Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#8 Lake Rough

Despite the wet weather we were able to get the bare soil to the right of #8 Lake Course around to #9 Lake Course tee and between #7 Lake Course and #9 Lake course seeded with fescue late this fall. We have had great germination for such a late seeding and it is looking good and healthy heading into winter, if it ever comes.

We will give it a small shot of fertilizer in the spring and then let it grow up into a low maintenance area for the rest of the season with a mower width of mowed turf adjoining the right side of the cart path. I think it will be a very nice new look for the hole when it matures.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's been a while.

It has been over a month since my last blog update, and for that I apologize. Maintenance, projects, and Mother Nature have kept us hopping since mid August. The following is a brief update of what has been happening since then.

Aerification - Our fall aerification went better than it has in 10 years. We were able to core aerify all greens, tees and fairways, something that hasn't been accomplished since 2002. All have healed and will provide healthier turf for 2013. The one bit of aerification not accomplished this fall was a deep tine on the greens, but we will be able to get that in around the first part of April. I would also like to start deep tining fairways and tees when we find time, but this will likely be intermittent with our 36 holes.

Leaf Cleanup - The end of aerification coincides with early October and the beginning of leaf drop. As we finished up the last of our fairways, we swapped our aerifiers for debris blowers and the battle was on. Early cleanup went well and we were able to keep the course clean. Then the rains started and we have been a swamp since mid October. We have been able to take care of them, but not in the same efficient manner we usually do. The course will be its same clean self come snow melt in April.

Projects - I ambitiously thought we would be able to level three tees this fall, and if Mother Nature had provided a normal weather pattern, we would have been in business and ready for play in the spring. Unfortunately, it is difficult to level native soil tees in constant rain and we will have to complete them next spring before we move on to the next tees on our list.

We have finished grading and cleaning the areas left from the tree removal project and were able to get them seeded before the rains started. They have come in nicely and I'm excited about how the area will look next season.

Next up - Late November starts our yearly maintenance of our fleet of carts and maintenance equipment, something that will take us until the end of March. Did you know that we have roughly 165 carts combined in our rental, learning center, and maintenance fleets? That's a lot of oil, filters, brakes and time to get them ready for your round in April.

Hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!


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Saturday, October 20, 2012

An appropriate quote.

As we begin to implement the second wave of tree removals near certain greens and tees and fairways, I thought this quote from renowned golf course architect seemed appropriate. I found it on Twitter posted by @jdrgolfdesign, golf architect Drew Rogers.

"I sometimes take my very life in my hands when I suggest that a certain tree happens to be spoiling a pretty good golf hole" AW Tillinghast

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Aerification Update

The rain we enjoyed yesterday and last night, while just what the weak, dry areas needed, also threw a wrench in our aerification schedule. The large amount of extended rain we received made our fairways too wet to effectively aerifying today, causing a ripple effect in our fairway aerification schedule.

What this means to you is that we will now need to aerify on an unscheduled day in order to finish before we start on greens September 17th. I will look at the tee sheet to see what day(s) will impact play the least and choose one accordingly. My apologies if it happens to fall on one of your planned outings, but please keep in mind we have the good fortune of having two wonderful golf courses and should not interfere with your golfing experience.

Thank you for your understanding.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aerification Reminder

Just a reminder that the back 9 of the Lake Course will be closed Wednesday August 22 and Thursday August 23 and the back 9 of the Hill Course Friday August 24 do our crew can safely and efficiently aerify fairways. Please be patient as we start and complete this very important agronomic practice.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Is it mid September already?

Nope, it's only mid August. Then why, you might ask, are we aerifying the golf course?

The answer would be because when we wait until mid September, we are unable to complete all of our aerification because of the busy golf schedule and the seemingly self sustaining rains, we cannot get it all completed. It has been at least 5 years since we were able to complete every green, tee, and fairway on all 36 holes. This is a trend that cannot continue if we want to keep Chautauqua Golf Club outperforming our local competitors. The turf needs relief from compaction and the buildup of thatch to allow air and water into the soil profile, keeping a good root system and healthy turf plants longer into the summer stress months.

