Friday, February 29, 2008

Elk And The Golf Course Not Necessarily a Good Mix.

Wildlife on the golf course is beautiful to look at, but it does have drawbacks from a maintenance point of view. The annual damage that is caused to the course is not only expensive to repair, but highly disruptive towards providing high quality daily conditions. Most of the problems we are dealing with occur from the Deer and Elk and it’s in the form of urine burn, droppings and hoof prints. Great care has been taken to protect areas on the course that damage commonly occurs by installing protective fencing and flashing lights. Even with some of the protective measures some damage still occurs and requires repairs that range from topdressing and rolling to reseeding or soding of areas.

Elk Droppings

Hoof Damage

Urine Burn

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Divot Repair

Improper Divot Replacement

Taking care of the golf course is your responsibility while you are playing a round of golf. What you do or don’t do will greatly affect the players immediately behind you, as well as the membership as a whole. The golf course is a living breathing thing that requires cooperation on your part to help keep it in the best possible condition. Aside from repairing ballmarks on the greens, the second single most important thing you can do is to replace your fairway divots. Doing so will help some of the collection areas in the fairways recover more quickly by reducing the reestablishment time of the divot. A sizable divot that is replaced with start to knit back in after several days, opposed to a sand and seed mixture that will take several weeks to equally recover. Please watch the video below because it shows how to properly replace fairway divots.

Trees and Turf Best Friends?

Both routinely co-exist most everywhere you look, but on the surface and below a tremendous battle is taking place. Both are competing for space, nutrients, soil moisture and sunlight. When the pendulum shifts in the favor of one of the species the other almost always suffers and declines in vigor and health. The best examples of this can be found on putting greens that are heavily shaded and as a result they are often the weakest greens on the course. Over the years we have drastically thinned out trees that shade our greens and each have improved with the passing years. The best example of this could be found on #11 green where two massive trees were removed as a part of the bunker renovation project. This green has gone from one that had to be babied daily, to one the stronger ones on the course.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What is Compost Tea?

Compost Tea is a highly concentrated microbial solution produced by extracting beneficial microbes from compost. This "brew" is produced by adding nutrients to water that is highly aerated. Compost is placed in a "tea bag or basket" and suspended in solution and the extraction process begins. Using the proper equipment, good quality Compost Tea can be brewed in 24 hours. Once the tea has been properly brewed it can be applied to anything that grows and will act as a natural fertilizer that also provides some disease suppression. The tea is fully enriched with beneficial bacteria and fungi that feed the existing soil organisms that starts the nutrient cycling process.
Microbial Functions
-Compete with disease causing microbes
-Degrade toxic pesticides and other chemicals
-Produce plant growth hormones
-Mineralize plant available nutrients
-Fix nitrogen
-Plant surfaces are occupied by beneficial microbes leaving no room for pathogens to infect the plant (squatters rights)
Direct Nutrition
-A source of foliar and soil organic nutrients. -Chelated micronutrients for easy plant absorption -Nutrients in a biologically available form for both plant and microbial uptake

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Molasses it's not Just for Baking

Black Strap Molasses is the by-product of sugar refining that contains all the nutrients from the raw sugar cane plant. of the varieties of molasses, Blackstrap Molasses is richest in sources of sugars, carbon, enzymes, B-vitamins and trace elements. We routinely add molasses to all of our spray applications to increase the efficacies of the other materials included in the spray mix.
Blackstrap Molasses is a carbohydrate energy source that feeds soil microorganisms and increases microbial activity, With continued applications, Blackstrap Molasses encourages a soil environment that helps reduce thatch.

Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses applications:

Increase Plant health
Increase Microbial Activity
Increase Leaf Color
Decrease Thatch
Improve Fertilizer Efficacy
Readily available Carbohydrate Source

Monday, February 25, 2008

Superintendent Speak Part I

Topdressing. Pythium blight. Creeping Bentgrass. Cultivar. Poa Annua. If you listen to Golf Course Superintendents awhile, you will hear these and many other similar terms. To the layperson, they may seem rather foreign. An understanding of some of the more frequently used golf course management terms may help you understand the complexities of managing a golf course. The turfgrass science terms included here concern the quality of the playing surface. Here are a few of the most common - with translations. This wil be the first of four parts and a quiz will follow at the end.

