Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 2012 Course Conditions Update

Although we had a rough start to the 2012 season we finished the year out very strong and have made great improvement on our weak areas throughout the courses. The extreme drought during the summer of 2011 left the turf very weak going into the winter of that year and it showed in the spring of 2012. This and the addition of underlying greens drainage issues at Cowan Creek lead to a less than stellar transition period coming out of dormancy in the early months of this year. During that period we brought in the USGA and the people from ISTRC to help analyze our problems and give input for measures to be taken not only to correct the problem but also avoid it in the future. Many of the greens with problematic issues in the low areas have been identified and measures have been taken to help alleviate problems in the future. The installations of slot valves and four-ways (to allow air to be blown in the greens) have been installed on a number of these and we will continue to work on this until they have all been addressed. An aggressive Aerification program was also put in place per the USGA’s recommendation and the results have spoken for themselves. The hard work and attention to detail in these areas has shown great improvement over the year and the condition of the Cowan Creek greens are much improved from eight months ago.
Overall conditions of the golf courses also improved over the course of the year and the cultural practices over the past few years are paying off. Fairways, roughs and tees that were once beaten down from cart traffic are starting to grow taller and are healthier due to aerification practices and adjustments to our fertilization and watering of these areas. We also found that some well timed rain from Mother Nature has also helped us out this year and we are much healthier going into the winter this year than last. That being said we have to wait and see what she throws at us next year!
In closing I would also like to mention the fact that most of the achievements and gains we have made this year could not have been possible without the help of the entire CA staff (not just golf staff), the Golf Committee, Golf Ops Sub-Committee, Safety Sub-Committee and the Playability Sub-Committee. Sun City has a lot of moving parts to it and when we (Golf Maint.) are dealing with issues on the golf course it helps us focus on the task at hand when we have such a great support system backing us. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dillo Dirt

Dillo Dirt
Submitted by Craig Loving

            We’ve recently discovered and implemented a new method of re-establishing weak areas throughout the courses at Sun City.  The 2011 drought, along with excessive cart traffic, resulted in numerous areas where we lost small patches of turf.  These areas were primarily in the rough and along cart paths, and beginning in late spring we began topdressing them with Dillo Dirt, as opposed to straight sand.

            Dillo Dirt is a compost made and trademarked by the City of Austin Water and Wastewater Utility.  This type of compost is different from normal compost in that it contains treated municipal sewage sludge in addition to yard trimmings collected curbside by the waste management department.  There are several processes involved by City of Austin to decontaminate the compost to make it available for landscape and turf use.  The particle size of Dillo Dirt is larger than sand/soil, but smaller than regular mulch.

            The largest benefit of using Dillo Dirt over regular topdressing sand is its ability to retain moisture.  Sand would in most cases be preferred as an ideal growing medium for turf grass due to its higher water infiltration rates, but we found that a thin layer of Dillo Dirt or even a mix between Dillo Dirt and topdressing sand has proven to be more successful for recovering weak areas of turf.   During the heat of the summer, Dillo Dirt needs little more than routine irrigation to keep it wet, whereas topdressing these areas with sand would require constant daily attention in order to recover these areas.  We also believe that trace amounts of nutrients stored in the material have helped expedite the recovery process.  As you can see, the new growth (which is greener) is filling in these worn areas, and we have saved many hours of labor by using this method.

            As the grass becomes dormant, we will back off on our Dillo Dirt applications, but we will continue this process in the upcoming spring to help reduce future worn areas.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cowan Creek Winter Cultural Practices

Cowan Creek Winter Cultural Practices
Prepared by Craig Loving, Cowan Creek Superintendent
This year we have altered our agronomic plan for the winter months to provide optimal turf health without affecting playability.  The ultimate goal during the harsh months of the winter and early spring is to provide air movement and water infiltration to the roots to prevent sealing off at the surface.  There are still subsurface drainage issues that need to be attacked over time due to improper drainage construction, but hopefully we can prevent most of the issues that arise using a different technique, while still maintaining a consistent ball roll.
Last year’s cultural practices to prevent and recover from weak areas on the greens were absolutely needed, but due to abnormal temperatures and being more aggressive than needed, we had extreme difficulty recovering turf using these practices.  This year we plan on aerifying greens using a 1/8” pencil tine on an as needed basis.  This process is much less aggressive than the Planet Air or even a star-tine, but will still be very effective in accomplishing our goals.  Both the Planet Air and the star-tine are great ways for opening up air pockets below the surface, but generally require topdressing afterwards to fill in the voids.  This practice works extremely well when the grass is actively growing, but in the colder months may take weeks to recover, if at all.

