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Honk Honk!

This time of year, when we hear honk honk, it's often not from a truck, but from some unwelcome guests:  Canada Geese.  Fortunately, there are only a few resident geese on the golf course, and we take pride in having been able to keep their numbers so low.

Remaining vigilant has been critical to the success in this endeavor, as two geese may quickly turn into eight geese next year, and dozens of geese the following year.  While best known to golfers for the mess they make on a course, they also munch on fine turf, and contribute to nutrient loading in the ponds.

However, despite our best efforts at discouraging them, year in and year out, one pair picks a great place to nest--on the island between #5 and 6.  Great that is, if you're a goose, but definitely not so great for us.

(image)Don and Don survived their trip to Tyrell Island in the SS Minnow.
As our feathered friends prepared to nest this past week, we installed some wire around the island, to limit their ease of entry and exit to and from the water.

While trying to outsmart a goose doesn't sound like it should be too difficult, they do seem to adapt, and become less afraid of everything we throw at them.  With 16 ponds and close to 40 acres of wetlands on the property, goose management will undoubtedly remain an on-going challenge.
Rolling to Improve Establishment

Easily my favorite tweet of the week was:@PenderSuper This was a couple years ago 2014Greens were "rolled" by mistake with greens roller 3 days after seeding— Robert Lee (@SPRobertLee) March 22, 2017And in typical Twitter fashion the idea snowballed to produce my second favorite tweet of the week:@PenderSuper @SPRobertLee Good seed to soil contact here from

Hurry up and Wait!

Once again Mother Nature continues to be a challenge, a tease of warm weather, a blast of heavy precipitation and even snow. Over the past few weeks we have adjusted our operations accordingly to the ups and downs of the weather.

The HP Ground's team has done an excellent job with many small projects and practices that will enhance the experience for 2017 and beyond.

  • Drainage installed last fall in the bottom of 17 fairway is functioning well
  • Drainage installed in the 13th and 18th greens in October of 2017 is working great. All greens now have functioning drainage
  • The turf fan is installed and the new fence on 14 looks great!
  • Turfgrass interns are arriving for the 2017 season
  • Annual bluegrass (Poa) populations are negligible in fairways, greens and tees (more to come on this subject next month)
  • Aerifcation of the putting surfaces has begun; almost 3 weeks in advance of past years timing
(image)A hint of green- with no Poa

It won't be long before carts are able to scatter to the fairways, we need a little more growth and firming to ensure there is no damage to the slow growing Zoysia. As always, please follow along on twitter @pobrienhpgcc for the latest updates on course conditions and projects.

Spring has almost sprung!


Pat O'Brien

Grounds Superintendent


(image)Posted with Blogsy
Lunch & Goodbye

As a superintendent it is always rewarding to watch your staff work hard and try to achieve the same vision you have for improving the golf course.  For the last several months I have watched our crew cut down trees, dig ditches, chip limbs, replace sod, install and level irrigation heads, renovate equipment, and clean the shop, all with the greatest enthusiasm.  Additionally the staff is always coming up with ways to improve how we do things so that the vision of improving the golf course is realized.

(image)Enjoying lunch together in HighlandsLast week, as a small thank you to the staff, we took an extended break and went into town to sit down and have lunch together.  It turned out to be better than anticipated as we did not talk much about work but more about each other and our various experiences.  With the crew coming from the USA, Mexico, Vietnam, and the Ukraine, we had a lot to share.  While lunch only last about an hour and a half, the experience allowed us to relax and to grow as a team.
(image)Dinh, Fred, & BaLast week also marked the departure of two of our Vietnamese international students, Ba & Dinh.  Ba & Dinh will be greatly missed as their enthusiasm, dedication, and willing to learn made them exemplary staff members.  I know I speak for the whole staff in wishing them the best in their future endeavors.
(image)"Peace" from Dinh & Ba


This past weeks snow storm put an end to golf for the time being.  Time to get out the cards and play some gin.  

