Monday, December 6, 2010

She's catching up!!!!

Last week I made the comment of wondering how much snow we will get when Mother Nature decides to catch up.

Well.......she's catching up very quickly at this point. We are in the middle of a lake effect snow band and pretty hefty winds are making life "fun" right now.

On a side note, I have added a poll to the right in hopes of getting an idea of who is visiting us. Please take a moment to click on the option that best describes the reason you are visiting. Thank you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good News!!!

We have been officially approved for an new irrigation pumping station to replace our current inefficient, unreliable and undersized pumps. We will begin with the site work asap and the new pumps will arrive in early April ready to do their thing.

The old pumps were installed well before we had all 36 holes and the fully irrigated Learning Center and operating at 600 gpm. At this capacity, it would take 12 hours or better if a heavy irrigating. The new pumps will provide 1200 gpm and will almost cut this time in half, the limiting factor being the pipe in the ground and not the pumps.

The new pumps are variable frequency drive (VFD) vertical turbine versus our current setup of centrifugal pumps. The advantage here is twofold. 1) The vertical turbines will never lose prime like the centrifugal, and 2) vertical turbines are more energy efficient that centrifugals to begin with, but are even more so with the VFD controls. What this means is that even though we have doubled the output of the station, we will have a very small increase in electrical requirements during the summer, if any. The VFDs are also much easier on the piping in the ground and will lead to many fewer leaks of the course of the season. Keep in mind that we will always have leaks, but they will be minimized with the VFD.

I am certainly excited about this approval and look forward to being able to better control the water from here on out.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

As I sit here listening to the 26 mph wind pounding rain off the side of the building, I am reminded of the unusual weather patterns we have experienced this year.

We started the season by mowing greens in March for the first time since I came here in 2002 and now we have been relatively snow free up to this point. Normally we seem to have a foot of snow on the ground and expect it to remain until the first of April. Of course, we have seasonal averages for a reason and I wonder how much snow we will get once Mother Nature decides to catch up.

I will be posting a "Year in Review" within the next week. I am working off memory so if I leave anything out, please feel free to remind me and I will make the appropriate corrections.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wow, the last month flew by quickly.

We have been working on year end details.....leaf clean up, bringing in and inspecting ball washers, tee signs, tee markers, etc.

Leaf clean up is finally on the down hill side with just the oak and silver maple leaves yet to fall. This week's two hard frosts have really helped bringing them to the ground and will make next spring's clean up a little easier.

The irrigation pumps have been winterized and the irrigation lines have been blown out with compressed air to prevent potential damage from winter freezing.

It is also time to apply our winter snow mold fungicides. There has been a large change to winter fungicide programs in the northern half of the US this season. The EPA has put a "stop sell" on the "go to" inexpensive fungicide for snow mold control, PCNB. There has been talk of this product being taken off the market for a couple years so this is not much of a surprise. The biggest impact on us is in the budget and in my personal sanity this winter. PCNB was, by far, the least expensive solution to snow mold and has been very reliable as well. We are following recommendations from a couple different university research studies, most notably Cornell and the University of Wisconsin and using a combination of 3 different products. According to the research, this combination should provide control as good or better than the PCNB , but I am always nervous when entering into the unknown. I guess we will find out in April.

So far, greens and tees have been treated and it looks like we will have some good weather at the beginning of next week to do fairways and finish cleaning up the leaves.

Friday, October 8, 2010

It has been a tough week in the world of golf course maintenance in Chautauqua County. Although we were very fortunate to avoid the significant accumulation of rain that the eastern part of the state received, the 3 days of rain we did get really put a halt to any routine maintenance.

I sent the entire crew home for 3 days this week to minimize any damage to the course. We were not even able to get around with our 4 wheel drive tractors to take care of some leaves. Even today after 1 1/2 days of no rain we are limited in what we can do. Greens and tees will be mowed this morning and leaf cleanup is taking place, but mowing rough, fairways and chopping leaves would leave the course in worse shape than when we started this morning. We may tackle one course of fairways this afternoon, but that will be a last minute decision.

I would like to have everything mowed for the weekend, which looks to be one of those spectacular October golf weekends that I enjoy so much. The course will be drier and firmer by Saturday and should provide some enjoyable conditions. Enjoy it while you can, snow is only a month away.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Leaves, leaves, leaves!!!

Fall is in full swing here in Chautuauqua County and that means hours daily being spent cleaning leaves off the course. We start off each day blowing off tees and greens then move to the fairways and rough. Once in the rough the leaves get ground up by our mowers and either left as mulch in the grass or, where possible, blown to the wood line to completely remove it from the turf.

October is one of my favorite golf times of the year. The turf is recovering from a tough summer, the leaves are beautiful, and there is a calmness in the air. How could it be better?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Due to both the busy golf schedule and the weather, the aerification schedule has changed.

Tee & Fairways - As weather allows.

Greens: Hill Course - September 21
Lake Course - September 27

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tee aerification has been postponed due to this weeks high temperatures. It is never a good idea to try to aerify during a hot, dry spell and I didn't feel the need to potentially harm perfectly healthy turf just to keep on a schedule. We will begin as soon as reasonable weather returns, which looks like next week with a low chance of rain and temperatures in the low to mid 70's.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The cooler weather has been nice for both my crew and the turf, although looking at some of my staff you would think it was low 40's instead of lower 60's this morning. A few of them had on their winter stocking caps.

The rough is once again greening up and any thin areas created earlier in the season in fairways are starting to fill in as well. Turf growth is once again picking up the pace which makes me feel better about the upcoming aerification season. See one of my earlier posts for aerification schedules.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fall Aerification

It is often assumed by golfers and non golfers alike that the hardest of the work is over when the Chautauqua Season concludes in late August and Labor Day approaches. In reality, the busy season for the maintenance crew is just beginning.

