Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Holidays

We've come to the time of year when we have to make the decision to yield to mother nature.  The golf course is closed and the grounds department has made the transition to winter work.

We had an especially busy fall with renovations taking place on the golf course.  The rock wall has been finished and all of our irrigation has been replaced surrounding the 17th green.  We were also able to regrade the area and make necessary repairs to the bunker before cold weather froze our efforts.  We will sod the approach as soon as weather permits.

The bunker progress ended for 2012 with 34 of 42 bunkers completed.  We have bunkers to complete next spring on holes: 6,7,8,9, and the chipping green. 

With the approach of the Principal Charity Classic just 5 months away, we will be especially busy this winter.  We will be utilizing any good weather we have between now and spring to get outside to do what we can to improve the golf course.

This jolly old fellow was 'donated' by a passer by a couple years back.  (We found him lying face down just inside the fence on #8 while picking up trash along the roadside.)  We are happy to have been able to clean him up and give him a new home.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

17 Rock Wall and Bunker Progress

 Work to rebuild the rock wall on the 17th hole has been completed and the finished product looks fantastic!  We will be finish grading and replacing the turf in the coming weeks.  Meanwhile, the bunker project creeps towards completion.  To date we have 16 bunkers finished and hope to have holes 1- 18 done by December 1st. 

Rock wall from the tee.

#13 with bunkers complete

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall Projects Continued...

  As you may have noticed, our new ProAngle bunker sand continues to steadily roll in from Ohio. To this point, we have received approximately half of our expected amount of sand. In the coming weeks, the full amount will be delivered.

Our current sand pile.
  Country Landscapes continues their work on the rock wall on #17. In the previous week, their work has been slowed by rainfall; however, yesterday they got back up to full speed.

Large rocks were placed at the base to support the new wall.
The new wall begins to take shape.
   As you may remember, last year we installed new drainage and liner in the greenside bunkers on #13 and #16. The old sand was gently removed from these bunkers by hand and then the liner was blown off with back-pack blowers. Finally, the new ProAngle sand was added to finish the bunkers. These bunkers are currently ready for play.

Cleaning the bunker liner on #16.
The new ProAngle bunker sand in #16.
  Today, we will remove sand from our final bunker before we refocus our efforts to installing the new drainage, liner, and ProAngle sand in the remaining bunkers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bunker Renovations

 Bunker renovations are under way.  We will describe the process with the pictures below.
We rented several pieces of equipment to expedite the process.
The first step is to scrape away the old sand.
Even with large machines much of the work is still done by hand.

We haul the old sand away using our large material handler.  The old sand will be stockpiled at various locations on the property.

We will be spreading the old sand throughout the rough  using a large sand topdresser.  Hopefully we will significantly reduce or eliminate the need pay a trucking company to haul out the old sand.
This picture shows the layering affect contaminants have on the sand.  The layering of fine soil particles prevents water infiltration- this is a one of the reasons why our bunkers did not drain!
We then remove all the old drain pipe and clean the trenches in preparation for new pipe.
We have begun purchasing many of the materials.  Pictured above is 2000' of drain pipe.
We will also make any necessary adjustments to the sub-grade to allow for optimal sand depth.
20 rolls of Sand Trapper II Bunker Liner.
We just received our first load of bunker sand.
We will be utilizing ProAngle bunker sand which is being delivered all the way from Ohio!  This sand will perform much better than our old sand and has a beautiful white color.  One semi load is 25 tons and we estimate that we will need approximately 2000 tons to complete the project.  The new sand must be delivered on concrete in the club parking lot to keep it clean of all contaminants.

Principal Charity Classic and Course Renovations

The Wakonda Club Grounds Department is excited to be hosting the Principal Charity Classic for the next few years.  Hosting a tournament of this magnitude will be a challenging but rewarding endeavor for our staff.

We are always looking for ways to improve the golf course for our membership but with the Champions Tour coming to Wakonda we are now scrambling to make more improvements sooner.  We have a seemingly endless project & course improvement list that we have been prioritizing to focus our labor where most needed.  The good news is that the golf course is already in good condition and the improvements made will have lasting effects for our members to enjoy.

The two largest projects, which will have the most dramatic impact on playability and aesthetics, are already under way.  Country Landscapes has begun reconstructing the failing rock wall on #17 while your Wakonda Grounds Staff has taken on the monumental task of refurbishing the bunkers.

Below are pictures of work being done on the rock wall.

The old rock wall: "before."

All the old rocks were removed by October 9th.
Some of the stones will be reused while there will be some new larger stones added to improve stability of the new wall.

The pond is partially drained to provide access for the crew and to allow for the construction of a footing made of crushed limestone which the old wall did not have. 
The crew is working out of an empty lot north of 5 tee which we have permission to use throughout the project.

