How golf etiquette could help cut your costs on the course

How golf etiquette could help cut your costs on the course

I timely article following my recent post!

Bunker Care

Over the years, sand will accumulate on the faces of heavily used bunkers and it will become necessary to renovate the entire bunker face. As the sand builds up, the face will often become weak and foot traffic will cause the sod to break away resulting in an unsightly situation. This is why we place signs in these heavily used bunkers encouraging golfers to exit the rear of the bunker. Below is a picture of Sixteen before we embarked on the renovation.
I think the golfer actually had to crawl out on their knees to get out of this bunker. On this job we took about eight inches of sand off the face and returned the bunker back to its original shape. (below)
The  above photo was taken approximately one year ago and the photo below was taken today. Again, you can see the accumulation of  sand which we will need to be vigilant using a blowers to blow the it out of the canopy. What disturbs me is how the golfers are still walking out of the bunkers through the face instead of waking out the rear of the bunker where they actually entered. This is part of golf course etiquette, the same as fixing a ball mark or raking your tracks after yourself.
We may be able to repair this which can be costly, but as long as golfers keep walking out the wrong direction this will continue to happen. Lets all enjoy the course and treat it as if it were our own back yard and take the extra time to keep it looking good.

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Last week may have been dry but it would sure be nice to have some temperatures to go along with it. A couple frost delays and on Thursday we didn't even break 50! The good news is the course has dried relatively fast and we were able to get quite a bit of mowing done as well as allowing carts back out on the course Friday and Saturday.

It was great to see everyone out having a nice time on the course and to see Ted and Chris out there giving their group lessons. To give Ted a big plug, he has done a phenomenal job promoting golf by offering these "four for forty" group lessons. I am seeing so many first time golfers attending these lessons and they are getting their first experience of how fun golf can be. The other half of that equation that I am excited about is we are going to offer a short 4 hole round in the evenings this summer to allow the many new golfers to experience the game without feeling intimidated or pressured to keep up with play. My complements to Doug and Ted not to mention Gordy for their innovative approach to making the game available to everyone.

Tee aerification went off without a hitch on Monday and Tuesday. Although I wish someone could explain why some plugs just don't want to come out of the ground. Some of the tee boxes pulled just fine where others had large areas where the plugs either came part way out or not at all. If anyone has experienced the same thing and have found a solution, I am all ears!

On Wednesday I took my lawn installation and maintenance class from Clackamas Community College on a field trip to the Scotts research facility down in Gervais.We were met by Dr Jim Frelich who has been with Scotts for over 30 years. He says he is retired but it didn't look that way to me. I love bringing my class to his facility because his research is very practical in the sense that this is the situation that the average homeowner will see. Most of the facilities that I visit pertain mostly to golf turf but Jim's research is focused on the consumer market and he looks at such things as low fertility vs high fertility in combination with differing mowing heights along with drought and irrigated situations. It is interesting to see how the species composition changes as we change our irrigation regime along with how much fertilizer we choose to use.

There was one plot of tall fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass in particular that was not irrigated all summer last year and it was compared to the same plot but under standard irrigation. Looking at the plot today, the turf that was allowed to go dormant was in much better shape coming out of the winter and looked nicer than the turf that was irrigated. The reason being, when turf is dormant it is storing energy for when it is allowed to grow again, thus when spring comes around it is off to a much stronger start than the turf that had to grow and expend energy all season long. Just think of the money we could save if we could allow our lawns to get a little brown over the few hot summer months.

Part of our community outreach here at Stone Creek involves Kristy McQueen's 6th grade class at Gaffney Lane Elementary. Ever since my son Adam was in her class 5 years ago we have hosted her class on a bird watching tour. I have enlisted a regular group of community birdwatching volunteers and we take the kids on a tour of the golf course. This gives us an opportunity to help the kids understand the benefits of a golf course to wildlife and habitat and to give them their first up close and personal view of a golf course. We just scheduled the day for this year and the kids will be coming out on Friday, May 27th.

Back at Gaffney Lane the sixth graders have been working on an outdoor classroom project the last few years. They have planted a grove of trees with a brick path winding through.  My staff was able to contribute some funds to their project and just the other day when I was out for a bike ride with Henry, we found a brick with our name on it. That was quite an unexpected honor.

