Sunday, June 11, 2017

Course Notes, 6/11/17


Talk about feast to famine.  A month ago, we received over 6.5" of rain at the golf course.  We have not had any measurable precipitation since May 28, quite telling by how our non-irrigated areas are starting to look.  A large thank you to those who came out to the Master Improvement Plan educational session last Tuesday, and for those of you interested, we have 2 additional ones this Tuesday, at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m.  Shawn Smith and Steve Forrest from Hills/Forrest will be here to answer any questions about the Master Improvement Plan that you may have.




4" rooting on greens.  A good thing heading into summer!
The summer's first dome of heat has arrived, and is bringing some high humidity values with it.  While rooting is at a tremendous level currently thanks to great growing conditions and a solid agronomic plan, in these cases we have to temporarily play defense in managing the fine playing surfaces so that they can survive until more temperate growing conditions return.  Our sprayers have been quite busy applying plant protectants to help fine turf ward off any potential fungal diseases from developing.  Managing water applications is critical during these stretches, and we have been leaning on the drier side when it comes to irrigation.  It may seem counter-intuitive restricting irrigation during a heat wave, but wetter soils can create a better environment for diseases to develop, while reducing the amount of root density in the turf.  Hand-watering hot spots and syringing greens in the afternoons is also critical for survival.  The USGA has produced a great video on water management, which you can view here.  Our staff will be out and about each afternoon watching conditions, and while we do not intend to disrupt your round, please use caution if a staff member is syringing on the hole you are playing.  This quite necessary procedure only takes a couple of minutes to complete and as soon as they are able, they will vacate the area so that you may resume your round.

Localized dry spot on 16 fairway
Plant protectants applied in anticipation of first heat









If these above normal temperatures and humidity continue, other defensive measures may be necessary to allow the turf to survive until seasonable conditions return.  One example of that would be raising heights of cut slightly (.005").  This allows the plant to generate additional leaf tissue to produce the energy it needs to survive.  While defensive measures can lead to slower conditions, rest assured these measures are done to protect the turf though the tough stretches and allow us to return to normal maintenance when the weather allows us to.

Part of Zimm's Creek is now a lateral water hazard
The other change you may have noticed is a change in hazard marking along the lateral part of Zimm's Creek, right of 15 green.  The Golf/Greens Committee has decided that area is better defined as a lateral water hazard (red), based on the interpretation of the Rules of Golf.  The part of the creek running perpendicular to the green, and the pond will continue to play as a regular (yellow) water hazard.  For a more in-depth explanation of the definitions and how to play the ball if it enters these hazards, here is a link to the Rules of Golf explaining these.

Finally, I have some sad news to pass on.  One of our long time staff members, Rachael Garrett, passed away this past Tuesday.  Rachael served Elcona for 28 years and was a beloved member of our staff.  She enjoyed being out each day here among the members and beautiful scenery, and will be missed greatly.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com, or stop me when you see me out on the golf course.  Enjoy the week and stay cool!

Ryan


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Course Notes, 5/30/17



Compared to a typical May, 2017’s version was colder, wetter, and busier than normal (the latter being a good thing!).  Our staff is doing a wonderful job with projects, both on and off the golf course.  Here is a quick recap of our observations and activities in the last month:

A low of 28 on May 8th
Orange tinge to fairway turf
Close up of 17 fairway turf showing tip burn/old leaves
The cold weather in early May (including morning lows below 30 degrees on May 5th and 8th) was not a welcome sight for the turfgrass in the fairways and green surrounds.  Many of you have asked me about the orange tinge you saw when looking at a fairway from afar, while it looked green when on the fairway.  The pictures of 17 fairway close up showed the orange is actually the tips of the leaf blades and the old leaf blades, with greener, healthier turf growing below.  The variety of bentgrass we have in our fairways is an older variety that is quite susceptible to cold temperatures.  The two freezes we had earlier in the month stunted the turf’s growth, and would not push new growth until more consistent warmer weather returned, which in the last few days has.  Green surrounds have finally shown growth and have received their 2nd fertility application to provide consistent food for the next 90 days.