(image)A empty grill room.  A sure sign of the weather.  

(image)Not much Green around here.  

(image)Just Me and the Turkeys this morning.  Except for:  

(image)Pam, she is here bright and early in the pro shop.  

(image)Getting the pro shop ready for business.   A sure sign of golf in the near future.  The sooner the better.  

Greens aerification completed
We completed greens aerification yesterday, applying sand and aerating with 3/4" solid tines.  Today we focused on filling in the remaining open holes and continued the process of spreading the sand around and smoothing the greens back out through rolling. 

As you saw in my last post, quality roots are a direct result of proper soil structure through aerification.  The mess we are making now is going to help us produce excellent conditions for the next 7 months. 
Pins will be back in the greens tomorrow; over the next few days will continue working in the sand and rolling the greens.  Reminder - this upcoming Monday we will be aerifying fairways. 

We still have just enough snow to keep the course closed. The forecast for tomorrow is not good but next week looks more seasonable.  Fingers crossed, it should not be long before we can start swinging clubs again.  In the mean time....We were scouting the course and noticed algae and weeds popping up in our pond.   We have not had to chemically treat our water for algae in over 15 years saving us thousands of dollars.  
(image)Just enough snow to keep us form opening the course.  We did get our  water falls up and running.   The Water falls look and sound great but they serve another purpose, they keep the water moving and add oxygen.  Both are important for water quality. (image)We noticed Algae and a weed called Curly Pondweed.  (It is considered an invasive weed in New York).  We added a pond dye that has UV filtering properties that curb weed and algae growth.  The dye is  food-grade, which means that it  will pose no threat to wildlife.  Because the water is still some what cold our "weed eating fish" are not active yet. Sorry, I couldn't get a real good picture. I should have taken one before we added the dye!!!  click to expand and you can see the weeds growing from the bottom.  

(image)We also have installed our Sonic Solutions device that kills algae with sound waves.  All of these practices combined  have had a big impact controlling  weeds and algae and saved quite a lot of money at the same time.  

I hope everyone is excited for the start of the 2017 golf season. 

 We are planning on opening the course this Wednesday weather permitting.  I started most of our full time seasonal staff Tuesday, next week the reminding full time staff members will be here. This week we were able to roll and mow all the greens as well as rolled all the tees.  The golf course has wintered well with very little damage.  We are still working on cleaning up debris and have yet to rake the bunkers. This spring we are also solid tining all the fairways and lightly vertical mowing before the first mowing.  This process is moving along well.  The new Better Billy Bunker wintered as expected with very little washouts.  Our plan is to renovate the back nine in late October 2017.  

Over the last 2 season, I have noticed an increase in excess moisture in the putting surfaces. This has lead to reduced surface firmness.  I have been looking at many different solutions to this problem but the missing puzzle piece is a good set of data numbers,  the only way to do this is send in core samples to a lab. My yearly soil testing does not show what is going on below the surface and soil structure.   We need to understand why the greens are holding water, less firm and reduced green speed in the late afternoon.  The greens are typically great in the morning and into mid day as the day progresses,  I believe the excess moisture tend to swell the organics in the profile which leads to increased softness of the putting surfaces   

The lab I chose to do our testing is International Sports Turf Research Center.  The information gathered will be used to develop sound agronomic decisions for the health of the greens and provide the membership with firm and fast conditions.  The results show we have lost considerable air pore space with the increase in organic matter. Our water holding capacity has increased over time, I believe to a point of concern.  The only way to correct this is to start being more aggressive with our cultural programs.  I have tried everything possible to not remove larger cores then we have in the past but now is the time for action to get our greens back to the firmness we had.  Over the last 2 years we have core aerified using a .25 inch tine  this impacts only 4% of the surface,  The test reports shows we should impact at least 17% this year and continue on the program until we reach desired firmness and organic matter concentration.  This can be done using a .5inch tine in the spring and again in the fall. During this time all holes most be backfilled with topdressing sand. The process of filling the holes with sand is very time consuming and costly.  We will use approximately 800 pounds of sand per 1000 sq ft for a total of 74 tons of sand to the putting greens.  This alone should allow for much improved conditions.  We all have noticed the greens aging over time,  I have had numerous comments as to why the greens seem softer, less firm, slower in the afternoon then they were 4 years ago.  This is a direct cause of an aging green.  I feel we have been very fortunate over the last 17 years without aggressive cultivation but we need to make an adjustment for the health of the greens in the future.

