Thursday, May 18, 2017

Is it May or March?

I really do the love the weather that we get here in Colorado.  It was warmer in February than in March and March was warmer than May.  We have received more snow in May than the total of both and February and March combined.  So far we have received one snow storm that dumped 14 inches and today's storm has already dropped over 8 inches with more to come.  We have driven the course this morning and the Evergreen trees are holding up great but the Cottonwoods had taken a beating.  We have tree damage on every deciduous tree on the course.  We had to delay our planting of the annual and perennial until the weather becomes more favorable.  So we will just keep them indoors...
I guess I know what we will be doing next week...course clean up! 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Starting off on the right foot...

With the abnormal winter we are experiencing from the lack of snow, to the record days we have set for high temperatures, February 6th became the opening day for golf for 2017.

We have received roughly 60 inches of snowfall to an yearly average of 140 inches.  These conditional have allowed us to have full access to the course.  Justin, Ralph and myself have gone through most of the interior tress on the course raising the canopy of all the evergreens and cottonwoods.  This practice will allow our guests to find their errant golf shot at littler easier and to assist their advancement of their next shot.  This is another one of our practice that we have started to help with our current pace of play program.  Remember this fall and all the native grass we cut down to 5 inches?  Another advantage to us this practice is the increased irrigation sprinkler coverage allowing for healthier grass and better playing conditions.  We have estimated that we have trimmed over 300 trees.  Still to come are cleaning out of the dead and storm damaged limbs in the heavily populated shrub oak patches. 

With the early golf season, we started to take down the snow fence around greens first.  I normally start this process on March 1st, but mother nature had different plans this year.  As you enjoy your early round of golf, you may notice red painted dots around the greens and tees.  We know that when we put this course to bed for the winter, all the power to the sprinklers were working properly.  When we pull out the t-post from the ground, we paint every hole with red paint.  After we fill  the irrigation system with water we will turn on every sprinkler head to make sure it is working properly.  If for some reason it does not work, we know we might have hit a shallow power wire with one of those posts.  We will track the wire to find the break and 9 out of 10 times, it will be on a red dot.  I implemented this procedure several years ago, after experiencing a huge electrical issue on 3 tee complex.  With age comes wisdom!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Just like clock work...

We received a snow storm on December 19th that dropped roughly 6-8 inches of fresh powder.  There was not a lot of moisture in the snow due to the low temperatures that night/morning (-8 degrees.)  The snow stayed in place all day but I knew the wind would pick up at night because the next day was suppose to be sunny and a high of 35 degrees.  Like clock work, when I drove into work I could see the blowing snow, drifts forming and the wind swept turf.  The wind blew till about 11am that morning with some gusts reaching over 26mph. 
The snow fence we had up did its job! The fence broke up the wind pattern and allowed snow drifts to form, insulating the turf.
  The fence on #1 green
The fence on #18 Black Tee.  See how the snow is gone from the left (west) side of the fence.  The wind is blowing from the west, the fence is disrupting the flow, allowing the snow to deposit on the tee surface.  If the fence was not there, the tee surface would have been wind swept.
The fence on #2 fairway.  We only had the left side up before the storm.  The entire fairway would have been wind swept if not for the fence.  We added the other 2 rows yesterday in preparation of the upcoming Christmas Day snow storm.  There is 1/4 mile of snow fence up on this hole alone! 
The tree limbs are working perfectly!  I think we need to add more limbs to the west side to catch more snow.  The snow drift length will range from 10-30 feet long.  Good lesson here on the placement of the limbs for the next time we use this method.
I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Thank you for all the support here at Arrowhead Golf Club.  I look forward to another successful year in 2017! 


Monday, December 19, 2016

Prepping the course for bed

There is a lot of work to be done when you are preparing to "putting the course to bed" for the winter.  Timing is everything! There are many steps to accomplish just the simplest of tasks.  Before any snow flies, we mark all the green, tee and and mainline valves throughout the course.  We do this because you never know if you need to fire up the irrigation system mid winter to apply some needed water.  Have you ever looked for a valve under snow?  It is like finding a needle in a hay stack.
Our first major task is applying all the fungicide and anti-desiccants to the greens, tees and fairways.  You have to make sure you get great contact to all surfaces of the plant blade, so all surfaces must be clean of debris such as leaves, sticks and pine needles.   This task can take up to several days to accomplish due to the nightly wind.
The seconds step is very labor intensive as we will install snow fence around the course.  We strategically place fence on the course to capture the blowing snow.  Due to the nightly wind, any snow we get has a great potential of blowing off the surface.  The snow fence will disrupt the wind to allow the snow to pile up and form snow drifts.  These snow drifts keeps the turf covered to help prevent the grass from drying out (winter dessication.)

