2016 year in Review

    As I start writing this, it’s the final day of the golf season for 2016. WOW it’s November 12!!!! In the 10 years I’ve been an employee of Desert Blume this is the longest we have been able to keep the golf course open.  The weather was absolutely stunning averaging 17 degrees for day time highs with over night lows of 5 degrees.  I guess this makes up for the terrible weather we had this season.

    So what has happened since my last post.

    One thing we discovered over the winter of 2015 was we used up our dyed (green) topdressing sand on divots on tee boxes in late fall 2015.  What we discovered in the spring was a lush green playing surface in the spring.  I’m not sure if there has been a study with dyed topdressing sand vs fungicides but I would be most definitely curious .

    Since the lack of snow this past winter, we were able to get onto the golf course and start cutting turf earlier then we usually do.  The turf was growing and greening up every day and we were on pace to be weeks ahead of schedule.  This picture was taken on the morning of April 17.

    As a team we were extremely happy with the golf course in the spring, especially since we only spray Greens and Tees.

    One of the practices we did this spring was a Verti-Thatch of the Rough and Surrounds.

    This is what the golf course looked like a week later.

    By May 1st we were already in mid season condition.

    Unfortunately as the golf course was just peaking for the 2016 season, we had a extremely bad hydraulic leak on our 12th green on May 2.  Luckily our operator noticed it after only 1 pass!!.  This was the first time in 10 years we had experienced any kind of hydraulic leak on the putting surfaces!! This is why I’m a firm believer if you can walk your greens, USE A WALKER!!   The next step was to decide how we were going to fix this.  We decided as a team we were going to do everything within our power to get this turf back to normal without sodding.  We set a timetable of 8 weeks which would be our threshold whether to sod or not.  Here is a brief 9 min YouTube video that Carmon put together on our program.

    We had the green fully recovered by July 3, so we did achieve our goal.

    One of our goals we setout at the start of this season was the bring our tee boxes back to regular design.  After 9 years of mowing the tee boxes seemed to get bigger and bigger from Operators doing poor cleanup passes.

    A common trend that the superintendents in Medicine Hat have noticed over the last few years are the inability of golfers to fill divots on tee boxes or fairways.  I know this is probably a problem on most public or semi private golf courses.  Unfortunately we spend 5-10 hours a week filling divots on tee decks.  I wish we could spend half the time on replacing divots, so we could devote that time to other practices that will improve the quality and consistency of the golf courses.

    On May 27 we had our first Big tournament of the year, the Medicine Hat Home Builders.  This is what the golf course looked like in the morning.

    As the golfers were all getting ready to tee off at 1pm for their shotgun, we looked at the Radar and noticed a severe thunderstorm coming right at us.  We decided to hold all the golfers off for a few minutes until the storm would pass so it would be safe for everyone to golf.  THEN THIS HAPPENED, We had almost 2″ of rain and 1″of hail in about a 30 min window.  The golf course was absolutely destroyed and unplayable, and it was the first time in the history of the golf club that we had to close the golf course. See the pictures below.

    The golf course reopened the next afternoon after all the areas had dried up. The bunkers were all ground under repair for a few days as they were completely washed out.    When it came time to fix all the washouts from the storm, we started to experience with how was raked the edges of bunkers.   We started to put a smooth bunker face on our traps, and it seemed most people enjoyed the look and how they played.  We continued to put a smooth bunker face in our traps for the remainder or the season

    This year I kind of had something come over me and I decided to start and build some flower beds on spots throughout the golf course.  It was a fun few days and the ladies all loved it.

    In the beginning of July we did something we hadn’t ever done at Desert Blume.  We core aerated our fairways.  We did this project in house over 3 days without any closure to the golf course.  The fairways exploded with growth instantly after aeration.   We did this for a multiple of reasons, 1 to help with compaction from golf carts and mowers, and 2 remove the over 1″ thatch layer that has accumulated over the past 10 seasons.   The process included using a tractor mount John Deere aerator followed by a Toro Core Processor.  The processor mulched the cores creating a topdressing leaving only the thatch remaining.  Next we blew the fairways clean to the sides with a buffalo blower. Next we did passes with pull behind sweeper to collect all the thatch.  This was an amazing practice we did and will hopefully continue to do year after year.

