Sunday, July 31, 2011

Watch your step

We recently finished another set of stairs on the ninth tee box.  The old ones were made of railroad ties which were sinking and separating.  The last thing we want is an injury to a member or guest due to repairable problem like dangerous stairs.  The crew took no time at all ripping out the old ones and prepping the ground for framing.

The day of the pour was July 11th, the first closed Monday in nearly three months.  We made the most of it by fertilizing the greens and green surrounds, flushing with 2 hours of irrigation the previous night, contracting two tree crews for removal of dead and dying trees, and we aerified all the approaches.  All in all, it was a very productive day.

The rear set of stairs on the ninth tee are seldom used and will be removed in the very near future.  After that, we can check this project off the to-do list and move on to the next location.  The next set of stairs to rebuild is the corner stairs on the 4th tee box.  This will be accomplished in-house by a couple of our skilled crew members that are also accomplished carpenters.

Like most of our projects, we intend to find a long term solution for a temporary problem.  These new stairs will be around for a very long time and without needing any upkeep, unlike the old ones.
Sunday, July 17, 2011

Muchas hormigas en los verdes, no bueno

Hormigas are ants.  That is a new Spanish word for me, taught by my always helpful, bi-lingual staff.  Ants on the greens have been a minor problem for a full year.  The fourth green has definitely been the worst one with up to twenty small mounds built in clusters.  Each day they are mowed down and rolled over, but they are reconstructed to their former glory by mid-afternoon.  I teased some members that I hired these ants to perform some minor aerification, but they are now becoming a problem that is more difficult to control than I would have guessed.

We tried the common insecticides that we normally spray about two times a year for cutworms.  The ants were knocked back for a few days and then started at it just like before.  Recently, the number of mounds have been increasing and they are starting to show up on most of the greens, not just a couple isolated areas.  I tried spot spraying, but the surface sprays would only last for two days.

My search for a cure led me to Turfnet, as is often does, and I searched The Forum to see what I could find.  There has definitely been a superintendent who has seen and resolved this problem before me,so there is no need to reinvent the wheel.  Sure enough, others had the same problem and went through the same process to eradicate las hormigas.  I was pointed in the direction of a USGA funded study at the University of Kentucky, 'Nuisance Ants on Golf Courses' by Reid M. Maier and Daniel A. Potter.

The troublesome ants are now much fewer in number and no longer marking up the putting greens.  The turf that was thinned or scalped due to the mounding will heal up in a short time and look just like ball marks that were not repaired.  Thanks to golfer etiquette, we've been pretty good in that category for a few weeks now. During his daily setup duties, Bert will keep an eye on the ant mounds and treat them as soon as they appear.
Saturday, July 16, 2011

Man on a Mission

Last Monday, our first closed day in months, we welcomed Stockton GCC Junior Champion, Anthony Madrid to play an incredible amount of golf.  Anthony completed 162 holes, or 9 full rounds for his golf-a-thon benefiting the Eddie Guardado Foundation in the fight for a cure for autism.

Anthony is a phenomenal 15-year-old player with more endurance than your average man.  On his 125 hole, our par 4 17th, Anthony's approach shot came to rest 4 feet from the hole.  Even after cresting his goal of 150, he was still enthusiastic about each shot, barking at the ball to get up, get down, or get in.

When Anthony and his uncle Keith, finished up their day there was not a ballmark to be found on any one of these greens.  I knew providing access to the course for this great cause would not do too much harm, but I didn't expect his 9 rounds to leave the greens in better shape than when they arrived.

Nice work and congratulations!!!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

1/8 inch off = 10 more yards

The second half of the data is in for our fairway height debate.  As reported in the last post, the fairways are currently maintained at 5/8".  Number 16 has been mowed down to 1/2" to test the difference in roll compared to the slightly longer cut.

Kelley Spooner and Rod Souza once again lined up on the 16th tee, this time to test the 1/2" playing surface.  Rod gave me two balls to count towards the experiment, the first with a roll of 101 feet and the second with 79 for an average of 90 feet of roll.  At the 5/8" height of cut, Mr. Souza averaged 57 feet of roll.  With this small difference in height he picked up an average of 33 feet or 11 yards.

Kelley's results were very similar.  In the first go around, Kelley averaged 81 feet of roll.  Today we recorded distances of 119, 127, 130, and 97 for an average of 118.25 feet of roll or a whopping 39.4 yards.  This betters her previous performance on the 5/8" cut by an average of 12.4 yards. 

