Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Molding The Future

This time last year we had snow on the ground, instead, warm weather in the high 60’s, low 70’s this year. The variation in weather is an example of what we deal with annually when we maintain the turf. Temperature is a key factor between growing healthy thriving turf, to doing what you can to keep it alive. That is how much of a role Mother Nature has in affecting how easy or how tough our jobs can be. I want to take a little time to explain what we have done to begin paving the path toward the successful future of our club.

This is the start of my fifth year with The Rim. Of course, you could probably guess what the first item on my list of important procedures ‐ aerification. Anytime we can get oxygen into the soil profile, we increase the breakdown of thatch. Better yet, adding sand into the open holes mixes with the thatch to create a healthy soil profile. The third dimension to this process is building a soil profile, which we have been lacking for many years. There is no getting into the decomposed granite; our only choice is building our own soil through repetitive punching and topdressing to build a new profile on top of the existing granite.
Water adjustments and savings have been another player in our quest for healthy turf. When you don’t need to put the plant under as much drought stress or, like years ago re‐seed everything in the fall, you give the turf a season to build up healthy carbohydrates and much needed energy for the next summer. Three seasons ago we attacked the irrigation system and made changes in all facets from computer programming to field adjustments to effectively save water.  Since this major revamp we have undergone the driest monsoon in many years, but still we were able to maintain the driving range and golf course under healthy conditions. The turf will continue to become healthier each year.

Our Integrated Plant Management Program incorporates the use of degree day modeling, insect trapping, and effective scouting to properly time our applications and successfully control pests that compromise the health of the turf.  I have mentioned how our climate is one of the more difficult climates in the state and this solution has given us the ability to avoid the devastation we had in years past when we did not control for any of these pests. This is our road map to healthy and successful turf management.

Integrated Plant Management is not just controlling insects or disease with chemistry, but rather a well‐rounded approach that takes into account cultural practices that are required to promote healthy turf. Raising the height of cut is a good example of an integrated approach to healthy turf. The longer turf has the advantage toward weed competition and withstanding some disease and insect pressure. A larger plant can create and store more energy for the tough times like summer. Grass is just like us. When you are weak the pathogens can take over and when you are healthy you have the strength to fight off illness. Nutrition, water and sunlight are the basics for healthy turf. The items listed above are all designed to make the basics readily available.

We are keeping the basics in mind as we plan for the future. The most common saying I have heard over the past two years throughout my trade is, “we need to do more with less”. The actions we took three and four years ago are starting to payoff and make that statement a reality. Continuing to bring fresh ideas and new management strategies into our daily operations will increase our future and the sustainability of The Rim Golf Club.

I am always open to comments and concerns that anyone may have about the golf course or our maintenance staff.

If you have any questions or comments please contact me.
Justin Ruiz, CGCS

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Leo Feser Award

This was definitely a shocker.  I didn't expect anything like this.

Oct. 29, 2010
GCSAA certified golf course superintendent recognized for writing Facing Facebook, Talking Twitter

Ruiz wins GCSAA's Leo Feser Award
Justin Ruiz, CGCS, has been honored with the 2010 Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Leo Feser Award for his article, "Facing Facebook, talking Twitter," which appeared in the June 2010 issue of Golf Course Management magazine.
Ruiz is the GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at The Rim Golf Club in Payson, Ariz. His article focused on the communication advantages with golfers/members/customers that social media can provide.
The Leo Feser Award is presented annually for the best superintendent-written article published in GCM, the association's monthly magazine. The award winner is selected by members of GCSAA's Strategic Communications Committee. Ruiz, a 12-year GCSAA member, will receive the award at the 2011 GCSAA Education Conference Feb. 8 during Celebrate GCSAA! presented in partnership with Syngenta. The conference (Feb. 7-11) will be held in conjunction with the Golf Industry Show (Feb. 9-10) in Orlando.
"Justin's article does a great job of simplifying social media and its relevance to our profession," said GCSAA President James R. Fitzroy, CGCS. "Through his writing he was able to help readers understand how helpful these new technologies can be to a golf facility's communication efforts."
As the Feser Award winner, Ruiz will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the GCSAA Education Conference and Golf Industry Show. Ruiz's name will also be engraved on a plaque that is on permanent display at GCSAA headquarters.
The Feser Award honors the late Leo Feser, a pioneer golf course superintendent and a charter member of GCSAA. Feser is credited with keeping the association's official publication alive during the Great Depression. For three years (1933-36), he wrote, edited, assembled and published each issue of The Greenkeepers' Report (as the association's magazine was called then) from his home in Wayzata, Minn. The award was first presented in 1956 and has been given annually since 1977.
Golf Course Management is the leading publication for golf course managers. It has a circulation of nearly 30,000 and is delivered to every golf facility in the United States.
GCSAA is a leading golf organization and has as its focus golf course management. Since 1926, GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the United States and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to more than 20,000 members in more than 72 countries. GCSAA's mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. The association's philanthropic organization, The Environmental Institute for Golf, works to strengthen the compatibility of golf with the natural environment through research grants, support for education programs and outreach efforts.