    We once again had our annual Team Championship tournament in late July.  The crew had the golf course playing to the high standard we had set for ourselves at the beginning of the year.  Then it happened again, we got hit with another major storm leaving close to 3″ of rain over a 24 hour period.  Again the golf course was once again unplayable for a few days and all bunkers were completely washed out.  Also the residential development happening on the left side of the 6th fairway had washed down onto our fairway for the 4th time this year.

    We get everything cleaned up and playing the way it should be in time for Club Championship weekend.  The golf course was playing great and the greens were rolling as fast and true as they ever have.  Then it came time to dreaded GREENS AERATION.  We started on Sunday August 21 at 3pm and were done all 18 greens by 10 am on Monday morning.  People kept asking why we have to aerate our greens.  My answer is always if you want firm fast and true greens, this is THE ONE practice we have to do.  A main reason we decided to pull a core this year was to try and remove an organic mat layer that started to build up on some greens.   This layer is developing because we went away over the last few years from 2 core aerations a year down to 1 aeration.  Also we use to topdress our greens almost weekly during the growing season, to once or twice a month the last few season.  At the moment the issue isn’t something to be too concerned about, but we are going to be proactive moving forward and get a control of this before we start to see some serious issues.  See the picture attached for an example of the mat layer developing.

    Late summer we were approached by the membership about improving an area of the golf course that was causing a pace of play issue.  The landing area between 15 and 16 fairways is a rocky native area that has been left natural for future residential development.  This area was slated to be a access road to one of the final residential phases.  The ownership group decided that it could be developed for golf course, and the membership has jumped on board for paying for us to improve this areas.  We started to haul topsoil to this area, and in the spring 2017 we will turn this area into 1 acre of manicured bluegrass rough.

    The calendar year hit October and the weather turned sour. Mother Nature was being very cruel and we were having day time highs of 4 degree, and she decided to dump 6″ of snow on us Thanksgiving Monday.  We knew the end was near and that we were probably going to have a short fall ahead of us.

    We blew out our irrigation on October 24 and 25.  Days before blowing out the irrigation system we had a mainline break off a feed to one of the residential parks.  This had to be fixed prior to blowing on the system.  Thanks to MJB for coming in last minute and getting this break fixed for us.  Now that we had our irrigation system blown out we figured we would one final weekend of golf ahead, especially with November around the corner.

    We reopened the golf course on Wednesday October 26 for what we thought would be the final 5 days of the season.  Boy were we wrong.  The weather turned and we were experiencing the best weather we had since early September.  With the Golf Course being the only one open in the area, it was PACKED.  I mean we had a waiting list and people waiting around the golf shop just to try and get a round of golf in.

    The turfcare team loved seeing so many new people golfing our golf course.  However we were concerned with the amount of traffic on the greens with minimal growth. We were approved to purchase another foliar application as well as bring our interns in to help us keep the golf course playing the way it should be.  We changed pins daily and rolled greens daily.  Our final cut of the greens was on Thursday November 10.  We were also tank watering every day but we just couldn’t keep up with the watering as the golf course was so packed.

    So my assistant Matt and I came up with this mechanism, and lets just say it was a game changer!!

    As mentioned earlier, the golf course finally closed on Saturday November 12. On Sunday morning we started put the golf course to bed and by Wednesday afternoon we had everything done and ready for winter.

     Picture from last day of golf 

     As I finally finish this blog post it is now December 8th and the temperature has been a steady -26 plus windchill for the past week!! Luckily the golf course has about a 2″ blanket of snow on it.

    This season we had many guests on the golf course!

    Our 2017 staff for our Annual Staff photo.  Thanks to this great team for another great season!


