Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Spring 2022 aerification is complete


 The course was closed on Monday and Tuesday this week so that we could do our spring aerification.  We pulled cores out of the greens four inches deep and a half inch wide.  Over 4 million plugs were pulled, cleaned from the green, and the holes were filled with sand.


I fully understand that golfers do not like when we "mess up" the greens with aerification.  I promise you that the maintenance team likes it even less.  It is an exhausting two days of work.  I personally ran the aerifier for all 18 greens this spring, my Garmin watch recorded over 25,000 steps and 18 flights of stairs each day.  I consider myself lucky that I didn't have to scoop any of the plugs.


The benefits of aerification greatly outnumber the negatives.  The process creates channels in the green for water and air to enter the root zone.  The sand helps to dilute the organic matter, firming and leveling the putting surface.  While this is a process loved by nobody, it is what is called a necessary evil, required to keep the greens healthy through the upcoming season.

This year we did our aerification two weeks ahead of our normal time.  We now need some warmer temperatures to wake the turf up and get them healed in.

A quick reminder for all of you that care for you own lawn; the deadline for spring pre-emerge weed control is April 15.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Why is it no longer acceptable to work hard to make a living?

 


The golf course maintenance industry is finding it very difficult to find employees to do the work needed to maintain a golf course.  Just like so many other industries, finding individuals willing to do actual work to make money has become increasingly hard over the last several years.  Clearly the pandemic has amplified the issue, with so many people simply leaving the work force.  Hopefully, this is just a cycle, and it will self correct over time.  

Over the last decade, the opportunities to make money by doing things that do not require physical labor have grown exponentially.  Jobs that never existed have been created allowing a person to have more flexibility in work schedule, providing a freedom to work when you want.  Ten years ago, we didn't have Uber/Lyft, DoorDash, gamers, TicToc, Professional YouTubers, or Social Medial Influencers.  It would be interesting to know how many people are making a living doing this type of work, and are no longer willing to do physical labor to earn a paycheck.  

I understand that a parent always wants more for the children that they raise.  But as a result of this, parents are not teaching children the value of a strong work ethic.  Historically, society has always expected that the work force would need to put in the time and work before the fruits of ones efforts would pay off.  Today society is doing all it can to skip the time and hard work and just get to the leisure and luxury of life that was always earned over time.   

Over the 25 years that I have been a Golf Course Superintendent, my staff has generally consisted of a combination of young adults, and retired individuals.  The majority of the physical labor has been done by the young adults, and equipment operating was done by the retired staff members.  Today, I am seeing fewer and fewer applications from the younger generation.  Those young adults that do apply are more interested in being paid to be on their phone than to do actual work.  I have had a motto for many years, about the young adults that I hire; "My goal is to make you a better employee for your next employer".  I try to teach them the basic responsibilities of work.  It seems to me that parents too frequently have not taught their children the basic responsibilities of work.

Nearly 17 years ago, I took part in a roundtable discussion about robotic mowers.  At that time, I didn't see a future for such things.  Today, they can't get here soon enough.  A lack of workers will inevitably lead to a reduction in the need for workers.

All of this is simply my opinion from observations over the years.  I do not intend for my opinions to be a blanket statement of fact, but more generalities.  I know that there are exceptions to everything I have said, and if you are that exception, I mean no offence and I thank you.

With all of that being said, the golf course will be filling positions this spring in most of our departments; outside services including volunteers, food and beverage, as well as maintenance.  If you or someone you know is interested in working, our application can be found at the link below.

https://www.orion-mgmt.com/contact/employment-application

Completed applications can be dropped off at the pro shop.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Happy New Year!!!

 As 2021 draws to a close, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support at Sycamore Ridge and wish you a healthy, and happy New Year!



 

I always welcome your questions*, comments, and feedback.  

Feel free to contact me at pdavids@orion-mgmt.com or in person anytime.

*Except for the question "How long will the frost delay last?" (I never know the answer to that one.)

Monday, November 1, 2021

Frost Delays

 Now that November is here, it is a good time to once again discuss why we delay play when we have frost on the grass.  It really is quite simple, when there is frost on a blade of grass, and you apply traffic to that grass, the edges of the frost will puncture the cell wall of the grass and kill all of the cells.  If the crown of the grass is punctured, the entire plant will die.


In November we will shift our starting tee to number ten everyday.  The back nine always becomes ready to play much faster than the front nine. The sun exposure is much earlier on the back nine, plus the lower elevation on the front nine are the reasons for this.  The colder mornings will require that we move our first tee time later to minimize delays caused by the frost.  We do all of this to prevent damage to the grass that can happen as easily as someone walking on it.


