Monday, June 1, 2015

One More Week

On the eve of this year's NJCAA Championship, I feel as I always do, "One more week."  One more week to get all the little things done to provide these fine young men, and occasional young lady, with the golf course they deserve for their championship.

The reality of it is that everything will be playing just fine come tomorrow morning and usually the little things are the odd tree that was missed by the trimming crew or the flower garden that didn't get edged or weeded again last week.  But this year is different, the little things are a little bigger with our drainage project still being in the repair stage.  The course will still play as well as it ever has for the tournament, just with a little more white paint for ground under repair, and the "one more week" would have only provided a more finished look as these areas would still need to be played as ground under repair since it would not be fully healed yet.

So, as we embark on another week of the NJCAA Championship, I would like to wish all competitors a sincere good luck and hope you enjoy your experience here at Chautauqua Golf Club.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


And we're back to lion status with the weather.  28*F and a good covering of snow this morning.

 Fortunately, this hasn't slowed progress of the drainage contractor.  He is currently working on #16 Lake and will be heading to #14 Lake and #9 Lake respectively after that.

Lots of flow in the trench yesterday.  It will have even more after the laterals are installed today.  Looking forward to drier conditions on these holes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb?

As March begins we had a nice freezing rain yesterday afternoon and overnight.  Crummy weather to be sure, but at least that means our temps are warmer than they have been.  I'm not sure if this qualifies as "in like a lion", maybe more like "in like a bobcat".  The forecast looks promising with a slight warming trend at the end of the 15 day outlook.  If nothing else, there is room for optimism that perhaps this eternal winter may indeed end some time in 2015, preferably "out like a lamb" and sooner than later.

In case you may have forgotten, this is what summer looks like.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February Update

Bill and Dan have already breezed through winter maintenance of our four fairway mowers and are half way through our eight green and tee mowers.  So far there have been no unexpected repairs and our main mowers look like they will be in good shape heading into the 2015 season.  

This is in large part due to our increased capital budget over the last few years.  We have made a commitment to upgrading our replacement schedule and it has shown.  This doesn't necessarily mean that we have a greatly increased capital budget.  We have been strategically mixing new with used, buying fairway and trim mowers just coming off a three year lease when we can find them.  Yes, we'd ideally prefer all new equipment, but in today's economy that's not an option.  This year we are considering a new greens mower, a used trim mower, a used sprayer, with the possibility of a used greens mower if the chips fall right.  All things considered, not a bad year.

We are also committing a portion of our capital budget to tackle the drainage issues on #9,14 and 16 on the Lake Course by bringing in a contractor to complete the project quickly and completely. Currently we have bids from two reputable companies and are considering the pro's and con's of each.  This is scheduled to be completed in late April to early May in order to have the fairways healed before the NJCAA tournament in June.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January Update

As we head into mid January, we find ourselves right on schedule with our winter equipment maintenance.  Bill and Dan have completed our roughly 140 golf carts and are now on to our mowing and maintenance equipment.

Each machine is given a thorough inspection with special attention given to parts that receive high amounts of wear, such as reel and roller bearings and pivot points of cutting unit lift arms.  All reels are inspected, repaired and sharpened while the machines themselves have all oils and filters replaced.  This is time consuming and relatively expensive, but it ensures a smoothly running fleet of high quality mowers and greatly extends the overall life of each respective machine.

In Bill and Dan we have two excellent mechanics, and this shows in the improvement and reliability of our maintenance fleet over the last several years.  This allows us to keep the course in the great condition in which you have become accustomed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

All Green, All Season

At this time every year I reflect on and evaluate the past season.  Some years I'm thrilled to be done with the past season and in some I'm thankful it was a good one with good weather and lots of productivity.  This year presented a mixed bag of emotions.  On one hand, everything was green all season.  On the other hand, everything was green all season.  This all green, all season has its obvious upside but also has a down side.   

The obvious upside was a fully green golf course that looked and played great throughout the entire season.  The non-irrigated rough didn't go into dormancy as it normally does in mid summer as temperature increases and rainfall decreases.  In fact, we had so much rain that we only ran our irrigation system twice, and one of those was a short test run to make sure it was still working properly.  From a superintendent's standpoint, it was nice not to have to fret over whether or not to run an irrigation cycle or if a little hand watering was the best course of action.  Ma Nature took care of that for me.  Thank you!

The obvious downside was the affect all this rain had on the playability of a few holes.  #14 and 16 on the Lake Course to name a couple.  The not so obvious downside was the impact it had on our budget and, at times, the morale of my staff.  With all season green comes all season turf growth which leads to increased mowing, which, in turn, leads to increased labor, fuel, equipment maintenance/repair costs, and time not spent on projects.  Crew morale had nothing to do with the green grass, but rather the constant process of moving sand back to the bunker edges after each and every rainfall.  It wears on a person after a while.

What will 2015 bring?  A hot dry summer as in 2011 and 2012?  Another washout like 2014?  Or, perhaps, one of the rare years of perfect weather?  Only time will tell.

I sincerely wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Frequent and untimely rain has been the norm this spring, even more so than normal.  Not only does it keep you away from the course, but delays the maintenance staff's scheduled maintenance and projects as well.

The most obvious to the golfer at this point is the lack of topdressing on our newly aerated greens.  Mother Nature was kind enough to give us a window for getting greens on both courses cored, but not kind enough to provide enough time for getting our topdressing down.  What does this mean for the greens?  Its not the end of the world.  The aeration still accomplishes the goal of alleviating compaction and diluting the thatch layer, and we will still be performing routine topdressings.

What does this mean for recovery of the greens to their normal state?  Not much here either.  As I said, we will still be topdressing even though not much of it will find its way into the holes.  The larger issue concerning recovery time will be the cold ground temperature which is limiting turf growth. We need a stretch of warmer days to get things popping.  Once this happens, the holes will close up quickly and our smooth greens will be back.