Recent News

Recent News

Dec

11

Year End 2017 Maintenance BLOG

Grounds Maintenance BLOG Year End 2017

 

It is hard to believe that another season is over, and x-mas is just around the corner, but this is a feeling I have had many times in my career. The end is always bitter sweet when doing something you love to do comes to an end, but it is nice to take a much needed break after one of the craziest years I have ever experienced. From dead grass, to huge amounts of rain over 55 days, then a complete drought for around 90 days. If this is what global warming means for the Moncton area, then I think its time to start a new career at Walmart!!! Trust me this is a feeling that a lot of us in the industry have had a few times in 2017. Bad weather aside, it was also a very successful year for the turfgrass maintenance department. We did manage to get a lot done, and keep most of the course from complete disaster during the extremes of 2017.


            Preparing for the 2017 Rodger Burns Memorial tournament, was really exciting for the crew this year. A few weeks coming into the tournament, the greens were just not where I wanted them to be, so I decided to deeply vertical cut them in two directions, and top-dress. At that point, the frequency of rolling was increased, which lead to great results, but not awesome results, so we did the same process again, within 7 days, which is very risky. Sometimes, in order to create awesome surfaces, you just have to take a chance, but a calculated one! The result was dead smooth surfaces, that were stimping 12, and the feed back from the players was that these greens were the best they played all year. Not bad for Mountain Woods!!! The crew worked really hard for the tournament this year, and were very excited by the feedback that was received all weekend. There is nothing better that seeing hard work pay off!! The one thing that came out of preparations this year, was that it is now possible to take the greens to the next level. I am very excited for next year, and can’t wait to implement a more aggressive greens program.


            The very next morning after the tournament, the very tired crew and I started the Fall aeration process on the greens. We used a deep, hollow large bore tine at really tight spacings, and removed a lot of material. Last year, it took two sets of tines to complete all of the greens, and this year it only took one set. A regular program of aeration really pays off. I have always felt that aeration should be considered an improvement, not a hinderance. If there is one thing that I have proven at this golf course, is that aeration is the foundation of producing great surfaces. The greens were then top-dressed with over 35 tonnes of usga certified sand, and rolled heavily. FYI, our total top-dressing input for this year was 140 tonnes. The tees were also aerated with the same set of tines that were used on the greens, which I was quite shocked to see, especially in year 2. If you go back in time a bit, I have been aerating the tees with solid tines all year, so aeration is getting easier. This also means that the soil is improving, and roots are having an easier time to grow. The first year I did the tee-offs, I broke thousands of dollars worth of tines!!!  A few weeks later, the greens were aerated once again with a set of solid ¾” tines at tight spacings. Another application of sand was put down, but not enough to fill the holes completely. We noticed that when the greens were becoming saturated, that water was standing on the surfaces, which leads to ice formation. I decided to leave the deep holes open, so that the water will move down into the soil away from the surface. The greens with open holes also dried faster when the rain stopped. I am hoping that this will help with ice damage prevention. My fingers are crossed!


            Coming into the end of the month, which was still hot and dry, Don and I started to aerate the fairways, roughs, and greens surrounds. In some cases, we used the aerovator, and in others, we used hollow tine coring, but in the most compacted areas of the course we used both units. The aerovator really loosened the soil on the new sections of the course. That hard clay is definitely no match for the aerovator. I am really looking forward to seeing the results in the future that repetitive use of this unit will give us.  We are currently looking into the possibility of putting in a fairway irrigation system for the course, but just after an initial meeting with an irrigation specialist, it was soon discovered that it would cost over $300,000. There are a lot of other areas of the course that this money could make a really positive impact, so we are currently looking at a master list of priorities that would better serve the facility as a whole. It is not completely off the agenda, but part of a bigger one.


            Other projects that we did this Fall, were a piped drainage ditch along the base of the hill on #14. This is already carrying away a lot of water that used to flood that section of fairway. Anyone remember the Spring!!! The material that was removed for the drain was brought to #11 white tee, which is a poor excuse for a tee-off, that will be expanded in the Spring, and irrigation will be added to both the blue and white tee decks. We also did some erosion control for the bridge on #18, that probably would have been floating down the river next April!!! And we also did some erosion control along the stream on #10. Erosion is always a problem when you have water moving through a golf course, and you just never know how much will be coming through. We also did some woods cleaning, and dead fall removal along #6, to make it safer and easier to find a miss directed golf shot, which is better known as a shank! We also had the soil tested on an old tee-off between #7 and #17, where a small greens nursery will be installed next year, so that we have an area for plugs, and patches when damage occurs. We had also planned to put in a cart path for #18, but there was a crazy freeze-thaw that took place earlier, and turned everything to mud. The weather was even an issue in the end!!! Go figure!!


            Throughout the entire season, I have been weighing the decision to cover greens or not. There are certain circumstances with weather last year that were completely out of our control, and covering was not as successful as it could have been, but some of the greens probably would have been seriously ice damaged without covering. I also felt that we probably had put down the straw too heavily, so this season, we did it a bit differently. Instead of bringing in straw until the green was covered, we only brought in a specific number of bales and made it work. This lead to a lot less straw going down per green, and I am more confident that this will work better in the long term. We also covered more greens this year with the same quantity of straw that was used last year. This year we covered greens #16, #10, and #5, as well as greens #1, #2, #3, #4, #6, #11, #12, #13, #15, and #17. On #5 and #13, we tried something different by tarping over the straw layer to see if not as much water will hold on the surface, and some of the greens were straight straw only. Ultimately, I hope to develop a master plan of covering or not covering, in order to dial in the best process to survive the Winter. Mother nature does have the last laugh though, but I am hopeful that better technology and procedures will be created in the future that will be effective in reducing Winter kill. I would like to really thank the volunteers for coming out and helping with the covering process. We can’t do this without you.


            Well Folks, that’s it for me for the 2017 newsletters, and I hope you enjoy reading them. I am currently in my off-season phase of my life, and already planning for next year. In the off-season, I attend educational opportunities, network a lot with other turfgrass professionals, hike trails, and go to the gym 6 days a week. I also do snow removal at the course, and go in and check on it quite often to make sure everything is going ok. I would really like to thank the awesome crew I had the pleasure of working with this year. You guys did an amazing job so please give yourselves a huge pat on the back.  I hope everyone has enjoyed the 2017 season at Mountain Woods, and I look forward to seeing everyone soon!!!  And yes, I am coming back!!!!!!!!!

 


  • One of 2 aggressive vertical cuts in preparation for the big tournament.
     

  • Louis Snyder and Gordie Lebreton prepping the greens in the evening for the Rodger Burns Memorial.
     

  • #16 green stimping 12 and super smooth!!!  Remember how dead this was in April?
     

  • Greens aeration underway at #4. This crew is awesome!
     

  • Heavy topdressing on #3 green.
     

  • Core aeration of the 8th white and red tee. It was a beautiful day!
     

  • Heavy clay on #3 fairway is no match for the AEROVATOR! The aerated side is lifted 2 inches higher than the non-aerated.
     

  • Final greens aeration with the large solids. Gotta love the procore 648!!! 24000 drainage channels in 10 minutes.
     

  • Terry Budd digging the drainage trench for #14 project.
     

  • The finished project at #14.
     

  • Volunteers hard at work covering #2. Thanks guys for your hard work!
     

  • Covering #5 green this year. Something a bit different with the tarp on top of the straw.