Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Open? No. Why Not? Some Insight...

The first nice days of spring always rev the excitement of the coming golf season, and the first question members ask is "How do things look out there?", which is quickly followed with "When are we opening?".

With golf courses in the area starting to open their doors it only makes sense you want to know when we will be opening ours.  Every golf course is different, even those in the same area can have very different environmental conditions that will effect the decision process. I love the fact that the Island View GC membership has never been overly pressing and demanding, many have the opinion the course will open when it is ready to open and the management staff will make that call. At IVGC the management staff is the Golf Professional, Club Coordinator, & Golf Course Superintendent. The members trust us to make the right decision for the club and as a team we have revenue, membership, and course conditioning all on the table and part of the discussion.

From a Golf Course Superintendents point of view, the course is first and foremost on our minds no matter what time of year. Turf condition and the long term ramifications of early traffic and use weigh heavily on our decision to open the golf course for the season. Obviously weather plays the most important role in effecting that decision process. A few nice days scattered amongst cold days can make it much more difficult to decide that opening date. During this time of year, even though things are greening up, the turf is not growing let alone recovering from any type of damage. Cart traffic, foot traffic, divots, and ball marks won't start recovering for weeks if not months. Though the daytime temps might reach very comfortable levels, the soil temps where plants are actively growing are still too cool for any growing to take place. Traffic during the freeze/thaw cycles of spring only increase the likelihood of compaction problems later on in the season. All these items can result in poorer turf conditions, not only now but later on through the season. These areas will require more spring/summer aerification, increased fertilizer & chemical use, and higher maintenance levels then is typical. At this point we are not only considering the potential damage now but how that will affect the season to come. The decision to open the course is not as simple as asking yourself "Is it warm enough to play golf?" Our goal is to provide excellent playing conditions and an enjoyable experience throughout the year, and opening date effects that.

Just a little insight into the decision making process. And with that, we are still closed but the doors will open pretty soon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Course Open... Not Yet.

Well we are getting close. Courses are starting to open and the weather has given a nice few days with a outlook like more of the same. If you you don't follow me on Twitter @golfsoup then you missed my walk-about yesterday to survey the course and conditions. I took pictures and commented on some areas as I went, all in all it is looking pretty good. There are plenty of drifted areas with snow still melting, the frost is down maybe a inch or so, and things are still a bit wet in spots since the melt water is not soaking in.

I am guessing by the weekend most of the snow will be gone and we should gain some ground on the frost coming out. Yesterday the covers on #7 & #16 greens were still frozen down and I was unable to pull them up and look underneath. Today the covers were not not and I was able to see that the turf looks great underneath the, though it is still frozen. Covers will most likely be removed before the weekend. So things are steadily progressing to opening for the 2015 season. If you were to ask me today when we will open, I'd say ask me again in a couple of days. It is amazing how quickly things change, just from yesterday to today, but we still have a couple feet of snow in some drifts/bunkers on the course and that will take the next couple of days to disappear. It looks like things are going to stay dry and warmer then average so it won't be long for everything to come together and we can get the course open for the 2015 golf season.

I can tell you it looks like the range will be open by the weekend... The frost in the tee has been declining quickly and it is pretty dry. It needs some cleaning, ropes and stakes need to come down (though many stakes are still frozen in), and then just supplies set up.

Please be patient while the last of the snow melts, the frost comes out, and we get the golf course cleaned up and ready for play. It won't be long now and the golf season will be underway. The maintenance staff and I are really excited, and want to make 2105 a great year at IVGC.

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 6th, 2015 - Looks like things are going to be warming up and with above average temps the snow will be gone in no time. I've talked to a few construction guys in the last week and it sounds like there is a fair amount of frost in the ground that is going to have to come out. With little snow cover for insulation and the frigid temps we have had this winter it would not surprise me if that is indeed the case. I know we are all ready to get outside, get the course in shape, and get the season started.

