Sunday, December 27, 2009

Geese!

The winter time is when the goose population is the highest. We have nearly two hundred this year that try to make The Rim their home. During the afternoon they will make their way to our course for the nice lakes and beautiful grass. With the average goose making about 1.5 pounds of mess a day. That adds up to a lot of clean up. Our control measures are far and few between. We have our course Border Collie "Chloe". She does a great job chasing them off the course during the day. She keeps the geese from getting a chance to spend too much time on a single hole. We have also tried numerous tactics from spraying the grass around the lake to make it less palatable to setting up fake coyotes to work as a scarecrow to help keep them from feeding in that area. When I was working at Sun City we had great success with the coyotes, but I also think that the geese also had a lot more options once they left our course. The geese in this area have limited options that are close for them. Green Valley Park and the school fields seem to be a good alternative, but with pedestrian traffic at both places makes them prefer the golf course. Their other option is our storage lakes. The problem with those lakes is the limited food supply. They may not be bothered in the lakes but still prefer the grass on the golf course. I also see them head toward Star Valley but again I don't think there are to many lakes around with green grass bordering them. We are trying every possible solution other than getting a depridation permit to lethally control the geese. Harrasment is our only option with Chloe and our carts. Just driving up to the hole is enough to scare them into flight. I was looking into other products that will make the grass less deisirable to taste. Grape Kool-aid or the sour ingredient in grape Kool-aid is supposed to work. I did the math to figure out how feesable it would be to apply it on the golf course and so far it would be a ridiculous amount of grape Kool-aid packets. There are products that contain the same active ingredient but are very spendy and require frequent reapplications. When you're out there enjoying your round of golf and see the reminants of geese we are doing are best to get them off our property, keep them off our property and clean up after them. The recent snow storm left us with restricted access to the golf course and gave the geese more time to feed. This has given us a little extra clean up for the Holidays. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS justinr@therimgolfclub.org

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Let it Snow!

Yes we had our first snow storm this year with more in the forecast. The snow started Monday afternoon and continued until dark. We recieved around 4-5 inches of snow. Tuesday morning a little more snow fell but nothing really measurable.
The course is stilling hanging on to quite a bit of snow even though we had some pretty good melt off yesterday. The shaded areas I suspect will be under snow for quite a while while the south facing slope are already clearing quickly. The next storm is expected this weekend but we are still not sure if it will produce snow or rain. So far the call for a wet winter is proving to be true.
A fun fact about snow is the size of a snow flake. The average snow flake is about a half inch in diameter. The largest snowflake recorded was 15 inches in diameter. Try catching that one on your tongue...
We wish you a fun and safe holiday season.
Justin Ruiz, CGCS

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Golf Course Industry Magazine Cover Photo Shoot

I spent some of the early morning getting picture taken for the Golf Course Industry Magazine cover for January. I had never been asked to do a cover for a magazine so you can imagine it was exciting. Justine Miller was asked to photograph the cover. Since I was a newbie at the whole camera friendly posing she helped me out quite a bit.
The magazine designer asked for both indoor and outdoor photos. Our first line of business was to find a couple locations on the golf course to complete the outdoor pictures. With the temperatures in the high twenties we found some good views to take the pictures. Both Justine and I were frozen trying to get the perfect shot.
We then made our way inside the clubhouse for some warmer photographs. I found that being a model is very hard. I am very one dimensional when it comes to getting my picture taken. The extent of my modeling career has been at the family get together with a count down to saying "cheese". With the help of Justine maybe I will get some calls from GQ magazine next?
The January issue of Golf Course Industry Magazine will be coming out soon. I am excited to see the selection and what I look like. Hopefully I am not as goofy as I think I am. With that being said I felt like I was going to get some pretty good shots from Justine. I can't say enough about her professionalism and making a tense situation a little easier. Follow her on twitter @JustineMiller, Facebook or look her up on the web http://www.justinemillerphotography.com/.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Rim Golf Club Internship Program

Each year at The Rim Golf Club we advertise for interns. On my way to becoming a superintendent I too did an internship. I graduated from Oregon State University and did my internship at Waverley Country Club in Oregon. An internship’s purpose is to close the gap between academic skills and in the field experience. I feel like I can teach students things that I was not taught during my internship and schooling. The Rim Golf Club is a great place to learn with many issues that are uncommon to the average facility.

