Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dec. 2013 Course Conditions

Dec. 2013 Course Conditions

Course Conditions
This month we experienced numerous cold temperature days with precipitation included. This lead to numerous course closures which had us working around the shops, cleaning, working on equipment and reorganizing. With the weather getting back to “normal” for this time of the year we will be able to continue working on various playability and safety items.
White Wing Greenside Bunkers
After removing sand from the greenside bunkers and mixing in a new firmer sand we were still not satisfied with the results. That being said, we have decided to remove all of the existing sand from the greenside bunkers and install a new sand that will provide a much firmer playing condition. We have started the sand removal process this week and hope to have this complete over the next three weeks. Once that is complete we will start installing new sand and hope to have the entire project complete sometime in February. During this time we ask that all greenside bunkers at White Wing be played as ground under repair. To eliminate any confusion, all White Wing greenside bunkers, whether being worked on or not should be considered GUR until we are finished with this project. Staff will also mark the bunkers with a painted GUR. We will update the progress of this project in the golf communicator and Golf Maint. Blog.
Where did the greens covers go?
We recently had the question come up about the covers that we use to cover our greens during extremely cold and continuous low temperatures. If you remember in the past we would have the big bulky “tarps” rolled up and sitting on a pallet somewhere next to or behind the greens. This not only was an eyesore but it also affected play if your shot came to rest next to one of these. A few years ago we were able to purchase replacement covers out of the reserves. These new covers are much lighter weight and easier to handle, this allows us to move them in and out from the maintenance facility without having to leave them on the course. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nov. 2013 Course Conditions

Nov. 2013 Course Conditions 

Course Conditions
This month we had our second Turf Advisory Service, On-Site Visit by the USGA. We were very pleased with their comments and recommendations. Bud White, with the USGA, also included an informative article on course closures for maintenance practices. I have also posted the report on the Golf Course Maint. Blog.
Tree Trimming
We were able to get a contractor to do some major tree trimming at White Wing on Holes #1, 4, 5, 13 & 18. It has made a big impact visually and should help with playability as well.
White Wing Greenside Bunkers
At the end of Oct. we were able to remove 2 – 3 inches of sand from each of the greenside bunkers. We have gotten the new sand in and will begin putting it in over the next couple of months.
All of the overseed on the Par 3’s and Driving Range Tees is up and going. Pre-emerge was applied and finished up by mid-month on all three courses. This should provide us with very weed free conditions through the Spring.
Continue to work on the fertilizer reference tables.
Supt. Certification
Currently working on case studies. Registering for the GCSAA national in Feb. 2014.
Cart Path Repairs
The contractor completed the cart path work at LH #16, #2 and WW #16.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

USGA Turf Advisory Service On-Site Visit Report

Visit Date:         October 21, 2013           2nd Half of Full Day Split Visit 

Present: Gary Wilson, Director of Maintenance
Ron DeLaney, General Manager
Craig Loving, GCS, Cowan Creek
Regan Olson, GCS, Legacy Hills
Jonathan Ayers, GCS, White Wing
Bud White, Director, USGA Green Section, Mid-Continent Region 

United States Golf Association
Bud White, Director | Green Section  |   Mid-Continent Region
2801 N Umberland Dr | Lewisville, TX 75056 | Phone: 972.899.2462 | Fax: 972.899.2463 |
USGA Green Section Mission: The USGA Green Section are leaders in developing and disseminating agronomically, environmentally, and economically sustainable management practices. We help golf facilities maintain better playing conditions for better golf through science-based and practical solutions. 

