December 12, 2013

Cold Snap

The Frost Delay... Not exactly the favorite of situations for golfers or the maintenance staff. The last nine days of cold weather continues to be, well I'll just say, frustrating. The average low temperature for this period has been 32 degrees and with the average high just over 50 degrees, we are all more than ready for the forecast of warmer weather this weekend.

Here are a few pictures of frost and the damage to turf that can be associated with golfing when it's just to darn cold...

Cart tracks across the first fairway. Must have been to cold to drive there!

Foot prints from one foursome playing a green. If allowed to play during a period of frost / freeze, these foot prints could turn yellow to black to dead depending on the severity of damage.

Take a look at the USGA video on frost delays:

Thanks for your patience and understanding over the last 10 days. Soon temps will warm and we will get some rain... I hope!

November 24, 2013

A Good Start

The last few weeks have brought quite a change on the golf course. The completion of the fairway and tee aeration and sanding followed by rain, wind and abnormally warm temps have kept the staff in the Turf Department busy to say the least. See below for a picture tour of the last few weeks.

Fairway sanding on Hole #2

Hydro seeded fescue on bunkers Hole #18. Many Fescue areas around bunkers and in out-of-play areas were hydro seeded in the last few weeks. These areas have begun to germinate with the recent rain and will establish over the winter.

Buzz relaxing on a dormant section of Bermuda grass. The Bermuda has begun to go dormant throughout the course and has contributed greatly to the "off-color" look of the course. This is normal for this time of year.

The creek flowing nicely following a much needed 1.4 inches of rain. The course took the first good rains of the season nicely and the staff was out mowing all greens, tees and fairways the day after.

The putting green passed it's first winter test with flying colors. While there was a bit of standing water on the surface (as there was on many greens throughout the course) during the downpour, once the rains let up, the water dissipated rapidly and we were out mowing the next morning. The green continues to be firm under foot and is draining nicely.

We lost a few trees this week. Following the soaking rains Tuesday and Wednesday the Cork Oak at the clubhouse came down.

The strong winds that blew in Thursday night brought down an Acacia tree along the fence line at Hole #16. We were luck to have no damage to the fencing or netting along 16.

The wind storm that blew through had sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts over 40 mph. This resulted in a golf course littered with leaf debris and small limbs down throughout. The staff worked hard Friday just to clear greens, tees and Fairways and by Sunday, we were still finishing the clean up and raking of all bunkers.

Over the next week, we will attempt to resume normal mowing of the course but will also focus on the continuing clean up of all rough and out-of-play areas. The amount of debris that came out of these trees was amazing and will take weeks to finish the clean up.

A wild few weeks for sure... no down time for staff in the Turf Department! If you are out this week, please take a minute to stop and thank the someone working on the course as they've all had a long year.

Thanks and we'll see you on the course!

November 10, 2013

Dear Mom... Please Send Rain

I came across this in the SF Chronicle today... click on the link below for an article on this years weather, or lack thereof.

I know it's been a dry season but this really puts things into perspective. Driest Year On Record!

November 4, 2013

Shorter Days and Cooler Nights

The seasons are a changing and it's beginning to feel like winter out there. Let's just hope that winter this year includes rain!

  With the shorter days and cooler nights comes the need to water less and this is a good thing. The quarry pond is low due to the light rains we've received for the last 10 months and at this point we are in water conservation mode. This will make for some firm and fast conditions and a few more brown areas than a normal year. Normal rainfall from January to October is 16.5 inches. This year we are at just 3.5 inches for that same time span.

 The cooler temperatures we've had forces the warm season grasses (Bermuda & kikuyu) into dormancy turning isolated areas from green to brown. This is typical for the season and is nothing to be worried about. This is also the time of year when we cut and mow all fescue and native areas to prepare for winter and over seeding which makes for even more off color grass.

The fall aeration of the course is in full swing and we hope to complete the process by the end of the week. This includes the aeration, sanding, seeding and fertilization of all tee, approach and fairway areas. A slide on the benefits of aeration can be seen below....

