Sunday, April 1, 2018

Traditional April 1st Photo and Update, 2018

Take a look:
Acutally, I took this March 30 but close enough to April 1st

What's crazy is how close this is to April 2017 (Go Here) and in that year we opened a funked up 9 hole routing on April 22nd so........ 

My spider sense has been telling me we are similar to last year even though it may not look like it elsewhere on the course. However, unlike last year all the greens we've cleaned off to date look good with no disease but there is one or two "bobcat burps" from the tires.  All the front greens except old PG  and #8 are clear; 12 to 17 on the back still have snow (except to 15 which is clear). I'll admit the blowing has gone slow relative to last year and that may be due to the amount of snow or that fact that surfaces are starting to thaw and with very little ice we need to use the small track blowers to remove snow vs. the bobcat to keep from damaging more surfaces.

As I get a look at more greens next week I may be more comfortable in believing the sh*tty fall we had in 2015 and 2016 did have an impact on disease levels those following springs....but rehashinbg the past has more to do with making me feel better and nothing with the here and now.

When we are not taking off snow Neil and myself have been cleaning up the overgrown potentilla and caragana's at the clubhouse and parking lot; a task that has been on my radar for a few years but the bad springs over the past couple years meant I had to focus my attention elsewhere. Obviously, working in those areas is awkward with traffic and people so the temporary trashy looking gate I put up at the bottom of the driveway has helped in keeping the lookey-loos and the pot smoking high school punks from getting in our way.  We will remove the barrier and chain very soon but I plan to install a more formal gate at the bottom of the driveway at one point this summer since it does address the security issue of random people using the isolated parking lot for doing naughty things late at night.

Despite my threats I've been dragging my feet on removing that Ponderosa on the left edge of 4 green but pictures like this one keep reminding me of why it needs to go so don't be shocked or surprised when it's no longer there.
Picture from last year showing disease in the tree shadow
As I already said, we will continue to remove snow from the remaining greens as the weather permits and continue to speed spring along. Feel free to drop by and go for a walk to check out the course but no mischievous going ons or hanky-panky in the parking lot!

An addendum for those of you down south....

April 4, -7 and 15 cm of new snow has altered my optimistic
projection regarding possible opening date...

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Where we're at and Where we're going

If you're in town you know the somewhat blah weather has continued and, IMO, spring seem slow to come. Like 2017, I've been out removing snow and exposing cart paths and greens surfaces in an effort to get a jump on spring and to see what has happened under the snow over these past few months.

We started March with a good snow pack:

Close to 30" on 9G
We needed to knock it down to a more manageable level since experience has taught me that, at this course, anything over 24" is chore!

Walking on the sun crust to spread black sand
2 days later

4 days later

9G one day after clearing

We've pretty much had to do the same process for all the greens cleared to date. With little to no other areas open turf wise on the course much of the elk and deer began to eat any exposed turf resulting in more than a few frosty footprints showing up.

5G with frosty deer tracks
I've laid out tarps on most greens they seemed to be attracted to. I don't want to get too far ahead and we only have 7 spring tarps so I wanted to focus on tarping those greens that have been funky the last few years as well. To date we have 1,2,4,5,7,9, new PG, and 15 exposed and aside from damage from machine tires all the exposed greens look great - cold but great. Only 1, 7, and new PG don't have tarps but they will ASAP.

We'll keep removing snow on the front greens and will most likely let the back melt since those greens seldom cause us problems and, again, with limited man power I will have my hands full keeping up with the greens and tarps on the front nine.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Looking Back and Comparing

As you can imagine, with the weather this winter I have not much to do on the course which is great because if I'm out there having to do something that means we've got a problem. Typically, I spend January reading and reviewing the previous years operations by looking at data we collected and then compare year over year.

When it comes to record keeping my motivation is to accumulate relevant information about KGC that I can use to make decisions to improve the upcoming year. Data entry and collection is time consuming so when I read how some guys are using online tools to collect and arrange data I started to do the same. I've been a user of Excel for decades but limitations in transferring files between computers made me look for an alternative. Enter Google Sheets.  It took some retraining and, initially I had to give up some options I depended on when using Excel, but I'm slowly making Sheets work. The one problem with changing and tweaking things is there can be a bit of a disconnect between data from other years so in presenting comparisons in this post I'm going to generalize a bit.

