Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 Year in Review

Another excellent golf season has come end.  This has been my 17th year here at Hawks Landing.

Every season is different which is one of the exciting parts for me. My focus is to provide our membership with a well conditioned firm golf course daily.  We have implemented many new strategies in the last few years to do just that.  There is no status quo in maintaining a golf course, especially as the course ages.

This season we have been addressing the organic matter and excess water holding in the greens with very good results.  We will continue the profile testing for years to come and will evaluate what management strategies need to be implemented.  This testing provides us with valuable insight and an excellent plan to follow.  In the upcoming seasons we need to continue our focus on fairways and tees as well.  Our soils very extremely rocky which poses many challenges for organic matter control.  We need to look at alternative management practices that will help remove excess organic matter.  The problem is not going to go away by itself we need to be very proactive in order to provide the membership with quality playing surfaces.  Additionally, this is not an overnight fix, it took many years to become a problem.

It has been a crazy weather year as well,  This spring started fairly normal but then the rains started.  It almost seemed like we lived in the jungle with multiple  3+ inch rain events in a short time frame.  Every time we were able to have the course playable it rained again and again.  We were very fortunate this summer  had fairly mild temperatures.  The saturated conditions and excess heat would not have been a very good situation. Late summer came along we went thru a time span of  moderate drought conditions.  Onto fall with the start of our recent bunker renovation compared to last fall the temperatures were quite chilly.  This caused some delays in our renovation work. During Phase 1 bunker renovation most seeded areas were filled in by winter this year very little seed has come up.


Staffing is and will be a serious problem in the years to come.  It is very difficult in the current job market to find staff for summer months.  My Assistant will be moving on to another opportunity.  This in itself will be very difficult to find a replacment.  The turf programs across the country have seen a drastic decline in enrollment. I strongly believe that Hawks Landing is an excellent choice to learn and gain valuable experience now the challenges begins in finding the right fit to fill this position soon. 

All in all this season has been very rewarding and with all the progress we have made I am looking forward too 2018

We have completed our bunker renovation project with a few odds and ends to complete yet this fall.  Some of the bunkers on the back 9 were very large and posed many challenges for maintenance as well as playability.  We looked at each bunker, evaluated its purpose, issues, and what we can do to increase playability for the higher handicap player and still create varied shot options along with enhanced placement of the hazard for the skilled player.  I believe we did just that for the phase 2 work.  Holes 11,12,15 have dramatic changes that have been well received this fall by many members.  I removed a total of 4 bunkers on holes 11,14,17 these bunkers were not in play.  Compared to the Phase 1 front 9 bunker renovation we laid a lot of bentgrass and bluegrass sod.  In total 10,000 sqft of sod was laid down and about the same amount of seeding done.  We harvested sod from the golf course to better match the existing turf.  The weather this fall has been challenging to get any seed to germinate the sod has already started to root well.  We will have the seeded areas roped off until we have a good stand of grass in the spring.  I did my best to keep most seeded areas outside of play.  The sand in the new bunkers is very soft at this point. I am confident that the sand will firm up over time. Moving forward we all need to focus on smoothing out our footprints using the back smooth side of the bunker rakes and exiting from the low side of the bunkers.  During this renovation I also focused on correcting a lot of the very steep exit and entrances of the bunkers. This should no longer be an issue.

 I am very proud of our staff for all the hard work they did to complete this project.  Golf Creations also did an outstanding job.  This was a very rewarding project that I firmly believe has enhanced our great golf club to a new level.  I am very excited for the upcoming golf season.

I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and a great holiday season.  It has been a pleasure to prepare the golf course for everyone this year and look forward to continuing our progress that we have made this year into 2018.

11 green before/after
14 green before/after

12 green before/after

15 green before/after


17 frwy bunker removal

17 green bunker rebuild

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bunkers

I am sure everyone is ready for a good stretch of weather.  It looks like we will finally be able to get in some good golfing days very soon.



We have been working on finding the best technique to rake our bunkers this year to provide the best playing conditions for all. Over time, the new bunkers will continue to improve.  The one thing that is for certain even with all the rain events the bunkers have no standing water and have very minimal washouts.

 I have always raked our faces and slopes of the bunker the new sand really smoothes out well.  Moving forward with all bunkers I would like to ask everyone to not use the tooth part of the rakes especially in the new bunkers.  Smooth out your footprints using the back of the rake only.  This is very easy to do and takes less time and the finished product looks great.  We would also ask that you do not exit or enter the bunkers on any slope.  Always enter the bunkers from the low side and replace the rake on the low side not on the slopes.




  I feel this procedure will provide the membership with the best playing conditions over time.  The less distribution to any slopes will reduce the chances for plugged balls.

