Tuesday, December 23, 2014

White Christmas?

Originally this blog post was meant to raise alarms about the potential for a truly devastating winter kill possibility.  Highs in the upper 40's melted a lot of snow in a very short period of time creating ponds of water in low lying areas over frozen soils just about everywhere I looked.  The typical Snow - thaw - refreeze is very hard on turf as we have witnessed over the years.  Add free standing water into the mix and you have a perfect receipt for a turf disaster come spring.  

This is what the golf course looked like on Monday December 22, 2014.  Gone are the frozen ponds of water that stood everywhere after the .65" inches of rain that melted the 8" of snow that fell in November.  (That rain would have yielded 13" of snow for the faint of heart.)

 This was the only patch of snow found on any putting surface.  I was temped to break it up and remove it but with 99.9% of the golf course free of snow it will serve as my test plot.  If this grass is the only grass alive next spring, we're in big trouble.  If that's the only grass damaged I will be a happy man if that is the only area I have to regrass next spring.  Pales in comparison to the acres of turf we've had to regrass in winters aftermath of years past.  Annual Bluegrass doesn't care that the calendar says it's the first day of winter, all it knows is the temperature is above forty, time to wake up and start growing.  If plants break dormancy then refreezes death is the likely outcome.

Snow mold is very active in unsprayed turfed areas around the course.  With all the moisture and open ground, chemical degradation of plant protectants is a real concern.  We used a three way blend of products to mitigate this possibility to some extent but Dr. Paul Koch's research at the OJ Noer Center at the University of Wisconsin has predicted half life's of several snow mold chemicals. He found chemicals degraded under snow cover but much faster when exposed to full sun.  Warm temperatures and moisture hastened the process.  Your annual donation to the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association helped Dr. Paul conduct his research.  We've always used his research as base for our snow mold control measures.

No sense losing your head in worry over winter, it's beyond our control as El Nino is in place.  But what I can do is to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and hope everyone enjoys a blessed and healthy "Happy New Year!" _Mk

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Thanks to your Equipment Manager Tim Johnson for sharing a "Pumpkin Feast" Original.  For those who don't know, Tim and his wife Ginny were co-founders of the Nekoosa Pumpkin Feast now in its seventeenth year.  _Mk

Tin Cup?

"I can make this shot, hand me another ball!"

C'mon Man!  Look at the size of those Pelts!  This scene was found on #16 fairway and no we did not have a scramble!  This not only looks bad, but the divots are hard on the reels!  _mk

Help Wanted-Part Two

This is getting ridiculous.  Almost three weeks in the making. Jockey pump constantly recycling and when it cannot keep up a large pump kicks on creating the spikes seen in the picture above.  Impatiently waiting for the water to show itself or wishing for major system "blow" out just so we could potentially get to the root of our problem is getting old.

The short bar graph seen on the left happened with a repair made to an obvious small leak for the club house feed just off in the ninth rough.  Frustrated, I knew our leak had yet to be found.

I had only one more card to play.  For the past couple of weeks, I noticed the water level in the pond was above the painted hazard lines in places.  This would be expected with all our recent rains but this was unusually full in my mind.  There was only on more thing to try, take the mothballed #8 pump house offline.  This also shuts off the water to the entire eight hole.  Eureka we found it! Notice the almost straight line with little pressure loss.  That's a normal graph of system irrigation water pressure.  Very few pump starts per hour.  Water is bypassing both the pump check valve and inlet pipe foot valve and slowly filling the pond.  This pump house was constructed in 1964 and hasn't been used since 1982.  That makes those fittings 50 years old!  Thank God!  Now I don't have to worry that the leak is under the parking lot! _Mk 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Help Wanted

Your help is needed.  There is a major irrigation leak on your course that hasn't surfaced.  We've been hunting for this break for over a week.  Please inform the golf shop or grounds crew personnel if you see water bubbling to the surface during your round.  Leaks of this magnitude are generally found in a matter of days.  Hampering our search is Mother Nature's 15 inches of rain over the past couple of weeks leaving puddles of standing water everywhere.  The large pressure surges to 140 PSI required turning the pumps off.  Our troubles began after power was lost during the thunderstorm that knocked out power to the community.  Without back pressure in the irrigation system when power returned all pumps fired creating a large water hammer situation.  To date we have repaired one six in main break and a broken tee on the Tri City course but have yet to discover the break here at Bull's Eye. Let us know if you see anything suspicious.  Thanks.  _Mk

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

On Course Updates- August 2014.