For more information contact:

Ed Hiscock, editor in chief, Golf Course Management, 800-472-7878

Frost at The Rim

It is that time of year in the Rim Country. Overnight temperatures are below freezing and frost is inevitable. Fall is a great season with many colors to look at along the forest, but it also means frost delays are here.
Photo Courtesy of Purdue University
We have adjusted are start times to reduce any frost delay during the winter months. We also have had cold enough weather to have frost stick around long enough to even delay our 1000am start time. We will do our best to get the course ready during the cold weather to reduce any kind of delay that may occur.
During the times of cold winter weather we will need to delay traffic on the turf until frost is melted. We want to avoid frost damage, because recovery is very slow this time of year. Damage from a cart or a walker can take more than a week to recover. The damage will start out purple in color and turn to a straw brown as the leaves begin to dry.
I like to use the analogy of a piece of glass shattering, when I explain frost damage. When the leaf blade of the plant is frozen and becomes crushed by a tire or a shoe it is basically like a piece of glass shattering into many pieces. Microscopically when the leaf blade sustains the damage the cells shatters into pieces. The pieces move through the plant destroying cells in its path. Once the plant begins to thaw the plant fluid leaks out and the leaf blade and will look water soaked and purple. The leaf blade is now dead and will turn brown. Rarely does this damage affect the crown of the plant so the plant itself is not dead. The problem is that growth is slowed during cold weather, which makes for a slow and painstaking recovery.
With that being said, we ask that walkers and cart traffic avoid turf while it is frozen to protect the grass. If there are any questions about frost and how we make the decision to delay golf please contact me.
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October Greens Committee Report

Course Condition

Winter weather has moved in and the grass is starting to slow down a little on growth.

Completed Items

 Broadleaf weeds sprayed on tees.
 Fertigation
 Trimming Native along paths.
 Greens and Fairway Aerification.

Current Affairs

 Cleaning up Javalina damage.
 Edging sprinkler heads, valve boxes and drains.
 Seeding, sanding and fertilizing thin areas in the rough.
 Cleaning rocks, weeds and fixing liner in the bunkers.
 Spraying for moss on the greens.
 Cleaning up plug drop areas from fairway Aerification.

Upcoming Events

 Sodding out Poa encroached collars.
 Fall fertilization application
 Hand picking Poa from greens.
 Winter Projects soon to come.
The season is coming to an end and the last day for the seasonal crew will be the 31st of this month. This will leave us with 3 FT employees and 2 PT employees on staff for the winter months.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Benefits of Aerification

The Rim Golf Club is a unique club. The breath taking views from every hole are like no other golf club in Arizona. The idea that we live in a desert climate is sometimes forgotten when we live among the largest forest of Ponderosa Pines in America. There is no doubt; it is tough to find a better environment to enjoy playing the game of golf.

Growing grass in Payson is much different than anywhere in the State of Arizona. Cool season grasses grown on decomposed granite is not accomplished anywhere else in the State. Sedona, Flagstaff, The White Mountains, all have more desirable soils to work with. Sedona is the closest to our climate with warmer summers to cause substantial disease pressure in the Monsoon months. The northern courses will never experience destructive disease like we do. Cooler overnight temperatures keep pathogens in check.

A frequently discussed subject among members is our soil or lack of. Adding soil or organic matter has been a topic for as long as I can remember. This could sound like I am contradicting myself, but we don’t have a problem with not having enough organic matter, actually we grow all of our grass in a two inch thick blanket of organic matter (thatch) that caps our native granite soil. We can utilize this organic layer by incorporating inorganic sand to create an optimum playing field. An ideal soil is shown in this diagram. If you notice mineral (rock, gravel) is a key ingredient. Organic is only a minor piece of the pie.

Building a soil is a slow process. The inability to make use of our native soil has become a reality. Making use of the organic matter (thatch) we have in place and mixing in sand through aerification and topdressing we can create a decent growing medium for turf. It is a slow process. I have been here for four seasons and three years ago we started a consistent cultivation program. The benefits of incorporating sand have been fairways that are more firm, slightly better water infiltration through the organic matter and a healthier root structure. Benefits we will see with continued cultivation will be less disease pressure due to better drainage, deeper roots that will endure drought better and utilize nutrients and water more efficiently. Aerification can be a dirty word in the golf community, but to a turf manager it is literally a breath of fresh air.