The plan this year is to get the tees done this week (Lake Course tees are already done), and chip away at the fairways between now and the first week of September. During this time we will be closing the course we are aerifying to not only ensure that we can be as efficient as possible, but to keep our staff safe from, not-so-errant golf balls.

Greens will be done 2 weeks later with the Lake Course closed on September 17th through the 19th and the Hill Course closed September 24th through the 26th. And, as usual, Mother Nature may decide to change these dates so it is best to be in contact with the Pro Shop if you are looking to play on these dates.

Important dates: (subject to change in weather)

August 16 - Hill Course Closed, tee aerification.
August 22 - Lake Course, Back 9 Closed, fairway aerification
August 23 - Lake Course, Back 9 Closed, fairway aerification
August 24 - Hill Course, Back 9 Closed, fairway aerification
August 28 - Hill Course, Front 9 Closed, fairway aerification
August 30 - Lake Course, Front 9 Closed, fairway aerification
August 31 - Hill Course, Front 9 Closed, fairway aerification
September 5 - Lake Course, Front 9 Closed, fairway aerification
September 6 - Hill Course, Back 9 Closed, fairway aerification
September 17-19 - Lake Course Closed, greens aerification
September 24-26 - Lake Course Closed, greens aerification

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

One year ago today.....

One year ago today we lost significant amounts or turf on #6, 7, & 8 Lake greens, an event that initiated a significant change at Chautauqua Golf Club. Because of this turf loss, we were given permission to remove a large number of trees that had weakened the greens so badly, and today these same greens that had been a perennial problem are as full and strong as any on the golf course.

USGA agronomist, Adam Moeller will be making another full day consultation visit in August, this time on the Hill Course. Operating off his "rule of thumb" of no trees inside cart paths near greens and tees, I would expect several to be marked for removal. After seeing the positive results on the Lake Course, I certainly hope there will not be any opposition to the removal of these trees. Holes where he will without a doubt recommend removals would be #4, 10, 14, 16 & 17 and most likely #7, 9, 15 & 18. None of these areas will require large scale removal as on the Lake Course but all will greatly benefit the playing surfaces of our greens.

A before and after view of #7 green on the Lake Course. This first picture is hard to look at, but it serves as a reminder of how quickly a weak green can fail when Mother Nature decides to be at her nastiest. We have had a summer as difficult or worse as last season and our greens have held up remarkably well.



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What is the black?

I have had several people ask what the black was on the greens last week.

The "black" is algae caused by the rain we received on Thursday followed by warm humid weather. Algae thrives in this type of weather and can be a serious problem thinning out the greens if the weather pattern doesn't change or is left untreated. Fortunately, the weather did change and the algae disappeared as the greens dried out without the need for chemical intervention. I don't like to apply any more plant protectants than is absolutely necessary so I am willing to let a situation like this play itself out to avoid extra applications.

Thanks for the questions and concerns. I enjoy being asked this type of question and want everyone to be as informed as possible.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

All Grown Up

In my 11 seasons here at Chautauqua Golf Club I have only have the privilege of having two interns. One of whom is Jimbo Hayes who is currently the 1st Assistant Superintendent at Congressional Country Club, the site of this past week's AT&T National PGA tournament.

As we all know, thunderstorms rocked parts of the Midwest and Mid Atlantic leaving an absolute mess in the Bethesda area and Congressional Country Club late Friday evening. A storm my wife, Beth, and I experienced first hand as we were sightseeing in DC.

At Jim's invitation we were in town to visit with him, spend the day watching the action at the AT&T National and I was to have the opportunity to ride around with him during the evening course prep. I don't think it needs to be said how those plans turned. Jim insisted, however, that we still stop by the club to see him and get a quick tour that morning.

