Saturday, May 31, 2008

Getting Sharp

At the start of the week we have finally reached full staff for the summer, as a result we are now able to begin some of the additional detail work on the golf course. Some of the work includes edging all of the bunkers, sprinkler heads, drain inlets and cart paths. Throughout the summer these areas will be edged every two weeks, so that a crisp look can be maintained. Doing this type of detail works takes up a lot of manpower, but the end result is worth the time and effort.
Path Edging Crew
Finished Product
Sprinkler Head
Drain Inlet

Friday, May 30, 2008

Annual Flower Installation

Now that the frost window has left, we are now set to begin the installation of the annual flowers throughout the club property. The annual plantings should be complete by the end of the week. The new flowers will be hand watered regularly to help with establishment for the first couple of weeks. Once the flowers are established regular maintenance will begin to take place, which includes daily weeding, deadheading and weekly fertilizer applications. This year the amount of areas that has annuals has been reduced as mentioned in an earlier post here , with a shift being made in the direction of more perennial plantings.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Training Day

Today we had to train five of our newest staff members how to use mowing equipment. It is a difficult process due to the push for time in the morning from early play. As with anything new, it takes longer to accomplish tasks until you become comfortable with it and learn the tricks of the trade. The guys started off extremely slow, but as the morning progressed they became more comfortable with the operation of the equipment. Their lines are not the straightest at this point, but just getting it mowed right now is all that matters. The straightness of the lines will come as each of these young men will have lots of practice as the summer progresses.

Rookie Mowing Tees Getting Better

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bentgrass Seedlings

If you look closely in the fairways, you will see many Bentgrass seedlings becoming established. The fairways were overseeded back in the middle of April and with the cooler than normal temperatures this spring, wide spread germination was delayed. With the recent consistent rains the seedlings finally started to germinate and become visible. Normally germination of Bentgrass takes between five and seven days, were as this spring it took nearly three and a half weeks to occur.

Now that the seedlings are fighting for establishment, bi- weekly foliar fertilizer applications will be made to help provide the nutrients necessary for maturity. These foliar fertilizer applications will be made in conjunction with PGR applications that will target the Poa and further allow the Bentgrass to take hold.
Visible Seedlings in Verti-Cut Lines
Seedlings Coming Up In a Divot

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Total Randomness

I would encourage this to be the thought process while driving carts around the golf course. There are many areas on the course that cart traffic tends to funnel due to land forms, but a lot of it also has to do with following cart tracks from previous groups.

One of the areas in particular that is feeling the negative effects of heavy cart traffic are the sodded areas next to the new bunkers. These areas experienced significant compaction from heavy equipment during construction and as a result the sod struggles when any type of traffic is applied to it.

Look for the road less traveled while driving the golf cart. I know this is a very dangerous suggestion, since we already have carts going in places that they should not be. If better judgment prevails then it will be a win/win by spreading cart traffic around while allowing you to see new places on the golf course. That being said, please keep carts out of the native areas and away from greens and tees.
Stressed Sod in Construction Areas
Excessive Cart Tracks Through Intermediate
Don't Be a Hero

Monday, May 26, 2008

Weed Warriors

Once the rain stopped and the temperatures began to rise so did the weeds throughout the golf course. We have been actively spraying the weeds each and every day that the winds have not been blowing. It is a monumental task to keep the golf course free of weeds due to the size of the areas to be covered. On any given day there will be at least one person spraying and many days there will be as many as three people treating the weeds. Even with this amount of dedicated manpower the weeds are coming up faster than they can be sprayed.
Weeds in Native Dying After Being Sprayed
Dandelions in Rough Curling From Herbicide Application

Sunday, May 25, 2008

HEX Plugs

You have seen them used on the greens, but what are they and how did they get there? The Hex plugger is a tool that we use to replace damaged areas on the green or any other highly maintained area. The plugs are cut utilizing the same technique as changing a cup, but the difference being that the plugs are taken from our greens nursery.

The plugs are in a hexagonal shape so that several can be placed together when repairing areas larger than a cup cutter, but smaller than areas that would require sod. The hex plugger is a great tool that allows for quick and easy repairs to the putting surfaces.

Close Up Of Hex Plugs On a Green

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Filling In

With the active growth taking place in the rough right now, the voids are now beginning to fill in. These areas were created by presence of extended snow cover, causing significant Vole activity and Snow Mold damage. The Bluegrass that is found in the rough areas is the predominant grass type and has a great ability to repair itself.

