Friday, October 30, 2015

Golf Course Update

Wow, I didn't realize that it has been over a month since I have posted.  A lot has gone on during a busy stretch to close the season and then the start of fall/winter there is a lot to report.


During the third week of October we completed our Fall Aerification of tees and approaches along with the practice of venting our greens and fairways.  Below are some pictures to highlight the process.

We started by double spiking greens, with events this was the first chance to vent since actual Aerification back in August, so it was a much welcomed sight for these eyes.

Our sandpro attachment was used to create inch long slits at 1/4 inch depth

Because of limited disruption, we went in 2 different directions
We are planning on taking a slight different approach with greens heading into winter this year, in the past I have traditionally conducted a light topdressing application (similar to our summer apps) around the first to second week of November.  This year we plan, depending on weather because I'm fully aware of the desire to sneak in those last few rounds, to needle tine with a 3/8 inch tine and topdress with a heavier coat of sand going into the harsh winter months.  The goal is to provide adequate sand in the canopy to protect the crown from crown hydration during the freeze and thaw process of the months to come.  Man, I hate that I'm already discussing or even thinking of precautions for the dreaded winter months of Western PA.  With that being said, I hope to hold off on this process as long as possible, it is always a goal to provide the best surfaces possible when the opportunity to play golf is available.
I've stated multiple times throughout the year that improving the playabilty and health of approaches was a major goal of mine for the 2015 season.  Since the introduction of approaches on our property when I first started (2 seasons ago, time is flying), we have been able to incorporate sand through the process of aerification and light topdressing to improve firmness along with slowly lowering heights to provide different shot making options around the green.  For areas that were mowed at .500 fairway height prior to my arrival, towards the end of the season this year we reached our lowest heights to-date of .200 for the Lesley Cup during the first of October.  In efforts to continue the success of the program, below are some pictures of the process that helps in achieving what we are shooting for.
First we groomed approaches, we conducted this process weekly throughout the season.  Prior to aerification we dropped the heights and aggressiveness of groomers to tighten the playing surface.

Next we removed a 1/2 core, removing the thatch in combination with topdressing will influence firmness moving forward. 

Our goal is to always remove as much material as possible to promote plant health by reducing thatch and providing channels for root growth and water infiltration.

Finally the most important step, applying a hefty coat of topdressing sand to fill the holes and canopy.  This aids in firmness and smoothness of the approaches.  Like greens, we hope to apply a light topdressing application heading into winter in middle to late November.
While aerifying approaches, we completed our third aerification of tees for the 2015 season.  Our tees continue to be problematic due to thatch content reducing the firmness and plant health towards divot recovery.  In addition to thatch, layers have formed over the years that need to be address due to restricting root depth and drainage.
The same process was completed on tees as approaches with the exception of pulling deeper to address the layers that have formed.

A 2 x 2 spacing was used.
Finally, we sliced fairways for the first time of the fall with hopes of completing one additional application prior to the ground freezing following recovery of this practice.  I've gone over the benefits of cultural practices such as venting multiple times, so I want repeat myself.  Here are some pictures of the process.
We use our oldy but goody slicer to vent all 24 acres of fairways 

The slits are about 2.5 - 3 inches long depending on ground speed of the tractor at a 1/2 inch depth.
Cart Path Installation:
The first phase of a multi year program to install and repave our cart paths began on #8 and #9 during the same week of Aerification.  Pretty sure I can speak for everyone in that this was overdue and will greatly influence the overall experience for the membership and their guest.  A couple of factors are going into this process when looking at the property by improving plant health and congestion when re-routing existing cart path layouts.  #8 will be the biggest change during the project as the new path has been relocated to the right of the green to improve the area between #8 green surround and #9 tee.  In addition to plant health and conditions within a highly in play area, safety and congestion was addressed.

The new route swings you around the back of #8 green before connecting into the existing (old) path between the white and gold/red tees of #9

The old path in the bottle neck of #8 green and #9 tee was removed to improve the turf conditions and reduce the chances of those wayward approach shots hitting the path.

Outside of the re-routing around #8 green, a new extension was created with a turnaround to the left of #9 tees.   

Finally the existing path across the land bridge to #9 fairway was repaved.
I am very pleased with finished product during the first phase, yes it may alter your normal routine but once you see the benefit of plant health and flow in an otherwise extremely congested area, I think everyone will be just as happy too!  The allocation of capital funding for the 2016 season will dictate how much we will be able to bite off moving #10 forward next spring prior to the start of the season.
#16 Tee:
We started our first in-house project on #16 this week with the addition of a new tee serving the white and gold tee players along with widening the forward red/green tee.  The new tee will play about 140-160 to middle of green depending on finished product.  To me this is a welcomed addition to provide parity on are par 3s, the whites will now have the option to move back and forth from the back (main tee) and new tee for events and everyday play preventing that 170-190 shot on 4 of our 5 par 3s.   Here are a few pictures showing the process and progress during the past three days.
The sod was striped prior to last weekend before starting the project. 

Most of Friday and Monday was spent hauling in the material to build the tee. 

On Tuesday, the tee really started to take shape prior to the rain coming. This a view from the front of the main tee.

To keep with the same design features of the main tee, I'm really striving to create the same sightline on our final Par 3.
The forward tee has been stripped and awaits the material generated from the XGD installation on #5 to be widen and lengthen for additional tee space.
As you can see, a lot is going on.  Fall is always a favorite time for me, well with the exception of those pesky leaves constantly falling and who knows what is going on with Hokie football this year; however it is a great time for course improvements as we continue to build towards the future.  Stay tuned for updates and progress with all that we have on our plate this Fall and Winter.
All the Best!