Monday, March 4, 2019

Will Winter Ever End?????

In the current forecast, I see a change for the better, with temperatures rising closer to normal.  Unfortunately, I also see some regular precipitation.  Everyone at the golf course is anxious for spring to arrive.  We are looking forward to getting back to a routine on maintenance work and seeing the friendly golfers out on the course. 

So far it has been a brutal winter with very few golfing days.  We have had to chip more ice off of the cart path this winter than has been done in the previous 11 winters combined.  The ground is wet, and will be wet for a long time to come.  As temperatures rise, and the frost comes out of the ground, moisture will come with it. 

With all of the snow this winter, there are areas covered with Snow Mold.  This is a disease that  attacks turf when it is covered with snow for a prolonged period of time. 
Snow Mold

In my years, I have seen Snow Mold several times, but never like this year.  Normally, it is simply superficial, and grows back rather quickly.  I certainly hope that is the case again this year. 

The temperature is a balmy 10 degrees as I write this post.  It is weird to think that we are already making arrangements for our spring aerification that is scheduled for three weeks from today.  The greens have a long way to go to be ready for aerification.

The winter has been so harsh, that many of the scheduled projects have been delayed.  As the temperatures rise, we will work to finish up what has been started, and hopefully have time to get a few more done.

I am sure that all of you have cabin fever, and are anxious to get back on the course.  Hopefully this will happen soon, and we can all enjoy a long, pleasant spring.  To get you excited, I will leave you with this picture of number 10 green, taken on a warm summer day.  See you all soon!!!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Yoga and Golf

As each year passes, I constantly look back in time and think about how my life has evolved.  I remember fondly the days when I was in my peak physical condition.  However, time, poor eating habits, and reduced physical activities have taken a toll on my body.  In early 2017 I found myself constantly needing to see the chiropractor, just to get through work each week.  I was spending a small fortune on these visits, and knew that they were only a temporary fix for the root problem.  I knew that something must be done to improve my physical health.  Every time that I tried to start a new exercise program, I found myself in more pain, making it impossible to continue what I had started.  My wife had been attending yoga classes at a studio in Olathe, and I had witnessed firsthand the benefits of yoga on the human body.  I had always believed that yoga was for girls.  I WAS WRONG!!!! 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The thought of going to a yoga class, having never been to one, was a scary step in my life.  The intimidation of being in class with people that have practiced yoga for years, knowing that I will look like an out of shape old man, was a fear that was not easy to overcome.  The studio that my wife attends, Surya Yoga at 151st and Mur-Len in Olathe, has a beginner series of yoga classes that ultimately broke down my fears.  Annie Trotta, the owner of the studio, teaches these classes.  Annie does an outstanding job of methodically introducing new students of all ages to the practice of yoga.  She explains how the body works, and how it changes over time.  She teaches the students the language of yoga, the various poses, and their names.  She points out how all people are different, and that the postures that they are able to achieve are different.  Long story short, this beginner series of yoga classes changed my life.  This series of classes gave me the confidence to attend yoga practice
on a regular basis.  I have built muscle, reduced fat, increased core strength, improved physical posture, reduced physical pain, stronger mental health, and yes, I believe that it has improved my golf game.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I will never play golf professionally.  I rarely do it for fun.  When I do play golf now, I hurt less, I hit the ball straighter, and I feel much better after the round is done.  Golf is a one sided sport.  This means that you use the same muscles on one side of your body for each shot.  Yoga has a symmetry to it that helps to mitigate the asymmetry, and possible physical injury, caused by golf.  Yoga may not be the way to add 20 yards to your drive, but your range of motion will improve.  There are certain types of yoga classes that will help a golf game more than others.  Classes with slow movements, including static positions, and extension poses, are the best for golf.  These isometric poses will improve core stability, and a slow pace will allow you to detect muscular imbalances.  Bikram and Vinyasa classes have their own merits but may do less to improve your golf game.

Knowing that my audience is primarily men, I want to help you to overcome your fears of taking a yoga class.  First, you need to remember that all individuals are different, men and women move differently.  In a yoga class, do not compare yourself to anyone else.  They are not looking at you and judging you.  Second, each and every person in that class had to start somewhere.  It is likely that they started right where you are.  It will not take long for you to see and feel the changes to your body from yoga.  Know your body, know your limitations. Push yourself, but do it carefully. 