Turf Advisory Service Report                

I must say that overall, the golf courses were in excellent condition. I am very glad to see you have had such a good and productive summer for turf growth and surface development. We looked at a few areas of concern on all three courses and I would like to detail each of these below.
The new putting green nursery construction on the White Wing Course will certainly be a critical upgrade to your maintenance operations by having a readily available source of TifEagle and MiniVerde grown and maintained exactly like your putting surfaces. Sod from your own nursery is always a superior patch material versus sod from a sod producer because of how much quicker it can be established in a green in addition to better surface uniformity.
Soil cores indicated a slightly shallow rhizome development than ideal but should not be a problem through winter. As greens age, the organic zone tightens as it builds and this must be counteracted with aeration, vertical mowing and topdressing on an increased basis. Your aeration program is already adequate but increased deep vertical mowing and topdressing is needed. An increase in topdressing is only about 10% which is unnoticeable to the golfer but adds to the dilution rate of the organic.
I hope the renovation of the practice area on White Wing can be accomplished in the near future as this would be a great addition to your facilities and meet the golf practicing demands of today.
The disease outbreak on #6 green on the Cowan Creek course was a common outbreak this month in many locations around Austin/Georgetown. Weather conditions were just right after the rain with warmth and humidity. This is Bipolaris Leaf Blotch and it can be a significant problem if left unchecked, especially in late fall. The Daconil® or Fore® are excellent materials for control of this disease problem if you see it develop in the future.
Examination of soil cores on Cowan Creek as well as Legacy Hills did show better rhizome development, but as discussed for White Wing, I would still suggest you slightly increase the rate of topdressing during your regular topdressing operations next year to provide further dilution of the organic accumulation. As ultradwarf greens mature and age, the increase in topdressing and the amount of organic removal needs to be increased. The deep vertical mowing at aeration done one to two times per year is an excellent way to do this without increasing the number of disruptions or the time of disruption for golfers. It is also critical to make certain that every aeration operation penetrates completely through the organic zone to maximize the benefits of air and water movement through the soil.
The purchase of the new AerWay® for slicing the fairways and immediate roughs is certainly a needed tool for course operations and for management of your irrigation water and level of salts. Your plans to slice and apply gypsum next year with a flushing operation will be most beneficial overall. I suggest that the first one be done as early in the spring as possible to maximize the growing season of the bermudagrass. I realize this will have to be coordinated with having enough bermudagrass growth for quick recovery of the scars. Gypsum rates should be 750 lbs/ac next year. Make sure the AerWay penetrates the organic zone on the Cowan Creek sand cap.
I want to reiterate the need to consider all the early start times on the golf course in relation to golf operations and the length of time each morning that the crew has in order to accomplish operations before play. Closed days, of course, are a must on a regular basis, but single tee instead of double tee starts on a regular basis is most important to allow improved, unrestricted maintenance operations on the course ahead of play. I hope management will consider this impact and always have at least nine holes closed on a rotating basis for the needed maintenance operations. These operations include anything from cultural programs to aeration operations to spraying and fertilization.
I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your agronomic programs at Sun City Georgetown Community Association, and I hope you will always feel free to call on me anytime I can be of help. I look forward to our visitations next year, and I hope the fall and winter are very productive for you. 

Charles B. White, CPAg
Director, Mid-Continent Region

Friday, October 18, 2013

Driving Range Overseed Oct. 21, 2013

Due to the application of overseed on the Driving range tee boxes we will be closing the Driving Range at Cowan Creek and White Wing after the 8:00am shotgun on Monday Oct. 21st. We will re-open both of those ranges that same day at 12:00pm. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience during this agronomic practice.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Golf Maintenance Fall Update

The night time temperatures have cooled off and the Bermuda grass is finally starting to slow down. We still have to mow greens daily but the fairway and tee growth have slowed down enough to allow us to start some of our playability projects and prepare the course for winter.   

The largest item that has really been at the top of our list for the past several months is addressing the greenside bunkers at White Wing. Unfortunately the busy tournament months and no closed days at White Wing in the past two months has made it difficult to schedule any work on the bunkers until this time. On Oct 28th we will be converging all of our efforts on removing approx. three inches of sand out of the greenside bunkers so that we can continue to work on getting the bunkers firmed up. Once we feel we have removed the adequate amount of sand we will be adding another firmer sand type to get them back to the proper depths and consistency.

This month we will also be tackling numerous projects and performing various agronomic practices to get ready for the winter months. The first of these projects will include cart path repairs at Legacy Hills and White Wing, we hope to have these repairs complete by the middle of next week as long as the weather cooperates. We also plan to have a tree company on site this month to address some tree trimming at White Wing that will have an immediate impact on playability.

Other items on our to do list for Oct. include a bulk fertilizer application, course wide pre-emerge applications, overseeding par three tees and overseeding the Driving Range tee tops at all three courses including the landing areas at the Cowan Creek and White Wing ranges.  



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

#14 Drainage at White Wing

Earlier this spring one of the first major projects of the year was to have a completely new drainage system installed in front of #14 Green at White Wing. We posted updates of the project on this Blog and included photos of the finished project. Recently we received over four inches of rain in a 24 hour period and we were curious to see how well the drainage held up to that amount of rain. Below is a video of the drainage system at work.
 As you can see the drainage is working as planned and is catching the water and taking it underneath the approach and into the creek along the right side of the #14 hole. We are very pleased with the end result of this work.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wet Surrounds at White Wing

White Wing Wet Spots

We are encountering a few wet spots around greens and various low spots around the course. The crew and management are in constant communication with each other and continue adjusting water schedules as needed. Sometimes these areas continue to form and warrant more attention to obtain desirable conditions. A few key examples of work in progress and resolving problems are the front of three green and the tee side fairway of #11. Drains were necessary and put in as soon as time allowed. The next two areas on the list are the front of #14 and the front right of #15 greens. The issue at #14 is newer and we have turned off some heads in the area to help alleviate the problem. #15 green also has some heads turned off. #15 has been an ongoing area and we have done some drainage work there in the past. We are going to extend that drainage soon to try and catch some of the water shedding off the green.

