Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Finishing Up

Yesterday the high temperature in Stockton was 103 degrees which translates to 97 degrees at the golf course, according to our weather station. We always remain a few degrees cooler than the asphalt jungle of the city. Even so, 97 felt pretty hot.

A couple of things you normally do not want to do when it is that hot is aerify and fertilize. We decided to go ahead and do both of those and came out alright. The main reason for not skipping these jobs was the closed Monday we had to work with. We get so much work done having the course to ourselves and it's just too good to pass up.

We sure were anxious to tear things up like this:
Since we've been aerifying the fairways on a regular schedule, each time out is slightly improved from the last. Some holes are still a little rough like number 5 and 16 which have very tight clay soils. Monday afternoon, six of us were out on 16 replacing divots pulled up by the aerifier. It took us about 45 minutes to finish the whole fairway, but it looked great the next day and should heal just fine.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Fairway Aerification

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Bert called me on the radio and requested a cup of coffee because he was about to fall asleep on the tractor. Do you think all that noise would lull you to sleep? Regardless, somebody got him some coffee because I could only imagine what would happen if he did doze off.

Each time we aerify fairways the results improve partly due to the modern technology we're using and partly because of our previous efforts. The ground is getting a little looser and the tines can enter and pull out and only remove the core, not a baseball-sized chunk of earth.

People sometimes get nervous that we're tearing up the course in the middle of the year when it looked fine before we started. Those worries are few and far between now that the finished product is in good shape and back to playing condition the same day we started. The video below was shot on Tuesday and the picture was taken Thursday. Two days after pulling these plugs, you hardly know we did anything.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Needle Tines

I sure do like these things. It only takes a couple of days to finish all of the greens and there truly is no disruption to ball roll. Usually we'll get comments about the greens being faster after this practice and that is caused by rolling multiple times behind the aerifier.

Here is a short video to give you a better look and listen. The process is so smooth, quick, and quiet that we plan to do it monthly to improve rooting and to keep some oxygen in the upper soil profile.

Next Monday we will start fairway aerification which will include pulling some plugs and dragging the surface with a steel mat to break them up. We will blow the remaining mess into the rough and use the spoils to smooth out the dips and bumps just like we use sand on the greens, which will also be completed on Monday.

More posts to come, thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June Drought Update

Quickly, I just wanted to pass this on.  The waterworks out here is looking better than years past and most farmers are going to get their water which is good for everyone.  If you have any interest in California's water situation, this Drought Update is the best source of information.  http://www.water.ca.gov/drought/docs/DroughtUpdate-052810.pdf

I finally got the internet back up in the office and it is faster than ever with the phone line repaired on AT&T's side of the line.  I was losing my mind without the best tool in my bag, and now I'm filtering through 190 emails that came in the last 10 days. 

We needle-tined the greens the last two days and it went very well.  Rob took a bunch of pictures and I will post those and describe the process and results once we upload from his new, fancy camera.  He's not talking to me right now because the Cubs just took the series from his Oakland A's.  Cubs Win!!! Cubs Win!!! Cubs Win!!! 
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fairy Ring Follow-up

The fairways are starting to look good as some summer heat is finally kicking in.  Our summer-long slow release fertilizer has been applied, all of the sprinklers have a new nozzle configuration, and the few diseases the fairways experience are under control.  

The first disease we battled this year was fairy ring and the battle rages on.  Most of the spots we treated are no longer active and have healed very well.  If the ryegrass was able to survive the disease it came back to life and quickly filled the sunken ring.  Other spots remained bare and had to wait for bermuda to fill the void.  We tried to seed a few spots, but the pre-emergent crabgrass control took care of the seedlings as they emerged.  

Back in May I mentioned how fairy ring can be a bermuda conversion tool and the picture below illustrates this point.  

The lighter colored portion is common bermuda that grew in from the sides of the disease pattern.  Of course, we have better ways to convert to bermuda and the results of this ugly ring is not part of the best option.

One other disease we control this time of year is Southern Blight which was the first disease profile for this blog. http://sgccturf.blogspot.com/2009/06/disease-profile-southern-blight.html  

We have our timing and locations dialed in so we just wait for the heat to control this pest.  Rob is probably spraying it right now.

Stay tuned for more updates on course conditions and maintenance practices.  We have some busy days ahead with a light topdress (dusting) of the greens this week, fairway aerification starting next Monday, and a verticut of our collars, tees, and approaches.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

One less aerification

Does that title sound backwards to anyone else?  For nearly five years I've been telling everyone, "We need to aerify one more time."  A couple of months later I would say it again. 

I'm happy to announce the first cancelled aerification in a very long time.  We've turned a corner and the greens really do not need to be opened up before the heat of the summer.  The calendar was set for a 1/4 inch hollow tine aerification next Monday following an outside event.  We have used this practice the last three years, to get some oxygen into the upper profile and relieve some of the stress associated with the widespread black layer that was choking the greens.