We are planning on closing the golf course on April 10th and opening at 10am on the 11th. We need good weather, for any reason we have rain we will be move dates to complete this process the week of the 10th.  We have a very busy May golf schedule and have determined this week is best.  Cold weather will impact quick recovery, I would expect the greens will take at least 2 weeks to heal and 3-4 weeks to be back to normal.  I am hopeful the "normal" will actaully be better than the putting surfaces were before.  We will impact approx 8% of the surface area, core to 2.5 inches deep and backfill using 700-800 pounds of sand per 1000 sq ft.  The sand filling will be the most time consuming process of the operation.  We purchased a special broom and blower to allow us to work the sand into the holes in an efficient manner.  The goal will be to completely pack in sand in each channel, we may have to do some touch up sanding after opening the course to play.   We will do this operation again in the late fall. 

 As the test report states we should continue our normal weekly or bi-weekly maintenance topdressing program supplemented with solid tine aerification on a monthly basis.I have already done this once on the greens 3 weeks ago. 
 This year I plan on using a knife tine in place of our traditional pencil tines.  I believe there is less impact to surface distribution using the knife tine and more air exchange can be achieved.  The posted photo shows 3 tines the one on the right is our current pencil tine the 2 on the left is a knife tine which I will use this year.  

I hope the membership will be supportive in the direction we need to proceed to achieve firm and fast conditions we all desire. You can not have good greens without cultural programs, our greens have reached an age that we need to have a good plan for our future.  Sure we can keep things status qua but we will only prolong an issue which will only get worse.  We are at a good point right now in a short time with this increase in our current program we will see results.  I have posted a link to our test report for 6 and 4 greens.  If you have any questions regarding the report please feel free to contact me.  I will gladly answer any questions.  I hope to see you soon and look forward to a successful and fun 2017 golf season

Landscaping installed
Despite the frigid temperatures yesterday, we spent the day installing new landscaping at the clubhouse.  The new landscape bed will serve as a visual barrier between the parking lot and the golf course, after a few years of growth, this bed will fill in and be more appealing to the eye.  The old saying concerning perennials is: The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap. 

We have a few more plants to install next week and a fair number of perennials that won't be available until June. 

Evan put his welding skills to work and fabricated new forks for our loader.  Our current forks are a little banged up from years of tree work.  These new forks will only be used for unloading pallets off trucks and other needs that require a level set of strong forks.  With Evan's skills in the shop and the proper tools, we are now able to do more fabrication and heavy maintenance. 
Alternate Winter Damage Recovery Solutions

It's no secret that I, and many others in the area, have suffered winter damage on our greens. Needless to say I have done a ton of research on strategies to recover from the damage as quickly as possible. Long story short, it almost always requires temperatures to warm up. There are, however, a few tricks that I have picked up this winter that I haven't read about much online so I thought I

Driving Range and Golf Course Opening Dates

2017Three green has been the site of ice damage and crown hydration in the past but looking great for spring golf this year.

It looks like the weather later next week will be moving past winter and into more of a warmer spring weather pattern with highs in the lower 50s.  My plan is to have the driving range with mats and the chipping area open at noon on Thursday, March 30th.  Some of my seasonal staff will be back starting Sunday April 2 and we’ll have the dry nine (1,2,3,15,16,17,9,10,18) open on Wednesday April 5th at noon.  

