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Trees and Zoysia!

Over the last couple weeks Mother Nature has turned up the wind and precipitation, overall the course has faired well, except for a few trees. Behind the 1st green a large oak was uprooted and is in the process of being cleaned up, it has been a challenge with the wet weather to get to the site.


Also, about a week ago a large Tulip Poplar fell across the path on the 15th hole, the Hyde Park team did a great job with a timely clean-up!

The Zoysia grass continues to progress well with the warmer temperatures, the purple color that has been noted by many of you is the plant producing a seedhead. It forms a purple hue across many areas of the fairways, the only way to remove the seedhead is through mowing over the next couple weeks.

(image)Close up of Zoysia Seed Production

Unfortunately, the Zoysia on right side of the 18th fairway continues to struggle, the challenge is shade! The Zoysia turf near the bunkers is very healthy due to the tree removal over the winter. This area will remain roped off to reduce traffic and most likely will need to be sodded again. Selective tree removal will remedy this issue.

(image)Right Side-18 Fairway



Pat O'Brien

Grounds Superintendent


(image)Posted with Blogsy
Greens Aerification

The greens were aerified last Monday and Tuesday.  As we have the past few years, we went with a two step process, using hollow tines first, then following this up with the use of the Dryject system.  People often ask, why we are aerifying the greens twice, basically at the same time?

Each of these two methods of aerification has its own strengths.  While just one of the two may work well for some greens, with Laurel Creek's greens now closing in on 28 years old, we find that the two different methods complement each other, without increasing the recovery time we would see from just core aerifying.

In the case of the hollow tines, we use a very tight hole spacing to remove a significant amount of organic matter from the top few inches of the root zone.  These plugs are scooped up using a core harvester and removed.  We then apply an average of three tons of sand per green, and broom this in to fill the holes.

The next day the Dryject contractor arrives with four of his amazing machines.  This unique piece of equipment creates a very small hole on the surface, while injecting a significant amount of sand into the soil profile, at a deeper level than we can achieve with our conventional aerifier.  While this process isn't removing organic matter, it is diluting it, and providing great drainage channels into the heart of the green's root zone.

Grass growers may get a bit giddy seeing the results of the Dryject treatment, shown in the plug below.  This is exactly what the greens need to get through the upcoming summer heat.

Immediately after aerifying on Monday and Tuesday, we began using our new roller on Wednesday to smooth the greens.  At 1,500+ pounds, this is a pretty heavy piece of equipment, and the results could be seen and felt immediately.

Between the hollow tine and Dryject, we used over 170,000 pounds of sand.  Admittedly, there are times when it may appear that we were a bit heavy-handed with the sand, as you can see in the picture of #9 green below.

However, it is generally better to have too much sand than too little after this operation.  Check out the picture taken just two days later--we are actually starting to see some green in the green.  (image)

Without question, when it comes to aerification, we stand by the old saying that you've got to break a few eggs to make an omelette.  When asked why we have to aerify the greens when they've been so good, the answer is simple:  Because we want them to continue to be among the best putting surfaces.

TOCA Awards
Recently I received an award from the Turf and Ornamental Communications Association (TOCA) at their annual conference in Tampa Bay, Florida. The award recognized my video work at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club as part of the team. I must say, I'm certainly honored to win this award and to be part of the TurfNet team. I would like to thank our Toro distributor, L.L. Johnson in Denver, Colorado, Club Car Corporation, and for their sponsorship. Also, a special thanks to Hazeltine NGC superintendent, Chris Tritabaugh and his entire staff for be such gracious hosts! You can read the entire article here

Rain, Rain and more Rain.   Maybe it's because we have been spoiled the past few years but it seems like we have had a lot of rainy days.  Yesterday was miserable, a slow drizzle all day but we only had .32 inches.  I thought good, we should be fine for today.  When I drove through the course I realized that we must have had a pretty good storm roll through late last night.   Another .52 inches in the rain gauge and the course is soaked.   So much for being in great shape for the holiday weekend.   Cart path only for today.  Let's hope the weather pattern shifts and we start to get some more summer type weather.   Once the course does dry out we should be back to normal.  Believe it or not it won't be long before we are hand watering again.  

The putting green is still on the new side even though this is the start of the third season.  We probably pushed it a little too hard for this time of year.  The cold days are not helping either.   We have had it tested for disease and fertility and its fine.  I think in a couple of weeks of letting it grow
 a little and giving it some tender loving care we should be fine.   

Our North American Bird count went well.   We found 44 different species this year.   A Yellow-Billed Cuckoo was a nice surprise.  I have only seen them here once before.  He was too fast for me to get a good picture. 

(image)Blue Birds are always nice to see.   Sitting in the sun shows his colors. 