Acid soil
A soil having an acid reaction of pH below the neutral point, which is pH 7.0; a soil having an excess of hydrogen ions. Turfgrasses generally prefer slightly acid soils, in the pH range of 6.0 to 6.5.
The process of coring to allow more air into the soil and to relieve compaction; used synonymously with aerification.
A growth of minute single-celled plants containing chlorophyll that develops on thin or bare areas in hot humid weather when soils are saturated with moisture.
Alkaline soil
A soil having a basic reaction or a pH above the neutral point, which is pH 7.0; a soil having a predominance of hydroxyl (OH) ions, usually found in areas with relatively low rainfall.
Annual grasses
Grasses that normally complete their life cycles in one year.
The fairway area close to and in front of the putting green, adjoining the putting green collar. This area is normally mowed at fairway height but sometimes is mowed slightly closer.
A large, widely distributed group of typically one-celled microorganisms, chiefly parasitic or saprophytic. Some bacteria are disease producing; many are active in processes such as the conversion of dead organic matter into soluble food for plants and the fixing of atmospheric nitrogen.
Ball mark
A depression and/or a tear in the putting green surface made by the impact of a golf ball.
Bench setting
See cutting height.
Bentgrasses, generally speaking, are tolerant of cold weather, extremely fine-bladed and very popular among golfers, especially for greens. Bentgrasses are even in demand in the South, but it is difficult and costly to maintain them in warm climates.
A term applied to plants that normally complete their life cycles in two years.
Biological control
Control of turfgrass pests by the use of living organisms.
A combination of two or more varieties of the same grass species.
A general term used to describe symptoms of plant disease that may include sudden wilting or death of leaves, flowers, stems or entire plants. The most common blight of golf course turfs is Pythium.
Any of the dicotyledonous plants that grow in a turfgrass stand (e.g., dandelion, plantain, clover, chickweed, knotweed, etc.)
The practice of lifting excessive leaf and stem growth off grasses before mowing. Usually accomplished with brushes affixed to mowers ahead of the cutting reel.

To determine or mark the graduation of, or to determine and control the amount of material delivered by a sprayer or spreader on a given area or in a given time.
As commonly used, the condition in plants relating to the loss or lack of green color. May be caused by disease activity, albinism or nutritional deficiency.
An area of turf adjoining the putting green that is mowed at a height intermediate between the fairway and the green.
The reduction in the number and size of airspaces caused by compression. It is most often the result of traffic. Compaction prevents adequate water and air penetration, and reduces turfgrass root growth.
Complete fertilizer
A fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Contour mowing
To shape the border between the fairway and rough to add interest, direction or strategy to the golf hole.
Cool-season grasses
Among the best known are colonial bentgrass, creeping bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine fescue and tall fescue. They grow best between 55 F and 85 F.
The removal of a core from a turfgrass area with a soil probe or hollow metal tines, usually to provide aeration.
A term used to distinguish cultivated varieties of plants from the naturally occurring varieties. Example: Penncross creeping bentgrass.
A mechanical procedure such as spiking, grooving or core removal on established turf without destroying its sod characteristics.
cutting height
The distance above the soil line that grasses are clipped.
bench setting - the height at which the bedknife is set above a firm, level surface. This is generally the accepted measure for determining cutting height.
effective cutting height - the actual height at which grasses are cut. It varies from bench setting, depending on the degree of thatch and flotation of the cutting unit.
Damping off
A disease of seeds or young seedlings caused by fungi, usually occurring under wet conditions.
Drying up. A type of winter injury that exposed turf areas suffer when subject to high winds and inadequate moisture or snow cover.
The procedure of removing an excessive thatch accumulation either mechanically, by practices such as vertical mowing, or biologically, such as by topdressing with soil.
A disturbance in normal functioning and growth, usually caused by pathogenic fungi, bacteria or viruses.
In a resting, or nonvegetative, state.
The rapid removal of water by surface contouring (swales or ditches) or the installation of subsurface tile.
The wearing away of the land by running water, wind or other geological agents.
The combination of soil evaporation and transpiration from a plant; total water loss from plant and soil.
The slope or incline of a bunker constructed in the direction of the putting green, intended to create an added obstacle for a player to negotiate.
No precise definition exists in the Rules of Golf for "fairway." It is deemed to be an area between the tee and putting green included in the term "through the green." In terms of maintenance, fairways are those areas of the course that are mowed at heights between 0.25 and 0.75 inches, depending on grass species and the cultural intensity desired. Fairways normally are about 50 yards wide but vary from about 33 yards to more than 60 yards, depending on the caliber of the golf course involved and limitations imposed by architecture or terrain.
The application of fertilizer through an irrigation system.
A nutrient applied to plants to assist growth.
Foliar fertilizers
Soluble plant nutrients applied to the leaf and capable of being absorbed through leaves.
Foot printing