In my opinion, Payson is located in the most beautiful area in Arizona. Complementing the surrounding environment is quite a challenge as a turfgrass manager. Grass, being a living organism, needs adequate oxygen, water, and light. Aerification is the most important practice to oxygenate the soil, a practice that is needed twice a year to enhance the course’s future. Conditions will only improve over the years with consistent cultivation.

Aerification Dates
September 20th Greens
September 21st – 24th Fairways

If you have any questions about our upcoming aerification practices please feel free to contact me at any time.
Justin Ruiz, CGCS

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Watering The Rim Golf Club

Applying water to the golf course is the most important practice we perform every season. With limited storage, it is imperative that we make sure every drop is used properly. To ensure optimum efficiency when scheduling our irrigation events, we use evapotranspiration (ET).
ET is the combination of evaporation from the soil surface and the transpiration from the turf plant. The ET is the amount of water used by the plant in a 24 hour period accounting for wind, humidity, temperature and solar radiation. Our goal is to replace the amount water used in a single day.
The height of cut also makes a difference in the rate at which water is used by the plant. The lower the cut the more evaporation loss from water applied. As the height of cut increases, the evaporation portion of the plant water use decreases. Transpiration from the plant increases as the plant gets bigger. The relationship between the two values is not equal. That is why the larger plants will use less water. We expect to see some savings with the new height of cut in the fairways.
The way many people apply water today is by using time intervals. Watering 5 to twenty minutes per station per night is common practice. Our computer uses ET so we can water to the second, replacing the water used that day. The computer’s database contains information about each head’s makeup. Gallons per minute, area covered, arc pattern in degrees and spacing with other heads to calculate a specific precipitation rate for that designated head. This information was what we were working on three years ago to make sure the computer could accurately make watering decisions using the ET. Each night the run time is changed to meet the plant’s water usage and throughout the year adds up to a sizeable amount of savings due to the accuracy of water application.
The central control system that we use is by far, one of the most important and most powerful tools in our arsenal. Minor inconsistencies in programming can lead to major watering inefficiencies. Incorrect adjustments in the field that are not corrected in the computer can also contribute to poor use of water. There is no doubt, each year we are close on the amount of water needed to maintain the turf and the amount of water in our storage lakes, but with the efforts made over the past three years, we have lessened the our historic water shortages.
Water is our most precious resource. Making sure to apply it in the most efficient way is important to the sustainability of our club. Superintendents still make use of time interval irrigation, but calculating the actual plant water use and replenishing that water, is the most accurate application method available today. When you are out on the course enjoying the summer weather, you can appreciate the science behind the way we use our water.
If you have any questions about ET or how we apply water to the golf course please feel free to contact me.
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

Friday, July 23, 2010

Green Speed

Recently, I was able to watch a little bit of the U.S. Open. Pebble Beach was the host this year and one of the topics mentioned quite a bit from the newscasters was green speed. The greens were rolling 13 at Pebble Beach during the week. Of course, pretty much every golfer in America knows that “13” is fast. Did you know that that number is measured with a tool called a Stimp meter? The Stimp meter was originally designed to give the superintendent a way to measure consistency among all eighteen greens. It wasn’t until recently in golf’s history that the tool was used for speed.

There is no doubt the Stimp meter has changed the way we manage greens and green speed. Rolling the greens has become a management tool rather than a cultural practice. We roll on average two to three times per week to give the greens a break from cutting and maintain speed. The greens are being cut higher than past years, but our speeds have remained similar. With a higher cut, more plant is available for photosynthesis, resulting in healthier root structure.

So, next time you hear the number that so many people use to describe greens, you will know that the Stimp meter was originally intended to achieve consistency over all the greens on the course, not necessarily speed.

If you have any questions about green speed or other course issues please feel free to contact me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Did you Know Vol. 1

Did you know that the mowing equipment we use to cut greens is adjusted to thousandths of an inch?
Yes, the mowing equipment used on the greens is adjusted with a tool called an accugauge.  This tool measures the distance from the bedknife to the bottom of the rollers in thousandths of an inch.  For example the greens are currently cut at 120/1000".  In the past, to get the greens speeds fast for tournament play, the greens have been cut as low as 80/1000".
When the mechanics set the greens mowers up, they have many variables that apply to their adjustments.  They must maintain a 5 degree angle on the face of the bed knife for the mower to properly stand the leaf blade upright for cutting.  The must obtain the proper clearance between bedknife and reel at .002" to allow for heat expansion under operation.  And finally they must maintain a parallel relationship between the reel and the rollers to ensure an even cut across the width of the mower and to avoid uneven wear of the reel causing a cone shape.

With that being said it is imparitive that the mowers are checked daily for adjustment.  Quality of cut and proper height of cut can be compromised by loading and unloading the mower or even a small particle of sand can cause havoc on the cutting integrity.

