Sunday, February 18, 2018

2018 Golf Industry Show

The Golf Industry Show was held last week.  This gathering includes educational seminars as well as a large trade show, where manufacturers of everything from fertilizer, to bunker rakes, sprayers and sprinklers, all have their goods on display.  Some of the new products may not look like game changers, but can prove to be a great new tool.

An example of an unassuming new piece of equipment is shown below.  This hand seeder is designed for overseeding small spots with Bentgrass.  The tool creates a series of tiny holes, then deposits the seed, all in one step.

Other new items are impressive for their size, and potential labor-savings.  Pictured below is a boom mower attachment which can trim anything from small branches overhead to pond banks when lowered to a horizontal position (and would be great for keeping phragmites under control).  This was clearly an attention-getter!

Whether it's big or small, we always leave the show with plenty of new ideas on ways to improve the course management plan for the upcoming year.  Temperatures may break record highs this week, so spring is surely getting close!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Irrigation maintenance

With a whole lot of cold weather this winter, concerns about the dog days of summer can easily become a distant memory.  However, rather than waiting until we really need the irrigation system in six months, now is a much better time to address some issues. 

Over the years, we have discovered that some of the system's isolation valves no longer function correctly.  When there's a problem (such as a sprinkler getting stuck on) an inability to isolate an individual tee or green means that we may have to shut down the irrigation to several holes while the problem is addressed.

We recently installed two new isolation valves for the practice area and one new valve for #12 green.  Hopefully we won't have a need to use these this upcoming season, but it is good to know that they are in place and will work properly if we do.  We think of projects like this as fire prevention, which is certainly preferred to putting out a fire!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Tee Expansion

A quick look at the divots on the lower tee on #17 made it clear that few people ever use the right side of this tee.  With a few feet available between the left side of the tee and the cart path, we were able to give this tee a slight expansion. This will increase the usable teeing area, while improving visibility of the putting surface from the tee.

Despite some less than ideal weather (aka wintry mix), the guys did a great job of knocking this project out.

Once again, we were able to use some Bentgrass sod we harvested from our nursery, thus the material cost for this project was negligible.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

On the right path...

The break in the weather this past week made it feel like spring may not be all that far away.  With the ground thawing out, the guys were able to strip, prep and sod a number of cart path ends around the golf course.

With all cart traffic being funneled into these pinch points, the turf doesn't get much rest.  Over the years, we have tried a number of products that are intended to reduce wear and compaction in these areas, all with limited success.

We were also able to swap out a few pieces of sod on #18 approach, which had Poa, for Bentgrass harvested from our nursery.

As we've said in the past, the benefit to sodding now is that the sod will root without needing to be nursed, as it does most other times of the year.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Heavy Pruning

To date, this winter has been a bit frustrating, as the weather has not allowed us to work on several projects we  had planned.  However, despite the cold and snow, we can most always get some much needed pruning done.
Removing underbrush in these areas will help to allow air movement and promote healthier turf during the hot summer months. 

One thing that we've learned over the years is the importance of keeping things in check.  If not periodically cut back, "volunteer" saplings can soon become significant trees which may pose a challenge to remove.

A good example of this can be seen in front of #13 tee.  The concrete outflow structure for #7 pond's overflow was installed in this area when the golf course was built.  The self-planted clump of trees surrounding this are now pushing 30' in height.  Similarly, none of the trees between the driving range and the pond behind it were planted.  If you've ever watched one of the shows that project what the Earth would look like without humans in the future, it's easy to see that it wouldn't take long for flora to cover things over once again.

The guys have now snipped and clipped from one end of the course to the other.  Fortunately, based on the weather forecast, we now may be able to move on to some other tasks we've been waiting to tackle!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

To open, or not to open...

After a long period of bitterly cold weather, it was tempting to open the golf course at the end of last week, when we briefly saw the mercury head north.  However, the potential for damage to the course was not worth the risk. 

Just as soils freeze from the top down, so too do they thaw from the top down.  As the snow and ice melts, the frozen soil beneath prevents all of that water from percolating into the ground.  In essence, you have a very mushy layer over a frozen layer.

Only once the greens were free of ice throughout their root zone, are we able to open the course for walking.

At times like this, any traffic, including feet, can cause rutting and root shearing.  This USGA article explains the situation clearly:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Good for something

While the weather the past month has definitely not been good for golfing, we have little choice but to roll with the punches on the golf course.  The super cold conditions have allowed us unusual access to the pond banks:  Thanks to the ice, we have been able to work from the inside out. 

Between phragmites and "volunteer" willow trees, visibility from #3 tee was becoming limited, and few people enjoy a blind par 3!  The team made quick work of clearing this area.  When you are finally able to get back out on the course, check out the new and improved view.

Just a reminder that, as tempting as it may be, the ponds on the golf course can not be used for skating.  With springs and storm water flowing into them, they do not freeze evenly (as someone found out earlier this week, when he went into knee deep water).