Monday, November 15, 2010

Course Close, First Snow

( 2010_11_15 - First snow cover #4 green )

And the season has come to a screeching halt, 8-9 inches of snow will do that I suppose. I left on Friday afternoon thinking  Monday morning would be a good day for some pictures and updates on the projects and course as we head into winter. Well, I can show you winter, and that is about all. There is not 8 inches of snow on the course, but there is at least a few still. The heavy wet snow did provide some great moisture for all the new sod we just put down. The total for the current project was over 5,000 yards, some regular height rough grass and some 1.25" premium blue.

We had everything pretty well done before this first snow volley hit. Tee markers and some odds-n-ends supplies are still being picked up today, but for the most part that is it. All the chemical applications were finished up on Friday, and that is usually the most important thing going into winter. We did not get any covers down on the greens. We have enough covers left for about a half dozen greens to be covered, the same number as last winter. As many of you know we have been phasing out green covers over the last 5 years, so to possibly not have anything covered this winter is just an acceleration of the plan in place. When I started there were 14 greens covered, over the years as the mats have deteriorated we have not replaced them and are down to about 6 greens worth of covers.

Some of the things we have done over the years to strengthen the plant and protect the turf going into winter that will not be covered has been: fall foliar fertilizers high in potassium which helps harden off the plant for the winter months and a thicker sand topdressing which helps in protecting the crown of the plant. This winter we had planned to use a turf paint which would help protect against desiccation if there is little snow cover and spring green due to heating of the plants with the dark green color. So far it is something that golf courses in the area have just started to experiment with, and we had planned to do our own experiment with it this winter.

I still think we will have an opportunity to get some covers down and even some turf paint, but if we don't I am not overly concerned. Thanks to everyone for a great 2010 season! Let's hope for a good winter and a better 2011 season.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Renovations Underway

( 2010_10_15 - Approach work #7 )

The renovation work began last week on holes 4,7, & 8. A complete renovation of the teeing areas on 4 and 8, plus the bunker renovation and approach grading on 7. Because of the amount of soil we needed to properly rebuild the 4th tee and renovate the bunkers on #7, we chose to re-grade the approach area on #7. This allowed us to properly surface drain the area and open up the site-line along the left side of the hole.

(2010_10_20 - Approach work #7 after grading )

Though the pictures do not do it real justice, you can now stand back at the fairway bunker and see the rebuilt greenside  bunker and left edge of the green. The majority of the water will surface drain off to the left, and we were able to make renovating the fairway bunker on 18 very cost effective due to the soil we could generate from the approach area. The bunker on 18 has no soil to work with and everything has to be hauled in, not too mention it requires a lot of soil to do properly.

(2010_10_20 - Renovations on hole #7 )

So all in all we have another week or so of renovation work. And then it is almost November and irrigation blow-out, snow-mold chemical applications, and greens covers will be on the agenda. Oh yeah, we also have a bunch of tree trimming planned as usual.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

After The Championship

( 2010_08_29 - Looking back on hole 5 )

Congratulations to all the winners this past weekend, we had a great turn out for the entire 2010 Club Championship. Last I heard there were around 195 total players from Wednesday through Sunday, pretty cool if you ask me. I want to thank my staff for a super job getting the course prepped for our biggest event of the year. We had great weather to get the place a little firm and keep the speed up. A lot of people asked me how fast the greens were, we stimped them both days around 6:30am and were able to keep them right around 11. To put that in perspective, we have been able to hold around a 10 most of the summer and rarely fell below the 9.5 mark. USGA Stimpmeter Information for those unfamiliar with what the numbers mean and how it is measured. The other thing we were able to do thanks to my staff was mow all the fine turf areas every morning from Wednesday through Sunday, this kept the golf course in top shape throughout the entire event. I really hope everyone enjoyed a great tournament...

So now that the tourney is over we will start some of the normal end-of-summer practices. Fairways and tees will be aerified soon, and this year we will just be aerifying collars around the greens because of the MGA Tournament being held at IVGC on September 27 & 28. This will most likely push us to do our normal core aerification on greens next spring and then I am considering a deep tine aerification in the fall. As usual though, we will do everything we can to keep the disruption to play at an absolute minimum. 