Now, with the importance of proper adjustments made daily to the mowing equipment also affects the turf as well.  Turf when mowed with a sharp mower is much more healthy.  The plant has a better opportunity to heal and a better ability to sustain the damage caused by mowing.  As for a dull mower, it will leave the leaf blade shreaded.  The plant uses energy made from essential nutrients to repair the damage.  All grasses prefers the production of leaves over roots.  So in the case of dull mower damage the plant will expend it's energy trying to produce more top growth to ensure the efficient production of energy made from photosynthesis. "Shoots before Roots"

What does that mean?

The plant will then use more resources to make this process happen.  The plant will require more water, more fertilizer and more plant protectants to outgrow any stress that the plant is under.

So, back to the important role of our equipment managers.  These guys are critical in the overall health of the golf course.  In turn the health of the golf course will dictate nutrient and water needs.  We rely on their precise and persistent adjustments made everyday to the mowing equipment.

Probably a little more than you needed to know about mowing equipment, but none the less it is an integral part of our golf course maintenance.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Poa Annua, Taking Over?

Poa annua is the number one talked about grass in America. Courses throughout the country experience Poa invasion at all levels. The Northwest golf courses are nearly all 100% Poa annua including greens. We are currently looking at about 30% contamination on the golf course and less than 1% contamination on the greens.

Poa has been slowly invading the golf course since the construction. Poa is a very efficient annual grass plant. A prolific seeding capability has generated a substantial seed bank over the years since construction. The turf was compromised by disease three and four years ago giving the Poa a great opportunity to germinate with less competition.  This has in turn given us enough of a population to become more noticeable each season.

We have used Trimmit, a plant growth regulator that regulates the Poa plant enough to give a slight advantage to the host turf, the idea being to potentially out compete the vulnerable Poa. We have tried increasing rates of this product, but have only succeeded in making an uneven playing surface in the spring from the patches of Poa being sunken into the surrounding turf. I have not seen the expected regression on the larger patches of Poa. Now, on the greens we are nearly 100% clean. I would have to say Trimmit has some impact on the smaller patches within the creeping bentgrass. We also use hand picking for the small plants in the spring. Trimmit has done a great job on the pinky sized plants on the greens and we have been successful in keeping the bentgrass clean.

The question becomes, what do we do or what can we do now? My opinion on this subject is more of a realistic approach rather than my normal optimistic approach. Depending on how aggressive our membership would like to tackle this issue, we will have continual spread of the Poa. Using chemical control becomes very expensive and results in less than satisfactory results when it comes to complete eradication of the Poa. We can try to manage seed head production in the spring to not get the puffy broccoli looking turf, but we would be kidding ourselves if we thought that we were making a dent in the Poa seed bank that has accumulated over the years. This would be a purely aesthetic approach for a great deal of money.  Growing up in the Poa capital (Pacific North West) and working on relatively new courses I have seen every kind of control exhausted on Poa and I have yet to see one successful in complete eradication. Some have wiped out a lot of grass, but then you are stuck with trying to beat the Poa from germinating and filling in the spots left from the old dead Poa. It is a very difficult task.

Folklore surrounding Poa is that it will die in the summer heat. This is a common misconception. There is no doubt Poa is a little less drought tolerant than other grasses due to the smaller root structure, but in our climate Poa will not die unless something out of the ordinary happens. There is no doubt Poa has a smaller root system then it's competition but it is a pretty resilient plant, it has started to take over in a pretty difficult growing media and is good at out competing the resident turf. Poa isn't as weak or quick to expire as some of the folklore explains.  (Joe Vargas, Proffesor MSU)

What I can say is, Poa control is very expensive and will only prolong the inevitable. Spending valuable resources on Poa may not be the best answer at this time. If you are not getting complete (100%) control on seed head production or simple eradication, Poa will always prevail. Being a logical thinker, I look at the hundreds of thousands if not millions of poa plants growing on the course, if I spend valuable resources to get 80% or even 90% control then we still realize that we have hundreds of thousands of plants still producing millions of seeds that season.

The seed head production will subside later in the spring and the playing surface is not bad at all. Pebble Beach and Cypress Point are both 100% Poa tee to green. I grew up playing and putting on Poa surfaces and the lie you get on a patch of Poa is like placing the ball on a tee. The greens on the other hand we will make adequate efforts to ensure that they stay as clean as possible since Poa patches on putting greens make putting bumpy and inconsistent.

Discussion will continue about Poa. It comes down to playability and presentation, which is more important, how aggressive do we want to get, and do we feel that some type of control is necessary? This issue will become increasingly more noticeable as the years continue..

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

April 2010 Monthly Report

Course Condition

With the weather being cooler than expected this month we are about a week behind on green up and healing from aerification. We even had some snow!

