Thursday, February 18, 2021

Goose News And A History Lesson

We all know how wonderful it is to live here in Fawn Lake.  Unfortunately, geese find it very appealing as well.  With all the ponds, the big lake, and acres of open space we are an absolute perfect place for water fowl.  Geese, in particular, are a real challenge for us and we've tried just about every method possible to manage them.  It's unreasonable to think that we can eliminate all geese, but it's not beyond belief to think that we could manage them to be less of an issue.  

A goose poops 2 pounds per day.  They devour areas of the course and leave behind a disgusting mess.  Many of the geese we have this time of year are just passing through, but many of them are looking for a place to settle down.  If they choose Fawn Lake, chances are great that they will start a family.  Geese that are born here will stay here.  This is the time of year when we work hard to discourage geese from settling down on or around the course.  We can't persuade all of them which means we must manage those that stick around.  

Dogs are the best method of control.  Specifically a well trained border collie that the geese perceive as a threat.  A dog that simply chases geese is a good nuisance to them, but likely won't  strike enough fear to get them to relocate.  Outside of dogs there are a number of tricks, gimmicks, repellents, etc... that may or may not be somewhat effective at harassing geese.  
Here is a summary of the things we've tried:

  1. 20 years ago we had a border collie mix on staff.  Not a trained pro, but very helpful at keeping things under control.  Sadly, she was "fired" when residents complained that she violated the leash rule.  😠!!  Not surprisingly geese quickly become a huge issue.   
  2. Wire was strung along stakes at the shoreline of several popular goose hangouts.  No noticeable change occurred.
  3. Fox urine tablets were placed along shorelines.  No noticeable change occurred.
  4. A floating alligator head was placed in a popular goose hangout.  The geese loved it.  They used it like a raft. 😲
  5. Sprayable goose repellents have been applied to turf near ponds.  The geese ate that turf like it was sprayed with chocolate syrup.  
  6. Crushed pepper sold in 5 gallon buckets specifically as a goose repellent was applied behind 18 green.  It came with 100% money back guarantee.  I sent pictures of the area to the vendor within minutes of applying it.  Got my money back.  Apparently geese love their turf seasoned with cayenne pepper.  😮
  7. A "bird banger" noise making gun was used for a few years with limited success.  The geese either got used to it or went deaf and couldn't hear it anymore.  😕  It would basically shoot firecrackers through the air.  One was like a shotgun blast and the other was like a loud siren.  Not ideal in our nice quiet neighborhood so probably wouldn't have lasted even if it worked.
  8. A high powered laser was purchased when the gun fizzled out.  It was good at first as long as the sun wasn't out.  
  9. In 2014, when NTS no longer owned the course, we brought dogs back.  We had had success with a dog previously and the geese had taken over for the 14 years since she was fired.  Thankfully more level headed people saw past the leash excuse.  This time we used professionally trained and handled dogs from a local business called Eye Dog.  The one month trial was a huge success.  I went from begging the board to let me use a dog to the board demanding that we do it.  It wasn't cheap, but we were finally poop free and I no longer had to schedule "poop patrol" as a daily task. 
  10. 2020 COVID related budget crunches forced us to make some difficult decisions and thus the 6 year run with Eye Dog came to a close.  Not surprisingly we are seeing geese again.  Side note: we opened the new grill behind 18 and now everyone sees the geese in action.  Things aren't really any different in terms of the population, but they are more noticeable now that we are hanging out with them.  The old "19th hole" was on the other side of the club.    
  11. The laser is back in use as is my dog, Bean.  She isn't a pro, but she's fast and loves to chase them.  The border collies were a perceived threat to the geese and thus were very successful. Bean is just a nuisance to them, but is better than all the other non-dog methods we've tried.  I now have Lucy as well, who I hope can help Bean keep the problem under control. 
Geese are starting to mate and will soon be building nests and laying eggs.  We will be hunting for nesting activity and using our annual permit from the USDA to oil any eggs we find.  This is our best method of control outside of getting the geese to relocate.  Please let us know if you see any nesting activity anywhere in Fawn Lake as this is a problem far beyond just the golf course.  The battle will continue forever, but hopefully we can manage our way to a reasonably clean course this year.  

Gus and Lou (professionals)

Bean and Lucy (amateurs)

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Week In Pictures


Our staff handled the clean up behind Adam's staff.  Adam's Tree and Landscape
has been a huge help for us over the years.  They took care of getting the
dangerous trees on the ground 

Trees causing damage to cart paths on holes 6,7, and 8 were removed. 
We didn't quite finish 8 before the snow arrived.  

Once our guys chipped all the branches, Adam's staff hauled off the logs and
groundthe stumps. We ground nearly 160 stumps on holes 6-8.  

Ivy and I got started on some snow removal on Sunday. 
The guys got the clubhouse cleared on Monday. 

During the snow cover we made some new tee markers and refreshed some of the old ones

New sand on hole 3 looks much better.  We still need to
introduce some golfers to the process of using a rake.

As long as you don't find your ball in a footprint,
these bunkers should play much better.  

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sand Has Arrived

Good weather allowed us to get our first two truckloads of sand delivered last week.  We started with the fairway bunkers on 3 and then wrapped up on 5 fairway.  The prep work that must happen before new sand goes in will continue this week, but rain in the forecast may slow us down on adding sand.  The new sand on holes 3 and 5 will need some time and effort to firm up, but it's already much improved.  Below are a few pictures although for some reason I didn't have any of the "finished" product.  More updates with pictures will follow soon.  

