Friday, December 31, 2010

At Last

Finally after seven weeks with little or no snow on the golf course yesterday brought us 4" of much needed snow cover. 

The timing is great for several reasons, the first obviously being the desperately needed moisture and secondly providing an insulating cover for the turf. Over the next several days the forecasted temperature highs will be in the single digits with the lows falling into negative numbers. With out the protective snow cover the turf would be exposed to extreme temperatures that could have potentially damaging effects.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Frost Pattern

Even thought the season has changed the fundamentals remain the same, each morning we monitor the moisture levels throughout the golf course.

Similar to what we do in the summer with looking at dew patterns we now are looking at frost patterns to help determine moisture levels. The irrigation system was blown out six weeks ago and with little or no snow falling since then, we have relied on the frost free components of the irrigation system.  This time of year without snow cover we make sure the main play areas receive water every two weeks.

The process of winter watering is very labor intensive, it requires six people to run the quick couplers and complete all of the hand watering. The entire golf course can be completed in three days with a lot of hard work.

Until a lasting snowfall occurs we will be doing everything we can to ensure that adequate moisture levels are maintained throughout the golf course. As I have said for many years, the golf course is more difficult to maintain in the winter months than durring the growing season and this is proof positive of that fact. Weather is always a determining fact in the level of success achieved in any season, but the winter months can be particularly unforgiving.      

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Native Tells The Story

It has been a long year with many challenges along the way but none has been greater than the lack of natural precipitation. This year we are nearly 10" of precipitation behind from last season and the effects can best be seen in the native grass areas.

Many of these native areas have been decimated by the lack of precipitation that has thinned out the non native species within the original seed mix leaving many areas free of turf.  These area are now being overseeded with a "true" native mix that will thrive under this low precipitation environment. Native grasses are very slow to establish and often times it takes years for the grasses to become fully established. Some of these areas may require multiple overseedings to become fully re-established.

Area Before Seeding

After Seeding

The seedbed was prepared using an old aerifier with solid tines to create pockets in which the seed will reside. These pockets create the perfect environment for the seed to germinate and become established.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spreading The Word

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to speak at the RMRTA turf conference and trade show here in Denver and it was a thrill.  I was asked to speak about blogging and the Golf Course Superintendent, the talk was well attended and I think that there will be several new blogs hitting the web soon.

I would like to thank those involved with the RMRTA who asked me to talk on this subject, it was an honor to be able to speak in front of my peers about something I believe will make their jobs easier to do in the future.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Winter Blanket

One of the final steps in preparation for the upcoming winter has been done to the greens.  They all have been heavily topdressed with sand to provide some protection from the harsh winter environment.

This heavy sand layer will help in two ways, the first being physical protection and the second being insulating qualities. The sand will provide a physical barrier to foot traffic from animals such as Elk and Deer as they walk and run over the green surface. The second and most beneficial way the sand will help is to provide to insulation to the crown of the plant.

The crown in the turfgrass plant gives rise to the leaves, roots and all other stems; consequently the survival of the stem is critical for survival of the turfgrass plant. The crown is also the area in the plant which carbohydrates are stored which is necessary for growth of the plant. In essence the crown is the heart of the plant and everything must be done to protect it from the extremes found in our Colorado winters.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What Is The Purpose Of Winter Play

 I found a great article to covers the basic reasons why we go to temporary greens in the winter months.

Here are a few excerpts from the article;
"If winter play is a controversial topic at your facility I urge you to ask the following question. What is the purpose of winter play? I doubt golfers want to compromise turf health or future playability. Instead, winter play allows golfers to work on their swing, get outdoors, and stay active and exercise......This leaves us at a crossroad. Do what's best for the turf or what's best for the golfers? The answer is undeniably do what is best for the turf!"

The article can be read in its entirety at the USGA's website Here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Setup

Now that it is December we have gone to our winter golf course setup. This includes restricting carts to the paths and the use of temporary greens for the next three months.

We do all that we can to protect the golf course durring the winter months so that less outsides stresses are put on the turf.  This is key to having the course come out of winter in better condition and giving it a head start for the next growing season.

