Monday, October 31st, 2011

Fog rolling in over the frost
Along with all of the great weather we had last week, the skies cleared and brought us our first frost of the season. We had a full tee sheet but managed to pull off a shotgun by mid morning to accommodate the patient golfers. On another day last week it was 43 degrees when we came in but as the sun began to rise the air chilled considerably, causing us to have to pull our equipment off the course and wait to see what the frost was going to do. Strange as it was, it formed just as the fog began to roll in and the moisture removed any frost that was beginning to form. It was one of the strangest frosts that I have experienced. It just shows how quick conditions can change; each day is different.

Along with the clear skies, we had a great time conditioning the golf course. When the weather cooperates, October can bring some great golfing conditions. The greens are pretty much healed from aerification and are rolling pretty well. This week we may consider a verticut to help smooth them out. As we roll into November we will be cutting back on our mowing as the growth of the grass dictates. November is normally a transition month for us as we approach the winter. Leaf pick up and storm debris clean up will be the norm over the regular mowing.Fall drainage projects will continue as we will be focusing on the wet area in front of the 18th fairway.

One sign each year that we look forward to is the arrival of the Bufflehead ducks. This little guy is the smallest diving bird in North America and breads in Canada. It overwinters down here in the US. We always enjoy watching out for them like we do with the swallows in the spring. We are seeing lots of new birds as the fall migration continues. Friday Jorge spotted the Bald Eagle and I view this Greater White-fronted Goose hanging around with some crows, which is different than the normal Canada Goose that we normally see here at Stone Creek. (Right)

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I started this week off in Lawrence Kansas for the GCSAA Environmental Programs Committee meeting. This is my second year on the committee after taking a break last year. Having the opportunity to serve next to some of the finest individuals and environmental stewards is a privilege and an honor. I am very excited in the direction GCSAA is heading in the environmental arena, putting forth programs that will position our industry among the nations leaders in sustainability. Stay tuned for a surprising announcement in the coming days!

 I returned Thursday to find the course in magnificent condition. Chris and the staff had been busy topdressing the greens, aerating and seeding the driving range tee and keeping up on all of the mowing. The fall color on our Autumn Blaze maples has peaked and the leaves are finally beginning to fall. By Saturday the entire parking lot was a blaze with fallen leaves and were blowing everywhere. Looking forward to this coming week, we are in for some dry but cool weather which should make leaf pick up a breeze.

Earlier in the week we had some vandalism on the course but nothing too bad. The usual tee markers flung about and trash cans thrown in the lake but the icky part was the portable tip-overs. Bob was quick to call and have the sanitation company come out and clean up the mess. I think we have remedied the situation now by bolting the units to the enclosures. I will be surprised to see them over again.

The course has really firmed up the last few days. We are still going to keep the carts off the 15th and 13th fairways so please bear with us and obey the ropes. Our biggest concerns are the slopes and what could happen if a cart could not stop. If all works out this week we are going to try to get some extra sand out on those pesky wet areas in hopes of keeping them more playable. The good news is new drainage on 17 looks great and has firmed up the area nicely.

Last week we had a golfer slip on the turf while walking up to the fourteenth green, so we decided to extend the chip trail a few feet closer. We appreciate players pointing out these areas in that safety is very important to us. Just last Friday I saw a player with mud up the side of his leg and asked him if he was alright. He said he was fine and deserved to fall in that he had stepped over some ropes that were placed to direct traffic away from the wet area in the first place.

Finally, please welcome our old friends back home. It looks like they summered well where ever they went and are now back here for the winter. This is just a small flock in comparison to what other golf courses have to deal with so if this is all the geese we get this year then we should be okay. The only thing that concerns me is they are roosting in the lakes. Friday I saw them all congregated around our flashing buoys. We will continue to keep them moving when we see them on the course in hopes they may find a quieter place to dwell.