The golf course is in great shape besides the epic amount of sticks and limbs from that two day windstorm a few weeks ago.  Carts will be available. Tee times each morning will depend on the nighttime temperatures as well as any frost but normally we are good to go by 10:00 in early April.  The pro shop will have their normal April course open hours.

(image)You can see the winter snow mold disease pressure outside of the fairway spray into the rough.  We spend a 1/4 of our fungicide budget on this late October spray.  All greens, tees, fairways and the driving range are sprayed to help prevent snow mold and ensure great spring conditions.


Tree work
This brief cold spell gave us an opportunity to remove a few trees this past week.  We create a list of potential removals in the fall and if the ground firms up enough over the winter, we go ahead with the removals.  While we did not get everything down that was on our list, we did get some of the less desirable / failing trees off the course, the remainder of the list will be saved for next winter. 

One tree that received approval recently was a Spruce to the right of the 2nd green.  This tree was not only encroaching into the green complex (covering up a portion of the right bunker), it was also causing damage to the cart path beneath it.  We will be re-paving this path in the spring, it therefore made sense for us to remove the tree at this time.

After a few tree removals earlier this week, we brought in a stump grinder yesterday while the ground was still firm.  This morning before the snow hit, we filled all our stump holes with soil.  Because of the tree work this week, stick clean-up went slower than anticipated.  While we had a few bodies on it all week, we still have some ground to cover.

One of our major projects of the winter is near completion - equipment maintenance.  We have a few more regular maintenance items to scratch off, then we can spend some time on fabricating items that will make our equipment safer and more efficient. 

Clubhouse Fire Pit Propane Tank Installation

With the vision of GM Jerome Louie and the supervision of Assistant Superintendent Matt Smith, the installation of a fire pit behind the clubhouse has begun.

Yesterday the propane tank was put in place and the excavation for the pavers and fire pit itself was completed.

On April 10th the placement of the pavers and fire pit will be done by ProGreen Landscapes of Delaware

We decided to take advantage of having the mini-excavator onsite to prep the area for the pavers and fire pit even though installation is not until April 10th.

Some pictures of what was accomplished.

(image)Plenty of rock at Fieldstone while digging the hole for the propane tank

(image)Placement of the tank. The white bag is an anode that is placed inside the hole and connected to the tank to prevent corrosion.

(image)Tank in place.
(image)Backfilled and ready for mulch and landscaping.
(image)Barberry bushes removed
(image)Ready for installation

Snow-Water Equivalency takes a DIVE!
One thing is certain about just never know about the weather. After a 6 week stretch of intense snowfall from late December to early February, things have change. A snow drought over the past 6 weeks has cause the snow-water equivalency to plummet! Although at 100% presently, the long term forecast shows very little moisture headed our way. Take a look at the latest graph and notice the drop.

And we're off
The greens have been mowed, the cups have been changed and the pins are in, welcome back! 

 It felt good changing cups today, perfect morning for it. 

What a sight this was, only those of you in the turf industry will appreciate this, this is awesome.  Proof that aerification works.  
2017 Greens Coring
Below is a picture I’ve used in a previous post showing the top 3” of the greens soil profile on the left and 3-6” on the right.  The picture on the right is the original sand profile and the picture on the left is the same sand, but with twenty years of organic accumulation.  Results from a physical soil analysis that we do annually indicate that water infiltrates through the profile on the right over 36” per hour.  The results for the sample on the left is less than 6” per hour.  A very dramatic difference and the major reason why we core and topdress the greens.   

So that’s what the lab says.  Here is a picture that may help you further understand why we core the greens. 

That's two minutes of water and in case your wondering, that's not good.  We will core the greens the week of the 27th using 3/8" tines.  We are going smaller and tighter to aide recovery time.  
Winter Update
Turf Health
As winter fades away and spring arrives the agronomic team is always focused on how well the golf course turf has survived the harsh winter weather. You may be surprised to learn that this winter was one of the warmest on record. It is hard to believe because December was exceptionally snowy, and showed signs of a long winter ahead, but January ended up having little snowfall and warmer temperatures. February had some snowy weather but was also fairly mild. Now March has been frigid and snowy.

