Thursday, 7 September 2017

Smoke on The Water... and in The Sky

After a very cool and wet spring, the weather decided to go in a completely different direction as we headed into summer. June, July and August ended up being the driest summer on record, as well as one of the hottest. This combined with weeks of continuous widespread smoke made for a very strange and challenging growing season.

The wet spring we experienced this year created a few problems as we prepared the turf for the heat of summer. Constant rains create lazy plants. Soils stay saturated and the grass plant doesn't have to do any work. The root system remains shallow and weak as the plant gets what it needs close to the surface. Ideally the soil is allowed to dry and the grass plant sends roots downwards into the soil as it searches for water. This creates a deep rooting system, with strong summer hardy turf, capable of standing up to the summers stresses such as heat and drought. This year we had no choice but to head into summer with a less than ideal root system in place.

As things got dry and hot quickly in June we had many areas in the fairways begin to show signs of stress. An outbreak in disease (anthracnose) became wide spread into July and seemed to resist everything we threw at it. We applied wetting agent to help improve soil conditions, we applied granular and liquid fertilizers to try and boost turf health, and finally we had to apply a fungicide. This seemed to slow the disease down, but not completely eradicate it. The hot and extremely dry weather just seemed to never end and it was taking it's toll on our fragile turf.

Anthracnose 9th Fairway July 17
The wet spring also created another issue in our forests. The under brush grew thick and lush as spring rains doused the forest floor with water. As we got into summer, the lush undergrowth began to dry out as things became very dry and very warm quickly. It was just a matter of time before the perfect scenario for wildfires blew up into the worst wildfire season on record. In turn this created a whole other issue later in the summer.

Smoke. Lots of it. For days. Weeks. Not only is there a serious health concern for those spending a great deal of time outside (golf course workers) but it left us with some unusual and unpredictable growing conditions. The smoke seemed to create a "dome effect" where it trapped moisture and reduced sunlight intensity. The result was a very slow evaporation of moisture from the soil and a flush in turf growth. We struggled to dial in our irrigation needs, as the forecast still called for temperatures in excess of 35C but only would get up to 29C or 30C. Each night we turned down the irrigation run times, and each day the course seemed to get wetter and wetter. What was going on? We've never had to deal with weeks of continuous thick smoke like this before. After a few days we just turned the irrigation completely off. In Early August we went 4 nights in a row with out running the irrigation system and 7 nights without irrigating greens. This is pretty unprecedented for August in Kamloops.

August 2nd - Widespread Smoke
The smoke, although potentially hazardous and frustrating to work with, seemed to give us a bit of a silver lining. The disease areas on our fairways began to clear up and areas that we were struggling with seemed to recover. The smoke was actually giving us some reprieve from the hot dry conditions we were experiencing. Was it just from the moisture retention in the soil, or was there something more at work? Some research is being done on the effects of applying ash (burnt wood) to turf. The ash is believed to have anti fungal properties and could possibly have some benefits when applied at certain rates on turfgrass. Could it be that airborne ash from the wildfires was eradicating our turfgrass diseases? It's certainly possible.

August 6th - Moisture Rentention (dew)
August 10th - Flush of Growth (clippings)
We are currently in another spell of days with thick widespread smoke and it seems that we are seeing the same effects as about a month ago. Moisture retention (we haven't irrigated in 2 nights), a flush of growth (we cant keep up with mowing the rough) and reduced disease on our fairways (a nice bonus).

Spraying 14th Green in Preparation for The Sunshine Open

With all these challenges we faced this year we were still able to adapt and provide a golf course that was in good conditions throughout the tough and strange summer. Our limited staff worked tirelessly to keep things looking and playing great right through the hottest, driest and smokey-est summer, and I am proud of what we were able to accomplish. We are truly lucky to have such talented and dedicated staff caring for the golf course. Thanks everyone! 2017 will certainly be a memorable year!

2017 Kamloops Golf and Country Club Turf Care Team

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Dude, Where's my Spring?

Well, since the last blog post things have not improved much weather wise. So far we have experienced a cool, wet spring that has helped green the course up, but has also brought with it a whole set of concerns we usually don't have to deal with in our warm, dry interior climate.