Projects Completed

We have completed the aerification of the Greens. We used ½” quad tines. The USGA recommends that we remove 20% of the surface annually. These tines got us a little over 9%. We are right on track with the Fall aerification planned with larger tines.
The Fairways have also been completed. The tines used were 7/8”. The spacing on the holes is a little farther apart then the greens so we are right around the 9% with our removal.
Recently we installed Barley straw bails in the lakes throughout the golf course. The theory behind the straw is that as they sit in the water they exude a chemical that eliminates algae from growing. Soon, we will spray the existing algae since the bails will not kill algae already surfacing.
Projects in Process

After our fairway aerification was completed, we had many areas that had excess sand. We are working on spraying the sand out of these heavy areas with water. Once the excess sand is removed the affected area recovers quickly. To alleviate this problem for the late summer aerification, we will apply less sand to avoid the build up. We will have some open holes, but we can then come back later and apply another light application to fill the holes and avoid the majority of the sand build up.

We are still working on #13 storm damage on the left side of the hole. We repaired the clogged line and with the heavy winter moisture the area stayed saturated enough to restrict access for our backhoe. Now that the area has dried we are finally putting the project to bed. There was some supplemental drainage that had been installed a few years back that was also clogged and we abandoned the latter section and are going to tie that into our new drainage pipe. This project will be finished shortly.

We have been slowly making our way around the course edging and cleaning out the sprinkler heads and valve boxes, checking pressure at the heads and making any necessary adjustments on the part circle heads.

The weeds in the landscaped areas are also getting sprayed on a daily basis. We are carrying pump sprayers to get weeds as we see them.

Projects Planned

The warmer soil temperatures will be ideal for new seed to germinate and grow. We will target any thin areas in fairways, rough or green surrounds to slice seed a ryegrass/Kentucky bluegrass mix to help these areas move along.

Of course the irrigation system will be a huge part of our jobs this summer as is every summer. We are continually scouting for improperly working heads and heads operating out of specification. The irrigation system is the lifeline for the course. It is important we have everything working properly as quickly as possible.  Read More

Integrated Pest Management

We have controlled for the Billbug adults at around 300 growing degree days. This should reduce the population of reproducing adults and in turn reduce the pressure of larval damage.

This month we are also on the verge of spraying our first preventative application for summer patch. We are monitoring soil temperatures to accurately anticipate pathogen activity.

Read More


There is definitely some Poa out there on the golf course. This year it has become much more noticeable with the wet winter. The Poa has been around since the course has opened. We will continue to have Poa in the Tees, Fairways, Approaches and Rough. The greens, we will take every measure to make sure we do not start to get contamination. Poa may stand out like a sore thumb in the spring but once the seed heads die down in the early summer it will yield a decent playing surface. I think we all know some of the best courses in America are 100% Poa.

Side Notes

I again was invited on the cover of another magazine for the month of May. The magazine is Golf Course Trades Magazine. This article is dear to my heart and it meant a lot to be able to write.  Read article.

Our National Association, GCSAA is sending out the GCSAA TV crew to film The Rim Golf Club and feature the Case Study written last year on our efforts for water conservation. We may also be highlighted on Turfnet TV. This is a national Website with many members throughout the United States. GCSAAtv

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

Justin Ruiz, CGCS                                                                 Dan Devere, CGCS                                            

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Golf Course Trades Article

Just wanted to share with everyone the most recent publishing of an article I wrote for Golf Course Trades Magazine.  You can view the article by clicking on this link. Golf Course Trades

Thanks for following the blog.  Please contact me if you have any questions or comments.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

March Greens Committee Report

Monthly Greens Committee Report
Presented to The Rim Greens Committee
Golf Course Superintendent
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

March, 2010

Course Condition

Spring is upon us and we are experiencing some warmer weather after a long winter. The course is now starting to kick dormancy along with the surrounding plant life. Allergy season is on its way.

Projects Completed

We rented a tractor attachment to mow down the native grasses. The machine did make some noticeable markings in the native areas. I had received some comments and concerns about these areas and we are making efforts to smooth these areas out. We will make efforts for the next mowing practice to be less noticeable.

Picking Annual Bluegrass (Poa) out of the greens was also completed one time over. We will stay on this project all season. Removing anything we see as we go through our mowing practices.

#8 has a new bridge for our walking members. With the heavy rains the wash had grown a little larger and the walking members had to jump from a rock to the other side of the shore. Dan made use of the old fence materials on hand to construct a nice looking bridge.

Projects in Process

The bunkers have gone through a lot during the winter storms. We have had multiple wash outs that we have been able to quickly fix but now we are taking our time making sure proper depth is achieved. The USGA recommends 2” on the faces and 4” at the bottom of the bunkers. We make sure the sand is pushed back onto the sides and the recommended measurements are achieved. We also do our best to remove as many rocks as possible and fix the liner as we get to each bunker. These have both been chronic problems that we have dealt with in our bunkers.