In the heat of the summer there is a fine line between not enough and too much. Areas around greens usually are the first to get in these conditions as greens need more attention and also have the most undulation and watershed. We strive to provide the best conditions daily while dealing with Mother Nature and a living, ever changing course.

Jonathan Ayers
White Wing GC

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sun City Golf Club Nursery Green

Nursery Green at White Wing

Those of you who have either played White Wing over the past week or participated in the Open House on Monday probably noticed that we’ve had grounds construction going on between the green on hole number twelve and the tee area of hole number thirteen.  We have had many people stop to inquire about the work and what we are doing there. The answer is that we are building a Nursery Green that can be used by all three of our golf courses.

What is a Nursery Green?

A Nursery Green is a green that is maintained identical to the other greens on the golf course and that can be used for replacement turf on the golf course greens when needed.  In this case our green will be split with two grass variety types. Mini-Verde for Cowan Creek and Legacy Hills and Tif-Eagle for White Wing.
Typically, in the past if we had a weak area on a green or a poor section of green due to an unfavorable spring transition we would have to purchase sod to repair these areas. The problem with this is that the sod farms often times cannot cut sod until later in the spring and not necessarily when we need it. Having our own grass on site will insure that repairs are made more quickly and that we save money on the sod and on the cost of freight to get it delivered.  This nursery green will be a valuable asset to the Sun City Golf Courses.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Utilizing Monday Course Closures

Utilizing Monday Course Closures
Submitted by Craig Loving

The goal of Golf Maintenance is to maintain playable course conditions and healthy turf, working in a way so that we accomplish our routine cultural practices and small- to large-scale projects in a timely manner, without disrupting play. Beginning in 2012, the Sun City Texas golf courses have been on a regular rotation of closing one course each Monday, so that each course is closed once every three weeks. These closings have been beneficial for us to complete necessary tasks in a timely fashion without interfering with golfers’ play. Depending on the time of year and our aerification schedule, the tasks completed during these Mondays differs from week to week. Below is a brief description of how we utilize Monday closings to make improvements on the golf courses.

Greens aerifications are scheduled at each course a minimum of three times annually, and each aerification can differ, depending on the time of the growing season. The process itself is very time consuming and it generally takes a full day of work (up to 12-plus hours) for our crew members to have the greens ready for play the following day.
Fairway aerifications are scheduled twice per year at each course. Although the process isn’t as involved as a greens aerification, this cultural practice takes up to two days to complete due to the acreage involved. Other aerifications, such as tees and high-traffic areas, are done on an as-needed basis, but we generally use our closed Mondays to complete them.

Winter Projects
During the growing season, we devote a majority of our time to mowing and weed-eating, so as to keep the grass in playable areas at a desired height of cut. However, when the grass becomes dormant, we spend our closed days working on winter projects. During this time, we have the ability to utilize crew members from all three golf courses in order to finish each task more rapidly. Some examples of our annual winter projects include: tree trimming at White Wing and Legacy Hills, installing and improving drainage, cutting down salt cedars and willows in the native areas, removing cattails from ponds, checking bunker depths and adding sand to needed areas, irrigation audits and head adjustment, etc. Last winter, we began using our closed Mondays to do winter aerifications on the greens using a needle tine. We came out of dormancy much better than in previous years with these extra needle tine aerifications.

Growing Season Monday Closures
From spring to late fall, we dedicate a majority of our closed Mondays to keeping up with rough mowing. We also utilize this time for flymowing and edging bunker faces, weed-eating specific areas on the course, and edging cart paths, irrigation heads, and yardage markers. All of these tasks take considerably less time to complete without having to stop for golfers. For example, during a closed Monday at Cowan Creek, we can finish mowing rough in 1.5 days, whereas it can take upwards of four (4) days without a closed Monday. Also at Cowan, edging and flymowing bunker faces can be cut down to two (2) days with a closed Monday, but can take over a week to complete without the closing. If we don’t have an aerification scheduled, we generally use the closed days for these kinds of tasks. In the heat of the summer, a closed Monday is also an opportune time to catch up on irrigating hot spots throughout the course. We would normally schedule this task during the early morning in front of play, but, without worrying about play disruption, we can turn on irrigation heads and/or hand-water areas in need during the mornings and evenings.

Overall, our week-to-week tasks on closed Mondays vary between each course, depending on the time of year and what is most important to maintain playable conditions and healthy turf.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 2013 Course Conditions

We have seen it all this month in terms of weather, we have had our typical 100 degree days and more recently some days that felt like it was February again. The four inches plus of rain that we received early last week came at a great time with the fairways and roughs starting to dry out in certain spots due to the heat and some water rationing done on our part. We are over half way done with the year and have kept pretty close with all of our cultural practices that we have scheduled for the year. The rain last week did push back the White Wing fairway aerification but we will catch that back up once we return to our typical weather pattern for July and August.