The early snow was good for the turf. Snow provides a layer of protection that allows the turf to breathe. The biggest obstacle to winter turf survival is ice formation. While snow allows for air exchange, the ice layer seals off any ability for the turf to breathe which smothers and kills the turf. There are many variables when it comes to winterkill but the biggest variable is  length of ice cover. The January weather did bring some rain and thaw creating ice. Stowe Country Club (SCC), being at a lower elevation, experienced greater thaws than Stowe Mountain Club (SMC). The eventual total loss of ice and snow due to these thaws has us believing winter damage at SCC will be minimal. SMC has had snow cover on most of the course since late November. The winter thaws produced some melt which created ice under the snow. This scenario provides a higher chance of damage. It is still too early to know with any certainty what we will look like in the spring. The creeping bentgrass varieties at SMC are tolerant of some ice cover. We will have a clearer picture at SMC as April arrives. To assist with survival the team will begin to remove snow from greens in the upcoming weeks. 

SMC Work
(image)Hole 14 rock feature being exposed(image)Hole 14 brush pile ready to burnThis winter the team focused on two projects that will improve the playing experience. On the fourteenth hole underbrush to the left of the fairway landing area was cleared. There is a large outcropping of rock that was not exposed when the trees leafed out. Opening this area up will give the golfer a feel of width and provide a stunning visual of the beautiful rock formation. One of the goals is to expose and accentuate the natural features and great vistas that SMC golf course property provides. 

On the third hole, focus was placed on pushing back the tree line to the right of the teeing area. These trees and brush were growing in on the golf hole pushing the payers to the left and blocking sight lines to the right side of the fairway. With this area now clear, the player can see the whole fairway and have a visual on balls that land just of the fairway. The overall feeling on the third tee will be much less restrictive and provide a better experience. 

This hard work was conducted by assistant superintendents Zach Fleeger and Jerry Elliot. Winter brush and tree clearing is essential to the long term sustainability of the golfing experience at SMC. The golf course was built throughout a young forest and the perimeter continues to aggressively grow in on the course. Without this work our unique and breathtaking vistas will begin to disappear and the turf quality will suffer from shading and restricted air flow. Winter is the best time to conduct this work, but access is a real challenge. Zach and Jerry spent much of the winter hiking out to these areas pulling a sled full of logging gear. With a thermos full of coffee they would spend the day working hard cutting brush and felling trees, then burning what they cut. This is not easy work in the deep snow on a windy mountain golf course. The motivation for us to initiate this difficult work is knowing we are preserving the beauty of  Stowe Mountain Club golf course for our members and guests to enjoy.  

SCC Work
(image)Olsen House locker room finished productThere was a big effort put forth this winter inside the Olsen house. The Olsen house is the single family house set within the maintenance facility compound. It was purchased fifteen years ago when it went up for sale for the purpose of protecting the future integrity of the golf maintenance compound. Without this property the maintenance operation is severely restricted. With the purchase of the house came the ability for the grounds crew to have running water, a bathroom, and a clean place for lunch. Prior to the house the crew ate lunch in the equipment repair shop that is attached to the red barn. While the addition of the house was a step forward, it is still an old house meant to be lived in. It was not set up to be a space for thirteen grown men to work out of. Our work is dirty. We spend long hours with machinery, maintaining turf, moving soil, cutting brush, etc. The set up of the house is far from ideal for these duties. To add to this, no major renovation has ever been done. To cover up the years of grime every square inch of wall space was painted, areas of floor that get heavy use were painted with grey industrial floor paint, and the upstairs carpet was removed and a laminate floor was installed. The work was done on a small budget and meant to be a quick, inexpensive way to make the space more efficient and demonstrate a professional work space. All of this work was done by our team and while it helped create a sense of pride, it is by no means a permanent solution.

