Saturday, July 26, 2014

#12 Fairway Update

The 12th fairway has been reopened for limited play after about 8 months of closure for aggressive renovation.

What caused the closure?

Salt. Salt in the soil that makes it difficult to grow or maintain grass.  The high water table in that area of the course is a big contributor to the problem and will always be there.  Capillary action will pull the salt up into the root zone and the irrigation water also has salt in it which builds up over time.
We combat the problem several ways.  The first of which is by applying wetting agents to the soil. They essentially make water wetter to allow it to penetrate and move through the soil better.  The wetting agents allow the heavy irrigation or flushing to move the salts lower in the soil away from the roots.  Secondly, we applied a material that exchanges with the sodium on an atomic level.  Sodium ions likes to bond with soil particles and does not want to let go, so we have to help it by applying something that it will happily change places with.  In our case we apply calcium in the form of gypsum to facilitate the exchange.
Once we had the sodium levels reduced in the root zone, we needed to aerate the fairway and then seed it with perennial rye grass.  We applied starter fertilizer to give the seed a good jolt and then watered frequently to ensure the seed never dried out.

So now what?

Well, we have opened the fairway to play on Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday's.  The fairway will remain closed to play on Monday's through Thursday's.  During this time we will be closely monitoring the turf quality on the fairway.  I will also be using an instrument that the club owns called an EC meter. EC stand for electro-conductivity and is a measure of the salt build up in the soil.  The meter tells me if the salt levels are going up or down and allows me to make management decisions based on science.
In the meantime, we want you to enjoy the newly opened fairway, but please adhere to a strict 90 degree rule to help us keep the turf as stress free as possible.


Rejuvenating the hazard stakes

Marking of the golf course has always been a very important part of the game. One of the ways it is done is with hazard stakes to define water hazards, which we have an abundant supply of, or OB. The red and yellow stakes that we use on the course are not painted but are, in fact, made out of a recycled plastic product that has the color impregnated throughout. Over time the sun bleaches out the color on the surface. 
We purchased an electric hand planer to shave off a little bit of each side to reveal the fresh bright color underneath.  The results have been fantastic and this will be an ongoing process.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fairy Rings

The golf course is showing some fairy rings right now as I am sure some of you have noticed.  They are quite distinctive and can be seen around the golf course right now. 

Left side of #9 Fairway

They are caused by fungi that inhabit the soil and feed on the dead organic matter that is present. Nitrogen is released during the process which causes the surge of growth in the edge area. 

The mycelium is the white stuff (#15 fairway)

The fungi usually create a mat of mycelium that is underneath the thatch, it can be seen if you scratch the surface.  The layer of mycelium can be pretty impermeable and can make it difficult to water those areas.  

Also, during certain times of the year mushrooms will emerge from the rings. Those are the fruiting bodies of the fungi and will release their spores to the wind and propagate. 

The appearance of the fairy rings and the locations in the playing areas of the golf course have made it necessary to treat.  We started applying fungicides to the areas last week and will most likely have to retreat the areas at least one more time.  Be assured that the golf course maintenance department is on top of the situation.

Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


We all know what they are and what they can do to the golf course. This is the time of the year when they want to pair up and mate to create more of themselves. They can leave large areas of droppings on the turf and cart paths. If the eggs successfully hatch then we could have as many as 10 new baby geese on the course along with the very protective parents.  The parents can be very aggressive when protecting the young.  So in response the maintenance department steps up the efforts to discourage them from using the golf course and home owner lakes as a nesting ground.

The tools that we employ are somewhat limited but we do the best that we can.  I am sure all of you have heard the report of the noise makers that we launch with shotguns out on the course. These are one of our more effective tools, but we are limited in the times that we can use them. Out of respect for the residents of the community we typically do not use the noise makers before 8 am. 

There has been some misinformation out there that we are shooting the geese. I want to be very clear on this point; we cannot and will not ever shoot the geese on the golf course. We do not own any standard shotgun shells that could be a danger to people. The noise makers that we have travel approximately 100 yards over the water and then explode creating a loud report which scares the geese away.  The Sheriff is aware of our activities and signs off on the use of the noise makers.

We only use the noise makers when we cannot access an area with our vehicles or as a last resort after we chase them and they retreat to the water.  Most often they leave when they see the white trucks that Sal and I drive.

