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!

August 7, 2016

Cool season turf growth

It's now just over three weeks since summer aeration and greens have healed nicely. Green speeds are back in the normal range of expectation and we are looking forward to a great fall season on the course.

The above slide illustrates the growth curve of cool season grasses. As you can see, July is not the
best time for us to be aggressive as growth is limited both above and below the surface during the stress of summer. Due to a busy fall event season this was our last chance to open things up and incorporate some much needed new sand. 60 tons of new sand to be exact! Needless to say we were quite happy to have the weather cooperate with below average temperatures over the last few weeks.

Enjoy your time out there and we hope to see you on the course!

Josh Clevenger, Golf Course Superintendent

July 19, 2016

I am a Greenkeeper

This video was made by one of our seasonal Greenkeepers and it's so cool I had to share here.
So much time, planning and effort goes into maintaining the golf course that it's really difficult to explain. This is a really neat look at just some of the things we are doing out there. Some great pics and video courtesy of Jose De La Rosa. This video is dedicated to the great staff of Greenkeepers at the Claremont Country Club and all great Greenkeepers around the world.

Thanks Jose for putting this together and thank you for your service to our country!

Josh Clevenger, Golf Course Superintendent

The Sandman Cometh

The sandman was back to apply 600 tons of sand to the fairways on Monday. A total of 1200 tons have been applied this season (40 tons per acre). This total is half of what was applied for many years. The years of heavy sand applications resulted in a sand base on fairways of 6 to 8". The fairways were essentially "sand capped" over the course of 15 years and now we have adjusted the program to maintain that sand base. Resulting conditions have improved year around. I hear stories from many long time members about losing shoes in the fairways back in the day. No longer the case! In season, we are able to provide firm and fast conditions in fairways thanks to the sand base. It doesn't take much to dry things out here and when playing firm the character of the course is accentuated big time.

We've reached the mid point of the season and so far so good. About this time each year, I find myself looking through files of pictures titled "winter" or "rain" more and more often. It's been almost 4 months since we've had any precipitation. Rainbows and water falling from the sky would be a welcome sight but in all reality, we've got a long way to go. Football season is just a few weeks away though...

July 12, 2016

Summer Aeration

Following the 4th of July we set aside 10 days to perform cultural practices on the golf course. Cultural practices this summer include things like verticutting, aeration and sand topdressing. While these practices are never popular, the resulting course conditions are. Thanks to a strong program of cultural practices over the last few years, our turf conditions are stronger and  healthier than ever and we expect a speedy recovery.

This summer we chose to add a "Dry-Ject" aeration to our process. This process is performed by outside contractors and involves a machine that injects a high pressure stream of water that fractures the soil allowing for sand to funnel into the void. With this aeration we are able to inject sand to a depth of 5 to 6 inches, just below our typical aeration depth of 3 to 4 inches. Over the last three years we have performed a physical properties test with ISTRC (International Sports Turf Research Center). The results of these tests have helped us to tweak our aeration processes to meet the needs of the soil. After all, we're all dirt farmers out here! See video of Dry-Ject below:

Some pics from the Dry-Ject process:

As you can see, the disruption to the surface is minimal while benefit to the subsurface is great. With this being our last major greens aeration of the year, we will follow the Dry-Ject with a traditional core aeration and sanding. Soil amendments and organic fertilizers are added then we water. With a very favorable weather forecast, we expect a smooth recovery.
Along with greens aeration, all tees, approaches and fairways will be aerated with a solid tine and topdressed with sand. This will be our final fairway sanding of the year and when complete, we will have applied 40 tons per acre for the season. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this process. We look forward to a great summer and fall golf season on the course thanks to the work being completed over these ten days. Football season is just 4 weeks away!

June 11, 2016

2016 Invitational

The final round of the 2016 Men's Invitational is underway and course reviews have been nothing but positive. While it's nice to receive the kudos each year around this time, it's the positive comments that we've received over the last few weeks that hit home. I've been stopped by numerous members and guests lately and told the course is looking and playing better than ever.

Buzz and I are quite happy with course conditions and we intend to keep things looking and playing at a high level throughout the season. We really enjoy putting in the extra time and effort to showcase the course for these important member events. At the same time, the day to day maintenance and set up are just as important if not more so.

I can't thank the staff in the Turf Department enough for their efforts over the last few weeks. The results of their hard work is evident. We hope you enjoy your time on the course this summer and have the opportunity to share the Claremont experience with your family and friends!

Thanks and we'll see you on the course.

April 27, 2016

What's going on out there?

Here is a quick update on what's been going on out there over the last few weeks...

Tree Roots vs. Grass Roots - It's a competition thing
We've begun work on addressing some of the turf areas impacted by tree roots and/or cart traffic. The roots from this massive Redwood tree extend deep and wide throughout the soil competing with shallow turf roots for water and nutrients. Add to this the stress of high cart traffic and the turf has no chance to survive. The root pruner was out and about on the course last week cutting surface roots that impact greens, tees, fairways and roughs. This helps us to get a leg up with our root competition and that's about it. Soon the roots will regenerate and the battle will resume right where it left off.