(image)Hole 1 Spruce tree removed (Notice die-back on top)(image)Hole 16 trees removed (Notice top die-back and thinning)Great on-course work was also conducted this winter. When there was good snow cover, we ventured out on the course with our tractor that is outfitted with tire chains to continue the important tree removal program. The goal is to remove trees that are diseased or damaged, block vistas, create excessive man hours to clean up debris, negatively impact turf quality, or negatively impact shot quality and choice. This year we removed diseased trees on the first tee and sixteenth rough. Additionally, three large white pines were removed next to the 8th tee. On top of the issues described above, these trees were over gown and impeding any future renovation of the tee. Furthermore, they blocked a great vista of the Worcester Range ridge line from the third tee. 

Two significant projects are currently under way and are scheduled to be substantially complete by opening day. The irrigation pond was dredged to increase storage capacity. The pond had a significant amount of silt accumulation due to the feeder stream dumping sediments into it. The warm winter weather forced our initial plan to be amended. Initially, the sediment was to be hauled off the golf course via an ice road across the first fairway. The ice road is created by packing the snow then plowing it for a few weeks. With the mild winter there was no snow to create the road. When we did get snow, by the time the road was ready it melted due to a thaw. The amended plan was to remove the sediment and stockpile it in between the first and ninth hole. This area of un-mown turf had little aesthetic quality. The sediment will be allowed to dry, shaped out with a bulldozer, and seeded to a good quality seed mix.

The second project is focused on the fourteenth green and fifteenth tee area. This area has been struggling for years because of the row of white pine trees growing close to the green and tee. These trees were planted to provide a border to the Village Green condominiums. At this point in time the pines have grown to a size that they negatively impact the golf course. The only option was their removal. With the pine trees gone, the fifteenth tee can be renovated. The turf on the tee has always struggled due to the close proximity of the trees. In addition, the tee suffers from mounding. This mounding is common in old par three tees because of years of divot mix building up in the middle of the tee. The new tee will have a sand based rootzone and be professionally leveled to provide an exceptional playing experience. The area behind the fourteenth green that was populated by the trees will be filled with dirt and a rolling mound will be installed. Fescue grass will be seeded on the mounds providing a great visual from the approach shot. While the new open look will be different it is the best decision for the long term enjoyment of these two golf holes.

With snow still on the ground, we are preparing for the first window of opportunity to complete these projects at both SMC and SCC. The entire agronomic team looks forward to presenting the final products to the players when the golf season arrives.
Spring is here... No Really. It's Spring now.

The first day of spring was Monday the 20th. Yesterday. After two full weeks of dry and warm weather it decided to start raining yesterday. It rained over an inch in 24 hours. Mother Nature must've know we had aeration on the calendar, yesterday. It's all good, par for the course if you will. We'll look to next Monday to begin spring aeration. But I'm not putting it on my calendar.

After a long winter season of rain, storm clean up and projects, it's time for us to get out there and perform the very important cultural practice of aeration. Over the next few weeks we will poke millions of holes on the golf course and make large applications of seed, sand and organic fertilizers. We do not perform these tasks because its fun but because the results of the next few weeks will set us up for another great year on the golf course. We are fortunate to have the support of the membership in blocking four weeks each spring for weather dependent aeration. This is so important and we thank you for this support.

Please check out the attached video from the USGA on why we aerate:

Josh Clevenger, Golf Course Superintendent

What month is this?

While we were enjoying temperatures in the 70's during late February, our Golf Professional, John DiMarco, accurately predicted that we were going to get a good storm in March.  Yes, conditions are quite different this month than they were last, when we had the warmest February on record.  The dramatic change has a lot of people asking how the radical ups and downs in temperature will impact the course going forward.

(image)Carts?  Maybe one equipped with tracks, or skis.
Currently, we don't have any cause for alarm.  As many know, ice is not good for turf.  Fortunately, we are in March, not January, so the nasty ice from last week's storm won't be around for long.

