I guess it’s better late then never when it comes to doing this blog. As I start this 2017 year in review I realize that its March 20, 2018 and last year this time we were pressuring up the irrigation system!! Never seems to amaze how two years can be so different. It does look like this will be the 2nd time in 12 seasons that we won’t be opening in the month of March.
Lets go back to February 2017. I remember sitting in Calgary on family day weekend when I get a phone call that the golf course had cows on it. Now this isn’t your ordinary phone call, and I wasn’t sure how to go about it. Apparently one of the neighbor farms had a hole in the fence and a few cows got onto the golf course. It wasn’t just a few cows actually, I believe someone counted close to 75 cattle on the golf course. Not knowing who to call I had to make a call to the County office, which I was directed to call the RCMP. It’s a funny conversation with a police officer when you have to tell them that there is cows all over your property!
Eventually the RCMP got in contact with the farmer and the cattle were all rounded up and returned to their property. We did have a lot of cow shit to clean up and a lot of hoove damage to fix on our 1st and 9th fairways.
Over our winter months we built a large 20ft aiming pole for the 6th hole. This pole was put in to force golfers away from aiming down the left side of the fairway where the new residential is being developed. We also decided that it would be a great opportunity to build some yardage poles for the driving range. As with most golf course supplies when we can, we built these poles all in house for a fraction of the cost. We went to the local irrigation shop, picked up 6″ pipe and caps, sanded the pipe and painted them with PVC paint from home depot. The end products can be seen in these following pics.
We did these poles on top of repainting our tee blocks and vinyl guarding a few bunker rakes and staining garbage’s.
Over the winter the Desert Blume management team thought it would be a great idea to introduce JR/Beginner tee’s to the golf club!! These tee’s were a big hit with the few Jr’s we have at the club, but is a great way to introduce new people to the game of golf!! Our theory is kids aren’t kids forever!!
Next it came time to remove the tarps and start preparing the golf course for the season. The following pics show a picture of the 17 green (non tarped) vs the 13th green (tarped). The greens wintered perfect again and we were ready to get things rolling, Literally!!
The ownership bought us a new roller this winter!! This is a great investment for the amount we roll and unfortunately our other rollers couldn’t make it 18 holes!!
So we got the tarps off and the greens brushed and cut and we used our watering device that we invented in fall 2016 (see previous blog). However the weather was quite warm and we welt confident that we could pressure up the irrigation. So as stated above we decided to turn the irrigation system on March 20, and everything pressured up perfectly with zero breaks!! That doesn’t happen very often.
It was pretty cool to have a full irrigation schedule running and being at the golf course visually seeing everything work. As most people know we water overnight so the chance of getting to visually see your system work is pretty rare.
It sure was a great feeling to have everything up and running and the golf course open on MARCH 24th. This allowed us to start focusing on getting the fairways and rough groomed and cut. Our practice usually involves verticutting/dethatching the fairways and rough followed by a cut. Being that we don’t have the opportunity to spray our fairways and rough with a winter fungicide, these cuts allow us to remove any diseased/damaged turf and to promote vertical growth. It sure does help promote spring greenup!!
Once we got our fairways and roughs cut and cleaned up, we did notice that our tee’s were still behind. We decided on April 6 to take the procore aerator the tees with a solid .5″ tine. We figured this would allow the tees to breath and get warmer day time temperatures into the soil. Another reason for doing this was to help move water into the profile!! We believe that a downside to staying open late into the fall is that compaction is increased, which causes the playing surfaces to sometimes seal off. This is a main reason why we are always cart path only in the fall and early spring.
We followed this aeration with 30-0-0 melted urea spray which helped the tees break dormancy.
Here is a picture of the golf course on April 6, 2017.
The dreaded drainage project on 11.
