Turf Care News
June 1, 2013 – The beginning
It’s June 1 and really, the next two weeks represent the true start of the golf season. It is the time when the weather gets better (usually), the training period for the new staff nears completion, greens start to close in on summer mowing heights, regular fertility applications get started, growth regulators and wetting agents will be applied for the first time this season, apple blossoms are in full bloom, the number of early morning golfers increases and maybe best of all the poa annua goes to seed. On many golf courses, this would be a very bad thing but on an old golf course where poa is your predominant species, this is quite often the best news of all. This year, with the course having come through the winter in pretty good shape, it is not such a big deal.
June 1 is also the time when we cannot really refer to it being early any more. The time is now here to start to think of the course as being ready to play each and every day. Up until now, the focus had to be on many other things, some agronomic, some not so much.
So what are some of those other things? Well, it has actually been a very busy spring for the turf care department. As is the case every year, we have countless items that need to be cleaned, sometimes sanded and usually painted. Think about every ballwasher post, yardage stake, garbage can, tee block, hazard stake and bench on the course and we paint them all. We also have to make new benches, usually a half dozen or so. This year, we were a little short staffed early but took on the job of repairing the gyprock in the men’s locker room that had been damaged by a leak. This had to be repaired, sanded, painted, etc. In the end, we painted the whole locker room. We also did some painting in the dining room during the early season when weather was not conducive to being outside. There is certainly lots to do. On the course, we completed the edging of all the bunkers, a bonus, as quite often this project stretches well into June or beyond. We have also had more training than normal as we have an abundance of new staff members. All of this takes time and lots of it! Once all of that was done, we had to charge up the irriagtion system. Always an interesting time, made even more important now with the washroom facilities being tied to this system, this year was no different. With 30 plus leaks repaired as of June 1, we are up and running and fully functional.....for mow at least.
Enough of that though. Time to move on and tell you some of the things you will see for 2013 and how they might affect you.
a/ Rolling – I had mentioned in an earlier email that we would be rolling far more frequently than in the past. We have started this plan and although not at 100% yet, we are close to our goal of rolling no less than every second day, including rolling on at least one day of the weekend. What that means is 7 rolling days every two weeks, which is at least 3 more times than the last couple of years. We are hoping this will result in more consistent green speeds for you the member and speeds that are acceptable for almost all players on a daily basis.
b/ Drainage improvements – We have agreed to move our sprayer purchase back to allow us to do some much needed drainage work. We are going to spend in the area of $25,000 on drainage, most of that being on #4, #16 and #17 fairways. Most of this work will take place later in the summer but you will see some excavator work happening the first week of June on #4 as that fairway has become almost unplayable for all but the best players.
c/ Bridge #5 – Again it will be later in the summer but we are expecting to install a new bridge at #5. For those that are new to the club, we have suffered bad washouts in this area the past few seasons and have worked with NS environment to come up with a plan for the area. Due to its fish habitat status, our options are limited, hence the bridge going up at some point this season.
d/ Condo maintenance – Many of you have seen our crew working on the condos adjacent to #8 fairway. We had first talked about this three years ago, as it seemed like a good fit for both the golf club and the condominium group. This year, we finally reached an agreement to take this on. For those that have heard various numbers going around for this work, I can assure you that we are not doing this at any cost to the club. We have reached a very fair deal that will benefit the club while providing an excellent program for the condominium group as well. Ultimately, we hope to move forward with this arrangement and if at all possible, expand upon it.
e/ Linacy sprinkler heads - I wanted to include this mainly to say thank you to the members that assisted us over the past week with digging up these heads from Linacy Golf Club. It is never a good thing to see a golf course close as it usually reflects at least somewhat negatively on the state of the game. We wish the owners and everyone employed at Linacy the best of luck in the future, wherever that takes them. It was nice however to be able to agree on a price to purchase their sprinkler heads as they are the same heads we use and are a valuable addition to our inventory at this point. We couldn't have done it without some help though so a big thanks to those members that helped out!! I will provide a little more information on this next month.
With this column now topping 1000 words, I should finish up. I had planned on addressing aerification and golf cars but noticed that there is information within this section that addresses these and in fact, a link at the bottom to an aerifying video that may be of interest to many of you.
Check back next month for more updates and staff intros!!