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Wetness, wildlife and turf diseases are the topic of this post. Soft areas are making the top of the discussion this week. We have seen an unusual amount of areas which are normally firm, become wet and soggy this year. It is our goal to allow carts out as much as possible and we ask that extreme caution be taken when navigating to your ball. We have placed ropes on the 12th, 13th and 15th fairways and placed signs warning of wet areas throughout the course. Please be mindful of these areas this week even though the sun may be shining.

We have begun numerous drainage projects including basin repair work on four, ten, fourteen, and sixteen. Last week we installed 130 feet of drain pipe along the left edge of seventeen fairway. We will move to the front left of the eighteenth fairway next. Following that we would like to drain the right of the lower driving range tee box in the chipping area. This area is wetter than I have ever seen it.

It has been some time since we have seen a beaver down by the creek but it was brought to my attention this week that some activity has been noticed below the sixteenth green. I would prefer to see them down on the creek but at this time they seem to be taking care of the volunteer popular tree which we would probably take down ourselves later on. We will definitely be watching the situation to make sure we don't lose any of our good trees.

The other day I was speaking to a friend from Estacada who had seen a black bear around her house. She described seeing a stump that the bear had ripped apart in search of grubs and that made me wonder about a stump I have seen behind the eleventh green. One of the neighbors had told me a while back about spotting a bear but I had dismissed it. But now that we have had bears in Tualatin and have even spotted a cougar here at Stone Creek, anything could be possible. Wild animal sightings seem to be happening closer to urban populations, but just remember they are more afraid of us and are normally gone before we ever get a glance. If by chance you do spot a large wild animal, please contact the Stone Creek staff as soon as you can.

Finally, a note about turf disease. In the past years we have seen  a few spots of Fusarium patch or Microdochium nivale on a few select greens, mainly on nine and the putting green. It has pretty much been isolated to the new patches of Poa annua. This fall it has appeared once again on the putting green and nine. We have taken all the appropriate actions which should stop it in it's tracks. Our latest application of mancozeb and propaconizole on Saturday should give us a few weeks of good protection. Notice on the photo how it is only on the Poa annua patch. If only we could find a simple way of keeping Poa out of greens we could save so much on pesticides.

Just an FYI, I asked Chris to calculate, based on our fertilization application records, how much N we have given the greens year to date and the total came to 1.9 pound N/1000 square feet. Looking out to the end of the year I don't see us using any more than 2.2 lbs for the entire year. This is less than half of the rate that we used to use. Based on the conditions of our greens and how consistent the growth and color has been all year, I really can't believe we are so low. Applying the same fertility program on the tees and fairways should be resulting the same outcome on nitrogen inputs. Reducing our inputs has long been a goal of mine and to actually see it coming into fruition gives me great satisfaction. Projecting out into 2012 we will be saving over $4k on granular fertilizer applications on the fairways alone!

This week the weatherman is promising a few nice days of sunshine. We will be throwing out some sand Monday morning to finish off the remaining aerification holes and will hopefully be able to get some sand out on a few wet spots in the fairways as well. We are already ahead of the game and have established temporary greens on three, five, six and fifteen. I don't anticipate frost soon, but you never can tell. This way we should be able to get the golfers out earlier and on the course where they belong! I will be in Lawrence Kansas this week for the Environmental Programs Committee meeting and will be back in the office on Thursday. Have a great week and enjoy the sunshine while we have it!


Monday, October 10th, 2011

I wouldn't have called it a perfect day on Thursday for aerification but we managed to get it done. We were never able to get the sand to completely dry but it could not have been done without our new TB 200 turf brush. With the sand still damp we were able to sweep the sand in just two complete passes. The abrasion on the greens was much less thus decreasing the time it will take to heal. There are just a hand full of greens that will require some additional sand but over all I am quite pleased how they all came out.

The crew could not have done a better job. It seemed like once we started we didn't stop until the last green was done and that was a half an hour before our regular quitting time. Everything seemed to run like a well oiled machine.