The Rough Filling in

The turf re-establishes itself with new leaf and stem production in the form of Rhizomes. In Botany, a rhizome is a horizontal stem of a plant that is usually found underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes. These new roots and shoots are where the new grass leaf surface is produced. It is for this reason the Bluegrass can spread or move laterally and fill in any voided areas.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Poa Annua Management

It is around this time every year that I get asked “what is going on with the Poa”? The Poa Annua is most active in the spring and fall, when the temperatures are cooler and more conducive to growth. When the heat of the summer kicks in the Poa slows down and merely tries to hang on until the cooler temperatures return.

Up until this point we have only been able to try and regulate the seedhead production of the Poa, due to the limited chemical options based on still being in the frost window. Now that the danger of a hard frost has passed we now can begin our summer long chemical applications that will weaken and even kill the Poa Annua if timed correctly.

These products will give the Bentgrass on both the greens and fairways a completive advantage and out compete the Poa for species dominance. As progressive regulation takes place, the Poa it will become discolored and start to shrink down into the canopy and the Bentgrass will begin encroaching into the weakened areas.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bailing Hay

With the recent rain fall combined with rising air and soil temperatures, the rough has begun to grow. We have gone from mowing the rough only once a week, to now having to mow it three times this week to get it back under control. As the surge of growth subsides, so too will the heavy clippings that are currently being left behind. Until that time occurs we will be blowing off the rough areas that are heavy with clippings.

Clippings in The Rough

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Practicing on The Course

I know that at times it is hard to resist the urge to come out on the course late at night and practice, but please resist that urge. If you absolutely can’t survive with out hitting balls, go to the driving range.

The golf course is for playing not practicing and by doing so you are adding to the problem of excessive wear and tear. We receive more than our fair share of play and struggle with a lack of proper ball mark repair and divot replacement to begin with. It is extremely frustrating to see that lack of respect given to the golf course and the rules that apply towards it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Topdressing Greens

Today marks the first of our bi-weekly greens topdressing program that takes place throughout the growing season. Topdressing is the application of a light layer of sand to the putting greens surface.
There are many benefits associated with topdressing and they are as follows:

Smoothing of The Putting Surface
The light layer of sand fills any low lying imperfections on the green surface such as footprints, sod seams and ball marks.

Controlling Thatch
When the sand is blended with organic materials such as peat or compost microbial activity becomes enhanced creating an environment suitable for thatch digestion. The microbial populations will feed on the thatch layer and help reduce it over time, when frequent applications are made. Ideally the timing of the topdressing applications should match the thatch production of the plant, so that a homogenous blend of thatch and sand in produced.

Soil Modification
Frequent sand topdressing over time will build up a layer that allows water movement away from the surface creating a firmer playing surface. Combining topdressing along with aerification is an even better option for soil modification, by creating sand filled conduits for more rapid water movement into the soil profile.

Winter Protection
Heavier applications of topdressing materials to critical playing surfaces prior to winter will help serve as a protective layer. For me this is the preferred method of winter protection rather than using turf covers, which tend to be problematic. The sand application needs to be heavy enough to cover the crown of the plant, but not so to thick that it will smother the grass.

Green Speed Management
Topdressing is one of the most important tools that can be used to help achieve faster more consistent putting surfaces. As mentioned before the sand helps smooth the surface, which intern allows for a smoother ball roll creating a faster green speed. Additionally the sand application to the green surface raises the ball in the turf canopy and by doing so reduces the friction that takes place with the ball and putting surface. The end result is a truer surface which leads to an increase in green speed.

Appling The Sand To The Green

Dragging in The Sand
Mowing off Excess Sand

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ball Marks

Sunday morning as I am walking on the greens, I’m shocked by the amount of un-repaired ball marks. Every body knows that there is a problem with ball mark damage to the greens here at the Club, but the most frustrating thing is that no one seems to be doing anything about it. On number three green alone I counted 21 completely unrepaired ball marks, that is not counting the dozen or so improperly repaired marks.

From an agronomic standpoint we have made changes to better equip the greens to recover from ball marks, but these changes will not make a bit of difference unless you first repair your ball marks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Starting to Roll

Over the last several weeks the green speeds have slowly crept up to a more normal range that you have been accustomed to over the years. As you are aware the Green Committee and Board of Governors requested that additional fertility be applied to the greens so that the non existent thatch layer could be re-established.

