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.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Home Irrigation Tips

I was going to use this month to tell you about another group of our staff members, but I have come up with a more timely topic.  How should I be watering my home lawn?  I choose to discuss this topic for two reasons, 1) I had a friend call me to ask how he could best utilize his home irrigation system, 2) I wish my neighbor would ask me how he should use his home irrigation system. My suggestions are a way to reduce the cost of lawn irrigation, as well as helping to maintain a healthier yard all summer long.
Image result for wet yard

A "set it and forget it" approach to lawn irrigation is not the way to do it.  You must constantly monitor each zone for excessive wetness, as well as dryness.  Over watering is expensive, leads to a shallow root system,  and creates a good environment for disease.  If you do not take an active role in the watering of your lawn, you are likely to be watering too much. 

Watch the weather forecast, and turn off the system if precipitation is in the forecast.  Watering grass is best when done deep and infrequently.  This means that you should water heavy and then wait until the turf shows the first signs of stress from being dry.  If a heavy rainfall occurs, this is the perfect time for a reset on the system.  Shut it off for a few days and see what areas stress first.  When turf begins to stress from drought, it will take on a bluish/purple hue.  When a zone starts to stress, turn that zone back on but you shouldn't need to turn them all on.  Watch to see the progression of your yard, areas that stress faster, should be watered more frequently.  Some zones may need many more minutes of water per event than other zones.  If all of your zones are getting the same water cycle on a set schedule, you are most likely watering too much.

Image result for turf drought stress

Image result for healthy turf

Finding a balance between too much and too little water will take a little effort, it can lead to savings on water cost, and a healthier lawn that is better suited to handle the summer stress of Kansas.  Taking the time to learn how your own yard receives and releases water is the first step.  Just because your grass looks lush and green from a distance, does not mean that it is healthy.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Meet Our Team

We have a dedicated group of individuals that work on the maintenance team, coming from various backgrounds. Each employee brings different knowledge and expertise to our facility.  I am going to use the blog over the next few months to introduce you to the maintenance staff.

I have always found that the backbone of a golf course maintenance team is best constructed of retired individuals.  Here at Sycamore Ridge, we have six employees that have retired from previous careers and have dedicated their time and energy to helping maintain the golf course.  These guys cut the rough, fairways, and tees, along with other daily tasks such as cup cutting, and greens mowing.  Without these individuals and the work they provide, the golf course would not look as nice as it does.

Edwin Hodge and Dallas Uhrich cut greens and fairways at Sycamore Ridge.  Ed is a retired School superintendent with family in Spring Hill and his granddaughter works in the Food and Beverage Department at the course.  Dallas was  Director of a residential addiction facility before retiring to spend his days on the golf course.  Dallas works on the course during the summer and then heads South to Texas to avoid the winter in Kansas.

Robert Green and Mark Voigt mow all of the rough on the course.  Robert was an ASE Certified Auto Mechanic, he hopes to play more golf this year, and spend less time weeding flowers at home.  Mark was a long time member at Sycamore Ridge before he retired as a Sr. Director of Organization Development to work on the course and his farm along with an occasional round of golf.

Roger Goodrich and Mike Johnson regularly mow tees, and whatever else is asked of them.  Roger owned a John Deere dealership in Illinois before retiring and moving with his wife to KC to be closer their children and grandchildren. Before retiring to the golf course, Mike sold aftermarket truck equipment and accessories.

All of these guys are excellent to work with.  In one way or another, they are all role models for me as well as the rest of the staff.  They have over 360 years of combined life experiences, the expertise that can be learned from them is mind blowing.   I look up to these guys, and often ask for advise, or knowledge and information that they have to share.  The rest of my staff is built around this core group, and it is a true honor and pleasure to have them all on my team.