My reasons for starting yoga are my own.  I was not looking to improve my golf game.  I wanted to improve my quality of life.  This has definitely happened for me.  I have been practicing yoga for nine months now.  I enjoy each and every class I attend.  When I have back pain, or stress, I long to go to a class.  I enjoy it so much, that I have shifted priorities in my life to ensure that I have time to practice.  If you talk to the people that know me, you will understand that I have become a "Yoga Junkie".  I regularly talk about my personal experiences in each class, and I constantly try to figure out when I can get my next class.  I still focus on the Level I classes.  I feel the best after those.  The relaxation and physical benefits are euphoric for me. 

If you are looking for a better you and a better golf game in 2019, I encourage you to explore the world of yoga.  Surya Yoga has two different sessions of the 8 week beginner series classes that start the week of January 7th.  One of them is on Monday evenings from 5:45 to 6:45, the other is Wednesday mornings from 11:00 to Noon.  If you take this series of classes, you will know if yoga is for you.  Annie will teach you what you need to know to feel comfortable moving into one of the regular classes.  Each and every teacher that I have experienced at this studio has been excellent.  If there is a studio that is more convenient for you, check them out.  I am sure that the benefits you will see will be measurable. 

I hope that you had a wonderful 2018, and I wish you a healthy and prosperous 2019.



Saturday, December 1, 2018

Wild Winter Weather

It is only December 1st today, and it has already been quite a winter.  We have had two snow events that have closed the course for several days.  The cold temperatures have really kept the players off of the course.  Last nights rainfall did a good job of clearing the snow from the course, but with more rain today followed by a week of 30 degree days,  good weather for golfing is still a ways off.  This weather has had a negative impact on our ability to work on many of the scheduled fall projects.  Fall fertilization as well as chemical applications have been postponed until things dry out enough that we can get equipment onto the course.  The construction of the small wall at the end of the first fairway on seven, was completed.  The weather has delayed the sod work that must be done to finish the project.  A picture of the completed wall is below.  The sod work will need to wait until the weather allows for sod to be cut, moved, and watered.

 Because the weather has not allowed for much work on the the course, we have started making a new style of traffic control devices that will replace the little wooden blocks that have been used on the course in the past.  These will take the place of the little blocks, but serve the same purpose.

Hopefully, the weather will not continue to be a bad through the winter.  We definitely enjoy the normal warm weather breaks where we get to see all of the golfers out enjoying the results of the work we do.  I hope I see all of you soon.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Improvement projects

At Sycamore Ridge, we are always looking for ways to improve your golfing experience.  There are several projects planned for the upcoming months.  It is always easier to work on projects during the winter months because the daily demands of the established turf decline significantly. 

The first project was started yesterday.  The end of the first fairway on hole number seven, has been washed out from excessive traffic, rain, and an abundance of rocks just below the surface of the grass.  The plan includes removing the rocks at the surface, constructing a small wall, and back filling with soil to create a better growing environment for the turf.  As we started to remove the rocks, there were some that made it clear why the grass could not grow in that area.  The one pictured, took three of us twenty minutes to unearth, and will require a skid loader to pick up.  The smaller rocks that were at the surface filled the bed of a large utility vehicle.  When this project is completed, the grass should be better prepared to handle the cart traffic and provide a safer surface to hit a ball from.

 After the wall is constructed and back filled, we will remove some of the bentgrass from the end of the fairway, and replace it with fescue for rough.  This will create a wider strip of rough to hopefully catch more balls that roll through the fairway, and stop them before they get to the path.

It is anticipated that this project will be completed early in November.  When finished, we will move on to other areas  to continue improving the course for the enjoyment of our golfers.  I will not spoil the surprise by naming the projects that are planned, you will need to stay tuned to our social media, or come play a round of golf to check things out.  We will continue working for you, trying to provide the best possible course conditions year round.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

New Nursery Green

During the last week of September, we started a project to construct a new nursery green near the tee complex on hole number one.  This nursery area will allow us to be quicker to react to any turf loss on the greens on the course, and because the growing medium is a match, there should be a better blending of the surfaces when patches are installed.

A company was hired to come in and flatten out one of the old tee boxes that is no longer used and create a surface for the nursery green.  They created an area of about 4000 square feet and capped it with a sand and peat moss mixture to match the material our greens currently grow on.  It took one day for them to move the soil for the foundation of the green, and a second day to move the greens mix into place to grow the grass on.  Each layer was compacted to prevent settling of the materials.  A 1.5-2% slope was created on both the subsurface and the finish surface.  This slope will allow for water to drain correctly.  The sand layer was measured many times to ensure that it was a uniform 8" depth everywhere.  After the depth and slope were perfect, a finish grading was done to the surface.  This finish created a smooth surface for the planting of bentgrass seed.