We constructed a long mulch path to the job site to mitigate damage caused by the large machines.
The turf from the approach will be kept alive on plastic under a tree near 17 green.  We will reuse this sod once the project is complete.
This project should take approximately a month to complete.  While the project is in process golfers will play both holes at #2 to provide a full 18 hole course.  Once the wall is erected our staff will do the final grading and re- establish turf in impacted areas.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fall Aeration 2012

Fall aeration is in full swing.  We completed fairway aeration on August 22nd and tees were finished on August 28th.  We will be aerifying greens on September 4th & 5th. 

Green Edges

 You may have noticed that some of the green edges have been recently scalped off.  This was not by accident.  When mowing the cleanup lap (the circle around the outside edge of the green) it is very difficult to get the edge in precisely the same spot time after time.  Say; for example, the cleanup is mowed a mere 1/8 of an inch off the edge of the collar- doesn't sound too bad, right?  Multiply 1/8 inch by 3 cleanups per week times 20 weeks = 7.5 inches!  For this reason we have a measuring tool which we use to keep the green and collar consistent over time.

Why did we get so far off?  One of our best cleanup mowers did not return to the maintenance staff this year.  We are left with only two men who truly do a perfect cleanup every time.  It is a skill that requires a very steady hand and is difficult to master even with years of experience.  Add to this employee vacations and we got off track.  Also, this spring we had several large projects which diverted the skills of our talented and experienced staff members.  Modifications made to #17 and Lower #2 took experienced workers weeks to complete.

The edge of 12 green.  We will reduce the mowing height of this turf down slowly over time until we are back to regular greens mowing height.
The tool we use to measure the width of the collar.  We use the outside edge of the collar as a reference point because we have a distinct edge when two different species meet (Kentucky Bluegrass & Creeping Bentgrass.)  We paint small green dots around the edge of the green to keep the mowers where they need to be.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back In the Saddle

 We in the Wakonda Grounds department have officially forgotten about July.  It was hot, dry, and stressful.  The forecast is looking much better and we are moving on.  The golf course is doing well considering the challenges we have faced. 

If you've played golf the past couple weeks, you've probably noticed that the greens are a little softer and slower than normal.  This is due to reduced maintenance practices (specifically verticutting and topdressing.)  When temperatures skyrocket, we must reduce stress due to maintenance activities to ensure the greens survive summer.  The greens are healthy; and collars are doing much better than expected!  Roots continue to impress us- still very deep and strong.

Cooler temperatures have ushered in a return to our normal maintenance practices.  We verticut greens last week and are topdressing today.  Mowing height will be reduced to 0.100 inch.  We will be putting down a slightly heavier rate of sand through August to reign in thatch development which causes the softer, slower playing conditions.  If you like firm and fast playing conditions, then you will have never been so glad to see topdressing sand on the greens!

Slightly heavier topdressing rate applied today.

Brushing in.
 Fairways are also doing well; however, they are not without blemish.  The hot, dry season has "natural selection" in full force.  Areas where we have Poa annua encroachment have been killed- which is not necessarily a bad thing.  The majority of these areas will fill in with desirable bentgrass and we will be better off in the long run.  

Areas like this will recover quickly in the fall with no additional maintenance.
 What happened to number 5 fairway?  The bottom of the fairway near the creek has very poor soil, physical properties.  What looks like drought damage is actually the opposite.  The heavy, clay soil has very little pore space which allows for moisture and gas exchange with the air.  The result- roots are literally cooked.  Some of this area will recover on it's own while other areas will need seed or sod which we will apply later this month when the weather is most favorable for turf establishment.

Some of this turf will likely recover.  Patience will prove virtuous.
 We should take a moment to focus on the positive:  the vast majority of fairway turf is performing extremely well.
6 approach - flawless.
5 approach.
 Tees continue to perform well while the practice tee is showing the signs of a busy, hot golfing summer.  We will aerify and overseed the practice tee later this month.  Rough looks, well, rough.  Non- irrigated areas are dormant.  Time will tell how much seeding might need to be done.  We are confident that most areas will return from dormancy once rain and cooler temperatures arrive.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Heat Wave Update

If you've been on the golf course during the past few weeks, you don't need me to tell you it's been hot and dry!  We are thankfully experiencing a cooling trend back to normal temperatures.  The "cool" air puts a spring back in our step and gives us a chance to reflect on course conditions and on the challenges we've overcome.