(star-tine holes after 1 week, no topdressing)
We ran a trial on the lower chipping green using both the star-tine and the 1/8” pencil tine.  The holes marked with the red circles are examples of what the star-tine leaves behind.  As we stated earlier, with a light topdressing and ideal growing conditions, this is a great practice to maintain because the recovery is quick and there is very little impact on playability.  However, when the growth slows down, these areas recover much more slowly.   


 The green boxes display the holes left by an 1/8” needle tine.  These tines are much less destructive to the turf, but still very effective.  We ran a Salsco tournament roller after we aerified with the 1/8” pencil tine, and the results had virtually no impact to the ball roll.

This photo was taken to compare the size of the two tines relative to the soil profile.  The target depth for aerification (marked by the blue line) is just below the root zone.  The darker area in the picture can sometimes build up excessive thatch, organic matter and anaerobic materials that will impede air and water movement through the soil profile.  The goal is to poke through this area to prevent sealing off on the surface.  As you can see from this photo, the pencil tine is much thinner than the star-tine.

Here are two more photos showing the comparative difference between the two tines.  In the 2nd photo, the red circle represents the size of the hole the star-tine leaves.  The green box represents what an 1/8” pencil tine leaves.  Theoretically, the larger hole promotes more air and water movement.  However, if we use smaller holes and increase the frequency of our aerifications we can attain the same goal without affecting playability whatsoever. 
We plan on beginning this practice very soon, in addition to very light topdressings throughout the winter (to decrease thatch buildup), with hopes that next year’s spring transition from dormant to actively growing turf runs much more seamlessly. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Frost Delays

Prepared by: Jonathan Ayers, White Wing Superintendent

Frost delays are not a fun way that the course superintendent and staff can mess with the golfers on a cold winter morning. We are all at the mercy of Mother Nature and always try to get you golfing as soon as possible. The maintenance crews are unable to work also when there is a delay and need to be allowed to get out in front of play to set the course up for the day.

Frost is dew on the grass plant that crystallizes making the plant hard and more susceptible to damage from traffic of any kind. Once damage occurs on a frozen plant it may not be noticeable for a day or two but the damage is irreversible.

There are many factors the can play a part in having a frost and how long it last. Temperature is of course the main issue and also part of the misunderstanding. It can definitely frost above 32 degrees and we see it regularly in this area. Most temperature readings that you see are not taken at the soil surface and most likely the air temperature about 6 feet off the ground. On a clear, cool night with little wind the surface temperature can be several degrees cooler. When the plant is cooler than the surrounding temperature it will begin to have moisture from the air condense on it. When this moisture (dew) is present and the temperature dips near freezing it will form the frost.

Watering the night before can have a positive affect on the amount of frost the next morning by keeping the soil temperatures above freezing if the irrigation takes place before a freezing temperature occurs. Also there are chemicals that can be sprayed that will make a plant unable to create dew, thus no frost. Also water can be applied in the morning to physically melt the frost. This method if not done properly and at a high enough air temperature can cause a light frost to turn to ice and a longer delay will happen. The best practice is to be patient until the frost turns to dew under normal conditions and enjoy another cup of coffee.

Images below show frost damage from normal foot and equipment traffic when no delay was taken. The picture of the white foot prints show the walking pattern of just one foursome.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cowan Creek #6 Native Project

This week we were able to tackle the big project on #6 at Cowan Creek. With the course being closed on Monday it allowed us to work on this uninterrupted and complete it in a very efficient manner. This project not only helped the aesthetics of this area, it also improved the drainage which will help during large rain events. This improvement will also greatly help with pace of play on an already difficult golf hole.

Special thanks go out to Charles Moore and his “Loggers” for helping the golf staff complete this project so quickly. Below are the before and after pictures of this area.

