Bentgrass and a Key Factor

The success and failure of the agronomic plan we implement at Arrowhead Country Club will always be linked to the dominance and percentage of bentgrass in our greens.  Greenway Golf's surface management philosophy has been critically scrutinized over the years due mainly to the lack of understanding revolving around the "non-industry standard" practices.  The approach considered by many as unique and secretive is not only successful, but environmentally conscious.  There are many factors that influence the success of this program, but I would like to address one of them in this posting:  Mowing Frequency.

We utilize daily, monthly, and annual task tracking to measure opportunities for reduction and calculate efficiencies on each specific property.  One commonality across the properties that are managed by Greenway Golf is the limited amount of greens mowing.  In 2011 on a weekly average, we cut the greens 2.67 days out of seven at Arrowhead Country Club.  To put it in perspective, most courses are mowing six to seven days a week with supplemental double cutting.
There happens to be a direct correlation to Bentgrass competitiveness and population and frequency of cut.  Seasonal variation and a Superintendent's management practices should influence the decision to mow or not and understanding the strengths and weakness of Bentgrass is key.  With sustainability and minimalism being hot button topics within the industry these days, it only makes sense to limit practices that negatively impact Bentgrass competitiveness.

Stump Grinding Completed

This Monday the final reminder of the major windstorm that blew through the course this past November was addressed.  Tree Pros Inc. was on site to mechanically grind the tree stumps left behind by the damage inflicted by the powerful winds and subsequent chainsaw activity.  Over the next few days the staff will remove the mulch/soil mixture, fill the void with clean soil, compact the material, and sod the impacted areas.

Tree stump removal is essential in providing for the safety of golfers, guests, and employees.  Tree stumps present tripping hazards for individuals walking the course and pose potential mechanical hazards/expensive repairs to mowing equipment and golf carts traversing in their proximity.

Evaluating Reel Motor Speed

We have been experiencing an inconstancy issue with the quality of cut of the intermediate and surround mower.  The outer left unit is not producing the level of quality cut that we expect and leaving a plateau appearance on the turf.  In the troubleshooting process we verified reel to bed knife relief, height of cut, bearing movement, and reel to ground speed ratio.  Next on the list was to verify individual reel speed and hydraulic motor efficiency.  To measure this a digital infrared tachometer is utilized. (Pictured below)  We discovered that the suspect unit was underperforming and will require further diagnostics.

Stump Removal

We continue to work on the final stages of the clean-up from the December wind events.  The remaining tree stumps are scheduled to be ground the final week of February.

More Irrigation Amendments

We have spent several days in the past two months modifying irrigation station "wiring".  With the age of the system and subsequent old school philosophy of wiring techniques during that time, alterations and modifications can be a bit more time consuming than anticipated.  The 1978 design specified many of the stations to consist of multiples of "paired" sprinkler heads.  "Daisy chaining" as it is referred to by many is the connection of multiple sprinkler heads on one zone wire.  To conserve on wire, the installation of these "chains" seldom followed the lateral pipe buried in the ground.  The lack of splice boxes at the lateral lines and poor as-builts make tracing these wire paths a chore.  

Over the past several years we have worked diligently to split or break the large chains of heads down to a manageable number for the hydraulics and programing of the central control system.  This has improved our pressure at the sprinkler heads and reduced the "donuts" of dry turf in close proximity of the head that many members have shared "fond" stories of.  We are down to addressing our final two zones operating (6) sprinkler heads a piece.  Not only will I be happy, but the pump station flow ramp will appreciate the completion of this exercise as well.

Quick Cart Path Edging

One task included in our detail management philosophy is the the mechanical edging of the cart paths.  Based on growth and presentation, this project is on average completely monthly.  It requires 18-19 man hours of labor, two mechanical edgers, a pair of flat shovels, and a forced air blower mechanism.  The result is a crisp, clean appearance and nice contrast to the adjacent turfgrass.

#8 Cart path post edging and prior to debris clean up

"Welcome Back" Wind

The forecast was correct and the wind is intense this morning.  The ACC team play match will be a challenge with these conditions.  As of 9 a.m. the course has sustained minimal damage with minor tree debris/small branches having been the only casualties.