During the winter months the turf is unable to recover from divots, ball marks and wear caused by foot and cart traffic. Once the turf begins thinning out from these stresses the opportunity for Poa Annua invasion is significantly increased. Currently we dedicate a lot of resources to mange the Poa populations and by us not taking these extra precautions we would not have the same efficacy of control.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Turkey Day.... Almost

This morning while out on the course I ran into several Wild Turkeys that must not know what time of year it is.  They were proudly walking around in full view for all to see.
It has been several years since we have had Turkey's on the property, so it is nice to see them once again.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soil Temperatures

With the cooler weather finally here to stay the soil temperatures have had the bottom fall out from them.  As recently as four days ago the soil temperatures were still climbing into the mid fifties, whereas now they are holding steady in the low thirties.

This is particularly evident in the following picture that shows a graph of our soil temperatures over the last week.  The colors on the graph show different areas on the course such as greens and fairways.  It is interesting to note the large variation in soil temperatures in the graph between the orange line to the greens lines.  

The green lines represent two different greens on the course and the orange line represents a fairway area. There is nearly a fifteen degree temperature difference between the green and  fairway location that are no more than 450 feet apart from each other.  This temperature difference is due to the fact that the native soils are better able to retain the heat in them versus a green that is built out of  sand. The sand areas contain more pore spaces for oxygen which separates the particles from each other not allowing conduction for heat transfer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From Blow Out To Snow Out

The day started off nice, but the weather was predicted to change by days end and it sure did.  We are into our second day of blowing out the irrigation system and it turns out our timing was pretty good to put the irrigation system to rest for the season.

Unfortunately we did not complete blowing all of the system out and we will have to finish up a few holes tomorrow with snow on the ground.  The hardest part will be getting the compressors around in the snow, but we will get it done one way or another.

Monday, November 8, 2010


You know its going to be a great day when the first thing you see on the golf course is this. Unfortunately last night was our final irrigation that would be run for the season and a deep soaking was done to the golf course. This was done in preparation for the irrigation system being blown out in efforts to saturate the soil profile one last time.

This made the course extremely soft and the Elk did an incredible amount of damage to this one hole. The worst part is the damage to the green which at this point in the season will not recover until next spring at best.  As usual my staff will be working hard to put these areas back together with ballmark repair tools and sand and seed mixtures.  

#11 First Fairway

#11 Second Fairway
#11 Green
Close Up Of #11 Green

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Loading Up

As winter is approaching we are in the process of soaking down all of the southern facing slopes on the golf course.  This all needs to take place before we begin to blow out the irrigation system next week.

After blow out of the summer system these areas will be more difficult to maintain adequate levels of moisture, but fortunately we have numerous frost free hydrants located throughout the course.  These frost free hydrants are located every 115ft from tee to green so that we can properly maintain the golf course throughout the winter when no snow cover is present. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Still Growing, Still Mowing

Today is November 1st and we are still mowing a lot of areas on the golf course that are normally done for the season. The weather continues to be warmer than normal creating conditions in which the soil temperatures have stayed in the mid to upper 50's.

These warmer soil temperatures can be found in the fairway and rough areas which are comprised of  native soils which tend to stay warmer than other areas on the course such as greens and tees which are constructed of sand. Temperatures in the sand based areas are at least 10 degrees cooler which has resulted in a significant slowdown of growth in these areas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Over the last several days we have experienced extremely high winds that have created a mess on the course.  The Ponderosa Pines are shedding their needles right now and the winds have accelerated this process.

Although most conifer trees are considered to be "evergreen", their needles don't live forever. What makes them evergreen is that their leaves persist more than one year before falling. Since new needles are added every year, there is always an overlap between green needles and those that are due to drop in the fall.

Older needles on the inside of evergreen trees are shed each fall after they turn yellow, brown or reddish tan in color. Sometimes this natural process is very subtle and goes unnoticed because only the inner most needles area affected.

Needles In The Rough

#12 Green Buried In Needles

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The Elk and Deer have been at it again. With the recent rains we have finally received, the golf course has been a little on the soft side which is not a good combination for the heavy footed animals.

Damage To #7 Green

Damage To #7 Fairway

Over the last week in particular the damage has been getting worse, so we have started putting out lights on the more trafficked greens in hope of keeping the Elk off.  These light help, but ultimately the Elk and Deer will end up going wherever they want especially when they are on a full run.