#6a Before
 #6a After
 #6b Before
 #6b After
 #6c Before
 #6c After

Adopt A Hole Appreciation BBQ

I would like to thank all of the Adopt A Hole volunteers for coming out for golf and the appreciation dinner we had on Sunday Nov. 4th. The work you all do has made a dramatic impact on the golf course and you are all greatly appreciated. If you know of any volunteers that did not make it last night please pass along our thanks. Thank you also to the entire CA and golf staff for helping insure the BBQ was a huge success, everyone seemed to have a great time! Below are a few photos from the event. We look forwad to many more!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Legacy Hills Pump Station Repair Work

Due to a failed isolation valve four weeks ago at the LH pump station, the entire underground pump vault was flooded. This resulted in damage of the control panel and pumps in the vault. We were able to get one pump back up and running which has allowed us the capability to water greens and select areas of the golf course. This is why LH looks a bit less green than the other two courses right now. We are well on our way to getting the necessary repair work done and getting the station back to 100%. The irrigation panel and valve work for the LH pump station repair will take place on the week of Nov.12th. The panel will be ready on the 6th but needs to be put on a simulator for two days so that the adjustments to the software can be made before they pick it up and bring it here for install. PMTS will be here next week so that we can lay out the prep work to insure we are ready on Mon. the 12th to start installation.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rally for the Cure 2012

Rally for the Cure

Every year at Sun City Texas we have the largest Co-ed golf tournament for the Rally for the Cure in the country. It’s a great cause and we the staff enjoy setting up for it and participating in the event. Each year, starting last year, we started turning the water features pink for the event and breast cancer awareness. At the end of the month we will add a different dye in to turn the water back to blue. This year we also put in Pink putting cups and pink flags for the event. Below are some pictures of the water features.

October 2012 Course Condition Report

October 2012 Course Condition Report

October was a busy month for us due to a heavy tournament schedule. With all of the detail being focused on tournament preparation we did not spend much time on playability report items. We will resume work on those items over the next few months.

Course conditions have really peaked this month and all of the work done earlier in the year has contributed to the conditions we have today. We have had some slight disease pressure on the greens as of late. We sent samples in from each course and the disease pressure was at a level of 3out of 5 for Bermuda grass decline and the Rhizoctonia Zeae was at a level of 4 out of 5. We sprayed a fungicide that covered each of these diseases and will send more samples in next week to see where we stand.

Pre-emerge and overseed has been completed at each course and we are ready to move into the winter months and focus on playability projects.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cowan Creek Soil Profile Update

  Cowan Creek Soil Profile Update
Prepared by:  Craig Loving  
    Cowan Creek Superintendent     

Last week, all three courses had soil samples taken from several of our greens for fertility analysis.  We do this periodically to see what nutrients are available to the plant in the soil profile, as well as in the plant tissue.  We also run tests on our irrigation water to determine how many salts and bicarbonates we are dealing with.  The results from these tests allow us to make adjustments in our fertility program to promote optimal growth and maintain a healthy root system.  We purposely took samples from #9 green at Cowan to see how it has responded to our new technique of providing sub-surface airflow to the rootzone.  The plugs taken from each sample are 1.25” in diameter and 6” deep.  The following diagrams will detail where we currently stand in our soil profile, and what progress we’ve made with this year’s cultural practices.

Both of these pictures were taken from the same plug.  “photo B” shows the profile intact with soil that the roots are holding, and “photo A” has the soil knocked off so we can see the root system.  The lengths of the roots are approximately around 4”, which is relatively good for mini-verde greens.  The light color of the feeder roots indicates that they are healthy.  The only existing concern is in “photo B” from the 1”-1.5” depth in the profile.  This area is still anaerobic, which can prohibit air and water movement through the soil profile.  The anaerobic area is, however, much smaller than it once was earlier in the year.  In addition, the roots are thriving below the anaerobic area, which demonstrates the positive effect of our new practice of blowing air into the drainage system and up through the rootzone from below.

The plug in the above picture was also taken from #9 green.  This photo signifies the importance of routine aerifications.  The darker area is a cross section of an aerification channel from a ½” hollow tine.  Below and along the side of this channel, feeder roots are actively growing.  As you can see, the root system is much healthier in an environment that provides adequate air flow and water infiltration.  If you scroll up and look at “photo A”, you will notice that the roots along the left side of the plug are much longer than on the right side.  This was more than likely due to another aerification channel in that area.
            As we transition into the cooler months of the year, we will alter our fertility program accordingly (based on our soil sample results) to promote healthy root growth throughout the winter.  In addition, we will continue to implement non-aggressive cultural practices (star-tine aerifications) to provide more channels for air and water movement through the soil profile without effecting playability.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Employee Appreciation Day

Here are some pictures of the dedicated staff we have here in golf course maintenance. Last week they were able to take a day to relax and enjoy some BBQ while the Superintendents cooked for them. They have done an outstanding job this year and the golf courses are looking great thanks to their hard work.