Many of the Members I've talked to in recent days have mentioned how this wet weather must be good for the course; and while they are right to a certain extent, the golf course turf grows easily and irrigation is not much of a concern. However, the diseases that infect turfgrass also thrive in these cool, wet conditions.

Wet, humid conditions, favorable for disease development (taken May 16)
A number of our greens are experiencing a disease problem that persists mainly in high traffic and low lying areas. I suspect the main culprit to be the disease known as pythuim root dysfunction (Pyhtium volutum). From afar, these areas appear to have a brownish tinge to them, with closer examination, the leaf blades appear to be yellowing from the tips, while general thinning is occurring among the turf's density. When we take a core sample and examine the roots, we find very few roots and those that exist appear brown and sickly looking, all of these are classic symptoms for pythium root dysfunction.

11th Green high traffic area
11th green root depth in thinning area

Pythium root dysfunction infects  bentgrass roots in the fall and spring when daily soil temperatures are between 10ºC and 23ºC. Disease activity reduces the turf’s ability to absorb nutrients and water from the soil, and also leads to root dieback when soil temperatures exceed 29ºC. The appearance of Pythium root dysfunction symptoms are enhanced by low fertility, drought stress, and low soil oxygen levels. Symptoms are most common during hot weather in summer but may be visible in the spring and fall.

So what can we do to control this disease? We have sprayed a fungicide call Heritage Maxx (azoxystrobin) which has the greatest efficacy in controlling pythium disease. The fungicide must be watered in to reach the roots and affected area of the plant. It is a systemic fungicide, meaning that it is absorbed by the plant where it remains and can provide protection against further infection.

Patio putting green, healthy turf stand
Patio putting green root depth

We applied Heritage Maxx on Saturday May 13 and are hoping to see things turn around quite quickly. However, with the continued cool and wet weather favoring disease production, it may be a few more days before the turf can recover and begin to grow roots and increase density again. We are applying a liquid fertilizer aimed at increasing the root mass and shoot density this week... it just has to stop raining so we can apply it! We are also working at selecting pin locations away from high traffic areas which are showing the most symptoms. Reduction in irrigation practices will also continue to help reduce the conditions favorable for disease, but, the rain... again... will not.

Fortunately we have caught the disease in its early stages and will still have time to grow a healthy rootmass before we head into the summer heat.

For more information on how pythium affects bentgrass, check out this article from North Carolina State University:

Microdochium Patch early stages, fairway
Not only are our greens doing battle with disease, there is a disease presence on our fairways as well. This disease is in it's early stages and is difficult to distinguish between microdochium patch (Microdochium nivale) and dollar spot (Sclerotinia homoeocarpa), but I suspect with the time of year and weather conditions that it is michrodochium patch. I have never seen this disease on our fairways in the spring, which is telling on just how wet and favorable for disease this spring weather has been so far. Fortunately this disease can be taken care of naturally with a little bit of warm dry weather, which is foretasted to come soon.

With any luck we will soon get our typical Kamloops spring weather, some dry warm air will go a long way in helping clear up any disease problems we are currently experiencing. Much like the Ashton Kutcher movie where his car went missing... Dude, where's my spring? June is almost here and outside of a few days, it really hasn't felt like spring. Fingers crossed that it does in fact, come soon.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Still Waiting for Spring

After what has been a long and cold winter, spring seems to be a little apprehensive. Over the winter we saw some extreme temperatures and wind chill, multiple freeze/thaw cycles and quite a bit of snowfall. We were a little bit uneasy with how the course would fair in these extremes, but were pleasantly surprised with how it came through. The majority of the course wintered very well with only a small amount of winter damage on a few of the back 9 fairways.

The greens did quite well over the winter. The bentgrass is much more winter hardy than our native poa annua, which has moved back in on our fairways. A few greens (11,12, and 14) were exposed from their protective snow cover and endured some of the coldest and windiest events that winter had to offer. These greens experienced some minor leaf desiccation and bleaching, but are well on their way to recovery. They may still appear bleached but are coming along nicely, yet somewhat slower than the surrounding putting surface. Today we applied our first granular fertilizer application, which should help speed their recovery.
11th Green March 22nd - leaf tissue damage (bleaching)
A few areas on the fairways were not quite so lucky. With the majority of the fairways now back to poa annua, they have a much lower winter tolerance than our greens. Areas that became exposed to extreme wind chill (mounded areas on 11, 15, 16) experienced almost total desiccation. A few areas suffered from some minor ice damage (low spots and swails), but much less that we have seen in some previous years. These winter kill areas were hit with a fertilizer application on April 7th and again today with our full fairway fertilizer application. We will be aerating these areas next week and applying sand and seed to work into the aeration holes.

