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.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

One day closer to winter

 We have passed the mid-point of the year 2021!  We have cycled from cold to warm to very cold, dry to wet to very wet to very dry and now back to wet.  If you live around here, and don't like the weather, just wait a little while and it will probably change.  

This year seems to be flying by.  It is already July 1st, and thanks to Mother Nature, the course is still green and lush.  While I am sure that we will have more hot and dry weather that will test the maintenance staff and our ability to keep the grass healthy, I am hopeful that we will continue to get periodic rainfall.  Even though the course is irrigated it is never as good as actual rainfall from the sky.  Although we have struggled at times to maintain the course with large amounts of rain over several days, the rain does make the job easier and allow for other work to get done that might not happen otherwise. 

There is nothing that any of us can do to change the weather.  The meteorologists can't even predict it with any accuracy.  Superintendents always have an eye on the sky and multiple weather applications on their phones.  Even so, we still don't know what is going to happen until it does.  The work day for the maintenance staff can change in a moment because of the weather, and it is frequently causing stress.  The summer is undoubtedly the most difficult time of the year to grow grass, particularly cool season grass like we have at Sycamore Ridge.  When I hit the stressful days of the summer
season, I like to remind myself that we are one day closer to winter.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Keeping number two green healthy.

 Number two green has been the biggest challenge on the course for all of the years I have worked here.  We have tried everything that we can think of to keep all of it alive for an entire season.  There have been years that we have not had to lay new sod on that green, but over the last several years it has required new sod in the same areas each year.

We have checked the irrigation coverage,  inspected the drainage lines,  blended the sub surface root zone mix, removed trees to reduce shade and improve air movement.  A new more powerful fan was installed to increase air movement,  and outside consultants have been brought in to identify any problems.  Last fall when new sod was installed, we removed half of the root zone mix, replaced it with new, and blended it in.  We have tried using products to improve the soil microbial populations, along with additional synthetic chemicals to help maintain plant health and vigor.  Mowing height on that green has been raised to allow for more leaf surface to help the plant produce better roots and improve health.

Earlier this month Heartland Golf and Turf Services came to the course and performed the DryJect process on number two green.  This process utilizes high pressure water to inject sand into the root zone.  This accomplishes many of the same things that an aerification would do, but with less disruption to play.  As the sand is injected, it blends with the existing mix, and improves water and air movement while creating channels for the roots to grow down.

We will continue to work to find the best solution or solutions to keep the entire green healthy all season long.  There are new products that we will apply, additional cultivation steps that will be taken, along with additional investigations to identify any existing problems.  So far this year, it is in great shape.  Hopefully it stays that way.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Rounds 4 Research

 As a golf course superintendent, I have learned that the science around my job is constantly changing.  It would be impossible for me to stay up-to-date on all of the information that changes from year-to-year.  All superintendents rely other entities to research new products, and then educate us on the results.  The only way that these researchers such as universities can perform the research is with money provided by outside sources.  

Right now there is a great opportunity for you to help support this research and education.  The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America through their Environmental Institute for Golf is having a Rounds 4 Research auction.  Golf courses from across the United States have donated rounds of golf at their facilities.  The proceeds from this auction will help make a positive difference for the future of the game through research, education and advocacy.  

Sycamore Ridge along with 41 other courses in Kansas and Missouri have donated rounds to this great cause.  More than 1000 facilities from all fifty states have donated rounds.

This might be an excellent opportunity for you to save a few dollars, or perhaps play that one golf course that is on your bucket list that you just can't find a way to play.  

Please take some time and follow the link below to the Bidding For Good website, and look through the options available.


If you are lucky enough to win any of these great rounds of golf, know that your purchase price will help all superintendents improve golfing conditions.  Thank You!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Great Weather for Golf

 The golf course has really greened up over the last few weeks.  The fairways have been mowed a couple of times.  The first cut on the rough was done this week.  I hear that the greens are rolling quite nicely.  We have our aerification scheduled for April 26&27 this spring.  Doing the aerification that late, should make for a shorter time for healing them back in.  

Work on a golf course in the spring always seems to pile up.  Chemical applications or burning that must be delayed because of high winds, work that can't be done because of excess moisture.  Each year, it seems that we are fighting with Mother Nature to get caught up on the work required on the course.  Don't get me wrong, I love watching the course come out of it's winter dormancy, return to the lush green color and spring back to life.  I am simply complaining about the weather and how it can complicate the work that must get done.  The work will get done, we will just wait until Mother Nature gives us proper conditions.

This time every year, I like to remind my readers that do their own lawn work, that it is time for your application of pre-emergent herbicide.  I was taught that it needs to be applied and watered in before tax day, April 15th.  This application can be combined with a broadleaf weed control to help keep your lawn weed free all season long.  You still have a couple of weeks to get it done, and hopefully you can get a window of weather that works for you.

Friday, February 26, 2021

What comes next?

 I heard someone comment today that the groundhog decided to pack his six more weeks of winter into one week.  That was some brutally cold weather we had in the middle of February.  We didn't get as much snow as we could have, but we were snow covered for a week and a half.  I don't think that winter is over yet, but the forecast for the next couple of weeks looks pretty mild. 

Golfers are returning to the course, taking advantage of the nicer weather.  The maintenance team will be doing the same.  We will be getting started on burning our native areas, resuming some maintenance practices on the greens, finishing up more projects, and getting the course ready for the season.  After the season of 2020 we don't know what to expect in 2021, but we hope that we will be better prepared to handle whatever comes our way.

The burnt native areas will be quite a contrast to the snow cover we have recently had.  Burning allows us to more effectively control the weed populations in the native areas, helps it to green up more quickly, and keeps the overall health of these areas better.  (It also makes it easier for golfers to find their golf balls for a few weeks.)

Enjoy the weather as it looks mild for a couple of weeks.  Winter will probably be back before summer gets here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Follow us on Twitter

The maintenance team is going to do a better job of communicating with our golfers via Twitter.  In an attempt to improve our day to day communications with golfers about course conditions, we will be utilizing Twitter more often.  Course closures, cart path only, as well as other important course maintenance information will be posted on Twitter.  You can follow us at @sycamoreridgekc.