Course Conditions September 2012

This month we have continued to work on the playability report items such as shrub and plant bed removals, DG/rock work, sodded weak areas and dead tree removals. We were also able to finally get Mini-Verde sod and repair the chipping green at Cowan Creek; we used some of the remaining sod to repair some areas on the course as well. The one big area that still needs to be addressed is the bottom portion of the driving range at Cowan Creek. This area had washed out in the flood a couple of years ago and we have not been able to repair it do to the extent of work it would take.

Also this month we received some much needed rain that couldn’t have been timed better. It rained a few days before we were headed into our Club Championship and it was a nice, steady, soaking rain. Things dried up quickly enough to allow us to get a fresh cut on the courses before the tournaments started and we have received a lot of positive feedback from the players regarding the course conditions for the event. Great job by the Superintendents and maintenance staff!

Looking forward to next month we will be spraying the golf courses with pre-emergent to avoid a “weedy” fall and we will also be over-seeding the Par 3 tee boxes and Driving Range tees for the winter. We have chosen not to overseed the remainder of the tee boxes. This was the same approach we took last year and by using liquid fertilizers we were able to keep them green through the winter months. Once these two items are complete we will focus on the playability report punch list and get ready for the winter.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Painted Tee Markers at Legacy Hills

Over the past year we have had occasional complaints about the visibility of the various colors of the Tee Markers at Legacy Hills. So we decided to figure out a solution that would keep us from having to go out and purchase all new tee markers for the course. You would not believe how expensive these small little objects can be and then you have to multiply that by the five different sets of two. Needless to say it gets costly. So I asked the Superintendent at Legacy Hills (Robert Rodriguez) to try some different paint schemes out to see if we could come up with a solution. We found what we think seems to be answer and have gotten a lot of positive comments back from the players from our recent major events.  Below is an example of what we have done without turning the marker into just a big painted rock.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cowan Creek Chipping Green Update

The chipping green at Cowan Creek has been sodded and roped off for the grow-in period. We ask that during this time all players use the lower chipping green at Cowan Creek for their short game practice and allow us time to get the other green established before re-opening.
We have also used some of the Mini-Verde sod on some other areas on the greens that had not completely healed from the spring. We used the remaining sod on the back tee box on #1 at Cowan to establish a small nursery of Mini-Verde. It will be maintained at tee height but will be easily taken down to green height if it’s necessary to use it in the spring for any small repairs.

Access Flag Policy

Just a reminder, with the implementation of the new Access Flag policy we will be painting a line across the fairways 30 feet from the green so that everyone can get an idea of what distance 30 feet is in relation to the green. This will remain in place for two to three weeks while we begin this new policy. Below is a picture of what to look for so that the line can be identified.

Monday, August 27, 2012

August Course Conditions

This month wrapped up the core aerifications on the greens and will be going into the busy season without any further major disruptions to the putting surfaces. Cowan Creek will do some small aerifications but nothing very aggressive. The remainder of aerifications on greens will consist of star tine aerifications (solid) and slicing with the Planet Air machine.

Water had been an issue earlier this month due to the COGT having some mechanical problems on their end. They have been very good about communicating to us and keeping us informed on the time frame of the necessary repairs. The system is running well currently and with the recent rain and temperatures we have had little issues as of late.

The test Bunker at White has turned out to be a success and this is the direction we will move to remedy the softness of the greenside bunkers. Currently the Adopt A Hole program Volunteers are being allowed to use sand from the greenside bunkers to do their maintenance on the course and this should help expedite the sand removal process before we add in the Caylor White sand. We plan to start on this during the winter months.

Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 Mid Year Update

It’s been a busy year in 2012 already and the time seems to be flying by with everything going on at the Golf Courses. As we all know we had a horrible time this spring with transition at Cowan Creek in regards to the greens conditions. We worked with the USGA on recommended cultural approaches and the Staff implemented a plan that turned the Cowan greens around in a short period of time. They are much smoother and healthier now and continue to get better. We are still not 100% satisfied with a few of the greens and have found underlying drainage problems that were caused during construction that have finally manifested into poor turf quality in low lying areas of the greens. We will continue to identify these areas and address them as we move forward.
Many of the other issues we have dealt with this year so far have been more of the mechanical type failures. Legacy Hills has had to replace two irrigation pumps that went down and the loss of power to numerous irrigation controllers at both White Wing and Cowan Creek due to lightning strikes.
On a more positive note we have been very fortunate to receive some summer rain this year. This has helped out tremendously in the areas that suffered from last year’s drought.
The cultural practices that we have put in place are paying off and the courses
are showing it. We have aerified all of the fairways and tee boxes at each course and are now focused on weed control and detail work in these areas. The greens are always our number one priority and we are finishing up core aerifications on them this month. We have two more good months of growing weather and intend to get everything as healthy as possible before heading into fall.
Last year we started working with the Golf Course Playability Sub-Committee so that we could get resident golfer feedback from the perspective of our own golfers. We meet twice a year and tour the courses with the Committee members, Golf Pros, Course Superintendent and the Director of Golf Course Maintenance. We establish a list of items that would improve playability for all golfers and use that as a punch list of items to be addressed by the Maintenance staff. This has been a great Committee to work with and it allows them to see issues that we deal with on the courses and for us to see the playability issues that affect your everyday play.
Another one of our focuses this year has been to get more communication out to the Sun City residents about what goes on behind the scenes in regards to Golf Course Maintenance. In March we introduced the Golf Course Maintenance Blog. www.sctxgcmaint.blogspot.com This is a site that solely pertains to the maintenance and care of the golf courses and includes information in the form of a posted letter or article that covers many of our cultural practices and daily maintenance items. Feel free to visit the site at any time for updates.

Monday, July 30, 2012

**Water Update**

Currently the City of Georgetown is having mechanical problems with their pump station that provides the non-potable water to the golf courses. We are in constant communication with the COGT and they are doing everything possible to fix the problem. We are only receiving about half of what we would normally get from the city right now and this will result in us “dialing” our systems down in regards to the amount of water we will be using on the golf course for the next few days. Once the Irrigation Lakes are at a suitable level we will resume our normal irrigation output at that time. The golf courses will show some signs of stress and will be on the dry side until we get back to full capacity.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Greens Aerification


It’s that time of the year once again, we get out those dreaded machines that “mess up the greens” and start our aerification practices. Please realize that aerification is for the long term health of the turf and will ultimately promote a healthier green. 

“Aerification (also known as aeration) achieves three important objectives. It relieves soil compaction, it provides a method to improve the soil mixture around the highest part of a green’s roots and it reduces or prevents the accumulation of excess thatch.

Like so many things, the quality of a good putting green is more than skin deep. In fact, the condition of a green has a lot to do with what goes on below the surface. In order for grass to grow at 1/8-inch, it must have deep, healthy roots. Good roots demand oxygen. In good soil, they get the oxygen from tiny pockets of air trapped between soil and sand particles.

Over time, the traffic from golfer’s feet (as well as mowing equipment) tends to compact the soil under the putting green – particularly when the soil contains a lot of clay. When soil becomes compacted, the air pockets on which the roots depend are crushed, and the roots are essentially left gasping for air. Without oxygen, the grass plants become weaker and will eventually wither and die.

Aerification is a mechanical process that creates more air space in the soil and promotes deeper rooting, thus helping the grass plants stay healthy. In most cases, it’s done by removing half-inch cores (those plugs you sometimes see near a green or in fairways) from the compacted soil, allowing for an infusion of air and water that brings a resurgence of growth. The spaces are then filled with sand “topdressing” that helps the soil retain air space and makes it easier for roots to grow downward.

Older greens often are constructed of soils with significant amounts of silt, clay and fine organic particles that are prone to compaction. Filling aerification holes with sand improves drainage and resists compaction. The periodic introduction of sand to a green’s top layer can, over time, avoid or postpone expensive rebuilding or renovation of greens.

Finally, growing of turf adds to a layer of organic matter on the surface. This layer, called thatch, is an accumulation of dead stems, leaves and roots. A little organic matter makes for a resilient green, but too much invites diseases and insects. Topdressing with sand can prevent thatch buildup, and aerification is one of the best ways to reduce an existing layer and prevent an excess of thatch from becoming established.”

For several days after the aerification, the greens will not be as smooth as desired and the patience of all golfers will be tried to a certain extent. But rest assured, the greens will quickly return to a normal, smooth putting surface and will be all the healthier for the effort.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Test Bunker

Test Bunker at White Wing Short Game Area

In an effort to increase the firmness of the greenside bunkers we have taken some sand out of one of the greenside bunkers at the White Wing Short Game area and mixed in a different type of sand. The bunker has been marked with signs and we will evaluate it over the next few weeks to see if we are getting the desired results. This was only done a few days ago so we will need to wait a week or two to let the new sand get mixed in good enough for evaluation. Once we establish that it has worked we will then continue this process out on the course.