I want to make it clear that these winter kill areas are NOT from a lack of irrigation. These areas look dry because they were exposed to extreme windchill in the winter. This is the point where they became dehydrated due to extreme wind and cold and perished. As we move into spring, the surviving turf begins to green up, while the desiccated turf gets browner as it decomposes. We have had irrigation on these areas for more than they require, and with an above average rainfall for the last month, it is quite impossible that these areas became dry this spring. This can be proven by taking a sample of soil from beneath the turf. It is quite moist and able to support living turf.

11th Fairway December 13th 2016 - Exposure
11th Fairway February 9th 2017 - Continued Exposure
11th Fairway April 7th 2017 - Desiccation
Our spring greens aeration will be taking place this Sunday, April 23rd (front 9) and Monday April 24th (back 9). We are using solid tines instead of taking a core, which is typical for our spring aeration. The solid tines are less laborious for us, as there are no cores to clean up, and the aeration holds heal faster as the compressed organic material in the thatch layer expands back out after being filled with sand and rolled + irrigated.

The weather looks like it supposed to warm up somewhat, although the forecasters seem to keep saying that and not following through on their promises. I'm not sure if teasing us is fun for them or if they are just as perplexed as us. Either way, spring has to come sometime, hopefully before we get to May!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Benefits of Turfgrass

An upcoming episode of The Nature of Things, a CBC program hosted by environmentalist David Suzuki, appears to be taking a "swing" at golf. The episode titled "Dad and the Dandelions" focuses on the 'deceptively deadly nature of golf courses and the role of pesticides in maintaining its lethal beauty.' Not only is this premise false, it is sensationalized and focuses on anecdotal evidence that is not based in science. This one sided account of the chemicals that go into maintaining a golf course serve only as a from of drama and entertainment, they are not based in reality or actual scientific studies.

Dad and the Dandelions is airing on March 2nd, to check out a preview, follow this link:

It is true that highly maintained turf such as those on golf courses will require some use of chemicals. Fertilizer and some pesticides are needed to environmentally and financially manage the turf in a responsible way. The chemicals we apply are studied and approved to be safe by Health Canada and yet we continue to look for new ways to reduce use of pesticides.

As the Superintendent at Kamloops Golf and Country Club I can tell you that pesticide use on our course is extremely low. In fact, we have never sprayed for dandelions in my 7 years as a manager on this property, so the title of this documentary seem very strange to me, we are certainly not at war with dandelions. We applied a granular insecticide once in 2015 for control of a turfgrass ataenius beetle infestation on our greens .We have applied a few few fungicide applications on greens over the last few years to combat a disease called Take All Patch. The only chemical we regularly apply is a winter Fungicide which is applied once the course closes. Pesticide exposure is extremely low, and if you play golf you have a much higher chance of getting cancer from the sun than from any pesticide residue beneath your feet.

But rather than explain how superintendents are responsible pesticide users who care about safety of the community and the health of the environment, I'd like to focus on the benefits that turfgrass and golf courses provide to the environment and the community, and look at how these urban greenspaces and naturalized animal habitats play an important role in our modern landscape.

So what are these benefits? Let's take a look at the informational poster based on scientific research from the Canadian Turfgrass Research Center. I've had this posted up in our Clubhouse for the last few years, maybe you've noticed it! ---------------->

Reducing Runoff

Turfgrass actually acts as a filter for the environment. Contaminates such as sediment and chemicals are trapped by the leaf blades and fibrous root system, preventing them from reaching water ways and aquifers. Golf courses and other large green spaces are great natural filter for the environment.

Preventing Erosion

Erosion can affect the environment by blowing dust into the air and creating sediment run off. The fibrous and deep root system of turfgrass act as a support system to stabilize soil and prevent it from eroding and creating unstable slopes and foundations.

Replenishing the Air

Plants make their own food through photosynthesis and turf, which is a plant, is no different. A key part of the photosynthesis equation is that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, two things very imporatant to our environment. Turf also traps pollen and dust that pollute the air reducing allergies and other respiratory problems for people in the community.