Also this fall, early October, Hartman Companies will be out renovating the bunkers and approach on hole #7, the tee on #8, and the tee on #4. This plan is to tier the tee box on #8 so there are two distinct teeing surfaces, and make the tee on #4 much larger while re-aligning it with the hole. The space between the two holes will be decreased to about half the size and planted with perennial grasses as a buffer between. The left fairway bunker on 7 will be renovated in its current location while the right fairway bunkers will be filled in and a new bunker will be placed near the 100 yard stake. The green side bunker on 7 will be brought around the front corner a little and built up in the back for better visibility. There is a chance that 18 fairway bunker will also be renovated at that time, but that project is currently on a wait-and-see.

I know things start to slow down around the course once school starts, but I hope everyone can keep on coming out. There is a lot of great golf weather ahead of us.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Casual Water

Here are some snapshots from the golf course this morning. Needless to say, 3.25" of rain is going to take a little while to drain. Adding the 2" from Tuesday it brings us up to a nice 5.25" in 3 days, not bad...
2010_08_11 - Flooding on #6

2010_08_13 - Flooding on #10

2010_08_13 - Flooding on #14

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Little Damage, A Little Disease

( 2010_07_29 - #17 Green Showing Damage/Disease )

The heat and humidity have began to take its toll in a few places. Our main issues have been with the fairways, though they have been minor and have even started to show signs of healing. Our teeing surfaces are not so much disease ridden as they are divot ridden. We struggle with some of them because of the size, that being too small for many of them, the par 3 tees on #4 and #16 being the worst. We do topdress and seed throughout the season to try and keep as much turf on them as we can, and not just by filling divots but using the topdresser and broadcasting seed. For the most part the other tees are in good shape and are not much of a issue.

The greens on the course have been in super shape for most of the season. Until recently we have had little to no issues with the turf, and that includes the notorious spots on #8 and #16. But a couple weeks ago we started to see some disease pop up on a few of them. Anthracnose being the main problem, and this is nothing new since it has occurred almost every year that I have been at IVGC. We are on a preventative chemical program for our greens, which means we are spraying fungicides on about a 14 day interval for most of the summer. Even with that schedule we can still get disease, it just shows you how tenacious some of the turf pathogens can be. There are also other factors that make the turf more susceptible, other then temps and humidity: low mowing, lean fertilizer program, and irrigation/drainage problems are a few. And on top of the disease issues we also had some mechanical damage caused by our riding greens mower and turf groomers. The height of cut was too low for the tri-plex to provide a good quality cut and the turf groomers were down, this tufted up some of the softer/spongy areas on our greens and scalped them out a little.

So what are we doing about it? We continue to stay on a regular topdressing program, a light layer of sand every 14 days on our greens. I have bumped up the fertilizer rate a small amount to give the turf a little extra growing power. We have raised the height of cut back to our normal 0.125" and added a extra rolling or two during the week. And we are looking into a verticutting program along with the topdressings which should aid in firming up those softer spots more so then just the topdressing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How Much Peat? Or Organic Matter for that matter...

( 2010_07_19 - Soil Boring #14 Approach )

In an effort to better understand what kind of soil structure, or lack there of, we did some soil borings on #14 approach today. With the pond banks collapsing, the bunkers in need of renovation, and the approach a rolly-polly expanse, the greens committee is starting the planning process for what will take place over the next couple of years. The amount of organic matter, specifically peat, has always been in question in that area. And with renovation plans beginning we needed to get a handle on what exactly we are dealing with in the area.