July Course Condition Update

Course Conditions July 2012

Over the past month we have been able to get the fairways at all three golf courses aerified. We will try and get one more core aerification done this season on the fairways in conjunction with slicing the roughs in the high traffic areas. The tees have also been done at White Wing and Cowan and Legacy is scheduled for next week.

We have taken out the Sure Play sand in one of the bunkers at the White Wing short game area and mixed in some Caylor White sand so we can use this as a test bunker before moving ahead with the rest of the greenside bunkers on the course. We have marked it with a “Test Bunker” sign and look to get feed back from the Golf Committee members as well as the Playability Sub-Committee members. 

The last of the large core tine aerifications are going to be done within the next few weeks with the exception of Cowan Creek which will have one more additional ¼” core tine aerification before fall. The remainder of the aerifications will be solid tine aerifications with minimal disturbance.

We have been getting areas of the fairways and green surrounds that have been getting too wet due to us trying to keep other areas from getting dry. We are making head adjustments and switching out to different types of heads around the greens to keep the approaches and perimeters dryer to avoid any plugged shots or equipment damage. This is a bigger problem at Legacy Hills due to the design and age of the system so we have started there first.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cowan Creek Drainage Update

Continued Drainage Issues – Cowan Creek (2012)
Prepared By: Craig Loving
Cowan Creek Golf Club, Superintendent

            As you may know, there are still some areas that are struggling on the greens at Cowan Creek.  The issue was most prominent earlier this year on #6 green. We discovered that the drainage leaving the left side of the green was cut in order to allow room for the irrigation lines, but the drainage was never redirected or fixed.  The pipe was buried with dirt and sand, which ultimately clogged both ends of the cut pipe making the drainage in that area of the green useless.  We have since repaired the drainage and re-sodded the weak areas on the green, and it has recovered well.  The following paragraphs will discuss additional problems we are encountering regarding improper drainage, and how we plan to address them.  

            The left side of #9 green has been a concern for us coming out of dormancy in prior years, but it has bounced back in the past with additional aggressive cultural practices.  We use techniques such as weekly solid tine aerifications to allow air and water infiltration into the upper rootzone.  The left side of #9, bottom right side of #7, and the middle of #13 green were all troubled areas last year that we recovered from using these practices.  Unfortunately, this year we aren’t seeing as much of a positive response.  As you know, there are many areas that we continually hand spike and topdress with sand in order to provide a healthier medium for the grass on the surface to grow laterally and fill in.  Most of these areas have improved or are improving, but some have shown no response, even with the warmer temperatures and extra attention we give them.  All of this can be attributed to improper drainage, and a lack of oxygen in the rootzone.

            On Tuesday (6/26/12) we invited David Doherty, the CEO and founder of ISTRC (International Sports Turf Research Center), to give a seminar on the physical properties beneath the surface of golf course greens.  We have used ISTRC’s services in the past to run tests on core samples from our greens.  They tested infiltration rate, air porosity, bulk density, water holding capability, organic content, etc. on plugs from each course.  After analyzing the results, they gave us recommendations for future aerifications and other cultural practices to help us reach optimum conditions for growing and maintaining healthy turf.  The seminar touched on this, along with methods of introducing air into the rootzone using existing drainage pipe.  In addition to attacking our problems from the surface down, he explained ways to promote healthy turf from the bottom up.

            After the seminar, we had David come with us to #9 green so we could get his input on our situation there.  Using a witching stick, he marked where he thought the drainage pipe was located on the green so we could narrow down where to attack the problem.  We believed that if we could access the pipe, we would be able to identify where the drainage was failing.  The following day we dug into the areas marked by Dave beneath the sand base and the gravel layer, in hopes to find where the drainage channels were located to access the pipe.  Needless to say, none of the holes were atop a drainage channel, so we patched them up and went with a more drastic approach.  By digging a trench inside the green, we were able to locate one of the drainage pipes.  We now know that there actually was pipe installed, and this will serve as a starting point for us to address the problem and improve the drainage on this particular green.
As of right now, we are still looking for all of the existing pipe on #9,  and once we have the drainage completely mapped out, we will be able to fix the improperly installed pipe.  We have the area roped off, and the pin placements on the green will remain on the right side until the left side is once again playable. Upon completion, we will move onto #7 and #13.  We appreciate your patience.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Course Conditions Update June 2012

Course Conditions June 2012
The Cowan Creek greens were obviously the big topic of discussion the first quarter of the year due to poor putting quality and appearance. They are rolling smoother and faster now but we still are not satisfied with the overall health and aesthetics of the greens, we will continue working our plan and following the USGA’s recommendations until they are completely healed.

