As we all know, this season has been one of challenges-not just for us but for many facilities in this part of the state that experienced the same long, screwy winter we had. Sad to say that here we are in August and we still are discussing damage from months ago but it is, simply, what it is. I have a few photos to share to show a technique we use and how well it works.
The technique is called hex plugging. We remove hex shaped lugs from our nursery and install them on the damaged part of a putting green to assist in recovery. The practice is time consuming and requires a great deal of patience to do properly. Most of this work was and continues to be performed by Danny Hilmas, who has be invaluable in his performance of this chore. Other crew members have assisted as well. The results to date are shown in the photos below:
16 Green June 26, 2018
16 Green July 31, 2018
To date, we have installed hundreds of these plugs throughout the golf course and will continue to add more as we can around the heavy play we have been receiving of late and when labor permits. This process has been ongoing and will continue over the next few weeks.
Seeding on damaged fairways has taken hold and continues to establish, like the picture below shows:
18 Fairway August 3, 2018
Most fairways are showing a similar kind of recovery and should continue to improve on a daily basis. We had two waves of fairway seeding throughout May and June. Lots of work. The seed catch on most was good though there were a few instances, like on 6 fairway, where heavy rains after we seeded washed some of the seed away and slowed establishment. A little rain is good, heavy rain events not so much.
As a comparison, we intentionally left the driving range fairway alone to function as a control to show the comparison with what this area would look like if we did nothing. We will seed these weak areas of the fairway later on this season when conditions are optimal for establishment.
Untreated Driving Range Fairway August 3, 2018
The difference in the areas is striking and shows that what we are doing is working. There is no overnight solution to this kind of recovery. Just hard work and patience.
I had alluded to some heavy rain events earlier. The later part of June and early part of July were abnormally wet with rain forest like conditions. On July 11th and 12th we received close to 4” of rain (the usual monthly amount for July). The result was the following on the 1st fairway:
1 Fairway July 12, 2018
This was truly a mess and took all day to cleanup with a group of people including the pictured Assistant Superintendent Trevor Rintala. A result of this rain event was also the thorough washing out of bunkers that took a crew of 8 two entire days to repair. Not fun. I find the picture below useful in showing just how heavy these rains were:
2 Fairway Bunker July 11, 2018
The drainage system underneath this lake (about 4’ deep) was simply overwhelmed by the volume. The rain fell in a short period of time. The water was gone within a few hours but the damage to the bunker took some doing to make right again. A tough stretch of time for the crew but in their usual manner, they soldiered on. I love this group.
On a related note, our crew recently sustained a substantial loss when my assistant Trevor Rintala-the before pictured silt cleanup guy on the washout picture-found a position working at a golf course in Hawaii. Trevor had been contemplating a change for well over a year, as these winters were taking a psychological toll on him (as they do to many that live here). I am sure that smoked turf and raking silt off a bentgrass fairway helped him in making a decision to move over 3900 miles away. We will all miss him greatly.
I hired Trevor over 15 years ago as a seasonal golf course maintenance employee who had never worked on a golf course before in his life. He had hair then. Blessed with an inherent competence, intelligence, sense of humor, and ability to work with anyone, Trevor moved up through the ranks, went to turf school in New Jersey, and functioned as my right hand man for over a decade. Best assistant I have ever had the honor to work with(there have been many over the years) and while the entire group will miss him, I cannot help but feel immensely proud that he was able to put himself in a position to make such an exciting change in his life. Vaya con Dios Amigo.
Trevor and Vin 8-1-2018