The biggest difference about the data for 2017 is I've included my hours and the mechanics hours spent on the course when we were performing tasks that in the past were normally covered by regular maintenance staff. Going with the adage a picture is worth a thousand words I'm going to post a few charts to look at:

I've done this before and the obvious take home message is the hours spent maintaining the course are trending down. I'm not too sure if everyone understands the scope of how much the hours between years differs so for the next two charts I will use the same data but I will use a different scale on the vertical axis:

The difference in the amount of time spent maintaining the course is more obvious. Now take a look at this chart:

 If we focus on 2015 to 2017 I can point out some interesting things. Certain members have been generously donating their time for quite a few years (go HERE) but we never had a formalized volunteer program until 2015 (go HERE).  Take out the hours the Greens Team contributes to the regular maintenance and you see how much the volunteers "free" labour contributes to grooming the course. It should seem obvious that volunteers are the only way I can keep certain maintenance tasks, such as hand mowing the greens, a regular part on the maintenance schedule here at KGC. Going one step further in collecting information in 2017 I began to track the hours myself and Neil L. spent on the course performing the basic daily maintenance that, in the past, was covered by seasonal staff. Combine mine and Neil L.'s hours together with the volunteer hours and subtract them from the total hours all turf staff worked in 2017 and you will get a number that will only be the total number of hours worked by seasonal employees. Comparing that number to hours collected in 2010 (remember that we had no volunteers and I wasn't tracking mine or the mechanics hours so the amount for 2010 is strictly the amount of time seasonal staff spent maintaining the course) and it reveals that we are spending close to 40% fewer hours in 2017 performing routine maintenance on the golf course as compared to 2010.

* As an aside, the blip in 2016 is the result of the early start we had (go HERE) that year *

Again, in general the staff is working less hours maintaining the course but I think the second chart example does a better job at making the point. I'm going keep beating that same old tired drum about smaller staff and fewer hours spent maintaining the course until everyone has a firm grasp our situation and realizes how unsustainable, as it relates to my department, this situation at KGC is becoming.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Early Winter Update

First week of new year out of the way, most of the visitors we had over the holidays are back home (one more group this weekend!) and now it's time to get back and establish some sort of routine. But first I'll fill you in on where we are now.

The first snow did eventually melt over a majority of the course which allowed us to get back out there and finish off the fall aerating. Neil L and myself were able to tag team  a very large portion of the front rough with the aerator during the last week of November which was a nice bonus.

The greens mostly managed to keep a thin layer of snow but for a select few that I choose to clean off and treat one more time.
2G - most snow melted but I did shovel off some
We went a for a stretch with cold temperatures and no cover and I am a bit worried about the impact on the Poa but the good news is since the ground had time to freeze (and is still frozen) I have a good hunch disease development should not be and issue this year.  The flip side, and there's always a flip side, the frozen ground will make for a slow spring start since the soil temperature will need to warm up before things will start to grow.

I made reference in the previous post about covering the small tee renovation we started this fall. Hopefully you were able to walk out and nose around to see the changes. I find it distracting to look for my camera to document progress and since my hands always seemed to be covered in muck I'm never too excited to reach into my pocket and grab my phone to take a picture with it there really isn't very many good pictures, sorry! Instead I'll try to briefly describe the impetus, the methods, and what is left to do this upcoming spring.

Here's a secret: I do watch you (members and daily fee players) when you're out on the golf course and make mental notes about some of your habits. I'm not looking so much for the ball mark repairing, bunker raking, and divot filling that is not getting done but more to the things that I think make your day sh*tty. Although I try to avoid generalizing too much, I sometimes think I can divide golfers into two groups: the self serving narrow minded group that want everything catered to their game and the over the top extreme group that thinks every shot should be skill testing and if you can't keep up then don't bother playing.  Ignoring either extreme, what I think is more of an issue is the impact mobility and length (yes, length!) seem to have on most players at KGC. We don't have the skill or resources, monetarily or otherwise, to tackle any major changes. Generally, KGC is short and, IMO, it is narrow and not particularly forgiving off the tee for an average player or high handicapper. Also, some tee complexes themselves are awkward and difficult to access and I know there are players who feel the same based on where they park their carts, especially on 13 tee. There in lies the impetus for tweaking the 13th and 14th tees: constructing a variety of tee decks for all level of players while improving the ease of access to the tee decks for all.