Our past interns have included Adam Troyer, from Ohio State University. He went on from our facility to become and assistant superintendent at New Albany Country Club. William Bosland, from New Mexico State University, went on to become an intern at the #1 course in America, Pine Valley. He is now an assistant superintendent at the Olympic Club in California. Eric Scharf from State University New York Delhi, he became our second assistant superintendent and now resides at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale. Matt Ruth from North Carolina was hired onto our crew for a while and then took an assistant position in Virginia. Andrew Fortin was our most recent intern from Walla Walla Community College. He has proven his work ethic and is considering coming back to be my assistant next season. These are a few great interns that have worked with me over the past three years and have gone on to become successful in the industry. We are going to advertise for interns for this next season. They have a great opportunity to learn about water management, Integrated Plant Management and personnel management on a high maintenance property. These young individuals are the future of our industry and are eager to learn and work hard. They are highly motivated students and are great crew members.

I usually advertise nationally and then select certain schools to send a more descriptive notification too. I usually target Oregon State University, my Alma mater. We also send information out to Walla Walla Community College, because of our recent networking with Andrew Fortin, and University of Arizona.

The benefits of having interns during the season are having knowledgeable crew members that have the common goal of becoming a manager in the industry. In most cases they have been trained on a majority of the equipment and have the “eye for detail”. These individuals are always well motivated and are here to impress. They help keep the quality of the golf course elevated during the season.

If you would like to know more about our internship program or have any questions regarding our interns please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS

justinr@therimgolfclub.org

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Freezing and Thawing

The forecast for the next week is calling for freezing over night lows. This will lead to the greens becoming frozen at night and thawing during the day since the weather still reaches the fifties during the day. The constant freezing and thawing we will experience may arouse some questions about course condition. I wanted to write this post to hopefully help answer any questions so you are prepared when you play golf over the next few weeks. Since the weather is not constantly cold the top few inches of the rootzone will freeze over night. Not only will this begin the hardening process and start to turn the grass off color but it also addes oxygen to the top few inches of the soil. We all know when the pipes under the house freeze, the water inside expands and the pipe breaks. The same process happens when the water in the soil freezes it expands, enlarging the pores in the soil. How does this affect you? Soft playing conditions. With the constant freezing and thawing that takes places the greens will become much softer once they thaw. The green will be much more receptive and can feel spongy. This is all collectively the freezing overnight weather. We are not overwatering greens. Actually we have not watered greens for a couple weeks now, even though the temperatures have been elevated and there has been no percipitation. When you tee it up in the weeks to come and you find the greens are a little soft and spongy, it is because of the freezing and thawing conditions that are upon us. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS justinr@therimgolfclub.org

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monthly Greens Committee Report

Presented to The Rim Greens Committee

By

Golf Course Superintendent

Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

November 2009

Course Condition

The recent late fall application of fertilizer has put some color into the course but, the cool weather is hardening off the grass to begin winter dormancy.

Projects Completed

The late fall fertilizer application was completed to not only provide proper carbohydrates for the plant to store during the winter but, also increase plant vigor during the green up process in the spring. I have posted an article on the course blog that explains in more detail the necessity of a late fall fertilizer application. click here to read more.

Projects in Process

The seasonal staff have been laid off for the winter and the main focus is to make sure we are getting all areas mowed once a week. The greens have been reduced to twice per week. We have had no problems following this schedule.

Outside of mowing the projects we are working on are cleaning out the water feature on 7, 8, and 9. We have removed cattails and weeds out of the creek with the backhoe in open areas. For the restricted access areas, we have purchased a saw blade for the weed eater that makes quick work of the cattails.