All things considered, we are very happy with the course this fall and we're looking forward to a very wet winter. I leave you with a great quote from the good Doctor...
"The best golfing grasses vary in color. They may be red, brown, blue, dark green, light green, yellow and at times even white. A golf course that is consisted entirely of one shade of green would be merely ugly." - Alister MacKenzie

Thanks and we'll see you on the course!

September 18, 2013

Finish Strong

 It's that time of year... the cool season grasses are tired, the course is a bit tired, the staff and the superintendent are as well. Must be September!!

The only one not tired is Buzz....

Yes that's a large pile of sand and yes... we are aerating the greens again. This Monday, the front nine will be cored and sanded. Tuesday, the same process will take place on the back nine. The back nine will be closed for the day. The fall aeration is the least disruptive of all and we will use a 1/4" tine to pull as much material out without impacting the surfaces in a major way. You can expect healing in 7 to 10 days.

This process could not come at a better time. It's been seven months since the last significant rainfall and we've been irrigating the course with some pretty poor water for the entire time. The irrigation water is full of minerals and they build up in the soil over an extended dry period to the point where it's detrimental to turf. The minerals I am referring to are salt and bicarbonate. When your car gets sprayed by that sprinkler going off around the circle lawn early in the morning, these minerals leave behind the white spots that are hard to remove. The salt and bicarbonate build up in the soil to the point where it ties up nutrients and results in areas that are poor to drain and/or take water. The best thing now is to poke some holes and remove some of the "bad stuff".

 Despite the poor water quality and long, stressful period with out rain, we are quite happy with the course. The greens, tees and fairways are in great shape and ready for the busy fall tournament season.

With the fall season approaching, we are looking forward to shorter days, cooler mornings and eventually rain. While we are able to manage the salt issues to some degree the real relief will come by way of Mother Nature's irrigation. When she sends the rain our way, the cool season grasses, the course, the staff and the superintendent will all take a big breath of relief and a good nights sleep will be had by all... Until then, we will work hard, push the turf when the time is right and Finish the season Strong!

Thanks and we'll see you on the course...

June 20, 2013

Summer Maintenance On the Course

Summer is here and as we finish off the Men's and Women's Invitationals that magical date of July 4th is rapidly approaching. For the staff in the Turf Department, this means one thing... Summer Aeration.

Here is the schedule of events for our summer maintenance:

July 8 & 9: Core Aeration & Sanding of GREENS

July 10 to 12: Core Aeration & Sanding of TEES

July 15 to 24: Core Aeration of FAIRWAYS

July 8 to 16: Drainage Installation on 2, 3, 11 & 12 GREENS

**During Drainage work on greens, play will be on a temporary green. Expect each green to be out of play for 2 to 3 days**

Along with the standard summer aeration, XGD Drainage Co. will be installing subsurface drains into the greens on holes 2, 3, 11, & 12. These greens are the poor performers in terms of drainage especially during the winter months and the new drains will help to keep the course playable and healthy throughout the year. The XGD process was on full display last week at Merion Golf Club for the US Open when the course took over 7 inches of rain during the days leading up to the event. Much like Claremont, the greens at Merion are old push up greens that were drained in 2008 using the XGD method which does not disturb the surface of the green outside of the drain channel and does not alter contour what so ever. Each green will be out of play for a maximum of 3 days while the drains are installed and will be ready for play immediately once completed. Below is a link to XGD's own blog:

Any questions or comments on the upcoming maintenance are welcome and wanted. Find me on the course, shoot me an email or give me a call... whichever you prefer I'd be happy to help! Thanks and we'll see you on the course.

June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day Dad!

Happy Father's Day Pop and Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there. My Dad introduced me to the game of golf. He got me me up early in the morning to get in 9 before school. He taught me to leave the course better than I found it and sent me to the car when I got out of line. My Dad is the one person I have to thank for the very rewarding career that I've now gotten myself into. Without his introduction and my resulting love for the game, who knows what I'd be up too!  Father's Day Sunday is indeed a great day. For more reason than one.