A discussion with Tom Yost opened up the opportunity for us to begin renovating the 13 and 14 tees late in the fall. Tom Y has the equipment and skill to do this type of work and offered to perform the work "in kind". For both tees the plan involved generating fill from the existing decks to create forward tees.
Before-ish Pict 13T

After-ish Pict 13T
By lowering and cutting away the banks Tom Y was also able to rough out cart paths for both decks that greatly increased the ease of access to the teeing surface eliminating the need to drive on the actual tee deck for mobility challenged players (or those of us with just sore knees!). In preparation for the excavation we stripped the sod from both tees but what we did this time was salvage what we could on homemade sod "toboggans".
Tom Y in excavator, sod toboggans in foreground
In the end we had enough salvaged sod to completely sod the new forward tee on 14 as well as 80% of expanded white/blue tee deck. As implied by the previous sentence 14 tee is mostly complete with the cart path and back deck to be finalized in the spring.

13 tee is roughed out with some irrigation installed on middle deck but final grading for the new forward and rebuilt white and blue decks still need to be completed in the spring.

Installation of irrigation on 13 T
It's tough to estimate time line to completion mostly because of the weather wild card but I suspect, just based on labour demands, you won't be hitting off new tees before May long weekend.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fall 2017

I'm not going to dwell on it but obviously I've not posted anything since April. Time constraints, work load, personal commitments, and (to be honest) boredom all had a hand in preventing updates. I've always wanted to keep things fresh but the last few years we've been in such a monotonous holding pattern that I found myself with very few interesting topics to cover so let's start anew with this post!

First a rehash of the 2017 season. The greens had another winter of snow mould damage which was a big disappointment but looking back I guess not that surprising when reviewing the weather (go HERE and HERE). My confidence level as it relates to the impact moisture has on chemical efficacy is on very shakey ground but I think blaming all our issues on weather/chemistry may be a bit disingenuous. I have whined about the pressure to maintain conditions later into the year but that is just the way it is now and the approach I decided to take this year was to stack the deck in my favour and that involved some different maintenance strategies but also killing trees; not a lot of trees but definitely some big ones....and, FYI, I'm not done but I wanted to break it to you gently.
Nuisance Trees on South side 2G Going Down
It's tiresome to constantly defend tree removal around greens which is why I've haven't pushed it but I need to continue to educate and stress the negative impact trees growing close to greens have on light quality, air movement, and moisture stress and how that impact creates poor health and, by extension, poor playing conditions.

The rest of the summer could pretty much be summarized by the acronym SSDD (Same Sh*t Different Day) however it's worth noting that we didn't lose a single day to rain during peak season and despite the dry and heat the course pretty much held on.  The fall, up to this point, was more typical than most weather wise and we only lost a few days to rain.  I started preparing the greens for winter early this year by applying full rate overwintering applications mid September and continued to treat those greens with a recent history of bad snow mould on a 10 to 14 day cycle depending on weather. The final greens application was at the end of October before the big snow in early November.

The snow isn't a surprise but the fact that it really hasn't melted is. No surface on the course is frozen which is good for rain events but not so good for snow mould control. I removed the snow from 15 green (the only green we tarp) in an effort to get that ground to freeze. Generally speaking with tarps the more the ground is frozen the less opportunity there is for problems as it relates to disease and,IMO, anoxia.

The snow did prevent us from duplicating last falls aeration of the rough which is unfortunate since I believe that is part of the reason the roughs weren't impacted to severely by the dry summer. My hope is we will get to it in the spring. I had planned for a late season work bee and was going to knock down some weedy trees but again the snow has limited mobility on the course so only a few trees were cut down.

Ugly Poplar Behind 17 Green Finally Gone
Next time out I'll try to explain the in-house renovation on the 13th and 14th tees but until that time consider yourself up to date.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Looks Like We are Opening....

Probably not news to anyone in the know but the course will open this coming Saturday (April 22) and you know I'm going to funk up the routing so be prepared to play 1 to 5, 10, 11, 16 Green Tee, 17 and 18.  The reasoning, as always, is 12 though to 14 are still wet on the shady side and we really haven't been able to get much done out there. But we've tried :

That is a greens mower that lost traction on the wet conditions that slipped over the bank on 16 fwy and became wedged in and amongst some trees. We used chains and a bunch of come-a-longs and were able to extract it without too much problem and luckily no damage.