In other golf course related news, the CA wood clearing crew came over and cleared out the creek in front of #18 right side tees at White Wing. This helped us out tremendously and we hope to have them back later in the year to finish out that entire section of creek down to the bridge.

This month we also announced the hiring/promotion of Reagan Olson to the Head Superintendent position at Legacy Hills. He has been acting as the interim since April of this year and has already made great improvements to the course conditions at Legacy Hills. We have also filled the position of Assistant Superintendent at Cowan Creek and that individual will be starting at the beginning of August. I will make an announcement via the Golf Communicator and Golf Maint. Blog when he has officially started.

Verti-cutting Greens

If you’ve had a chance to play Cowan Creek this week you may have noticed some areas on the greens that have some small patches of scalped turf. This week we decided to get a bit more aggressive with our verti-cutting so that we could remove more thatch than normal. These areas are where the verti-cutter “pulled” or cut into the grain one way and then the mower cut that grain the opposite direction on the mowing pass. This is a normal occurrence when going this aggressively and the scalped spots will not affect ball roll and will heal very quickly. This process will take place on each of the courses over the next few weeks.

Thatch removal is critical to keeping the turf healthy and to promote growth. It also helps speed the greens up and smooth them out. During a regular play day we would not be able to do this due to the amount of clean-up but on a closed day we have the time to get everything cleaned up once the process is complete.  As you can see from the photo below the amount of thatch removed from just one green was quite a bit. (The hat placed on top is just for size reference, we did not burry any of our employees during the making of this communicator) We will continue to be aggressive with our verti-cutting for the remainder of the growing season and the results in turf quality will be evident both in playability and aesthetically. 


Thursday, July 11, 2013

2013 Summer Fairway Aerification

2013 Summer Fairway Aerification
Submitted by Craig Loving 

            On 7/8/13 we began aerifying the fairways at Cowan Creek.  The following paragraphs and figures will explain the process we used, the difficulties we discovered, an explanation of the need for periodic fairway aerifications.
            The original plan was to pull a core out of the fairways, pulverize the plugs, then drag the plugs back in.  However, in preparation of the process we discovered that the fairways suffered from excessive compaction from cart and machine traffic (as seen in figure A). 

(180 lbs without being able to force the probe through the root zone) 

            We had difficulty using a hollow tine to pull cores at a sufficient depth, and some of the tines broke during the trial process.  We made an adjustment to our game plan and used a shatter tine on an Aerway ™ aerifier (Figure B and C).  The shatter tine allowed us to break through the turf and the rootzone to a depth up to 6” in the soil.  A key benefit to using a shatter tine as opposed to a regular slicer is the offset setup of the tines, leaning them away from the vertical line (Figure B).  As the tine exits the ground, it moves the soil laterally and fluffs the soil to decrease compaction. 

             Similar to greens aerifications, this practice increases water infiltration and allows air to move into the soil profile.  In turn, this will promote a healthier root system which will benefit overall turf quality and color.  Below are photos of the fairway appearance after aerifying with the Aerway ™ using shatter tines (Figure D & E). 

            Although great for long-term health of the turf, the temporary negative effects of this process are evident for several days.  The shatter tine leaves a 4-5” slit in the turf (Figure F), and the turf is lifted up one side upon exit.  This causes the aerified areas to be bumpy.  We are currently using a pull-behind drum roller to smooth out the tufted areas (Figure G), and over time this practice along with general cart traffic will return the fairways back to normal. 

            Both White Wing and Legacy Hills are scheduled for fairway aerifications in the upcoming weeks. We will continue this (as well as pulling cores) in the future to alleviate our compaction issues.  These practices in conjunction with flushing and fertilizer amendments will help us maintain the best playing conditions over a long period of time.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cart Traffic Control

While out riding the course last week I noticed numerous areas were the 90 Degree rule is not being followed. This results in more wear areas on the course, especially between the cart path and fairways. Due to this heavy type of wear, especially on certain holes, this month we will be starting a rotation of Cart Path Only holes between #1 and #9 at Legacy Hills to help alleviate some of the cart traffic wear on those two holes. Below I have attached a photo taken from just a few yards in front of the tee boxes on #6 at Legacy Hills, as you can see there is a heavy wear pattern that has formed and we will have to install more rope and stakes to remedy this problem. The more areas like this that we have, the more rope and stakes we have to put out on the course. I myself am not a big fan of this and would love to see us use less rope on the course altogether. So please try to use the 90 Degree Rule as much as possible and remind the fellow players in your group as well, it can only help the conditions of the course get better. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Level 3 Mowing Update

Prepared by:
Catrin Dubois
Landscape Superintendent
Sun City Texas Community Association
L3 Mow Update:
The contractor in charge of mowing the fuel breaks behind the property lines is scheduled to start on Monday, June 17th. The mowers will be directed to start in NH 40 and then move to native areas that are heavily shaded ( yes we actually have these in Sun City) and have hardly any wild flowers. Most of our flowers are seeding but some have just started blooming. Cardinal flower and Liatris are a little late this year thanks to the cooler temps in April and spring rain fall.