What we saw, or didn't see, was amazing. By the time we arrived at 11:00 that morning the crew had all in-play areas cleaned up except #18 which they were just starting on. Let me tell you, the praise that Tiger Woods and the rest of the tournament players is giving the crew at Congressional is 100% earned and not just typical tour player hyperbole. Those men and women should be proud of what they have done.

As a turf geek, I must say that just as impressive was the condition of the turf given the number of days in the upper 90's and 100's, especially the greens. They weren't the slightest bit stressed, even under the stress of high heat and tournament conditions.

Jim started with us at Chautauqua as a lanky, blonde haired, smiling, part time employee while attending school at Jamestown Community College and stayed on long enough to decide that golf course management was his future career path. I hope Jim was able to get as much out of us as we were of him. Now, as a grown man in his late twenties, he is still smiling and loving the game of golf as he gives everything he has to Mike Guiffre and Congressional Country Club.

Jim, to say I'm proud wouldn't do it justice. Now get some rest!

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Please Use Temporary Tees

Just a reminder to please remain using temporary tees for one more week. Yes, the blue tees are open for the NJCAA Championship but I would like to let the white, gold and red tees mature for one more week before being opened for daily play.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

The Eurythmics and Superstition

What does 80's pop group The Eurythmics have to do with golf course maintenance? Well......"Here Comes the Rain Again"!!!!!

After such a great and dry March, April and the first of May has been nothing but a constant onslaught of snow, rain and sometimes both. It has wreaked havoc on our renovation progress on numbers 6 & 8 on the Lake Course as well as our spring aerification schedule.

A good question would be "How much rain have we received?" I have no idea, and this is where the superstition comes in. A few years ago every time I put out the rain gauge, it seemed to trigger a lengthy rain event that would only halt when I brought it back in. Silly, I know, but it seemed to work for a couple years. I guess I'll try the opposite now and put it back out.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Prayers Needed

I received an email last night of a horrible accident that has left a local superintendent, and all around great guy, Jim DeYoung in a coma. Please send a prayer and thoughts out for him and his family in their time of need. This is the email received from his wife last night:

"This is Jim's wife. I just got home from ECMC. Jim did fall off a ladder and is in a medically induced coma. He had bleeding on his brain....this is very tough to write, but he might have brain damage. He had surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain. It is probably the first of many surgeries to come. It is a waiting game. He will need your support. It is going to be a long haul for Jim. He is in ICU and will be probably for weeks. Our daughter is flying home tonight and our son and his wife are driving and should be here soon. We need lots of prayers. Jim is the best husband and father anyone could every ask for and we need him back, so keep those prayers going.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Black greens, yellow flags and cream caterpillars.

I'm sure many of you have noticed the three greens that appear black, the yellow flags scattered throughout both courses, and the hoards of cream colored caterpillars on some of the greens. Fortunately, these items are completely unrelated.

The black greens are indeed just that, and are completely healthy and pest free. In an effort to speed recovery of #6, 7, & 8 greens, I have been topdressing them with black sand this spring. Black sand was used to soak up the sun's warmth and raise soil temperatures quicker than normal. It has worked wonderfully as these three greens have really filled in since last fall and have averaged 6-10 degrees warmer than the rest of the greens.

The yellow flags are guidelines for my rough mowers. As part of our progress toward Audubon International certification we are letting several of the out-of-play portions of both courses grow up as natural areas. Advantages to this include improved quality of runoff water, wildlife habitat, decreased labor costs and less fuel usage. I will elaborate more in another post to answer some of the questions and concerns that will certainly arise.

The cream caterpillars are a relatively new pest in turf management and are an invasive species known as the European Crane Fly. The native variety of crane fly is not a pest for turf, but the European Crane Fly, first noticed in western New York about 10 years ago has become quite a problem recently. Fortunately, highly maintained turf can sustain relatively high populations, 15-50 larvae per sq ft, without too much concern of damage. We are within this range but are treating for them now before they become more of an issue later on when they are more mature and harder or control.