We are also keeping up with the maintenance of the irrigation system. The Round up had a recent article of the drought that has plagued us this year. Click here to read the Round up Article. Our water management techniques have proven to do well even in dry years like this one. I have a post on my blog that shows the hard data on what we have accomplished in this drought year. Read more.

Projects Planned

Future winter projects that we are looking at are as follows:

- Fixing the walk paths from tee to fairway

- Firewise

- Trimming the vegetation around the pro shop and restaurant

- Mowing the native

- Drive off repair

Ballmark and Divot Repair Party

We have been looking at setting up another work party for the members to help us out on the golf course. Look for the invitation in the next couple weeks. We haven’t nailed down a date yet but it will not be close to Christmas. You can see the post about our last ballmark and divot repair party. here.

Side Notes

As you know we were going to be spotlighted in Golfdom magazine for hole of the month for November. This can be viewed here.

I have also been asked to write an article on our water conservation practices for Golf Industry Magazine.

I have written an article for Golf Course Management Magazine about social media and how it can benefit communication and networking.

I have written an article based upon my presentation about best management practices for water conservation that will be published in a future Golf Course Industry magazine.

We will be spotlighted in an upcoming issue of Golfdom magazine on our water issues and how we have managed them.

I am still going to the San Diego conference and show to present our plan to reduce water usage through a combination of practices titled Every Last Drop. Here.

I have recently been invited as the first superintendent to sit on the council for The International Sustainability Council. They have asked me to help them launch their sustainable golf course management approach.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Dan or me.

Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

justinr@therimgolfclub.org

928.951.3421

Dan Devere, CGCS

ddevere@chaparralpines.org

928.951.3272

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Water Savings Hard Data

The water issues at The Rim have been a common topic each summer for many years. There has been some changes in the where we have gotten water in the past and how we get it now. In the past there were well on site that used to supply us with some water and now we rely on the sanitary department for our water. These past years have left the range and the rough of the golf course thin and in some areas dead from lack of water.
The past two years have been different. We have been able to make it through the summer with the range in tact and the golf course healthy. We did a large reassignment in the computer to get the computer and the field on the same page with water usage. We also made hundreds of head adjustments along the perimeter to correct alignment so all the water being applied is being used efficiently with as little over spray as possible.
The next step was balancing the irrigation system. Many people like to say they do this each winter by reseting their system and adjusting from that point on but unfortunately that is only part of the balancing process. The way we make adjustments from that point on is a major portion of the balancing. This is where we have succeeded in saving water and being more efficient.
This chart shows the average water use from 1999-2008 and our last year to date water usage. You can see the extra use during monsoon season because of the lack of monsoon moisture. If we had a normal monsoon season you would see even more savings.
The average water usage for the past nine years has shown our savings over all. We have tried to keep the course firm and dry with some off color areas. The soil media that supports the grass is made up of mostly organic matter (thatch). Growing grass in thatch is very difficult. There is not much between too dry and wet. Our aerification process and additional sand topdressing will begin to alleviate this issue.
2009 is on track to be the smallest amount of water received from the sanitary district. Not only did we have the lack of rain but, we are also looking at the population of Payson being much smaller. Less people using water, equals less reuse for the courses.
We are on the right track to keep saving water and begin to have consecutive years of healthy grass. This will help the turf stand get thicker and healthier. Over time with sound cultural practices and proper irrigation management the course will get better year after year and produce better and better playing conditions.
I have mentioned quite a bit about our water management process and I will be presenting our practices at the GCSAA show in 2010. We are always trying new ways to save even more water. Our next procedure that I will present to the greens committee will be the idea of removing some turf to help save even more water. Essentially this is our BMP program. A combination of practices to save water.
If anyone has questions about our processes or anything about irrigation please contact me.
justinr@therimgolfclub.org

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall Fertilization Application