We anticipate completing all native areas within 40 working days, weather permitting.

Frequently asked questions:

The mowers are mowing high and are not picking up the clippings

The mowing does not look manicured

The crew did not trim dead branches form trees

The scope of work: Mowing height is set at 4” to 6” to protect all native vegetation which are the wild flowers and native grasses. Consistent short mowing of the natives would result in erosion.

A 10’ to 30’ strip behind the homes is mowed to reduce the fuel load in case of a grass fire. Even though so vegetation may look like a fire hazard we evaluate the fuel content. The left behind clippings do not pose a fire hazard to the homes in Sun City.

The contract does not include tree trimming or dead wood removal. The Level 3 common areas are for the most part drainage easements which means they are designed to move run off during rain events. Even though the native areas are referred to as green belts the landscape department considers them fuel breaks and drainage easements.

Large flat areas are mowed with a tractor and shredder attachment and riding mowers are used in the smaller common areas. Sometimes clippings may fall along property lines.

Ornamental items: As per the Sun City CC&Rs no one except the developer or the CA should alter any common areas which includes placing items in the native areas. The mow crews are not liable for any damages to such items as bird baths, plantings, compost bins, gazing balls, benches, bird feeders, bird houses etc that may get damaged during the cutting of the fuel breaks. Please look behind your lot and remove any such items that may have appeared

Wild Life: Fawns are being placed by their mothers in the tall grasses and will stay put until mom returns. The mowing crew is instructed to watch out for baby deer and to skip the area where a deer has been left behind. During heavy drought years we noticed that the native Cotton rats moved closer to residential lots to access available water sources. Expect to see some rodent activity during the mowing efforts. The animals are moving out of the way of the blades and find their way back to the native common areas. Another reason to keep the mowing height at 4” – 6” is the preservation of habitat for reptiles, rodents and ground nesting birds. Snake sightings may also increase during the mowing. Living in Texas one should always be on the lookout for snakes and should be able to recognize the most common non- venomous Texas Rat Snake which can be quite intimidating because of its size but very harmless. Rattlesnake sightings have been reported this Spring and are part of our landscapes. Copperheads have never been sighted in Sun City same as the Cottonmouth. With grandkids visiting please be sure to keep them from exploring the native common areas and remind them to pay special attention while walking the nature trails and to admire snakes from a distance.

Expect weekly email updates from the landscape department in regards to the mow schedule. If you have questions please send an email to catrin.dubois@scteaxs.org and copy your neighborhood rep or the alternate. This way we can speed up communications to the whole neighborhood with the answers.


Course condition update

Over the past few weeks, the golf courses have really started to grow with the warmer weather and the well-timed rains from Mother Nature. During this time of year, we are primarily focused on getting things mowed on a regular basis and addressing the detail items on the course. We know that there are other playability items out there that we need to address at some point, but during the growing season it’s hard to fit those items in at times. Take, for instance, the White Wing greenside bunkers: even after adding the Caylor white sand in to firm them up, we still have some that are very soft. We are going to continue to remove the softer sand and replace it with firmer sand, but it will be an ongoing process that will take time due to the time of year and current staff size. It is an ongoing project that we will continue to improve upon.
Greens Aerification – This month we have started our hollow tine aerification on the greens. Cowan Creek was done last week and White Wing will be done next Monday. Legacy Hills will follow up the week after that. We will be using a ½” coring tine, and the heal time should be about seven to ten days.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

White Wing Tree Trimming #4

The new view from the left fairway bunker on #4 at White Wing.

May 2013 Course Conditions Update

May weather hasn’t been much different than April’s and we have had very few days with combined temperatures in the 150’s. What that equates to is that we still aren’t at the optimal temperatures for Bermuda grass growth. As we all know the tendency in Sun City is that our fairways suffer their most compaction during the winter months when the Bermuda is dormant and not growing. This in turn causes us to have tight lies in the fairway and not all golfers prefer that type of lie. Once we are at a consistent 150 combined temperature we will start to see the fairways grow, get a little “fluffier” and provide easier lies for those who do not care for the tight lies. Often times I hear “we are hitting off dirt” (or sometimes they say concrete) and this not the case. A compacted area of turf is still turf, do we have some spots here and there that are bare, yes, but we continue to identify them and work towards growing them back in or re-sodding them.
The first quarter projects are finished and they included the drainage project on #14 at White Wing, the trimming of the big oak on #6 at Legacy Hills and the seeding and clearing of an area on #8 at White Wing.  Due to the cost being less than expected on the tree trimming on Legacy Hills we will have enough in the budget to address some trees on White Wing that were on our playability list from 2012. 
The Playability committee also met this month and completed the spring tour of White Wing. During this tour we also looked at some of the safety items that were brought up in the Safety Committee’s report from last year.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Legacy Hills Tree Trimming on #6

Below are photos from our recent tree trimming on #6 at Legacy Hills. In the before photo you can see how the tree canopy was touching the ground and made it impossible to hit a golf shot from underneath it. In the after photo you can see that the canopy has been substantially raised to provide a much more playable area.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's a Boy!