Pressure check on our sprinkler heads. Our new intern is picking up where we left off last fall checking sprinkler pressures. This will help the heads apply water more accurately. After these adjustments we will start auditing selected areas. We will do the auditing that was taught to me at the National Conference and Show.

Tee Aerification is currently in process but will be finished Tuesday March, 30th. All 18 holes will be completed and topdressed with sand.

Projects Planned

We have purchased some Barley straw bails for the lakes. It has been proven that when barley straw is placed in the lake it will suppress new algae growth but it will not remove existing algae.

Spray applications are scheduled for Cutworm activity. Yes, it is that time of year and we have begun catching Cutworms in our pitfall traps. They have started around the perimeter of the golf course.

Integrated Pest Management

We have begun our Degree Day counting. If you are interested in our process, please click here. We are also checking soil temperatures for a root infecting disease called Summer Patch. The disease colonizes the plant roots in the spring, but actual symptoms do not appear until the weather conditions get hot and then the disease is very hard to combat since it has had all spring to get established.

Aerification Notice read more

Greens Aerification April 12th.

Fairway Aerification April 26th.

Side Notes

We have been lucky to be invited by Audubon Lifestyles to be a pilot golf course to begin the Sustainable Golf Facility Program. Audubon has asked us to be the first course in Arizona to be enrolled in their program.

I have also been invited to help give advice on our National Associations Drive to Sustainability campaign to change the industry’s approach on golf course management. Along with this program our course is also enrolled in the Environmental Management Systems program that closely resembles the Audubon program. Since the course was originally pursuing the Audubon signature program during construction we have many valuable records that will make these processes much easier to complete.

We have also increased our crew to eleven members. That increase includes an intern Brett Swain from Pennsylvania, who recently graduated from Rutgers, and an Assistant Superintendent Andrew from Washington, who was our intern last year. He graduated from Walla Walla Community College with a turf degree.

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

Justin Ruiz, CGCS                                             Dan Devere, CGCS                        

Monday, March 8, 2010

February Divot Party

I wanted to thank all the members that helped out at our February Divot and Ballmark Repair Party.  There was a great turn out and the members were able to complete all 18 holes in a little over an hour.  Once we were finished on the golf course we all headed into happy hour and enjoyed some finger foods and a question and answer session. 

It was a successful repair party and on behalf of the maintenance staff we owe the members a big thank you for all the help.  The divots were filled perfect timing before a light rain.  If the temperature rise to the sixties again we should start to get some good germination. 

Stay tuned for the next repair party.  We are going to coordinate the next party around play volume.  We will definitely have another party in the near future.  The members have done a great job helping us out and it is a valuable time to answer any questions.

If you have any questions or comments or would like to find out how you can get involved don't hesitate to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Monthly Green Committee Report February 2010

Monthly Greens Committee Report
Presented to The Rim Greens Committee
Golf Course Superintendent
Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS
January, 2010

Course Condition

The cold weather has come back for a little while and the course remains dormant. Spring is just around the corner though and it won’t be long before we begin greening up.

Projects Completed

This month we have focused on trying to recover from the massive storm we had last month.
We finished fire-wise along the right hand side of #11.

You may have seen us over by #18 approach digging up a valve. We thought the valve was leaking, but the soil was so saturated in that area from the storm, water started to fill the valve boxes. Ground water was finding the least amount of resistance to surface, which was right at the valve. Luckily, no irrigation leaks.
Cart drive offs have been covered with new, finer, mulch and the rocks defining the paths have been removed. We are still looking into a more permanent fix for the rough conditions over time.

Projects in Process

The storm damage on #13 has become our priority. The large amount of water mixed with DG plugged the drain pipe. At construction they installed a 6” drain pipe that then reduced to 4” pipe toward the end of the drain. It is like coming down from the Rim on 260, Sunday afternoon; everyone races through the passing lane and then when it merges back to one lane everyone is hitting the brakes. All the water had to go somewhere so it washed out the whole trench containing the pipe.

The left side of #11 and #6 are currently getting fire-wised during frost delays.

Projects Planned

Once #11 is completed, the right side of #6 will be fire-wised.

Removing excess DG in drainage areas will take place this next month.

With frozen conditions letting up we can get back to working on pressure adjustments to the sprinklers.

Divot and Ballmark Repair Party

We completed another repair party the 26th of February. The members that volunteered their time were able to complete all 18 fairways and greens in a little over an hour. A big thanks goes out to those who -olunteered. It helps our staff and the course out tremendously.

Integrated Pest Management

March 1st will begin our degree day count and start our trap monitoring for this season’s insect pests. We will also begin checking soil temperatures to plan our control process for the root infecting disease, Summer Patch. If you would like to read about our IPM practices, click here.