To keep the experiment fair, we did our best to maintain an even amount of moisture in the fairway.  The turf was also cut in the same time span; both were cut the day before the test in the afternoon and the drives were recorded mid-day. 

So now it's up to the membership to decide on what height of cut we move towards.  Is all this extra roll worth dealing with the tighter cut?  The two Pros in the experiment like the shorter height for obvious reasons, every yard of roll is 3 feet closer to the hole, assuming your ball is heading in the right direction. 

We will continue to maintain the 16th hole at 1/2 inch for another week using our tee and approach mower.  At that point we will make a decision on the future height and adjust our fairway mowers if a change is desired. 
Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fairway Height

One of the many components that dictate the speed of greens is the height of cut.  So, it would only be logical to assume that the height of the fairway would also impact ball roll.  The fairways at Stockton Golf and Country Club have been trimmed to 5/8 inch as long as I've been there.  I've attempted to lower the height of cut to a 1/2 inch two times, but both were short lived.  The membership prefers a lie that allows them to "get under the ball" and 1/2 inch cut is a little too tight.

By cutting the fairways an extra 1/8 inch taller, I would think that we are sacrificing some distance.  To put that to a test, I enlisted our PGA Professional Teaching Pro and member, Rod Souza and our LPGA Golf Professional, Kelley Spooner to give us some numbers.  We went out to the 16th fairway which was cut at our standard height of 5/8 and measured roll distance for drives landing and finishing within the fairway.

5/8 inch cut
Drive Rod
1 72
2 44
3 55
average 57 71.25

So far, this is already a decent amount of roll on a completely flat fairway (most of them are). Rod hits a higher ball with a bit more spin.  His drive that concluded with 72 feet of roll was one exception.  Kelley's drives were all nearly identical in distance and trajectory and she averaged 71.25 feet of roll after landing.  The fairway was not bone dry and not soaking wet.  It had, what I would consider "normal" moisture.  

Later that day, Mario used our John Deere 2500 Triplex to mow the fairway down to .5 inches.  In my opinion, this looks so much better than the turf cut just an 1/8 inch taller.

 I will be putting some signs up near the tee and in the locker rooms to inform the membership of this change.  I hope to get some feedback to determine the future height of cut.  It may look intimidating at first, like the ball is too close to the ground, but the additional roll will result in fewer shots to reach the green.

In the next few days, Rod and Kelley will be back on the 16th tee to give us the second half of the data.  I hope you get a chance to conduct your own test and see if you are hitting your drive a little further, lining up your approach shot a little closer, and maybe even putting for a stroke less than before.
Friday, July 1, 2011

Turf Update

Sometimes I forget this is a "Turf Page" with all the other things we have going on.  Sometimes the turf is taken for granted or at least, does not seem too interesting.  All areas are growing pretty good right now, and no word is the good word.

It didn't take very long to get the greens back up to speed once our roller was back in action.  Within two days, we gained a foot of distance and now we are rolling a consistent 10.5 on the stimp meter.  We are using some light verticutting with our groomer attachments on a bi-weekly basis and we follow that practice with a very light topdressing.  We hope to continue this work regardless of summer heat.  You can see the light dusting of sand between grass blades in the second picture.


I just finished spraying out some growth regulator, wetting agent, iron sulfate, and a nice product called Terreplex.  The fairways are very green and they are taking water pretty well.  The turf is fairly dense, but they don't look too tight because of the elevated height of cut at 5/8 inch.  I would prefer we mow at .400 inches, but for now, we will remain a little higher.  I will be conducting a test run of a shorter height on #16 fairway recording the difference in ball roll for one height of cut versus the other.  All golfers will be encouraged to provide feedback on the playability of different heights and we will follow the direction of the majority.

Blog Update
Sorry for the lack of posts recently.  When Rob left, I not only lost a very good assistant, I also lost my spray tech.  I've assumed those responsibilities for the time being which isn't so bad, I've always liked spraying.  However, something has to give and so far, it's the blog that suffers.  My email still works and I check it many times a day whether I'm spraying or not.  Don't hesitate to shoot me a question if you have something on your mind.

I hope everyone enjoys a patriotic weekend in the best country in the world.  We have a lot to be thankful for and only a tiny portion involves golf, grass, or stimp meters.  Happy Fourth of July!!