Much has been happening since we pulled greens covers less than two weeks ago. The crew has been hard at it performing a variety of chores including drainage line sodding, nursery renovating, open field burning, snow fence removal, various landscape projects, irrigation system charging, rough dragging, fairway aerifying, bunker work, placing golf course accessories, edging sprinklers, power washing clubhouse area, and wetting agent/fertilizer applications on putting greens. Note that there was no mention of mowing as there is more to tending a golf course than just mowing stuff-but we have been doing that as well as the picture below of the driving range illustrates:
Driving Range Driving Range
Friday April 26, 2019 Monday April 29, 2019
Rare to see such a hue of green this early in the season which is a nice break from recent history. Of course, the good fortune that we had with weather for the first week we had the crew back turned to something else altogether with snow hitting the area this past Monday. We were extremely lucky in that we did not get the snow accumulation that other places had. We only lost one productive day of work due to the storm for which we are very thankful.
Bunker Maintenance 10 Green
May 2, 2019
Mention was made previously of bunker work and the picture above is a live shot of a solid group in action adding sand and getting bunkers back into playable shape for the coming season. No shovel leaners are evident in this photo. We have gone through over a semi-load of the very expensive white bunker sand for this action and will likely go through another load over the season. Last year’s wet golf season combined with our labor hours being consumed in turf recovery/renovation made trying to keep bunkers in decent shape a real difficult thing to do. This year they should not be the “hazard” that they were last year though a small part of me says, “It’s a hazard. Stay out or take your chances.”
Hotel Entrance Landscape Project
May 2, 2019
We had been asked by the resort/hotel to assist with improving the visuals of the hotel front entrance. We were happy to comply and were able to remove the old, haunted looking plants that were there and add a retaining wall to show definition and class. We look forward to adding flowers and ornamentals to this area when we begin planting at the end of the month. Experience has shown that planting annuals up here before June 1st usually leads to death by frost.
On a final note, this year has begun as one of the most enjoyable in recent memory. The course over-wintered well, we were able to power up the irrigation system without a single leak for the first time in recent memory, and most importantly, the wonderful group that we have built here over the past 17 years continues to evolve into an even more veteran golf course maintenance crew. While there will always be changes, we have been fortunate to be able to retain solid contributors while adding excellent replacements. We really have created what is almost a family environment with people taking a genuine pride in what it is that they are doing to help make us be the best golf course that we can be. This really is a fun thing to be a part of. We hope that you, in turn, enjoy the product that we work so hard to present.
See you on the golf course,
April is the month in which seasonal staff sometimes visit the shop in order to see what the plan is for the coming year and/or simply to say hi. Like robins migrating back in the spring. This past week was especially interesting in that one of our most valued crew members-Greg Federly-brought a drone for us to use to have a look at the golf course. I had been looking into this technology for a while-there are indeed drones that are built for specific golf course maintenance activities through the use of both conventional cameras and multispectral sensors. The drone we used combined with a cell phone to give us the ability to shoot video and take pictures. Flying this drone was so easy a caveman could do it. I think that the following pictures we took make interesting topics of discussion:
April 1, 2019
This picture of the green side of hole 10 shows that we still have substantial snow cover on many parts of the golf course. The greens cover is partially exposed. Snow pack of two feet or so is still prevalent here. Goes to show just how much snow we had this past winter and how, sadly, it is hanging in there well into the spring.
Back of Driving Range
April 1, 2019
Some parts of the golf course have a nice southern exposure with full sun. In these areas the snow melts at a much faster rate. This picture in particular is very interesting in that it shows just how effective our snow mold fungicide applications are for winter diseases. Green means treated. Brown means non-treated. Very easy to tell where our sprayer did its work last fall on the range targets and fairway. For these areas of the range, we used our older spray rig that does not have GPS technology to assist in the application. For that reason, we have the triangle shaped areas of the rough adjacent to fairways that are treated. The limited, manual controls on the older unit, even with my outstanding skills, make it unavoidable to treat small areas of the rough that might otherwise be left alone. This is in contrast with the next picture.
