Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three days of class at the Syngenta Business Institute

One of the perks of being a superintendent is all the opportunities for travel, golf, and education.  In the past six years, I'm been lucky enough (and supported by SGCC's membership) to attend the Golf Industry Show at locations around the country.  I've played some phenomenal golf courses, I traveled to Ireland, I've gone to Farmlinks, and most recently to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the Syngenta Business Institute.  Yes, I'm a little spoiled.

The Syngenta Business Institute is held at the Gralyn International Conference Center in Winston-Salem, NC. The facility is amazing in its history, architecture, sheer size, and the staff treated us like family. As you could imagine, they also fed us pretty well.

This last trip was unlike any previous event I've been able to attend.  Most other educational offerings center around agronomy, chemicals, cultural practices, and basically growing turf.  The problem with this, is 80% of this job is dealing with people.  Growing turf is the easy part.  Working with a crew, club managers, a membership, the public, sales associates, the media, and regulation entities is the part of my job that keeps reminding me that I have a lot to learn.

Three professors from Wake Forest University Schools of Business and another from The Ohio State University taught an energetic group of 26 superintendents principles of financial mangement, leadership, motivation, negotiation, and closing the generational gap.  There was so much information, and homework before and after the event, that I haven't even finished going through the material.  I have so much to share with the other managers at the club and if it ever rains, I will put together a summary for our leaders at SGCC.

If you are a superintendent, then you owe it to yourself and your course to apply for this event for all the positives that come with it.  Besides all the education, I had the opportunity to learn from 25 other superintendents.  Before, between, and after classes, I picked up many ideas from experienced and knowledgable peers.  As usual, the networking is the most beneficial portion of the trip. 

Thank you to Syngenta for hosting this phenomenal program.  Stockton GCC, our staff, and I will benefit from this education immediately.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

TAKE ACTION!!! Save Sharp Park

I am asking for your help today.  Sharp Park Golf Club in Pacifica, CA is a historically significant golf course that entertains 55,000 rounds a year.  The golfers make up all walks of life, colors, and collars.  Average round price is about $35 for a resident, which is very cheap in the San Francisco Bay.

Last Tuesday, the SF Board of Supervisors voted to turn the park over to the National Park Service which is not interested in maintaining the golf course and will seek other uses for the land.  This would be a terrible blow to golf in California.

The main issue is the residency of two endangered species, the San Francisco gartersnake and the red legged frog.  Neither of these creatures could have survived in this environment prior to the construction of the golf course.  The golf course seperated the salty marsh from the ocean creating a fresh water sanctuary for the San Francisco Garter Snake and California Red-legged Frog.

I encourage to read this amazing article written by Bo Links and Richard Harris in the Golf Club Atlas: MacKenzie's Sharp Park Under Siege. This article discusses the historical significance of Alister MacKenzie's creation, the course's contribution to golf, and the environmental impact it has had.  You can also visit the Save Sharp Park website for much more information on the property.

After last Tuesday's vote, it is up to the mayor of San Francisco to veto the ordinance within the next ten days.  The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and many of the local superintendent chapters in California have been busy with an email campaign all week trying to save this golf gem.  I am asking for your help.  There is great power in numbers and a grassroots campaign can stop this mistake before it happens.

Click on the link below to send an email directly to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.  All you need to do is fill in some contact info and hit send.  One minute of your time to have your voice heard and keep one of golf's treasures active and available.  ACT NOW!!!!   GCSAA ACTION ALERT
Monday, December 12, 2011

Out with the old and in with the new

Some projects remain on the to-do list for years before we get a chance to get 'er done.  The 16th fairway has a sunken drain line that has been a problem for golfers, mowers, and my to-do list for a solid six years. The depression crosses the fairway at the 250 yd marker, a good spot to conclude a fantastic drive. This low spot is the location of an old concrete drain line that is slowly deteriorating.  We patched small portions over the last few years and topdressed to improve lies, but it kept caving in.  The bigger problem was the area this pipe used to drain would flood during rain events.                                                                                    Eventually, we will replace the entire pipe from 15 tee to the left rough of #6.  We started with the fairway during our first closed Monday in a number of months.  I like our members, but I love closed Mondays.

With five staff members, we sodcut a clearing, trenched out the old pipe, leveled and graded, installed new gravel and pipe, backfilled, and got our sod back down in about 6 hours.  This was quick work for a 130 foot stretch of 10 inch concrete drain converted to 6 inch PVC perforated pipe.  The trencher made quick work of the brittle concrete and we had the whole line ready for hand cleaning in 25 minutes.

Before we installed the pea gravel and pipe, we sent in our specially trained dog to check for the proper grading.  Actually, she was looking for white grubs, she loves those things.

Once our pipe was in the ground and backfilled, Dante and Manuel put the sod puzzle back together.  This portion of fairway is going to being smooth and uniform so your 250 yard drive will not end up in ground under repair.  The drain line is now operational and will be for years to come.  And six years after I wrote it down, there is an empty slot on our to-do list.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fall Color

For some reason, this year has provided the best show of color in northern California that I've seen in the nine years I've lived here.  The golf course was full of red and yellow trees which turned into a carpet of brightly colored leaves on our grounds.  On the 12 hole, during a windy day, the bunkers were filled all the way up within a couple of hours.  The green was spotless that morning and unplayable in the afternoon.

In our parking lot, the red maples put on a show for four solid weeks.  The acer rubrum 'October Glory' trees turned a bright red that stood out from the 13th fairway, provided a backdrop for the 9th green, and stirred up many questions from members.  This is a great tree for adding color and grows well in Stockton so don't hesitate to plant one of your own if you are so inclined.

Adding some much needed color to the golf course is a priority of the ongoing Tree Program.  The young pin oaks near the 5th green were a deep red and maroon, the honey locusts turned bright yellow, and the plums added a nice contrast with the ever-present dark purple.  Deciduous trees are sometimes frowned upon by golfers because of the mess in the top picture.  This one day event is worth the price to see the changing color wheel along the fairways.