When the construction was finished, we began installing irrigation around the green.  New pipe, control wire, and irrigation heads were installed and connected with the existing irrigation control box on hole number one.  The trenches were settled and compacted after filling.  This process should reduce the settling of the soil in the trenches.  Once the irrigation installation was complete and back-filled, it was time to seed and protect the disturbed area.  Nutrients were applied and incorporated into the sand mixture to help the seedlings grow.  The seed was carefully applied in two directions and tracked into the sand.  A ring of sod was placed around the green surface to stabilize and define the edge.  Seed and fertilizer were placed on the surrounding soils before a mulch mat was installed to hold the seed and soil in place and help the seed germinate more quickly.

I can only hope that I will never need to harvest sod from this nursery.  However, when growing Creeping Bentgrass greens, that is not likely.  It is very common for golf courses to have an area like this for repairing any damage or turf loss on the greens.  Hopefully, within the next few days, we will see a green fuzz growing on the surface of the green.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Breathing a sigh of relief.

The first day of September always brings a sense of relief in my line of work.  The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and the stress of keeping grass alive begins to decline.  We have had a very successful August at Sycamore Ridge.  The greens have been aerified, and are completely healed, a large portion of our fall seeding is done, and recent rains have the new grass growing in nicely.  Given the weather we had during the summer, the course is in really nice shape heading into fall.  There were just enough breaks in the heat during late July and August, that the course is in better condition today than it was on July 4th.

Even though, the stress levels may be declining, we still have a lot of work we want to accomplish on the course before winter.  We will be installing some new irrigation where there is none, and then repairing and re-grassing these same areas to improve golfing conditions.  Most of the work we plan to do is in high traffic areas.  While it is difficult to grow grass with the constant traffic of carts on it, it is impossible when these areas are not irrigated.  Some other traffic areas have a lot of rocks below the surface, we will be removing the rocks and back-filling with topsoil to give the turf a fighting chance of surviving.  You may see more ropes than usual on the course.  This is to protect these areas from cart traffic.  Please understand that the work we do is for you, to ensure that your experience at Sycamore Ridge is as enjoyable as possible.

We seeded some areas in the fairways just three days ago, and the seed is already germinating.  This is the kind of stuff I geek out about.  This is a picture of a Creeping Bentgrass seedling that I found just this morning.  Understand that it normally takes 5-7 days for this seed to germinate.  To have a 1/4" blade and 3/4" roots in this short of time is just amazing.  Protecting these seedlings will give them the best chance of survival.

 We had great success in repairing the area on 18 fairway, when we seeded in July.  The areas we seeded on Tuesday should fill in just as well in the next month.  These are  pictures taken of 18 fairway on July 28, 2018, and August 31, 2018.

We do the work we do because we love it.  There are many reasons I chose to become a Golf Course Superintendent.  These are the joys of my job.  I may not be able to keep all of the grass alive all of the time, but given the weather of 2018, I consider myself fortunate to have the course in the great condition it is.

At the beginning of this blog, I said that we had completed aerification.  If you are reading this and don't regularly play at Sycamore Ridge, please give us a try when your course is aerifying their greens.  I know you will enjoy the challenge and conditions we offer.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Aerification Time????

Most golf courses wouldn't even be thinking about Fall aerification yet.  Here at Sycamore Ridge, we really aren't thinking about it any more.  As I write this blog, we are putting the finishing touches on our fall aerification.  This unbelievably cool weather allowed us to aerify all of the greens on the course over the last two days.

Many people would ask why so early?  Well, we saw an opportunity and we took it.  Aerification was actually scheduled to happen in two weeks, but the long range forecast showed the heat returning to our area.  With a busy fall event schedule, we new that if we didn't get it done before mid August, our next window of opportunity would be in October.  The recent break in the heat, was the perfect time to get it done. 

Getting this done was a surprise to all of us, including myself.  I know that I inconvenienced some golfers in the process, and for that I apologize.  This aerification was not even thought about until yesterday morning.  Fortunately the Tee-sheet was light enough and the Pro-shop staff was supportive, making it possible.

I know that the heat will return later this week and the greens may require a little more attention over the month of August, but they will heal in very quickly and be in excellent condition when the other courses in the area are doing the aerification on their greens.  Again, I apologize to anyone that I upset with this last minute decision, and I appreciate your understanding and support.