Friday, July 31, 2009

Fairway Expansion on #1

The first fairway was recently expanded to shorten the distance from the tee. Players on the gold tees faced a 90 yard carry that has been reduced to 45 yards.
After we mowed, the turf turned brown due to the shock of cutting half of it's length at one time. Normally, you should never cut more than 1/3 of the leaf blade. With common bermuda, there isn't much need to worry. The turf is already very thick and playable and the brown color should fade to green in the next 2 weeks.
You may have noticed a few other areas that have been cut a little shorter. #8 approach, facing the lake, has been expanded to improve aesthetics and playability. Every time a shot landed on the false front it would roll down and stop a foot inside the rough cut. Now there will be a little more variety as the ball might come to rest in the short stuff. You then have a few more options to play including putting up the hill. #9 fairway is being widened towards the levee to provide a fairway lie for balls that kick off the slope. We are also maintaining the slope at a 1/2 inch less than the normal rough to discourage a side hill lie. The final spot is #4 tee. We are mowing most of the upper portion at tee height to provide a hybrid bermudagrass nursery. We will use this turf to fill in bad spots on tees or fairways. Please bear with us while the turf recovers from this aggressive cutting. All of these spots will green up in a short time and will compliment the rest of the course.
Saturday, July 25, 2009

Turf Days at SGCC's Junior Program

Two years ago, I asked Director of Golf, Rich Howarth if I could teach a portion of the Junior Program. I planned on showing them how to repair a ball mark, fill a divot, rake a sand trap, etc. I should have known that that the instructors had already covered these topics during the etiquette section. Rich, in his infinite wisdom, suggested that we roll out the equipment and show these young golfers how this course is maintained. This practice has worked very well and over the last three years I've had the privilege of teaching a very attentive and curious group of students.

Multiple members of the maintenance department have participated in the class and each year they are eager to join in. Bert Ryan, our course setter, is especially popular with the kids during his demonstration of cup cutting. The attendees also get a first hand look at some of our newest equipment. This year we featured the walk behind greens mower, the new Wiedenmann aerifier, and the sprayer.

In the photo to the right, I am letting the kids smell a fertilizer that is made from molasses. Most of them liked the smell of this product unlike the next fertilizer I showed them which is made from algae off the coast of Ireland. Needless to say, that one was less popular, but everyone still wanted to smell it. Many of the golfers in these groups were repeats from last year and the interest in what we do had grown. I was amazed at the knowledge they retained from last year's presentation. They all knew the answers to the questions I asked last year such as: How many sprinkler heads are on the course? How many times a week do we mow the greens and change the cups? and Why do we aerify? By having a better understanding of maintenance practices they will be more likely to accept course conditions and do their part to keep up the course.

Each year, a few members will join the Juniors during the maintenance presentation to hear the information for themselves. Eventually, I hope to have a similar function for the entire membership. Please give me your thoughts on an open house for the maintenance department. The program would show off the equipment, the maintenance shop, the irrigation system, and of course, the staff. I would also like to present future needs and plans designed to improve the course.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fairway Aerification

As promised, here is a couple of videos of the Wiedenmann Terra Spike XF in action. Fairway aerification went very smooth with only a couple of rough spots. #'s 6, 12, 13, and 16 were roughed up a little more than the others. The soil on this course is very tight and needs to be opened up multiple times. Each time we aerify, the soil will improve and so will the results. Notice in the videos the speed of this machine. Each of the heads hold 4 tines that penetrate the ground to a depth of 8 inches. The second video is shown with the cover up to give you a better look at the moving parts. Sorry for the shaky hand, I must have been nervous.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Foot traffic

This is one of my favorite photographs. The footprints you see here highlight the traffic patterns of a four person group of golfers. Imagine how this green looks after a full day of play. The area near the hole is practically covered with footprints after just one foursome. All of this foot traffic can stress out the plant and compact the greens resulting in reduced drainage, less pore space, and a weaker plant. The average human foot has a ground pressure of 9-12 PSI (pounds per square inch). In comparison, our greens roller is between 4-5 PSI. I've always found ground pressure interesting. A massive tractor with flotation tires might only reach 15 PSI while a 125 lb woman in high heels is nearly 2000 PSI. By the way, Stockton Golf and Country Club is a spikeless and heel-less facility.
This visual aid helps to explain a few of our maintenance practices. First off, the cup is moved every day the course is open to play. You wouldn't want to play the same position every day, and I don't want you walking around the same area either. A few times a year it is necessary to aerify the greens to relief this compaction and fill the holes with loose sand. Another strategy we use to reduce compaction and protect the plant is frequent light topdressing. We put a small amount of sand on the green every two weeks to protect the growing point of the grass. Believe it or not, it also speeds up the greens by smoothing out the surface.
So, in order to help out the maintenance department and to improve the health of the greens, please chip in from off the green whenever possible. This would greatly reduce the amount of footsteps needed to complete the hole. Besides, how hard could it be.