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Finally we had some warmer temperatures and some dry weather early last week. It not only gave us the opportunity to plug the greens but it also signaled the emergence of crane fly's. The crane fly is a common pest in the Northwest and can cause sever damage to turfgrass. Stone Creek is not immune to the pest but we have rarely treated for it. The damage usually occurs in isolated areas and does not result in the disruption of play. We utilize IPM in determining the need to treat. The photo here shows the emergence of the adult from the nursery green but there is no sign of damage so we will not be treating this turf. Our only mode of action here is the "boot".

Other than a minor frost delay on Tuesday, the greens aerification went without a hitch. The new brush was amazing in helping us fill the holes quickly and thoroughly. In this photo I have just drug the green once and am in the middle of my second time around. You can see the result for yourself. This will ensure that the holes are completely filled and will speed the healing time significantly.

One of the steps we perform during the aerification process is to add bentgrass seed to the greens. This will not prevent the spread of Poa annua but it certainly maintains a healthy population of bentgrass. We have been inner seeding bent for a number of years and have witnessed a transition to the finer bladed A-1 and A-4 bentgrasses not to mention Poa annua too.

One of the highlights of the week was on Tuesday when I swung by the parking lot and noticed the amount of cars there. Here we were right in the middle aerifying the greens and it looked like a typical busy weekday. This is probably more the power of sunshine than anything else but it was sure good to see people enjoying the course and not complaining about the sand. Kudos to my entire staff for the quick and efficient work and allowing the proshop to get play off as soon as they did.

Last week we managed to squeeze in 2.09 inches of rain in the last three days of the week. Even though we may be experiencing plenty of sunshine this week we still need to be aware of soft areas. Unfortunately this cart wasn't aware of this spot on eighteen. For Stone Creek this seems highly unusual and it is, but it gives you an idea how much rain we have had over the past few months.

The weather looks like it is taking shape this week and we should be in for some great golfing conditions. We will be tackling the tees this week and should not disrupt play at all through the process other than reversing the nines on Tuesday.

Driving Range Divot Pattern

I found this video on Twitter today. Dan Meersman of Phily Cricket Club gives members a lesson on his preferred driving range divot pattern. Finally a pattern that makes total sense. If we could implement this practice we could save so much grass and have a much quicker healing time!

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Another week of interesting weather behind us. Although it felt a bit like January we did at least see the sun for a good portion of a day or two. Friday was down right chilly with the low temperature dipping in the high 20's. Although golf was delayed until 9:00, it did make for some nice photos.

Last week we began to prepare the greens for aerification. We like to make sure they are going to be growing actively so we fertilized them early in the week. The greens will often become stressed after aerification, so we sprayed them Friday with a fungicide that will keep them healthy while they heal.

The Men's Club Masters Tournament was Saturday and we wanted to be sure the greens were running smoothly so we used the new roller brush to "flick" the greens. In other words, ran it over the greens with the brush and stood up the grass blades so we could get a nice tight clip. Again, I was extremely impressed how gentle yet thorough the the brush was. Here are some pictures below of the operation.

It actually worked like a broom, sweeping the loose material from the canopy and leaving only the living grass blades standing to be cut by the mower. I can tell that if this was used on a regular basis it would tighten up the canopy leaving a more dense surface.

Here is Jorge mowing 14 just after Mike brushed it. Look closely and you can see how the grass is standing up on the uncut portion of the green.

Aerification Weather Forecast

I asked Rod Hill what he thought about the forecast over the next two days and here is what he sent me:

Monday: Scattered showers, likely some sunshine.
We might see a mostly dry period mid-morning into early afternoon??
Convective temperature around 50 degrees. Meaning, with sun breaks and warming temperatures around noon, Showers will pop.

As you know, when it comes to scattered showers - they could miss you or nail you! If the models are right, Monday afternoon will be

fairly tame..........meaning not much heavy and widely scattered. All depends on how cold the air is aloft and how warm we get.

Tuesday: Looking dry, but afternoon - evening showers will become at least possible.

I trust Rod and I think this is going to be our best chance. Like Rod says, the showers can either "miss you or nail you". I am going to count on the miss. Tuesday looks good so we can count on picking up what we didn't get to on Monday.

Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Aerificaton Week

Next week (weather permitting) we are planning aerifying the greens. The plan is to aerify the back nine on Monday and then to reverse the nines and aerify the front on Tuesday. Each day we hope to open the aerified nine by 10:30! We would normally do all eighteen greens in one day but the course we share machines with planned on plugging the same day so we are both taking two days to complete the procedure.

This time of year, so much depends on the weather and so far we have been pretty fortunate. Hoping not to jinx us, there is always the possibility of getting rained out. Having dry sand is the most important aspect of plugging the greens. This is to insure that the holes will get filled. If they are not filled, the time to heal can be extended.

This spring we have chosen to use the 1/4 inch quad tine. The holes are much smaller than the traditional 5/8 inch but since we went extremely aggressive last fall we feel that the 1/4 inch will be sufficient. The first benefit we will notice will be the quick heal time. Actually there will be very little, if any, disruption of putting quality during this time. We will roll the greens immediately following aerification and then we will be using a new brush to fill the holes.

This year while I was at the show in Orlando, I found a new greens brush that was developed by an ingenious superintendent. He and his partner developed a reverse spinning brush that sweeps the sand in the holes and it is amazing how well it works. The two have since split into two separate companies and I located a distributor here in the northwest that reps one of the units. Friday we decided to plug the nursery green and give it a test and the results were amazing. I have always said that the Toro Procore 648 was the best invention of the decade and now I think I have found the next best invention of the decade. Twice over the green and every single hole is filled. If all goes well weather wise next week, you will be amazed how well these greens will putt. Just because we are aerifying don't feel you are going to have bumpy conditions. You are going to love these greens!

Florida Turf Digest

Darren Davis, Editor-in-Chief of the Florida Turf Digest and Superintendent at Olde Florida Golf Club, recently asked me to write an article for his magazine on the basics of blogging. The article can be found on page 40 at:
Don't just read my article, the entire publication is excellent! I must give a plug to Darren, he has done a phenomenal job assembling this magazine. His dedication and passion for this industry is found within. Kudos to all of the leadership of the Florida Turfgrass Association for providing such great value to your members!

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Thank God, March is over! March has got to be my least favorite month of the year and this year it lived up to it's expectations. Portland's average rainfall for the month of March is 3.8 inches, this year at Stone Creek we received 8.73 inches! In case some of you golfers out there have wondered why we have been so strict on cart path rules, this is why.

April 1st seemed like someone changed the channel and the blue sky graced us once again. The parking lot was packed and we were mowing grass like sheep in a posy patch. We mowed the fairways once again and were able to mow some more rough. Things aren't always like they seem though. From an earlier post regarding our lime application and how the buggy was able to float over the course without causing damage, the rough mower went over the same spot on nine and you can see what happened. A true testament to Wilco's spreader but more importantly a reminder that there are still lots of soft areas we need to be aware of.

Last week we were finally able to get some tree wells sprayed and covered with mulch. Since our pile is not endless we are starting with some of the individual trees and will do some of the larger groves after we accumulate more mulch. So far the much has come from the storm debris that has accumulated on the course and from our tree work in January. I may inquire with the County and see if their road maintenance crew wouldn't mind dropping off a few loads. I am real pleased with the look and am confident it will aid in the health of the trees.

We were just notified the Stone Creek Golf Club has made the final selection for the 2011 NW Golf Guys Players Choice Award. The winning course will receive a plaque for their pro shop and a badge for their website. If you are so inclined to vote we would love your support. There are also some other very deserving courses listed as well. Click HERE and register your vote today. Voting ends April 30th!

Mike speech following his roast at his retirement party
Finally, I would like to congratulate Mike McLees on his retirement from Clackamas County as the  Parks Manager. I first met Mike before we had even begun construction at Stone Creek back in early 2000. One of his first jobs was to communicate with all the neighbors and answer any questions that they may have regarding the project. Since then Mike has been a huge supporter and ally of all our environmental efforts and all would not have been possible with out his support. I look forward to meeting Jeroen, Mikes replacement. He will certainly have some large shoes to fill but I have no doubt he will do a great job. Now that Mike will have more time on his hands I hope to find a seat on his boat more often and finally land one of those big fish he says he catches so often. Good Luck Mike and enjoy your well deserved retirement.
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