Monday, March 30, 2009

The Mainline is Complete

After more than five months and 35,000 feet of pipe being installed, the mainline is complete. The installation of the mainline has been by far the most challenging aspect of the renovation work to date.

Now that this key phase is complete, the focus will now be on lateral and head installation. Last fall the first five holes were completed and this leaves us the remaining thirteen holes to complete.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Water Quality

Now that more than a foot of fresh snow has fallen on the golf course many of the areas that were struggling, will be renewed with the fresh clean water content found in the snow. The golf course uses Effluent water for irrigation purposes which is environmentally responsible, but from a healthy soil and turf standpoint it leaves a lot to be desired.

We are constantly fighting the additional inputs that come along with the Effluent water such as ; Bicarbonates, Chlorides and Sodium. These three elements have over time destroyed the structure of the soil found on the golf course. Prior to the use of Effluent water the soils were very good and provided little problems in the way of poor drainage and less than ideal grown conditions for high quality turf. After nearly nineteen years of using Effluent water the soils now closely match the analysis found in the water.

Each year we test our soils and water, so that we can make the appropriate adjustments with various soil amendments to offset the negative qualities associated with the water. In any growing season we will add well over 500 lbs of Sodium per acre alone just from watering. As you can see that is a tremendous obstacle to over come every year in order to provide a high quality playing surface.

To show the dramatic differences in water quality, below you will find a chart that shows desirable ranges in water quality suitable for irrigation purposes. I have also taken the liberty to test the content of water found in snow and it clearly shows how clean and pure the natural precipitation can be. It is no wonder why the golf course reacts so positively to any natural precipitation.

Desired Range

Bicarbonates less than 120 ppm(parts per million)
Chlorides less than 140 ppm(parts per million)
Sodium 0- 50 ppm

Effluent Water

Bicarbonates 161.26 ppm(parts per million)
Chlorides 63.15 ppm(parts per million)
Sodium 73.09 ppm(parts per million)


Bicarbonates 19.68 ppm(parts per million)
Chlorides 1.0 ppm(parts per million)
Sodium 3.1 ppm(parts per million)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Forging Ahead

At this point in the construction schedule time is our enemy and every minute counts towards a successful completion. Today the predicted snowfall arrived mid morning and work on the mainline took place even though conditions were less than favorable. It is this type of effort that will go a long way towards a positive outcome of this irrigation renovation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Mad Dash

The weather forecasts are calling for significant snow to come in over the next several days and the timing could not be better for applying gypsum to some of the play areas. The two areas we keyed on were greens and tees. If and when the natural precipitation comes, it will put the pelletized gypsum into solution which will help flush the sodium through our soils. The clean water content in the snow will be much more effective in leaching than the effluent water we utilize for irrigation.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Fun at The Pines

This morning very well may go into the record books for irrigation breaks in one day. First thing this morning we discovered four breaks that took place some point last evening during an irrigation cycle. As the morning progressed, we had two more breaks which brings us up to a grand total of six in one day. All that before 9:00am, what a way to start the day.

Over the last three day alone we have had a total of nine irrigation breaks. If there is anyone who still questions the need for a new irrigation system, i believe these numbers speak for themselves.

Here are couple pictures that show the size and disruptive nature of the irrigation breaks.

Break on Friday the 20th

Break on Saturday the 21st

Today Sunday the 22nd

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Signs of Spring

Winter has officially ended and early signs of spring are beginning to become apparent. The temperatures have been consistently above average for the last three weeks in particular and signs of growth are taking place.

Around the clubhouse some of the perennials and bulbs are beginning to push new growth and even some of the Daffodils are showing the first color of spring.

On the golf course as each day passes the color slowly begins to change before our eyes. Typically the golf course does not reach full spring green up until the middle of May, but I think this year we will be well ahead of that traditional date.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Old System Strikes Again

Today the latest failure on the old mainline was repaired. The break occurred on the steep hillside above #16 green. This mainline runs under the development road and is buried to a depth of at least twenty feet. Due to the depth of the pipe being out of reach of our equipment, we made the decision that the best way to repair it was to completely abandon a 300 ft stretch of pipe. The 6" mainline was cut and capped on each side side of the road effectively eliminating the break.

The only reason we could abandon this stretch of pipe is the fact that the new mainline has been recently installed on the same hole and a cross connection can be utilized. This cross connection will feed into the old mainline and allow us to get water to this portion of the golf course. One of the biggest challenges in this project has been keeping both old and new systems working by a series of cross connections and in this case we would be out of luck if the cross connection did not exist.

Digging on #16 side of the Road

Digging on #17 side of the road

Installing the end cap on the pipe

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Urine Burn

Throughout the golf course there are many circular areas of dead or severely injured turf which were caused by Deer and Elk urine.

Deer and Elk urine is generally high in nitrogen content, and tends to have a high ph level. The concentration of nitrogen in one spot is too high, and as a result, the grass dies, while the outer ring seems to flourish from the right amount of fertility. Some of these smaller areas will typically regenerate on there own, while some of the larger areas require additional attention.

The larger areas in which recovery does not occur re-seeding or sodding will take place to properly repair the area in question.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We Have Communication

Last night marked the first successful operation of the new irrigation system on the first five holes from the central computer. Over the last several months I have spent the time entering all of the head data and creating the programs that will operate them. Now that the system is up and running, the real works begins with the fine tuning process of the specific run times for each of the heads.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


The compass direction of the turf clearly affects the amount of sun it is likely to get as well as its exposure to wind and rain. A soil which faces south generally warms up more quickly which helps the turf green up earlier in the spring. These southern exposure areas become very useful in providing predicable timetables to the surrounding areas of turf that has not yet started the green up process.