Greens aerifications have been going well with the exception of mechanical/operator problems that left some tire marks on various greens. These areas have been topdressed and smoothed back out and are healing up well. We will modify our clean up process in the future to eliminate this problem. In regards to greens aerifications I have received some emails in regards to the amount of times we aerify. I have attached a comparison of last years schedule in this weeks Golf Communicator to show that nothing has changed from previous years with the exception of the additional Cowan Creek aerifications to address our organic matter problem.

We have begun our fairway aerifications and will try to complete two core aerifications on each course over the next three months and one solid slicing aerification after that. This also includes aerifying high traffic areas in the roughs and tee boxes.

Tree trimming at Legacy Hills was completed this month and it has made a dramatic change in both appearance and playability. This has been on the playability report list for two years and was a big item to get knocked off the list. The smaller tree limbs will be done in house by December of this year. We also have numerous dead trees and shrubs on the course that will need to be taken out when time allows this winter.

White Wing and Legacy Hills Bunker Summary

The White Wing and Legacy Hills Greenside Bunkers have been one of our weakest areas in terms of playability. This issue has had us trying many different methods to speed up the firming process. 

Actions that have been taken:
  • Sprayed sand traps with wetting agents
  • Hand watered when staff was available to do so
  • Used hand tampers to try and pack the sand
  • Lab Tested sand to verify proper specifications – It did meet the guidelines.
  • Contacted the Sand Supplier for any recommendations on firming the bunkers up more quickly.
  • Contacted several Superintendents in the State that have used the same sand and compared notes on the maintenance of the bunkers.
  • Removed 2 inches of sand from the greenside bunkers on #18 at LH and #16 greenside at WW to see if the shallow depth would help the sand set better. We are going to give it two weeks from June 25th and evaluate it then.

Future Actions to be taken:
  • Evaluate the bunkers that we removed the sand from
  • If it is still soft we will have to remove an inch or two out of the greenside bunkers and add in sand that will compact more. It will be the same color but will be a different particle size and more angular in shape so that it will compact.

What will be done?
It is most likely we will have to remove an inch or two out of the greenside bunkers and add in sand that will compact more. It will be the same color but will be a different particle size and more angular in shape so that it will compact.

When will this all be done?
Going forward from today we will be re-training the staff to rake the sand down from the sides and then remove the excess from the bottoms. Once this is complete we will use the new sand and blend it in with what we have. Due to our staff size this is not something that can happen over night, we will have to continually work on this and have it completed sometime in the winter or early spring. We will continually test the traps and also ask for feedback from our playability committee on the firmness a playability of the bunkers as we work through this problem. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fairway Aerifications Have Begun

We have begun our fairway aerifications and will try to complete two core aerifications on each course over the next three months and one additional solid slicing aerification after that. This also includes aerifying high traffic areas in the roughs and tee boxes. After we have cleaned up the cores the holes should be healed over in just a few days. Don't forget that if your ball comes to rest in an aerification hole you can take free relief from the aerification hole no closer to the pin.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Golf Course Update (We are making progress!)

Golf Course Update
Cowan Creek Greens Update
Progress is being made! The greens at Cowan are starting to roll much smoother and the health of the turf is coming back. We still have the low areas to work on, but, with continued aerifications of these areas, we will win the battle. These photos are the before and after pictures of the soil profile of the lower left area on #9 green. As you can see, with just 3 aerifications, we have significantly reduced the amount of Black Layer and provided many channels to let the roots get oxygen, thus producing a healthier plant.


