Saturday, January 24, 2009

Like Putting Lipstick On A Pig

That is probably the best way to describe what were are doing on the driving range to upgrade the system operation.

The irrigation renovation project as whole does not include the driving range, due to the fact that in the next several years the current landforms will change. The current target greens will be relocated, bunkering and fairways will also be added for more purposeful practicing. This project has not yet been approved and will more than likely take several years to get back on the Green Committees radar.

For the short term, we will be upgrading the irrigation components on the range by recycling some of the better parts coming out of the ground from the old system. These items will include heads that are less that four years old, swing joints and new station wiring.

This new wiring will give us the ability to re-wire the remaining old system on the range and have it function as apart of the new irrigation system. For the last several years the irrigation on the driving range has been inoperable most of the time with brief periods of moderate functionality.

I have been asked many times over the years why the range is always off color and the answer is that only a portion of it effectively communicates with the central computer. Additionally a significant number of heads do not even function because of station wiring issues and sprinkler failures. With the work we are currently undertaking, the driving range should give the appearance of being a part of the new system even though it is not.

Station Wiring Strung Out

Wire Plowed Into The Ground

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Not Even 24 Hours

Well I knew it would be a matter of time before we had our first break of the year, but I was not expecting to happen this fast.

The system was charged yesterday afternoon and things were looking good at the pump house; pressure was maintaining and no slow leaks appeared to be occurring. What surprises me the most was the fact that a break occurred with our pumps running 1/3 of the pressure that has been run for the last 23 years.

This fact proves how much of a ticking time bomb we still have with the old irrigation system components. I will be holding my breath until the time comes in June when we will be fully operational with the new system.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Here We Go Again

Seven weeks after blowing out the irrigation system, we began the process of pressuring back up. Today marks the first operation of the new pump station after it has been renovated for the new system requirements.

The initial startup was done by the company that installed the components to ensure that we follow proper operating procedures. This is critical for two reasons; the first being that we don’t cause any damage to the pump station or down stream components and most importantly is the protection of the manufactures warranty.

The need for pressuring back is largely due to the fact that many of the southern exposure areas are in need of water. We have been using water tankers up to this point, but now the areas requiring water are too many to effectively keep up. Additionally many of these exposed areas contain large areas of sod that was cut and reinstalled as a part of the mainline installation. It is essential that we maintain adequate moisture levels in the newly laid sod, so that a 100% survival rate occurs.

The New Pumps In Place
Close Up of The Control System

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don’t Fool Mother Nature

Over the last several days we have been enjoying some above average temperatures, which has caused the significant areas of melting to begin. Due to the nature of the severe mounding found throughout the course the runoff flows directly into the fairways.

In efforts to help prevent significant ice formation from occurring, snow is being removed from some of the northern exposure areas in the fairways. This is being done to help reduce the amount of ice that forms under the snow cover found in the fairways. By removing the snow before the runoff occurs, these fairway areas will be able to better absorb and utilize the precious moisture for plant life support.

We do not remove the snow entirely from these areas, because the turfgrass underneath has not hardened off due to the protective insulation provided by the snow cover. I believe it is more beneficial if the turf hardens itself over the next several days or week as the remaining snow layer slowly melts away. If the protective snow cover is removed too quickly then Crown hydration (cold temperature damage) can occur to the turf.

Some things are better left for Mother Nature to control, but when human manipulation is necessary great care must be taken not shoot yourself in the foot.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tree Care

Of all winter maintenance activities on the golf course one of the most time consuming is tree maintenance. During the growing season the focus is placed towards turfgrass health and playing conditions and tree care is often overlooked at this time. In all reality it is probably best that we are forced to do the majority our tree care during the off season because, this is the best time to do these maintenance items.

Pruning is the most common tree maintenance procedure done and it is essential for development of a tree with a strong structure, and desirable form. All Pruning should be done with an understanding of how the tree responds to each cut. Improper pruning can cause damage that will last for the life of the tree, or worse harm or kill the tree.

Basic pruning involves removing diseased or insect-infested wood, thinning the crown to increase air and light flow and reduce some pest problems. Pruning can best be used to encourage trees to develop a strong structure and reduce the likelihood of damage during severe weather. Removing broken or damaged limbs encourages wound closure and helps reduce insect and disease attacks.

Proper Pruning Techniques


  • Locate the Branch Bark Ridge (BBR)
  • Find point A (outside BBR)
  • Find point B Branch Bark Collar( BBC)
  • Cut from point A to Point B
Do Not:
  • Make flush cuts behind BBR
  • Leave living or dead stubs
  • Injure or remove BBR
  • Seal cuts with tree paint

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What Is In A Number?

Have you ever wondered how snow totals equate to rain in terms of true precipitation rates? The rule of thumb has always been 10” of snow will equal 1” of rain, but is it true?

Like anything there are numerous variables in place such as humidity and temperature that will affect the specific density of a snow flake. A higher density of a flake leads to a higher moisture content found. One of the main factors that dictate the moisture content found in snow is the air temperature at the time of snowfall.