More recently we added a handheld green laser to our tool box. It has been shown that the green laser hitting the birds feathers really scares them and they jump up and fly off rather quickly. I have been using this device for about a year and can say that it does work. The downside to the laser is that it only works in the twilight hours of the day, but it is effective and makes no noise. It allows us to do goose control in the early morning hours and evening hours if we happen to be on property.  If you are early riser. you may have noticed green laser light shooting across the lake banks and other areas of the course. That is us doing early morning goose control.

Other devices that we have heard about and could employ in the future include the Goosinator and Away with Geese
Decoys have been employed in past and could be again in the future.

I hope this has helped your understanding of our efforts to keep the geese away from the golf course.

Chris Mains

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spring Aerification

Update (3/19/14)
Here is a Youtube video from our consultant, Dr. Larry Stowell that does a fantastic job of explaining aerification.

Pace Turf Video

Aerification is one of the most important cultural practices that we do during the year.  Spring is the perfect time to punch open the turf on the golf course to give them a nice breath of fresh air. It sets the tone for the season by reducing compaction, allows for the release of carbon dioxide and the infusion of oxygen, control thatch buildup and allow for better water penetration.

The illustration above is a good representation of what we are trying to accomplish when we aerate the golf course.

Compaction is one of our worst enemies and occurs throughout the season. It is caused by foot traffic, mowers, power golf carts and even golf balls striking the putting surface.  Compaction makes it difficult for roots to grow deeper and denser. If we can promote a strong healthy root system we will have a grass plant that is better able to withstand the heat of summer because the plant is able to reach moisture deeper in the soil profile.  Compaction also makes it more difficult for irrigation water to percolate into the soil to be available to the plants roots.  When we aerify the greens we remove the plugs and fill the holes with sand. Sand is an excellent medium for roots to grow in and for water to move through, so we make extra efforts to ensure the holes are well filled.

Thatch control is also a primary reason for aerification. Thatch is the layer of dead and rotting organic matter that is just under the plant canopy.  On the greens we want to keep the thatch layer to a absolute minimum. Too much thatch makes the greens bumpy, spongy and soft which are conditions that are not desirable for a smooth and fast putt.
Culturally, thatch is our enemy because it can prevent water, fertilizers and chemicals from making it to the plant roots where they can be used.

As you can see, I have mentioned roots a few times. They are the key to healthy plants, so we go to great lengths to promote strong and vigorous root growth.

Here is a short video of the greens aerator working on #3

I hope that this has been helpful in explaining why we need to aerify the golf course. 

The golf course maintenance crew works very hard to get the job done in as short of time as possible and to speed the recovery of the greens so that you can play on great putting surfaces.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Unfortunately, we had some vandals damage the 12th green this weekend. The pictures below show the damage and although it looked bad it was all easily fixed.

The cup used to be there. The vandals used the flagstick to dig the cup out of the green. 

This and the next picture were from more damage about 30 feet from the cup location.

Folks, although we can fix the damage that happens to the golf course, keep in mind that when we are fixing vandalism we are not doing something else on the golf course. This is preventable to some degree by our neighbors. Please, if you see any suspicious activity on the golf course don't hesitate to call the sheriff. Let the troublemakers know that there are eyes everywhere.


Chris Mains

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chipping Green Bunker Rebuild

I am sure you have all noticed that the chipping green in finally being rebuilt. The project is going well and I thought that I would share some pictures of the project. They show different phases of the project especially before and almost after.
 Here is a before photo. We have already started to remove the sod from the green.

 Stripping the sod off to be reused.

 Another before picture showing how severe the face of the bunker is.

 A very telling photo showing the layering of the soil and sand from years of practice shots. The top layers is the accumulation of bunker sand being thrown out over the last 8 or so years.

This photo shows the near final elevation of the green and bunker. The face will be much softer. The crew removed approximately 6 dump-truck loads of sand from the mound between the green and bunker. That is a lot of sand!

The final phases of the project is to put new liner in and then install fresh bunker sand. We also need to re-install the sod and let everything knit down before we can reopen the practice area.

Sod all replaced! We need to roll, topdress and fertilizer the area to speed recovery.

Another angle.

Please observe the signs indicating the area is closed. We will let you know when the area can be used again.

We appreciate your patience during this project and know that the area will get a lot of use when it is re-opened.

I have been known to tweet

Feel free to follow me when I tweet. My twitter is here

Chris Mains

Blogging to inform

I feel that it is time to start using this blog to help keep all of you more informed with the conditions and activities happening on the golf course.  Many of my colleagues have found it to be a great tool for educating their members on the various things happening. I will try to keep it current with relevant content that might link to other websites or have photos of projects that we are working on.  Please feel free to leave feedback. 

Thank you.

Chris Mains