Congratulations to Josh Stephen our golf course mechanic at Cowan Creek and his wife, they are celebrating the birth of their newborn son.
Decil Leeman Stephen 8lbs 3oz

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Level 3 Mowing Update

Prepared by:
Catrin Dubois
Landscape Superintendent
The native areas behind the Sun City homes are scheduled to receive mowing 2-3 times a year depending on growth and the seeding of the wild flowers.

This year Mother Nature has decided to add a couple of cold fronts to the Spring mix. What does this mean to our native areas and the mow schedule? Cooler weather will delay the wild flowers. To ensure flowers for the coming years we have to wait until they have had a chance to bloom and go to seed so the timing of the mowings is critical

You have noticed the Bluebonnets and other wild flowers blooming along the highways and native areas. There are numerous flowers that have budded and are about to show their colors.

A couple examples are the Mexican hats, the Cardinal flowers, Cosmos, Indian Blankets, Fire wheels and many others are yet to be seen. Our goal every year is to preserve our wild flower meadows and native grasses that aid in erosion control and wild life habitat while maintaining a fuel brake behind the homes. Right now all native vegetation is green and lush which means it does not carry any fuel content in case of a grass fire in our community. CA staff works closely with the Firewise group to identify fuel load and when to schedule the cutting of the 10’-30’ fuelbrakes.

The cutting of the native areas is solely allocated to reduce of fuel load not aesthetics, weed, varmint or reptile control. Should you decide to mow an additional 5’ strip behind your lot line it would be acceptable at this time. You will receive advance notice through the CA Communicator when the mowers will be on site this year. Right now we anticipate June or July.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 2013 Course Conditions Report

April has been a hit and miss on the weather, one day its sun tan weather and the next day we are in our insulated overalls. The good news is that we’ve had enough warm days for the courses to green up and for the dormancy look of winter to go away. All three courses have applied a bulk fertilizer application and with the recent rains and some warm weather we will be in full mowing mode in the next couple of weeks.

The Legacy Hills bunker project is being wrapped up as I write this and besides some clean-up around the shop area it is all but finished. The only remaining signs of work are on holes #17 and #18 where we still have silt fencing around the bunker surrounds that were sodded. That silt fence will remain there for the next two weeks until the sod is established. If we feel the sod is ready sooner than that we will pull it out before the two week period. Thank you to all of our golfers who have been patient throughout this process.

The first quarter projects that we have in place should wrap up in the next two weeks and extinguish the 30k that was put into the 2013 operating budget for golf course improvements. The tree trimming on #6 may take an additional week depending on the tree company’s schedule.   

The Playability committee also met this month and completed the Spring tour of Cowan Creek.  During this tour we also looked at some of the safety items that were brought up in the Safety Committee’s report from last year. Two notable items were some large drop offs near the bathrooms on #13 and #17 at Cowan Creek which have since been addressed. Next month we will be working on some of the other drop offs next to the paths and fixing them with either DG or with some kind of rock work as we did on hole #11 at White Wing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Legacy Hills Fairway Bunker Renovation Update

Golf Course Maintenance Update

Legacy Hills Bunker Update
The Legacy Hills Bunker Renovation is nearing its end and should be complete by the end of this week without any weather interruptions.
You may notice that, although the bunkers are complete, a number of them that were reshaped still have black silt fencing around them. This fencing was put in to prevent dirt and silt from coming into the new sand while they were being sodded. Once sodded, we have to hand water the sod for a couple of weeks until the sod has had time to take root.
While hand-watering, it is necessary for us to leave this fencing up to help prevent contaminates from washing into the new sand during this time. During this time please play any of the bunkers with silt fencing as ground under repair.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March Course Conditions Report

March 2013 Course Conditions 

March has been a busy month with having contractors on site. The White Wing drainage project went well and did an excellent job of handling a two inch rain last week. The sod needs some warmer weather to establish and until then we will keep that area Ground Under Repair. This project was the first one on the list that we wanted to get done in the first quarter with the $30k in operational dollars set aside for course improvements. The remaining items include the trimming of the large tree on #6 at Legacy Hills and the cleanup and grassing of the area left of #8 at White Wing which will both take place in late April.