The staff also has concentrated on detail work in the bunkers and tees.  We rented a plate compactor to further firm up bunkers that have had new sand installed within the last 2 years, and sifted through the sand to remove as many rocks as possible.  It continues to amaze me the amount of rocks that consistently make their way up from the subsoil to the surface through washouts, frost heaving in the winter, and maintenance practices.  Four 5 gallon pails were removed on the bunkers on holes 7 and 16 alone.  Removal of these impediments will continue to be a priority for our staff.  Tees were verticut last week to remove excess growth and thatch. We will continue to work on firming up these playing surfaces.
Plate compacting bunker edges
Tees after verticut and regular mow

Rocks removed from 1 bunker on 7
Lots of material removed from tees!

Finished bunker on 5
The Fiesta Hut project is completed and I couldn't be happier on the resulting product.  With the wet weather, our concrete contractor has fallen a bit behind on his work and as soon as he can, they will be out to finish patching the walkway around the new stone wall. When you see him, please thank Greg Stump for his efforts on this project, and his other transformations around Elcona.  He is currently in full planting mode, adding tremendous color to the Elcona landscape.


Finally, NiBlock was out earlier in the month to refurbish the cart paths in the woods, 7,11, and Halfway House, and did a wonderful job.  The staff is currently planting grass seed and landscaping around the Halfway House, and as course needs allow, we will be adding soil and seed to the shoulder areas that need raised up.





If you have any questions, please contact me at ryan@elconacc.com.  Thank you, and I will see you out on the golf course!


Ryan

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cart Path Paving


Today, tomorrow, and possibly Thursday, NiBlock will be out paving cart paths in the following locations:

4 Green, 5 Tee, 6 Green, 7 Tee, 7 Green, 11, 16 Green, and around the new Halfway House.

If during the course of your round you encounter fresh asphalt in these areas, please stay off of the paths.  Please drive around 8 Green to access 11 Tee.

Also, their crew is aware that the course is open for play while they are out here.  However, please be aware that they cannot move easily out of the field of play and you may have to wait or skip an area if they are working in the area.

I thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation in this matter.  When finished, these paths will be a great improvement to the golf course and your enjoyment of it.  If you have any questions, please let me know at ryan@elconacc.com.  Thanks, and I will see you out on the course!

Ryan

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Course Notes, 4/30/2017

We continue to have great golfing weather for early Spring.  Drier conditions have lead to some nice firm conditions on greens and fairways.  Our staff continue to build in numbers and we have been able to knock out many of our task list for the Spring.   Aerification has come and gone with quick healing and deeper rooting that will benefit the turf when the dog days of summer hit later this year.



Work continues on the Fiesta Hut area.  The staff and I have created the rough grades for the base material that the wall stone will sit on.  Over the course of the next week we will be laying and compacting a 4" layer of gravel as a stone base, and beginning the transformation from empty area to a wall matching the look of the Terrace.  Stay tuned for more updates!



Finally, as part of our Audubon community outreach program, Elcona hosted 120 7th graders from Northridge Middle School for an afternoon of learning on the course, and about the game of golf. This field trip was under the umbrella of The First Green program, which incorporates STEM (science, engineering, math, and technology) learning modules out on the course.  

Each student experienced 6 learning stations:  A geo-caching activity on our trail system (think scavenger hunt with coordinates), an obstacle course meant to simulate the obstacles salmon experience when making their run to spawn, 2 golf stations at the practice facility, a station learning about soils and our rain garden, and a station at 17 green learning how to measure its area.

For many of the staff and students, it was their first time ever setting foot on a golf course, which is what I like so much about this program.  The exposure to a fantastic golf facility and to learn real-life applications to what they are learning about in school are hopefully great memories that will stay with them for life and spark an interest in taking up the game of golf.  The faculty and students were quite impressed with Elcona and its facilities, so much so that we have dates for another visit this coming fall.

If you would like more information on The First Green program, visit www.thefirstgreen.org.  If you have any questions, email me at ryan@elconacc.com.  Have a great week and I'll see you out on the course!