High traffic areas prepped for sod

When the course was built, golf carts were not even a consideration. The property is tight and traffic is condensed in many areas. These "high traffic" areas have become an eyesore to the point that we are now stripping old material and re-sodding them. Once established, a program of solid tine aeration, extra seeding and extra fertility will help to keep these areas in better shape. Sod used here is a blend of Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass that will better withstand the pressure of all the wear and tear. To some degree, I still expect this sodding process to take place annually especially at cart path entry and exit points.
Fairway Bunker on 6

This fairway bunker has been a problem for years now. Every time it rains, surface water rushes into the bunker and washes out the sand. With all the rains this season, we have a significant amount of water moving though the soils. The soils in the base of this bunker are extremely heavy clay in that when saturated it can take weeks to dry out. What has resulted is what I call the "waterbed effect" with soil saturated to the point that the bunker floor is unstable and unplayable. After moving sand around the soupy mess in the picture below made it's way up to the surface. Over the next few days we will work to repair the bottom floor of the bunker, add drainage, replace sand and restore the bunker to original specifications. Thanks to all for putting up with these much needed maintenance practices and we'll see you on the course.

April 6, 2016

A Busy Two Weeks

The Sand Man was here Monday to help us put the finishing touches on our spring aeration. Thanks to some hard work and a few long days, spring aeration was completed Monday after two long weeks. Due to equipment issues, staffing difficulties and having to push back the aeration and sanding process because of weather, we started behind the 8 ball this year. With a busy tee sheet looming this week, we made the call to put all the fairway sand out on Monday instead of the usual Monday and Wednesday. This made for a long day and heavy sand but it's done. 600 tons of sand. Done...

Greens have healed up nicely and we have resumed normal mowing and rolling procedures as of Tuesday this week. In case you were wondering, the process on greens was as follows:

  • 5/8" coring on 2" spacing
  • Soil amendment application
  • Sand applied at 18 tons per acre
  • Sand and materials blown into holes
  • 1/2"  solid tine aeration 8" deep
  • Drag and blow sand more
  • Apply bent grass seed
  • Roll twice 
  • Organic fertilizer applied
  • Water
Lots of steps involved on greens with the timing and scheduling of the process being critical to achieving the desire goals. The tees, approaches and fairways receive a similar treatment as follows:
  • Seeding of Chewings Fescue (250 lbs per acre)
  • 3/4" core aeration
  • Dragging of plugs and seed 
  • Calcium Carbonate application (1000 lbs per acre)
  • Water
  • Sand Applied (20 tons per acre)
  • Organic Fertilizer Application (500 lbs per acre)
  • More water and if the forecast holds up rain!
Over the next few weeks we will work on the many tasks that take a back seat during the aeration process. Cutting and trimming natural grass areas, solid tine aeration in roughs, edging cart paths and sprinkler heads and training new seasonal staffers are just a few of the items on the to do list. A list that never ends... Thanks to a good winter and these "preventative maintenance" practices, we are well on are way to another great golfing season at the Claremont Country Club!

March 16, 2016

Winter / Spring Course Update

After a month or so of dry and spring like weather, winter returned to the Bay Area last week bringing 6+ inches of much needed rain. Due to the wet conditions we had to postpone Spring Aeration that was originally scheduled for this week. New dates for greens aeration are March 21 & 22. These dates are weather dependent as well and if we receive any precipitation at all we will not go forward on greens.

With rain falling for 8 of 10 days and totaling over 6 inches, we have had to restrict carts to the path only on many days. Remember that this is done for your safety and for the safety of the golf course as well. Please follow the cart directions as given by the staff in the Golf Shop and know that we will allow carts on the the course as soon as possible.

Thanks and we'll see you On The Course!

Josh Clevenger; Golf Course Superintendent

January 23, 2016

Winter Conditions - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It's 2016 and the first blog of the year so... Happy New Year! I know it's a bit late but we've had our hands full both on and off the golf course. I wanted to update everyone on the winter conditions that exist currently. With that comes the good, the bad and the ugly...

The Good: A total of 14.8 inches of rain has fallen so far this season. Our irrigation pond is full and spilling over recharging nicely with fresh rain water. The course has received a much needed flush of good water as well as a much needed break from constant golfer and mower traffic that's become the norm over the last four years of drought. New grass is growing and areas of stressed turf are regenerating as well. The staff has been able to take some much needed days away to rest and spend time with family. Golf course and employees, take a deep breath.

The Bad: The course is wet and has been unplayable at times. On some days following rain events, golf carts have been restricted to paths only and at times not allowed at all. The decision to restrict carts in never easy and is made for safety purposes as well as to protect the course from damage. Rutting and compaction occurs when wet and saturated soils are driven on by carts and equipment. The result is damage that can take months to recover and will set us back come spring time. Our push up style greens do not drain as well as newly constructed greens and we must limit traffic from mowers when wet conditions exist. The result is green speeds slower and bumpier than usual. Following significant rain events like we've had this season, conditions for golf can be below what has become expected in winter. Remember, it used to be like this every year.

The Ugly:

The pictures here speak for themselves. Bunkers have been washed out and contaminated with soil on many occasions this season. This requires many hours of labor to repair. It is important that once the rain lets up, we get out to at least remove contamination and repair washouts prior to the next rain. Whether we rake bunkers or not following this process depends on the forecast and when we are likely to see the next rainfall.

Once soils reach saturation, there is no where for water to go. During heavy downpours it's common to see standing water on much of the course. It can be days before we are able to mow following such events as the course must be cleaned of debris as well as firm enough prior to mowing. The fairway sanding program and some drainage work in areas around the course have improved overall winter conditions greatly but in times of extended rainfall, the play ability of the course will lessen. So should our expectations.

The last four years of drought have helped us to forget just how wet the golf course can get during a normal winter. The ability to play virtually 365 days a year with good to great conditions has made for long periods of uninterrupted play. Very cool from the golfer perspective. Not that cool from the course's perspective. Really, the course hasn't had a break in years and is thankful to get one so far this season.

So, I say here's to El Nino bringing another 14 inches of rain to finish off the season nicely. Enjoy this winter as we are on track for normal rainfall and that's a good thing. We sure do need it...

Now lets go to Tahoe!