As always, I am available to answer question and concerns regarding these and any other topics by giving me a call at my office or through email.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

#6, 7 & 8 Greeen Update

The early spring weather has been great for the course as we continue to regain mid season playing surfaces on #6, 7 and 8 Lake greens. The colder weather with several frosts/freezes in the last two weeks has slowed things down considerably but we have treated these greens a little differently that the rest and they are still growing and filling in nicely.  #6 is 100% back and #7 and 8 are right behind and will be back by mid May if not sooner.

I realize that tree removal is still a touchy issue with most Chautauquans and encourage those with questions to contact me. In past posts I've detailed why removal was necessary but it is always nice to hear this from other sources as well.  In the You Tube video below, Chris Tritabaugh of Northland Country Club in Minnesota articulates this very well.  Chris' blog is tagged as Northland Country Club Turfgrass Maintenance to the right of this blog as one I follow and is loaded with good information.  It's worth checking out.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Early April Update

It's hard to believe it is April 3rd and we're having a hard time keeping up with the mowing.  Soil temps have fallen 12-13 degrees in the last week and, while the growth has slowed down, it is still going quick enough that we're having a hard time catching up.  Please be patient with our mowing and maintenance schedule when things don't appear to be in mid season form.  Keep in mind that it is only April 3rd and we usually still have snow cover at this time.

The last two days have been verticutting days for the Lake Course, getting fairways and aprons done for the first time this season.  The greens have been verticut once and will be done a second time this week.  In the past I haven't been happy with our verticutting on the greens. They just didn't seem to bring up much material or stand the leaf blades up like I wanted so this winter we replaced the OEM blades on our verticutters with some 2mm carbide tip blades and decreased the gap from 3/4" to 1/2".  What a difference and a sense of accomplishment when we verticut compared to years past. I think you will really see a difference in the greens this season and will be thrilled with the improved putting quality and consistancy.

Also this week, we will be getting out tee markers, ball washers and tee signs, bunkers are being cleaned and raked, and the Learning Center driving range is now open.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Taking Advantage of Early Spring

We've been busy taking full advantage of this year's early spring. Stick and debris cleanup is done on the Lake Course and only a couple holes remain on the Hill Course. Greens, tees and fairways have all been mowed at least twice with another cutting coming today and we will start on the rough after that. A great start to a new year!

The biggest advantage to the early start has been the continuation of last season's renovation and tree removal on #5-9 on the Lake Course. We have been able to get a good start on stump grinding and removal on #6 and should have the entire hole renovated and sodded by the end of April, a full month ahead of schedule. Other enhancements on these holes will include tee renovation and leveling and bunker renovation. If the weather holds, we will be done with this in early May.

The downside to these renovations is that the front nine of the Lake Course may be periodically closed for the safety of our staff and contractors. A small price to pay in my opinion considering there are 27 other holes to play while we are working.

I'll post pictures as they come available. In the meantime, enjoy the good weather and come out and see us.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 golf team cleanup day

This winter I was contacted by Chautauqua Lake Central School's golf coach, Mike Cummings, about a spring cleanup with his team as well as the teams from Panama CS and Ripley CS coached by Ed Nelson and Justin Akin respectively.

March 17th was the date and the 18 students, 3 coaches, and my 6 year old boy had the entire Lake Course completely picked up in 4 hours. Saving the golf course several days of labor with my limited early spring crew and allowing us to spend our time on rolling, mowing and initial course set up.

I cannot thank Mike, Ed, Justin and their golfers enough for all their hard work that morning. Good luck with your golf season!

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

GCSAA Green Industry Show

Finished day 2 of the 2012 GCSAA Conference education seminars.

Yesterday I took a great full day class on Physiology and Culture of Annual Bluegrass taught by Dr. Turgeon from Penn State and Dr. Vargas of Michigan State. Some of it was a reminder of what I learned in college, some of it was all new to me with some great ideas for this summer, and some was a complete 180 from what we were taught 20 years ago.

This morning was a nice seminar on Watershed Resource Management. Got some nice ideas for doing our part for the Chautauqua Lake Watershed.

This afternoon's sessions consisted of communication topics including photography and video, writing, media relations, and public relations. Good sessions.

