December 15, 2011

The Year In Review...

It's that time of year, already! They say time flies when you're having fun and man did this year fly by. Seems like yesterday I wrote the first Claremont Turf Department Blog on January 16th of this year. After 35 posts and over 4,600 page views, after 11 months of hard work and dedication from the staff, after a long, rewarding and successful golfing season, we continue to have fun! Nothing beats seeing all the little things the staff work so hard on pay off and with this final post of the year, I will take the time to review the many practices and accomplishments that played a part in the success of 2011.

Fairway Topdressing with Bulk Applicator

Of all the practices that we have adopted over the last few years, it's the cultural practices that have made the largest impact. Cultural practices include aeration, spiking, verticutting, brushing, grooming, topdressing, over-seeding and irrigation practices. While many of these practices are sometimes looked at as disrupting to the day to day playability of the golf course, the results of a solid cultural program speaks for itself. The following is a review of our cultural schedule for the year:
  • Greens were core aerated and sanded heavy 3 times
  • Greens were deep tine aerated 3 times
  • Greens were solid tined or spiked, verticut and sanded monthly from April to October
  • Tees, Collars and Approaches were core aerated, seeded and sanded 3 times
  • Tees and Approaches were Verticut and lightly topdressed monthly from May to September
  • Fairways and Approaches were spiked monthly from April to October
  • Fairways were slit-seeded with a blend of Chewings Fescue and Ryegrass in the fall
  • Fairways were topdressed with sand 6 times with a total of 1800 tons of sand applied
  • Rough was core aerated in spring and fall
  • The practice of deep and infrequent irrigation continued throughout the year; Greens were watered every 5 to 10 days throughout the growing season with each watering equalling a 1/4" rain event; Fairways and Approaches were watered heavy every 4 to 7 days throughout the growing season.
The number one goal for us in the turf department is plant health and the conditions we have enjoyed this year are directly related to these practices. In making plant health a priority, we take a soils first approach to our agronomic plan. This includes the use of organic fertilizer, composted manures and meals, sea kelp extract, compost tea, humic acids, organic acids, molasses and calcium. These products promote a biological diversity and balance in the soil that is key for the development and culture of fine turf.  Moving forward, we intend to use less synthetic fertilizers and less chemicals as we build a more sustainable soil environment.

Drainage Installation Hole 7

The staff in the Turf Department has been hard at work on many in-house projects throughout the year. Projects for 2011 included:
  • Drains on holes 7,8,10,13,14, & 15. Over 1000 feet of drain pipe installed!
  • Tee leveling and re-sodding on holes 16 & 17
  • Removal of the screen and landscape at 9 tee
  • Various tree removals, selective tree pruning and maintenance and repair work
  • Continued Fescue/Native grass establishment and Hydro-seeding on holes 4,7,8,12,13 & 14

Hydro-seeding on Hole 13

 A handful of new tools and equipment were put into place this year including a new fairway mower, a tri-plex mower for tees & approaches, new walking greens mowers, a greens roller, a drum aerator for fairways & roughs and the all important soil moisture meters that are used to check moisture content in the rootzone. This equipment has given us the ability to prepare the golf course at a much higher level on a daily basis. In preparation for tournaments, we are now able to mow the entire golf course in 4 hours. A huge thank you goes to the Board of Directors, the Green Committee and the Membership for their continued support of the Turf Department.

Soil Moisture Meter

The tournament season here at Claremont was a busy one to say the least. Starting in March with the Tal Smith and finishing in December with the Cross Country, balancing the work needed to keep the golf course in shape day to day and then timing everything to peak for the bigger events is an art and science.  With a little luck from Mother Nature and lots of planning and follow-up, this year's tournaments were successful and very rewarding for myself and the staff to be a part of.

It's been a great year for us in the Turf Department thanks to the hard work and detail oriented approach from the staff. We are proud of the work accomplished and the condition of the golf course shows just how dedicated these individuals truly are. Please thank the staff when you see them as they are the ones here at 5am every day ready to present the golf course as best they can. While we are very happy with the progress made, we know there is a long way to go in getting the course up to the condition we expect. Good things come with time and we are heading into 2012 with a long list of course improvement projects. Combine this with a continued aggressive cultural maintenance plan and a sound agromomic plan, we expect to see course conditions improve in 2012 and each year as we move forward.

Claremont is truly a special place and I feel extremly fortunate to be working on such hallowed ground. Great course, great people and a great club. Thanks to all of you who follow the blog and as always, any suggestions are welcome and wanted. Email me anytime at or find me on the course.

Have a great holiday season and we'll see you on the course in 2012! No backlapping please....