Father's Day means US Open Sunday. This year the toughest test in golf lands at Merion Golf Club. A classic gem at less than 115 acres with wild fescue grass areas, roughed-up bunkers and quarry holes. Sound familiar?

As I look across the course at Claremont, I see many similarities to the look found at Merion. The bunkers are wild with minimally maintained fescue grass edges on both properties. Claremont is a charming 18 hole classic laid out on under 100 acres while Merion is a brute set on a small property as well. Both courses ooze character with the select placement of fescue native areas mingling in between lush green fairways and greens. Both very cool tracks with a rich history in the game.

 While the look is similar, it's not the same and for the most part this is due to climate. The fescue at Merion is long, lush and green right now thanks to the climate of the northeast that brings regular rainfall during the season. With the dry season that we experience each year in California, our fescue and native grasses take on a golden hue that resembles the native grass hillsides found throughout the state. Maintaining these areas to look natural and to be acceptable for playing the game of golf is truly an art form. Ask some of the pro's this week how they feel about the playability of Merion for the Open!

A big congratulations goes out to Superintendent Matt Shaffer and all of the staff and volunteers at Merion this year. They received over 7 inches of rain in the days leading up to the event and the course is looking flawless. Nothing short of amazing!

Here's to a great US Open...

Here's to great classic golf architecture...

Here's to a great Father's Day!

June 4, 2013

It's That Time Again!

Boy does time fly when you're having fun... Seems like not to long ago, we were getting ready for the winter that never really happened and then, all of a sudden, it's Invitational Time!

Over the last few weeks all of the staff in the Turf Department have been busy catching up on the many details around the course that we seem to fall behind on over the winter. Due to the dry beginning of 2013, the course has been so busy with member play and outside events that our focus has been on mowing and daily preparation. Thanks to the staff's hard work, we are now caught up and the focus this week will be on the mowing and general clean up of the course in preparation for our biggest event of the year.

The forecast this weekend is for hot weather (for Oakland) and we will have no problem getting the course to play firm and fast. Thanks to Mother Nature, the course is looking and playing different than in years past. To give you an idea as to why, in 2012 between January and June, our rain totals were 12.75". This year, in the same time period we've received just over 3" and no rain what so ever in the last 2 months! The farmer in me says it's gonna be a long season....

All things considered, the course is looking and playing very well and we are looking forward to a fantastic Men's Invitational! Thanks and we'll see you on the course.

March 23, 2013

Another One in The Books!

Well, the time of year we have all come to know and love has now come and gone... Aeration!

Over the last two and a half weeks, virtually all of the turf on the course has been aerated and seeded. The process is a long and messy one wearing on the staff, the equipment and the golfing membership. The process is also a vital one, insuring a healthy and resilient turf as we head into the long marathon that is the growing season. See the cores in the picture above? The dark rings in each core are layers of thatch that result in poor water infiltration and localized dry spots in the summer months. Gotta get in and mix those layers up! See below on the many benefits of the aeration.

We were blessed with great weather throughout the aeration and this has lead to a speedy recovery. The picture below shows the 5th green just nine days following the aeration. The greens have healed nicely and we are now working on getting back the speed and smoothness that we have all come to expect. Greens will be verticut and sanded on Monday the 25th to insure this.

The coming weeks will be very busy for all in the turf department. The to-do list seems to continually expand and our focus for the remainder of March and into April will turn to raising sprinklers around greens and fairways, refreshing all bunkers with new sand, trimming all native grass hillsides, and the clean up and detail of the perimeters of the property. All of this while we train a new seasonal staff of seven and prepare the course each day for member play.

 We look forward to a great golfing season all the while knowing it may be a tough one. The average rainfall for January thru March is over 10 inches. To date, we are at 1.78 inches and hoping for more! This has a major affect on the soils we work with and remember, when it comes down to it, it's all about the soils.

Keep an eye on the blog for the down low on many of our practices on the course and as always, suggestions on content are welcome and wanted. Thanks and we'll see you on the course!

