November 20, 2012

A Special Thanks

Sadly, it’s that time of year when we have to say goodbye to our seasonal employees.  These guys provide a great assistance to the rest of our staff, as many more projects and special details around the golf course are completed.  Each individual has very unique skill sets and certainly made a positive impact on the golf course.  Their “can do” attitude definitely resonates throughout the staff and supports a healthy working environment.

The seasonal staff did the majority of walk mowing, both greens and collars.  They also spent time in working the corridors of the property, with pruning of trees/ shrubs around the fence line.  Other tasks include, edging sprinklers, bunker detail, clean-up during aerification, flower bed maintenance, blowing fairways and rough, and hand watering of tees, approaches, and fairways. 

These guys will certainly be missed and we hope to see all of them again next year!  Thanks for the great work!

October 22, 2012

First Rain of the Season and Course Update

I sit and write this morning with a smile on my face that has not been seen for 5 months. Yes, it's been FIVE long months since the last significant rainfall and if there is anything that can put a smile on the face of the California Superintendent, it's the first rain of the season. While I'm happy to see the rain for now, we hope to get a break over the next few weeks so we can finish the tournament season strong and complete our fall cultural maintenance on the course. Below is a schedule for the next few weeks:

RIX Invitational - October 25 to 27

Greens Aeration - October 29 & 31 (Back Nine Closed For Play 10/31)

Tee and Fairway Aeration - November 1 to 9

Rough Aeration - November 1 to 9


Upcoming Practice Green Renovation 

Beginning October 31 we will be renovating the practice putting green at the clubhouse/1st tee area. As we have all seen over the last two seasons, this greens continues to be the most problematic in both the winter and summer seasons due to poor draining soils, irrigation inconsistencies, tree shade and root competition and high levels of foot traffic. All of these issues together have resulted in poor turf quality on the most visible green on the property. With this project, we will address as many of the issues as possible. Work is to be performed as follows:
  • Existing turf will be removed and stored on site
  • Good sand/soil (greens mix) will be removed and stockpiled on site
  • Poor soils and clay removed and a "greens cavity" shaped into the sub-grade
  • Extensive drainage system installed into the sub-grade
  • 75 tons of new sand blended with our greens mix to fill cavity, compact and finish grade
  • Replace sod and grow-in the renovated putting green!
The result here will be a practice green that drains well during and after heavy rain events and performs to our expectation throughout the long growing season that is typical here in California. Please plan on the construction to take at least two weeks and then another 4 to 6 weeks to grow in to the point that it will hold up to maintenance and member  traffic. Again, the timing here will depend greatly on the weather. Also, do not hesitate to contact me at if you have any questions on the upcoming project.

Thanks and we'll see you on the course!    

September 21, 2012

Claremont on Golf CLub Atlas

One of my regular visits while surfing the internet is a website called Golf Club Atlas. Recently, I pulled up the home page of the website and found a great picture of the 11th hole at Claremont with a caption below containing some very favorable comments on the course. For those of you who have not seen the website, the link is below.

Golf Club Atlas is a website designed to promote frank discussion on golf and golf course architecture. Many of the worlds greatest courses, some known and others not so much are profiled under the tab Courses By Country. There is a section titled Interviews containing comments from many big time people in the world of golf and golf architecture including Tom Doak, Jim Urbina and Dave Wilber (all having ties to Claremont). The Discussion Board is the most visited feature of the website and again you will find people from all over the world discussing anything and everything to do with the sport we love. (an ongoing thread on Claremont including more pictures can be found on page 3 of the discussion board) I wanted to share this with all as I was impressed to see Claremont on the front page of a website that is admired and visited by many golf enthusiasts from all over the world. We truly have a gem of a course and I feel so fortunate to be a small part of it's rich history. Enjoy and we'll see you on the course!

September 7, 2012

Good Bye Summer - Hello Fall

Shorter days, cooler mornings and the sweet smell of recovery... All things pointing towards the beautiful fall season. Simply put, this summer has been a grind and has kept the staff and I on our toes with projects and keeping the golf course in shape throughout many busy days and some difficult growing conditions. In our attempt to keep the golf course firm and fast, we have seen some areas of the course struggle due to various issues. Dry areas, wet areas, turf diseases, insect damage and the constant wear and tear that comes with providing the playing conditions that we have come to enjoy all take a toll. While I have been happy with the condition of the golf course, I see much room for improvement and this summer has been quite the learning experience.

