Friday, July 31, 2009

The Down Side of Too Much Rain

The month of July brought us nearly 3.5" of rain which was great, except for the problems that come with too much of anything.

Mowing has become even more of a challenge than normal due to the fact that the steeps slopes have remained wet causing traction issues with the mowing equipment. Traction is questionable on most of the course when things are dry let alone wet. There is nothing flat about this golf course which makes it interesting from an aesthetic and playability standpoint. Maintaining it is a whole different story.

Another issue that has developed from the excessive rainfall has been numerous drainage system failures. We have been spending a lot of time repairing drain tile that has not truly been tested in many years.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The A Team

The unsung heroes of the Country Club at Castle Pines. My staff out did themselves once again last week in preparation for the Cliffhanger. A week ago Monday all things were on schedule with final preparations for the upcoming tournament, when a curve ball was thrown our way.

All of the bunkers were washed out and my staff gave their heart and soul to making sure things were all back together before the first day of play in the tournament. It ended up taking nearly two long days of pumping,shoveling and removing contaminated sand from the bunkers.

At the end of the day most of our members will never know how much effort was made by my staff to put the golf course back together. I am truly proud to say that I have 28 of the finest men and women that consistently go above the call of duty to make CCCP the best it can be.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I was awakened last night around 11:15 to the sounds of thunder and a absolute downpour with a side show of the craziest lightning ever seen. It was a scene straight out of the movie War of The Worlds.

We received 1.25" of rain in about 30 minutes and needless to say not much got into the ground. The golf course was a complete disaster this morning with all 5o bunkers being completely washed out and full of water. This marks the fourth time this year that we have had major bunker washouts, which in a normal year might happen once if that. The latest round of washouts are by far the worst of the year and the sand in the bunkers is getting worse for wear each time. After each of the latest washout events the sand is becoming more and more contaminated with silt and other debris. This is a contributing factor to the bunkers now holding water, rather than draining off like they have done for the last three years since construction.

This week is Cliffhanger week (Member Guest) and all of the final touches that were being put on the course have suddenly taken a back seat. The timing is pretty bad for this to happen now, but it would be worse if happened during the event itself. The Practice round is tomorrow and the actual tournament begins on Thursday. It our goal to have the course put back together by days end and hopefully most of the people playing won't even know what the course looked like 24 hours earlier.

Once again my staff has risen to the occasion, giving their all for the better of the members and the golf course.

A view of what most of the bunkers looked like this morning
Bunkers holding water

Silt contamination in the bunkers

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's a Jungle Out There

With all of the rain we have had this year the native grass areas are thriving if not out of control. Recently we have begun to selectively mow down areas in the native that are in play and that are overly penal. Most of the time you can't even find your ball let alone play it, so it makes no sense leaving these native areas out of control. These areas have been mowed down to 4" which will now provide a buffer between the mowed rough and long natives grasses.

The mowing will help with pace of play issues as well, so that excessive amounts of time are not spent looking for balls that are just off the maintained portion of the golf course.

The 4" Buffer Cut

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bunker Work

Throughout the growing season we regularly edge our bunkers so that they have a clearly defined edge. Our technique for edging varies depending on what time of year it is, sometimes its a light edging and other times we remove significant amount's of material.

After several months of raking bunker edges the sand tends to move around and sometimes build up around the edges of the bunker contributing to a less defined edge. In order to restore a truly defined hazard edge we have to physically create a clean transition. This is done by removing the sand from the grass edge and then cutting out the grass that has encroached into the bunker. We perform this type of heavy edging once a season mid summer just prior to our Member Guest tournament, so the bunkers will look their best for this event.

An awful lot of time and money are spent maintaining our "hazards" so that they both look and play perfect. This is sad commentary of the Americanization of the game in which luck and skill have been removed from playing out of hazards.

Pulling the sand away from the edges
Using a reciprocating edger
Final clean up on a newly edged bunker

Monday, July 13, 2009

Filling In

Many of the native rough areas and Scrub Oak that was damaged during the irrigation installation is making a strong comeback.

Much of the comeback has been fueled by the wetter than normal weather we have been experiencing all season. The timing could not have been better, because these areas of disturbance rely on natural precipitation for establishment and positive growth.

All of the native grass areas were reseeded with true native grasses that are very slow to reach mature height and densities. Most of the native grass areas will take as long as a season or two to become fully mature and blend in with the surrounding areas.

