Friday, November 3, 2017

Sand Dams

Here's a picture of the green on #3 after a good rain.  Notice there's a puddle on the front of the green.  This puddle is not there because there's a low spot on the putting surface.  This puddle is there because all the spots around it are higher.  Let me explain. We all know that in order to have good playing surfaces we must topdress the turf with sand.  The longer grass that surrounds the putting surface absorbs more sand than the closely mowed grass that's on the putting surface.  In addition we normally mow greens with baskets and therefore remove some sand each time we mow them.  So it happens gradually but over time the longer grass areas get built up with more sand than the short grass areas.  Eventually these raised areas can cause problems one of which is trapping water on the edge of a putting surface.  That's why this condition is called a sand dam, or since the area around the greens is sometimes called the collar, we sometimes call them collar dams.  
So there's a couple of ways of dealing with this problem but when it becomes severe like on #3, the sure fire way is to physically remove all the built up sand.  In order to do that the first step was to remove the sod.
After that we cut some trenches in the area in order to establish the necessary grade which will allow water to run off the front of the green.  
That yellow stick is a "smart level" which tells us the exact grade.  In this case we set the grade at 3% which is more than adequate for moving surface water efficiently.  After cutting the ditch to the desired grade we then removed the surrounding sand making sure to match the grade of the ditch. I took this picture with Brian standing in the ditch to show just how much sand we had to remove.  In the end we removed over 7 yards of sand.  That would weigh about 10 tons.  The last step was putting the sod back and here's how it looks today.
So no more sand dam and no more puddle.  Some of you might be saying "who cares" because you don't play golf during the rainy season, but there's more to it than that since now this area plays as it should year around.  Here's a diagram I made to show you what I'm talking about.  This is a cross section of the approach and putting green showing the sand dam holding back a puddle of water.
Now forget about the puddle and imagine hitting your shot into this green.  If you're attempting to land a shot short and have it release onto the green, you're going to be really frustrated when there's a collar dam present.  Look at this next diagram.  If your ball lands on spot "A" the ball will launch forward.  If your ball lands on spot "B" it might release just the way you imagined it.  If your ball lands on spot "C", the ball might check up and not even get onto the green.
Now imagine hitting into the same green but without the sand dam.  This last diagram shows how the approach should look.  You can imagine that whether your ball lands on spot "A", "B", or "C", the reaction of the ball is going to be nearly the same and therefore predictable which is undoubtedly the way the original designer intended.  
By the way we also removed the sand dam on #6 and #14 (see pictures below).  When we get the opportunity we're going to work on #5. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tree Management Plan 2017

