Friday, April 24, 2015

Golf course update

April is always a challenge on the golf course.  As quick as warm weather moves in for a few days, right behind it is a series of frost mornings or even what we witnessed this week. SNOW!  The golf course is still in a process of waking up from the long cold winter, and for the most part we are in very good shape.  The greens survived the winter with minimal snow injury, and are in very playable condition.  Some of our challenges happen during freeze/thaw events through the winter where low lying areas hold melt water, which then turns into ice.  The end result is thin or dead pockets of turf where these events occurred.  As the grass wakes up from dormancy these areas become more apparent.  This year we have a few areas on  the golf course in fairways and roughs with some damage, most noticeable #16 fairway.  These areas will be addressed over the course of the next few weeks when the temperatures become more favorable for promoting new seedlings to grow.

Also I would like to address the fluctuations in greens color over the past week.  This is a result of a chemical application to prevent POA seed heads from developing.  The greens surface has a non uniform yellow tinge, as certain varieties of POA are effected a little differently, and as well the bent grass plants still hanging onto a green color.  Seed heads will develop in May, and can create an undesirable bumpy greens surface.  Although our applications will not eliminate 100% of the seed from emerging we have had very good success in minimizing their impact on greens.

12 Green showing regulation
POA seed head uncontrolled

 The main challenge to start of the 2015 season has been turning on the irrigation system.  Miles of piping and irrigation heads are subject to shifting and heaving due to the frost layer moving deep into the soil.  This year we have had numerous breaks that we have been working through to ensure our system is reliable. The night time temperatures still dipping under 32F also posses a unique problem for us, as hydraulic controls freeze leading to additional complications.  As most players seldom see some of the challenges we have with irrigation, I have included a few pictures form this spring.

Filling Hydraulic satellite boxes with straw to prevent night time freezing

Irrigation break on #4 fairway
This is the culprit of the above break a shattered 1.5" rotary sprinkler
Not a new water feature, but instead a broken impact sprinkler

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Course Projects

It's already been a busy 2015 for the greens staff.  Many hours were put towards snow removal on our greens, as well as snow removal on the club grounds.  Equipment repair and servicing is our largest time consuming project through the winter.  Special thank you to our equipment technician Jose, for overseeing all of our equipment needs.  Most recently we have been using most of our efforts on spring cleanup and preparing the golf course for an early start to the 2015 season. We also have had several projects that we have finished or are still working on through the early start of this year.  Below are a few photos to highlight a few of the improvements and additions to the golf course.

Tree work;  We had a tree service address many of the broken limbs that still existed from the July 2014 storm.  The greens crew also cleaned up many of the dead under stories of our Spruce and Pine trees.

Re-roofing of the middle section of our maintenance building.

Refurbishing our irrigation pumps and minor plumbing upgrades in the pump house.

New maintenance fence after 50 years in service.



Walkway brick paver repairs in front of clubhouse

Driving range staircase (In progress)

Original stairs in failing condition
Cap removed and construction started

Front profile of current condition
Side profile of current condition

Course Update

Welcome back to the FLCC Golf Course Maintenance Blog!

Throughout the season we will be posting course photos, projects and providing updates on course conditions.

As the warm weather of spring nears upon us, we are all looking to come out of hibernation, or start making our way back home to our favorite retreat "Forest Lake Country Club".  The greens staff is eager to welcome you back, and kick off an exciting 2015 season.  While many of our members were away the Greens staff have been busy, and would like to get a chance to catch you up to speed.

This winter the Greens maintenance staff embarked on a different strategy to minimize potential winter damage on our putting surfaces.  The start of process involved laying a thin permeable tarp on the greens, to add a small buffer between winter extremes and the turf surface.  Through the winter the greens crew removed all the snow off the greens during periods of potential melt, to eliminate melt water from refreezing.  This process took an average of 2-3 days depending on the amount of snow.  This winter we removed snow 6 times from January through March.
Half way done!
Snow removal #6 green March

#18 green April 7th 2014.
#18 Green April 1st 2015
The great news is that we have little to no winter injury to our putting greens, which we feel this process helped us achieve this goal.  When we start the 2015 golf season we will be playing all of the greens, with the exception of 1.  This being hole #17 which was renovated late fall, and still needs some warm spring weather to knit in sod seems and transitioned into playable condition.  What a difference from last season! On the right side is a stark difference in the greens from 2014-2015. This is consistent result for all 18 greens, including the practice facilities.

Flags are in!
When will the course be fully open?  We opened the greens for play on Friday, and they will remain open as long as weather cooperates.  The golf course for the moment is open for walkers only, and as the rest of the frost leaves the ground and the course firms up, golf carts will be allowed.  The putting green and chipping areas are as well open.  The driving range will have a delayed start until the ground firms up in the landing areas.  The greens committee would like everyone to be aware of the impacts a player can have on the golf course through the early season.  Divots, ball marks and cart traffic scars do not heal very quickly in April.  So do your part in "Caring for the course", so that these blemishes have a minimal impact on our course.

In the maintenance staff news; 

This past winter Jim D. Lough a 30 year employee on the greens maintenance staff passed away.  We truly thank Jim for all of his years of hard work, dedication and his impact on the grounds at Forest Lake.

New to the maintenance staff this year, is Assistant Tyler Cooper.  He is a MSU graduate in Turf Management, with working experience on golf courses throughout the country.  We are looking forward to Tyler helping us improve our day to day maintenance procedures, turf quality and playing conditions.