The shorter days and cooler nights of late summer and fall are a time of recovery for the turf that has taken a beating throughout the summer months, especially in a year like 2010. In order to take advantage of this period, enhance recovery and prepare for next summer's stress we begin many procedures that, while not necessarily fun to play golf through, are a necessary part of our maintenance program. The most notable of course is fall aerification.

Ideally, aerification in WNY is done in the week or two before Labor Day. This allows for a quicker recovery period as opposed to waiting until the end of September when turf growth is slowing with the onset of frosty mornings.

In reality, however, the late August aerifying coincides with the last week of the Chautauqua season and some great golfing over Labor Day weekend. And since we have no desire to ruin the end of summer golf we wait as long as possible on the greens aerification putting it solidly in the middle of September, late enough to avoid some good golfing weather and early enough to still have some decent recovery time. Tee aerification is relatively low impact and we will be starting that shortly. Fairways aerification is a lengthy process and takes several days to complete. We try to sandwich that in greens aerification whenever we get some good weather.

Tentative dates for aerification are:

Tees - Week of 8/30

Fairways - Starting 9/7 as weather allows

Greens - Hill Course 9/14

Lake Course 9/21

If you are playing during or after these dates we apologize for the inconvenience but please keep in mind that it is for the good of the golf course and your golfing enjoyment next season.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

As a general rule, maintaining turfgrass in Western New York is much simpler than in hot humid regions like NYC, NJ, MD, or VA. This year is proving to be the exception. Today I noticed a fungus called Pythium on # 5 fairway of the Lake course for the second time this year after not having a spot of it in my previous eight years here at Chautauqua.

Pythium is a turf disease that, if left untreated, can kill large areas of turf in an extraordinarily quick time. It spreads by mowers, carts, foot traffic, and even rainfall. Fortunately, I was able to get it treated in time and we should have no loss because of it, but now that it has its "foot in the door" it is something we will have to keep a close eye on every year.

What makes this a tougher year than most? Primarily the heat and humidity. Most turfgrass diseases thrive in this weather and this season we've had more of both than we've had in several years. With the heat generally comes dry spells. With dry spells comes irrigation. With irrigation comes a wetter turf canopy which in turn leads back to more turf disease.

Fortunately, we live in WNY and the weather changes fairly frequently. The forcast is calling for some cooler days and nights by this weekend. That is a recipe for some good recovery.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What is our mowing schedule?

I'm frequently asked "How often do you mow?"

The answer, "It depends."

I know, it sounds like an eight year old's answer. But it is the truth. It "depends" on what we are mowing, what time of year we are mowing, how fast the turf is growing, etc., but in general we go by the following schedule:

Greens - daily
Tees - Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Aprons - Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Rough - Twice per week (It takes all week to mow it twice)

This schedule allows us to keep things under control, with the exception of late spring when the rough is growing faster than we can mow. Larger tournaments, ProAm, NJCAA, Member Guests all get the frequency stepped up a little to sharpen the course and increase green speed. You might ask "Why not mow with tournament frequency all the time?" The answer is simple, budget. We simply do not have the resources (manpower and fuel) to keep up with this for extended periods of time, especially in a year like 2008 when fuel prices soared up to $4/gallon. Nor does that give us ample time to maintain our equipment to keep it functioning properly.

We also start as early as we can see in order to get ahead of early morning golfers and out of the way so you can have an enjoyable round. The next question I usually hear is "Then why not mow at night to avoid golfers altogether?" Which sounds like a nice topic for next week.

Enyoy golf!

Monday, July 26, 2010

What a wild weekend! High winds, a nearby tornado and several inches of rain between Friday morning and Sunday morning.

We were fortunate to escape the weekend with only a relatively small amount of flood/water damage and tree damage. All of our continued drainage efforts are beginning to pay off as, unlike past years, carts have been able to go out very soon after such a rain event and our mowing schedule is still on track.

We should finish cleanup today and be back on track with normal maintenance tomorrow morning.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

This morning's prep for the final round of the Member-Guest is going well considering the amount of rain we've had in the last 24 hours. Other than a couple of bunkers having water in them, the course handled the downpours quite well, especially the 2 bunkers that Bill has rebuilt in the last 2 weeks.

A BIG thanks out to my entire crew for all their hard work.

Friday, July 23, 2010

RAIN is the word for the morning. Heavy rain has delayed this morning's start to the Member-Guest and now changes our maintenance for the day. Our efforts are now on cleaning up any damage from the rain - repairing cart paths, re-raking bunkers, etc - and trying to mow ahead of the tournament. The large amounts of standing water seem to be disappearing rapidly and, with the rain letting up, we should be able to continue with only an hour delay.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A large part of our time is being devoted to prep for the Member-Guest which starts tomorrow morning. One set of "boys" are out trimming ponds, ditches, trees, etc. while the other set is edging bunkers and irrigation heads.

Assistant superintendent Bill Peterson has renovated and drained bunkers on #1 Lake Course green and #1 Hill Course green and is currently working hard to have the bunker at #13 Hill green in play by Friday's round of the Member-Guest scheduled to be played on the Hill Course. This bunker wasn't a chronic drainage problem but was loaded with stones and which were rough on golf clubs while in the bunker and greensmowers after they made it to the putting surface.

The mowing schedule gets stepped up a little for most touirnaments and the Member-Guest is no different. Tees, aprons and fairways all get 2-3 extra mowings during the week and greens are double cut and rolled during the tournament.

Good luck to all participants!