The "Crows Nest" adjacent to the first tee has been rebuilt.  The patio surface and retaining wall had settled overtime due to the continued decay of the original pressure treated retaining wall buried beneath it. The "BECC" lettering, an adornment that few noticed, had cracked to the point it could no longer be used and was eliminated from this design.  It amazes me how the removal of a mere four letters required the purchase of many more blocks than four to fill in the lobes.  The twenty plus year old blocks used in the original design build were obsolete and could not be found to fill in the concentric rings of the design.  This is the third time we've rebuilt this feature and each time we've added a new twist to eliminate settling.  Time will tell.  I think it looks great!  Thanks men!

The shortest regulation length golf course in Wisconsin is about to get a little shorter. (Editors Note: I was once told of this fact from Gene Haas, retired Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Golf Association. I do not know if it is still valid.) Construction of the first of five forward tee boxes at Tri-City has started.  The work will be done in house using materials already stock piled.  Soils on site will be recycled to create the mounding.  Recycled and composted aerification cores will serve as top mix.  Tee boxes were located between sprinklers so no additional irrigation heads, piping or wire needs to be installed.  While not architecturally correct, tee boxes are being built directly in front of the original tee boxes to save on irrigation costs.  The only costs for construction will be for the seed and starter fertilizer and labor.  While not a planned part of PGA's "Tee it Forward" initiative, should the shorter tee's keep a graying population of players playing, it will be worth the work at any cost. _Mk.

Friday, July 25, 2014

#17 Drainage Project.

In Agronomy 101, the first rule of growing good turfgrass is drainage. Your green section staff, taking advantage of dry weather, set to the task of retrofitting catch basins to an existing drainage network this week on the Seventeenth hole.  As you know, the smallest of rain events can make this fairway unplayable for days.

We used high pressure water and a sewer clean out tool to make sure drains were running free and clear.  Copper wire was attached to the clean out tool and feed down the tile with the water hose to help us trace the tiles path.  When we found an obstruction, the tile lines were dug up, inspected and repaired as needed. 

Most of our troubles were found where drainage tubing intersected irrigation piping.  Repairs such as these should have been made by the irrigation contractor back in 1994 when the system was installed. As you can see above some where missed.

Three catch basins were added to the existing drainage network and will serve us well in the future as the network is expanded into adjacent poorly drained soils.  We know of several "weeps" that need to addressed.

The water has already filled the bottom of the trench. Our trench cut through a small saturated zone of sand.

PLEASE NOTE:  OUR WORK WILL NOT SOLVE ALL DRAINAGE ISSUES FOUND ON 17! While our additions will not address all drainage needs, it will go a long way in drying up a troubled fairway and rough.  Multiple drainage laterals need to be added.  Future work needs to be funded.  $1,000 is a start, but it does not go very far these days.

PS: In a perfect world, this fairway should be capped with four to six feet of soil elevating the fairway surface above the "gumbo clays" that are so slow to drain.

PSS: It's 7/24/14 with temperatures in the 90's the past few days. As if we needed a reminder of how cold our winter was, a large ice chunk found in the pea gravel used to surround the tubing.  These are just a few fragments of ice as proof.  _Mk

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Golf Spike Evolution? It's Come Full Circle.

Clack, Clack, Clack.  If you're a Baby Boomer or older like me you can still remember the sound of metal golf spikes crossing asphalt or concrete paths.  There was nothing better than the feeling of spikes sinking into warm sun beaten asphalt pathways.  I can still feel and hear the crunch underfoot on tournament parched greens. For your own safeties sake, you always remembered to take extra precaution when making your way across the locker rooms tile floor because if you didn't you would find yourself on your backside.  AND you can still see the damage to wooden bridge decking, steps and carpeting if you look closely.  I can still see the bruised and battered turf, a perfect doughnut around the cup.  Those were yesterdays days right?  NO!  I'm talking about the problem that I see daily brought on by today's golf shoe construction.

As a (over) seasoned golf course manager, I'm always asked if yesterday's outing caused any damage to the turf.  Well yes there is damage, but it's away from the course you'll see today!  It is the principle reason hole locations are constantly changed.

The picture above is the damage caused by spikes around the cup location.  Usually there is a six inch ring free of damage as people stop short of the hole to bend to pick their ball from the cup.  The damage seen came on the "heal" of the largest golf outing of the year that proceeded one half hour after a 2" rain event had passed.

In this photo above this "tricky" tournament hole location produced two points from which putts were taken above and below the hole.  Those area's are to the right of the blue ball mark tool just right of center.

As I began to put together my thoughts for this post, I became unusually aware of the damage not only around the cup, but to the generalized area of the green hosting the hole location for that day.