( 2010_07_19 - Soil Boring on #14 Approach )

From the looks of things as the cores were coming out, we are not in a situation where we will need to excavate any substantial peat. The soil profile appeared to be made up of about 4 feet soil & peat, then about 2-3 feet very sloppy wet gray clay, and then down to the boring depth of 20 feet it was generic looking clay. Braun Intertec will be compiling a report on the profile and getting that back to us. With that general knowledge we should be able to come up with a pretty good game plan for renovation of the general area. It's nice to know we don't need to dig up 15 feet of junk and then fill it all back in with some proper soils for good growing conditions. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Watering da Turf

( 2010_07_16 - Watering #10 Green )

Over the last month we have had some irrigation issues. Four weeks ago we had one of the main irrigation motors go down and it had to be replaced. We have been running at about half capacity until a week ago, when we installed the new motor and got everything back up and running at 100%. The last few days we have had more issues with low pressure shut downs and the pump house not being able to handle the load. We have tweaked the settings in the computer that controls the irrigation and hopefully have it under control now. Tomorrow morning will give us our answer, if everything runs and there are no more shutdowns then we should be in good shape to finish out the year. We will be updating the wet-well intake in the irrigation pond on #13/14 this winter after we shut the system down. Currently the screen and location of the intake is causing the majority of our problems with the motors and pumps. I would do it now but we would be a week or so without any irrigation water since we would have to drain the pond to do the work. Not to mention digging out firm muck is much easier then slopping out the wet stuff and hauling it away.

The irrigation issues have resulted in some unsightly turf in a few fairways. The annual bluegrass has not taken to being dried out very well. We usually try and walk the fine line of dry but not dry enough to damage the turf. With the night watering not working 100% and day watering only amounting to so much, we have had some poa annua decide enough is enough and die out. The nice thing is we can start cultivating those small patches and try to encourage some good bluegrass, but it is a bit unsightly. Overall it should not effect play too much and things should rebound quickly as we get more water on it and the weather cools a little. The poa annua doesn't really like 90 degree temps with high humidity for any length of time...

I hope everyone has a good weekend and has a chance to get out and play a little bit.

( 2010_07_16 - A View of #5 Green/Approach )

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where Does The Time Go?

It's been a couple of months, yikes! We have been tackling so many little jobs around the golf course that it has been very easy to get sidetracked. To say the least, I have been sidetracked away from my blog.

During the last couple of months we have been tidying up a lot of loose ends around the golf course. There were a few drainage issues on #1, #14, and #17. There are a number of irrigation heads that have been re-leveled, and a fair number more to go. The staff has been spending time cleaning up bunker edges and adding sand to many of the older ones. We renovated the planting area next to the first tee, and removed the large steel bag rack. The driving range received some much needed attention, and though it is more of a band-aid for the time being, it looks much better then it did. The guys have continued tree trimming, and removed a damaged ash tree next to the second green which also allows for a much better view/shot for the first hole. The latest tree trimming was done on hole twelve. Here is the before and after pictures from that.

It might not appear to be much, the first picture does not really show up well, but the one tree in front of the fairway bunkers has been drastically trimmed to open the left side of the fairway. I was concerned with the amount of trimming required that the tree would not look good at all, but it actually is not too bad. We will evaluate it over the next couple of weeks and make a final determination on whether it stays or is removed completely.

Monday, May 24, 2010

No Joy Ride Here

( 2010_05_24 Vehicle Damage #9 Green )

Apparently some idiot(s) thought it would be fun to drive on the golf course sometime early this morning. Thankfully there is only some minor repair work needed on the ninth green from the vehicle turning on it. They also drove across the second green but in pretty much a straight line so there is no damage, just tire tracks. They entered the course off of Island View Road onto #3, drive on #9 green then across #2 green, and then around #1 tee and ended up exiting the course the same place they came in along #3. It is obvious morons who do this kind of thing have no clue as to what it would cost to repair any major damage, not too mention any course downtime they could be held accountable for. A rough estimate to rebuild a green from the ground up is over $30,000, and that is just for the construction and materials. That estimate does not take into account the loss of revenue while construction is going on and growing in is taking place... The current damage is not much different then the snowmobile damage we had a couple of years ago on the green. We had to strip out about 30' of turf and will be topdressing and rolling the tracks to get the green back into shape quickly. On another note...