(image)We have 40 nest boxes on the course.  5 have Blue Birds nesting in them.   Chicks are getting big!!!


(image)Why are we watering with all the rain?  We applied a crabgrass control product in our roughs.  In order for the product to be effective it needs to be moved to the soil.  With the new irrigation system we are able to water just the roughs and just long enough to get it to where we want it.  (image)The Black Swallow- Tail recently hatched that was saved from last year.   (image)We kept the chrysalis in a cool dry place over the winter tying to mimic mother nature.   Nice to see it worked!!!
Spring 2017 Update
This spring has been very busy with completing projects and general maintenance of the facility through heavy rains and generally cool weather. Below is a quick recap of a few projects that are wrapping up or have already been completed.

(image)Future cart path site was stripped of sod
(image)Cart path area was excavated 
(image)Grade stakes with set and string line was put up for cart path edges
(image)Crushed concrete based was compacted to a depth of 4" to make a solid surface for the concrete. Fabric lining was also used under the crushed concrete for stability in areas that could hold more moisture in the future
(image)Forms and base completed
(image)All work was done by in-house staff. 30 yards of concrete were poured and finished over 2 days
(image)Grade surrounding thew new path was excavated and worked to match the cart path. Sod was laid as the final touch.
(image)Railroad ties placed in bunker faces for aesthetics during a previous renovation were removed after committee recommendation and board approval. The  faces of the bunkers were reshaped and new edges established. burlap bags full of soil were used to make the new bunker face edge as seen here in the photo
(image)All bunker faces were sodded following railroad tie removal
(image)Drainage that had failed was dug up on select bunkers on the West course and repaired. 
(image)Fertilizer storage at the maintenance facility was updated for cleanliness, safety, more room, and ease of inventory. This photo illustrates how fertilizer pallets were previously stored.
(image)Updated shelving for fertilizer storage
(image)Another lightning shelter base was re-leveled. Previously the bricks were very uneven and needed repair.
(image)Solid tine aerication was completed for all 31 greens within a two day window

The End in Sight
What a difference some good weather can make.  We finally got some sunshine and dry conditions so everything has come together quickly and it's looking fantastic.  All of the concrete has been poured.

In fact, all of the asphalt has been laid as well.

The painting is complete on the performance center and almost complete on the pro shop.

Notice also that there is grass all around the performance center.  We removed all the mud and old cart path, imported a gravel base, installed the plastic substrate, covered it with a suitable sandy soil, and then installed another 12,000 square feet of sod.

This project has been so consuming for my staff, but the end product is looking so good that we are staying positive and very motivated to finish it in a high quality fashion.  There is still much to do around the putting green area but at this point most of the big stuff is done and the end is in sight. 
Thank a Golf Course Superintendent Week
This week we celebrate “Thank a Golf Course Superintendent” week! What is the importance of a golf course superintendent? What do they really do? Golf course superintendents wear many hats.  While they have the skill and expertise to mow and maintain the course, this expertise is better used in planning, facilitating and supervising the maintenance … Continue reading Thank a Golf Course Superintendent Week (image)
More Holes

As previously mentioned we've been using a different approach to the aeration process for the last two seasons.  As a result, lab tests have shown improvements in organic matter content which is what we always considered to be our biggest challenge.  However, some other variables that show up in the report have not been so promising.  This latest report along with recent observations make it clear that we need to go back to some form of core aeration.  Even though we are just one month removed from this process...

The pictures below are of hole 3 following the application of a wetting agent (a product to assist in getting moisture evenly distributed through the soil profile).  The water that is puddled in the middle of the green is left behind after just 4 minutes of irrigation.  We cannot get the wetting agent, or anything else for that matter, into the soil when water runs off the surface on contact.  When we had some 90 degree days last week it was impossible to hydrate some of the dry areas as no water could get below the surface.   We will be putting some small holes in greens today and tomorrow in an attempt to get the surfaces to accept air and water again.  Every 2-3 weeks throughout the season we will be "venting" greens with small solid tines to help keep things alive.  

This is the same green from close up immediately following 4 minutes of irrigation.  Note the water running down the slope.  The wetting agent we are trying to get into the soil is running down the slope with the water.  Normally we'd like to run the water for much longer than 4 minutes, but even with fresh aeration holes this has not been possible.  
Water Project Update

After a long winter we are finally seeing significant progress around the storage tank.  Building foundations are being poured today and underground utilities are underway.  Above is an updated time-lapse of the tank site.

Scott Hoyt attended the Regional Water Control Board meeting in San Luis Obispo last week and received our recycled water permit.  The permit to produce and distribute recycled water on property marks a significant milestone for this project and Pasatiempo.  