The Scrub Oak is also bouncing back in areas of disturbance as well. The Scrub Oak is a funny plant because it is incredibly fickle. If you try to transplant it most of the time it will not survive, but if blow through it with an excavator it starts coming back on it's own. The Scrub Oak areas will take the longest to comeback due to the sheer size (height) of some of the Oak that was damaged. Time heals all wounds and thankfully Mother Nature has been kind to us this year helping speed up the process.

Click on the picture below to see a close up

Sunday, July 12, 2009

On To The Next One

The contractor has officially completed the scope of the irrigation renovation work at CCCP. They will no longer be on site and my staff will begin the transition of day to day maintenance of the new system.

Over the last several weeks it has been nice to have the contractor around to deal with the minor issues that come up on a daily basis, allowing my staff to focus on the details of the final repairs to the course. Most of the detail work has come in the form of sodding and seeding in play areas.

It will be an unusual feeling not seeing the contractor around after nearly nine months of them being apart of our day to day operations. From a golfer standpoint it will once again be nice to have the golf course back to yourself and enjoy all that is special about The Country Club at Castle Pines.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Fix

As we have begun to utilize our new irrigation system more frequently we have been experiencing a problem with excessive water around the head. This problem seems to be found mostly in the fairways where we have double heads. These heads are located in the first cut of rough and have been consistently wet, which has caused some problems with the sod work around them.

This issue has been brought up with the manufacturer Toro and they have been extremely proactive in their approach in dealing with our situation. Numerous components have been removed from our site and tested by the manufacturer to determine what is causing our problems. To date the testing has shown that the components are within specs and working properly.

The specific component we are having issues with is the Pilot Valve, this is a device that is used both to turn on and regulate the pressure in the sprinkler heads. While in operation the Pilot Valve bleeds to atmosphere on average of 165ml of water per minute which is discharged below the head.

The root of the problem appears to be our heavy poorly drained soils that do not allow the water to properly drain off like it does at 99.9% of the other places. The solution to this situation is to bed the Pilot Valve area with gravel so that a “sump” is created allowing the excess water a place to go and drain off in time. This is something that I have actually done in the past with other older problematic heads and it had also resolved the problem.

I would like to thank The Toro Company for addressing the situation we are currently dealing with by standing behind their product and doing whatever it takes to make our situation correct. There is something to be said about brand loyalty and this speaks volumes as to why I prefer Toro to any other manufacturer in the industry.

The contractor getting an early start bedding the heads

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Deja Vu

It seems as if this just happened a week ago, a beautiful summer day turned ugly fast.

Last Thursday we received 1.35" of rain on that completely shut down the golf course by washing out most of the bunkers as well as leaving standing water throughout. Today we were a little luckier, we only received .51" which caused minor damage compared to last weeks storm.

In the morning we will have to repair only a handful of bunkers that washed out along with other minor debris cleanup. Overall I am happy to see the rain, but this year's weather patterns have been nothing like I have ever seen. I guess we should enjoy it while it lasts.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Traffic Affects

It has been Several years since we began a Bentgrass fairway conversion and for the most part it has been highly successful. The fairways were previously Perennial Ryegrass. The reason we chose to move away from Ryegrass, was to allow us to have a turf more resistant to winter ice damage.

As a whole our Bentgrass populations are near 75% of which varies from fairway to fairway. The fairways with the larger populations of Bentgrass tend to be the larger ones that better spread out the cart traffic. On the other side of the coin, our trouble fairways are the smaller ones such as #7,#9,#10 and to some degree #18. These fairways are smaller and have fewer exit and entry points, therefore cart traffic patterns cannot be easily altered and spread out.

Over the years we have tried additional overseedings on these fairways with limited success, but i am continuing to try different methods of establishment. Now that the heat of summer has finally hit I am hoping to see some of the growth regulation products tilt the scale in the favor of the Bentgrass. These "weaker" fairways will be overseeded again with non invasive techniques and extensive use of PGR's and other herbicides which should allow us to increase our populations on these fairways.

The Ryegrass areas are a darker shade of green and are most easily seen in the morning dew. The Bentgrass hold a much denser dew that has almost a silver shine to it, whereas the Ryegrass just looks like Ryegrass. We also fight smaller populations of Poa Annua in our fairways as well, but to me it is less of a problem than the Ryegrass.

Click on the picture below to see a close up of the dew patterns

When people ask me if i have a Poa problem... my response is no I have a Ryegrass problem.