So in late 2016 we discovered that a spring had started on our 11th approach. With all the rain we received in 2015 and 2016 it only makes sense that we would start to have springs show on our property. This is largely due to the golf course being built on a property with a high water table. The one thing I’ve learned about ground water over all the years from working at Desert Blume is water will find the easiest path. Being that there is residential property’s on the right side of the 11th and 12th holes with insufficient drainage to capture runoff, these properties drain onto the golf course during heavy rains, evening home owner lawn water, etc.
Coming up with a solution to the problem.
First things first was to try and figure out where the water was coming in from and try to intercept it away from the problem. So we decided that the majority of the spring water was coming from the right side of the 12th hole (between tees and house). We decided the rent a mini back hoe and dig a trench along the cart path from the large cement catch basin hallway up the 11th hole.. The trench was 2 feet deep and 200 yards long. The amount of spring water flowing in the trench was unbelievable, one would think there was an irrigation break!!
We then decided to add and redo the drainage on the 11th approach to help dry out the landing area. This included putting a catch basin at the end of the 11th cart path to catch any water flowing down the cart path. It took us approximately a week to get the 11th hole drainage installed and cleaned up. This is mainly because we would focus on doing golf course maintenance jobs in the morning, and in the afternoon work on this project. We were luckily able to make the 11th hole par 5 play as a par 4 as golfers hit to flag placed at the 150 yard marker.
One of the tools we built to help fill up the trenches with pea gravel was a wood attachment placed in the back of a pro gator. This helped speed up the back filling process and saved our backs and shoulders. See following video of attachment working.
11th approach all sodded
Considering we had the Mini excavator for a week rental, we figured we would make good use of it and fix some other drainage problems on the golf course. These areas were the spring behind the 14th green, 17 greenside bunker and standing water between the 2 and 3 tan tee boxes.
We also decided to remove all the dead trees and brush surround the 14th green. This truly opened up the hole completely!
Golf course on May 1, 2017
On May 9th we had the Golf Board rep stop by the golf course and we got to play 9 holes with these things. It was actually super fun and a different way to golf!
In June we got to demo the new Toro Greensmaster Triplex. Here is a point of view video of me cutting with the machine
One of the things that was brought to our attention by the membership is that a select few wanted a walking path from the cart path to the fairway. The start of 2017 the golf club decided to allow the option for walking traffic, so some golfers were having an issue pulling their pull cart through the rough. We decided to add a few trails on some of the holes to accommodate them
In the middle of July we had the opportunity to aerate our fairways again for a second straight year. Both times we have done it, its amazing how beneficial it is to the turf and how there is a immediate positive response when it comes to the plant being healthy and growing. This is something we plan to hopefully continue annually.
Mid Summer we noticed that the driving range tee was taking a beating from increased use and improper divot etiquette. I found this sign on google and had it made and placed by the entrance to the range tee. We noticed an almost immediate improvement to the range tee
One of our favorite practices to do at Desert Blume is a light topdress of the greens followed by a roll.
September rolled around and it was finally time to work on the project of 15/16. This area had been a eye sore since the golf club opened and was suppose to be the future road way for the final phase of residential development. This area was full of rocks and weeds. We discovered that 25% of golfers missed the fairway on 15 and 16 and ended up in this mess of an area. It was always a question if the area should be marked hazard or ground under repair for any major tournaments that we held. The members decided that they want this area fixed and decided to pay for the equipment and materials to fix this eye sore. The golf club agreed to use labor to do the project in house.
Step 1 was to bring top soil to the area. With all the drainage projects we did in the spring and aeration cores we collected over the season, we decided to dump everything into this area to help with fill. Luckily we had the newest phase of residential happening on the left side of the 6th hole so we were able to get topsoil dumped close to this area.
It took us almost 2 full days to haul fill to this area with our dump trailer and pro gators. Next we rented a soil conditioner attachment for the bobcat for help prep the area. This attachment is highly recommended for anyone prepping an area!!
