Friday, August 21, 2015

Golf Course Etiquette

The roller coaster ride for the summer continues with some relief for the golf course. We have received just under 1" of rain since this past Sunday. Along with the rainfall, the extended weather forecast looks like prime time conditions for not only a round of golf but for the overall health of the golf course as well. The golf course recovers from traffic at a much faster clip when night time temps drop into the 50's at night. I just wanted to take a quick moment to remind everyone of a few items to help the golf course remain in great shape as we head into the most important part of the golfing season, the Fall.

BALL MARKS, BALL MARKS, & MORE BALL MARKS. This is the number one item that we battle on a daily basis. We do our best to fix unrepaired ball marks every day. The setback to having the variety of grass that we have on greens, A1, is that ball mark recovery is a very slow process, especially ball marks left unrepaired overnight. When fixing a ball mark the following day, the scar will not heal as quickly as it would have if it was repaired properly the day it happened. Here are a few pictures illustrating some marks repaired today and an illustration on how to repair the mark if you are unaware of the proper way to fix the ball mark.




The ball marks repaired properly during your round of golf heal in 2-3 days. An unrepaired ball mark takes weeks to recover along with ball marks repaired by lifting up on the grass. Please do your part and repair your mark plus one other.


The next item I would like to discuss is golf cart etiquette. The majority of rounds played at the course include rounds with carts. The club currently allows homeowners to use personal carts for the golf course. Albeit a luxury for the members who live on site, we politely ask that you do not take an excessive number of carts when it isn't necessary. Every unnecessary golf cart on the course adds unnecessary wear and compaction to the golf course. Golf carts have become important components of the game of golf at nearly every course across the country, and this isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Nonetheless, we must protect the turf from added wear and soil compaction caused by unnecessary cart traffic. Also, while using the practice facilities, we please ask to keep your cart at the staging area and not drive next to the practice tee.

While the Agronomy Staff does take on the responsibility of maintaining great playing conditions on a daily basis, our membership has the opportunity to take pride in keeping it in great shape as well. Thanks again and I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Best Regards,

Dan Grogan
Golf Course Superintendent



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Roller Coaster Golf Season

What a wild ride this golf season has turned out to be. We have been put to the test for the past 90 days. The golf calendar for the month of May could not have turned out any better for the Agronomy team. We received just over 2" of rain for the entire month.
 We successfully hosted the NCAA Men's Regional, then followed that up with one of the best Member Member tournaments that I have been a part of in my 10 seasons at the club. My staff has been on their A game since we opened the course and I couldn't be prouder of the team assembled for the 2015 season. Many thanks to all of the volunteers who helped us make the Regional a smashing success!!!!




The feedback from players, coaches, and spectators was very over whelming. There were many praises for the layout of the course, course conditions, and some players quoted as saying "the best greens they have ever putted on." I had the pleasure of meeting Davis Love III, who's son plays for Alabama. Davis complemented that they were some of the best greens he has ever putted on as he tried them out himself on the putting green.

The month of May has become a distant memory now that we have already arrived to August. The 60 day stretch from June 1-July 1 was the ultimate test for the entire Agronomy team. The course received over 19" of rain during this stretch. It seemed as every time we were able to restore bunkers from a severe storm, we turned around and started the process all over again. The crew worked extremely hard throughout the process and once again, I couldn't be prouder of where we stand today!


One of the biggest projects that has taken place on the course this year has been the bunker project on #12 greenside. The reason behind this renovation was to run a trial to see if this is the route we would like to take moving forward. It's no secret that our bunkers do not withstand mother nature throughout the numerous washout events. The Capillary Concrete is our biggest step taken to eliminate the washouts and present a consistent bunker on a daily basis. The process was as follows:
1. Remove the sand, liner, and sod staples from the bunker.
2. Pull out existing drainage lines, along with the pea gravel.
3. Clean existing pipe, flush drainage line, and install new pea gravel.
4. Added 3 new lateral drainage lines to ensure proper drainage.

