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.
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.