The idea behind this is to grow some minimal thatch, so that there will be an improved resiliency to the ball impact on the green surface. This combined with reduction of water applied to the greens in general will also help with ball impact. The additional fertilizer that is being applied will also help with ball mark recovered by supplying the plant the additional food it needs to more rapidly repair itself.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May Moisture

The April showers may have been a month late in arriving, but they are making up for lost time. To start the month off we have had rain in eleven out of the first sixteen days totaling 2.25’’ of precipitation. This is great for the golf course, but not so great for play. Unfortunately on many of the days that it has not rained, we have had to have carts on the paths only due to the entire course being overly wet.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Leafing Out

Even thought the golf course has greened up, the grass has not yet started to actively grow. The growth of the turf coincides with the leaves of the Scrub Oak coming out. As I mentioned in any earlier post about phenological indicators, the Scrub Oak is perhaps the best indicator for when all plant materials at this elevation will begin active growth.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stump Grinding

Over the last several years we have lost several trees due to the negative effects of the high sodium and chloride levels found in the effluent water. In the event that a tree is taken down, it is generally replaced with a similar size tree that is spade planted in a nearby location.

Once the dead tree is removed, the only evidence of the tree’s former existence is the stump that is left behind. We periodically rent a stump grinder to remove the old stumps, so that the area can be re-sodded and put back into play. Great care is taken when grinding the stump so that the area is graded out properly, so that once sodded all clues of a tree ever being there have all but vanished.

Close Up of a Small Stump Ground Down

Sodded Over Stump in #5 Fairway

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bunker Repairs

Over the course of the winter some of the bunker edges were exposed to severe weather and a few areas did not survive. You may have noticed that around some of the bunkers a little erosion has taken place at the sand/grass edges, additionally some turf areas are discolored due to desiccation.

Desiccation on Bunker Face

The eroded edges were caused by the Voles that feed on the grass during the periods of time that the course was under snow. The discolored areas the are ones that were under severe stress and did not survive the winter. Throughout the winter great care was taken to protect these faces with snow fencing and watering the exposed edges. In areas that the irrigation did not reach, snow was routinely placed on the faces to provide moisture.

Vole Damage on Bunker Edge

We have been babying these areas along over the last month with extra applications of fertilizers and wetting agents to help with the recovery process. Some of the areas have come back, while others have not and we have begun to re-sod the areas that did not survive.

These newly sodded areas will require a little extra attention from my staff for the next several weeks until they become rooted and able to survive on their own. Some of these areas might be roped off or protected with signage, so please avoid walking on these fragile areas.

New Sod on Edge

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

1000 and Counting

Earlier today the number of page hits on the blog reached 1000. I would like to thank everybody who regularly visits the site and encourage you to spread the word of the blog to fellow members and friends alike.

Have You Ever Wandered ?

While you are out enjoying your round of golf have you ever noticed paint dots located on the outside edge of the greens? Did you ever wonder why they were there?

Paint Dots (Blue) Marking The Outside Greens Edge

The paint is used to mark the outside edge of the green, so that the operator can clearly see the edge of the green when mowing the cleanup pass. A greens edge tends to shift in over time if the outside edge is not properly identified and maintained. The best example of this can be found with #18 green how nearly eight feet of green surface was lost due to shrinkage. Last fall the green was restored to the original size now creating several pin location that have been lost for many years.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Give Us a Break

It takes a lot of effort and man power to maintain the golf course at its current high level of conditioning. With the significant amount of daily play that occurs time is critical for my staff to accomplish daily tasks ahead of play. A task that should take only three hours to complete without play, takes four to five hours to complete in the middle of play.

Recently one of my staff was mowing on the course and a member approached him and said “this is for golf not for mowing” referring to the fairway that was being mowed through play. It is hard to believe this mindset exist and there is not a clear understanding that with out necessary maintenance of the course there would be nothing to play on.

It is our goal to complete as many tasks as possible before play each and every day, but at times it is not possible due to many factors such as the weather having the largest impact on the timing of events. My staff is trained to be sensitive to play, but there certain time s the job at hand has to be completed even though some disruption to golfer will take place.
The following animation is from the USGA and it talks about how play and maintenance can co-exist together..

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weed Control Without Chemicals

Many of the weeds that are commonly controlled with herbicides can also be controlled by other more environmentally friendly methods.

In a turf situation the best defense again weed invasion is maintaining a think, dense healthy turf where voids are not present allowing weed seeds to germinate. This can be accomplished through proper fertility and cultivation. When weeds do become present, there are now organic chemical controls available that will eliminate certain weed species. If organic chemicals are not an option then the good old fashioned way still work by physical removal of the weeds.

In landscape situations other methods of control are also available such as the use of flamers. Flamers are actually modified gas torches that burn or melt the cell walls within the plant and kill them without chemical use. These work great, but great care must be taken while using these devices due to fire danger in our extremely dry climate. Another great method of controlling weeds in landscape beds is the use of mulch products. These mulch products are available in numerous colors and materials. Mulches actually serve two purposes when used in a landscape situation; the first is sunlight deprivation to the weeds and secondly they provide moisture retention to the desired plant materials.