Another question is, could there be any benefit to the blast of cold air after a warm period?  That is, will this help take out some of the undesirables, such as weevils?  Unfortunately, it seems unlikely, as we had only started to see adult weevil movement in the warm weather, and insects tend to have some great survival mechanisms that let them ride out wacky weather patterns.

Likely, the greatest challenge this weather roller coaster will present is in how it impacts the timing of our applications for Poa seedhead, Crabgrass, and yes, Annual Bluegrass Weevil control.  Some of the phenological indicators that we typically rely on, such as Forsythia, may not work this year, due to injury they've sustained from the cold.  The use of Growing Degree Days will definitely be key in successful timing this year.

As is often the case, we may look back at 2017 and label it another "average" year.  However, the peaks and valleys that lead to these years certainly feel as if they are becoming more extreme.  Right now, we're just hoping that John DiMarco doesn't forecast a brutally hot and dry summer!
#9 Fairway Drainage

As we continue to repair "bird baths" and level areas throughout the fairways we have hit a bit of a snag on #9 fairway.  While our original intent was to simply level several areas of the fairway, it quickly became apparent that a more thorough project was necessary.  The leveling would have corrected the surface drainage but it would have done little to correct the saturated soils.  Since the area that we are working on is the main exit point of the fairway we have decided to go all in with a large drainage project.

(image)Fixing a "bird bath"
(image)Areas to be leveled.Our goal now is to install TurfDrain and to position several catch basins to collect surface water.  In order to do this we have to excavate several hundred feet at a depth of 4 feet.  We will then add the appropriate pipe and basins and then fill the entire trench with sand.  The sand will then be compacted after which we will install sod.

(image)Removing sod for drain lines.
(image)Digging a trench to 4 feet deep will provide for excellent drainage.While this is a much larger project than originally envisioned, it is a long term solution that will pay off for years to come.

Great Podcast with Rick Tegtmeier, Des Moines Golf & CC
This is a fabulous podcast featuring Rick Tegtmeier of Des Moines Golf & Country Club hosted by the "TurfNet Maestro" Peter McCormick. I've known Rick for a number of years and I look at him as a no-nonsense, no BS, straight shooter type of guy. That means, he's my type of guy. There are many priceless moments, but here are a couple of my favorites. First, Rick's son, Nate, has followed his Dad's footsteps in the business and presently works for his Dad as one of the courses superintendents. When asked about the relationship, Rick's response of "He's related to me off the course" is great! Another great moment is when Rick talks about some drone video filming and a former President of the club calls and asks him........sorry, not going to give that away, you'll need to listen. Enjoy, this is fun stuff!

Click this link to listen:

Quick Osprey Update

I checked in on Belle this morning and she had made landfall on the main land USA. She is a real trooper and this would be her 6th migration back to this area. After my last post someone shared this website with me: Osprey Trax which also has information on Belle and Stadler another in my favorites list on the phone app mentioned in the last post. According to the website there is some confusion as to the sex of Belle but I am sticking with female. Another clear sign spring is on the way.


Belle is in Florida near a course called Westminster Golf Club. 

Maybe this year she will finally find a mate and settle down here at Mink Meadows?

Here is a video of a very nice sunset from the roof of the clubhouse last Sunday. Have a great weekend.

Golf Season 2017 in Front of Us

Since my last post, winter has come(sort of) and winter has gone(kinda). But the good news is that worked continued on the course to improve the overall playability. We had the woodcutters come back out to remove trees and brush to the left of Holes 14 and 15. We will now be able to identify the out of bounds/property lines in those areas. The view from the 15th tee will now allow one to follow their ball into the trees on the left but will be able to locate it quickly again and continue play.

This week, tree trimming was completed on holes 13 and 17. The large old oaks had the dead wood removed, low branches trimmed up, and a general cleaning of the canopy was performed. There were 2 oaks at the beginning of the 13th fairway but near the road were removed due severe health issues and liability. You will not miss them.