We have applied our fall fertilizer application to the golf course. We used a 50/50 organic synthetic mix that we applied wall to wall. The green banks and tees complexes along with a pass around all bunkers was done with rotary walk spreaders while the bulk of the golf course was covered by the vicon.
This application is integral in getting the course jump started next season. Turfgrass management 101 states that a majority of your nitrogen should be applied in the fall. Not only will this application give the plant the extra carbohydrates it needs to store over the winter but will add to the color and vigor of next season. Here is a link to another course explaining their fall application. http://chrislecour.blogspot.com/2009/09/late-summer-and-fall-fertilization.html
When I first arrived on the property the main complaint we had when the course was not in threat of disease was the pocketing around the greens in the rough. We discovered that this was from insect damage but to take care of the problem once the insects were controlled was proper fertility. Fall applications helped the course fill in quickly once the weather warmed in the spring.
Fertility is an important factor when maintaining the golf course. We have the greens tested regularly to ensure proper fertility is accomplished. With the greens being sand based, nutrition can become deficient easily and quickly relative to a soil based system. The fairways and tees are tested annually on the same holes to ensure nothing gets out of control. With our lack of good growing media and our abundance of thatch we are growing grass in a unique situation.
Decisions made on fertility of the golf course course can be just as important as planning your plant protection program. Even though the fertilizer we have applied will do little for color or growth now the pay off will come in the spring when healthy grass will green up quicker and be more vigorous. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
Justin Ruiz, CGCS
justinr@therimgolfclub.org

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Course Work

The three years that I have been at The Rim Golf Club I have dealt with many challenges. The first major challenge that has plagued the golf course has been water. The second was disease and insect pressure and as we peeled away these issues, we are now dealing with bunker contamination and drive off path deterioration.
The water problem has been addressed in earlier posts and how we have dealt with that issue. I will have much more information in a near future post to show the hard data on water savings over the past few years. I am completing my presentation for a BMP plan for water conservation for The Rim which will potentially give us a guideline to continue to save more water each season.
The disease and insect pressure has been discussed in detail as well. Two years ago we created an IPM plan for outlining a combination of approaches to monitor, and control insect and disease pressure. Not only have we been successful in our efforts but we continue to grow our IPM plan and eventually introduce more biological control and begin to move away from synthetic pesticides.
To make a long story short we have made large advancements in what I have always deemed the core of golf course management. Playability and presentation. These two attributes go hand in hand by complimenting one and other. When I first got to the property both were suffering and the course was in a downward spiral with the grass being under every kind of pressure you could imagine. Heat and drought stress, insect and disease pressure and excessive thatch. We have been able to reduce some of the stresses through water management and preventative plant protection applications.
So that brings us to now a sigh of relief when we talk about getting to the drive off's and the bunkers. Our efforts can be better directed to getting these areas better. We have finished the bunker work which has given us consistent depths across each bunker for better playability. We are looking at better ways to get sustainable cart exits from the turf.
The root of the problem in our bunkers was the lack of lining when the bunkers were reconstructed. We have revealed that all the renovated bunkers are not completely lined. They were lined on only faces or the steepest part of the bunker which helps that area hold sand during the rain, but this does not aid in keeping rocks from surfacing from the underlying decomposed granite.
We are trying to get the Nolte sand cleaner into the bunkers when we stop water around the bunkers. The machine is relatively effective in removing rocks off of the top 2-3 inches. The inevitable truth is that the rock will continue to come back from underneath. This process will at least give us some temporary playability. We will also try to couple this with back pack blowing the rocks off of the surface into a pile and removing with a shovel. Both processes are both a temporary fixes until the bunkers are ultimately renovated and lined properly.
The Drive offs around the course are definitely a tough fix. We have tried many ways to get the paths to hold up to cart traffic but they have all failed and the paths have gradually gotten worse. I am looking into a soil stabilizer or mixing cement into the top few inches of the granite to see if we can get better stability.
We are trying what we can for the issues on our course. That is what makes this job interesting and fun. Problem solving is rewarding when you can figure out the solution. So far we have done a great job with insects and water. We will find the solution to the bunkers and the drive offs. We just haven't discovered the best fix.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ballmark Repair and Divot Party