( 2010_05_24 Aerifying the collar on #2 green )

We are aerifying the collars today, using 5/8" coring tines. The disruption to play should be minimal, cleaning up right behind the aerifier, topdressing, and dragging. We have done this the last couple of years and the amount of dry spots and turf issues on our collars has decreased substantially. It has helped us greatly improve the turf quality on some of the poorer collars we have had.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Ropes Are Down

( 2010_05_12 - Hole #13 from the white tees )

Hole 13 has officially opened for play. For the most part the fairway turf is in great shape and has filled in very nicely this spring. There are still a few thin spots but once the temps really start to warm up they should fill in quickly. Until further notice, it is cart path only for the hole with no exceptions. At least for the next couple of weeks we will be following that policy, and then re-evaluate.

( 2010_05_12 - Hole 13 from the red tees)

Please obey the signage and keep the cart traffic off the grass. Also, don't forget to grab a seed bottle when you grab your club to go take your next shot. We will continue to do some seeding and topdressing in the thinner spots, but with some warm weather the turf will really start to fill in on its own.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hole 13 Update

( 2010_04_19 - Hole #13 from the White Tee )

Hole 13 is shaping up very nicely. The cut on it today really shows the definition and contrast between the rough cut and the fairway cut. The fertilizer has really got the grass going so it will be on a regular mowing routine from here on out it looks like. There are some thinner areas, we will be seeding them in some fashion over the next few days. We are also planning on getting some seed worked into the poor fairway spots that we have on #3, 14, & 17. The weather has done nothing but cooperate for getting 13 going strong out of winter, and I am very optimistic we will be playing on it sooner then projected. Just so you know, June 1st was the projected date. Obviously it is a day by day decision, but by May 1st we should have a pretty good handle on a projected opening...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A New View

( 2010_04_13 - Hole #18 )

A new look from the eighteenth tee will greet you on your next visit to the club. In an effort to make the hole more playable the two trees on the right side of the fairway nearest the tee have been removed. This greatly improves the ability to reach the right side of the fairway and not get caught up to find yourself with a 200 yard shot up hill to the green. As part of the next phase of the bunker renovation project, the bunker on 18 will be getting a makeover. This means it will be brought up to style with the other bunkers and also be brought into the fairway a little more to take it out of the tree line on the left side. The removal of the trees not only makes the hole much more playable now, but with the changes it will continue to keep the hole more playable for us average golfers.

You will also notice that we have removed the bag rack near the putting green. It was seldom used and created a traffic issue that funneled players to and from the putting green to the first tee. This should help improve movement and also turf conditions in the area. We are also in the planning stages for the new flower bed that we created when we took out all the old Juniper shrubs next to the starter shack, new shrubs for a hedge to block the loading area to the lower part of the clubhouse, and shrubs to replace the overgrown Amur Maples to the right of the first tee.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Greening Up

( 2010_04_04 - Hole #6 )

Things have definitely greened up over the last week to two weeks. Leaves are even starting to emerge on some trees. There is no question that things are a little ahead of schedule this year, and that is a great thing.

Over the next couple of weeks we will be making it around to the few damaged spots we had in some fairways and the 16th green. Roughing them up and getting some seed and soil mix worked into them. To continue the theme of natural stone work we will be removing the wooden steps on the second tee and replacing them with ones like 9 and 16. We will also be doing some work around 16 with the cart path near the green and some drainage at the bottom of the hill. We have started the bunker cleanup and edging, taking notes on ones that need some sand added, and cleaning up the grass faces that have accumulated sand over the last season. The old style bunkers did not have a lot of that problem associated with them. With the newer bunkers and the high grass slopes we are realizing we need to do a little more maintenance to keep the turf in good shape. We are putting together a game plan and will have it worked into our normal routine shortly so we can keep the grass slopes in those problem areas in tip top shape.

The thirteenth fairway is coming along nicely. It has been mowed once and fertilized all ready. You can now see what the tentative idea for fairway and rough cuts are. There will be an intermediate cut also, like most other holes on the course. With the fertilizer and mowing, once things warm up, it should really take off and start filling in. Stay tuned...