I was reminded of a tree to trim by the golf commission that was forgotten last year. It was located at the beginning of the 18th fairway on the right. The ash tree was trimmed along with 2 oaks near it.

The maintenance staff over this past fall and winter did remove a few trees that had the dreaded "Red Ring Disease". One notable tree was a large oak to the right of the 4th green that played havoc with the putting surface. Thought I had a picture of it but apparently I don't. It is currently resting behind the green awaiting clean up.

Our first order of business when the staff gets back in a week or so is to clean and pick up a lot of branches. Remeber the rain/windstorm at Christmas? Well, there was a lot of debris that came down. Oh and to add to that, those high winds a few weeks back? Yep, they added to the mess. We should have everything cleaned up by the time we open sometime in April. Until then, stay out of trouble.

WinField Academy "Lunch and Learn" Glenwood Springs, Colorado
The next stop on the WinField Academy "Lunch and Learn" tour bus will be Glenwood Springs, Colorado. I will be speaking along with others in the golf industry on April 19th at the Ironbridge Golf Club. Really excited about this event and looking forward to sharing my 45 years of golf course experience with many of my western Colorado friends. Most of all, this event is FREE. So mark your calendar, details to follow.

The Best Laid Plans
The title of this post is how I know the saying, but the line actually goes, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley" as Robert Burns wrote in 1785.  In English that is interpreted as "The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often askew".  The story goes that Robert Burns destroyed a mouse nest while plowing the fields and was moved to pen the poem "Tae a Moose, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough" or "To a Mouse" in English.  

(image)Either way, we had good intentions as we started the drain work on 7 mountain fairway, but it turned it out that it wouldn't be our day.  Despite having dry weather for almost two weeks, the subsoil was too wet to trench the drain line as the trencher kept sliding down the hill.  I decided to pull the plug until drier days, but that looks to be some time from now with rain in the forecast all next week.  Looking into the bottom of the drain that we were able to accomplish, water is seeping in and doing exactly what we want it to do.  We just need to do another 700 ft.  
To cover greens or not to cover greens, that is the question...

 After what can only be described as a very mild winter, with some extremely warm January and February days, we received a short blast of cold air that dipped our temperatures down to 26 and 24 degrees this past Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  The dilemma that ultradwarf bermudagrass greens growers faced was whether to cover the greens - and probably burning some overtime hours doing so - or not cover.  As we approached the first cold evening, our soil temperatures were in the mid-50's, and had been in the lower 60's the week prior.  Additionally, we were expecting only three cold days and two cold evenings, followed by projected highs of mid 50's, then mid 60's for two days, then 70's for a few more.  There was a lot of email chatter going on among Atlanta superintendents as this weather approached.

Here at East Lake, we may be a few degrees warmer than many of the clubs in the metro Atlanta, as we are an in-town course.  We have been growing roots since mid-January, spoon feeding the greens with small amounts of potassium nitrate, micronutrients and Harrells BioMax 4-0-0 to promote continued production of carbohydrates.  Because we felt so good about the health of our greens and their ability to quickly recover from the cold temperatures, we decided to not cover.  If we had just gone through a long, cold winter, had just started to break dormancy and had soil temperatures in the low 40's as this weather approached, we would have covered.  As it turned out, everything looks fine, with only a slight loss of color on our greens.  Fortunately the Meyer zoysiagrass fairways, despite getting some frost Thursday morning, also appear to have made it through the cold without losing color.  We even were able to accommodate 20 guest rounds on Wednesday (with a high of 43 and wind chills in the low to mid-30's!) that we would not have allowed if we covered, so our decision was a win-win for the club.  By looking at the "big picture" of our turf's health, our soil and atmospheric conditions in our location and the projected length of the cold and quick return of warm temperatures the East Lake Agronomy team felt very comfortable with the decision.

 Above is a photo of our practice green with the 8th and 6th fairways in the background.
This is a photo of our 18th green with a TifGrand approach and Meyer zoysiagrass fairway showing good color one day after the two cold nights and cold days. 
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