Monday, September 26th, 2011

The last two weeks have gone by so fast. It seems like this has been our busiest tournament schedule of the season and with Mike gone everyone has been stepping up to get the job done. Last week Brian completed the restroom project by the 11th tee, the crew trimmed and edged the bunkers and I fertilized the tees and made our second fairway fertilizer application. Zeferino stepped up and single-highhandedly repaired the drainage issue at the 14th tee box. Being down an assistant plus one crew member The entire staff has done a fantastic job.

This week we are looking at a couple smaller events on Monday and Tuesday and then will embark on tee aerification on Wednesday. Our goal will be to try to get them all done in one day so we can stay on our regular mowing schedule. The following Monday we will be aerifying the greens. So far the long range forecast shows no rain. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

To help us keep up with the bunkers I have asked Jim Horstman to come back and work three or four half days a week until we get through the season. Jim worked on the crew last summer and is willing to help us out when he is not busy driving dump truck.

Finally, I would like to take this time to introduce our new Assistant Superintendent. His name is Chris Robson. Chris graduated from the turf program at Oregon State University in 2008. He spent his internship at Royal Oaks Country Club then worked for Orchard Hill Country Club after he graduated. Recently he has been the 2nd Assistant at Glendoveer and is now excited to take on the Assistant roll at Stone Creek. Chris enjoys hunting and fishing and holds a single digit handicap. He grew up working at Glendoveer and thanks George Walker, Glendoveers superintendent, who inspired him to pursue this as a career. I had so many tremendous applications and could have done well with most of them. Chris just stood out in my mind as an individual that will mesh well with the staff and is going to work hard for everyone. He is going to be starting on Monday, October 3rd. Unfortunately for him it will be his second greens aerification this fall! It will be a busy day for him learning the ropes but I have no doubts he will succeed. I don't have a photo yet, but should have one shortly after he starts. The crew is looking forward to welcoming him to the team.

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Friday I attended the OSU Turf Alumni & Friends Weekend and Field Day in Corvallis. It was great to see such a great turnout. The day started with the field day at the farm followed by golf at Trysting Tree then back to the farm for dinner. The turf farm is looking as good as it ever has. Dr. Rob Golembiewski and his staff and students have been doing lots of great research including, divot recovery, green speed, poa fertility, anthracnose and Microdochium patch and much more. There is now more than 20,000 square feet of putting green turf in which to perform much of their work. The day concluded when Rob presented Pat Doran, Superintendent at Trysting Tree and myself with an award of appreciation for contributing to the success of the program. It has always been an honor for me to speak to the students when ever I am invited, but I never expected to receive an award. Another classy way Rob has found to recognize individuals for their efforts. Thanks Rob. 

We had a great week last week. The tournaments went off without a hitch from our end and we managed to get all of our cultural jobs complete. We fertilized the greens Tuesday, once again with zero nitrogen. With the way they are growing I'm afraid that if we added N to the mix we would be pushing to much growth.  We decided to take advantage of the evenings to work on the course with tournaments scheduled each day. Wednesday we topdressed all the greens starting at 6pm and wrapped it all up by 8:00. Thursday we decided we should at least try to mow half of the fairways in the evening to prepare for the 7:45 shotgun Friday morning but we weren't able to get on the course until 7:00. Thanks to Mike Holl, Brian and Jorge for staying until 9:00 to get the job done.

This week we will be in a similar situation with the tournament but we should be able to stay up on all of the mowing in the morning hours. Our second fairway fertilizer application is scheduled this week and we will be planning on Thursday for that. This is also our week to fertilize the tee boxes but I think we have some room to push them back a bit. They are still growing well and look great. We are going to start plugging the tees next week on Wednesday and will coordinate with the pro shop on reversing the nines if necessary. The greens aerification is right around the corner. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will hold. The warmer the temperature the quicker they will heal.

Brian has been working on the restroom enclosure at the 11th tee. If all goes well that should be wrapped up by Tuesday. With the cooler temps Zeferino will have time to resume raising sprinkler heads. He has already adjusted all the range tee heads which look great. As time allows we will be starting a few small drainage projects starting with the wet area along the path near the 14th tees and the puddle along the path near the 16th green.

Wednesday marks the first day of Fall and to honor the change in seasons we shut the deep well off on Sunday. This year was one of our best water years that I can remember. We always seemed to have plenty of water in the lakes while maintaining an adequate level of irrigation on the golf course. This doesn't mean that we are done irrigating for the season, chances are we will irrigate plenty by the end of October. I would like to draw the lake level down somewhat allowing the fall rains to fill the lakes. Since most of the drain lines feed the lakes I'm sure we won't have a problem filling them back up. My other reason is cost savings. With our ET rate down now that we are in the fall season we will be able to save a considerable amount of money by not running the deep well.

