The practice round included a "Big Break" like skills challenge to ramp up the competitive spirit.
After the practice round, Stag Night is the real kickoff to the event. Nestled under the shade of an Ash tree, the members and guest gather for great food, fun, and a few rolls of the bocce ball. I thoroughly enjoy helping set up the court, which is in the right portion of this picture.
Each year, we are thrilled to have the Garibaldi Band as the musical entertainment for Stag Night. Bocce ball is more fun with Italian music in the background. Plenty of guys were tired of rolling balls all day long and sought some TLC at the massage tables set up in the background.
We first discovered this new nozzle configuration in mid-summer 2009. After testing a couple of fairways, we are nearly finished with the replacement. Click on this link to check out the original post "The Nozzle Dance."
Another problem, one that is far more common than you would imagine, is clams clogging up the irrigation system. Somehow they get through the intake screen and grow in the pipes until they block the passage of water, reducing pressure and uniformity. I am still researching potential solutions, but this has been going on for years and I only know one effective method of treatment: blow out the lines. To do this, we simply dig up and unscrew the sprinkler head, open up a valve and send the clams skyward. This process is very time consuming, but necessary. Don't worry, if you come out for dinner, Chef Nico has declined my generous offer of free clams, so your seafood linguine will not be home grown.
There are some acidic products on the market designed to break up the shells so they can be flushed out. However, from what I've heard, the smaller particles clog up the screens in the heads and block up the nozzles creating a more difficult problem to deal with.
Preventative maintenance plays a part in everything we do, and irrigation is near the top of the list. When it does stop raining, it won't start again for months and we are as ready as we've ever been. So PLEASE, bring on the heat, we have grass to grow.
Fairy ring is caused by a ring of mushrooms. Feeding on organic matter, decomposing tree roots, and thatch, the fungi causes the soil to become hydrophobic, repelling water away from the infected zone. The border of the ring is usually greener than the surrounding turf as nitrogen is released from the digestion of organics. The rings start small and grow outward in a sometimes, perfect circle. The turf within the ring normally recovers from the short lived drought.
When I arrived at Stockton Golf and Country Club nearly five years ago, the greens were a hotbed of fairy ring activity. This specific variety resulted in puff ball mushrooms that would stick out of the surface interfering with ball roll and ruining the aesthetics of the green. It took us two years to get this problem under control with increased aerification, regular topdressing, and verticutting to help reduce thatch. The greens have been fairy ring free for three years, but the rest of the course still needs work.
We are currently combating fairy ring in the fairway and rough starting with highly visible areas and landing zones. The funds we used to spend on managing disease on the greens have been redirected to improve other areas that need attention. The same strategy of wetting agents, fungicides, aerification, and topdressing are being employed to manage the disease.
These photos were taken 2 months apart, the second one was taken yesterday. The improvement is obvious as the soil is holding some more water and keeping the turf green. The trees also look a little greener (I thought I had the wrong hole for a minute). We will monitor these areas closely to keep the upper hand on the disease.
If temperatures ever warm up to get the bermuda growing, the fairy ring will become a turf conversion tool of its own. Bermudagrass tolerates the drying out as the cool season grass fades away. The 10 day forecast shows no sign of approaching our normal average high of 82 degrees, so we'll wait patiently for the arrival of summer.
Right next to the maintenance shop and right of # 15 fairway, we have four new additions to our red fox population. These little guys were first spotted a couple of weeks ago and we've been regularly entertained ever since. Our Equipment Manager, and sports photographer for the Ripon Record, Gary Jensen took this great photo.
Izzo, as usual, has been making her rounds and doesn't seem to understand why the parent foxes have become more aggressive. She's got nipped on the tail a couple of times, but no harm, no foul.
Friday, after the first round of the invitational, I was heading back to the shop after an exhausting day. We started at 5:00 am to get the course prepared and finished around 6:30 pm after an afternoon mowing of fairways, tees, approaches, collars, and some rough. I was worn out, but I ended up sitting in my cart on and watching these playful characters for 30 minutes. Here is a good example of their behavior shot by Assistant Superintendent, Rob Williams.
Every department in the club steps up to make this event something to remember. The Pros in the golf shop go above and beyond with games, events, and attractions that far surpass the entry fee. Yesterday was the practice round which included what we call 'Stag Night' once play concludes. Start off with lunch on the range, a round of golf, and head back to the clubhouse for hand rolled cigars, professional massages, scotch tasting, bocce ball, the Garibaldi band, and a phenomenal spread of food. Pictures are coming, but I don't have them yet.
Today, the fun continues for the members and the crew as we feed off all of the compliments on course conditions. I've never been to a club with such an appreciative membership. One thing I can't figure out is why they beg for faster greens after they tell me how many three-putts they had.
The greens are rolling nicely, the fairways are firm, everything is trimmed, and so far, everyone is happy. We have a couple more long days ahead of us and then we can take a break from working from dark to dark. That doesn't mean that this is the high point of the season because we plan on improving conditions daily, little by little. As long as we continue to hear, "this is the best the course has ever been" then we are doing our jobs. With all that we have planned in the next year, I bet we hear the same come tournament time next May.
Out of all the tools I have at my disposal, the Campbell HydroSense is my absolute favorite. This hand-held instrument measures volumetric water content by averaging the reading between the two prongs from end to end. We insert the metal rods at a slight angle to reduce the depth to four inches to mimic our root zone. From the reading, we can decide whether the green needs to be hand-watered, needs over-head water that night, or can go another day.
Using a moisture meter has greatly improved uniformity on all greens from left to right, front to back, and low to high. Inexperienced staff members dragging a hose around for the first time are given a baseline number that is directly related to our anticipated high temperature of the day. Eventually, they become less dependant on the tool, but it sure is nice to have that extra security blanket.
The second round includes walk mowing on the greens and collars. The cleanup pass around the green tends to be the most difficult part for a new operator. A common problem is shrinking greens as the mower cuts slightly inside the collar bringing the edges of the green closer to the center by a fraction of an inch. The staff here goes the opposite direction, (I love the aggressive attitude) widening the greens slightly each time they mow. We periodically dot the greens with paint to get the collar back to the original position.
Once an employee can efficiently handle a tour of walking mowing greens, he/she can get off their feet and on to a riding unit. In a perfect world, every employee would be able to perform every job we have. Organizing the daily or weekly schedule becomes much simpler when multiple options are available.
Today, for example, we are deep tining fairways, spraying for fairy ring in the fairways, putting in a drainage trench on #2, aerifying the remaining tees and approaches, slit seeding #13 tee, and starting the landscape installation at the snack shack. Since we are constantly introducing the staff to new machines and cultural practices, the white board filled out very quickly this morning.
New training assignments include Manuel on course setup, Dante on the fairways, Sal is spraying more often, Marvin on the roller, Arnold is learning some irrigation, and Teddy has been the understudy in the shop, helping out our Equipment Manager, Gary.
Most of the above mentioned jobs were requested by the people learning them. How can you say no to a guy that asks to learn setup almost every day? A strong desire to learn says a lot about a person. Either they want to broaden their horizons or they're really getting tired of bunker edges.
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