    That’s all for now. I wish everyone a Happy and Safe holidays.





    Start to the 2016

    This is my first ever blog post.  It was requested by the membership for information on what we are doing and why.  So here is my first ever attempt at blogging

    Once we closed the golf course last season in early November, we got right at planning again for the 2016 season.  My assistant Matt and I sat down everyday talking about the past season in regards to what we thought went well, what we can improve on and any projects that we might want to do in 2016.

    This goes hand in hand with our budget planning that we do with the director of golf and the ownership.  Where we feel the need to allocate more money too and maybe where we can save some money.

    After discussions, we concluded that we did a great job on improving our bunkers last season.  It’s amazing how a truck of sand can improve the playability of bunkers.  We were extremely pleased with how the golf course looked and played during the Canadian Men’s Sr’s.  Unfortunately the weather was the worst we had all season, but at the end of the day we can control Mother Nature.

    It’s also crazy to think that I got bit by a poisonous spider during the tournament. To this day today I still feel the affects of the spider bite as my immune system was completely thrown out of wack.

    What we thought we needed improvement on was the firmness of the golf course and quality of our irrigation water.   We found that our greens were a little softer last season from previous seasons.  We discovered that we were building up an organic layer about 1 inch below the playing surface.  This layer in essence would slow down the infileration rate through the soil as the top few inches were always way wetter then the lower profile.

    We discovered last year that our irrigation water quality was getting worse everyday because of the dry warmer season we had.  The water was becoming very sludgy and we were contiounsly flushing leaky irrigation heads on a daily basis.

    This spring, the ownership purchased us a pond diffuser so that we can increase the oxygen levels in our irrigation pond.  We are hoping this is a step in the right direction of improving quality.

    What else do we do over the winter:

    We spend the winter usually removing snow from the parking lot for functions in the clubhouse.  Luckily for us we only had to plow snow a half dozen times.  This is a huge savings in fuel and wear and tear on the bobcat.

    We also spend the winter inputting records on file for practices from the previous season.  This winter I wanted to put together a water usage vs. weather comparison for the past 2 seasons.  weather vs watering.  It completely makes sense to why we watered more last year  then 2014. Warmer, windier and less rain!!

    We also spend the winter going through machinery and set them up for the coming season.

    Another project that we work on is painting and staining of golf course furnishings.  We ordered new flags this spring, and they should be out at the beginning of May.
     (matt and dennis repairing some rotten garbage cans before staining)

    Spring 2016.

    Well we didn’t exactly have a winter with much moisture.  The golf course was pretty bare for the majority of the time.  Luckily we weren’t as windy or cold this winter compared to previous years.  The desiccation and frost levels were very minimal. Another thing we noticed was the vole damage was virtually  nothing as they didn’t have the snow to nest under this winter.   We only had to hand water greens once this winter which was at the beginning of March.


    (root depths on an untarped green)
    We pulled the tarps back on Sunday March 20th.   In the 10 years I’ve been at Desert Blume Golf Club, this was the best the greens looked coming out of winter.

     (Matt watering an untarped green)
    Irrigation was fired up on Wednesday March 23.  We had zero line breaks which was a bonus.  The system was pressured up in less then 4 hours.

    (Carmon putting the first cut of the season on greens) Hole 11

    Something new this year is the addition of the pin placement sheets.  The golf carts will have the pin placement sheets located in the above holder.  On the information board, our course service person will switch the number to what day the pin placement is for the day.

    As for our staff, we are pleased to announce that we have all returning staff this season, which should be easy to get high standards early this season.  We are also excited to have Carmon Dewald and Brett Cameron return this season as turfcare interns.

    You will notice the fairway mowing pattern is different right now.  This is a test comparison vs striping the fairways.

    Ball marks have been awful this spring so far.  Look at this person. Almost a hole in one on hole 4 and still fix their ball mark

    That’s all I have for now. I hope to get more interactive with videos and more pictures on why we do practices