It's that time of year again when we try and finalize plans for winter projects. Currently there are 30 trees on the golf course that are marked with orange ribbon which will be removed per the Tree Management Plan (TMP).  With the following pictures I will provide some details as to why these trees are marked for removal, but you can at any time review the TMP and see all future projects including an explanation of the Club's practices and philosophies with respect to the management of its trees.  Click HERE to see the TMP.
Near the 4th tee there is a small fir tree overtopping one of the native oak trees.  As clearly stated in the TMP, any tree competing with one of the native oak trees should be removed as long as removing that tree doesn't also remove a safety barrier to members and guests. Funny thing about this tree, 6 years ago we removed 20 large firs in this area in order to improve turf conditions on the 3rd green.  The project was a huge success and was also one of our first attempts to release some of our threatened oak trees.  Some skeptics thought we couldn't save these oak trees because they were too far gone.  I decided to leave the little fir tree because at that time it was not overtopping the oak tree. In just 6 years that little fir tree has doubled in size and is now overtopping the oak tree which is clearly thriving following that initial release project.  This is a great example of just how invasive the Douglas fir tree is, and also a great example of the continued success we've seen from the Club's current tree management strategies.  The oak trees can be rescued and removing the competing fir trees or "oak release" does work.
This little fir tree is right next to the forward tee on number 4 and it's one that was planted as part of the restoration project which followed the installation of the sewer pipeline in 2010.  Along with this tree there are several others that were planted as part of that project which are marked for removal.   Why are we removing trees that were planted just 7 years ago?  Simply put these trees were planted in an attempt to screen certain areas that were exposed by the sewer project so they were planted very close together.  Now many of these trees have grown to the point where they are crowding each other so they need to be thinned out.  Also, the growth rate of these fir trees is very predictable and therefore it is quite simple to know which trees cannot be allowed to reach maturity when they will inevitably cause shade issues for fine turf or native oak trees.  It is much simpler to remove these trees when they are small than to wait for them to get so large that removing them would be a costly ordeal.  
Near the restroom on #6 there is a large fir marked for removal.  This cart path will be removed this winter and we're going to need all the sunlight we can get to grow grass in here, but also you can see that this fir is in the middle of an oak grove.  This is a classic example of overtopping.  All of the oak trees in this area are being shaded by this fir tree and those trees are clearly under a lot of stress. This next picture shows just how much stress the oak trees are under.  You can see all the trees are growing away from the fir tree looking for sunlight and in the forefront you can see that one tree has given up and died.  
If you go to look at this tree up close you'll see that it has a metal tag on it.  This metal tag is part of the sunlight study we conducted in 2007 when we first embarked on removing trees in order to improve putting green conditions.  
The 6th green was one of our worst greens and for the study every tree that cast a shadow on that green was marked with a tag and entered into a computer model.  So in other words this tree is not only killing oak trees, it is also shading the 6th green.  
Here we're looking at the tee shot from the 11th tee.  The fir trees just off the tee and in the middle of this picture will be replaced with maple trees taken from the right side of the 8th hole.  The fir trees are growing into the hole's line of desire limiting players options not to mention they're overtopping several oak trees.  The new planting will help prevent errant shots from entering the roadway while removing the firs will allow players to start their tee shots right of center if they want to play a draw.  Giving players the ability to start their shots right of center will also reduce the number of errant shots landing near the 16th green which has always been a safety concern.  I'm not the best at photoshop but this next picture kind of shows what it will look like.
Behind #14 green there are 5 fir trees and one ash tree marked for removal.  The ash tree has simply outgrown its space and will be replaced with something more appropriate.  The fir trees have grown to where they now shade the green for too many hours in the day and since they aren't getting any smaller, it's time they go.  Here's a picture of the 14th green taken just the other day at 1 o'clock in the afternoon.
When the sun is at the highest point of the day and the putting green is covered in shade, it's pretty obvious there's a problem.  Those of you who play golf during the cooler part of the season know all too well that the 14th green suffers from shade.  It is always the last green to thaw out after a cold spell.
Lastly, lets talk about the 3 trees left of the 17th which are marked for removal.  Here's how the tee shot looks from the championship tee.  It's getting narrower and narrower each year and it's getting to the point where the holes "shot value" is greatly diminished.  What is "shot value"?  It's a measure used to quantify the quality of a golf hole or in this case the quality of one golf shot.  Golf shots that have high "shot value" are those that make the player think.  When a hole becomes narrow as in this case on #17, the players options become limited to the choice of just hitting a straight shot.  There is no room to hit any other type of shot.  When your choices are limited and very little thought is required, you end up with a shot that has poor "shot value".   On top of all that these trees on 17 are strangling some of our largest native oak trees.
Here's a look at these trees from a different angle.  It's pretty obvious that the fir trees are forcing the oak trees to grow away from them.  The oak trees are trying to survive but they will eventually loose the battle since these fir trees are young and growing much faster than the oak trees.  That concludes my review of this years TMP projects.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if you still have questions or concerns.  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Bad Bees

We've had this warning sign up for at least a week now.  There are some angry bees living in the pond's rock wall on 15.  We've used about a dozen cans of bee spray to no avail. These bees are "dug in" like an Alabama tick. The rock wall has deep crevices and the main nest is deep inside one of them where we can't get with the bee spray.  You can see here that we tried to burn them out with a propane torch.  Again this didn't work because we couldn't get the hot flame deep into the crevice.
So then we got out the boat so we could get a better angle of attack.  We cut back all the ferns so we could pin point the entrance to the nest.  Yes we do have a bee suit and thank goodness.  I can't imagine attempting anything like this without a bee suit.  A couple years ago we had a really nasty hornets nest that made us close a few holes to golf for several hours.  That was the incident that told me we need to have a bee suit just in case something like this comes up.  So anyway we were pretty sure we had taken care of the bees after all this effort.
Yesterday however they reappeared and they were now very unfriendly.  We got the boat out again and tried even harder to burn them out.

We got the rock wall so hot that I'm worried we've killed some grass on the green by now.  I guess we'll see but I'm sorry about the bees.  We are trying our best to get rid of them.