Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winter's End

 Winter is finally coming to an end and we look forward to 2015 golf season that is just around the corner.  This past winter has been a productive one taking care of our equipment and preparing the course for the 2015 golf season. 

Equipment Repair and Maintenance

In winter all of our equipment is gone over to ensure that it is running correctly when we need it to perform at its best.   All of our reels are ground to ensure that they are cutting well.  Oil changes and preventative maintenance is done to each piece of equipment to help avoid future problems.  Hydraulic hoses, bearings, and seals are evaluated and replaced if necessary.  Preparing the equipment for the season is a 2 month process that will provide quality when we need it in the golf season. 

 Image result for reel grinding


Another aspect of our winter work is painting and caring for our benches, ball washers and hole signs. The tee equipment is taken apart, prepped, and painted so it looks great for the beginning of the season.  This winter we decided to paint the hole signs which have not been painted in many years.  Tony is just wrapping up painting the signs and will be a nice added touch once we open the golf course.

Tree Care and Maintenance

Earlier in winter we pruned up a majority of the trees on the golf course.  This allows for ease of maintenance so our mowers can work efficiently around them without being a hazard to the operator.  The other benefit is greater playability for the golfer who is now afforded an easier shot from the trees. 

We also had a few dead and dying trees that were removed back in December.  Most of these trees selected for removal were ash trees that had little to any life left in them. This will be a continuing problem in the years to come as the Emerald ash borer has moved into the area.  It is only a matter of time before all of the ash trees will need to be removed.  The greens and grounds committee is looking at future tree additions to help manage the forest. 

What’s Ahead

The golf course was put to rest last fall in outstanding condition.  The winter has been kind as we have very little snow or more importantly no ice.  We can expect the golf course to be in good shape once we open. 

In 2015 we have a few things planned that will greatly improve the facilities at Ridgeway.  Once warmer weather is upon us we plan to have maintenance facility paved along with some arborvitaes to help hide the road left of #11 fairway.  Also we plan to do some repairs and seal coating of the clubhouse parking lot.  We also have a few tree transplants that need to go in once the ground firms up this spring.

We look forward to an early 2015 golf season and we will provide weekly updates so stay tuned …

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Drain Cleaning

In August when the large storm drainage pond was being built we noticed that the large 12” tile that drains from #12 fairway to #16 tee was partially clogged with sediment.  This obviously has a negative effect on getting water off of the property after heavy rainfall and in some cases was cause for golf course closures.  Now that the large storm drainage pond was installed the greens and grounds committee decided to hire Speedy Clean to come in and clean out our large drainage arteries that help drain the course.

This past Friday Speedy Clean came out and cleaned the large 12” tile connected to our new storm drainage pond.  A lot of gravel, sediment and tree roots where removed.  The process took much of the day; however we had some time to also clean out some tile near #16 fairway and clean out two 8” tiles that drain #11 fairway.  This will go a long way toward enhancing our capability to drain the course in a more efficient manner, which ultimately will mean less downtime and more golf for our members!

The next couple of weeks we will stay on the drainage theme and try to wrap up some smaller but very important drainage projects.  This week we hope finish up #16 fairway and touch up some areas on #18 approach. Before winter sets in we are hoping to drain #14 tee, #14 fairway and adding a smile drain on #2 green/collar.  Hopefully the snow stays away for a few more weeks so we can get these projects completed.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you out to play your final rounds of the 2014 season! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sod Nursery and Fall Work

Sod Nursery

Sod Nursery
The sod nursery down by the maintenance facility is growing in nicely. We have very good to excellent coverage throughout the greens portion of the nursery.  We have been mowing it about twice a week and have upped our fertility to aid in getting greater turf density.
The outer portion of the nursery was disturbed with construction of the new storm drainage pond and driveway.   Because it is late in the season we will not have an opportunity to seed or work on this area until next spring.  The area that is not yet seeded is designated for Kentucky bluegrass sod for roughs.  

Fall Work
Now that leaves are starting to fall we have a lot of work to keep the course clean.  Over the next several weeks our blowers and rough mowers will be out in full force.  Our process consists of blowing leaving into rows and mulching them with our rough mowers.  Expect more noise than usual as we try to keep the course as clean as possible.

Between mowing and keeping the course clean we are still planning on doing some more drainage work this fall. 

1.       #18 approach is completed,  look at the before and after pictures. Both pictures where taken after heavy rain events, the picture on the left was taken in 2010 and the picture on the right was taken earlier this week after almost 3" of rain. As you can see we have made a lot of progress!