Injury risk is mitigated by the soft and resilient surface turf provides. While artificial turf can still be effective, natural turf is far superior. Turf provides many sports and recreation opportunities, from golf, to soccer, to football, to lawn bowling, the list goes on. Turf is a very versatile sports surface that provides safety from impact and sports injuries.

Temperature Regulation

Even in the heat of summer, turf provides a natural cooling effect. Moisture is retained in the turf canopy where the turf transpiration releases vapor to cool the air around it. Large areas of well maintained turf can significantly lower temperatures of surrounding areas. When you are out on the golf course you can notice the difference in temperature from a concrete surface like a parking lot which reflects heat instead of absorbing it. Golf courses are large enough to provide some heat relief for the surrounding communitie.


What does that mean?  Turfgrass filters and traps chemicals and substances harmful to our environment, while natural microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi in the turf canopy and fibrous root system break down the pollutants before they can reach our waterways or elsewhere in our communities.

Sequestering Carbon

Heard of the Carbon Tax? Golf courses could actually be awarded a Carbon Credit! Turf removes carbon pollution from the air and uses it to build food through photosynthesis. Golf courses provide one of the largest carbon sinks in the urban environment.

Golf courses, sports fields, parks and many other turf surfaces provide endless benefits to the environment and the community. These urban green spaces provide a habitat for many animals and micro organisms that are vital to the environment and ecosystem. Turf provides an excellent and versatile playing surface for a large number of sports and recreation activities for the community.

If you watch the upcoming Nature of Things episode, or hear people talking about the dangers of playing golf, take things with a grain of salt, knowing that turf and golf courses provide many benefits to the environment and the community.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Winter 2016/2017

With a little over a year hiatus, it's finally time to post another blog entry. Many of the Club's members have asked when will I post another one as they find them to be both informative and interesting. I'm glad the blog has started to pick up some steam with the membership, it's a great communication tool and why I started to write them in the first place; now I just have to give it some new content! A great deal of work goes into each post, from research and fact checking, to walking the property daily to monitor conditions and take photos, and of course, writing, editing and revising.

In this entry we will be looking at how the winter weather of 2016/2017 has impacted the course and what conditions we can expect come spring golf season. I'll try to keep it short while doing my best to explain how the turf is affected by the winter conditions we experienced.

Daily Mean Temps in Kamloops for Dec 2016 and Jan 2017 (click to enlarge)
This winter things got bitterly cold early. By mid December we saw temperatures dip to -22C with winds in excess of 35km an hour which works out to about -43C with the windchill factor. Thankfully we had a moderate layer of snow on top of our course, with a 7 cm base. Unfortunately with the high winds, blew snow cover from many areas and exposed them to these extreme temperatures. High mounded areas and areas along the west side of the property (back 9) experienced the worst of the wind, as the prevailing winds from the west come in off Kamloops Lake, over the farms and right onto the golf course. Turf can become damaged in two ways when exposed to these extremes:

1) Wind/Desiccation - Wind removes moisture from the plant and over time the plant dries out and dies off. We will certainly see some damage from desiccation in the high mounded areas, especially on the back 9.

12th Green, Exposure to wind+cold causing bentgrass dormancy, loss of color. (Top Dec 12)(Bottom Jan 30)
2) Cold temperature kill - Poa annua (annual bluegrass) can survive exposure to about -14C, while bentgrass can survive up to -40C. Areas that were covered by snow should be insulated enough for survival, while exposed areas are at risk of damage.

11th Fairway, possible cold or desiccation damage (Top Dec 13)(Bottom Jan 19)
This winter we also experienced a major warm front that brought temperatures as high as 7C for a number of days in mid January, causing the majority of our snow cover to melt. The east side of the property (front 9) experienced much less wind thanks to all of our mature trees which act as a great wind break. These areas were covered for the majority of the cold snap, however, higher accumulations of snow also mean that when it melts, there is a greater risk of ice formation. Ice can damage turf in two ways:

1) Ice encasement/Anoxia - Ice prevents the exchange of oxygen and Carbon dioxide that plants need to survive (breath). Poa can survive for about 30 days under ice, while bentgrass can survive for almost 90. Some of our poa annua may be under ice for more than 30 days unless the snow completely melts in the next 2 weeks. While bentgrass will not have to worry this year.