Typically when southern exposure areas begin to green up I know that the other areas will follow with in the next two weeks. As the daytime temperatures rise and the days become longer the opportunity for manipulation of this situation becomes possible. We will begin to apply foliar fertilizers to help snap the plant out of dormancy and catch up with the turf that has a head start thanks to Mother Nature.

The two best fertilizer sources for cold weather response are Calcium Nitrate and Potassium Nitrate. We will begin to apply these products regularly until the desired effect takes place within the targeted turf area.

Here are two examples of heavily contoured greens that have drastically different exposures with in a 6000 square foot area. Click on the phots to see the text and color variations.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Course Setup

All of the golf course accessories have been put back out in preparation for the upcoming season. These items include; tee markers, ball washers, trash cans and bunker rakes. The accessories were pulled from the course last fall prior to winter, so that they could be refurbished for the upcoming season.

This coming Sunday the 15th is when the GHIN handicap system becomes active for Colorado and scores can once again be posted. This date has created a deadline for us to put the final touches on the course before posting begins.

The biggest challenge we have ahead of us is getting the bunkers ready for play. Throughout the winter the sand has shifted and become full of Elk droppings and each item needs to be dealt with accordingly. The Elk droppings and Pine needles must be blown out of the bunker before any of the sand can be moved.

The sand itself has shifted due to wind, snow melt and animal foot traffic on the steep face portions of them. Every spring the sand depths are checked so that there is a compacted two inch depth on the faces and four inches in the bottoms. This is done by measuring the existing depth throughout each bunker and making adjustment where necessary. Sometimes this involves just moving the sand internally in the bunker or when additional sand is needed it must be brought in.

Course supplies are back out

Bunker cleanup taking place

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


After nearly two weeks of battling the weather some minor relief has come in the form of snow. Early this morning we received just over an inch of snow which will help keep the flames at bay.

My staff and I have felt like we have been fighting fires over the last two weeks in which the weather has been unseasonable warm. Temperatures have consistently been in the sixties coupled high winds and humidity in the teens. Add all of these factors together and that creates the perfect storm for turf loss.

Each day during this time period my staff has been actively watering the course to keep everything alive. We have been running the overhead sprinklers as well as keying in on the problematic areas with site specific hand watering.

We will enjoy this short reprieve, but this snow fall still leaves us significantly below normal precipitation levels for this time of year.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Today, I received the phone call that I was hoping would stop coming when the new irrigation system would be installed. We had an irrigation break on the eleventh hole and I immediately thought it was the old system when it was described to me over the phone. It became quickly apparent upon inspection of the break that it was part of the new system and not the old one.
This marks the second failed fusion joint on our project and that is two failures too many.

Close Up Of The Failed Saddle Tee
Old Faithful

Friday, March 6, 2009

Greens Mowers

Our new mowers have arrived. This year, we have cut back the amount of money being spent on replacing equipment to our maintenance fleet. The two main factors behind the reduction would be the economy and the current irrigation renovation project.

This year our Capital equipment budget was reduced by nearly two thirds of our typical spending. Some of the pieces of equipment that were eliminated were a triplex mower, fairway aerifier and reel grinding equipment.

We have had great success in managing the equipment fleet by replacing most of the heavy use equipment in three to five year cycles. The severe terrain found on the golf course really takes its toll on the wear items of the equipment and ultimately reduces the overall life expectancy.

The equipment purchases that have been eliminated for this year are not permanent and will need to be made up at some point in the future. When better economic times return, hopefully then we will be able to once again replace the next items in the cycle. By doing so, will ensure that we have the best tools available to maintain the golf course to the level that is known and expected.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why Not ?

Its March 4th, 70 degrees, why shouldn’t I be aerifying fairways? In the last week as the temperatures have continued to climb and the grass is beginning to green up, now seems like the perfect time to start the aerification process.

We normally aerify the golf course twice a year in the spring and fall with the second week of April being our target time for spring aerification. With everything that is going on with the irrigation installation, I thought that bumping up the timing of aerification would help with the overall recovery to the grass areas.

Last fall we noticed that some of the areas in which lateral pulls were done, the recovery was slower due to additional tearing of turf due not being completely healed from fall aerification. In many cases these areas were found in the fairways where a Graden was run deeply to remove thatch. As the laterals were pulled across the fairways numerous turf chicklets were dislodged and made for a slower recovery to the pull lines.

I thought we would have better luck this spring by aerifying rather than running the Graden over the fairways in efforts of keeping the turf together during this highly disruptive process. Laterals are not scheduled to begin until the beginning of April and by that time the fairways will be fully recovered from aerification and not cause any additional delays in recovery from pulling.

Aerifying The Fairway
Breaking Up The Plugs
Blowing Off The Thatch

Monday, March 2, 2009

Away We Go

The shallow or summer irrigation system has been pressured back up throughout the entire golf course. We are a good two weeks earlier than last year, which is three to four weeks ahead of the normal irrigation window.

This season we have had snow falls that have been few and far between in addition to unseasonably warm temperatures. For the last four weeks we have been chasing the dry spots and newly laid sod with hoses utilizing the frost free components of the irrigation system. It has gotten to the point where we are no longer able to keep up with the rapid drying and are forced to turn on the entire system.

One of the biggest problems we will encounter by doing this so early would be that all of the heads will not function due to some lingering frost in the ground. These areas are primarily in northern exposures where the soil temperatures are still below freezing. These ground temperatures do not allow the pilot valve assembly in the heads to properly function, therefore rendering the head non operational.

Even though we are extremely early in the season to be turning on the entire system, by not doing so will guarantee wide spread loss of turf. I would rather take the risk of irrigation component failure versus large scale re-sodding operations.