Discolored areas of dead leaf tissue left after live, frosted turfgrass leaves are walked on.
Easily crumbled in the fingers. Most often used when describing soils.
A liquid or solid substance that forms vapors that destroy pathogens, insects, etc. Fumigants are usually used in soils or closed structures.
A chemical that kills or inhibits fungi.
A low form of plant life that, lacking chlorophyll and being incapable of manufacturing its own food, lives off dead or living plant and animal matter.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

2007 Water Usage Comparisons

Water use on the golf course is always a hot topic among golfers. Many of our players feel that The Country Club is wetter than the other surrounding golf courses. This is simply not the case when you take the time to analyze the annual water consumption of the courses. For comparison sake we will look at three courses that are adjacent to each other and utilize the same water source Plum Creek Wastewater Authority (PCWA). These courses would be the Ridge at Castle Pines North, Castle Pines Golf Club and The Country Club at Castle Pines.
Each of us is in close proximity to each other and shares relatively the same terrain, climatic conditions, exposures and irrigated acreages. We each have our own set of unique problem that are specific to each golf course, but essentially we are very similar and statistical differences can be accurately compared.
Looking at the charts below you can see how in 2007 The Country Club statistically used significantly less than our neighbors.

When looking at the chart that shows a 13 year trend lines there are two key points to look at the first being in 2002. That is the year that our Bentgrass fairway conversion began and a gradual reduction in water usage started to occur. The next statistically important date was in 2005. This was the year that we changed to more efficient sprinkler heads on the greens and fairways. These heads applied water more evenly to the turf resulting in a reduction in water usage.

Using Effluent Water on Golf Courses

Water is the most precious resource on Earth. And despite the amazing ability of turfgrass to use water efficiently, concerns about conservation have led golf courses to increasingly turn to effluent water for irrigation.
Sometimes called "gray water," effluent is essentially partially treated wastewater from community sewage or industry. It usually is cleansed of major pollutants, but still contains enough trace amounts of saline (salt), heavy metals (such as zinc and cadmium) and bacteria to render it undrinkable.
In the past, communities often simply dumped effluent back into lakes and rivers. But today, golf courses are being viewed as environmentally desirable disposal sites for effluent. In fact, golf courses can serve as highly effective wastewater treatment facilities for this partially polluted water.
Dense, well-managed turfgrass areas are among the best filtration systems available for polluted water. The thatch layer in turf, which consists of dead and decaying organic material, traps and holds particulate pollutants in the water and allows them to degrade naturally. The effluent that goes on the course as irrigation is actually cleansed and returned to lakes, streams and groundwater supplies.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Golf Cart Etiquitte

Proper use of the golf cart is equally important for both the occupant’s safety as well as minimizing damage to the course.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Proper Ball Mark Repair Methods

One of the most important things you can do while playing your round is to properly repair your ball marks and divots. Doing so will ensure that the players behind you will be able to enjoy the course as much as you. Remember to leave the course better than you found it.

Use a pronged ball mark repair tool (preferably), knife, key or tee.

Insert at the edges of the mark-not the middle of the depression.

Bring the edges together with a gentle twisting motion, but don't lift the center. Try not to tear the grass.

Smooth the surface with a club or foot. You're done when it's a surface that you would putt over.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Golf Course Photography

Here are some of my favorite pictures of The Country Club at Castle Pines that I have taken over the years. Truly a tough place to come to work everyday.

Hole #1

Hole #2

Hole #3

Hole #4

Hole #5

Hole #8

Hole #16

Hole #17

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Reclaiming Lost Green Surface

Golf courses are living breathing things that evolve over time, sometimes for the good and sometimes not. One of the more subtle changes that occur to the course is a gradual reduction in the size and shape of the putting greens surface. This has a negative effect on both wear and tear and a deviation from the original design intent. Daily mowing of the greens surface takes place with great care so that the collars areas are not scalped, this is what causes a gradual reduction in size and shape. We try to combat this problem by weekly applications of paint dots that show the operators where the proper mow lines are located. Even with this preventive measure, some reduction still takes place. This fall we took the opportunity to reclaim nearly 900 sqft of lost putting surface on #18 green. We have now easily gained 5 to 6 additional pin locations that have been lost over the last 23 years.