Looking closely, you can see the imprints of both styles of shoes.  My knife covers the replugged closed hole.  I wish I had a dollar every time the comment was made, "how come the greens are 'bumpy and slow'."

I'm not picking on Foot Joy, however, they're not alone in this game.  They along with the other golf shoe manufacturers are not good for the game if the spikes they use to sell their products cause damage to putting green turf.  Damage requiring costly inputs of chemicals and fertilizers to outgrow spike damage are expenses paid for by you.  I'm aware of courses that have banned this aggressive spike.  Maybe it's time we jump on the bandwagon too?  MK

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Sand Vally," A teasers view.

Here's a couple of pre-construction photo's taken down at Sand Valley.  The logging and stump clearing is in progress on the tentitive routing plan for several new golf holes.


There's a lot of work to be done in the days ahead.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Pet named Peeves.

Call me a "grumpy old man," (I admit, I can be that from time to time,) but as this Blog is for entertainment I thought you might get a kick out of a few "Pet Peeves" of mine.  As golf is a game played by humans, it is humans that cause me the most angst.  This list is not all inclusive by any means, nor is it in any particular order.

When signs are posted that clearly ask that bug sprays be applied over hard surfaces and not the turf.

 When equipment operators have been told time and time again not to dump grass clippings in a pile in nature area's or in shaded places.

 Ball marks the size of the Planet Uranus.

"But we checked the air pressure in all the tires before sent them out." (Yup.)

 "But we know were to drive!"  Just wish I could find a photo of your wheel ruts to post."

What ever happened to keeping Carts 30' from the green?  My all time favorite is when someone pulls off the cart path onto the green bank to leave room for other carts to pass on the path. Makes me wonder why we spent so much money building them in the first place and baffling to me as to why I must always ask for moneys to build more.

And my #1 all time favorite is the Beverage cart!  (Not the girls.)  It amazes me how many times these noisy contraptions can circumnavigate the golf course in 30 minutes!  You can hear their approach three holes in the distance and it's a given just as you are about to make a swing they'll poke their obtrusive nose out from behind a tree or a  bunker bank right where you want your ball to land!  I get a kick when they're on an empty back nine when all the play is on the front.  It would be fun to place a GPS on one, the graph would look like like a spirograph I made as a kid.  (More to follow.....)  Mk

Lending a helping hand.

1.75" inches of rain fell overnight coupled with the largest golf outing of the calendar year scheduled to shotgun off at 11AM reminded me of a photo I wanted to share with you as to what goes on behind the scenes when trying to make it an enjoyable day on the course for members and guests in events like this.
In the picture above members of the BECC greens section staff traveled to the Dell's to assist the crew from Trappers Turn in shoveling up bunkers washed down by 3.5" of torrential rains prior to the annual Andy North Celebrity Golf Outing hosted there a couple of weeks ago.  Golf was postponed for a few hours to allow the course to dry a bit but the event was held.  Super job guys.  _Mk

Friday, May 23, 2014

Open for business

Your Fourteenth green has reopened for play.  The sod has matured to the point that I feel it can withstand golf and foot traffic.  Work will continue on a weekly basis to true the putting surface but this will take time.  To accomplish that goal, this green will be topdressed heavily weekly, rolled frequently and aerified as needed. I hope you enjoy your new green.  _Mk

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Golf Course Tree Hazards

 A large Eastern White Pine near the service drive along #18 severely tilted to the point that it had to come down.  This tree initially split after the severe windstorm of June 2001 and the injury overtime became rotted.  Loud cracking noises emanating from the base of the tree during several days of high wind alerted us to pause and take note how serious the condition became.  The tree became more severely pitched to one side, an Oak tree was actually acting as a crutch supporting the pine.  As a precaution we roped the area off betting that the tree would be on the ground before long with help from the near 40 Mph winds.

Because the tree was split and severely tilted we knew from experience that we would find extreme pressure points at the base of the tree at all points of were we would typically make our saw cuts.  The tree had the potential to pinch the saw blade when trying to cut the wedge or to "barber chair/shatter" when making the back cut.  Very dangerous situation for the chainsaw operator.  To be safe we called upon the advice of our "In House Expert" foresters, Tim Johnson and his father Dave for a second opinion.  They agreed with us that this job was too dangerous and should be left to the experts.

First Choice Tree Service of Auburndale was hired on a time and material basis to get the tree safely on the ground with minimum damage to the surrounding trees.  They brought in a bucket truck to help them drop the tree piece by piece making the job safer for all.  Clean up of the litter was completed in house.  _Mk

Monday, May 5, 2014

#14 Green Progress Update

The new sod on Fourteen green was aerified watered and rolled Monday May 5th to help level the high and low spots and to help the soil profile to become more uniformly moist.

