December 21, 2017

And... That's a wrap!

After fourteen months of construction we put a wrap on things last week with the installation of new sod on the 1st fairway. With the sod down our focus turns to grow-in of the new turf. The first tee is open finally and I must say it's been quite the exiting time here at the club with the new facilities being met with overwhelming positivity. As is to be expected with anything new, an adjustment in routine when playing the course is necessary. Please keep the following in mind when playing golf this winter:

  • The first tee is open for play but the sod on 1 / 18 fairway is not. Please keep all traffic off new sod. If your ball comes to rest in the newly sodded area inside the ropes, please carefully retrieve your ball on foot then drop and resume play from outside the area.
  • The entire new area of sod including the 1st tee and 18 green surround MAY be closed at some point this winter due to wet conditions. Please be respectful and keep off closed areas when asked.
  • Golf carts are not permitted on the 1st tee or any of the tees. Pull carts are always discouraged from crossing tee tops as well. Please use the cartpaths as much as possible when in the area.
  • When playing 18 – as your ball reaches the green or surround please pull your golf cart left to the shared path between holes 9 & 18. Continue up the path and in-between the warm up tees  to the cart parking directly behind the green. Once finished on 18 it’s a quick drive up the path to the cart barn where the golf staff will greet you at the end of your round. The picture below shows a cart parked in the ideal location when finishing out on 18. 
  • Walkers on 18 should also move toward the back of the green and finish their round at the cart path behind 18. Please do not walk up the grass slope toward the first tee. Walk off the back of the green toward the tennis courts and then up the path. Please use the cart return area to drop off clubs, pull carts and any other items prior to returning to the golf shop or cafe via the stairs to the left of the cart barn. 
  Kikuyugrass Removal
      With new sod heading our way we made the call to remove all turf on the slope right of 16 green. This area had become infested with the vile weed Kikuyugrass. This particular weed is invasive and difficult to control spreading aggressively on south facing slopes. In this particular area the contamination had reached the green. We chose to remove the entire apron leading up to 18 tee as the Kikuyu creates an inconsistent playing surface and had spread up the slope to 18. We will experiment with various control methods over the next few years in attempt to keep out the Kikuyu. The area will remain roped off until spring. Please carefully remove your ball from the new sod and drop in the drop zone. 

  With the New Year approaching I want to thank all of those that have made 2017 such a success.The staff in the Turf Department has accomplished great things on the course while the distraction of construction pulled at us daily. Led by Assistants Bill Scheer and Ismael Valadez and Equipment Manager Armando Ramirez, we had an amazing year for golf course conditions. Firm, fast and fun continues to be our target and I feel we met this in spades much of the year. Thanks so much to GM Steve Shaw, the Board of Directors and Green Committee for the continued support of our direction on the golf course. We do things a bit different here as we are allowed to present the golf course in a very natural fashion resulting in a rough, rustic look around the edges. I am so thankful to have the support from the membership as our approach would not fly at just any Club. We all know that Claremont is not just any Club but a unique place full of charm and quirk. It really is a special place that I feel so fortunate to be a part of. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Claremont Members and families and best wishes for a prosperous 2018!

November 3, 2017

Course Construction Update

 Phase 1 of course construction came to an end with the final roll of sod installed last week. The new
1st tee, 18 green surround and bunker, warm up tees and 9 green surround areas were all re-shaped and new irrigation and drainage installed. The tee surfaces were sand capped. All turf areas were sodded with a blend of Fine Fescues and Perennial Ryegrass.  The finish product is a wonderful improvement for the club and we are proud of the work completed with Jim Urbina and the crew from Earthsculptures. Phase 2 will consist of re-shaping the 1st fairway, installing new irrigation and finally new sod. Work here should take about two weeks and will begin November 27th. Sod is scheduled for installation sometime the week December 11. As always when working this time of year we depend on Mother Nature's cooperation and any rain during this time will slow progress. We've come a long way in the last 12 months!