This year after taking classes at our local turf show and conference, I learned another approach to snow fence.  We always do a lot of tree work in off-season, so why not use tree branches as snow fence.  We tried this approach on the #6 forward tee.  Lets see if it works.

At some point when the weather forecast looks like it will be cold for a extended time, we will prepare the irrigation system to be blown out with compressed air.  The day prior to blowout, we will drive around the course and close all the air relief valves.  The valves play an important role with the function of the system.  When we are pressurized up during the warmer months, these valves will allow air to move out of the system while keeping in the water.  During blowout, we close the valves to make sure no air leaves the system.  We also manually drain the system of water through quick couplers.  During the blowout, 3 of us will be on the course to operating the satellite boxes and one of us at the pump house making sure we do not get to high on pressure.  Air can compress more than water so we like to blow out at 1/4 to 1/2 of the working pressure (about 30-55psi.) 
No matter what we do sometimes damage and turf loss occurs.  We try to be as preventative as possible, but sometimes you never know what mother nature will give you. 
This damage from the antlers of the mule deer will be repaired in the spring.  Got to love our wildlife!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

It finally weather and some needed moisture

I have finally taken my first big breath of air in over 48 days.  To say it was a hot dry summer would be a under statement.  We received very little rain this summer and heat decided to stick around for another month and a half.  We hit record numbers for the month of October.  It turned out to be the 4th hottest October on record since 1946 and we are at least 4 inches behind on moisture.  When you only average 12 inches per year, 4 inches is a pretty big shortage.  The record heat kept going through the first 16 days of November and I kept on wearing shorts and a polo shirt to work!  We kept hand watering the course and utilizing roller bases on the big dry spots.  We had several hot spots on the course in the fairways and rough but we kept at it. 
All of a sudden the forecast finally changed and there was a rain drop/snowflake on the weather forecast.  Finally mother nature allowed me to sleep through the night by dropping down 4 inches of wet snow on November 17th.  We recorded a melt .30 inches from the snow and I was smiling ear to ear!  Time now to apply our annual snow mold fungicide to protect the turf for next year. 
We still have a few project to wrap up to "put the course to bed."  We have delayed our irrigation blow out till December 5th and 6th due to the dry weather we were having.  We still need to bring in all the golf course accessories and install the 1.5 miles of snow fence.  Yup, that's right, snow fence time!

#1 with a little heat stress in fairway and rough
#8 showing a little stress
#16 with some fresh snow! Denver in the background
#8 now covered absorbing in the moisture

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The summer months

It is always about the weather here at Arrowhead.  This spring we received heavy amounts of precipitation in both forms of snow and rain which then turned into snow melt and heavy amounts of runoff.  Now I am wondering where is the precip and can I have it back??!!  We have not received any significant rain in weeks if not several months. The course is holding up pretty well to the heat but we now have that "championship look" around the greens and fairways.  This is an old modified 2-row block irrigation system.   When the heat sets in on the course, the course shows its signs of poor irrigation coverage.  Each day we set up portable roller bases to the struggling areas.  We send out 2-3 hand waters to hit the hot spots around greens and tees.

Both of my Assistant Super's work each day on the tired system.  They have been replacing sprinkler heads that are not turning or are slow turners.  They are checking nozzles to make sure they are not getting worn out.  These two team members are keeping us at peak condition!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Why are those reflectors on the course?

You may notice that on a few of the fairways there are reflective driveway markers along the edges.  We start work every morning at 4:30am to make sure that the course is mowed and set up for the 7:30am shotgun tournaments.  Because we mow in the dark with head lights on, we were having a hard time burning in our lines.  Kevin, a second year seasoned employee decided to put the reflective markers along the edges so could start his first line in the same spot every time.  This has allowed him to start his first pass straight and on the same line.  If you can mow the first line straight, each line after that should also be straight.  That's the plan at least...

We have native grass throughout the course that our irrigation pipes and valves run through.  When the grass gets tall in the summer, it becomes hard to locate the valves.  Years past we staked each valve with a 5 foot T-post that we painted the top blue.  They never looked great but they served a great purpose.  I was reading a colleague's post about how they staked their valves in the native and I thought their idea was great, so I copied them.  I purchased 75 48inch x 5/16inch blue reflective driveway fibermarkers. We were able to pound them into the ground so they so stuck out about 36inches.  The great thing about these markers is that they are hardly noticeable and that they are reflective to headlights if we every needed to find them in the middle of the night or morning...  Its never fun looking for a valve when you have an irrigation leak.