Here are a some stats for those who like numbers:

  • During May we observed 3.15 inches of rain compared to 4.74 inches in a "Normal" May.
  • We also received 3.15 inches in June compared to 4.94 normal.
  • We have received No rain so far in July but would normally expect to have received 4.18 inches by month's end.
  • June Average Daytime High = 86 (81 Normal)
  • July Average Daytime High = 96 (86 Normal)
  • June 27: 101
  • June 28: 97
  • July 1: 97
  • July 2: 97
  • July 3: 99
  • July 4: 101
  • July 5: 101
  • July 6: 102
  • July 7: 100
What does all this mean for the turf? and for golf course maintenance?  Our cool- season turfgrasses essentially shut down during these periods of stress.  High air and soil temperatures can have a cumulative effect on the plant- decreased roots and overall decline in turf quality.   Recovery does not occur in earnest until temperatures recede in the fall.  Therefore, we must modify our maintenance practices to keep the turf healthy through summer. 

All things considered, the golf course is in excellent condition.  We are actually quite glad that we are hot and dry rather than hot and wet.  Excess moisture during high heat & humidity is the recipe for turf decline and for turf diseases to run rampant.  Hopefully this is the worst heat we will see this year.  Either way, we are confident in our turf and in our ability to provide good playing conditions and; most importantly, healthy turf. 

Greens: are performing very well. Speed has been somewhat slower.  We increased the height of cut and we're mowing and rolling less frequently.  We will return the mowing height to normal and resume our mowing/ rolling schedule with cooler weather.  We will continue to vent greens by aerifying with 1/4 inch solid tines once per month.  Each green's moisture content is monitored several times per day and each one receives an individualized dose of water. 

Collars: are performing better than expected given the extra challenges involved in maintaining turf in the intersection of greens and roughs.  Core aeration has been increased this spring and early summer to relieve compaction and thatch- it appears as though this effort is paying off big time.

Hand watering of localized dry spots is the norm. 
Roots are deep and healthy.

Fairways & Tees: are also doing very well.  We are continually monitoring moisture in the fairway and adjust each sprinkler's run time to provide uniform moisture through the peaks and valleys.   Tees are hand watered when necessary.

When soil temperatures soar into the 90's roots stop functioning.
Turf canopy temperatures well over 100.
A light mist of water not only cools the turf surface but also temporarily lowers cell temperatures through the cooling effect of evaporation.
Rough: The first cut is doing very well.  Areas with little or no irrigation coverage are going a dormant brown.  We do the best that we can in these areas with hoses and portable sprinklers.  Do not be disturbed by dormant rough.  This is the plant's natural "last defense" for surviving a drought.  The turf will break dormancy when rains and adequate moisture return.

Irrigation System: is getting a workout.  We are constantly tuning our watering programs and repairing sprinklers which fail more frequently during periods of heavy watering.

Grounds Crew:  Seasonal staff have been going home early to escape the heat.  Full- time staff work longer hours to keep an eye on your turf- we're stressed but appreciate those who offer praise and brave the heat with us to enjoy your golf course!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lower #2 Reopened Today!

We are happy to have reopened lower 2 green today.  The hole has been closed for improvements for two months.

We have implemented a temporary ruling for Lower 2 which reads as follows.
  • Be aware of plywood which vertically lines the edges of the bunkers on Lower 2.  (The majority of this plywood is concealed beneath the sand with approximately two inches above the sand line.)
  • Please take relief by taking a drop in the middle of the bunker if your swing or stance would be impeded by the plywood.
  • The plywood is temporary and is in place to prevent contamination of the sand with the surrounding loose topsoil.
  • Once the new sod has established sufficient roots capable of holding the soil intact, the plywood will be removed (Mid- July.)
·        For more information visit our earlier post.
Thank you for your patience,
Wakonda Club Grounds

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Evolution of Lower 2

 We have been making big improvements to the Lower #2 green complex over the past few weeks.  This area has been plagued in the past from poor drainage and washed out bunkers.  Our first goal for this project was to replace the drainage around the green and in the bunkers.  We also installed berms to catch and redirect runoff during heavy rains.  Finally, we refurbished the bunkers so that they will be less severely damaged by heavy rains.

The first of two berms which will catch runoff and direct the excess water into the drain.
The catch basins are 30 inches in diameter and we used a 10 inch pipe to carry away the water.
We tied the basin drains into an old tile line that was intact and still functioning well.  Stamped on the pipe was a month and year: "October 1918."

 We utilized larger than normal pipe in the bunkers (6 inch rather than the customary 4 inch.)  We are also utilizing technology often found in septic leach fields.  We installed 75 feet of leach field chamber domes.  These domes are 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide and will store a significant volume of water beneath the sand during heavy rains when drain pipes become overwhelmed.

A section of 6 inch perforated drain pipe connected to the leach field chamber.
We are forming the bunkers with plywood which will be removed once the sand is installed, and sod has rooted down.
  We have been blessed by dry weather throughout the project but received a half inch of rain last night.  We will wait for the area to dry out and begin the finishing touches following the Memorial Day holiday.
Nearly ready for sand and sod!