2.    #16 fairway: In the next week we plan on draining the low area in the fairway about 100 yards from the green.

3.       #2 smile drain:  Install smile drain in the collar near #2 green to help get water off some poorly draining areas.  Because of the close proximity to the green we will start this work once the course closes for the season.

4.       #14 ladies tee: Install drainage near the ladies.

5.       #14 fairway: Install drainage in the rough and fairway approximately 150-200 yards from the green.
At some point in the near future we are going to have the main drainage artery that goes from #12 fairway to #16 tee cleaned out.  While the storm drainage pond was being installed we noticed that the 12” main drainage tile was partially clogged.  Speedy Clean is scheduled to come out and clean this out which will have a positive effect on storm water removal in the future.

November is a busy month between the shorter days and preparing the course for closing.  Although it’s been colder lately the golf course is still in good shape and the greens playing very nicely for this time of year.  We hope to see you out on the course in the near future!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

#18 Drainage

This past week we have been working on draining the approach on hole #18.  If you remember, #18 approach is habitually wet from runoff in the parking lot area.  We had drainage in #18 approach but because of the large volume of water we had to add some more to help get it from ponding.

We added several new tiles lines and manipulated the pitch so that we could achieve more surface drainage helping to move water quicker.   Also we added a large holding area just off of the parking lot so that water does not run across the fairway and back up the tile that is currently in #18 approach. 

On August 20th and 21st we received several inches of rain.  Although there was some water in the approach it was gone within an hour after the rain had stopped.  In the past standing water would have been present for days not hours.

We are looking to do small drainage projects like this in the upcoming weeks.  Next on our list is #16 fairway, which we hope to start sometime in the near future.  The golf course continues to be in good shape so come on out and enjoy the last couple months of the golf season.

The picture above is of an area that was stripped, graded for surface drainage and new tile lines installed.

The above picture is of the finished product once the tile was installed, surface regraded, drainage grates set, sod laid and new sod topdressed with sand for smoothness.

The above picture is of an area of the approach near the green that bubbled up due to a crushed tile line.  New drainage was added and new sod laid.

 This final picture is of #18 approach near the green, which was stripped, leveled and sodded.

Friday, September 5, 2014

What to Expect

The past couple of weeks have brought warmer, rainier and more humid weather.   With this change in weather we have a shift in the playability of the golf course.  As you may have noticed with your lawns at home, grass is growing at an unbelievable rate.  You can expect slower, softer greens and longer rough.  

This time of season we have a smaller staff to complete work on the course.  Please understand that some areas of the golf course might have some longer than normal rough.  The high humidity and good growing weather have slowed the greens down considerably from what you are used too.  Please take note and adjust accordingly.

With that being said the course is very green and beautiful please come out and enjoy it … when it’s not raining.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Successes and Needed Improvements

Storm Water Project
No standing water on #12 fwy
after 2.50" of rain!
With a majority of the storm pond project completed and the heavy rain the past week we are able to assess how well our holding pond is working.  On August 16th we received 1.25” of rain and on August 18th we received 2.50” of rain, both times we had little if any standing water.  Normally the storm on August 18th would have meant golf course closure for a day.  Other than a little water in #4 fairway there was not the massive flooding that previously caused golf course closures.    Also #11 fairway did not get the ponding effect that we previously experienced because our tile system was able to handle both #12 fairway thru #16 tee and #11 fairway at the same time.   Even though the new holding pond is only a couple of weeks old it has already saved 1 day of golf!
Water moisture meter and firmness meter
The past couple of weeks we have been experimenting with our new water moisture meter and firmness meter.   These items will really help us keep greens “dialed” in so that we achieve the right moisture and firmness.   Our regime will focus on keep good plant health while making greens firm but receptive to well struck iron shots.

New meters

 Due to the wet period we have experienced and how new these meters are to us we are still experimenting with the data so that we can hone in how we want our turf to perform.  The rest of the season will be a good test so we can go into 2015 with a good idea of how we can interpret the data to achieve optimal playing conditions on a more consistent basis.   
Needed improvements
Drainage woes …
Now that we have our storm drainage under control, it’s time to focus on other areas of the course so we can improve both turf health and playability.  I still believe that our #1 area for improvement on the course is adding drainage to many areas of the course. I have broken down the areas that need drainage to improve turf quality and playability:
1.       Greens- #4, #6, #11, #13, #16 and #17 greens need to be addressed.  The excessive rain and high humidity showed that these putting surfaces need some attention.  Keep in mind 2013 and 2014 have been very mild weather wise, hence turf on these greens looks very good.  If we get years of hot, humid and rainy weather these greens will underperform.  Turf loss in seasons of hot, humid and rainy weather should be expected if we do not correct the problem.  Some minor turf thinning was observed last week on #13, #16 and #17 due to excessive water and the inability of the water to escape.  Although turf still looks good and most members may not notice what I observed, the question should be asked: What if we had extended periods of severe weather like in 2010, 2011, and 2012? Would these greens still be as good as they are now? The answer is no they would not and we should expect less than stellar conditions.