Last week the City of Scotts Valley completed the diversion structure at the intersection of Graham Hill and Sims Road.  The structure was needed to divert recycled water to our property.  The city can now start construction of the new pipeline on Sims Road.  The existing 6" pipe will be replaced with a 12" pipe from the intersection at Graham Hill Road to our property.  The larger pipe is needed in order for us to receive the amount of water agreed to in the contract.

Please don't hesitate to contact Scott or myself with any questions.

Tee Weed Control

We sprayed about 1 acres worth of Zoysia tees with a material that has turned them off color as illustrated in the pictures below. I've also attached a blog post from 2014 where we spot sprayed tees and you can see the off-color tinge in the back of the blue tee on #1. Since 2014, the weed that we are trying to control 'Kylinga' has spread to many of our tees. We are using a combination product which assists us with crabgrass control and will give us control on the Kylinga. We will have to spray the product again in 30 days or so to get any additional or new plants as they emerge. Other courses have had excellent success with this product. The yellowing will dissipate in about 7-10 days.

(image)Blue tee on 1
(image)Red Tee on 10

Below is the link to the blog in 2014 which illustrates the off color spot spray that we did.
Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a serious illness caused that was first diagnosed in Old Lyme, CT in 1975. While often associated with the southern New England Region, the disease has been reported in 49 states, and internationally across North America, Europe, and Asia.i  Symptoms of the disease include fatigue, fever, joint and muscle pain, and headache.  Initial signs of infection may include a characteristic bullseye rash, but this is not always evident making early detection difficult.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are over 300,00 new Lyme disease infections in the United States each year, more than breast cancer, colon cancer, HIV, and hepatitis.  The disease is caused by a bacterium transmitted by black legged ticks (commonly called deer ticks), which are found in woodland and grassland areas.  In addition to Lyme disease, black legged ticks also transmit, human babesiosis, and human anaplasmosis.

The purpose of this article is:

  1. To provide information about the potential risk associated with Lyme Disease and other tick borne illnesses 
  2. To help golfers understand how to protect themselves while enjoying the many health and social benefits realized when playing golf  
  3. To reduce the risk of infection by providing practical personal protection recommendations 
  4. To provide additional sources of information that will help people learn more about this disease, and how to minimize the risk of exposure for themselves, their family, and their pets. 
(image)Photo by Scott BauerLife Cycle of Black Legged Ticks There are four stages to the tick life cycle; eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults.  The larvae, nymphs, and adults all feed on blood from mammals during each stage of development.   Ticks cannot jump or fly, and therefore must wait for a host to pass close enough to grab on with their front legs.  The tick often climbs up a blade of grass, and extends its legs as a potential host approaches.  Once the tick finds a host and finds a suitable place to feed, it feeds slowly, typically taking a few days to complete a meal.
Detection and Prevention Black legged ticks are smaller than American Dog Ticks making them more difficult to detect.  slightly larger than the dark brown male, which is approximately the size of the head of a pin.  Once engorged, the females of both species are similar in size, and therefore are difficult to tell apart.   There are three common strategies to reduce the risk of exposure to ticks; protect your property, protect your pets, and protect your person.  Of these three recommendations, protecting your body is the most practical strategy for avoiding exposure on golf courses.   Although golf courses are often criticized and targeted for their use of pest control products, the perception that they apply broad spectrum toxic chemicals could not be further from the truth.

Golf courses provide numerous benefits to the local ecosystem including habitat for native birds, animals, and pollinators, large areas of groundwater recharge in highly developed areas, and effective filtration of precipitation and runoff from impervious surfaces. Golf course superintendents pride themselves on being stewards of the environment, and develop effective programs to reduce their reliance on irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides.  One strategy to achieve this is converting highly managed turf areas to naturalized meadows that are characterized by native grasses and plants that receive reduced maintenance.  These areas, especially near the margins of woodlands, represent the highest probability of encounters with ticks.  Treating large areas of turf with insecticides to control ticks would eliminate beneficial non-target insects, which goes against the original motivation of establishing the naturalized areas.  These applications are only effective at controlling ticks for a few weeks, and repeat applications consume valuable labor and financial resources that could be used for other areas on the golf course. The best strategy to protect yourself from ticks is to protect your body.  Treat golf shoes and clothing with permethrin, and use an effective insect repellant that contains DEET and Picaridin that can last five hours.  These steps represent the safest approach to avoiding exposure to Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.   Clothing treatments can be found on the internet and at many outdoor outfitting stores.  The chemical used in these products kills ticks on contact, and poses very little risk to humans or mammals.  A video entitled “Beat ticks by treating clothes!” can be found on YouTube.  When treating clothing, remember to treat the inside surfaces of pants and shorts as well.  Pre-treated clothing is also available for purchase from many top outdoor outfitters, and some treatments can last up to 70 washes.