The changing of the season brings with it cooler mornings and shorter days and that means turf recovery. Fall also brings a busy golf and tournament season here at Claremont. As we push through the next few months on tuning up the course for the remaining events, the focus will remain providing consistent conditions on a daily basis and preparing for the upcoming rainy season. Lets all keep our fingers crossed for a big rain year!

Keep a look out for upcoming blogs on the many projects that took place over the last few months and bare with me as things have been so busy that the blog has had to take a back seat for a while. As always, any member suggestions on content for this blog are welcome and wanted. Here's to the fall and we'll see you on the course!

July 3, 2012

Summer Aeration & Maintenance Schedule

Over the next few weeks the staff in the turf department will be performing various cultural practices around the golf course. These cultural practices play a huge part in creating the proper environment for the turf to withstand the day to day beating that it takes throughout the year. Much thought and planning goes into the timing and execution of these maintenance practices to ensure that the impact to the membership is minimal and that the benefit to the golf course is to our expectation. The following is the schedule for this year's summer mmaintenance:


  July 9 - Front Nine & Putting Green
  July 10 - Back Nine (CLOSED FOR DAY)


  July 11 to July 20


  July 9 and 11
  July 23 and 25

I have received many positive comments this year on the condition of the course and those conditions are a direct result of these cultural practices. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during these maintenance activities and please know that we will do all we can to get the golf course cleaned up and back in shape following each event. Thanks and we'll see you on the course!

June 20, 2012

US Open Week

A once in a lifetime opportunity has come and gone for myself and our Equipment Manager Mike Newbould. Last week we volunteered our time to help the staff at the Olympic Club prepare the golf course for the 112th United States Open.

First of all I must thank Director of Maintenance Pat Finlen, Lake Course Superintendent Justin Mandon, HR Director Celeste Repsher and all of the staff at the Olympic Club for their amazing hospitality and for allowing us to be part of such a special week. This group is truly a class act!

Sunday afternoon prior to the tournament, all of the staff and volunteers met for the first time to eat dinner and get job assignments for the week. I would be off to mow fairways morning and night and Mike was assigned to the shop to assist in maintaining the equipment.

There was an amazing amount of equipment to maintain and Mike and the other volunteer technicians worked as hard or harder than anyone else. Not your average everyday tournament as there were thirteen fairway mowers rumbling down each fairway morning and night. A very impressive sight I must say!              
The hundred or so volunteers from 16 different countries, all the extra equipment and all of the chaos that surrounds a tournament of this size made for many logistical challenges. The planning, coordination and timing that goes into this event was amazing to see from "inside the ropes" and the staff at Olympic pulled it off seamlessly.

For me, the most impressive aspect of seeing the golf course set up for a major championship was the amount of time and scientific data that goes into managing water. The players are so good and so critical of the day to day set up of the course that they notice any slight change in the course. Moisture readings, firmness testing and speed readings are taken all over each green morning and night to insure that the pros are getting the most difficult test in golf all while keeping the consistency and fairness that they expect. That course was a firm and fast as anything that I've ever seen and witnessing first hand the best in the world get tested on one of the great golf courses in the world  in that condition was an experience I'll never forget.

Take look at the video below for an inside the ropes look at the US Open maintenance and volunteers:

Lastly I must thank Claremont Country Club, it's Board of Directors, the Greens Committee and the Management team for their support and for allowing me the time away from work during the US Open. The experience was invaluable and I feel Mike and I both are back this week excited to bring with us some of the tips and tricks that may only be learned at a US Open.

Thanks again and we'll see you on the golf course!

June 4, 2012

Men's Invitational Week

Despite the light rain today, all systems are a go for a fantastic Men's Invitational this week at Claremont. Something about Murphy's Law and Mother Nature... the last thing we need today is rain. Monday of tournament week is a big day when we plan many maintenance activities to help set the course up for the biggest week of the year. These activities include the application of a preventative fungicide on the greens as well as applications of growth regulators to the greens and fairways. All of these products should be allowed to dry on the surface for an hour to achieve the desired result. Thanks Mother nature!

With or without the rain, the course will be in tip top shape this week and into the summer. We are very happy with the condition of the turf and this week the focus will be on mowing and clean up work. It's the little details that will set the golf course apart from day to day condition to tournament condition and the staff in the turf department has worked well at preparing for the big week. Good luck to all participants and here's to a great Men's Invitational. Thanks and we'll see you on the course!