Any one of these alternatives to synthetic chemicals is worth a try and by doing so you will be helping in keeping the planet a little greener.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Mulch

In addition to improving some of the plant materials in the landscape beds at the clubhouse, we have begun the process of re-mulching all of the beds. This year we are replacing all of the mulch that is located in the landscape areas with a new dark cedar material that has a nice smell and great color to it. This new mulch will help to visually enhance these areas.
Mulch Pile

Mulch Being Spread

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bunker Washouts

Minor Sand Erosion Under High Water Flows

With the recent heavy rains we have had the bunker have performed well due to the underlying liners. During the bunker renovation project last year we installed liners on the flashed faces to help prevent washouts from occurring.

Liner Installed In Bunker

The liners are a geo-textile product that allows rapid water movement to occur through the liner product rather than the soil surface below the sand. By doing so the water passes between the sand and subsurface in the liner itself which acts as a conduit for water movement. Due to the fact the water is moving through the liner rather than the sand the hydraulic pull is significantly reduced allowing the sand to stay in place.

With out a liner product being installed in the bunkers we would be spending many man hours after each rain event shoveling sand back up on the faces.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Spring Color

Throughout the golf there exists a lot of spring color, if you know where to look for it. We are fortunate to have some native plants that have really nice spring color that enhances our unique setting. Many of these plants are not readily visible so it takes a little looking to find them. If you take the time to look for them you will be rewarded with a nice show of color. While searching for these plants make sure you still get around the golf course in 4 hours and ten minutes.

Mahonia Repens
Pasque Flower

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What The Hail?

What started off as an innocent rain shower turned into a full fledged thunder storm. Not only did the rain come down hard, but then it turned to pea size hail making it look like a winter wonderland. These types of severe weather events are normal for Colorado, but not at 7:00am

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pump Removal

The water supply for the club has changed from Castle Pines North Metro District to Castle Pines Metro District. Ever since the club has existed the potable or drinking water source that services the clubhouse has been through CPNMD. The water was pumped from an underground storage tank that is located next to the putting green to the clubhouse via two underground pumps. These pumps were located next to the south chipping green within the area that the Rhyolite rock wall existed.
Rock Wall That Surrounded The Pumps

These pumps over the years have been problematic and required significant maintenance to keep them operating. The pumping system at best was unreliable and caused the clubhouse to be closed several times over many years. The decision was finally made to connect to the Castle Pines Metro District’s infrastructure and now the club has a reliable water service.

Now with the new water supply to the club the old pumps are no longer necessary and were removed in addition to the wall that stood around them.

Sod Going Down

Monday, May 5, 2008

Clubhouse Landscaping

We have started improving some of the clubhouse landscape areas. Most of the existing vegetation that was planted at the time of clubhouse construction was less than inspiring with a lack of color and texture. The predominant plant materials that were used were Juniper ground covers that tend to become overgrown very quickly. These plants offer little in the way of color and are rather plain.
Old Landscape Beds

The new landscape plans for these areas contain many different types of materials that range from ornamental grasses, specimen scrubs and significant perennial flowers. With our short season we cannot safely plant annual flowers until the last week in May due to late season frost issues. The addition of these perennial flowers will now give us some early season color that we have been lacking. This also marks a direction we are trying to go with reducing the amount of annual flowers that are planted yearly. Some of the areas that would receive annuals will now be filled with perennials that will offer more interesting shapes and textures as well as more season long color.

Perennials Being Installed

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weed of The Week

One of the other common weeds we deal with on the golf course is Black Medic. Our problem with this weed generally occurs on the tees. It can be found on the outer edges of the tee surface since these areas tend to be the driest. As with all weeds they act as indicators of deficiencies that exist in the soil.

Black Medic:
Medicago Lupulina

Black medic, is a common, prostrate broadleaf weed that is found throughout the US . Native to Europe and temperate Asia, this member of the legume family (Fabaceae) has a few other common names including yellow trefoil, black clover and hop medic. Its is most often found as a weed in in dry, sunny areas in turf and waste ground, such as along roadsides and railroads, but it can be a nuisance in gardens and fields as well. Black medic can be an indication of low soil nitrogen in lawns as it outcompetes weak grass. Black medic and white clover grow in similar sites and are often found growing together in turf. Although it is classified as a cool season summer annual, in mild winters some plants may survive to act as a perennial. It spreads easily by seed and will form large colonies if left undisturbed.