The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) uses a conversion table for estimation, with snow/water ratios increasing from 10:1 to 100:1 as surface temperature decreases:

Surface Snow/waterTemperature Ratio

28-34 °F 10:1
20-27 °F 15:1
15-19 °F 20:1
10-14 °F 30:1
0-9 °F 40:1
-20 to -1 °F 50:1
-40 to -21 °F 100:1

Friday, January 9, 2009

Soil Horizons

A soil horizon is a specific layer in the soil which measures parallel to the soil surface and possesses physical characteristics which differ from the layers above and beneath.

The term 'horizon' describes each of the distinctive layers that occur in a soil. Each soil type has at least one, usually three or four different horizons and these are described by soil scientists when seeking to classify soils (Soil-Net). Horizons are defined in most cases by obvious physical features, color and texture being chief among them. These may be described both in absolute terms (particle size distribution for texture, for instance) and in terms relative to the surrounding material, ie, ‘coarser’ or ‘sandier’ than the horizons above and below.

O) Organic matter: Litter layer of plant residues in relatively undecomposed form.

A) Surface soil: Layer of mineral soil with most organic matter accumulation and soil life.

B) Subsoil: Layer of alteration below an "E" or "A" horizon. This layer accumulates iron, clay, aluminum and organic compounds, a process referred to as illuviation.

C) Substratum: Layer of unconsolidated soil parent material. This layer may accumulate the more soluble compounds that bypass the "B" horizon.

These horizons were on full display throughout the installation of the mainline on the course. It was amazing to see how different the A horizon layer was from hole to hole. During construction of the golf course the topsoil (A horizon) was stripped off and stockpiled for redistribution after the rough shaping was completed.

Distinctly Visible A Horizon Layer

Weather it occurred in the final shaping or from the spreading of the topsoil, the A horizon layer varies significantly. Some areas we have only four inches whereas other areas have as much as ten inches. Seeing some of these areas first hand helped explain why the turf consistently struggles in certain areas no mater how much the surface is modified.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Snow Management

One of the biggest challenges we deal with in the winter is managing the snowfall received. I am not referring to snow removal from the paring lots at the clubhouse, but rather management of snow on the vital play areas on the golf course.

We routinely remove snow from our four most shaded greens after each snow event. This is done to help prevent any ice build up from occurring due to the freezing and thawing that takes place where extended snow cover occurs. The timing of the removal revolves around predicted forecast, so that we are not clearing greens prior to the onset of extremely low temperatures. When cold weather is predicted we will leave the snow on the green to insulate it until the extreme temperatures pass and then remove the snow from the greens. This is a cycle that takes place throughout the entire winter. Due to the constant snow removal we have to add supplemental moisture to these greens in the form of hand watering. It is not uncommon to see the greens being watered when the surrounding areas are still deep in snow cover.
A Cleared Green

Wildlife also has an effect on snow found on the golf course. With herds of both Elk and Deer roaming the property they cause a distinct set of issues. The constant foot traffic causes compaction of the snow, which can lead to the formation of ice below potentially causing a smothering from extended ice cover. Additionally one of the other unique problems that occur comes from where the animals bed down. Their body heat melts the snow leaving large areas of exposed turf. It seems like the animals target our most problematic areas on the course, which forces us to either hand water or physically add snow back to these areas.
Snow Melt From Animals Bedding Down

Adding Snow Cover Back To Exposed Areas

I have often said that managing a golf course in Colorado in the winter is far more difficult than in the summer.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Saved By The Snow

A little over four weeks ago the irrigation system was blown out as a part of our normal winter preparations. During this time we took the opportunity to convert the existing pump station as well as add a new booster station. While this work was taking place we were fortunate to have snow cover on the ground protecting the turf.

Last week the warm Chinook winds came in and quickly removed significant portions of snow throughout the golf course. We began operating two water tankers on the course and began watering stressed tree drip lines as well as southern exposed mounds. This process is very slow and inefficient, due to the large amount of areas that are in need of attention.

The timing of this eight inch powder could not have been better, because if it had not fallen we would be pressuring up the frost free component of the irrigation system. This would have proven to be a challenge due to the fact that some the pump station work has not been completed. The main pump station is complete, but the new booster station is waiting for power service to be brought in.

The Booster station requires three phase 440 volt service which unfortunately is not easily available. A portion of the work has been done by setting the transformer, but we are still waiting for the power to be run in from IREA. One of the last obstacles we are dealing with now is getting the power across Country Club Drive which sits on cap rock. Current plans are to bore under the road, but I am not so sure how well that will work based on what I have seen during other phases of the project so far.

This segment of work has been the most frustrating for me since this process was started back in September with IREA. We have dealt with several hurdles along the way such as; finding a nearby power source, acquiring easements from adjacent property owners and lastly meeting schedule. All in all things seem to be working out even though the timing has not been perfect or gone exactly as planned.