September 13, 2017

Claremont on Golf magazine website

Pretty cool mention in magazine. Thanks to Frank Ryan for catching this and passing it on...

4. GOLF unveiled its biennial list of the Top 100 courses in the U.S. and World last week. Name a course that's not on either Top 100 list that deserves to be.
Sens: Claremont Country Club in Oakland, Calif. Charming Mackenzie design where Sam Snead won his first Tour event back in the 1930s. Too short for tournament golf today, but loaded with character, beautifully conditioned and a ton of fun. Also, Belvedere in Northern Michigan. It's always been great. But recent work that brought it closer into line with Willie Watson's original have made it, as the kids say, frickin' awesome.
Wood: Josh, I've played Claremont! Used to play there in college every once in a while. Fastest greens I've ever putted on and such a pure course. I'd have to say Harbour Town. The course hasn't had to change one iota and the scores are the same they have always been. It's a brilliant test.

August 30, 2017

Let the fun begin

It's been a busy eleven months here at Claremont. Temporary facilities set up. Demolition of the
100+ year old golf shop. Excavation, grading, storm drain, concrete pour after concrete pour. Framing, fire line installation, roofing, windows... you get the picture. Oh, and we have a golf course and grounds to maintain as well. It's been hectic but fun, rewarding and draining. Now the fun really begins as we get to work on putting the golf course back together.
Course construction will be split up into two phases with phase one consisting of rebuilding the 1st tee, 18 green surround, warm up tee and cart path tie-in to 10. Phase two work of rebuilding the 1st fairway will begin sometime in November following the move in to the new Golf Shop and the breakdown of all temporary facilities.

Roger Downing of Earthsculptures and Golf Course Architect Jim Urbina were onsite for less than a week when things behind 18 green began to take shape. For the first time in almost a year the area is looking more like a golf course than a construction site. There are many reasons I feel absolutely lucky to work here. On this golf course. The opportunity to work with these professionals is near the top of that list as they are some of the best in the business. Great people doing great work. Claremont is in good hands with these two.

Much change will take place in the coming weeks. The full crew from Earthsculptures is set to arrive September 11 to begin irrigation and drainage installation. Hundreds of tons of sand will be imported to cap the 1st tee, the warm up tees and the surrounding areas. Finish shaping, bunker install, cart path install and sod... all in the matter of a few weeks. If all goes according to plan, which it always does, we will lay sod in mid-October on phase 1 of course construction. Keep an eye on the blog for updates as we move along.

As we progress, course construction may be more of an impact to you when playing the course. Please check in with the golf shop staff when you come out to play. Hole 18 will play to a temporary green at times and the 10th tee will be closed from time to time as well. These decisions will be made based on safety for workers in the area. Thanks for your patience. The new facility and course features will be amazing and a major improvement for the club.

July 11, 2017

Midway Point

For most Superintendents around the country July marks the midway point of the growing season. As we reach this point we assess turf health, the health of our staffs and ourselves with the thought of making the proper adjustments as we head full steam into 8 long weeks of summer stress, disease and dry spot. Its sort of like halftime at the Super Bowl as the adjustments made will set us up for a successful second half.

My half time assessment...
Lean and mean, firm and fast... The course is healthy and ready for the second half. The staff, while shy of our usual numbers is doing well. Next week we will begin the process of summer aeration and sanding. A successful few weeks will set us up for a strong finish for 2017.

Summer Aeration

July 17th - Greens DryJect Aeration, Fairway Sanding
July 18th - Front 9 Greens and Putting Green 1/4" core aeration and sanding
July 19th - Back 9 Greens 1/4" core aeration and sanding
July 17th to 24th - Tees, approaches and fairways solid tine aeration
July 17th to 24th - Tees and approaches sanding

These cultural practices are a major piece of a program that has resulted in the improvements seen on the course over the last few years. This is especially true for the DryJect aeration as depicted in the slide seen here. We expect a few weeks of disruption and we thank you in advance for your patience and understanding while we perform these important tasks.