Friday, April 2, 2010

First Full Mowing 2010

( 2010_04_01 - Mowing #8 fairway )
No April fools joke yesterday, we mowed fairways, approaches, collars, and tees for the first time this season. It really is something having weather like this April 1st, it is probably 3 weeks ahead of schedule. It is forcing us to rethink our timing on some of the fertilizer and chemical apps. Though I think we will have a cool down to more normal temps this time of year, we are definitely ahead of the curve so far.

( 2010_04_01 - #13 fairway from the forward tee )
Thirteen fairway is coming along very nicely with the warmer weather we are having. This picture was taken yesterday and the fairway is even greener today. If the trend continues we will be fertilizing it early then I had anticipated and should be mowing it for the first time pretty soon. I am very optimistic that we will be on it sooner then I had thought, which was ballparked at June 1st. Here is hoping the weather continues on its warm trend and things don't get too wet with spring showers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

March Madness 2010

( 2010_03_27 - Opening Day 2010 )

How cool is this?!?! The weather has been above average, the course wintered great, and the golf clubs are getting dirty. With about 200 rounds in on opening weekend, IVGC is getting off to a great beginning in 2010. We have plenty of maintenance staff on hand that we are getting a lot done to get things in shape right off the bat. As you make your way around the course in the next few weeks you will see some vole damage around greens, tees, and a fairway or two. Those spots will quickly recover as we rake up the dead turf and the temperature warms a bit. Like I mentioned before, there is some gray snow mold spots around which will also get a good treatment of raking. Aside from the superficial issues, the turf appears to have come through winter in good shape.

What is amazing over the last couple of weeks is how dry it has become. We went from 2 feet of snow, a couple weeks of rain, flooding in certain parts of the state currently going on, and Island View is getting very dry. Hence, we pressurized the irrigation system today and plan on watering things over the next couple of days like it was a summer day in June. And if the temps climb into the 70's this week, despite the brown grass, we are going to think it is June. The irrigation start-up has gone very smooth, almost too smooth and we are waiting for something to blow out of the ground. So far, dare I say it, we have had no issues with leaks or broken parts. I think the fact that we did not have a lot of frost movement this spring, because it went out so quick, helped a lot by not moving the underground pipe and sprinklers around. And with the prolonged snow cover I think we had a lot less frost then winters of recent past, which was averaging a busted length of pipe every spring. So, so far so good it would appear. I wouldn't count out a change in the weather to more "normal" conditions any time soon however.

Get out and take advantage of this unusually early start to the golf season.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Removing The Blankets

( 2010_03_22 - Removing covers from putting green )

We have started picking up the covers today, they are nice and dry and so far the turf underneath looks like it should. Not too long, which is good, and disease free from what we can tell. We should have the rest picked up tomorrow and then the major cleaning begins. Everything is proceeding ahead of schedule if you look at the average times we take covers off, get things cleaned up, and actually open the course for play. April 10th was day one last year and I am gonna guess we will be almost 2 weeks ahead of that date this year. If you were to ask me I would predict sometime next week we will be open for play, we'll continue to clean things up, get the course supplies out, and hope for good weather.

Stay tuned, the day is almost upon us...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Right Around the Corner

( 2010_03_19 - Hole #13 )

It is safe to say about 99% of the snow is completely off the golf course. There are still some pockets on some north facing slopes and a few bunkers, and the ponds are still iced over. If the weather gurus are close to right then we will probably be pulling covers some time next week, getting things cleaned up a bit, and start getting supplies out on the course. I predict we will still see some more snow, but that hasn't stopped IVGC'ers in the past that's for sure. A couple issues with an early opening: there are many places too wet to be playable and the turf is not actively growing so any damage done is not recovering. The more damage done at this time of year really lengthens the recovery time of the golf course as the temps warm up and the roots start growing, which in turns gets the grass blades going. It becomes a balancing act for clubs as to when that golden day is and the gates open for the season. Obviously for some it is strictly revenue driven and getting the money flow going. For others it is about making sure the turf is starting to be active and can start recovering as soon as it is damaged. And for a semi-private to private club, there are always the members needs to consider. There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to opening the doors, but it is unique to each individual club. We at Island View fall somewhere in the middle but tend to lean towards the latter reasoning, turf and members. Since we do cover some greens there is a little delay in opening due to that, from removing them to some extra cleanup because of the debris they leave behind. We do have some low areas that poorly drain which have not yet been addressed with the on going course renovation, and unfortunately those areas are very much in play. And my philosophy definitely leans towards letting the turf get a little active before the traffic starts and the divot flying begins.

