January 18, 2017

A Wet Start to Winter

Mother Nature delivered a wet blow to the region dumping over 10 inches of rain since winter began just a month ago. Rain totals for the season are over 20 inches (since October 2016) and the drought has been declared over in the Bay Area. If you've been out on the golf course in the last few weeks, you may have been able to come to that conclusion yourself!

All things considered the course handled the storms well. Sure the bunkers were blown out and large amounts of debris were scattered about but, all in all, no big deal. No trees down, no major issues. Once the storms let up we were out cleaning the course and making repairs to bunkers and surprisingly, the course remained quite playable throughout.
Golf Carts have been restricted for many days this winter. We simply cannot allow carts on to the course when it's this wet. Over the holiday weekend, we went five days without rain and by the 5th day, we were able to lift cart restrictions. Pretty amazing that after all that rain it took just five days to dry out enough to safely allow golf carts. Then, it rained again...
We did get out to mow the entire course yesterday. Numerous wet areas were skipped but, for the most part, we mowed the entire course for the first time in weeks. Again, pretty amazing considering just a few years ago, the course would have been closed for weeks following a similar winter pattern. This says a lot about the commitment the Club and the Membership has made to supporting the golf course over the years. Cultural practices like aeration and sand topdressing are disruptive during the process but pay off greatly in over-all course conditions year around. A big Thank You goes out to the Membership for their support of the Turf Department! Now lets get to Tahoe. I hear the snow is amazing!!

December 17, 2016

Frost Delay Today

For the first time this season temperatures have dropped low enough to produce frost. The forecast for the next few days is similar with temps expected to reach into the low 30's. Please be patient if you are planning to tee it up this weekend and know that we will allow play to begin when we feel comfortable that there will be no damage to the course. 

The USGA video below explains some of the specifics behind the frost delay:

December 1, 2016

Fall Update

Winter doesn't officially begin until December 21 but with recent cold temps and significant rains over the last 6 weeks, things seem to be early this season. Since the beginning of October we received 6.7 inches of rain, the course has greened up nicely and playing conditions have evolved from firm and fast to soft and lush. The Turf Department hopes you enjoy and embrace the natural evolution of the golf course throughout the seasons. The course is playing quite different than is has for the last six months or so. Greens and fairways are more receptive, roughs and natural grass areas longer and more penal. This to me, is one of the many great things about the game we love. The field of play is different each day and its up to the player to adjust his or her game. Good stuff for sure. Please have a look below at some of the things we've been working on.

Bunker Projects

Each off season we focus some time toward rebuilding areas of the bunkers that have changed since the renovation. The golf course changes every day and this is especially true with bunkers as sand is displaced with each shot hit and every time we enter and exit. Sand washes out during storms, bunkers are contaminated with soil and grasses grow into the bunker. We picked the first bunker off the to-do list last week at 5 green.

The rake in the above picture provides good perspective on green to bunker transition. The below picture shows well our process and its pretty simple. Dig down through the built up bunker sand along the edge of the bunker and find the native soil. Remove the sod. Excavate sand along the edge of the bunker and into the green / collar. Replace the sod. The guys have gotten pretty good at this over the last few years and this one turned out great.

Finished product above with grades restored makes for an easy entry / exit to the bunker. We hope this will be true for golfers and golf balls alike.

Natural Grass Areas

We've begun work on transitioning more areas of maintained turf to natural grasses per our grassing plan by Architect Jim Urbina. In years past we've used a Fine Fescue blend in many of these areas with some success and failure. This season we've gone to a blend of true California Native grasses that we think will work better in our soils while providing what we are looking both aesthetically and play-ability wise. These areas will go without water and mowing in summer and we hope to only to mow them a few times each spring.

The process here begins by treating grassy and broad-leaf weeds with selective herbicides. Once these products take effect, the areas are mowed short and cleaned up with the goal of exposing the soil. The final step is the application of seed and hydro-mulch. The grasses can then naturally grow-in over winter as we get rain. Please remember to keep carts out of these areas at all times.