2) Rapid freezing/ Crown hydration - This is probably the most damaging form of winter kill in our climate. If temperatures go above 7C for more than 48 hours, the grass plant can break dormancy and begin to take in water. Areas of standing water from snow melt are particularly at risk when the temperature quickly drops and water in the plant freezes, expands and ruptures the growing point. Imagine a bottle full of water rapidly freezing and cracking, this is essentially what happens to the turf under this extreme condition.

11th Green, Possible crown hydration damage. (Top Jan 18)(Bottom Jan 19)
One of the major reasons the Club decided to renovate in 2009/2010 was to convert to bentgrass, as bentgrass has a much higher tolerance for winter damage than our native anual blue grass (poa annua). Six years later our greens are still about 95% bentgrass, while our fairways have been heavily invaded by poa and are about 70% poa to about 30%bentgrass. There are a couple factors at work for why our fairways are turning back to poa fairly quickly, but that in itself has enough content for another blog post, so I'll save that explanation for another time. The important thing to remember is that bentgrass is more winter hardy than poa, but requires more inputs during the growing season and is still susceptible to winter damage in extreme conditions.

In 2014 we experienced a great deal of winter damage on our fairways and a few areas of greens. During that spring we implemented a bentgrass overseeding program where we target specific areas that we typically see winter damage. High areas for desiccation damage and low areas for ice damage. If we can maintain bentgrass in these areas we can begin the spring golf season with less winter damage. Each sping we have seen a noticeable improvement in these areas.

2014 Winter Damage 11th fairway. (Left, Feb 24) (Middle, March 12) (Right April 7)
This winter we have experienced many extreme conditions, from bitterly cold, to high winds, and warm fronts followed by freezing temperatures. We should expect some damage in all forms in different areas of the course. I am expecting to see desiccation damage on the back 9 fairways in high mounded and exposed areas, while the front 9 will likely see some damage from ice encasement in lower areas. I am expecting some crown hydration damage in many areas, with potential damage to a few greens including 11, 12, 14 and 4.

(Left, a snow fence out of branches, Jan 10) (Middle, Clear Catch Basins, Jan 19)(Right, Pumping out standing water, Jan 20)
While some areas have already shown signs of damage, other areas will not reveal damage until things begin to warm up in April. Some areas will begin to green up, while others will begin to brown and show the damage. Keep in mind that this is not due to a lack of spring irrigation or a fertilizer miscalculation as has been previously speculated. We have access to river water early in the spring, while the fertilizer we use has a very low burn risk, especially in the cool spring.

3rd fairway recovery in spring 2015 (Top April 2)(Bottom May 20)
We will be prepared to repair any damaged areas to the best of our ability. Bentgrass overseeding, fertilization and irrigation will all be applied as needed while we move along into spring. Expect some areas to be less than ideal until late May as we wait for soil temperatures warm enough for seed to germinate (21C) and begin to fill in. Last spring (2016) we were spoiled by a mild winter and a great spring golfing season virtually free of winter kill. This winter we have had a variety of extreme weather conditions and should expect spring golf similar to 2014 and 2015. The course will still be in great shape, but a few areas will take longer to recover as we work hard to bring them back; so please have patience, we can only do what Mother Nature allows us to do. Whatever the damage may be, we can fix it. It will just take some hard work, a little bit of time and some cooperation from the weather. Looking forward to seeing everyone out there again this spring!

Aerial Drone Photo August 2016

For reference and further information please check out these links:


Travis Olson,
Links Superintendent

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Putting the Course to Bed

What do we mean when we say "We are putting the course to bed"? Well, we are basically preparing the course for it's winter rest.

A frosty fall morning
From our perspective, the course is literally sleeping in the winter. The turf begins to go dormant, or cease metabolic activity in the late fall, but we actually begin putting the course to bed long before this occurs, usually in late September to early October.

Fall fertility of the turfgrass is very important. Helping the plant produce and store carbohydrates for the winter will increase its chances of survival. Both timing and  type of fertilizer are very important in ensuring the plant's health as it heads into winter. If we apply too early the plant will use up too many carbs, and if we are too late the plant will not be metabolizing enough produce carbs through photosynthesis. Fertilizers with high potassium are desirable as this is the nutrient that promotes carbohydrate production and storage, as well as silica, which has recently been shown to provide strength in the cells walls of the plant, aiding it in its winter survival.