Sand Traps at White Wing and Legacy Hills
With input from the Course Playability Committee and Golf Committee, we are going to be removing some sand out of a couple of select greenside bunkers, to see if it will help with the firmness of the sand. This will be completed and reviewed before the next Golf Committee meeting on June 25, so that we can report our findings back to the Committees at that time. This may or may not be a solution, but, unless this option is explored, we do not know the answer. We are also sending sand samples into a lab to review the specifications of it; this will determine if it matches the specifications that were given to us at the time of construction. This will also let us know if we are dealing with sand that meets the USGA recommended specifications.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

White Wing Driving Range Mat Modification

The next time you are assigned to hit off of the Mats at White Wing you notice something new. We drilled holes in the mat and marked these areas with a white circle. If you place a golf tee in the center of this circle you will find a hole where your golf tee can go into the ground beneath the mat. We have done this so that it will make it easier to hit Drivers from the mat area and eliminate the need to step off the front of the mats to the grass area of the tee. This will not only make it safer but it will also allow the turf time to recover in those areas.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tree Trimming @ Legacy Hills

Anyone playing Legacy Hills today may notice some trees that have been tagged with construction ribbon. These trees have been marked so that the tree company can identify what we have had bid for trimming. This will just be trim work NOT removal.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Golf Course Maintenace Update

**Golf Course Maintenance Update**

Greens aerification will take place at Legacy Hills on Monday June 4th. This will be the same method we have used in previous weeks at both White Wing and Cowan Creek.

Aerification “Why do we do it?”

It may seem that every time we get the greens “perfect” we go out and punch thousands of holes in them again. Unfortunately aerification is a necessary evil when it comes to the care of any golf green. The condition of the greens has a lot to do with what goes on beneath the surface of the grass. Roots need oxygen; they usually get this from tiny pockets of air trapped between sand and soil particles. Over time, foot traffic and mowing equipment compact the soil thus eliminating these pockets and depriving the roots of oxygen. This is where aerification comes in; by removing cores it promotes deeper rooting and more air space which in turn helps the plant stay healthy. Normally through out the growing season we will do anywhere from 4 to 6 aerifications with varying size tines ranging from ¼” to ¾” in diameter and at different depths depending where the organic matter and compaction zones are. The end result after healing is a much healthier plant with a better growing environment.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cowan Creek Aerification

This Monday we aerified the greens at Cowan Creek with a 5/8" tine on 1.5" centers and went down to a depth of 4". The amount of organic matter in the greens has been one of the contributing factors in the health of the greens this spring at Cowan Creek and with this aerification it should give us approximately 13.64% of organic matter displacement throughout the green. We are following behind the aerification with a 1 ton roller to help smooth the greens out from this aggressive aerification. Per the USGA's recommendations we will do this up to three more times this growing season.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Course Condition Update

Course Conditions Update

We received our report back from the USGA and have already implemented most of their recommendations. This means more aerifications for Cowan Creek to address the organic matter build up and to remedy our sodium problems by flushing post aerification. Last week after the deep tine aerification and flushing we have already noticed a difference. With continued cultural practices they will steadily improve.

We hosted the Support the Troops tournament at White Wing on Thursday of last week and besides a little rain it went very well. Being a veteran myself I love to see that our community here is so supportive of our service people. Thank you.

The greens at White Wing are coming in very nicely and with the exception of #1 green they are doing great. We will start plugging out bad spots on #1 this week so that we can get that green up to par with the rest of the greens on the course.

On a side note we had a lightning strike on #18 at White Wing on Thursday night after the storms had come through.

The strike caused all of the irrigation control boxes on #18 to shut off and the trip the breaker located at the shop. We will have to go through this week and test each sprinkler to make sure they are working properly, many times lightning strikes “fry” the solenoids and we have to dig up the heads to repair them.

Don’t forget to check out the golf maintenance Blog!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Additional Rolling at Cowan Creek

With the aggressive aerification at Cowan Creek on Monday we rented a 1.5 Ton roller to expedite the smoothness returning to the putting surfaces. Before rolling today we measured the the greens with the stimp meter and they were at a 7.5, after rolling they measured at a 9. We will do this one more time and then use our rollers the rest of the week to improve on this.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Greens Flushing at Cowan Creek

You can see from the attached video that we were successful with flushing the greens at Cowan Creek.
This process should have a very positive impact on removing sodium from our soil profile.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cowan Creek Greens Aerification

Just wanted to let everyone know that although the Cowan Greens are responding well to our cultural practices and the warmer weather we still have a ways to go. It may seem from the outward appearance that they are getting better and finally starting to get healthy again but underneath the surface we still have organic matter build-up and sodium issues to deal with. Today we are doing a deep tine aerification with a 13/16" coring tine at a depth of 7 1/2". This may seem to be taking a step back as far as ball roll and smoothness are concerned but it is a necessity that it be done for the future health and benefit of the greens. We hope to have them healed up and smooth again within the next two weeks.