Sunday, November 29, 2009

So this is what the flu feels like

Wow. I have never been so sick in my life as I was the past four days. Now I know why people are so anxious to receive the flu shot that I pass up every year. After at least 15 years without getting the seasonal flu, my lucky streak has now come to an end without a shred of doubt.

I spent this holiday weekend with a fever of 102.5 to a high of 103.7 with Thanksgiving Day being the worst of it all. On the bright side, I can now be thankful of just feeling normal again and I'm really excited to get back to work and out on the golf course. I think I remember how spoiled I am.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and enjoyed your Black Friday activities whether that be shopping, golfing, or just eating leftover turkey sandwiches. Historically, the Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year at SGCC with many out of town family members coming out to enjoy a round of golf. This year was no exception with a packed tee sheet and beautiful weather. It's a good time of year to be a superintendent, flu-ridden or not.
Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back to the Grind

Over the next week, we will work on cleaning up the remnants of some old trees that don't stand as tall as they used to. Bert is only half way done with this monster and there are probably 15 more throughout the course. This is a long and slow process.

The small machine in the background is a homeowner variety stump grinder. We've ground a lot of stumps since I've been here and this little machine has made more sense in the long run. The larger type stump grinder can power through wood at a much faster rate, but comes with a host of draw backs.

First off, the price is over twice as much as the smaller version. We can rent this guy for a full week for a bargain price and have some flexibility in our schedule. The larger unit is also difficult to transport requiring its own trailer that is pulled by a truck. Finally, the small one is always in better condition than the one we used to rent due to the inexpensive teeth that come fresh every time we pick it up.

We will shave down these stumps to 12 to 15 inches below the soil line to provide some room for new grass to stretch its legs. However, this will not be the end of stumps on the course because there are easily 30 dead trees that need to be removed. This seems like a staggering number of trees but on holes with 200+, this is just a drop in the bucket. Most are small pines and cedars that didn't belong in Stockton in the first place.

In a future post we will dive into the tree program that we are currently planning. There is a tremendous amount of work to do in this portion of our landscape and the impact will remain for decades.
Monday, November 16, 2009

#2 Leach Field Repairs

Setting priorities at golf course property is always up for debate. A top priority for one superintendent or a member could be very different from the next because everything on the 'to do' list is important, although some tasks are more critical than others. In this instance, there is no debate. The decision is pretty clear that a leaking septic field is priority number one. Water features and bunkers are fine, but overflowing septic is one hazard that doesn't belong on a golf course.
The original leach field was at capacity and needed to be enlarged to handle the increased use of the clubhouse. After a thorough planning and bidding process, a local contractor was chosen to install two trenches 10 feet deep, 2 feet wide, and 204 feet long. They finished in 5 days and the leach field has returned to normal operation.
The maintenance staff was certainly busy at this job site prior to and after the work of the contractors. To prepare the site, we cut the sod on the forward tee, cut and capped any irrigation lines, removed all heads that were near the path of construction, and set up the maintenance road for the trucks and tractors. I stayed in close contact with Paul and the guys from Central Valley Septic to make sure we were on the same page and to offer our assistance when needed. The project went very smooth and they finished in less than 5 days.

In the top photo, the staff is removing sod to reuse after the trenches are installed. The lower pic shows the final grade with the forward tee removed. The gold tee will be replaced in a different location, closer to the fairway. Since its construction in 2007, this tee was in harms way with long and left shots from the driving range. The new location, 25 yards closer to the green, will be out of reach and also, well protected from approach shots into #1.

Two weeks after the new trenches were complete, we are finally wrapping up this job site. The old tee required four days to move to a soil storage area. We will use the same soil to build the new tee and look into other projects including target greens on the driving range. Irrigation tech, Richard Rivera has reinstalled all of the sprinkler heads in their original positions. All leftover rock has been cleaned up, the old sod has been laid back on the ground, the entire area has been graded, and we will put down some seed and water today to get things back to normal.

This project went as well as could be expected, but all along we couldn't help but joke, "I don't like the smell of this one."

Friday, November 13, 2009

The SGCC Haunted Clubhouse

This post is a little late, but I wanted to share with you some of the other projects we involve ourselves in besides golf course maintenance. Stockton Golf and Country Club is just as busy inside the clubhouse as out and nearly every holiday includes a well organized and well attended social event.

