Thursday, September 3, 2015

2015 August Course Conditions

We have completed all of our large core aerifications of the year on greens and are looking forward to excellent greens conditions throughout the remainder of the growing season moving into fall. The biggest challenge that we have right now are the Cowan Creek fairways and getting them back in shape and returning to 90 degrees. Below is a summary of everything we have done since losing our water supply due to the non-potable water line break under Sun City Blvd.
Cowan Creek Recovery Maintenance Plan
            As you may know, the broken pipe that fed White Wing and Cowan Creek’s irrigation pond has taken its toll on the Cowan Creek fairway’s and rough.  Both courses went 10 full days without irrigation on all areas except greens and tees.  The following paragraphs will hopefully answer some common questions, including what we’ve been doing and what is planned to achieve full recovery.


  • 7/17/15 – Pipe broken, water shut off
  • 7/21/15 – sprayed green surrounds with a wetting agent and micronutrient fertilizer
  • 7/27/15 – Pipe repaired, irrigation turned back on
  • 7/28/15 – sprayed wetting agent on fairways, roughs, green surrounds
  • 8/1-8/5 – watered maximum flow (1800 gpm) throughout course, 18 hours per day
  • 8/3/15 – fertilized fairways with Helena Fairway Program (Coron 25-0-0, Nucleus 0-0-25, Axilo Magnesium, Axilo Micronutrients)
  • 8/8, 8/9, 8/11-8/13/15 – watered maximum flow in needed areas, using local control boxes on individual holes
  • 8/12/15 – fertilized fairways with Helena Fairway Program (Coron 25-0-0, Nucleus 0-0-25, Axilo Magnesium, Axilo Micronutrients)
  • 8/13/15 – began fertilizing fairways with granular HydraHume organic fertilizer (humic acid)
  • 8/19/15 – fertilized weak areas with 21-0-0 ammonium sulfate
            The wetting agents we use aid in water retention in the soil.  The fertilizer program we implemented should increase recovery time, as well as load the soil with nutrients for the long-term.  Maximum flow refers to the amount of water we can put out at one time without losing pressure.  For Cowan Creek, 1800 gallons per minute is generally the maximum amount of flow, which ranges from 60-90 irrigation heads at a time. 

Why did White Wing recover so much faster?

            There is a vast difference in soil types between Cowan Creek and White Wing (in fairways and rough).  Cowan Creek was built on straight sand and hasn’t had enough time to mature and build up organic matter within the soil.  This causes the soil to dry out much faster than more mature, clay or silt-based soil.  White Wing’s soil is more clay-based, which has a much greater ability to retain moisture over long periods of time. 

When will it not be “Cart Path Only” at Cowan?

            Every hole has shown improvement over the past three weeks under the current irrigation and fertility program.  However, there are currently only a few holes that are almost completely covered.  Over the next week and moving forward we will assess individual holes to see if they are ready for cart traffic, but we don’t plan on allowing access to areas that are still recovering.  One of the most helpful factors to recovery this time of year is keeping traffic off our weak areas. 

Why is it taking so long?

            A majority of the areas in the fairways and rough that dried out and lost their color went into summer dormancy.  Similar to the winter months, the plant shuts down and focuses its energy on storing carbohydrates in the roots.  When we began watering again, this triggered the plant to “wake up” and focus its energy back to growth.  However, some of the areas on the course went beyond dormancy, and there are some areas on the golf course where the grass completely died. 

What is the plan to recover these areas?

            We are treating these areas as a “grow in”, which will require more time and a lot of effort to grow new grass where there is little.  Higher fertility, ample water, and aerifications (to open up pore space) will factor in on how quickly they recover.  This will be an ongoing process as the growing season continues and ends, at which point we will know what our plan of attack will be for the spring. 

            With the current fertility, irrigation, and cultural programs we’ve implemented to expedite recovery, time is still the greatest factor on the road to recovery.  The photos below will display what recovery we have achieved over time.  Over time, the healthy grass bordering areas of dead grass will grow laterally and reduce the size of the dead areas until they are completely gone.
The following procedures began Wednesday, July 29, 2015. The greenside bunkers being the main priority.
·         The bunkers are inspected every morning by the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent at each course.
·         We have ordered new trap rakes that will be delivered prior to Aug. 21st 2015 and this will help with any grooves left in the sand.
·         Each Course will have a staff member assigned to working on bunkers throughout each day. Their job will be to check depths, repair or remove liners and insure proper raking. This staff member will start after their first job assignment has been completed each morning. They will have rakes, shovels and all necessary equipment with them to address any deficiencies in bunker maintenance. This will take place daily until further notice.  
We are reviewing and revising our training of equipment operators in proper bunker care and educating as to what is the acceptable standards required. 
Cowan Creek – The fairway bunkers still have the original bunker liners that have been failing over the past two – three years. They are slowly being addressed by staff but the majority of the bunker refurbishment will be done this fall.
White Wing – We will continue to distribute one load of sand (22 tons) to the green side bunkers every week moving forward until we feel all adequate depths are being reached.
Legacy Hills – We are on the same daily schedule as the other two courses.

USGA Tracking
The tracking is going well and we’ve completed the first round at White Wing and Legacy Hills. Below are screen shot photos taken from hole #4 at White Wing to give you an idea of what the tracks look like once they are laid over Google Earth Pro.