The Dick Estey Golf Collection

Ted Westling and Dick Estey
Stone Creek's golf pro, Ted Westling had told me about Dick Estey and his golf collection and said that some day he would arrange a tour. Last week Gordon Tolbert and I got the tour of a life time and I would like to share some of Dicks collection with all of you that follow my blog.

Golf has been a passion for me for so many years and if you know me it is not because of my playing ability. It is the venue in which it is played and the seamless tie in which is has with the environment. For me, understanding this becomes more evident as I learn more of the history of the game and those that played a role in the early development. Being privileged to view such a rare and complete collection of historical artifacts collected by Mr. Estey will always be a memory in which I will cherish for years to come.

We started our tour sitting down and discussing the history of the game and where it all began. Right away I learned that the game did not begin in Scotland like we have all been let to believe. Yes, golf has certainly established its earliest roots there but the game of golf was invented by the Dutch. It was the Scots that brought the game to their country and refined it to where it is today.  The Dutch clubs were nothing like what we have seen from the past, they looked more like a hockey stick and the ball they hit was more like the size of a softball.

I really don't know were to start in talking about Mr. Estey's collection so I would like to highlight some of the most meaningful items that I saw. The rest will be shown in photos at the end of this post. As a golf course superintendent the one person that stands out in our history would be Old Tommy Morris. I had to ask Mr. Estey if he had anything that belonged to him and low and behold what he showed me gave me goosebumps. First, there is a painting of Old Tommy Morris that we have all grown to identify him with. It is on post cards and has been printed on many things over the years. When Mr. Estey explained that to me and asked me to turn around he showed me the original painting hanging right in front of me.

Then to top that off he showed me the ball press and one of Old Tom's actual balls that he made himself as well as a club that was used by Young Tom Morris in the 1870 Open.

Mr. Estey didn't have a lot of player memorabilia but he did have a few medals from some major players at some of the major golf events. The one players memorabilia that he did possess was Ken Venturi. Mr. Estey and Ken Venturi are the closest of friends. They spend much of their time together in the winter months in the Desert.

A lot of the collection was of original artwork. Many of you will find some of these pieces familiar. It added so much to the collection and tied it all to the history of the game. Below are some of the original pieces the were displayed.

Toward the end of our tour Mr. Estey sat behind his desk and proceeded to tell us the history of one of the oldest and most sought after publications in early golf history. The title of the publication is called the Glotta Poem. Personally I had never heard of it but believe me I will never forget now. After learning the history of the document and to then have it displayed right in front of me is an experience I will not soon forget.

Throughout the tour one of the things Mr. Estey liked to do was test our knowledge of golf and ask us if we could identify the artifact and what it was used for. I managed to get the leather hoof protectors for the horse drawn mower correct but that was about it. I would like to do the same for you readers out there and see if you can identify the artifacts. Here are a few of the items he tested us on. The boxes in the upper photo and the ivory looking letter opener in the bottom photo. I don't have a complete photo of the wooden spool object but if you know, go ahead and guess on that as well.  Please feel free to post your answers in the comment section below.

I would like to end this post with a number of photos showing the remainder of the Estey collection. Many of the photos have tags which explain the item and some are self explanatory. I hope you will get a sense of the magnitude of this collection. I would like to thank Mr. Estey for allowing us to view the collection as well as photograph it. This short post cannot do justice to the entire collection.

Monday, September 12th, 2011

This weather has forded us the pleasure of watching the sunrise each morning over Mt Hood. You tend to take the mountain for granted when you have lived in the NW all your life, but when you are given regular opportunities like this to watch the sun track each morning, it really makes you appreciate where we live. Here are three photos taken just three days apart from different views on the course. It is amazing how fast the sun moves over the mountain each day as we approach the fall season.
September 3rd

September 6th (Taken by Steve Mathre)

September 9th
We said good by to Mike last week. I have nothing but admiration for the work he has done for us at Stone Creek over the last six years. He will be a tough act to follow but from the stack of applicants I have received thus far, we are sure to find one that will fit the spot just right. My goal will be to have the new assistant on board by the first week of October.

Mike, Aubrey and Leighton
It may have been Mike's last week but you would have to look hard to find a short timers attitude. He worked so hard to make sure that all the scheduled spray applications were completed which really helped me out a lot. He also worked hard on getting the restroom enclosure completed at the cart barn. Class act to the very end.