This time around, during our inspections of the greens, we realized that this additional aerification was not necessary.  The greens are draining very well, the roots are as deep as they've ever been, the thatch is just thick enough to handle traffic, sodium levels are in the acceptable range, and black layer is difficult to find.

The 1/4 inch aerification did not mess up the putting surface too much, usually healing in two to three days.  However, it did cost time and money which we will put to other uses while keeping the greens in great playing condition.  Part of that time is being redirected to places that may have never seen aeration.

  This photo is a little blurry, (taken with my scratched iPhone) and shows aerification on the green surround of #18 green.  We are using up the tines that punched the greens back in April.  After they are completely spent, we will switch the tine holders to the needle tine attachment for use on the greens.

"Wait a minute, I thought you said you weren't going to aerify the greens?"  Well, we are, and we're not.  I guarantee that this is not noticeable.  Needle tines are solid and the size of pencil leads.  We follow the process with a roller and normally finish in less than two days.  Let's call this process "venting." 

As the greens continue to improve in health and consistency, we can switch cultural methods to become less disruptive to play.  The needle tines fit this job description very well.  The plan is to complete the process early next week, so I'll put up a few pictures of the tines and their result. 

Finally, I've been a little technologically-limited the last few days as the DSL line that services the maintenance facility is out-of-order.  I'm embarrassed to admit how dependent I am to computers and I'm feeling guilty for not posting an update for a full week.  Right now, I'm borrowing a main office computer before the staff arrives and hope to get mine fixed ASAP.  The grass outside will continue to grow regardless of my emails, blogs, Excel files, or Adobe Photoshop, so the work goes on.

Have a great day and thanks for reading.
Thursday, June 3, 2010

SGCC Staff Profiles: Nico and Rob

Profiles of our staff members are way past due, so I will get them going this week with a twofor.  First off, I would like to acknowledge a very important person from another department.  Stockton Golf and Country Club's Executive Chef, Nicolas Sanchez, puts more smiles on faces with his food and personality than you could possibly imagine.  It doesn't matter whether he's cooking for a tournament, a wedding party, or just a lunch in the Spanos Grill, each and every time you get his best, and it is GOOD!!  In fact, it's so good that the recent issue of PGA Magazine included Nico as one of the "Faces of Golf." 

The work of Nico and his staff makes him very deserving of the honor and everyone here at the club is proud of this recognition.  Take a look for yourself and try not to smile back at the grin on his face.  I'm pretty sure it's permanent. 

Next up, I’m happy to announce a new addition to the Turf Department at Stockton Golf and Country Club, Assistant Superintendent Rob Williams.  Rob is native to Australia and has lived in the United States since 2001. His work experience includes courses in Australia, England, and most recently, the Reno and Truckee regions.

I’ve teased Rob about joining the staff and bringing so much extra work to our department. He is full of ideas of course improvements and is doing a splendid job in supporting and managing the staff with the increased work load. His personal skills and attention to detail leave me to wonder why he doesn’t have a course of his own as a head superintendent. I’m sure it is not too far off, so let’s enjoy him while we can and make him feel welcome at his new home.  Rob even has his own web page shamelessly promoting his hard work in the golf profession.  Maybe I'm foolish to encourage other employers to look at my right-hand-man, but it doesn't make sense for him to stay an assistant much longer.  Take a look at http://www.robwilliamsresume.com/.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tree Program: Introduction

On a course with a back tee yardage of just 6500 yards, there needs to be some challenge other than distance. For Stockton Golf and Country Club, that defense of low scores is made of wood and leaves. Come here and try to spray the ball and you will be in for a long day of punching out of the woods and struggling to save double bogey. Trust me, I know from experience and I am now a fantastic player out of the trees. Somehow my ball gets going over there and I get more practice than the average player.

Over the last few years, the walls of trees that line our fairways have become thinner as we lose a tree here and there. A replacement program is in the works and will be carefully planned before officially starting. While trees are an important part of SGCC’s playability and aesthetic beauty, we still have to grow turf to play on so any new tree must serve a purpose besides taking up room.

Many courses go overboard with tree planting, with trees being spaced just a few feet apart. The goal is probably a thick stand of trees, but overcrowding is not the way to get there. It is much better to plant well-suited trees with plenty of room to grow into mature specimens.  That is the current goal of the tree program.  We will determine the best trees for our location and plant them in the best possible position with consideration of the mature height and spread.  The last thing we want to do is plant a bunch of trees that will require removal when they are full grown.  

I could probably write fifteen pages on this topic, so I’ll have to break it up into bits and pieces. So that’s the introduction and next time I'll go into the explanation of tree decline at our location.  Until we really get this tree program going, please refrain from hitting any trees with your ball to reduce injury or limb breakage.  Thank you for your understanding.