Jim Nix, AGS
Abercrombie Country Club
2012 - update
Reducing wear and tear on your golf course…
In one of my turf care news reports back in early June, I talked to you about a few things you could do to make your course better. They were bunkers and the removal of rocks and weeds, ball marks and lastly traffic control ropes. So, I am not sure how many have seen those reports but I will say, the ball mark situation certainly improved in the weeks that followed. As to bunkers and ropes, we still need to be thinking about them.
However, at this time, I want to focus on two key areas and they are golf cars, where they can go and when they can go as well as revisiting the traffic control ropes, etc.
We have adopted a 90 degree rule as our normal daily golf cart rule. This means you should as much as possible, drive on the cart paths and when you near your ball, travel at 90 degrees from the path to get to it. Now, like many things, some common sense has to prevail, so after driving to and playing your shot, you realize that it is very much shorter to travel directly to where the next shot will be played from than to travel back to the path, drive 30 yards for example and then come back on the fairway, please do so. That is precisely what I would do! The intent of the rule is to minimize the amount of travel on the main turf area, specifically the fairway. It is a great rule, we just need to understand it and use it appropriately.
There are areas that we do limit traffic and also those that we do not allow carts at any time. Cart traffic is limited in front of greens. We have green and white 4x4 post on each side of the fairway. Golf cars are not to be beyond these points!! The one exception is carts that have blue handicap flags. It seems that maybe we have not done a good enough job of letting people know, including our own members, what these posts are about. So, now you know and hopefully we will not see carts beyond these posts.
Another thing we see and I truly believe this one is a habit and comes from driving automobiles, where pulling off to the side is a natural instinct for several reasons, not the least of which may be getting caught speeding. Well, we do not have speedometers on the carts and the only time we have a police officer out there is when they are playing, so there is no need to pull the cart off the path. Some times it is only 2 wheels, sometimes all 4 but there really is no need to pull off the path at all, especially when you are near a green or tee.
As I mentioned, there are areas power cars are never permitted. This is all par 3’s and #2 fairway. Carts are never permitted on these fairways and that includes crossing them to “get to the other side”.
Lastly, the blue flags. The blue flags are there for those that are unable to play golf without access to a golf cart and need to be able to minimize the amount of walking they do in order to be able to play the game. We want to be able to make golf as accessible as possible to all. However, we would ask that for those of you that require a flag but can manage to do it, please stay as far away as possible and adhere as close as you can to the rules mentioned above. Thank you for doing so!
I mentioned traffic control ropes but since this is getting a little lengthy, I think we will stop here on this and cover traffic on another day.
Thanks very much for taking the time to read this and I hope that by following some of the guidelines we have talked about it, Abercrombie will be a better golf course for you and everyone else to enjoy!
Jim Nix, AGS
Changes for 2012 Article 3.1 – June 18
Every year, we try and make a few changes, usually fairly modest to the golf course. Usually these changes are well received, but at times not so much. Sometimes these might be large scale changes such as building a tee, bunker or even a green or perhaps a drainage installation such as what was done on #3 fairway. Other times they are much smaller and at times even go unnoticed. This year, we have examples of both. At the end of the day, it is your golf course and while everything we do is to try and make it better, the member’s wishes are ultimately what are important.
So, let’s explore 2012 and before we do that, we need to back up into the fall of 2011. Sometimes projects that are for this year and future years have their roots in previous years. Kind of a Back to the Future theme, or maybe not. Anyway, first up are drainage projects. We completed a number of small drainage projects last year, including drains on #4 fairway. However, in the fall we tackled two areas that had always given us trouble and those are the tees at #16 and #17. It was not pleasant weather but we did manage to get them done and they are starting to show how well they turned out. We are looking forward to being able to utilize these tees in their entirety soon.
We also expanded the drainage work at the approach to #7 green this spring and I think this is going to prove very beneficial ion trying to make that area play fairly for every one and allow more than one option for getting to that green. All of this drainage work receives very positive responses from everyone and really, why would it not. It makes the course more playable for all!
Changes have also taken place in what we call our mowing lines. In this case, we are referring to areas but by the fairway mowers. First up is the grass bunker on #2. We did this year decide to mow this area as fairway. This bunker seemed to penalize only those that would predominantly play off the forward tee. This seemed unfair and since we now have a four wheel drive fairway mower, we decided the time was right to try and mow this out. The greensites at 4, 12 and 14 are now being mowed with the fairway mower right up to the side of the collar. This may prove challenging when and if we get much rain but for now, I think it is working out well and although I have not heard a great deal on it, what I have heard has been very positive. Before anyone asks why we don’t do this everywhere, it is not possible at many, if not most of our greensites, but if it continues to work out well, we will be looking to expand these mowing patterns in 2013.
