Raining Savings – May 8, 2013
Unfortunately, today is another day of spongy, wet conditions due to rain. I know many of you, including myself, are eagerly waiting for the rain to stop long enough that we can produce fast and firm greens. But lets not get ahead of ourselves. In the long run, this rain is truly a blessing. Our ponds haven’t been filled to capacity in years but most importantly we are saving money.
Although this year began extremely dry, Mother Nature caught up very quickly. Including this morning’s rainfall, we are more than 4″ above the annual average. Compared to last year’s water usage on May 8th, we have consumed 72% less water this year and 80% less than 2011. Not only are we saving thousands of dollars in water costs, we are saving even more in labor costs. Generally, our watering crew consists of up to four crew members checking the greens for dry spots then dragging the 150′ hose across each green to water each individual spot. Depending on weather conditions, the crew may be monitoring greens for 8 hours or more each day. This year, it has not been necessary to send anyone out even once to look for dry spots. Those two line items combined add up to some serious savings in our budget.
#9 Weirs underneath walkway to #10 tee
Interesting Weather – April 24, 2013
What a crazy spring we are having. About the only good thing I can say is that we needed the precipitation to fill up our lakes. Man, have we gotten it. It has been over three years since we had a rain event that caused portions of #9 fairway to be underwater. We received 2.50″ Monday night and for the year to date we sit at 9.82″. It has not only been a wet spring but, as you know, colder than usual. Waking up to a dusting of snow this morning sure is not the norm for us.
The cold spring has obviously set the turf back. At this time last year, which was warmer than most, we already had applied three treatments of herbicide 10 days apart to kill the bermudagrass in the rough. This year the bermuda still has not broken dormancy to even apply the first treatment. The greens were delayed one week from the scheduled aerification date and they still are very slow healing. The poor Zoysia doesn’t know what it should do; go back dormant (which we do not want to see) or tough it out until we warm up. As I stated in an earlier post, I can’t believe I am saying that I cannot wait for the summer heat, but I think we are overdue for warmer weather. I am thankful for the recent rains however we have lots of work that needs to be done under dryer circumstances. When my kids were younger, I would come home after a rainy day and they would ask, “Daddy, was it a good rain or bad rain?” Well as you can imagine they’ve heard me at times talk about what all we could not get accomplished because of the rain and also heard times when I had been praying for it. After the last several dry years, I find it hard to have a bad rain.
Flooding across #9 fairway
Impassable cart path on #9
Flooding and debris on #13 cart path
A snow dusted trailer from the night of April 23rd
Aerifying the Greens – April 9, 2013
This week we finished aerifying the greens just before the cold storm hit the area. The crew was literally finishing up 18 green as rain began to fall. Greens aerification is a demanding process that is well worth the benefits as a turf manager as well as a golfer.
Below, the crew begins blowing the turf plugs into rows for removal.
Once the plugs are removed, the crew double checks the green to insure all holes remain open. Any holes capped off from old soil are blown open again to collect the new sand for topdressing. Once the green is prepped for topdressing, the crew begins spreading a special grade of sand. We also distribute fertilizers over the green that will be worked into the aerification holes. We use a heavy drag mat attached with soft carpet to keep from being too aggressive on the grass blades. Below, you can see Ernesto dragging the sand in until it is evenly spread across the entire green surface.
Once each green is completed, we use the irrigation system to further water in the sand and give the green a little “sigh of relief” that the process is over. Fortunately for us, mother nature took over and gave us 1.4 inches of rain. Next week, we will begin aerifying tees and fairways as soon as the golf course is dry from the rain.
Our New Root Pruner
Here is a video documenting one of our most exciting equipment purchases for 2013….an Imants Root Pruner. This machine is tough. Slicing through four inch roots with ease. We are using it to help maintain a balance between tree health and turfgrass health. Over time, tree roots are spreading laterally in the top layer of soil. They grow in length as well as diameter. The bigger they get, the more water they require. By severing these roots, we are keeping the tree from stealing too much moisture from the grass. Don’t worry about the trees. This affects less than 10% of a tree’s root system. The rotating blades only cut through roots less than 12 inches deep which is where most of the grass root system exists.
Not only does this improve the health of our turf, it also saves us money. Our old method of managing invasive tree roots required the entire crew. Each year, only a few holes could be done. Now with the new root pruner, two people managed to finish the entire front nine in only two days.
Root Pruner from Dylan Senn on Vimeo.
First Day of Spring
We received some much needed moisture the past month. Although most of it came in the form of snow we were glad to have it. Moisture total for the year is 3.65” last year at this time 6.70”. The extended forecast is still looking for cooler than normal temperatures the next week. I thought I would never say this but, we need it to warm up. Although the greens have been fertilized we need the soil temperatures to climb in order to get them growing and break dormancy. We are currently about three weeks behind where we were at this time last spring. Currently the turf team is working on #11 relocating sprinkler heads. Similar to the work we did on #12, this will allow us better control to water the blue/fescue rough separately from the zoysia fairway. We still plan to stick with the schedule for aerification of greens on April 1st and 2nd. Thank you for visiting our new blog. We are committed to keeping you informed on the activities associated with golf course maintenance team.
Welcome Back Members
We hope everyone had a pleasant winter. We have been very busy while you were away. Here is what we have been up to:
One of the first things you may notice is the missing water garden. Due to increasing water treatment costs, we have replaced the water feature with an inviting landscape design.
In the image above, we are removing the plastic pond liner to allow new plant roots to reach as deep as possible.
Hole #12 received much of our attention this winter. Due to poor water drainage and inefficient irrigation coverage, it was difficult to keep the fairway dry. We have since relocated irrigation heads to utilize a more efficient irrigation design and allow more control of where water is applied. During our extreme summer heat, we now have the ability to water the rough without adding excess water to the fairway. These improvements will not only benefit the health of our turf but provide a more firm landing area and add distance to your drives.
Clearing the trenches
Tino installing pipe
Paisa installing the wires
Below are images from the process of installing drainage pipe in the landing area and approach.
The assembly line of soil removal
Ready for pipe installation
Replacing clay soils with sand/gravel mix for improved waterflow into the drain pipe
Lizandro replacing the zoysia sod
Miguel rolling the sod to minimize all sod seams
And here is what our final product looks like:
Indoor Winter Projects
Every morning during the winter, it is too cold for the crew to be working on the grass. During the morning frost delays, the staff has plenty of indoor projects that need their attention.
Nacho staining the sand containers
Kirt painting the lids to the sand containers.
Jose covering the water cooler stands with a new lacquer finish
Larry resurfacing a bedknife on a mower reel
Sometimes equipment repairs take teamwork
Installing wall studs for the new office space
Paisa taking irrigation parts inventory
Bryan repairing a fertilizer spreader
Painting new parking lines for designated equipment spaces