3 Steps to Avoid Lyme Disease 
    • Eliminate leaf litter and overgrown vegetation that may provide habitat for ticks 
    • Remove piles of wood or brush that may be inhabited by small mammals that serve as a food source for tick larvae and nymphs 
    • (image)Photo by Scott Bauer
    • Hire a licensed professional to apply an insecticide to the perimeter of your property to control tick populations 
    • Use tick repelling collars or flea and tick control products on your pets
    • Brush and bathe pets regularly to help detect ticks before they enter your home 
    • Wear light colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks before they attach to your skin
    • Tuck your pants into your socks when hiking in woods or grasslands
    • Use an insect repellant that will repel ticks and other nuisance insects
    • Treat your shoes and clothes with an insect repellant that contains permethrin
    • After spending time outdoors, kill hidden ticks by placing your clothes in the drier for at least 20 minutes before washing them
    • Perform a thorough tick check before getting into the shower 

Dr. Kirby Stafford III of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station authored “The Tick Management Handbook, a integrated guide for homeowners, pest control operators, and public health officials for the prevention of tick-associated disease.”  It provides a thorough description of tick born illnesses and ways to protect yourself from exposure.   The US EPA has a very useful resource that helps identify insect repellants that will be effective for tick, mosquitos, and other nuisance insects for a period of over five hours.  This information can be found at  Selecting the right product can provide hours of protection and peace of mind while you are spending time on the golf course or enjoying other outdoor activities.

 Like many outdoor activities, golf offers a variety of physical and psychological health benefits. While Lyme Disease is a serious threat to people that work and play outdoors, a few simple steps can significantly reduce the risk associated with spending time in nature.  First, inform yourself about the symptoms of the disease, how it is contracted, and the recommendations that will help avoid infection.  Second, protect your property and your pets to avoid bringing ticks into your home.  Finally, research and select the best method of protecting yourself from black legged ticks while you are on the golf course or enjoying other outdoor activities.

i Tick Handbook, K. Stafford III, Chief Scientist, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven
The Patch is Back

After dealing with Take All Patch  throughout much of the spring of 2016, it was a real bummer to see the signs of it once again a few weeks ago.  This disappointment was compounded by the fact that following last year's battle with Take All, we had taken a more proactive approach to handling this disease, and made preventative fungicide treatments last fall, using three different treatment protocols.

(image)Take All Patch on #7 approach.

As with many root-borne turf diseases, once you see the damage to the foliage from Take All Patch, it's often too late to do anything, as the plant's root system has already been compromised.

Whenever we make any treatment to the course, we try to leave check plots to see if the treatment was effective, or not.  However, this disease is seemingly so random in nature that it's difficult to quantify what impact the fall fungicide treatments may have had.  As General Manager, Joel, pointed out, maybe the treatments actually worked well, and we'd be in a whole lot worse shape now without them.

While prevention is the key to this pathogen, we are testing a curative approach this spring, using a liquid fertilizer and wetting agent program.  We marked a small patch on #7 approach, so we can easily track whether the disease is getting worse, or if the spray has stopped it, and we start to see recovery in the Bentgrass.

Like most turf diseases, Take All Patch is only active in a fairly narrow temperature range.  Its appearance in 2017 was later into the spring than in 2016, leaving us hopeful that it will be gone sooner rather than later this summer.

1.60 Inches of rain yesterday has the course good and soaked.   The forecast for next week is more promising with temps in the mid 80's and no rain for the next few days.    Good-thing,  we need to dry out.   With this forecast it will be all hands on deck just getting the grass mowed.

(image)Big Day for the Kitchen and House staff.   Carmin is busy setting up the tables getting ready for the Mothers Day Dinners.   Looks like a great day ahead.  

(image)Algae is looking a little bit better. (image)Course is looking better now that the trees are dressed in leaves.  (image)Not sure why, but for some reason we have more poison Ivy in our native areas than usual.  If you are like me you avoid it at all costs.  We have been spraying it as soon as we see it.  There is an old saying "leaves of three let it be. Leaves of five let it thrive".   A real good native plant is called Virginia Creeper and has five leaves.   If not sure the best bet is to avoid anything that resembles poison ivy.   If you see some on the course let me or another staff member know and we will remove it.   (image)These are from the right of 16 fairway and are maple seedling.  A poison Ivy copy cat.  (image)This is Porcelain Berry one of the most invasive plants we have.  We remove it as soon as we see it.  Of course the best bet is to keep it in the Fairway  :-)
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