Monday, November 30, 2009

Monthly Greens Committee Report

Presented to The Rim Greens Committee


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


Dan Devere, CGCS


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.

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.
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

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.

The Rim Golf Club is a Great Place to Live and Play.

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