The reason 6,7,8,9 aren't in the loop is those greens, mostly 6 and 7, would benefit with more time off before we go and get them ready for play.  We have been aerating and top dressing each day the weather allows and have 8 greens left to do.  As I've said before (GO HERE ) this is not the best time of year for that type of aggressive maintenance but more and more I seem to have fewer options to do what would be ideal.

I've not had any time to plug out disease spots like I did last year but with the exception of 2 green there is plenty of areas to put a pin that don't show winter damage. Good news is the greens are growing but the bad news is they are shaggy and bumpy because of aerating and dragging in the sand.

I could go into my usual song and dance/whine and complain about not having everything ready for play but I hope, as is mostly the case, players are just happy for something to do other than spy on their neighbours.....

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Traditional April 1st Photo & Update

Here take a look:

March 31st
Go HERE for the background and previous years photos. Generally, the weather has been slightly below normal but not too bad. The biggest impact has been the lack of sun so the melt is a wee bit slow. My guess is last falls rain, this winters snow, and the "frozen-ish" ground have made areas that have opened up or areas where we ploughed a road extremely mucky. Conditions have dictated that we need to get around the course and I know we've caused lots of rutting and ripped up turf but, as you'll see, it was a necessity.

As mentioned in the last post we began removing snow from the greens and finally completed the task this past Tuesday with minimal mechanical damage to all surfaces.  There is disease again but not as severe as last year but still, IMO, way more than there should be. Realizing last fall tipped the scales in favour of disease development I was still hopeful that tweaking fertility would benefit the turf. Its a believe I still hold but I may need to start earlier.

I was always curious when disease started under the snow. I figured by removing the first couple snows last fall (Go HERE) would help limit the impact of moisture as well as potentially freeze the ground and slow disease.

2016 Fall Weather Data From KGC Weather Station
If you click on at the weather graph from last fall you can see the temperature really began dropping on Dec. 4th which was the same day it snowed. I didn't clean that snow off greens except for 15 green (Go HERE) so I could lay down tarp. Before the snow I went to select greens showing disease and marked the periphery of the disease so I could reference the size of the spot once spring came. A quick reminder - I applied a panic fungicide treatment at the end of November because of new disease popping up everywhere as referenced in the "Uncharted Territory..." post mentioned earlier.

Copy of My Spray Record - Note the "Spray Notes" Section
Not necessarily the best spray combination but it was all I had.  I think the spray may have helped control the disease but I should have removed that Dec. 4 snow from all the greens not just 15.  If you read the comments I made on the spray record you'll see I specifically referenced 2 and 15 having active disease. This spring, disease wise, 15 green came through in good shape while 2 green has a fair amount and because I marked the edges of the disease last fall I'm confident in saying the disease developed over winter. Take a look:

Disease on 2 G this Spring
Hindsight is 20/20 I know but I'm thinking that I may try to manage the snow this coming winter depending on amounts and, I guess, depending on disease conditions.

One concern I had about keeping the greens open and freezing them was ice which, as everyone knows, can be bad. However, take another look:

Ice on 11 G - Note the X/C Ski Tracks from Some Ding-Dongs
More than a few greens had ice but it was thin and melted quickly but still thick enough for us to use the bobcat to clear snow. Ice at the right time is not too terribly bad but if I saw this at the beginning of December last year I would be panicky. 

This is some of what I'm seeing out there. Last year when we had problems I suggested the problem was not one thing and I stand by that statement this year as well. I haven't even touched on some cultural practices we've neglected to perform all in the name of not impacting daily playing conditions - a short sighted approach but sometimes easier than constantly having to listen to the B&C from the "better golfers". Also, I haven't even mentioned the shade...that is definitely another post. Oh and what about turf species? I got some great info on some messing around I did this year on our nursery where I ploughed the snow off a portion of that green until the end of January.

As I've said before, I right this blog mostly for myself as an exercise in record keeping. What 
everyone really wants to know is when are we opening but, again, if I had the power to be accurate when making those predictions I'm not sure you could afford me.....lets just say soon....