The next step in putting the course to bed for the winter is when we blow out our irrigation system; this usually takes place in late October before temperatures dip down below zero. This is a laborious task, that requires a commercial sized air compressor and alot of driving around to turn on irrigation heads and quick coupler valves. The whole process usually takes two people about two days to complete.

The mist of Irrigation Blow out
Winterizing our pump house and the course bathrooms are also on the list for putting the course to bed and are usually done around the same time or shortly after the blow-out of our irrigation system.

Applying fungicide to prevent the formation of snow mold pathogens on the turf is the most expensive treatment we apply on the course all year, but for good reason. Without these chemicals, our turf would be mostly desiccated by disease and we would not be able to open the course until June or later, as we try and re-establish the turf. We spray our greens, tees and fairways in early to mid November before the snow begins to fall.

Fungicide Application
Sand topdressing of the greens is one of the last things we usually do before we complete our task of putting the course to bed. Sand topdressing helps protect the crown, or growing point of the plant, from desiccation from wind and cold temperature damage.

While we are completing all of these tasks we still have a variety of other jobs to do on the course:

- Taking in all the course accessories and markers, rakes, etc
- Taking in all the drinking fountains and pond fountains
- Covering memorial benches with poly wrap
- Blowing, sweeping and mulching leaves
- More blowing, sweeping and mulching leaves

When the golf course closes for the winter our job is far from over.. Putting the course to bed properly is one of the most important things we do all year, it helps to ensure we get started on the right foot next spring.

Winter Preparation

Once the course is finally put to bed for the winter we can begin our winter turf maintenance, yes we keep busy right through the winter! If you are interested in what we do for the rest of the winter see my previous post: What-do-you-do-in-the-winter?

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Membership Survey Results

We have received the results of our Membership Survey.  Through this survey we are able to gain valuable information about membership expectations and any areas that they feel we should be giving more attention to. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey!

I am always interested to see the comments and suggestions that people put forward. While we get many compliments on the course, it is the negative comments or complaints that really interest me. While I find some of them humorous, and others just nonsensical, I focus on the better ones and use them as a form of constructive criticism; where can we get better?

Through this survey we have come to a few conclusions:

1) People think my name is Trevor.
2) The bunkers need more sand and should be consistent.
3) The bunkers need more sand and should be consistent.
4) The bunkers need more sand and should be consistent.

Yes, we had an overwhelming response that our bunkers need some work.

If you talk to any Superintendent and ask them what the biggest complaint on the course is, they will tell you, BUNKERS. Bunkers are the most scrutinized aspect of any golf course anywhere. However, try to remember that bunkers are a HAZARD.

Old Tom Morris once said: "Bunkers are not meant to be places of pleasure, they are prisons for punishment and repentance."

Please understand that we are trying to do the best we can with what we have. We are aware, especially after the survey, that we will need to do some more extensive work moving sand in most bunkers and adding sand to about 2 or 3 bunkers that need additions.

Consistency  is a whole other issue. As Superintendents, we have to work with and against mother nature. Rain events, irrigation volume, different subsoils, shape of bunkers, slopes of bunker faces, amount of play, and limited staff all combine to make consistency in bunkers virtually impossible. While we try our best to achieve this, it is just not a realistic expectation.

Yesterday I personally spent 8 hours moving sand and "fluffing up" the bunkers. Not to toot my own horn, but we simply do not have enough time or resources to spend on bunkers for 8 hours every day.

This might help put the scope of things in perspective for you: 

The average yard size in Canada is 6000 sq feet, or .13 acres. 

Our golf course is 126 acres including 3 acres of highly maintained greens, 25 acres of moderately maintained fairways and tees, 3.5 acres of bunkers,  an unmeasured amount of rough and approximately 750 trees.

You maintain your yard, and it probably looks pretty good. That's 1 person for .13 acres (on average)

We have 7 staff  plus myself (superintendent) and an assistant superintendent, (9 people)

This equates to 14 acres per person (on average) including 2 greens per person and 83 trees per person. 