We do everything we can to minimize your inconvenience as golfers, and realize that your time is valuable.  So please know that we will always get you on the course as soon as it is safe for the grass.


Friday, October 1, 2021

Tee Box Renovation

 We have started renovating some of the tee boxes here at the course.  We are starting with the ones that we feel are in the worst shape.  The process starts by identifying the original shape of the area by probing to see where the edges of the sand base are.  Once the original shape is identified, the sod is cut off and removed.  When cutting the sod, the goal is to remove much of the thatch that has formed over the past 20 years.  After the sod is removed, fresh sand is applied and an aerifier is used to blend the new sand into the old growing mix.  The next step is to level out the tee top and apply nutrients to help the new grass establish.   Seed is then spread onto the surface and tracked in to help hold the seed in place, and improve the germination rate.  The new seed will be watered several times each day until it begins to grow roots enough so that water can be slowly reduced.


The first tee boxes to be done are the white boxes on 8, 10, and 12.  It took 5 days for the seed to germinate and become visible to the naked eye.  The Creeping Bentgrass will spread and mature over the next several months and should be ready for play in the spring.  


The primary objectives for this project are to; 1) Obtain a clean, solid stand of bentgrass. 2) Level out any undulations that have formed over the years.  3) Have a tee that is better suited to handle the summer heat.


While this project is progressing, you will see that the tee markers will be moved forward or backward on any given hole.  Please be patient and understanding while we work to make improvements to the course.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Sycamore Ridge by the Numbers

 When I was in high school algebra class, I remember asking when I would ever need to know the things they were teaching.  When I decided to become a Golf Course Superintendent, I thought for sure I was picking a career that wouldn't have much math involved.  I was definitely wrong.  I am constantly using math of all kinds in the work I do.  That is why I decided to do a post about random numbers concerning Sycamore Ridge.

43,560 = the number of square feet in an acre

3.8 = acres of greens

3.5 = acres of tees

27 = acres of fairways

80 = acres of rough

26 = acres of native grass area

80 = acres of woodland

1/8" = normal mowing height for the greens

1/3" = mowing height for the collars

5/8" = mowing height for fairways and tees

2+1/2" = mowing height of the rough.

5,994 = average area in square feet of the greens

7,200,000 = approximate number of holes poked into the greens when we aerified recently

4.5" = the average depth of  those aerification holes

511 miles = the total length if you placed those aerification holes end to end

300 gallons = the average amount of mixture sprayed on our greens

1800 gallons = the average amount of mixture sprayed on tees and fairways

1/4 ounce per acre = the lowest rate of any chemical we apply to the course

6,250,000 = the average number of seeds in a pound of creeping bentgrass seed

1,400 = approximate number of sprinkler heads on the golf course

2,100 gallons = the maximum per minute flow rate for our pump station

7 miles = the approximate length of the cart path

25.5 years = how long I have worked as a Golf Course Superintendent

5,320 days = how long I have been working at Sycamore Ridge

These are just a few of the numbers bouncing around in my head on any given day.  It is a real mess in my brain.  Numbers have become a lot of fun for me.  Numbers can be shocking, laughable, entertaining, and very important.  I couldn't do my job without the math skills I learned in school.  Some people think that all I do is grow and mow grass???? I wish!





Tuesday, August 3, 2021

90 Day War

 Not that long ago, I was blogging about how great the course looked because of all of the rain that we had received.  Unfortunately for the month of July, the rain basically shut off.  The golf course has had all of 3/4 of an inch of rain since the start of July.  Our non irrigated turf is going dormant, and any areas on the course that do not receive adequate irrigation are showing signs of stress.  Rainfall is always a better source of water than irrigation is.  While we have virtually all of the sprinkler heads on the course operating, the distribution uniformity is never perfect.  The longer we go using irrigation as our only source of precipitation, we will get more dry areas, and along with that we will also make more wet areas because of the sprinkler head pattern.

When the season gets like this, as a maintenance staff, we do everything we can to just keep the grass alive.  We will be doing additional hand watering and setting up additional sprinklers on the course.  The cooler mornings that we are getting this week allow for a little bit of relief, because the lower temperatures will allow the grass to start each day with less stress.  High temperatures in the 90's and lows in the 70's are very hard on cool season grasses.  Zoysia and Bermudagrass love the higher temperatures.  Our Creeping Bentgrass fairways, tees, and greens can just shut down in the higher temperatures, consume all of their stored carbohydrates, and then just die off.  

The goal of everything we do throughout the year is to make the grass healthy enough to survive what we call the 90 day war(June, July, August).  We are inside the last 30 days, and hopefully we can make it through without any significant turf loss.