May 15, 2012

Solid Tine Aeration

The majority of the greens were solid tine aerated yesterday and the staff in the turf department will finish the process this morning on the back nine. The process includes verticuting in two directions:solid

The greens are then aerated with a solid tine at 9 inches deep and sanded:

We then apply our organic soil amendments including compost and granular sea weed extracts. Once all is dry, we drag the sand and materials around the green and into the hole. When done, each green is rolled twice to remove imperfections and disperse the sand once again. This finished product:

Over the next few days we will not mow the greens. They will be rolled 1 to 2 times a day until the sand is all but gone and the turf has grown up through the sand. We expect the greens to be back in fantastic condition in the coming week. Thanks and we'll see you on the course!

April 11, 2012

Bulk Fertilizer Application

Beginning today we will be applying our bulk organic fertilizer to all of the short cut turf areas around the golf course. This will include tees, approaches and fairways. I am a big fan of using organic products on the golf course and the 8 tons of 8-2-2 fertilizer that will be applied is exactly what our sand based fairways are in need of this time of year. Unfortunately with any organic fertilizer comes an aroma. To most, that aroma is not very pleasant

If you are on the course over the next few days, you will know what holes have been fertilized and which have not. The timing is perfect for us to make the application as most of the fairways have been core aerified and the forecast is for more rain to begin tomorrow. Once the rain starts and begins to break down the fertilizer, the smell will go away and all things will return to normal at this wonderful facility. Thanks, and we'll see you on the golf course!

April 4, 2012

Greens Update and Fairway Aeration


Two weeks out from our core aeration, despite the cool and wet weather, the greens are coming back nicely. The picture below was taken on #17 green on this past Saturday after just 10 days.

The tricky part of aerating the greens this time of year is timing the process around the weather, rain and member events. Because the greens were so wet due to the March rains (5.38 inches!) we were unable to perform our entire greens aeration that was to include a deep, solid tine aeration as well. This process will take place over a 2 day period on April 9 & 10. Monday, we will solid tine the greens on the back nine and putting green. Tuesday April 10th, the front nine will be closed for the solid tine aeration. This will include a light application of sand and will be of minimal disturbance.


To my knowledge, the fairways here at Claremont have never had a true core aeration. As we all know, the intensive fairway sanding over the last 12 years has built up a fantastic sand base and now it is time to change our approach to how we manage that base. Below are pictures that will take you through the sequence of events during our fairway aeration.

Core Aeration on 12 Fairway

Seed applied over the top of the Fairway

The sandy cores and seed are driven over with the Core Buster Drag Mat.
This process breaks up the cores and disperses the seed into the hole and
Throughout the fairway.

Once the plugs are broken up and seed is dispersed, the remaining debris is
blown into the rough to be mowed.

Up close view of cores on the fairway. Notice the dark thatch rings on each
core. Great example of why we need to aerate!

Up close view of the finished product.

Knowing this is a new process to Claremont, much thought has been given to effectively accomplish our goals for the golf course all the while minimizing the impact to our membership and their guests. Yesterday and over the next week, if you are on the golf course, there is no doubt your round of golf will be impacted at some point. We will do all we can to minimize the impact by working efficiently and scheduling creatively. The remaining fairway aeration schedule is below:

Wednesday April 4 : Holes 9, 16 & 17

Thursday April 5 : Hole 11

Friday April 6 : Holes 15 & 6

Monday April 9 : Holes 1 & 18

Tuesday April 10 : Holes 4, 5 & 7

Thank you and we'll see you on the course!

March 20, 2012

Now is the Time!

It's that time of year again ladies and gentlemen, time for the process you've all been waiting for...The Punching of the Greens!

As you all know, the spring aeration is one of the most important practices there is to ensure healthy and resilient turf throughout the growing season. The important thing is the greens and surrounding areas are firm enough to hold up to the heavy traffic that takes place during the process. The slide below depicts the effect of aeration in the soil and to the turf.

We appreciate the flexibility given by the membership to properly perform the spring aeration. When putting the club calendar together late last year, much thought was given to the timing of these aeration's and a decision was made to block off a four week period starting March 12th for weather dependent aeration. This is an important step in putting the golf course first as this time of year, the weather will dictate how and when we can implement this all important practice. Looking at the forecast we feel that now is the time.

The putting green and BACK nine will be closed Wednesday the 21st.

The FRONT nine will be closed on Thursday the 22nd.

Thank you for your cooperation with this process and we'll see you on the course!

March 6, 2012

Golf Industry Trade Show and Conference

Last week, Randy Gai and I had the great fortune of attending the Golf Industry Show in Las Vegas. The Show is put on by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America  and  despite this years conference location being known as Sin City, the focus of our four days in Vegas was on education, new equipment and technologies and the many networking opportunities that are available at any Golf Industry Show. The following details my week at the show.