Yes we have a lot to take care of! Not to mention trying to work around golfers and dealing with weather events that always seem to happen right before a big tournament. Murphy's law seems to laugh in the face of golf course maintenance.

Anyway, I seem to have gone a bit off topic here. We have taken many of the suggestions into consideration and have already implemented some of the smaller details. It is our goal to provide you with the best bunker conditions possible. We are also changing the way we rake bunkers, hopefully helping to keep the sand away from the edges and in the middle where the majority of golf balls end up.

Here are a few links to short bunker related videos I would recommend checking out:

We also completed our fall greens aeration last week. The greens have already fully healed 8 days later and we are in the process of lowing the cutting heights to bring the greens speed back to where we had them, and are getting close already! In case you missed the informative video we made and posted to Facebook and Twitter, I will post a link to it here:

Aeration informative video

Thanks again for everyone who took the time to complete the member survey, we gained some very valuable information which will help us in continuing to improve the conditions we provide for you.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Course Update

This week the golf course is enjoying a much needed break from the dog days of summer. The cooler weather gives our maintenance team the opportunity to undertake a few different cultural activities including: verticutting and topdressing greens, aerating and fertilizing disease/dry spots on fairways and tees, as well as overseeding what remains of the weak areas.

Willow Tree on the 1st hole.
Baby birds, nesting in the willow trunk
Over the last month we have had quite a bit to deal with. At the end of June we had a damaging windstorm which downed many large tree limbs on the course, as well as completely knocking over the old willow on the right side of the 1st green. We had to bring in an arborist to remove the fallen tree while we dealt with the damage to the rest of the course. Upon removing the trunk of the willow the arborist discovered a number of surviving bird nests. We decided to wait until the birds are old enough to fly away from the nest before continuing with the rest of the removal.

We are still having problems with irrigation water quality; debris in the water clogs the filters in the sprinkler heads, causing them to underperform. The result is dry areas that become weak and susceptible to disease. Currently many of these areas are infected with a disease called anthracnose. 

The good news is that bentgrass is very resistant to this disease; the bad news, poa annua is not. Most of our fairways are poa, and fairways are a very large area. To do a blanket application of fungicide to completely control the disease is in the neighborhood of $12,000. Obviously this is not in the realm of budget, so to do spot applications we are looking between $2000-3,000; however, thankfully, the cool weather reduces the severity of the disease, giving us the opportunity to try and bring these areas back to health with fertilizer. Healthy turf resists disease, so if we can get these areas healthy without the use of fungicides, we can save a lot of money. Last week we purchased $150 of an agricultural grade of Urea fertilizer. We melted this down and added it to water to be sprayed directly on these areas. The benefit of this is that it supplies instant nitrogen to the turf. Hopefully we will see these areas recovering this week, but if we continue to see the anthracnose spreading, we will have to consider purchasing fungicide for spot applications.  

Anthracnose, 1st fairway.

Clogged sprinkler head, dry spot, 4th tee

As I mentioned, the underlying issue here is the effluent water. If our sprinkler heads were working properly the turf would be healthy and we wouldn’t have a disease issue. Last week Sam and I spent about 30 hours combined unclogging sprinkler heads, only to have ones we fixed at the beginning of the week clogged again. Very frustrating. I am looking into the costs of different filters and screens we can put right on our effluent mainline. So far the cheapest option is a “basket strainer” which is a cost of $3000, plus installation. 
Clogged sprinkler head in action. Dry spot surrounding.
I have talked to the City about the quality of the water, and they have basically told me there are a number of different reasons there could be debris in the water. There is a new farm on the effluent line and the other farms are have been using a lot of water through the heat, as have we. The constant pumping of effluent causes debris and sediment in the system to become agitated into the water and then into our system. Hopefully once the farms begin cutting their hay and stop watering, the demand on the system will be reduced and the water quality will return to normal. In my opinion, the water quality is the biggest issue currently facing our golf course. We do not have the staff to manually clean out each head every week, and Sam and I simply cannot be consumed by doing it ourselves.

The 12th Green, June 2015
Despite all these issues, the golf course is still in quite good shape, especially considering we just went through about 20 consecutive days above 30 degrees, many of those days in the high 30’s. We have had many compliments from members and the public lately, which has helped us keep a positive outlook as we head into the rest of the season.