Aerification Notice read more

Greens Aerification April 12th.

Fairway Aerification April 26th.

Side Notes

The Golf Industry Show took place at the beginning of this month in San Diego. I was lucky enough to get a portion of the conference and show sponsored by some of our vendors. I took a class about irrigation auditing to continue to make improvements on water conservation. read more I spoke about our water conservation efforts over the past three years to nearly 200 golf course superintendents in the innovative superintendent session.

Dan had mentioned in a previous newsletter about my use of twitter and blogging to increase communication to our members and with other superintendents in the industry. The February issue of Golfdom has a great article on the use of twitter in our industry. view article

Monday, March 1, 2010

Storm Damage #13 Vol. 1

About a month ago we had a week long storm that dropped 11 inches of precipitation.  The start of the storm yielded heavy rains while the tail end of the storm ended up dumping nearly a foot of snow on the golf course.  With that much rain we knew we were going to have our work cut out for us.                                         
Shortly after the snow melted we were able to assess the damage.  We had some fairly large DG deposits on the golf course that needed to be cleaned up.  There were a couple drains plugged that needed some attention but most of all, left of thirteen fairway had some serious issues.

To the left of #13, at the bottom of the "bail out" area, was a large washout in the turf.  The perforated drain pipe was clogged with DG.  When the large volume of water was stopped by the DG in the pipe, the easiest way for the water to go was out the perforations.  It also didn't help that it came to a screeching hault when the 6" pipe was reduced to four inch at about the same place as the clog.

The water literally bursting out of the pipe, began undermining the DG soil and pushing it down the original drainage trench.  This caused the turf above to collapse and all the soil to end up at the bottom of the hill in bubbles under the turf.

We are working on fixing the problem with the pipe reduction and the perforation.  I will keep everyone posted on the progress of this project, but as for now the left side of thirteen is a mess and is also roped off completely.  Please take care and look for our staff and we will make sure we watch for you so we do not get in the way.

If you have any questions about #13 or the drainage that will be installed please contact me.

Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bob Arvidson, Employee Spotlight

I would like to introduce to you a member of our maintenance staff.  You have probably seen him on the course and you may already know him.  Bob Arvidson is a loyal employee on our team, and an Airforce Veteran for our Country.  He is completing his fifth year with us next month.  He does any and every job that is needed on the golf course.  His hard work and outstanding attitude, has made him a respected employee among our staff.

I want to commend him for recently finding and returning, a member's purse.  He found the purse on the thirteenth hole, and was able to quickly get it back to the owner.  His honesty and integrity was rewarded by the member with some homemade brownies.  Of course, Bob shared the lot with all the employees.  His representation of our crew is first class and always professional.

Bob came from Mammoth Lakes where he resided after his retirement from 33 years at Rockwell International.  His job with Rockwell International was International Procurement. He was required to do a lot of international travel throughout the middle east and eastern countries.  He was a successful employee, making the company millions of dollars per year on computer electronic procurement.

Before Bob started his career with Rockwell Int., he served in the Airforce.  I asked him about his time in the service and he bashfully explained how he received a letter of accommadation.  While he was on the wing of his aircraft, the ground power unit that Bob was using to start his airplane exploded.  The ground power unit  was dangerously close to nearby aircraft, and a pilot strapped into the cockpit.  The driver of the unit ran off, so Bob acted quickly by jumping off of the wing of the plane and climbed into the ground power unit which was engulfed in smoke.  He moved the damaged power unit into a nearby field to keep the pilot and other aircraft safe from harm. His bravery and commitment to helping others is a good description of his gracious personality.

He moved to Payson because, he and his wife of 49 years, were in search of a mountain community with a little less snow than 40' to 50' per year.  He was tired of sometimes spending eight hours, shoveling the snow off his deck.  We are lucky that Bob has picked Payson to live and The Rim Golf Club to work.

Bob does all duties for us.  During the summer months when mowing is in high demand he is mowing rough and fairways.  If you see Bob on the course he will probably be quietly in the background making sure your experience at The Rim is exemplary.

His work has been a big part in making the course better.  I want to thank Bob for his outstanding work at The Rim.

If you have any questions or comments about this article feel free to contact me.

Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS

Friday, February 19, 2010

Growing Degree Day Usage Explained

Ok, I will explain the process from the beginning. You can skip ahead if you already know the basics.

First off a degree day is a unit you can calculate using a base temperature and a maximum threshold temperature. Some insects or weeds (poa) can have different min and max temps for calculation.

Example would be Masked Chafers have a lower max temp than billbugs. This temperature is important only when the high for the day is greater than the threshold.

These parameters are the limits of that insect or plant’s active development. That is what we are trying to measure so we can anticipate optimum stages to control with either cultural or chemical practices.