As part of our Integrated Pest Management program (IPM) we normally spray the broadleaf weeds in the tall grass only every two or three years. This was the year that we needed to spray. The false dandelion were getting way too abundant and were spilling out onto the golf course. I took the opportunity to spray 7.5 acres of our tall grass areas Thursday morning while the course was more or less closed for aerification. If you look for it you will see the weeds beginning to curl. Although the yellow flower can be pretty, you won't be seeing too much of it next year.

Last week we were able to get the fairways back on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. It really made a difference in the appearance. We will continue on this schedule until the growth subsides. Last week we had an inch and a quarter of rain and the fairways are beginning to soften up in the usual places. Our goal is to keep carts on the fairways as long as we can, especially on the weekends. Ropes will be going up this week on the areas where we will need to keep the carts off.

Now that aerification is complete we will continue working on our projects. Last week we finished the drain line on sixteen and repaired the low on ten. Zef and Chris removed all the old sod, lifted the catch basin and regraded it with sand. Instead of putting the old sod back in place they used the sand based ryegrass sod from the nursery which should remain firm throughout the winter.

The bottom tee of the driving range is almost complete for the season. Once we finish it off, which will most likely be this week, we would like to aerate, seed it and put it to bed for the winter. If the weather cooperates we would like to do it as soon as possible and may need to close part of the range in order to get it done.

Mike Holl
Mike Coppedge
I would like to take a quick moment to recognize our two summer seasonal employees. Mike Holl and Mike Coppedge have done an outstanding job for us. I wish we could keep them both year-a-round. Mike Holl has been asked to help out a family friend with their business so Big Mike will be leaving us a tad early. Tuesday will be his last day of the season. Thank you Mike for all your help this year, we have all enjoyed having you on the crew.

Just for fun, I like to take pictures of the various mushrooms that I find growing around the course. Many time you will find them associated with a turf disease but they aren't normally this showy. The ones to the right are pretty much found in all the mulched tree rings. It must be related to the decaying wood matter. The mushrooms below were found on the edge of a bunker next to the seventh green. At first glance I thought they were golf balls.

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

As October arrives so does Fall! The rains have begun, at least for now anyway. Not good timing as far as our greens aerification schedule is concerned. This is the first year that I can recall that we have been rained out. We have set aside this Thursday as our alternate date and are hoping the forecast will stay clear.

The weather did, however, cooperate last week while we did the tee boxes. It was a textbook operation up until the last set of tees when the 440 jack-knifed and punctured the tractor tire. Thanks to Steve's quick response, we were able to replace the tire and finish the job before the afternoon shotgun went off.

Please welcome Chris Robson, our new assistant superintendent, to Stone Creek today. We are glad to have him on the team and are looking forward to working with him. Chris will be making rounds and familiarizing himself with the property, so please be sure to introduce yourself to him when you get a chance.

In a way Chris was fortunate that he didn't have to start right in on aerification today and that he has a chance to get to know the crew first. Today he is helping Zef and Jorge install a quick drain line off the path on sixteen to alleviate the puddle that has plagued us for some time.

Between now and when we get into the leaf season, you will see the guys working on small projects around the course. This is a good time to start those small drainage projects while the ground is still firm. We are hoping to get around to as many as possible before we get rained out.

One thing I noticed last week was the color of the driving range. I wish I had a photo two weeks ago but if I did, you would see it completely brown. With just one week of cool and damp weather we are almost ready to mow it again. As a matter of fact we are planning on cutting it Thursday. I will have to quantify the actual savings that we incur some day by letting it go dormant. Right away it saves 3 1/2 hours of mowing each week which equates to increase range revenue as well as fuel and labor savings. We also save roughly 6 acres of irrigation as well. Since the range is comprised of fine fescue it has the ability to regenerate quickly once the water becomes available. I am surprised how well it takes the wear from the range picker!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...