since aeration was completed. Mike spent a good portion of today grinding the reels as a result. Mowing after aeration and topdressing will dull the reels in a hurry. Ideally we do a little more work to the surfaces before making the first post aeration cut. However, the sloppy conditions last week did not allow us follow our plan. As a result the mower reels were pretty well shot after one cut. Mike will be busy with reel grinding for the next week or two thanks to aeration. This task is highly underrated among golfers. We have a well equipped shop where mower service takes place and Mike is a surgeon when it comes to keeping things operating smoothly.
|Some self inflicted pain trying to get stuff done around the rain|
|We could use some farm equipment when the grass gets this long|
Greens aeration has been our main priority this week and, considering the rain, it went very well. Unfortunately, the downpour on Monday afternoon messed up our progress with the front nine and the downpour this morning kept us from fully catching up. However, we were able to complete the aeration of all 20 greens. The goal of completely filling all the aeration holes with sand was not accomplished due to the wet conditions and recurring rain events. Ideally we would have used today to put additional sand down and do more brushing and rolling to get the holes full and smooth out the surfaces. We will open for play tomorrow, but be aware that we are not "finished" yet. I don't know if we will be able to complete the process to my satisfaction, but it will be too wet for another few days I suspect.
In other news....it's really wet. As previously mentioned, we received two more good rains this week to push our August total to over 11". We found a sliver of time last week where we were able to mow some fairways, but rains interrupted us and we didn't finish. They are still far too wet to mow and there is more rain in the forecast. Typically we mow fairways 2-3 times per week, but some may end up going nearly 3 weeks without seeing a mower. For that reason, we'll have to make some adjustments to the height of cut when we do finally get a chance to get on them. The roughs are equally out of whack and we are falling further and further behind each day. In general, the course is just really messy and good weather will be needed for some time in order to catch up.
|Aeration with 1/2" diameter tines at roughly 3" depth spaced about 2.5" x 1.6"apart|
|Ryan and Matt kept the machine running while the others grabbed a quick lunch|
|Once the sand is spread it gets brushed into the holes|
|Mike hauls the sand around the course while Alan spreads it on the greens. |
|The rough is deep |
We've had over 10" of rain at the office since August started. The course was unplayable at 8:00 Sunday morning and it was still raining. Aeration is set to begin at 6 AM today (Monday Aug 17) and we know it's going to be a messy process this time. We have a pretty good forecast, but the ground is absolutely saturated. There will be some collateral damage around the greens from the equipment used to do the work, but the golf calendar doesn't offer us a lot of leeway to reschedule. The temperatures are unusually mild so we feel like the best plan is to take our lumps with some self inflicted damage in an effort to get the job done. It's still too wet to mow any fairways, tees, or rough so we might as well use the time to get the greens aerated as scheduled. Additionally, we have a few more people on staff now than we will have next week and beyond. We need as many hands as possible to complete the task in the window we have been given so now is the best time from that standpoint as well.
Having said all of this....if we get started and realize it just won't work, we will punt to another date that has not yet been determined.
The drought is over! We had almost zero rain through the month of July and are now in the middle of one of the wettest weeks in the past 20 years. In addition to the dry weather in July, we broke more temperature records. I believe there were 30 days that reached at least 90 degrees in July. That was one of the toughest months we've had when you throw in some irrigation pump station struggles, record numbers of golf rounds, a clubhouse landscape installation, and a Member-Guest. Ryan and I along with Matt, Jonah, John, Xzavier, and Andrew put in a lot of hours lugging hoses around trying to keep things alive. The good news is that we were able to keep the moisture levels in greens exactly how we wanted them and didn't have to worry about rain making things too wet. Too much moisture, especially when temps are high, is far worse than too little moisture. Hoses, moisture meters, and careful monitoring 7 days a week allow us to be precise with where, and how much, water is neeeded. Now that the rains have arrived we are at the mercy of mother nature and the drainage ability of our greens. As mentioned in other posts over the years, our greens have never been superb in the drainage department and with age that's a growing issue. Summer wet spells like the one we are in, are tough on the health and well being of greens and tees. Steamed vegetables is an analogy I once heard and it paints a good picture of bentgrass in saturated soil in August heat. Thankfully, temperatures seem to be dropping some in the near future.
Greens aeration scheduled for next week will include removing cores with 1/2" diameter tines and filling the holes with sand (topdressing). This will improve water movement through the top 3" of the profile and provide nice places for new roots to grow. The process will require closing the course for a few days, but we aim to have it back in use Thursday. We are excited about the fall golf season and what it will be thanks to this aeration. It's a job we need to do more often and more effectively to help turn back the clock on our aging greens. It's likely we will do one or two minimally invasive forms of aeration later this season.
Fairway aeration was started last month, but you'll recall we had to stop halfway through. It was too dry and the machines were bouncing off the ground. A few mechanical issues as a result, meant that we were never going to complete the task in one day. We rescheduled to August 10th for the back nine, but we had about 6" of rain in the few days prior to that. We are trying to find some dates to get this done, but juggling the contractor's availability with our golf calendar is tough. It's going to take about 4.5 hours to finish so it shouldn't be a huge burden for playing on the day we do it.
We are battling weeds in a number of places and are struggling to get control due to the weather. When it was extremely hot and dry we were all busy with hoses and now that it won't stop raining, the ground is either too soft to spray or storms keep washing off our efforts. Twice this week we made spot weed control applications hoping to have a few hours of drying time only to have sudden and intense rain pop up. Weeds we are fighting include nutsedge and kyllinga in the wet areas, spurge on a few tee boxes, bull paspalum on 13 tee, and goosegrass. Unfortunately, there is not one product that will work for all these problems and mixing products together isn't a good idea on some of the turf varieties we are spraying. We will be trying to find some gaps in play and weather over the next few days in hopes of cleaning up the recent outbreak.
Staffing has been a challenge this year. The virus meant that we needed to keep the headcount down for financial and health reasons. More golf (we are setting records) means less time to get things done and less staff means we need more time to get things done. It's a challenge and we are not firing on all cylinders right now. Ryan and I have a great team, but we've lost about 70 years of golf course experience in the past year. The students we have are outstanding, but they aren't available as long as we need their help and they don't have the experience to do some of the things we need to do. Government benefits to the unemployed are more than we can pay so luring someone off the couch to come sweat in the heat for less money is not working too well. We've recently found some good people that we are looking forward to working with. They will help soften the blow of the college kids leaving us. Some of the high school kids will continue to help us on weekends, but they won't be around on the weekdays. Ideally, and hopefully before next season, we can add one more career minded ambitious member to the team that can help us juggle all the needs of a golf course in the summer. The previously mentioned weed battle is a prime example of an area that would be improved with additional experience.
Bunkers are the new hot topic thanks to the rain. We have spent more time in bunkers the past week than we did in the first 7 months of the year. Bunkers require an entire page so I'll save that topic for the near future.
In closing...PLEASE help us with filling your divots, fixing your ball marks, raking your footprints, and following the cart traffic guidelines. THANK YOU for your support this summer in what has been a crazy time for all of us. The golf course will be in great shape this fall! Play often!
|There are two rakes just outside the view of this picture. |
That's gonna be a tough shot for the next player that finds this bunker