Equipment is ready to roll out, course supplies are prepped for the most part, and the air is filled with a bit of excitement for the 2015 season to get underway!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

GIS 2015 - Where Big Things Happen

It's that time of year again, when Golf Course Superintendents from all over the world come together to learn, network, and take a short break from the daily routines. The Golf Industry Show is next week in San Antonio, TX and as usual promises to enrich attendees with new ideas, new ways of doing old things, and making new friends/contacts. And I can say the show never disappoints.

There are full-day/half-day/2 or 6 hour educational seminars throughout the week, but I would say the trade show floor is as educational an experience if not more. New Products are being showcased for the upcoming season, and Superintendents can get hands on with them as well as talk about them with manufacturers and salesmen. Each day there are numerous educational sessions scattered around the trade show which are free to sit in on. Many sessions are given by leading academics and peers in the industry and topics range from golf course architecture to plant health dynamics. There is definitely an abundance of knowledge being handed out and networking taking place.

All in all it is a great time, and a bonus that it is usually much warmer weather then home for those of us in the northern parts.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Back On Track For 2015

Bad, bad me. The IVGC maintenance blog was non-existent in 2014, well it is time to rectify that for 2015. Here is where you will find updates, photos, and general musings regarding the golf course, staff, and whatever else makes it to the page. My goal is to have regular (weekly perhaps) updates and summaries of what is happening on the grounds at Island View Golf Club.

For those that would like more constant info, you should follow me on Twitter where I will be tweeting about conditions and tidbits we find interesting throughout the day. While mostly work related, I do mention personal stuff from time to time. @golfsoup is my twitter handle. Click on the link above, sign-up if not registered, and follow along as we maintain the golf course property throughout the season and off-season.

Most of the course is covered with snow at the moment, though the warm temps have definitely melted a lot of it off. The fine turf areas are covered for the most part, which is good insulation as we go through this latest cold snap. Exposed turf at this point can be prone to desiccation, it is common for the tops of the mounds to go through this and then take a bit longer then typical to recover in the spring.The snow melt and subsequent refreeze could also cause problems for the turf, mainly the annual bluegrass on the course. All in all though, the mild winter we are having has been a nice change from the past few we have experienced...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Range Tee Divots the RIGHT Way.

At Island View GC we have a great all grass, no mats, driving range tee which we use from start to close of the golf season. Though it is a large area of teeing surface, we are challenged with conditioning due to the heavy use it receives. Proper divot patterning during practice would greatly benefit the experience of the range users and the ability of the maintenance staff to fill and recover divoted areas. The following pictures represent the wrong, kinda wrong, and correct method to utilize the practice tee...

The scatter method uses a lot of surface area, making the entire area 
practically unusable for the next person.

This sort of grouping uses less tee surface which is good, but the center
 areas of damage rely solely on seed to recover which can greatly delay re-use.

The line method is the proper and BEST method for taking practice tee divots.
 It allows for vegetative growth from both sides, and uses the least amount of tee surface.

Here is a short video of Joel Kachmarek from Tacoma Country and Golf Club demonstrating the proper method of taking practice divots on the range, thanks to him for the previous pictures also...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Are We Behind? Compared To Years Past, Yes.

I've mentioned growing degree days once before for timing certain chemical applications. I thought I would revisit this quickly because I have been asked a lot lately about generally how far behind we are on growing, summer conditions, etc... The answer depends on what you are comparing things to I suppose. Usually, for good or bad, we compare things to the previous year or prior few years. So I updated the GDD chart to include the last 5 years plus 2013 to give you an idea of how many growing degree units we have accumulated thus far in relation to the past five years.
A quick note on how we calculate growing degree days: GDD are calculated by taking the average of the daily maximum and minimum temperatures compared to a base temperature, Tbase, (I use 32° F). 

GDD = \frac{T_\mathrm{max}+T_\mathrm{min}}{2}-T_\mathrm{base}.

From the chart it is pretty obvious we are behind the last 5 years, and when looked at the atypical weather of 2012 we are behind about 1,000 GDD. I think you have to go back to 1975 to find a colder month of April then what we just had. In the end it's hard to put a definitive answer on the 'behind' question, but there is no question that everything is happening later in the year so far in 2013 than what we are accustomed to.