Monday, August 31, 2015

Irrigation Irritation

The golf course has had to rely almost entirely on irrigation as it's source of water for the past month.  August is over today and we've received just over .5" of rain for the month.    

Irrigation is a good supplement to rain, but it is a terrible substitute.  The uniformity of coverage is really poor compared to a rainfall even with the most advanced irrigation systems.  Every irrigation head covers a large circular area and there are many gaps and overlaps throughout the course. Imagine a bunch of circles 140' in diameter placed over the course but not allowed to fall outside the property.  Some places might get covered with two or three circles.  There would also be some places along the edges where no coverage would occur.  Then throw in some slopes, different soil types, trees, and wind.  I didn't mention the 20 year old irrigation heads with worn nozzles.  They certainly don't help the situation. That is why, in an extended absence of rain, we end up with very dry areas and very wet areas.   A wet area is probably getting coverage from more than two heads, is in a low area, has poor drainage, is far from trees, and is in heavy clay.  Any one of those conditions would make it wet, but if all of those conditions exist it is almost unplayable.  Some areas get zero irrigation coverage and rely on rain alone.  They may also be in a sandier soil, near trees, or at the top of a slope. These areas are essentially dormant or perhaps dead at this point. We'll re-seed if the weather improves.  We are not staffed to water the entire course with a hose although that is how we handle greens.  Obviously greens are our most prized assets so we are completely focused on keeping moisture levels consistent by hand watering.  It takes 7 days a week for up to 10 hours a day during times like this.  4 acres gets the royal treatment while the other 180 have to rough it.  

The area in the distance gets covered by multiple irrigation heads
while the area in the near portion gets only single coverage

This area is so hard and dry that the water runs to the lowest point and
then puddles.  You can't drive a nail in the ground beneath the puddle.  

Aeration Dates Revised

Aeration of greens was moved from September 14/15 to the following week (9/21-9/23) due to the addition of an MVSGA event on the 17th.  We have an outing scheduled for Monday the 21st so we'll get started with aeration as soon as it's completed and finish up on Wednesday the 23rd.  The golf course will be nine holes on Tuesday, September 22 and Wednesday, September 23rd in order to complete the work on greens.  We'll be using solid tines and filling the holes with sand.  This is a much different approach than in previous years, but one we think we can get away with for now. The greens should recover quicker than normal with this method.  Thanks for your patience and understanding with our efforts.

Due to the change in plans, we needed to make a test run with the topdresser in order to know how much sand would be needed for the project.  It takes a long time to get the sand put down on greens and we want to make sure we use just the right amount.  In order to do this we had to topdress and aerate the putting green today (August 31).  We need the aerator all next week for tees so we had to make the test run now for greens. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Summer = Pond Problems

Ponds on and around the golf course receive a great deal of criticism each summer.  Water levels are typically very low from July until sometime in the fall.  In most cases the ponds receive little to no runoff, are used to irrigate adjacent home lawns, and have no adequate source of fill.  As a result of this, the water level in most ponds is low when it gets hot and dry.  A good rainfall doesn't help much as most ponds are situated on high ground (not sure who's idea this was).  When it's dry we lose water to evaporation and seepage.  We also lose water from the many homeowners who pull water out of these ponds to irrigate their landscapes.  Some ponds are fed with wells, but none of the wells produce enough water to offset these losses (evaporation, seepage, irrigation).  Some ponds can be fed with the golf course irrigation system, but not if we are using the pumps to irrigate the course. Voicemails and emails telling me to fill up the ponds are a waste of time.  We are well aware of the low water levels.  If it were as simple as flipping a switch, we'd do it.  We don't have adequate supply or pumping capacity to keep ponds full all the time.  When we get some rain and don't need to water grass, we'll spend a day adding water to a pond or two.  In the meantime, if you live on one of these ponds, you can help the situation by cutting back on your irrigation use.  That's really the only variable we can control to help the situation.  We obviously can't make it rain and force water to flow uphill.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fawn Lake "dome"

There was no way we were going to miss the rain last night.  However, the gauges were empty this morning and the course is still bone dry.  All the rain east of us in this picture was west of us late last night.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

100 Million Holes And Counting

Tim Murphy is the "Holey Man" on our staff and he's responsible for putting just over 100 million holes in the greens.  Not holes that you putt to, but holes you putt over.   Every two weeks, without fail, we have "vented" greens with 1/4" diameter tines.  If you are strictly a weekend golfer, then it's possible you haven't noticed.  It takes two full days and sometimes a little bit of a third day (usually Monday, Tuesday), but the effort has paid off big time.  So far we've vented greens 9 times and are doing it for the 10th time this week.  Just thought you'd find it interesting that every two weeks we poke millions of holes in the greens.  Visit this USGA explanation for why we do this.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Heat Is On

If the summer were a round of golf I'd say we just played the front nine in even par.  Course conditions were consistent throughout the first half of summer with no big set backs and lots of good weather. Now we are about to tee off on the very difficult back nine (second half of summer).  If we can hold it together through the next 5 holes (mid August), then we have a chance to shoot a good score.  We can't claim success until the round is over, but so far so good.  The round ends just before greens aeration on September 14th and 15th.  Aeration is to the greens what the 19th hole is to golfers....a much needed breather and a chance to recover.

Parts of the golf course are showing some typical summer stresses, but in general we are happy with our position at this point of the season.  We still need some assistance from golfers if we are going to finish the season on a high note.  Parking carts with all 4 tires on the path, following the cart traffic policy, sharing carts whenever possible, and of course repairing ball marks (as many as you can without holding up play).  

Here are a some strange pictures from the past few days....