Tim Powers on the right; Superintendent at Crystal Springs GC in Hillsborough
National Award Winner for Environmental Stewardship
Congrats to my Friend and former Boss

The week started early Monday with an all day seminar titled Reducing Chemical Use on Golf Course Turf. Professors Frank Rossi and Jennifer Grant from Cornell University put on a very educational and entertaining seminar with much of their talk focused on alleviating the amount of stress that our turf encounters at different times of the year thus reducing the need to treat chemically. I'm all for the reducing the amount of chemical use on our course and intend to seek out any methods that will help us do so.

A Plan Based Budget Will Help You Succeed was the title of my class on day 2. Full of much needed info and advise especially for the greenhorn Superintendent, the best aspect of this seminar was continual discussion between the more than 60 Superintendents from all over the world.

Wednesday the doors of the Trade Show opened at 9am for all the Superintendents, Assistants and Course Owners and Builders to look at the many new products and equipment available. The trade show floor is massive and it's quite difficult to take in everything in just a day. Much time was spent re-connecting with industry friends and networking with other Superintendents and we ended up walking the floor all day Wednesday and half of Thursday.

Thursday morning was the highlight of the show for me. The GCSAA hosted a general session for all attendees and the keynote speaker was none other then David Feherty. Click the link below for a short interview and highlight clip from his time with the GCSAA. Beware, the language is colorful to say the least.  In listening to Feherty for over an hour, we all came away having laughed, cried and feeling very lucky to be American.

I will say that I'm very happy to be back home. It's always nice to come back to California and back to Claremont and I intend to apply the many lessons learned in our department. We Superintendents are truly fortunate to be part of such a special profession and I want to thank the membership at Claremont for their continued support. I leave you with this: "What They Think I DO" as a Golf Course Superintendent.

Thanks to Brian Boyer, Superintendent at Cinnabar Hills for turning me on to this. So funny and so True!!
Thanks and we'll see you on the golf course....

February 7, 2012

New Faces in the Turf Department

I am happy to welcome Corey Beelke to Claremont Country Club as our new Assistant Golf Course Superintendent.

Corey's previous position was at Bayonet & Blackhorse in Monterey where he was Assistant Superintendent and prior to that, Corey was in Oregon at Eugene Country Club. Corey brings with him over 8 years of well rounded golf maintenance experience and single digit handicap as well. Welcome to Claremont Corey!

The other new addition to the the Turf Department is of the 4 legged variety. Introducing (thanks kids) Buzz Lightyear:

Buzz is a 12 week old Black Lab/Border Collie mix and is our new mascot for the Turf Department. While he has much to learn and little golf course experience, he has shown great potential and one day will give MacKenzie a run for her money keeping the course free of geese. Let it rain and we'll see you on the course!

January 5, 2012

Winter Update

Winter. What winter? With a rain total for the season of 3.75", all of which came in October and November and with temperatures in the high 60's, winter has yet to show her face. The last of the rains came and went in late November and since then, the staff in the turf department have been hard at work preparing the golf course for play. This time of year is when the staff is taking vacations and time off to rest up for the long season ahead. Please keep this in mind when you play the golf course as there is just not enough people to attend to all the details as if it were the summer. That being said, I am happy to say that we have kept the golf course in great playing condition and we've managed to complete a few good projects.

16 Tee Leveling and Re-Sodding:

Due to root encroachment, traffic and age, the back half of the tee on 16 had become uneven to the point we could no longer place tee markers on level ground. The turf was stripped, the ground leveled and the tee re-sodded. We hope to have the tee open for play in the coming weeks.

Drainage Addition #7 Approach:

Using our new trencher, the staff installed over 300 feet of new drain pipe to the approach on #7. This approach has been a notoriously wet area in both summer and winter and with this drainage addition we expect the area to play firm year around.

Maintenance Facility TLC:

Our new Equipment Manager Mike Newbould has been given the task of re-structuring and organizing the maintenance facility. With the help of some of the staff, Mike has made some major improvements to an area in desperate need of just that. With the removal of some antiquated equipment and a bit of reorganization, the facility has never looked better or been more efficient. The staff now has their own space for lockers, clothes racks, rain gear and changing area. The equipment all has a specific place and is put away neatly at the end of each day. Serenity Now! for the Equipment Manager... well we're getting there. Thanks to Mike and the staff for the work around the shop.

New Look for Blog in 2012!

I'm sure you've noticed the new look for the blog. The changes came courtesy of Peter McCormick at and I will say much thanks to him and everyone at Turfnet for helping with the blog and for all they do for us superintendent types. It's people like Peter that make this business so special to be a part of.