Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter Set-up

The blog has been a little slow recently and I apologize to my readers for that.  I have been focusing a lot of my time on being the interim GM while we search for a new one.  Overseeing the bar/restaurant and starting up the pro shop with inventory has been time consuming but a welcomed challenge.  The pro shop is now ready for our grand opening this evening as the club now owns the pro shop.

On the golf course, the agronomy team has been very busy the last month with leaf clean-up and setting the golf course up for winter play.  The toughest part about having a northern golf course open all year around is having traffic on dormant turf.  In the growing season the turf continues to re-grow itself and we play on a new surface everyday, but in the winter it is the same leaf tissue that continues to get the cart and foot traffic all winter.  

On tee surfaces, we combat this issue by using matts on the par 3 tees.

The remainder of the tees are set in 1 location and left in the same spot for the winter.  In the spring it is better to have one area of the tee box that is really beat up and needs to be seeded, compared to the entire tee having some damage.  This way in the spring we can use the 75% of the tee that is perfect, and just overseed that small portion that received the heavy traffic from winter.  On the greens, I set up 3 cups, the 1 we are playing today has the pin and the other 2 have black discs over them.  This way we can got out and change cups even when it is cold and frozen and still move the traffic around the green.

It has worked very good for us in the past and this year we set the golf course up for winter play the same way.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fall Winterization

This has been a very busy week winterizing all aspects of the golf course.  The weather had to suddenly change on us making it less enjoyable, but always a good feeling to have things set for cold weather. Most of the week saw lows around 15 and hi's in the upper 20's forcing us to move along just in time.

We started with removing the fountains in the pond, prepping the on course bathrooms for winter, winterizing the waterfall at the clubhouse, and then the waterfall and pumps along #1. After that we spent 3 days winterizing the complete irrigation system, which involves pressurized air passing through all the pipes and heads on the compete course to ensure everything is free of water.  After that pumpstations and irrigation satellites were cleaned for winter, and now we are ready for some colder weather.  We also managed to get in some good labor hours on leaf clean-up this week.
1 of the compressors used
Lines being blow out through a drain - swans are just decoys to keep geese away, hence they don't move
Blowing out heads with irrigation satellites
Heads being blown out
Next will be prepping the turf for winter with snow mold chemicals, continued leaf clean-up, and course set-up for winter play.  Stay tuned as we move through those processes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Leaves, Leaves, and Leaves

Leaf clean-up is in full swing.  As it has been a warmer fall, the leaf drop is about 2 weeks later than past falls.
Course was just cleared 1 day ago and they are back
Our process for staff has been chasing leaves everyday blowing off greens, blowing out bunkers, blowing off tees and approaches, and then gathering them all together from those areas, including fairways and rough, to be mulched up by the rough mower.  We use to pick them all up but we have went more toward mulching.  It is better agronomically, less labor and equipment use, and prevents them from returning to the course during the next wind storm.
But they are beautiful colors

Maybe with a little more winter activity like this we will have less labor in leaf clean-up every fall.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Course Update

The last couple weeks have kept the agronomy team very busy.  Like most years, we start to layoff our seasonal staff in early fall and that is timed with the budget and need for routine maintenance.  This year it happened a little earlier to accommodate budget reductions, and ironically our September and October weather was warmer than years past.  This lead to more regular irrigation and continued top growth of the turf, while our mowing frequency decreased due to less staff.  We had about a 2-3 week period where we just could not keep up with the turf.
Cutting a lot of grass in fairways

Fall Flush:
I call this our fall flush, the same type of growth pattern we have in the spring, but this fall it was much more growth and lasted much longer than in previous falls.
Look at the difference on the right where the rough is mowed and un-mowed

We mowed fairways and rough as much as we could, and it still felt like we were always bailing hay. We have now gotten through that and came back to a more normal growth pattern.

Historical data shows our first frost is always around Oct 10 and by now we have had 5-7 frost events with one of them being a hard killing frost.  It is now Oct 23 and we still have not had our first frost, furthermore, our night time temperatures have been staying in the upper 40's and low 50's.  The turf still looks like summer conditions and greenness has not changed at all.  Some of the Poa is starting to discolor a little, but for the most part the course is as green as summer.

BTA grubs:
The fairway spots that were injured by the black turfgrass ataenius in Sept have fully recovered and are now in good health heading into the winter months. Previous blog - fall grubs

Annual meeting / planning
Reminder - our clubs annual meeting is this evening at 7PM at the clubhouse.  The last two weeks have led to an extra degree of planning for our department.  As budgets have been worked and reviewed for the last 2 months, along with long range planning, and structuring ideas for the complete operation. Please attend so we can include your thoughts and feedback.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


You may have noticed the 2 new swans in the pond on #18 recently.

They are just another 1 of our tools to keep the geese away during the fall and winter.  With the Snake River so close by and the geese love to feed on the golf course creating all the debris for us to pick -up, along with pecking and tearing up pieces of the turf.  Swans are very territorial and will run most other waterfowl species off.  Last year I did a small amount of research on getting a male and female pair of swans that we could build a house/nest for and live on the pond year around, although it is definitely an option, it will take more research and planning.

We have many different tools and techniques the we use - fake coyotes, red and green lasers, noise makers, fake dead goose, alligator heads, and flashing lights - all of which work for a while but when the geese figure out it is artificial then we loose the control.  Our course dog BJ has been more of a permanent help along with the fishing lines that we criss-cross over the pond for the winter.  We use these techniques early in the season that have short longevity and then in November we will put out the fishing lines for the winter.  Together all of these techniques give us pretty good control.  Stay tuned next month and I will explain the purpose of the lines.

We will continue to use various tactics until we can find that one permanent solution that cures the problem 100%, probably not an option, but we will keep working towards it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Update - Baby

I apologize to all my readers for not posting recently, but the last couple weeks have been extremely busy because:
Yes, my wife and I had our first child together. Braxton Jason Habeck, 7 lbs 3 oz, born Wed Oct 8, 2014, and everybody is healthy.  Normally I don't post personal items to my blog, but this is so exciting and does have a little golf course connection.
Delivery was connected to golf course maintenance, as I was installing a re-built motor in the pumpstation when labor began and I had to run to the hospital to join my wife.  Of course I wanted to finish the motor before dark and was even a little late getting to the hospital, but everything was installed and I was there in time to help where I could.
It has been an extremely busy couple weeks transitioning him into the house, along with the golf course has continued to be busy with fall work, a fall flush of growth that we have not seen before due to the warmer weather in September, paired with laying off of seasonal staff, and still producing a good product for the finishing fall tournaments.  I will get back to the blog this week and catch you up on what has taken place and keep you up to date as we get the golf course ready for winter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall Grubs

During the hot summer months it is common to see areas of turf under stress in our fairways and rough, but as the weather cools down heading into fall we expect these areas to improve.  Over the last couple weeks there still have been some areas that persist to look as if they under stress.

13 fairway with stress areas

15 fairway
These areas have been infested with white grubs, black turfgrass ataenius to be precise.
The white dots are the ataenius grubs

The larvae feed on the roots of the plant and allow you to pull the turf right up when you grab it.  You can see in the above photo how I rolled it back. By eating the roots and cutting them off they prevent the turf from being able to take up water and thus the areas look like the are drought stressed the same as summer.
We spot treated all of the areas and then fertilized to get proper re-growth and healthy turf before we go into winter.