Tomorrow and Thursday is the GIS Trade Show. I love seeing the new technology and products at the show every year. I will also be attending a few half hour seminars on the trade show floor covering golf purse related uses for the iPad and smartphones.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Social Media in Golf Course Maintenance

As technology continues to evolve at an unbelievable pace, several opportunities begin to present themselves both in golf course maintenance and in communication.  It wasn't that long ago that cell phones were gaining popularity and became more reliable.  Now, with the advent of fast and reliable smartphones and tablets, this portable technology is opening doors for instant communication and updates for members and guests to find out what is happening on the course. 

"Is there a frost delay?", "When can we get back on the course after aerification?", "What happened to the bunker on #6?" are all questions that can now be answered almost before they are asked.  How?  By following @cgcmaintenance on Twitter.  To this point in time I have primarily been a "lurker", following various industry professionals and their Tweets, and deciding if this was something worth its time and effort.  I have come to the conclusion that it is indeed very much worth the time and effort if used properly.  I am still getting the hang of how to effectively Tweet, so please be patient as I grow with it.  The first few months will more than likely be a little sparse as we battle our way through the last couple months of winter, but will pick up as the weather breaks and work starts up on the course.

What info you will get:

         Project updates, weather updates, occasional green speed readings, frost updates, etc.

What info you will NOT get:

         What color socks I'm wearing, what my six year old ate for breakfast, what LeBron James said, or where I'm eating lunch.

So, if you are currently on Twitter or if you are considering it, please become a follower of @cgcmaintenance and keep up on course happenings.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rare February Sight

Here is a sight not commonly seen in Chautauqua in February.  A snow free golf course.

It has been nice to see the course mid winter for a change. Everything looks good but, according to the rodent from Pennsylvania, we're looking at 6 more weeks of winter.  I'm not sure what that means to us because 6 weeks would get us to March15th. We rarely get rid of the snow until the first week of April. I'm beginning to think this whole seeing his shadow thing is a bunch of hooey.  The next thing you know, the Tooth Fairy will stop leaving money for teeth and the Easter Bunny will cease to exist.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Weather vs The Golf Course

Winter seems to have finally arrived here in Chautauqua County.  The 10 day forecast is calling for high temps remaining in the 20's and 30's with a little snow thrown in for good measure.  For those of you in warmer climates for the winter, you have missed out on the mildest Western New York winter in recent memory with manageable temps and snowfall well below the regional average - Mayville has only had 54" to date.  Of course, there are averages for a reason and I'm sure we'll be getting some nasty lake effect through the rest of the winter.

The question I have been getting is "How does the mild winter affect the golf course?"  Normally, we would get some hard frosts in late October and early November followed by a snow that would last until late March at the earliest.  In my opinion this is ideal, as the grass gets a chance to harden and go dormant before I apply the fungicide and the snow protects it from the bitter winter winds that tend to desiccate the plant, potentially causing winter kill. 

I'm not certain how things will come out this spring.  We did not have the normal dormancy or snow fall this winter.  As of Tuesday afternoon everything looked good and as I would expect it for this time of year, but we still have 3 months of winter to get through.  There are two potential problems that stem from this type of winter.  1)  The turf was growing later into the winter than normal and may have "grown out" some of the systemic fungicide that was applied, possibly shrinking its window of effective control.  And 2) with all the thawing and re-freezing of the little snow that we have had, the potential for ice damage is elevated.  We have never had ice damage in the past, but then again, we haven't had too many winters like this.  The answer to both problems is to keep a close eye on the course whenever we can see some bare ground and treat any problems when we can.

As I said, we look good so far and the new combination of fungicides we use have proven to be much better than the old stand by (PCNB) of years past and I do not anticipate any control problems in the spring.  The ice issue is up to Mother Nature at this point, but we will keep an eye on it throughout the winter.  The pictures below are of #3 Lake green taken on Tuesday.  Other than being a little shaggy, it looks good.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season!  Think green!