Red paint lines show lost original green contours

Newly laid sod matching up with existing green

A fully restored green surface

Design Sketches

During the bunker renovation project at lot of the final shaping decisions were made in the field so that the newly constructed bunkers looked like they were there all along. We worked off of one dimensional construction drawings that were done by Nicklaus Design. Tom Pearson was the lead Design Associate in charge of our renovation project and he visited the site four different times during construction. Due to the distance of Nicklaus’s home office from our project a lot of emailing pictures took place back and forth to make sure that we carried out the proper design elements. There were times that we had difficulty visualizing how some things should look and that is when design sketches were drawn for us to work off. These sketches were done by Tom Pearson who often times would draw these sketches in a matter of minutes, truly amazing pieces of art work.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Stimpmeter

Edward Stimpson Photo Courtesy USGA Archives

The Stimpmeter was invented in 1935 by Edward Stimpson and its purpose was to test the consistency of the speed of putting greens. Unfortunately today’s use of the device is for speed purposes or bragging rights as to how fast the greens are. I use the Stimpmeter daily for several reasons such as; consistency from green to green (the original intended use), to help with the timing of fertility applications, Growth regulator applications and eventually speed measurement. These daily speeds all affect the aforementioned applications timings that ultimately dictate green speeds. Follow this link to the USGA’s website for an animated clip that shows the use of the Stimpmeter.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tee 2 Green Video

Check out this video success story from Tee 2 Green that profiles myself and The Country Club at Castle Pines Bentgrass fairway conversion.

Friday, February 15, 2008


The use of compost on the golf course was slowly introduced over 6 years to areas such as flowerbeds and new construction projects. Since that time compost has been a mainstay in my agronomic tool belt. It now comprises nearly 85% of the total fertility applied to the fairways on the golf course every year. We have moved away from synthetic or man made fertilizers that strip the soil of nutrients and microorganisms.

The Benefits of Compost

• Adds humus and organic matter to the soil
• Inoculates soil with humus building microorganisms
• Improves soil structure to allow better infiltration of air and water
• Humus stores 20 times the weight in water and significantly increases the soils ability to store water

• Mineral based nutrients
• Organic based nutrients
• Slow release
• Does not leach into aquatic environments

• Supplies a large range of beneficial fungi, bacteria and other useful species
• Suppresses soil pathogens
• Fixes Nitrogen
• Increases soil Carbon
• Releases locked up soil nutrients
• Detoxifies poisons
• Feeds plants and soil life
• Builds soil structure

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Winter Watering

Believe it or not watering still takes place to multiple areas on the golf course year round. Even with all of the snow we receive there are many areas that have southern exposures or are windblown that require additional water to be applied. Other areas that are problematic are tees that have tree drip lines that encroach into the tee surface. These tree roots compete with the grass for water and rapidly remove it from the soil. These areas are hit with either water tankers or plugging directly into the frost free portion of the irrigation system.

Bentgrass Fairway Coversion

The Country Club at Castle Pines has been featured in national trade publications by Tee 2 Green Corporation as a Bentgrass fairway conversion success story. Our aggressive approach towards a fairway conversion has been recognized as a model for other clubs to follow.

Soil Modification in Tree Drip Lines

Tree care in the winter is almost more critical than during the summer. It is during this time that the trees are more susceptible to desiccation which predisposes them to other failures such as insect infestation and poor soil quality issues. We address these concerns with active winter watering targeting the more stressed trees. Water applications are made to the tree drip lines that include soil amendment such as Gypsum and other proprietary chemicals that address the poor soil conditions.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Before And After Pictures

After successful renovation work it is often hard to tell how good the new features are until you compare them to the ones that existed before the renovation work. Ideally the new features will blend into the natural terrain and look as if the were there all along. I believe we had great success achieving this goal throughout.

Hole #1 Before

Hole #1 After

Hole #6 Before

Hole #6 After

Hole #7 Before

Hole #7 After

Hole #8 Before

Hole #8 After

Hole #11 1st Fairway Before

Hole #11 Ist Fairway After

Hole #11 2nd Fairway Before

Hole #11 2nd Fairway After

Hole #14 Before

Hole #14 After
Hole #18 Before
Hole #18 After

Golf Course Renovation Master Plan

The golf course renovation plan officially began August 4th 2005 when Jack Nicklaus toured the golf course with myself, John Ogden (Golf Professional) and Tom Snell (General Manager at the time). We spent several hours looking for ways to improve the golf course and offset the advances in technology that had left the course defenseless. Many great ideas for improvements were hatched and ultimately executed two years later.

Orginal Master Plan

Master Plan With Revised Comments