Thank you


Neil

Saturday, March 25, 2017

2017

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 show 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 actually 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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2016 year end review


March 11 2016

July 26 2016
  Looking back, Our first mowing of the greens was on March 10 this year and we opened for play on the 28th.  April started off pretty cold and ended with heavy rain.  July was very warm humid and lot of rain and flooding on the golf course. July was a very tough month for my staff with multiple rain events.  We had a lot of cleanup including pumping bunkers and repairing the bunkers. We had another stretch in mid august and early september that it seemed to rain every other day.  We ended the golf season with a great record breaking November. Looking back it was a tough season but our staff did a great job getting the course back in shape quickly.  I feel we had very quality playing surfaces even with Mother Nature against us.  We have a dedicated seasonal staff that work tirelessly this year to provide these great condition and I am very thankful for everyone. 

Our fescue program here at Hawks is doing well.  We have yet to remove all undesirable grasses and weeds but every year we are getting closer.  This year I experimented with roundup and a growth regulator in a few fairly dense stands of turf.  The results were promising, I plan on expanding on this next season. 


Most of the construction on the front nine this fall has been completed.  There are a few projects that we did not finish and will  complete in the early spring.  November had some great dry weather for us to  tackle a lot of small projects on the front nine.  We leveled all the sprinklers heads around every green and replaced some sod around the greens that had creeping bentgrass containment with new bluegrass sod. Worked on squaring off a few tees and adding a little more tee space on 13 gold.  We never are able to complete everything on the list but we made a pretty good dent in it.  I also concentrated on our soil profile issues in the putting greens this November.  We continue to hold more soil moisture than desired. We have been addressing this by solid tine aerification and filling the holes using a granular sand to open up more pore space. We will continue to evaluate our progress in the spring.  After thanksgiving, we core aerated around every green and all walk ons to the tees. We solid tined all roughs on the course.  I am encouraged by our progress in the health of the roughs from doing this process for the last few years. 



 In addition to our solid tine program on the greens we did a process called drill and fill to a few trouble spot on 1,5,11 greens.  This is a very time consuming task that will be worth the effort in these areas next year. We used a 15 inch long drill bit and backfilled each hole with sand.  This will allow for much improved drainage.  
The first load of our new sand going in
Our front nine bunker renovation turned out better than I imagined.  We removed 4 bunkers and made 2 much smaller and more functional.  The sand has already firmed up. I am looking forward to next season already.  We will have our challenges with the back nine next year but I feel it will be worth the wait to complete the project in the fall versus the spring. The weather is the biggest factor in making this decision.
















We continue to work on the course even with snow on the ground.  Currently we are pruning trees on the course and general cleanup when possible.  Our equipment manager has started to work on equipment which is a huge task.  We remain very busy inside the shop repairing everything from the trash cans to our largest pieces of equipment.  Before we know it March will be here.  

I would like to thank all of our members for a great golf season and look forward to seeing everyone soon


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Course Update 10/29/2016















If you blinked you most likely missed out on the construction project of our front nine bunkers.  The project lasted 11 days from start to finish.  During this time we softened all the humps in the bunkers, installed the billy bunker liner system into all the greens bunkers, cleaned out the drainage and added the new sand into all the bunkers on the front nine.  We hauled a total of 150 tons of pea stone and 700 tons of new sand.  We also removed or made a few bunkers smaller to allow for enhanced playability and improved drainage.  There are a few projects that I plan on addressing before the end of the season to improve surface drainage away from a few fairway bunkers. The day after completion, we received 2.4 inches of rain before we were even able to rake and compact the new sand.  The green side bunkers performed as expected with no washouts. The fairway bunkers without the billy bunker system washed out in a few areas. I feel we can address most of the washout areas by reducing the surface flow of water into the bunkers.  I am looking at each bunker to evaluate further improvements.  Yesterday and this morning we raked all the new bunkers for the first time.  I feel that over time the sand will firm up and play the same as our test bunker on 5 green.  The photos of the front nine really show the transformation of the golf course.  I am very fortunate to have a great staff that worked many hours laying new sod in the areas that we removed the bunkers.  There is a seamless transition of these new areas and hard to imagine what was even done.
Yesterday was the last day for our seasonal staff, I am down to 2 employees and our equipment manager.  I plan on topdressing and solid tining the greens this upcoming week as well as the approaches.  We have a tremendous amount of work to in a very short time before the end of the season we will be very busy.  

I plan on shutting down the on course restroom on November 2nd and we will be winterizing the irrigation system on the 8th.  

I hope to see you on the golf course in the next few weeks the weather forecast looks to be very good to get in a few more rounds this fall.  

Neil













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