The soil cores were removed by hand, mechanically rolled then finally watered in.  Note the size of the soil core being removed. That tells you all you need to know as far as rooting goes.  A soil core removed from a mature green would be measured a full 2-4" in length!

Fourteen green it is coming along nicely. The sod is knitting in but isn't knit yet.  The putting surface is being rolled and topdressed frequently to make level the surface.  We felt the sod could handle the mechanical abuse after we aerified a small section of the green the green light was given to complete the green.  This will further assist us in creating a smooth puttable surface that you'll enjoy.  It was cut for the first time on May 2nd with minimal scalping.  A good sign of progress in my mind.  I know what you’re thinking so here’s my answer. The green will open for play once the sod has enough root mass to keep the lip of the cup from collapsing when impacted by a putted golf ball.

 In the photo pictured above the sod seamed haven't knitted together enought to form a uniform tight surface. Warmer weather will help.  FYI, the temporary green is cut with the same mower as used on the greens at Tri City.

From "Useless to Useful."

Our long winter allowed Equipment Manager Tim Johnson time to fabricate a small mower transport trailer.  Tim salvaged axles and wheels from this long under utilized over priced trailer pictured below.

To a trailer that will actually be used for work on the course hauling equipment like this hand greens mower.

It took Tim a couple of days to cut and construct his trailer between other maintenance jobs.  Metal costs were less than $300.  (Far cheaper than the five figures the club paid for the original!)  We estimate this trailer, if properly cared for, has a useful life of forty plus years.  The original trailer had to be wedged from the tennis courts as it had fused itself to the court surface.  The birds that had taken up nesting weren't pleased to lose their home, but I was pleased to gain a trailer.  Great job and thanks Tim!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Course Closed

It goes with out saying but your course is closed.  Once the snow melts and the fairways, greens and tees dry up play will be permitted once again.  4 - 6 inches of heavy wet snow greeted us Monday morning.

Pretty in pictures.
Enjoy.  _Mk

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Golf Course is Open

The 2014 golf season is here!

It may have been one of the most brutal winters on record but it was one of the kindest when it came down to the lack of winter kill!  No December rain events and no January thaws!  Plenty of dry insulating snow and cold weather to keep it that way! 

Perfect! Thank God, we will not be starting the year out behind the eight ball in trying to re-establish the dead turf when the elements are always stacked against us.  Enjoy the new season and we'll see you on the course.  _Mk

Preseason Training

We took advantage of the cold weather earlier this week to address one of many shade issues found on the course.  The cold weather kept the soil dry and firm allowing us to drop 10 trees by 14 green and fifteen tee.

We have photographed, studied and planned for the removal of trees whose shadows weaken golf turf while striving to maintain the integrity of the fact we are a course cut from a forest.  To borrow a quote from our Patriots, "A Surgical Strike" was the order of the day.

We determined if we removed the large towering white pines adjacent to fifteen tee we would increase sun light penetration on fourteen green by two hours each day!

In the photo above we've already removed 4 of the eight trees on site without hitting the "Old Shop."

While I have many digital files of tree shade issues taken on the solstices (Spring, Summer and Fall) and at times like sunrise, mid morning, high noon, mid afternoon, the best photos obtained came from and application I carry on my Ipad called Sun Seeker.  This application allows me to get a feel for sun/shade angles on any day or any time for a particular day of my choosing.

Here the path of the sun is plotted.

The sun arch on Spring/Fall solstice
After the trees have been removed.

With the trees removed, the sun will hit the green a little after 8:30 Am.

The new view from the tee.

For those of you that "fade" the ball you will notice you have more room to the left to negotiate the shot on the left now.
We will be using this tool on other greens with know sun light problems. _Mk

Thursday, February 20, 2014

You think you're Die Hard?

How much snow have we had this winter?  Only the head of the driver can be seen sticking out of the snow of our golfing frog sculpture.

 The frog is buried deep under the avalanche.      
24" of powder had built up over winter.  There wasn't enough warm days to melt the roof clear.

We had to climb a 3 foot wall of snow and shovel snow away from the door to get into the shop.

The 16 -18 inches of snow pack on top of our shop roof avalanche-ed off this morning burying our sculpture under three feet of snow!   Thankfully this was before any of the predicted heavy wet snow's forecast for arrival later today could further stress the weight bearing capacity of our roof.  There was a definite concern of collapse.  C'mon Spring!  _Mk