Our First Ballmark Repair and Divot party took place last Friday. We had a great turnout of 20 members. They were able to complete all 18 holes in about one hour. We started at 400pm on friday with a tutorial on ballmark repair. I explained to our group that using a tee can be detrimental to the surface and starting from the apex of the ballmark and pushing down and forward as you work your way around the ballmark. Many members had great questions on the importance of ballmark repair. The one that I think many people have is, "Is it worth fixing an old ballmark that has already turned brown?" The answer is yes. Even if the ballmark has turned brown. Leveling the surface and pushing some of the healthy grass closer together will help repair that spot quicker than if it remains un-repaired. The members then split up into foursomes and we started off of number one and number ten. With ten members on each side we were able to quickly make our way through the whole course. The members did a great job filling divots and fixing ballmarks. A special thanks to Don Davis Golf Course Superintendent of Chaparral Pines for assisting in keeping the members stocked with sand and seed. It couldn't have been done without his help. I would like to thank all of our attendees for making time to help the course. It was great to see a wonderful turnout. Hopefully this post will show how much devotion our members have with the course. It was a great to see everyone take time from their busy schedules to make a difference on the course. The next party will be held in the spring. With the weather turning much colder and play slowing down we will start our winter clean up. If you would like to join us at the next party keep your eye out for a letter closer to warm weather when play begins to pick up. Justin Ruiz, CGCS justinr@therimgolfclub.org
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Divot and Ballmark Party

Tomorrow is the day we have our Divot and Ballmark Party. All of you that have signed up or will be showing up to help will have a great time socializing with other members while helping the our course become better.
Once everyone arrives we will get started with a quick tutorial on the proper way to fix a ballmark. Once we have finished our instruction we will break up in groups depending on how many people show up and start filling divots and fixing ballmarks. We will have two carts full of sand and seed going with each group. We will also supply everyone with ballmark repair tools to take to the greens.
After we are finished we will all meet in the lounge for happy hour. This will give a chance to everyone to ask any questions about the course. It will be the first Divot and ballmark repair party at The Rim so we can gather information that will help us streamline the process.
This may be the last chance this season for the work party but next season we are planning on scheduling more. Hope everyone enjoys and if you have any question feel free to contact me.
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS
justinr@therimgolfclub.org
928-951-3421 cell

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Storm Damage Re-cap

I wanted to take the time to share with you the damage we received from the storm a little more than a month ago. The storm yielded nearly over 2 inches in about an hour. That much rain in a short amount of time cause massive washouts throughout the course. The following pictures help show the extent of the damage. It took us nearly four days to clean everything up.
That weekend we also had The Gods Must be Crazy tournament. I guess that was fitting since it was a crazy weekend. Some of the damage was worsened by the surrounding firewise work in the native areas. More debris washed down onto the fairways than I have ever seen in the time I have been here.
I also want to thank the members for the positive comments they gave us for the quick cleanup we were able to do. The crew worked hard over the weekend to make the course playable for the tournament. Those guys appreciated all the positive feedback.
If you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact me.
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS
justinr@therimgolfclub.org

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pine Needles Turning Yellow

Some of the pine trees are starting to shed their old pine needles. I wanted to point this out because each year we have a few questions on the health of our trees. This process is completely natural. The trees around the pro shop and clubhouse are the most noticeable since many people see those as they come in for golf.
If there are any question regarding the pine trees please contact me but I hope this short message answers your questions.
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS
justinr@therimgolfclub.org

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Planet Air on the Greens

Yesterday we used the Planet Air on the greens. With the cancellation of the greens aerification this fall, we decided to get some cultivation done. As you can see in the photos disruption is nil. For golf today you will not even notice any difference in the greens. The slices may be noticable but will not effect the ball roll.
Along with the Planet Air on the greens we were able to get fertilizer wall to wall on the golf course. We have about one more month of growing season left and then we will put it to bed with our final fall fertilizer application. We are about half way through with the bunker sand depth check. We are going through and getting any weeds and taking care of any liner that may be showing. I will have a future blog post on the condition of our bunkers. We are also still working on the vertical mowing of the tees. Although slow going and a little disruptive on the greens, the thatch is removed and replaced with sand. This will help firm tees for next season. Also a future blog post will futher explain our process. Have a great week and if there are any question please contact me. Stay up to date by checking the blog on a regular basis. Justiin C. Ruiz, CGCS justinr@therimgolfclub.org
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Water Conservation