In years past Dan and I have communicated with each other and definitely worked together in making sure our opener is timed right for the members as well as the course, 2010 will be no exception. This time of year I am just as anxious to get outside and start working as most golfers are in getting out and playing. So stay tuned, the IVGC opener is right around the corner...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Signs of Spring

( 2010_03_15 - #18 Green Surround - Snow Mold )

Ten days ago I was showing you 2 feet of snow on the greens and throughout the golf course, oh what ten days has done to things. Now we are about 80% open and the rain is falling. So far what I have seen has me very optimistic that the course came through the winter in great shape and we just need the temps up to get things growing. With the extensive snow cover for the entire winter season we have a lot of Gray Snow Mold in the rough areas where we do not chemically treat to prevent it. As you can see from the picture of the 18th green surround, it is abundant. And from what I have seen around town, home lawns are showing the same thing. When things warm up a bit a good hand raking in these areas will bust up the gray cotton looking mycelium and aid in a quick recovery. As for the treated areas, the turf looks healthy and free of disease.

( 2010_03_15 - #13 Fairway )

I have been a little apprehensive all winter wondering how #13 fairway was going to look coming out of winter. Last October was not kind to us at all with regards to trying to grow anything from seed, especially the extent of an entire fairway. We had great germination of both the ryegrass and more importantly the bluegrass, but once the rains and cooler weather moved in the new seedlings really slowed their growth. Much to my relief, it appears we are starting the season better then I expected. The turf is very thin, but even with as wet as it is I was able to walk on it without too much of a problem. There are a lot of areas with a good stand of turf. I have a couple of plans in place for fertilizer depending on the weather, but what we really need is a quick spring with warm temps to get the turf growing and filling in the open spots. Where it is struggling the most is the approach area, the shade from the trees lining the left side really hindered the germination by keeping things cool and wet. A couple of options for the really poor areas would be overseed or sod, as things progress during the next month or so we will make a decision and put the plan into action.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Are You Ready?

(Snow cover middle of #18 green)

Greetings everyone! Long winter? Well, I would guess it will be around for a bit longer based on the amount of snow cover we currently have. This time last year I was out taking sample plugs from a couple greens because there was some worrisome ice cover in areas. This year we appear to be avoiding the ice issues to date, currently there is little to no ice build-up that we have seen. What we do have is about 2 feet of snow cover on greens and most areas. It is a bit deceiving when you look out and see turf around the bases of many trees, but if your not standing under a tree it can be up over your knees in spots. The freeze/thaw periods are still to come, and I am sure we will be out moving some water as the snow really gets to melting. There is very little frost in the ground from what we can tell, so that means as things really start melting the water may move into the soil profile rather then have to run-off via surface drainage. So to sum up the current situation, I would say promising and I am optimistic things should be in good shape as the snow continues to melt away.

On another note: Dave Thalberg, IVGC's Assistant GC Supt. has taken a Assistant job at Prestwick GC in Woodbury and he started the first of the month. I recently completed the search and hired a new Assistant GC Superintendent, his name is Brandon Young. He is a Iowa State grad with a degree in Turf Management, did internships at Shoreacres in Lake Bluff, IL & The Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, MT, and has been the Spray Technician at Spring Hill Golf Club for the past 4 years. I know Brandon is very excited, and looking forward to the new experience and challenges he will have here at Island View. As is Dave in his new postition at Prestwick.

So here we go! Everyone hurry up and wait, the season is almost upon us...