March 7, 2013

Spring Aeration Schedule

This coming Monday all systems are a go for our spring aeration. The weather forecast is for clear skies and temperatures in the high 60's making for near perfect aeration conditions. See the schedule below:

Monday 3/11 - Front 9 Greens Aeration & Sanding

Tuesday 3/12 - Back 9 Greens Aeration & Sanding (Back 9 CLOSED for the day)

Wednesday 3/13 to Friday 3/15 - Tee & Approach Aeration & Sanding

Monday 3/18 to Wednesday 3/27 - Fairway Aeration

There are many factors that play into a successful aeration. Equipment malfunctions and breakdowns, rain and/or cold weather, tournaments and large amounts of play can all effect the timing and efficiency of the operation. Check back here on the blog over the next few weeks for updates on the progress of the aeration.

Why must we punch holes and bury the greens in sand you may ask? Click on the link below for a short video courtesy of the USGA on the how's and why's of a green aeration. Thanks and we'll see you on the course!

February 27, 2013

Drainage Repair


Yep, that there is a low drainage catch basin, the result of a very successful fairway topdressing program. Over the years, so much sand has been applied to the fairways that now we are going through and raising things like sprinklers, valve boxes and now catch basins. On Monday the staff dug up and repaired all three of the low catch basins on the 4th fairway.

Note the tree roots in the picture above and keep in mind that this drain is 30 yards from the nearest tree!

Once the drain is exposed, the old box is removed. A new connection is made at the 6" drain pipe and the hole is filled with a sand/soil mixture that will allow for the immediate area to drain better.

The area is then compacted and prepared for sod.

The finished result is a level area surrounding the catch basin. Not only do the catch basins look better but they will no longer be hard on our equipment each time we mow. Look for a more expansive drainage project this fall on the 4th fairway. Thanks and we'll see you on the course!

February 13, 2013

First tee irrigation project

Last week the crew worked hard to install new irrigation heads around #1 tee.  This area is notorious for being very dry during the summer months and requires daily hand watering.  By installing an additional 8 irrigation heads, the slope heading up to the putting green, as well as the turf surrounding the oak tree will now be sufficiently watered. 

The pictures below help describe the process.

Once the spacing of the irrigation heads had been determined,
the crew began by removing the sod and laying plywood before trenching.
With the plywood in place, we trenched all the lines in order to install our 1 1/2" pvc pipe. 

Buzz inspecting the project.

With the trench cleaned and measured for a depth of 18", the crew began the process
 of installing the irrigation pipe.  (Notice the huge rock on the bottom left of the picture. 
The crew ran into several big rocks throughout this process
which certainly slowed down this project.)

With the pvc pipe in the ground, the crew started the process of replacing the soil
that had been removed during trenching. 

Carlos carefully replacing the sod.

View from the sidewalk heading down to the golf shop.

January 15, 2013

Frost This Morning

Attention all winter golfers.... Its COLD OUT THERE!! Expect a frost delay today and tomorrow. We hope to have the first tee open by 9am.

Below, courtesy of the USGA, see a brief description of the how's and why's of the frost delay.

Frost Delays

Posted: 12/27/2012

I am an early morning golfer and have never fully understood the justification for frost delays?

Frost is essentially frozen dew. Ice crystals visible on the outside of the plant can also form on the inside of grass blades. The grass plant, normally resilient to footsteps or cart traffic, becomes brittle and fragile when ice crystals form. Under the pressure of traffic, ice crystals puncture living plant tissues and rupture plant cells. Damage will not appear right away, but it will show up in footsteps and tire tracks the following days as the plant is unable to repair itself and begins to die. Frost damage can occur on any turfgrass mowed at any height, but it is amplified when the plant is mowed low, as on a putting green.

Keep in mind, a foursome typically takes several hundred footsteps on each green, so even allowing just a few groups to play when frost is present can be very damaging to the greens, and the rest of the golf course for that matter. It is not completely understood when frost will cause damage, so the decision to keep traffic off the golf course must be made conservatively to protect the condition of the course. For this reason, golf facilities are wise to delay starting times in the morning until frost has completely melted.