The Legacy Hills bunker project has been moving along at a good pace even with the rain interruption last week. The reshaping of the bunkers on #3 turned out great and the contractor is currently reshaping the bunkers on #5 and should be done this week.

While all of the work on the courses is keeping us busy we are still working on our Audubon Certification for the three courses. The Superintendents and I are meeting once a week to work on the certification. The environmental plan portion has been finished which puts us about 10% complete.  Also, Jon and myself are working toward our CGCS certification and have started the portfolio process.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Golf Course Maintenance Update

White Wing
We have completed all of the drainage project on #14 at White Wing and we are currently working to get it established. The area will remain ground under repair for the next couple of months until the warmer weather arrives and the grass has had a chance to establish.

Legacy Hills Fairway Bunker Renovation
We are moving into the third week of the Legacy Hills Bunker fairway bunker renovation and things are moving along as planned. We continue to work on the front nine and the re-shaping of the bunkers on #3 has been completed. Currently the bunkers on #5 are being done and should be completed this week. Now that shaping and the larger bunkers have been addressed on the front nine the project should speed up.

During this time period all of the Fairway bunkers at Legacy Hills should be considered GROUND UNDER REPAIR. This will help minimize any confusion as to what or what has not has been disturbed or worked on by either the contractor or golf course maintenance.

**Remember, please take caution while the contractor is working on the bunkers and allow them to continue their work so that we can get through this project as quickly as possible. If they are in your line of flight please take the nearest relief no closer to the hole to take your shot.

We will be keeping the communicator and Blog updated on the progress of this project over the next few weeks.

Don’t forget to keep up with the Golf Course Maintenance. Blog at www.sctxgcmaint.blogspot.com




Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Legacy Hills Fairway Bunker Renovation

Legacy Hills Fairway Bunker Renovation               

The Legacy Hills Bunker fairway bunker renovation has started this week and will take place over the next month and half depending on weather delays. We have started on the front nine moving backwards and are currently just removing the old material and checking drainage before installing anything new.
Once the front nine is complete we will move on to the back nine and repeat the process. 

Please take caution while the contractor is working on the bunkers and allow them to continue their work so that we can get through this project as quickly as possible. If they are in your line of flight please take the nearest relief no closer to the hole to take your shot. 

During this time period all of the Fairway bunkers at Legacy Hills should be considered GROUND UNDER REPAIR. This will help minimize any confusion as to what or what has not has been disturbed or worked on by either the contractor or golf course maintenance.  

We will be keeping the communicator and Blog updated on the progress of this project over the next few weeks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

White Wing Drainage Project Update

White Wing #14 Drainage Project Update
 Submitted by: Jonathan Ayers, Supt. White Wing Golf Club

The drainage project on number 14 is well under way and we are very excited to see the finished project. As you know this area has been troublesome for quite some time. The water backs up and swirls on the creek side of the fairway eroding and cutting soil away from the fairway. Also the silt and debris has been building up around both sides of the cart path and water sits for some time after each rain event under the trees and across the fairway in that area.

Before picture showing silt and water collecting in low area.

The project is including a large catch basin and two 10” drainage lines to collect water and divert it underneath the fairway and into the creek. The silt and debris from both sides of the cart path will be cleaned out and taken back down to a grade to allow drainage away from this area and into the catch basin.

This a during picture showing the new catch basin and two 10 inch lines heading toward creek.

At the end of the drainage pipe near the creek a large splash pad and retaining wall will be built. The wall will be approximately 10 feet across and angled toward the creek to minimize the ability of the water during a flood to start eroding the bank back toward the fairway up the drainage line.

This a picture of the excavating near the end of the drainage where the new wall and splash pad will be built.

With no detrimental weather and good quality work days this should be wrapped up in roughly one more week.




Thursday, January 31, 2013

Attacking our Problems from Top to Bottom

Attacking our Problems From Top to Bottom
Prepared by Craig Loving
 Superintendent, Cowan Creek

​Hopefully by now everyone has somewhat of an idea of why we perform many of the cultural practices needed to promote long-term healthy greens surfaces. There’s no question that these practices are temporary inconveniences to golfers. But without periodic aerifications, topdressing applications, and verticutting, the greens would fail and we would be switching to artificial turf or putting on dirt. There are multiple benefits for these “destructive” techniques (decreasing compaction, removing thatch, decreasing grain, displacing soil), but the primary goal is to promote air and water movement through the soil profile. Just like us, the greens need to breathe…

​So what happens when we perform all these tasks successfully but we still have substantial turf loss in certain areas? The spring of 2012 helped us discover literally an underlying issue in many areas of the greens at Cowan Creek. Crushed/cut drainage pipe and improperly constructed drainage systems will eventually only take you so far before your greens fail, which we saw early last year. The good news is, we are well on our way to alleviate these problems. The following paragraphs will further discuss the current issues we are facing and how we are addressing these problems from the bottom-up.

