Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Course Update - Trees

Over the past few weeks the greens crew has planted 20 new trees on the golf course. These trees were hand selected from a local nursery by the greens committee.  All new trees that have been planted over the past few years were picked for their desirable traits, hardiness and to add diversity among the forest at FLCC.  Planting locations were determined from the course Master Plan as well as replacement in some instances of tree loss.

Until these trees start to mature we will continue to protect the bases with mulched rings to prevent mechanical damage such as mower and line trimmer damage.  Also young trees will have a black stake placed in close proximity to the tree, putting  the following "local rule" in place.

1. This Local Rule requires mandatory relief from "black" staked trees and reads;

The player must take relief from all black-staked trees with regards to normal stance, swing, and club selection.  The player is allowed to lift, clean and drop the ball without penalty within one club-length of the nearest point of relief not nearer the hole.
Any questions on this rule or farther explanation of rules on the golf course, can be answered by our PGA golf professionals.

Recent tree plantings include;

1 River Birch - left side #1 fairway
2 River Birch - behind #2 tee
1 Sugar Maple - between #4 / #5
1 Black Gum - left side #9
7 Eastern White Pine - between #11 / #12
3 Concolor Fir - right side #13 green
1 White Flowering Crabapple - #13 tee
3 London Planetree - between #16 / #18
1 Tricolor Beech - left side #18

Trees arriving!
Planting River Birch at #2 tee
London Planetrees to add protection once mature on holes #16 & 18
Preping the planting hole for a Sugar Maple on hole #4
Tricolor Beech on #18 will be a great tree to enjoy in future years to come.
Concolor Firs will replace removed Colorado Spruce on #13
Replanting the White Pine Grove on #11/12 will add to  strategic tee shots in the future
New arborvitaes were added to the back of #10 Tee.  Due to road salt and winter injury there were several poor quality arborvitaes that were removed.  The new plantings should grow fairly quickly and help out with  road noise and visual distractions.

Old arborvitaes removed
New 8ft arborvitaes, although small add an immediate barrier

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Course Update - Bunkers


Sometimes it is amazing to try count up the man hours needed to have "pristine" bunkers.  Although defined as a hazard, expectations of the modern player forces this golf course feature to be in perfect shape.  Bunkers  fall in line behind our putting surfaces for the amount of time involved to keep them playing consistent.  

During the spring  the greens crew spent considerable time in addressing bunker deficiencies.  The areas that we focused on;

1) Sand depths.  Our Goal was to have a minimum of 4" of sand depth on floor of the bunkers.  After surveying the bunkers we found about 50% of our bunkers were deficient in this area.  Bunker sand becomes displaced by golfer play, maintenance cleaning of bunkers as well as environmental factors such as wind.  Some bunkers were able to be fixed fairly easily by relocating existing sand from an area of surplus sand to an area of need.  To address major deficiencies 100 tons of new sand was dispersed in those areas.

2) Grass faces.   As our bunkers age they present some management challenges.  Most of our bunkers were designed with steep greens side grass faces and shallow sand bottoms.  Over time from sand exiting the bunker from golf shots and wind these grassed faces become worn and the turf becomes thin.  Coupled with the exposure to summer heat it poses a challenge to meet the water requirements in these areas.  The greens crew have sodded major flawed areas, and minor problems are being addressed with extra fertility and hand watering.

 3) Bunker Edges.  The maintenance of our sand traps involves keeping a manicured crisp edge.  This spring all the bunkers were hand edged to restore there appearance, eliminating grass encroachment.  In-season minor string trimming edging is preformed every 1-2 weeks to keep up there appearance.  Overtime the edging process has changed our grass faces into sand faces on the course.

4) Drainage.  Bunkers and bunker sand is designed to have a very quick infiltration rate.  Our bunkers are designed with native soil sides and bottoms with pea stoned drainage lines running through them.  This system has worked adequately, but after 20+ years since construction we have some failures and  bunkers will puddle. A couple of key factors that cause this include;  the drainage piping system being broken or clogged, as well as the contamination of bunker sand with soils from bunker face erosion.

#5 Fairway bunker Restoration Project

After rain events these bunkers became a maintenance nightmare, as water puddled in the bottom of the first bunker, and the second bunker as well staying wet.  We decided it was time to fix the drainage in these bunkers.  During this process all of the existing sand was removed, and the bunker  was best restored to original design. 

1/2" May rain event. 5 fairway bunkers (Green to Tee view)
1 day after a film of soil where the standing water was
Removing old sand
Restoring bunker edges back to original design.  