Once we got the area all prepped it was time to have to irrigation installed by grass roots landscaping. The irrigation heads were installed and we did 2 final hand rakes through the area to remove any rocks on the surface. 30,000 sq feet of sod arrived on Sept 13 and we had it fully sodded in 8 hours.
During the month of September we discovered that we had a beaver issue on our 18th hole. There was a family of beavers had moved in and started building a dam on the creek along the 18th hole. We did get a permit for the destruction of the beavers and dams as we do have worry of potential flooding upstream.
As per usual we got an early dump of snow in October closing us down for a week.
We did reopen eventually losing a few days of golf mid month to extreme wind conditions. It was actually very scary as the wind damaged parts of the golf course including clubhouse roof, patio railings and it actually blew out 6 sand traps completely of sand. The golf course eventually closed on Sunday Oct 22nd. That week we blew out the irrigation system and started to put the golf course to bed for the year.
In the late October/early November there were a few good days that we were able to get some projects done. We did a heavy topdressing and mat of the cactus tees to fill the divots and we did some irrigation fixes.
Last fall, we started the transformation of replacing greens tarps. Step 1 is to tarp the remaining greens that weren’t tarped previous years. Over the next few years we will continue to replace 3-5 tarps a year until all 19 greens are covered with new tarps. The plan after that will be to take some of the old tarps and cover some tee surfaces that are highly exposed to wind over the winter months.
Late November rolled around and the golf course was completely bare. In fact the weather was better at the end of November then the whole month of October. I approached our director of golf and said I think our Black Friday deal should be a 9 hole round of golf for $20. Temp greens, one set of tees and foot traffic only. Boom done we were back open for a few days and it was great to see some people smiling getting their last round of golf in.
All in all 2017 was a great golf season in the forgotten corner of the province. The spring started off slow as the evening temperatures through the month of April and May were hovering around freezing which cause for super slow growth. We had a stretch of almost 10 weeks without a single rainfall and temperatures of close to 30 degrees and above.
Nothing gets done without having a great crew. Thanks to these people for making 2017 a great one!
The calendar turned to 2018 and it has been a long winter then usual for us. Luckily for us we were able to get away and recharge our batteries in preparation for another busy season. I was able to get away to Las Vegas for Superbowl weekend with some buddies and the Los Cabos with the girlfriend. My assistant welcomed his second child in early January and my mechanic was able to travel Ecuador for a month.
A few things we have been working on is putting together a bunker rating schedule. The bunkers were rated on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being very poor to 5 being perfect (if there is such a thing). The plan for this upcoming season is to fix and restore the worst 5 bunkers on the course. This will more then likely be an annual plan moving forward.
With the minimum wage increasing last October and this coming October, my assistant and I have been working hard on coming up ways to not sacrifice golf course conditions and maximizing labor.
We have also been working on improving our cart traffic system. More info will come as the season starts.
My goal this season is to put together interactive/informative video to our members from a perspective of the turfcare department.
Another goal this summer is to get involved with the Jr’s and teach them golf course maintenance etiquette.
A few projects we have lined up include removal of the following sand traps
4 right side
5 left side
10 back left
We will be bringing in 2 trucks of bunker sand to top of the worst of the bunkers. This sand will also be used for the few bunker projects we do.
We are also going to plan on having member volunteer days to help with various activities to help improve their golf course.
This year the golf club will be hosting the CCAA golf tournament in October. We really hope we can pull this one off!!
As there is still more snow then usual on the golf course at this time of the year, we have been going around plotting our cart paths so that we can have full access.
Looking under the tarps the greens look like they have wintered really well again.
The coming week is going to involve getting lots of pumping done to low lying areas to help dry out the course and get it ready to open in the next few weeks. We really do need mother nature to help us out on that one.
As mentioned at the start of the blog it is really odd for us not to open up in March, however the golf course looks like it will be in great shape come opening day! Those of you who are members and read this blog, I hope to see you on the golf course really soon!