We have also this year decided to remove the 200 yard markers. Yardage markers are an interesting thing. For many, many years, we had only one, if any markers and they were at 150 yards on the sides of the fairway. We have had one shrub, two shrubs, one post, and two posts. We then moved to the middle of the fairway so we could be more accurate. We had a flat marker such as a patio stone, a rounded drive over marker, but these proved difficult to see, so we went to flex stakes, of which the theory is you could drive right over them without breaking them. Like is said, it is the theory. Then we went to a 15 yard marker, 36” high, then to multiple markers 36” high, gradually working that height back down to something less gaudy. Finally we get to 2012 and we have only two stakes on each par 4, at the 100 and 150 yard markers. With today’s technologies and many players having some sort of yardage finder, we felt that the time was right to just have two stakes out there. It saves the fairway operator about 15 minutes each time he mows fairways and it also looks better in our opinion. So far, I have not heard a great deal of reaction to this either way. We shall see!
Well, to keep this to one page, I will stop here and split this article in two parts. Next issue will be include what’s up at #5, the bunker on #6 and the naturalized area at old #7, all of which I am sure there are many different opinions. After that, it will be Preparation for the 2012 NS Junior.
Jim Nix, AGS
Enjoy some news from around the Abercrombie Golf Club...
Turf Care – Your impact on your course!
After a great May, June has arrived and at least for most of the past week, the weather has not quite held up to what we saw in May. It does look like improvement is on the way however.
This week’s article was supposed to be on tasks and projects we have done and are doing but I think since we are just getting the season going, I would like to talk briefly about how by doing a few small things we can all work together to continue to make Abercrombie all that it can be.
Last week we talked about bunkers and all the great work both the members and staff have done on the bunkers. One thing we know is that if we don’t keep on top of the bunkers, they rapidly deteriorate. Our staff can and will commit to mechanical raking bunkers twice per week as a minimum, along with some limited rock and weed removal on these days. If you as members can ensure that you always rake the bunkers after playing from them and even at times pull a weed or two, or remove a few rocks that would be a great help as well. We have tried in the past to implement “adopt a hole” programs and they have had some limited success to be sure. I would ask that maybe if you play with the same group every week or even if you just do it on your own, that you “adopt a bunker” but on a slightly less formal basis. No sign up sheets. Nothing. Just you. Maybe you have picked the bunkers on #17. There are only two. If one of your group can make their way past these bunkers, have a look in and if you see a few weeds or rocks, just dispose of them in the adjacent trees. Total extra time in your round would be 2 minutes or less. It would make a big difference for very little effort. Maybe give it some thought.
Another item I am going to touch on that everyone needs to address is ball marks. Ball marks are a little like broken tools. No one ever broke one. They just show up broken! In the case of ball marks, no one ever makes one they didn’t repair and almost everyone repairs 4 or 5 on every green. Yet, the other day when I mowed #18 green, a fast count of fresh unrepaired ball marks came up with 39! Eighteen is the smallest green on our course so think about that. Repairing ball marks is not a job our staff can take on so we need the members to participate. For sure all of the ball marks are not caused by members but the harsh reality is, most are and we need to start to repair them.
Lastly I want to talk about traffic control ropes. For the past few seasons, we have tried to limit the use of ropes on the golf course. Although we do still use the odd rope, it is predominantly for repaired areas or safety. We have in some situations replaced the ropes with the short green and white stakes but for the most part, we have just removed the ropes. We are going to try and keep this plan going but once again we need your help and this one takes very little effort. Most of you know the high traffic areas and where everyone wants to walk and take their pull carts. Our very first hole is a prime example. The left side of #1 between the green and the bunker. Everyone wants to walk through there. What I would ask is that at least every second time you are using a pull cart, you walk around that bunker. Total extra time in your round would be 3 minutes or less. If everyone did this, without stating the obvious, traffic in this area would instantly be cut in half. This would allow us through fertility and aerification to relieve compaction to keep this area and others in good shape much longer.
So we have now asked you to do three things that many of you already do. What has it cost you? No money, a maximum of 5 minutes or your time and a few extra yards of walking. What have you gotten for it? A better golf course and a true sense that you have made a positive impact on your course! And from myself and the turf crew, a sincere thank you!!
Jim Nix, AGS