This year’s Halloween celebration included a children’s party, a costume party and dance for the adults, and the second annual haunted house which was open to everyone. The maintenance department pitched in everywhere we could help. This year we contributed wood forms and sand bags to hold up 10 ft lengths of PVC pipe which were used to make walls with black plastic sheeting. We also haul in some dirt and leaves for the graveyard scene. The real work is done by the F&B staff who have surpassed expectations for two years in a row.

My favorite addition to the haunted house this year was the golf cart scene. Two golfers, well past their prime, had a little accident and this is what is looked like. If you see a twosome heading your way that resemble these guys, it may be best to let them play through.
Thursday, November 12, 2009

So much to blog and so little time

The last three days, I've been in Raleigh, North Carolina visiting with the fine people from Bayer Environmental Science. The long trip from Sacramento to Raleigh gave me ample time to write a few articles on course updates among other topics. I planned to upload these posts during my return flight from Dallas to Sacramento. That's right, during the flight. American Airlines is currently offering wi-fi on some of their flights. Pretty sweet deal, isn't it? Not really.

When you go to log on to 'gogoinflight' you're welcomed by a sign up form that requires you to create an account and of course pay $9.95 for access to their wonderful Internet. They must not have raised enough money by charging $20 for your first checked bag. A young lady that I sat next to told me that the price was $15 on Saturday and it jumped up to $20 just four days later. Perhaps it has something to do with the weak dollar.

So, to wrap this up, I blame the lack of recent posting on the greedy folks at American Airlines. They tricked me into waiting for the ride home by promoting this amazing offer of Internet in the sky, only to stick me with a bill that was never mentioned in the many pamphlets found in the seat jacket in front of me. I decided to wait to update the Turf Page until today, but forgot to forward any of the posts to my work account. I would like to apologize on behalf of American Airlines and promise to update on a more frequent basis regardless of my travel plans.

I'm really not as bitter as all of this sounds, in fact I think it is hilarious. $20 per bag, that's funny.
Thursday, November 5, 2009

Topdressing by Hand

Normally we conduct our light topdressings on greens with a Tycrop and Progator. However, the Progator has been broken down (nothing serious) for a week awaiting parts and time for repair. So yesterday, we opted for the manual topdress and I was quite pleased with the results. I normally avoid this method due to time restraints, but we finished in the same time as usual with the help of one more person.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the sand helps to smooth out inconsistencies in the green and actually speeds up ball roll. Light topdressings are roughly scheduled for every other week, much to the dismay of our mechanic who knows that sand on the greens results in dull blades that need sharpening. That is a small price to pay for smooth and firm greens.

The weather is still beautiful and the greens are rolling as good as ever. I hope you take advantage of this time of the year before the Stockton fog settles in.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Izzo, Our Course Dog

As the saying goes, a dog is a superintendent's best friend. Our loyal companion has lived at the course for over 5 years. She was found by Billy James, the previous superintendent in a rain soaked parking lot in Stockton. Billy and his girlfriend spent over twenty minutes coaxing the confused pup into their car. She acted like she had been abused and was extremely skittish and emaciated. As you can tell from the picture, she now has plenty to eat.

Izzo took some time to adjust to her new environment, but has become much more comfortable over the past couple of years. She used to startle very easily at loud noises and cower whenever someone pulled out a golf club, hose, or rake. That attitude has been replaced by the arrogance of a dog who sits in your way when you're parking a rough unit and jogs in front of Bert's cart during course setup.

Bert Ryan, our course setter, is nearly inseparable from Izzo. The above picture must have been taken on a cold morning when Bert had the day off. He spent some time, a few months ago, snapping glamour photos of Izzo to gain her admission to the annual Turfnet Dog Calendar. She did not make the cut, but we did receive a coffee mug with the photo on the side. Bert proudly showed off the mug during the next week at work to all the staff and probably half the members. Unfortunately, we might need a better camera for the calendar and a pure bred in exchange for this sweet mutt.

Izzo, by my best guess, is half Rottweiler and half Beagle. She was named by Billy after Tom Izzo, the head coach of Michigan State's basketball program. Billy graduated from MSU and said it was part of my contract not to change her name, since I graduated from a Big Ten rival, Purdue.

Of course her name remains the same and we are very glad to have her around. Many members also enjoy visiting with Izzo on a regular basis and know how to get her attention by carrying milk bones in their golf bag. She rarely turns down anything that is edible. Lucky for her, there are 125 acres to explore each morning while chasing down the sound of Bert's cart in the morning fog.