Once you have the starting date to begin GDD measurement of the specific insect or plant which is usually March 1st, but can also be January 1st, then you are ready to get started.

The basic way to measure degree days can be calculated as follows:
Take the daily low and the daily high and add them together. Then divide them by 2 to get the average for the day. Take the average and subtract your base temperature. If the number calculated is positive then you have accumulated degree day units. If the number is negative then zero is accumulated. You take this measurement daily starting at your scheduled date March 1 or Jan 1. Each days accumulation is added together to get the overall collected GDD’s.

The number from this calculation is a decent way to figure out your degree days but it is not as accurate as the sine wave method.  The sign wave method takes in account the time during the day that the temperature is within the optimum development temperature. This calculation is done with a complicated formula programmed into a computer.  The website that I have used, with this option accesses a weather station very close if not on your property.

You can make use of the maps and zoom into your property and find a nearby weather station. An ideal situation would be on your property but over a few years of data collection you can get really accurate keeping track of when insects emerge or locating them at the ideal stage of development for control.

I used the internet to look up the insects that we deal with annually. I looked for growing degree day models for each insect and found a lot of info that was useful.

For billbugs we use growing degree days to anticipate spring emergence for contact control and egg hatch for larvae control. We also match this data with pitfall traps and adult count to see if we are on track. Usually you can get pretty close at recognizing a peak in capture numbers and degree day accumulation. That is when we use a contact product to reduce the population heading to mate and lay eggs. I am hoping we can get to a point where this is all that is required and we can accept minor damage from the survivors. We continue to accumulate GDD’s to anticipate the most vulnerable stage at which we can get control with a systemic. I also forecast this number to allow time for the chemical to enter the plant and move through the plant using phloem and xylem, if that is how the chemical works in the plant.

Cutworms are a little different. We use light traps to observe peak flight. Once we have collected a peak in capture numbers then we begin our degree day count to anticipate the proper instar stage to get the greatest efficacy from our chemicals or my goal is to begin using nematodes. Once you get the hang of anticipating these insects with great accuracy then we can think about using biological control that may only be in the soil for days or weeks rather than getting a synthetic chemical with long residual.

Above, I mentioned trapping. I use pitfall traps for billbugs and a light trap for Masked Chafers and Cutworms.

Pitfall traps are placed a couple paces from the native areas, parallel to the maintained turf edge, and located in severely damaged areas in the previous years or a south facing slope because it will warm up the quickest in the spring. I also slightly angle the pipe downhill so there is a slight elevation change to drain water and make it an easy trip for the billbugs to follow to the collection can. I use an eight foot section of 2” pvc with a slit cut down the middle about a ¾ of an inch wide. The action threshold is a judgment made by you. If you collect 5 or 50 it is up to you to determine what is too many. I have also collected cutworms in these traps. We were surprised to find them.

We have also set up a light trap. I had a horrible time last year trying to keep it running through the summer with the battery dying at night. This year I have a better plan and will have more consistent results. I ordered this trap from You have your choice between a 12volt or 110volt ballast. I was told that if you can locate it in the middle of your course and in a fairly open area so they don’t have to go through a lot of tree cover to get there. For this reason I went with a 12volt system but I am now thinking about finding a fairly central clock and using the 110volt plug at the bottom for more consistent use.

The trap works well at collecting a ton of insects so I placed a pest strip at the bottom to kill the insects once trapped so they don’t beat themselves up beyond recognition. I use the wings to look for obvious cutworm characteristics. The few days I could get a full night of operation, the trap worked very well. I had to ultimately result to old school curative applications. My goal is to get to where I can apply a contact surrounding the greens and never see them on the green. As we know cutworms lay there eggs on the leaves of the plant. We mow greens daily making it very difficult for survival on the greens surface but the surrounds are a different story and if you spread your green clippings you are also spreading the eggs. Once they hatch they make there way to the green. I have noticed as well that they also favor areas with nearby lighting.

As for Masked Chafer’s the same rule applies. Once peak flight is observed degree day count is collected and then chemical control can be predicted. Again, common sense is used to understand that south facing slopes are usually the worst. Mapping is also very helpful, if you are getting some damage in areas you did not spray. They have some prediction models that you can use to anticipate peak flight but if you have the light trap it seems more accurate and then you can make your own model specific to your course.

The moral of the story is degree day models are just that, a model. They are mostly accurate because growing degree days are calculated according to climate. So, across the country a billbug in Ohio and one here in Arizona may develop at different calendar dates but same degree day counts. It gets you away from the adopted method of following a date, set 30 years ago by some guy spraying mercury based chemistry, to spray April 1st every year. What if you warm up early or get a cold snap. You could potential miss the entire control window or just get horrible results.

If you have any question, please feel free to call me.
Justin Ruiz, CGCS

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