​Needless to say, we were scratching our heads last year when #6 green struggled through the spring and we had to re-sod over 1,000 square feet of the green. The green gets full sunlight throughout the day, there is plenty of airflow across the green’s surface, and all of the cultural practices were sound. We did some digging around to find that the original drainage pipe was cut during construction to allow room for irrigation pipe. This issue has since been fixed, and the failing of this green served as a catalyst for an overall drainage inspection. We went to other greens with weakened turf (#9, #7, #13, #4, #2, #5, etc) and we found these additional problems: the pea gravel layer in some drainage systems was 23” deep, the drainage outfalls were not on a sufficient slope to allow water to flow out of the pipe, and the drainage pipe daylighted into dirt and brush. All of these factors keep water and anaerobic gases locked in, which in turn attributed to poorly performing greens surfaces.

​It took several years for all of these factors to catch up with us, but over time the sub-surface conditions gradually became bad enough for substantial turf loss. No matter what we did culturally from the top, we still weren’t getting positive results. Our solution to this problem was to promote sub-surface airflow up through the soil profile by blowing air into the existing drainage pipe.

Most greens drain differently with respect to the slope of the green and surrounding areas. The above diagram is representative to what we found on #9 green. The drain leaves the green from one pipe on the left side of the green. We installed a 4-way and knife valve so we could isolate the drainage system and inject air into it using a backpack blower.

​As the air enters the pipe, the knife valve restricts airflow from leaving the drainage system so the air blows through the pipe and into the gravel layer. After the air completely fills the pore space in the gravel layer it is evenly distributed up through the rootzone.

Figure A is a photo of one of our backpack blowers set up. It takes less than 2 minutes to close the knife valve, set the stand up, and put the backpack blower in place. We generally run one full tank of gas on each green 1-2 times a week, and we typically run the blowers in the morning in front of play. Figure B is a photo of what the 4-way pipe and knife valve look like in the soil.

​The ultimate goal of this practice is to create a well-aerated soil profile that promotes healthy populations of aerobic soil microbes, which serve multiple roles for plant health. On the contrary, without sufficient air and water movement through the soil, anaerobic microbes can have a detrimental effect on plant growth. In poorly drained soils, anaerobic microbes can reduce sulfur to hydrogen sulfide (H2S) which produces black layers that are toxic to the plant. We have seen such black layers in plugs taken from weak areas on the green.

​With the implementation of our makeshift sub-surface airflow practice as well as our current cultural practices, the greens should return performing to their potential. Fixing improperly installed drainage systems is an ongoing and painstaking process, but we are making significant progress weekly. We have now fixed the drainage on #6 green, and we have set up #5, #7, #9, #11, and #13 with 4-ways and knife valves for injecting air. We are optimistic that by attacking our problems from top to bottom, we should transition into the growing season with much better results than in years past.



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cowan Creek Driving Range Repairs

In the fall of 2010 we had a large rain event causing a large amount of flooding on the golf courses. One of the largest areas impacted by this flooding was the bottom of the landing area on the Cowan Creek driving range. As you can see from the photo below it caused some major erosion in the areas between the target greens which in turn made it difficult when the range balls needed to be collected.
This past Monday with the effort of the combined maintenance staffs we were able to address the larger areas that needed the most attention. The areas were leveled out with topsoil and then sodded with 419 Bermuda grass. The sod was then tacked down with turf staples to prevent any washouts during the time it will take the sod to take root.

Monday, January 21, 2013

White Wing Greenside Bunker Sand Modification

The introduction of new sand into the White Wing greenside bunkers started today. Over the past couple of months we had been removing a few inches of the Sure Play sand from the bunkers so that we could incorporate another sand (Caylor White) into the bunkers. The Caylor White compacts easier than the Sure Play sand which in time will improve the overall playability of the bunkers. Initially the sand will be soft and may appear that nothing has changed, this is not the case. With all new sand installs there is a period in which the sand seems to be "fluffy" but with daily bunker maintenance it will soon start to firm up.

Below you can see that the sand removed from the bunkers was then used to topdress different areas of the fairways. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cowan Creek #6 Drainage Project

Now that the holidays have passed and we are back on our closure rotation we started the year off with a much needed drainage project on #6 at Cowan Creek. The area that is located left of the 150 yard marker running toward the center of the fairway on that hole stayed continually wet even from normal irrigation and even more so after a rain event. On Monday the combined maintenance staff went in and dug a new drain line by hand. This type of work can usually be accomplished with a trencher must faster but the end result is much messier. By completing the work by hand we are able to do a much neater job which results in a faster heal time and is better from a playability stand point. Below is a picture of the finished project which consisted of 180 feet of new drainage.