Garrett, Liam, and Daniel replace some of the drainage prior to the sand going in

Don helps guide Mike where to place the sand 

Mike can haul about 4.5 tons of sand per load with the tractor

Daniel, John, and Garrett spread the sand.  This is just a "rough draft".   


Friday, January 15, 2021

Bunker Work Underway

We continue to juggle tree removals and bunker work based on the temperatures.  When sand is frozen we focus on trees and when it thaws we focus on bunkers.  That process will last a few more weeks and slowly shift entirely to bunker work.  Bunker drain repairs, edging, and redistributing sand are the primary tasks with bunkers for now.  Completing these steps will allow us to more effectively allocate the 25 or so loads of bunker sand coming over the next few months. 25 loads of sand is about 575 tons which will go a long way towards improving playability and upkeep in bunkers.  For perspective that is about 25% of the total needed to fill bunkers if we were to start from scratch.  We plan to start adding sand in the next 2 weeks.  Since there is already sand in them we hope to get close to "full" with this effort.  We can only stockpile 2-3 truckloads at a time here at our shop.  Each truckload is roughly 6 trailer loads with our tractor.  Roughly 150 trips back and forth from the shop with our tractor will be needed to distribute the 25 truckloads.  There will likely be noticeable differences between the sand we are getting and the sand we already have.  Since the plant that produced our old bunker sand shut down in 2019, we were forced to make a change.  Not many reasonably priced options exist at the moment.  A major bunker overhaul will still be a high priority so when that time comes we'll revisit the sand options available.  

Monday, January 4, 2021

First Update of 2021

Frigid temperatures, rain, and holidays put a stop to our progress on bridges.  We're hopeful to make another dent in them this week if weather cooperates. We will keep you posted with signs at the golf shop on what, if any, hole closures might be needed.  We've got bridges on holes 8, 9, 16, 17, and 18 left to complete.  Cleaning won't cause any disruption, but staining may cause some if the sun doesn't cooperate.  Make sure to be alert when checking in.  

We're well underway removing 57 dead trees around the course.  Ground conditions are keeping us near the path for now.  We'll have to wait for frozen ground or a dry spell to get the "far side" of each hole.  Some of the trees we need to remove will require outside help as they are leaning over fences or towards nearby homes.  Once we tackle all the dead trees we hope to address some of the problem trees along cart paths.  

Share this info with your golfing buddies by emailing or texting them the link to the page.  This time of year we have a lot going on and it's good to keep avid golfers in the loop.  I'll try to keep the page updated weekly over the winter.  The box in the top right corner of the home page will allow for my updates to be emailed directly to those who sign up.  We appreciate those of you who are already signed up! 


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Patience Needed

I was hoping that my last update might somehow ward off nasty weather.  Instead I'm having to refer to it already.  Much of the course is ok for play, but much of it is not.  2.28" of rain on Thursday was followed by ice, snow, and frigid temps on Friday.  Saturday and Sunday things slowly thawed out in the sun.  Tomorrow (Monday) we expect a big improvement in conditions.  The course will continue to thaw and should be safe for play Tuesday.  "Safe" refers to the greens, not the golfers.   

Everyone has some degree of cabin fever I'm sure.  I rode the entire course yesterday and just walked the front nine this afternoon (2:30 Sunday).  The snow is melting in the sun, but many of the greens are frozen somewhere in the top inch.  

Some pictures from my Sunday afternoon hike...

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Frost Delays and Winter Play

Frosty turf in the morning is a normal occurrence now that winter is near.  Traffic on frosty turf will do damage that won't recover for months.  The course opens at 9:00 this time of year, but often that will be pushed back to allow for the frost to thaw.  We communicate any expected delays to the golf shop when they open at 8:30.  If you have a 9:00 tee time and your lawn is still white or frozen at 8:30, it's pretty safe to assume you have time for another cup of coffee.  The practice greens will likely be on the same delay as the course, but the practice tee can usually be opened up a few minutes before the course.  The best thing to do, if it's cold, is check with the golf shop before heading to the practice facility.   

Frozen ground is another dilemma, but that typically won't delay play.  It just means you can't get the ball to stop on a green, can't put a tee in the ground, and the sand in bunkers is like concrete.  Sometime before the next cold snap we will add 2 additional holes in each green.  This way we will still be able to move the flag around when the ground is frozen.  Doing this allows us to avoid excess wear and tear on the same areas of the greens.  Over the course of the winter we will cut new hole locations as needed when the conditions allow for it.  

The worst case scenario for turf in the winter is a warm day following a really cold spell.  It's that day in particular that everyone looks forward to playing.  It's also that day when the greens begin to thaw from the top down.  Somewhere below the surface is a frost line that is hard as a rock.  Soggy conditions on top of a frost layer are unsafe for traffic.  I anticipate that this winter could create some challenges with more members and much more play.  There will be times when conditions above ground are ideal for play, but the greens are not safe to use.  We are very liberal with our approach to allowing play in this situation and have opened numerous times when every expert would advise against it.  It definitely hurts playability for several days and likely does some long term damage that isn't immediately evident.  The pressure to open the course is more intense than the pressure to have to answer why conditions aren't perfect in March or April.  My hope is that everyone understands and appreciates the risk involved with allowing play on greens that are partially frozen.  If you want the best possible conditions in spring and summer, it's best to show restraint in certain situations.  It's my job to protect the course from the golfers and it would be extremely helpful if the golfers that "get it" would run some interference for me with those that don't.  In times when we've "caved" it's been more a function of being overruled.  

Here is a great article outlining some of the issues with winter golf...Winter Play...USGA Article