Golf Shop Project

Work around the golf shop has kept us on our toes to say the least. In the above picture, just between the excavator and the Ladies locker room was the irrigation mainline and communication wire that serviced the pool and front of the club. These utilities were removed in time for crews to continue grading and we intend  re-locate as soon as rough grades are complete. Managing traffic around the temp facilities during wet conditions has been a challenge requiring extra attention with wood chip pathways, ropes, stakes and directional markings and such. All things considered it's been a smooth start to construction.

The temporary 1st tee was graded and sodded a few weeks ago and is taking shape. If you look at the tee and think "It doesn't look flat" that's because it's not. None of our tees are flat, they are all graded at 2 to 3% in one direction or another for surface drainage. The goal on this tee was to level off a small area that can function as a tee but also blend into the surrounding contour. The guys did a good job here and we hope to open the tee some time in the next few weeks.

We've had lots going on this fall, all while continuing to prep the course for daily play and keep up with detail and clean up. A big thanks to the Team In the Turf Department for their work this fall.
We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Come on out and and enjoy the club during the Holiday season. Its such a special place that really comes alive this time of year! Thanks and we'll see you on the course.

October 23, 2016

Temporary Facilities Set up

After three weeks of deliveries, staging, set up and electrical work, the temporary Golf Shop facilities are up and running. Dennis Lodes was nice enough to come out with his drone camera to take some overhead pictures and video. The shots turned out so cool that we plan to make this part of our routine throughout the project. Should be a nice way to document the progress. Enjoy!

October 14, 2016

First Rain in 6 Months

Well it's about time...Rain is finally back in Northern California and we couldn't be happier. It's been another great season with many successes, challenges and lots of good times. The rain forecast for today and continuing throughout the weekend will no doubt give the turf and the staff some much needed stress relief. The below picture was taken on September 23rd and it gives you a good idea of what things look like following four weeks without irrigation. As you may know, water was shut off on the 1st tee and beginning of the 1st fairway in early September to prepare for the construction of the new golf shop and cart barn. More on that later...

Currently we're prepping the course for our last big event of the season, the RIX Invitational. In the weeks following the RIX we will work to get the course ready for winter. No scheduled greens aeration this fall although we will verticut and give them a fairly heavy sand topdressing. Tees and approaches will be core aerated, seeded and sanded. Fairways will be slit-seeded and (weather dependent) aerated with a solid tine. Pretty minimal impact this fall.
Our seasonal staff of greenkeepers will head home for the winter on November 4th. During the winter months many of our full time staff take vacations and time away. There will be many days this winter that we are short staffed. This will impact what work we can and cannot complete each day. Please take this into consideration when playing the course this winter. Mowing and course set up routines will change to a winter schedule in early November. Bunkers will not be raked daily but on an as-needed basis. Around storms our focus will be the clean up and repair of the course. When caught up with mowing and clean up our focus will turn to the many projects on our to-do list. You will see quite a bit of work in bunkers this winter. We'll also be out mowing and seeding in various natural grass areas as well as taking on a few irrigation and drainage projects.  Always something to do!

 Thanks and we'll see you on the course.

September 23, 2016

Fall Maintenance

Fall is here and with that we begin work in preparation for winter with a limited staff and limited opportunity for projects. While this includes many unforeseen tasks, one project in particular will dominate our time for the remainder of the season.



It's been a few years since we've gone through all of the bunkers and performed what we call "hard edging". As you can see in the before pic there is much less actual bunker. This is a result of the surrounding turf growing into the sand. In this bunker alone we removed 20 cart loads of material from the edge, re-establishing the original bunker shape. 

The above picture of 8 was taken a year ago. Notice the bunker edges. Below shows how 8 looks today following hard edging of the bunkers. 

Over the next six weeks we will focus on getting through as many bunkers as possible. The remaining bunkers will be touched up as time allows over winter.

All in all Buzz and I are very happy with the golf course especially given the time of year and the fact we've now been without rain for five months. The course is looking and playing great with greens rolling above expected speeds as of late due to reduced fertilizer inputs. Our hard work is paying off with healthy soils and resilient turf. All good stuff.

Its going to be a busy winter with the new golf shop and cart barn project and that's OK. We wouldn't have it any other way. Enjoy your time out on the course this fall!