Adding a new bunker drain through the center.  The existing drainage lines were placed on the left edge and were unable to capture any  water accumulation

Pea stone was installed 1-2" below the floor of the bunker to eliminate stone from mixing with the sand
Installing new bunker sand
Bunkers are finished.  After a few rain storms there has been no standing water.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Welcome Back

Welcome Back FLCC members!

It has been over 6 months since our last blog post, but again this season we will be using our blog as 1 means of communication for golf course related issues.  The content through the summer will include projects, course photos, and many things that you may not of seen during the course of the 2016 season.

As most of our FLCC members have returned for their winter retreats the exciting  news is there was no winter injury to the golf course.  Most of this can be correlated with the mild winter we experienced in Michigan.  Although we are off to a very good start with course conditions, the bigger challenge this year is the cooler spring that we have be witnessing thus far.  But rest assured the temperatures are on the rise and we can see temperatures steadily climbing into warm consistent temperatures.

The photo of Hole #15 on the right is a great indicator on how grass looks at the moment.  Extremely lush and growing rapidly.  The greens crew has their hands full in keeping up with the rough  at moment.  The rough this time of year involves and extra mow per week, as well as a cleanup crew blowing around clippings and picking them up in certain areas.

#18 rough growing rapidly, awaiting the clean up crew.
Trees are very close to being in full leaf and flower
to showcase all the great colors of spring!

We have also entered into the seeding period for Annual Bluegrass (POA).  We do try to control POA from producing seed head with growth regulators but in the best of seasons control it is not 100%.  The seeding period will be most pronounced over the next couple weeks.  What you may notice is some slight chattering (bumpiness) of putts, most noticeable in the late afternoon.  We will be doing many mechanical processes over the next couple weeks from verti-cutting, brushing to topdressing to create the best possible putting surfaces through this period.  Greens speeds also tend to slow down a little bit during the spring, as the POA greens want to aggressively grow.

Ground level view of POA seed heads popping out
over the turf canopy

Transition line of seed heads on #12 between the
 fairway and approach growth regulator treatments
The strength in details makes a good golf course great.  There are a lot of projects and maintenance work that goes unnoticed but takes up a tremendous amount of time.  Below I would like to briefly share some of the course work that happened so far this spring.

Sodding and edging bunker faces

Rebuilding failing bunker edges.  Using sand bags we were
able to secure the slop on #16 back left bunker

Topping up bunker sand levels
Aerating to relieve compaction and to promote
 growth in wear areas
Adding a new discharge pipe on the bottom
of the driving range
Cart path and staircase edging and sodding
Flower garden weeding and backyard landscapes
Waterfall areas
Weeding and refilling mulch beds and gardens
Edging and leveling ground markers, sprinklers and drainage basins
A special thank you for this years 2016 greens crew for their efforts to continuously take FLCC to a higher level.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Arbor Day

The Arbor Day "Street fight" has become a fall tradition at Forest Lake.  This event brings together friends and families to compete as rivals, as they represent their Alma Mater in a modified scramble event.  The main goal, to raise funds for future tree and beautification projects on the golf course.  The traditional colleges of MSU, Michigan and Notre Dame fielded teams, and this year Ohio State entered the competition.
        The field this year consisted of 66 players, dressed in their respective game day colors ready to win the major prize.  The winning team flies their team flag for 1 week on FLCC's flag pole, bragging rights, as well as a leaf on the memorial tree signifying their victory in FLCC's history. As shown in the picture on the right, tradition allows all teams to fly their flag during the event before a champion is named.

        After enjoying a great fall day on the golf course, competitors enjoyed an awesome outdoor barbecue while the golf professionals tabulated scorecards to see who this years winner would be.  With great anticipation there was 1 school that was the clear cut winner.  Congratulations to this years Arbor Day champions, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish! The Notre Dame team has been strong over the last 5 years winning the event 3 times.  Final Scoring: Notre Dame 59, MSU 61, Michigan 61, and Ohio State 64.

     The Greens Committee would like to thank all participants who attended this years event.  Everyone who was involved thoroughly enjoyed, from the comradery, golf course, barbecue, and the suspense in watching the scoreboards to determine a victor.  During the late fall of this year, the greens crew will be planting new trees in strategic areas on the property.  Events like Arbor Day help us reinvest into the property, improving it for future generations.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Course Update

Summer has finally arrived!  The past week temperatures have increased, putting the wet weather from spring and early summer as a past memory.  Looking at the forecast ahead, a consistent trend of hot weather will offer a great opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy some golf.  Of course with this great weather, challenges lie ahead in maintaining the golf course.  The abundance of early season rains have lead to shallow root zones and compacted soils.  These conditions create an environment where grass can go under wilt stress very quickly during full sun, wind and low humidity.  One key to manage this, is to lightly syringe with water in the afternoon when humidity is low.  Small amounts of water can cool the turf canopy allowing  it to have a positive response without creating soaked conditions.  You will see us on the golf course over the next several weeks hand watering greens and hot spots throughout the course.  On a larger scale we will run short syringe cycles on our fairways and areas of need.  Since there is no perfect opportunity to water at high heat stress times, these syringe cycles will happen while you are out there playing the golf course.  The key thing to keep in mind, "and stay dry" is the sprinklers always move from the green down the fairway to the tee, and are on for approximately 5 minutes each.  There are as well rough areas on the golf course that are not irrigated, which will rebound with the help of Mother Nature.