Thinning turf on #16 green.
Taken 8/25/14

2.       Collars and Approaches- Overall collars are in the best shape they have been in 5 years.  Collars and approaches are closely related to greens because of their close proximity to each other.  So improving drainage in collars/approaches also has positive impact on drainage on greens and vise versa.  Collars like #2, #4, #10 #11, #13, #14, #16, #17, and #18 could all use some smile drainage to catch water.   Collars and the approaches hold the most water because our greens slope from back to front.  This means excess water runs off into the approach and collar area making them softer and susceptible to all kinds of maladies.  Firmer, healthier turf in the approach is desired to help shots hit short run onto the putting surface plus with added drainage we will see less of the worn out turf that can persist in the summer months of July and August.
#2 collar holds water.
3.       Fairway and Rough- #4, #14 and #16 fairways all have small areas that need some drainage to improve turf quality.  Old USGA reports confirm that these areas have been problematic for over 25 years. Also the area in front of #14 tee and east of #6 green hold excessive amounts of water and should be looked at for future drainage.
#16 fairway swale
The golf course has been in stellar shape all season however it is my job and that of the greens & grounds committee to look at problems so we can continually improve our product.  By fixing our drainage issues we have more consistency in our presentation, turf health, and playability.  Right now the areas I outlined for drainage are at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Remember she is not always kind . . .

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Storm Water Retention Pond Update

A lot of progress has been made by the town of Clayton in the past couple of weeks with the construction of a large retention pond near the maintenance facility.  Because the town is redoing the road on Ridgeway Dr. water will get onto the golf course quicker and with more volume than in the past.   So to subdue many of the past drainage issues plus prevent any further problems, a large retention pond was needed to hold storm runoff in the 40 acres southeast of the golf course.  Storm water in the pond will then run into the underground drain tiling system we currently have on the golf course.  This will not prevent every storm from causing the course to flood but it will greatly reduce the amount of golf course closures we have in the future.  In the past a large river from #12 fairway to #16 tee prevented us from opening the golf course during large rain falls.  This also backed up our tiling system so that #11 fairway held water and created a large pond at the bottom of the range across #11 fairway and over to the maintenance facility.  In my 5 years at Ridgeway we have had to cancel a number of large events and good golfing days simply because of this storm drainage problem.  This retention pond project should fix many of those issues.

Another issue we discovered was that the 12” tile that runs underneath the course from #12 fairway all the way #16 tee is partially clogged.  We are currently looking at getting a company in to unclog this tile line.  This is important because this tile is the main artery to drain water during massive rain events.   Unclogging this tile line plus the addition of a large retention pond will really go a long way in stopping golf course closures in the future. 

The above picture taken from east of #12 fairway near the out of bounds and is really the only disruption on the golf course itself.   This is where a large manhole sits and ties in the retention pond water with our existing tile underneath the golf course.

This picture is of the spill way area were water would actually run out onto the golf course if the rain got heavy enough.   As deep as this pond is (~8 feet) and by unclogging our existing tile system this should happen very infrequently. 

This picture is taken looking east toward Ridgeway Dr. just off of hole #12.  As you can see the pond is deep so that it can hold a large amount of water.

This is the large drain at the bottom of the pond where collected storm water begins to go underground over to #12 manhole from the first picture that was taken.

This picture was taken looking northwest standing on Ridgeway Dr.  This picture does not do justice to how deep the pond really is…

And lastly this picture is of the new driveway for the maintenance facility which was moved to make room for the pond.  The new entrance is 80 yards farther east past the other side of the new sod nursery and then turns and runs parallel to #11.   

The town has a few loose ends to tie up before this project is complete. 

  1. Grass the pond, pond banks, area left of #12 fairway, and the ditch along Ridgeway Dr.
  2. Blacktop the new maintenance road.
  3. Pick up and remove some small soil piles along the nursery
  4. Add some shrubs and trees near the new maintenance road so it is less visible from #11.

Stay tuned for more updates on this project and all other golf course maintenance activities.