New Course Accessories

We've recently upgraded course accessories and with that, changed how we provide sand and seed mix for our membership.

The new wooden benches, garbage cans, divot mix containers and sand & seed fill stations provide a clean, natural look in keeping with our wooden flag sticks and bunker rakes. Please note that divot mix containers are now located on carts and at the 1st and 10th tees only. Every third tee you will find a sand and seed fill station that you can use to fill your carry tube or cart tube. These items are extremely well built and will serve the club for years to come.

Enjoy your time on the course this summer. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have.


May 19, 2017

Golf Course Things and Stuff

The golf course has taken fine shape as we approach summer and our first heat wave of the season this weekend. We have many things going on out there and I wanted to take a minute to update you on some of whats happening.

Natural Grass Areas
The new natural grass areas have grown-in and are no longer to be played as ground under repair. Ground under repair will be marked with signage or white paint. The picture above of the natural grass between holes 4 and 5 shows the area still roped off but this is only to keep carts out. These areas are sensitive to cart traffic and provide a natural habitat for beneficial insects, pollinators and small animals. Please do not drive carts in any of the "long" grass on the golf course. If the grass is over 2.5 inches carts should be kept out. As of this week, all hillsides and natural grass areas have been cut and/or mowed for what was hopefully the last time of the season. These areas will turn color soon and slow their growth to provide a nice visual contrast from the green turf found down the middle of the fairway to the golden brown of the California native grasslands. I look forward to this transition each year as the contrast of color and texture can result in some of the most visually stunning views around the property.

Bunkers (hazards)
I seem to get the question every spring about bunkers (hazards) and their consistency, or lack there of. Each spring we go through the hazards to add sand in areas that were contaminated or where sand was removed during winter. With the heavy rains this past winter our work here has been more than in years past. The hazards where new sand has been added will take time to settle in and firm up. This can create variability from hazard to hazard as some will play firm and other soft. The expectation for the hazards to play consistent is unrealistic even when all the sand is the same. Many factors go into this. The location of the hazard, surrounded by trees or out in the open. Angled toward the sun or away from. How much water does the surrounding turf require to maintain health? More water for the turf means more water in the bunker. Size and shape of the hazard... you get the idea. What will be consistent is our set up and maintenance routines for these hazards. Many hours each week are focused on preparation and maintenance of the hazards. Members can help improve consistency in hazards by making an effort to return them to previous form following play. Unfortunately we see this all to often...

The Small Stuff
We are working hard to catch up on many of the small things and stuff around the golf course. While we are very happy with course conditions down the middle, we know that some of the detail could be better and we are working on it. Things like pruning low branches on trees, edging cart paths, repairing of DG cart paths, pulling and/or treating weeds and many other detail items have had to take a back seat this spring. Why you ask? Long winter and short on staff. With the wet winter that lasted into April, we've had to focus our efforts on getting the greens, tees, fairways, roughs and yes, hazards back into shape. We've had to do so with just two additional seasonal workers when, in years past we would have had 5 to 7 seasonal workers at this point. The lack of applicants willing to come out and work has dwindled over the years. This season has been terrible even with a significant increase in pay being offered. The labor issue is real and is something affecting all clubs, not just Claremont. All this being said, our existing staff has worked well to make up the difference and I thank them greatly for their efforts!

Unrepaired ballmarks on greens continues to be an issue. Truth is, the fact that their are more ballmarks is a good thing. More of you are hitting the greens it seems! Please remember to find and repair your ballmark. As the greens firm up, the chance that that your ball will land on the green and end up over is real. Don't forget to look for the mark and make the repair as it will help to provide an improved experience for other members and guests. It will also lighten the work load for greenkeepers allowing them to focus on other tasks.

Thanks so much for following the blog over years. We are over 70,000 page views as of last month! That's pretty cool. There is so much information shared in these blog pages, in the newsletter and on the website. Even so, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you have. We are always happy to help...

Enjoy your time on the course this summer!

Josh Clevenger, Golf Course Superintendent