I wanted to show the different ways that we manage the water usage at The Rim Club coming into this dry monsoon season to hopefully answer any questions our members may have. We have done our best through the season to conserve in many areas and our major savings has come from the diligent work on our central control, physical spinkler operation and supplemental irrigation.
Our most important piece of equipment is our central control computer. It controls our 2500 heads on the golf course by calculating the Evapotranspiration Rate and managing the operation of each head through individual control. Each head can be adjusted in the computer using percentages to apply more or less water from that sprinkler head. All heads have been designed using triangulation which means each area will be watered by three heads surrounding it. The dry areas generally seem to show up in these areas and it is a balancing game to get all the areas watered enough for turf health but not too much for playability issues.
With that being said we have done major reprogramming to our computer this last winter to prepare ourselves for this season. We have balanced the percentages from rough to fairways since many rough heads were more than twice the percentage than the fairway heads that they were triangulated with. Using this method we were able to begin reducing the moisture along the perimeter of the fairways and spread it though the whole fairway for better playability and water savings.
The next thing we have done over the winter was to make our computer's dry run which estimates our nightly output to match our actual pump station out put by checking and reprogramming every head designation to match the type of sprinkler, nozzle and arc in the field. This gives us leverage when we are reducing water to know exactly how much we are cutting back.
Our last accomplishment with the balancing of the percentages in the computer has given us the ability to be much more accurate when we use ET. Over the summer the plant uses more water and in the past we could not water to match that usage. With the new balance we are watering much more accurately and it allows us to not only save water but put the water right where it is needed which gives us both playability and presentation.
The fact that we had one of the driest monsoon seasons in history and to have the course stay solid through the summer was a testament to our hard work. The history of running low on water was partially the fact that the water was not managed efficiently. The work that we have done has freed us up to concentrate on other problems. It also has given us the ability to manage the course with less man power since we have lessened the amount of handwatering needed by the crew. It has been great timing since we are under more pressure than ever with the falling economy. If we were unable to solve these problem The Rim Golf Club would not be the what it is today.
If you have any question or want more detail into the process or saving our water please contact me.
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS
justinr@therimgolfclub.org

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Rim Golf Club Clip Show

Here is a clip show of the past few years at The Rim Golf Club. These are the issues we have dealt with over the past while. Great shots of lightning damage and all the work our crew has done.
Hope you enjoy!
Justin Ruiz, CGCS
justinr@therimgolfclub.org

Couple's Member/Guest

We are coming up on one of our great tournament of the year, the couples member/guest. The tournament is a good tournament to introduce the golf courses to your guests and let them enjoy the cool Rim weather. The tournament is at a great time of year. I hope all the members and their guests will enjoy our course. The greens shall be rolling at a good and swift speed for the tournament barring any nasty weather. We will have a good turn out and it will be a fun weekend. The major questions that have arised are about the verticutting of the tees. We completed the tees 1-6 last week and were able to topdress the last few yesterday. These tees shall be in better condition for the tournament. This week we turned our focus to just the back tees on the rest of the complexes since they will not be used for the tournament. We wanted to make sure that nothing new would verticut for the tournament tees. We will have a great tournament this weekend and if there are any question about the work that is going on this week and the concern about the tournament please feel free to contact me. I am available for any questions and we will make sure that we steer away from any projects that will affect play for the weekend. On a side note we have been confirmed that we will have the hole of the month next month in Golfdom magazine. Our #13 hole with the backdrop of elephant rock will be published in the magazine along with a small description of the hole. When the issue is released I will make sure we have a few extra hard copies and I will post the link to send out to the members. Justin Ruiz, CGCS justinr@therimgolfclub.org
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