Course Photos January 2012

Spring 2012 Flowers

Moisture- finally.... 2011 Water Use

This past Saturday and the following Monday we received some much needed natural irrigation.  The rain total of .71 inches for the two separate events is the first moisture seen in the month of January.  It has been over 30 days since the last measurable precipitation event in early December.  2011 Rainfall totals are lower than the average for the region and our window for "winter/spring" rain is diminishing by the week.

On a positive note, our extraction/water usage total for the year of 2011 was 385 acre foot on 90.2 acres of turfgrass.  That is a decrease of 11 acre foot of water from the previous year and continues the trend of water savings by Greenway Golf at Arrowhead Country Club.

Main Line Leak

We recently repaired a leak in the 6" mainline in front of #13 tee.  The damage to the pipe was caused by the wear of a rock in contact with the pipe.  Typical practice is to backfill any/all pipe with rock free material to prevent this phenomenon from occurring.  This leak is the second leak of it's kind in the past month.  A similar repair was made on the 4" mainline on the left side of #2 fairway earlier in the month.  

The PVC pipe that carries water throughout the course was installed in 1978.  It has held up quite well, but it's wear is beginning to show with an age of 33 years.   The typical life expectancy of an irrigation piping system is 10-30 years based on information provided by the ASGCA.

Drainage Solution #3 Cart Path

The topography surrounding the cart path behind #11 green that transports golfers from Hole #2 green complex to Hole #3 tee presents a drainage problem.  The cart path sits below the homeowner's property grade and this particular area that holds water is the extreme low point of the path.  To assist in the movement of water from this collection area we installed a NDS 12" square catch basin, which drains to a rock-filled sump several feet off of the cart path.  This solution should alleviate the standing water on the path during routine irrigation cycles and small rain events.

Landscape Irrigation Auditor's Class

This past December I participated in a two-day Landscape Irrigation Auditor seminar hosted by Ewing Irrigation in Irvine, CA.  The event was a nice refresher on techniques and formulas utilized to determine "efficient" watering practices.  Over the past three years, Greenway's efforts and auditing of Arrowhead Country Club's irrigation system has resulted in considerable savings in not only application efficiency and water consumption, but power savings as well.  This past season, we consumed 11 acre foot less water on the property than in 2010.  The 385 acre foot total usage on 90.2 acres of turfgrass is 4.27 acre foot per acre of turf.  That is exceptional in our region based on soil conditions, length of season, and climate. 

Soccer Field at a school in Irvine

Wind Storm- Update #2

The winds finally subsided on Monday evening.  Course clean-up is on schedule and the staff deserves much appreciation for their hard work and effort.  With a majority of the fallen trees cut up and debris clean-up following close behind, we intend to focus on addressing the bunkers on Thursday.  We have begun mowing the primary rough and will commence mowing tees, approaches, and fairways by late Thursday.  The coordination and organization of the clean up efforts are part of a large scale effort with efficiency in mind.  Thank you for your patience during this period.

Wind Storm Clean up Effort Update

As many of you are aware the golf course has experienced severe, high winds over the past several days.  The volume of debris and damage is significant.  We are putting forth the best effort possible at the present time to make the course playable.  We would anticipate the clean up efforts to take the better part of two weeks, if the current forecast for more wind over the next few days doesn't hold true.  Our priority is to  clean the feature areas first and work our way to the roughs and perimeters.

We understand the frustration associated with trying to play a "debris littered" course, but would appreciate your understanding and patience as we attempt to clean up after a "once in a decade" type storm event.

Thank you,
Jason and the Course Maintenance Staff

"Once in a Decade" Windstorm

The "once in a decade" type windstorm that hit California Wednesday evening didn't bypass Arrowhead Country Club.  The high winds have continued, albeit sporadically, for the past several days with the forecast predicting them to continue through the early part of next week.  We lost a total of twelve trees with some form of damage to an anticipated thirty to forty more.  The course is littered with debris and the clean-up efforts are underway.  The progress will be impacted by the current conditions and potential of additional wind.