Blinking Light In Action

With the cooler weather setting in the ground will begin to freeze which will be our best defense against the damage we are currently dealing with. After each damaging occurrence we will fix each area as best we can and hope that we can ride out the storm of damage.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It Doesn't Get Any Better

Here are a few pictures I had the pleasure of taking today while out on the golf course. Today was a spectacular day and these pictures do not do justice to a perfect fall day in Colorado.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Does Turfgrass Prepare For Winter?

All plants develop a tolerance or hardiness to cold temperatures. That hardiness serves as a defense against freezing. Turf plants develop hardiness by storing carbohydrates in cells found in crown and root tissues. The higher concentrations of these materials act as antifreeze that prevents ice crystals from forming within the cells. Moisture content in the plant tissues also decreases during the hardening process, and cell walls and membranes undergo changes that improve their ability to tolerate ice crystals. The hardening process begins in late summer with the onset of cooler temperatures and shorter days and can continue through early winter. Maximum cold-temperature hardiness is obtained after the turf has been exposed to sub-freezing temperatures.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

At Last

Finally a month later than usual we had our first real killing frost. This morning the temperature bottomed out at a chilly 30 degrees. This will help slow down the growth currently still taking place throughout the golf course.

The timing is good from an agronomic stand point since we have essentially already recovered from aerification just one week ago.

Perhaps the most exciting part of my morning was watching the recently fried annual flowers come out of the ground. My staff started removing the flowers from the clubhouse parking lots and will over the next several mornings remove the remainder of the flowers from the golf course.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mowing Changes

As the weather begins to cool down we are now able to safely change some of our mowing patterns.  The areas which will be changed are some of the intermediate rough cuts.

Currently there are many areas on the course that is currently mowed as rough and is end  location of numerous golf balls.  These rough areas tend to be thick and slow down play because many players try and force shots they don't have. The end result is lost balls and time wasted looking for poorly though out shots.

These new mowing changes will help with pace of play and make a more playable golf course that creates many different shot options. Below is a picture of the fifteenth hole that has a large rough area between the fairways and green. This is a location that most poorly hit  shots end up and recovery from this area is difficult at best. This area is currently being converted into intermediate rough and we will evaluate the member feedback and look at other areas for expanded mowing changes.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rough Aerification

After completing aerification of the main play areas over the last three days we have now moved into the mowed rough areas on the golf course.  The rough in particular is perhaps our weakest link on the course and will bennefit the most from the aerification process.

Over the last four years there has been a significant amount of construction traffic on the course which has severely compacted many of the rough areas.  Strangely enough I receive more complaints from aerifing the rough than I do for aerifing the greens, go figure?  One of the things we have begun to do to minimize the complaints about the left over cores in the rough is to use a smaller size aerification tine.

Traditionally we have used 3/4" tines in the rough while now we have switched to 1/4" tines which is the same size as what was used on the fairways.  The end result will be smaller cores left in the rough, which will not cause some of the problems we have experienced in the past with the larger cores being smashed into the turf by golf cart tires.

We have more than 65 acres of rough to aerify which will take more than a week to complete.  This process is also drawn out due to the fact of trying to do this through play.  Any help or courtesy on your part to minimize the operation will help with a more rapid completion of this task.  I am truly excited in seeing the rough aerified  in this new manor, the benefits will be reaped next season from this highly invasive process.

Aerifying The Rough

 Close Up Of The 1/4" Cores

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Final Push

Today is the final day of aerification and we are well on our way to the finish line.  Over the past two days we were able to complete the aerfication and topdressing of all  the greens and tees. The fairways will be completed today as far as aerification goes, but the slow process of sand topdressing them will take another two days to complete. Unfortunately the final fairways will be topdressed through play which will add to the time to complete the task. Your patience durring this process will be greatly appreciated. 

Once  we reopen for play tomorrow I think the members will be pleasantly surprised with how playable the golf course is.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Aerification Information

With aerification coming next week I found this great video that explains in detail the importance of aerification to golf course greens in particular.  This process holds true for all of the play surfaces, but is most critical for maintaining healthy greens. I hope you can take the time to watch the entire video.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

First Time For Everything

In the fifteen years that I have been at CCCP this would be the first time that we have not had frost in the month of September.  This months weather was strange in many ways, we had only .07" of rain the entire month when historically we receive over one inch of precipitation sometimes including snow.  We were also significantly warmer than normal with 2 days of temperatures in the 90's,13 days in the 80's, 14 days in the 70's and only 1 day in the 60's.