Once the bunker was prepped and ready the next stage involved the installation of Capillary Concrete. A brief introduction about Capillary Concrete. .It is a porous concrete that eliminates the need for a bunker liner. The installation process involved blending CC's ADMIX to the aggregate at our local IMI plant. The large pores in the concrete drains water quickly and micropores feed a slight amount of moisture back to the sand during dry conditions. The Capillary Concrete can move moisture in two directions. When moisture is moved up into the sand a force of adhesion is created. The installation is shown below in the photos.










 

Once the Capillary Concrete was installed and covered with plastic, we allowed the Concrete to cure for a day then the covers were pulled. The loose fragments were then blown out of the bunker and the sand install followed right behind. Next, we plate compacted the sand followed with a heavy blast of water to help settle the sand into the bunker. The finished product could not have turned out any better. I have heard nothing but positive feedback from the playability of the bunker!!! The last picture shows the contrast between new and old bunker after a heavy rainfall. We will be doing more green side bunkers this fall. We are currently in the process of measuring out select bunkers to make a final decision on how many bunkers will be done and on which holes.


Last but not least, Ted Fist from CC, came down from Chicago and helped us throughout the entire process. Ted worked with IMI to make sure the aggregate and water content of the mixture was to spec and I can't thank him enough for all of his assistance through the project!!!!

Let's hope mother nature cooperates for the rest of the 2015 golf season and we can make up for lost time from the heavy rainfall's earlier this summer. Thanks again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Time For A New Season

I think we can all agree that it's time for Spring to arrive. The off and on snow events over the past few weeks has made March feel more like December. The downtime from the course allows the Agronomy team opportunities to service equipment, restore course supplies, and work on a few projects along the way.

One of our focal points each and every winter is the service of our equipment fleet. We have 55+ units of equipment that are the staple to a successful operation throughout the growing season. Each and every machine is serviced, detailed, and prepared for another season. Our equipment technician, Jim Roberts, sharpens the blades on each unit, and makes sure each unit is primed and ready for another successful season. My assistants then put the focus on power washing each unit along with a detailed finish. The finished product mimic's a brand new unit coming from the factory.



Another critical part of the down time is to refurbish golf course supplies. A wide range of items include bag stands, trash cans, hazard stakes, ball washers, bunker rakes, cups, and flagsticks receive attention and repairs are made as needed. The image below illustrates the refurbished bag stand for the clubhouse.

The next item I wanted to touch bases on was the Bermudagrass Practice Tee. The 2013 golf season was my first time ever working with Bermudagrass on a golf course. The tee accomplished exactly what we were hoping for, a consistent practice tee that actually had some grass on it during the summer months. We shut the tee down with what we thought would be enough time to recover before dormancy was reached. Unfortunately, the cool, wet fall didn't allow full recovery heading into the winter months and the tee was lost from the Polar Vortex. This past fall we made a conservative effort to allow full recovery heading into dormancy, which we achieved as the picture below illustrates.

 
 
 Once the Bermudagrass was completely dormant, we purchased a cover for the tee to do everything in our power to prevent losing the tee to another "Polar Vortex".

Last spring, I incubated a plug from the Bermuda tee and placed it in a bucket of sand along with a growing light. We had a few green shoots of grass coming up from the plug. Fast forward to this year and we took another plug from the tee and the difference between the 2 plugs is quite drastic. I am optimistic that the tee is going to survive the next few weeks of Winter/Spring or whatever season we are about to emark on. The image below illustrates the difference. The plug on the left was our "Northbridge" variety from 2013, the plug on the right is our current variety, "Riviera".

In closing, I'd like to say the Agronomy Staff is primed and ready for another great season at Sagamore. The home stretch of winter should be over before we know it (hopefully). As the weather changes for the better we will do everything in our power to get the course up and running ASAP.

Best Regards,

Dan Grogan
Golf Course Superintendent
The Sagamore Club


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