Maintaining the golf course for play, consumes the bulk of our time through the summer but we always manage to fit a few improvement projects along the way.  Over the past month one of the most significant improvements was to address sand levels, and improving some of the deficiencies in our greens side bunkers.  Most significantly was removing the sand and fixing the drainage on the front of hole 14, where the drainage gravel became mixed into the playable sand.  * New bunker sand can play penal for the first few weeks, but over time the sand compacts eliminating most "fried egg lies".  A few photos from hole #14

Old sand removed
Installing bunker drainage
New bunker sand
All done!
Another challenge we face year to year at the start of July is the Japanese Beetle.  This pest is mostly attracted to our Little Leaf Lindens and Rose bushes, but can be seen foraging on the leaves of other trees on the property. When the beetles are hungry they are not very picky on their food source.  You may have noticed mass amounts of the dime sized beetles on the ground almost resembling a swarm of bees at first glance.  It has been difficult pest to control this year, as many of the effective insecticides have restricted use on flowers and flowering trees.  The restriction is due to harmful effects on the honey bee population.  Although we did treat the beetles with a more selective insecticide, it had minimal effect.  The positive about our Lindens and Roses is their resilience to rebound from extreme leaf damage by these pests.

Group of Beetles feeding on leaf tissue
Defoliation of a Little Leaf Linden #16

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Course update

It's been a busy last 4 weeks on the golf course trying to maintain playing conditions with warmer weather, and consistent rains.  Overall the course is in good shape, but has been held back from it's full potential, because of the abundance of moisture. There are definitely times through the hot dry summer we hope for a rain event but enough is enough!  Below are a few pictures from this past Sunday's storm, which closed down the golf course.  The challenges that we face as a greens crew can become complicated and I hope to highlight a few that may not be apparent when the rain stops and the sun comes out, and golf resumes.
View of  13 fairway from the maintenance building as we hide for cover.  The challenges will arise on Monday, Tuesday  trying to mow wet roughs, fairways and put the course back together to produce a quality golf course.
16 fairway a predominately low lying area, after the rain.  This area takes time to alleviate most of the standing water, but we are still left with some birdbaths filled with water.  This  fairway will play wet for the following days.  Ropes are used frequently to keep cart traffic off of this area

This is a picture from early May of 16 fairway.  The pattern of winter kill damage is the same areas that are holding water from these storms.  We have seen this pattern in most of the areas that suffered from the winter across the course.  Improving drainage in most instances will correct these situations promoting better turf health.  Areas that remain wet, have thinning turf and recovery can be very difficult
#14 Green with a pocket of water slowly dissipating away.  The green does not have enough pitch in this area for surface water to runoff.  Mowing and rolling greens during wet soft conditions can cause scalp injury and compaction injury.
This is a picture from March 2015 of the same bird bath on 14 green.  This shows how the winter melt water accumulated in this spot killing most the POA in this particular spot.
The sand traps only had minor washouts from Sunday's rain.  But during each heavy rain event soil washes in from the edges, and mixes into the desired sand at the bottoms of the trap.  This causes the bunker sand to drain poorly and to hold onto moisture.  We have noticed a decline in drainage of many of our bunkers on the golf course.  20 plus years of rains have contributed to their condition  today.   Significant efforts are made by the greens staff to try to keep these bunkers playable and consistent across the golf course.

The rains did bring us a few visitors.  Here is 1 of the large Snapping turtles spotted beside 2 green.
In the midst of mowing and prepping the course for play, their are many projects going on around the course.
Arborvitae planting along side #18 ladies Tee.  This project will be finished early next week
Resetting the waterfall boulders at #2 green.  Over time the boulders had settled, sealing off water from entering into the pumping station that controls the waterfall feature as well our pond level control pump.
We are making our way around the course, pruning and elevating tree canopies.  Mulch has also been added around trees that have been planted over the last few years to prevent damage to the bases from mowing and line trimmers
This was a nice find while pruning!  Hornets like to build their nests under a dense canopy, where an unsuspecting person might not identify right away.

The MSU research team has also been conducting a research project on "Summer Patch"  on #13 fairway. More to come!