This weather has been a nice bonus for additional play durring the month of September of which we did more than 600 extra rounds for the month.  These extra rounds are also partially due to not aerifing right after Labor Day.

I am hoping the weather holds for a little longer, so that the golf course can recover from aerification which is set to begin next Monday.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Changing It Up

Next week the golf course will be closed for three days to aerify greens, tees and fairways.  This year we are going to be changing up some of our techniques to help deal with the later than normal timing of aerification in addition to some key agronomic changes for the future.

We will be using 1/4" hollow tines on tees and fairways and 1/4" solid tines on greens.  These smaller tine sizes will help speed the recovery to the turf by reducing the size of area that needs to re-grow. This is critical due to the time of the year we are in as the turf begins to slow down and prepare itself for the upcoming winter.

The biggest change to our aerification approach will come in the way of topdressing fairways with sand instead of compost.  For the last eight years we have been applying compost to the fairways to help with our Bentgrass conversion in addition to restoring biological activity in the soil. The compost has done its job really well by restoring life to the soil and has created an environment in which the thatch is in an active state of degradation.  This process has left the surface a little softer than I would like so we will be embarking on a long term sand fairway topdressing program to help restore some surface firmness. Another key benefit will come in the form of improved surface drainage that will allow for more ball roll off the tee shots.

Combining the compost rich aeration cores that come up in the fairways with the sand will create a nicely blended material that will be mutually beneficial  and provide the best of both worlds for the fairways.

We will be applying more than 1000 tons of sand to the fairways which is a huge task in itself. Our biggest challenge will be getting the material around the golf course in an efficient manor and the only way this can be done will be utilizing the development roads. The sand topdressing process will unfortunately spill over the three days that we will be closed and carry into the following week to ultimately complete the process.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Elk Damage

It looks as if the Elk have made there way down from the foothills and are taking up residence locally for the winter.

Over the last two nights we have had a fair amount of activity on the course, the most significant occurred  on the sixth fairway.  As bad as it was it could have been worse and we have already repaired the damaged areas with sand and seed. A couple of areas might need to be re-sodded, but i am waiting until after aerification to do so. The more severe areas of damage will be marked as ground under repair for the upcoming events.

Damage in The Rough

 Damage in The Fairway

Saturday, September 18, 2010

New Sand

As most of you are aware the sand in the bunkers has been contaminated due to repeated washouts from last seasons heavy rains. This has caused several bunker to remain wet even when small amounts of water are applied to the surrounding area. These bunkers have become less than ideal from a playability standpoint.

In order to properly address this problem we have started targeting the most problematic one first. The work that is necessary to resolve the bunker problems are; complete removal of sand, inspect and improve drain tile and reinstall new bunker sand. This process was recently done to one of the fairway bunkers on the seventh hole.

After completion it was nice to visit the bunker in the morning after irrigation was run the prior evening and see no standing water in the bunker.

Bunker Work in Progress

Completed Bunker

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Close Call

Yesterday we had a close call with a wildfire that started just over a mile away from the golf course.  Fortunately the fire was put out as quickly as it started by the local fire department. The fire quickly consumed 13 acres before control was gained, it's speculated by authorities that a spark from a passing train ignited the blaze.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Change Is In The Air

As the Scrub Oak begins to show its fall color the weather conditions are changing as well. Although we have yet to have our fist frost of the season the mornings are beginning to feel crisp and even cold. Last week we have started to have several days in which the temperatures are in the 30's but not quite cold enough for frost to form.
Once we get into consistent frost weather the turf will begin to slow down its growth and prepare for the upcoming winter. This is something I am looking forward to since our staffing levels are dropping off at this point in the season. Currently every day is a struggle just to get things mowed, let alone do any kind of improvements that need to be done.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Over Due

Currently the greens are sorely in need of being topdressed. Throughout the season we have faithfully topdressed them every two weeks, but due to recent tournaments and holidays we will have missed the last two scheduled topdressings.

These missed applications have resulted in a visual and slight playability reduction in the greens surface. When looking at the surface of the greens it is not hard to find old ball marks that have not been repaired properly. These frequent topdressing help fill in these imperfections with sand and help maintain a smooth ball roll.