Thursday we all enjoyed a hamburger BBQ in Mike's honor. Thanks to all of you that were able to come by and say so long.

The schedule is looking pretty busy the rest of the month with golf tournaments so we will have to squeeze in a topdress this Wednesday since we didn't get it done last week. We did however manage to verticut the greens. To remind everyone, we will be aerifying the greens on the 3rd and 4th of October. It's a little later than I normally feel comfortable doing but given the amount of play we are expecting, it's kind of nice to keep the greens rolling so well all month. As long as this weather holds up we are going to be in for a great September.

We are starting to accumulate lots of small drainage projects which we hope to get to this fall. These are just small projects but they should really make a difference once we get them done. Many of the areas will be catch basin repairs where they are set too low and need to be regraded. We will be using the sand sod from the nursery to fix these areas. We hope we can get to some of these before we get into the leaf season. Our first priority will be to finish the restroom enclosure on eleven then we'll start in.

A word of caution. The yellow jackets are out in force. This spring we failed to get the traps out which trap the queens before they can establish nests. As I was mowing the tall grass I was amazed at how many I stirred up. We have been spraying them as we come across them so please be sure to let us know where they are so we can schedule to get them first thing in the morning. This trap was placed outside the starter shack and literally filled up in a few hours.

Last week we finally got the trim and the doors painted on our shop.Chris Anderson's guys did a great job. We are still hoping to to get the yard paved one of these days. As you can see by the photo to the right, the amount of dust and dirt that is tracked into the shop is crazy. The dust finds it's way on and into everything including our computer equipment. We spend a lot of our time dusting and sweeping the shop to manage the dirt. Once we pave the yard the problem will be alleviated. We understand it won't happen overnight but it is our goal to improve our facility to make it better and more efficient.

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Lingering smoke in the atmosphere from the fires around Mt Hood
Just like that, another month has passed and Fall is right around the corner. It appears that now that summer is in full swing it isn't going to give up it's grasp on us quite yet. The forecast is calling for another seven straight days in and close to the 90's. That means that we still have lots of great golfing conditions left. We may be hitting the 90's but the night time temperatures are dropping down to the low 50's. That means that our ET rates are low and we shouldn't be seeing any more significant drying out of the grass.

It always seems that once football season begins, our play drops off. We still have a good amount of outings scheduled for this month but there should be lots of great tee times available to enjoy the great golfing conditions. Speaking of conditions, we will not be aerating until October so don't miss out.

This week we began to give the course a "close shave". August has always been the month that we begin to cut down all the tall grass. I have been cutting early in the morning to avoid exposing the customers to excessive dust and swarming yellow-jackets. The job should be complete by the end of this week some time.

One of my favorite qualities of this course is its many looks that it has throughout the year. June is always one of my favorite times when the tall grass is going to seed and it sways in the wind. Now with the tall grass cut down, I must say that this look isn't a bad one either.  The first few groups out in the morning hit the bonanza on finding lost balls. The mower tends to kick them out undamaged and they find there way into passing bags rather quickly.

This week we have a lot on our plate. Mike's last day is Thursday which I hope many of you can stop by for lunch and wish him farewell. Unfortunately we're not letting him off the hook easy. He and Bryan are working on the portable toilet enclosures and hope to have them wrapped up. We will also be spraying tees and greens this week.
It's going to be a banner weather week, enjoy it while you can!

Lake Algae Control

If you are a regular golfer at Stone Creek, you probably remember past years when the lakes would turn green with algae each August and they would emit a strange odor as well. Over the last three years we have finally been able to control the algae with a product that I found to be extremely environmentally safe. Copper based products and dyes were always something that didn't sit right with me so we would just wait it out and let the algae take it's course.

I finally met Dan Anderson with Northwest Environmental Specialties. I am usually suspect when someone tells me something that is to good to be true but he finally convinced me to try the product. It is called Ponder. Ponder is a carbon bio-based product that will assist in mediating the conditions that can promote algae development. It reduces gases and organic nutrients as well as turbidity associated with blooms by binding to pollutants and other suspended solids while stimulating resident bio digestion of the organic solids.

It requires a monthly application throughout the summer and in August I dropped the ball and didn't order it in in time, thus a bloom occurred in our main lakes. I called Dan and told him my dilemma and he casually said go ahead and get it out there and you will see results. This is why I am actually making this post because last Friday the ponds were a mess so I made the application and hoped for the best. By the next week the results were astounding. I took this photo Thursday but the ponds had already changed by Monday. I had thought I lost them for the season but now they are as clear as ever. I know this is another shameless promotion but I enjoy sharing knowledge that I learn along the way and if it can help anyone else then it is worth it.
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