April 29, 2014

Another Typical Spring

Of all the four seasons, Spring is always the most frustrating for us in the golf world.  All we really want are some warm sunny days to dry the course out, get some grass growing, and get everyone out enjoying the golf course.  As usual, Spring likes to give us a few teaser days of how nice it could be, but goes right back into being an extension of winter.

While we are still ahead of where we were last year at this time, the excessive rainfall the last week has been a struggle.  We have been able to get most of the seeding work done around the course, so hopefully by the time the warm weather comes our seed will be nice and moist and ready to pop!

All of the new tees have been seeded and covered, and are ready to
start growing as soon as the sun decides to come back.

The middle of 14 fairway where we installed new pipes between the two
ponds last fall has also been regraded and seeded.  Considering how high
traffic this area is, we may end up sodding some of it as soon as it dries up.
Thanks to all the work on the irrigation pond last fall, we have more water than ever stored in our reservoir now.  More importantly, the leaking overflow that was causing us to lose 60,000 gallons a day out of the pond last summer has been fixed (mostly).  It is amazing how water can find its way around a 5000 lb concrete slab, but the old overflow pipe is just barely leaking a trickle now, maybe only 2000 gallons a day.  I cannot state enough how difficult it has been for us to keep that pond full during the summer months, having this project completed will save us a countless amount of wasted time and money fixing and running pumps.

Pond leakage last summer

Pond leakage this spring (hard to see, but just a trickle.)
Another project we completed last fall that is paying huge dividends was our drainage work.  With the 1.5" of soaking rain we had yesterday, one of our worst puddle areas on the course was water free without having to run a pump or squeegee.  This area is directly in front of the left greenside bunker on 6 where last fall we put drainage in that bunker, created a catch basin in the rough, and then trenched a pipe across the fairway to the wooden drainage sump in the right rough.  This area has historically been a massive pond that has required hours of pumping and squeegeeing after a large rain.  Not anymore.

Not a man hour spent or pump run, and hardly a drop of standing water.
We need more drainage!
Unfortunately, it looks like all the rain is going to send the river back over flood stage.  At this point, the prediction is for 32' by this weekend.  Cole Creek was running more water today that I have ever seen it move in the 4 years I have been here.  The flooding shouldn't really cause any problems other than closing the bridge on 17 for a few days.  Hopefully the soil and water temperatures are still cold enough that no turf in 9, 15, or 18 rough will be lost.

Cole Creek was running so hard today there were actually small rapids in it.
Hopefully May will bring us the sunshine and warm temperatures we are all hoping for to finally get this golf season going!

We've had one nice morning for golf so far this season, hopefully more
are on the near horizon.

April 15, 2014

Its Always Something...

We managed to make it into spring without any major snow mold problems, desiccation, ice damage, or major flooding concerns.  However, a "perfect" spring would be too much to ask for.

We seem to have been struck with a major vole problem over the winter.  Voles are small creatures resembling field mice that live in burrows underground, but during the winter have to come out and feed.  While our deep snowpack was great for turf health, it provided a great deal of insulation as well as protection from predators for the voles to be able to come out and feed.  And of course, what better to feed on that healthy turf on a golf course....

Vole damage on the collar around 8 green

They absolutely destroyed the back of 13 tee
We have usually had very small amounts of vole damage in previous years, but it has usually been confined to the rough.  This year for some reason they decided to venture into the shorter cut turf, doing quite a bit of damage to some tees, collars, and fairways.

Usually with a little bit of topdressing and some extra fertilization these damage areas will go away fairly quickly.

April 9, 2014

Getting Close To Opening

With temperatures well into the 50s and 60s the last few days, it finally feels like spring has arrived.  The course is getting close to being completely melted off, although there are still a few large remaining drifts on some north facing green banks, and along the west side of the course where the wind blows all the snow in from the field (12 tee still has about 2 feet of snow on it.)

Still some good piles of snow on the upper holes, and lots of water to go away also....
Regardless, everything is looking on track on this point to be a solid start to the year.  The coulee in the course is running hard, and the Red is coming up quick, but at this point the initial forecast is for a crest of about 35' by the end of this coming weekend.  A flood level of 35' barely gets onto the edges of 17 and 9 fairway, but it shouldn't be a problem at all as fast as its supposed to go down.  What we don't need are any large rainstorms in the next 10 days.

View of Cole Creek from the 1/10 bridge.

As of this afternoon, the Red is still pretty iced up, but it should break
free and start moving here in the next few days.
Most importantly, after a fairly thorough examination of the turf on the course today, my suspicions were confirmed:  everything looks pretty good.  There are going to be some isolated areas in the collars on the back of a few greens that might be a little slow to recover.  These are areas that despite our best effort to snowfence, the strong winds over the winter stripped most of the snow off and the turf was left exposed to -33 degree temperatures.  However, these areas will be very small, the rest of the greens, tees, collars, and fairways all look to have missed any major damage.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that we are primed to have a GREAT opening of the golf course this spring.  If the forecast stays dry and the temperatures at least close to normal, then we might be on track to open by the weekend of April 19th, hopefully the range can be open at some point next week as long as the river stays off the lower part of it.  Todd and I will be sure to keep you all up to date as next week arrives.
Fairways look almost perfect, just a few very minor areas of snow mold.

This is an extreme close up view of a collar.  The Poa all looks quite dead
initially, but as you can tell there is plenty of life showing up in there.

April 5, 2014

Spring Update

After another month of below average temperatures in March (the 5th straight month going back to last November) it looks like spring is finally going to arrive starting next week.  I'm sure all of you are just as excited to get back out on the course as I am!

With that, it is time that we start evaluating the health of the turf as it comes out of winter.  We went out the last few days to remove all the extra snow on the greens with our tractor to see how they were looking.  While it looks like mother nature would have done this work for us within another week or so, a prolonged melt/freeze process this late into spring opens up the opportunity for plants that may have broken dormancy early to take up extra water and literally burst from the inside (referred to as crown hydration).  Removing the excess snow and water before the big melt arrives should limit the possibility of that occurring.

I have said this throughout the winter, but it would appear that we should have very limited turf death on the golf course this spring.  We were blessed with a thick layer of insulating snow back in the end of November, and managed to make it through the entire winter without a melt cycle or rain event that would have formed any ice.

That being said, we are still going to endure a winter of about 130 days of snowcover with temperatures that dropped as low as -33, so it is still unlikely that we will come out completely unscathed.  However, I am optimistic that whatever damage we do see will be fairly limited.  I guess we will find out here in another few weeks!

Our blizzard on Monday wasn't exactly helpful, but it was a beautiful
morning the next day after almost a foot of new snow.

There definitely wasn't as much snow to remove as last year,
but it was still a solid 3 day process.

3 green in particular was deep, and really difficult to clear.

16 green all cleared off and looking mostly good

Collars are of course our major concern, as they tend to contain the
most Poa Annua and are always in rough shape.  From the ones I
have seen so far, I think they are mostly alive....mostly.