The next opportunity we will have to topdress will be on September 13th and at that time we will be applying the sand a little heavier than normal to try and make up for the missed applications.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jacked Up

Throughout the main play areas on the golf course (greens,tees and fairways) we use PGR's Extensively.  The main purpose of these Plant Growth Regulators are to control growth of the turfgrass.

The regulation of turf growth comes with several side benefits such; increased turf density, increased green speed, reduced mowing frequencies,pre stress conditioning and my favorite Poa Annua control.  Not all growth regulators hurt the Poa, some even help make it stronger which is great for some places but not here. I specifically choose the PGR's  that will hurt the Poa the Most.

This is most evident on the greens and collars right now. The Poa is discolored and sunken down in patches which will allow the Bentgrass to out compete it and over time encroach back into the space occupied by the Poa Annua.  This is a long term process that takes many years to  fully realize the success of the program.

The picture below shows and area on a collar where Poa Annua, Ryegrass and Bentgrass all reside.  The visual effect of chemical regulation on the different grass types shows itself very differently on each of the plant species.      

Monday, August 16, 2010

One Week

That is how much time it took to completely destroy a turf area.  This is the cart parking area at the ninth green and is a perfect example of how people park their carts with two wheels on the path and the other two on the grass. The was a result of us removing the green and white traffic stakes so they could be used to protect another area on the golf course.

This type of cart parking  serves no purpose other than to wear out the turf unnecessarily in the high traffic areas. I would strongly encourage all people that are driving carts to keep all four wheels on the path while parking at green and tee locations.  The golf course receives more than its share of wear and tear, so anything you can do to minimize unnecessary damage will go a long way to making the golf course a better place for all to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bunker Conditions

Over the last several weeks I have fielded several comments regarding the condition of the bunkers. The comments have ranged from "there is no sand in the bunkers" to "why is the sand so wet?"

The answer to the first question would be there is plenty of sand in the bunkers, it is just wet and plays like there is no sand in the bunker. If you look at the following picture it clearly shows how the bunker is staying wet in the lower portions of the bunker floor.

This next picture shows the depth of the sand in the bunker floor and you can see the sand is nearly four inches deep.  The problem is that the sand is wet and reacts with the club in a similar manor as a lack of sand.

The true cause of the bunker problems comes from the sand being contaminated repeatedly last summer from all of the rain storms that washed out the bunkers. The sand has been mixed with the native soils which are now clogging up the pore spaces in the sand and not allowing water to flow freely through it into the drain tile within the bunkers.

The ultimate solution is replacing the bunker sand and installing some sort of liner to reduce the possibility of future contamination.  We will be addressing the most problematic bunkers by removing portions of contaminated sand and fill it back with new sand that is the same as the original sand in the bunkers.

With all of this talk about improving the playability within the bunkers that is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.  Last time I checked bunkers were hazards aren't they?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Decluttering The Fairways

Over the years many different outside components have been added in the fairways such as valve boxes and yardage markers. The sheer quantity of these items has taken away from a neat clean appearance in the fairways.

Now we can finally getting rid of these unnecessary items due to them no longer being needed since the new irrigation system was installed. The need for stand alone yardage markers is not needed due to all of the sprinkler heads being marked from 300yds in. Old irrigation valve boxes that contain either electrical or frost free components are also being removed. The most important part of the removal process is cutting out the old galvanized pipe utilized for the old frost free couplers. These are being removed with a sawzall to a depth of one foot below the surface which is out of aerification range.

Old Valve Box

 Removal of Old Components
 New Sod Installed
 Green and White Stake
Once removal of the components has been completed the holes are carefully backfilled,compacted and new sod installed in the place of the old valve box lids that were visible on the surface.  Green and white stakes are being placed in the sodded area to help call attention to the new sod that was installed and keep carts from driving through it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Topdressing Approaches

We recently topdressed the approaches to help with the overall playability of the golf course. Nearly 25 tons of sand was applied to the approaches to help increase drainage and firmness.

The sand was applied evenly over the approach surfaces and then was aerified with solid times tines to minimize surface disruption. The sand was drug in and it naturally moved into the aerifier holes and other low pockets in the approaches. Over time as sand is repeatedly applied, a well draining firmer surface will be created therefore improving the overall playability of the approaches. 

Topdressing Applied

Solid Tine Aerified
The Final Product