April 1, 2019
Note the 6th fairway on the left side of this picture and how clean the edge of the fairway is compared to the previous driving range picture. This fairway was done with our GPS sprayer with more modern controls. No waste on the edges and honestly, a more professional job done. We have had this unit for over three years now and I can say that using this unit has saved us, on average, about $4000-$6000 per year in chemical costs-not to mention an increase in application uniformity and efficacy. We really try to take advantage of the latest technologies on our golf course.
Also note the 5th fairway in the middle of the picture and how the snow is melted on the side of the fairway. Never underestimate the value of having full sun on a golf course. The part of the fairway that is exposed is not shaded by the wood line adjacent to the golf hole. Looks fantastic. Remember this picture next time you see your golf course crew removing a tree. There is a reason for it.
Moving on to what my thoughts are regarding the condition of the golf course for the coming season, I am cautiously optimistic that we will emerge from this winter in much better condition than the previous year. We do not have the glacial ice layers on the golf course that we had last year for over 150 days. Everything I have seen so far looks great-including areas under greens covers that we have looked at. The entire staff looks forward to presenting to you the product to which you are accustomed.
See you on the golf course,
I always enjoy using pictures with my writing and this article is no exception. I could show you pictures of people painting walls, revamping golf course accessories, grooming trails, and turning wrenches but we have been over all of that in previous articles.
The first picture gives a pretty good idea of just how much snow we have on the golf course:
Cart Path behind Practice Tee March 6, 2019
The snow drifts have become so gnarly (over 5’ in spots) that we had to re-route the cross-country ski trails on top of the snow drifts since the existing trails became impassible. First time this has happened in the fifteen years that we have been performing this work. There really is a lot of snow out there.
The second set of pictures is a comparison between 2015 and the present time:
Hole 18 March 11, 2015 Hole 18 March 6, 2019
As is obvious in the picture, this winter appears to be hanging on with heavy snowfall amounts in February (28”) and sustained low temperatures. In some ways similar to last year (yikes!) but with a key difference-we have been consistently below freezing for virtually the entire winter. This is important because we do not have the formation of glacial ice sheets underneath this heavy layer of snow. For this reason I do not foresee the wide scale damage to the golf course as we did last year-as least not in the form of ice-suffocated, dead turf. One thing that I do expect to see once the snow begins to leave is both pink and grey snow mold in areas of the rough where we do not treat for these diseases. We may even begin to see disease breakthrough in treated bentgrass areas-especially if the spring thaw occurs much later than is “normal.” This year will be a great test of the efficacy of our fall snow mold treatments-though the damage that we sustain from any kind of breakthrough is rarely anything more than superficial. That being said, this winter cannot go away soon enough. We have much work to do before opening in May and the more time we have to perform the work, the better product we can provide. We sure could use an April that is conducive to turf growth and getting work done but at the moment, I see no hint of spring and with the amount of snow we have to melt, it will take a drastic change in the current weather patterns to make this happen. Stranger things have happened.
We look forward to seeing you in a few months.
You really cannot get through a single day without hearing something about climate change and the negative consequences of it. Recently we have been experiencing powerful and frequent storms on the east coast, uncontrollable wildfires in California and unprecedented red tides in Florida. Whether you believe that man is responsible for these occurrences or not, there is no doubt that we as human beings have an obligation to take measures to protect our planet to the best of our abilities. Golf courses, over the years, have been demonized for environmental recklessness-many still believe that all we do is pollute and waste water resources. While this may have been an issue years ago, at the present time university research and better education for turfgrass professionals has led to maintenance practices that are much more environmentally friendly. In addition, a more stringent registration/regulation process has led to an overall reduction in the toxicity of products available for commercial use-especially on golf courses. I am very proud to be a part of this evolution in golf course maintenance and we continue to enhance our environmental efforts through our membership in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf.
Bees Hole #3-Wilderness at Fortune Bay
Declining bee populations have been evident nationwide of late. The Wilderness at Fortune Bay has not applied an insecticide on turfgrass in the past three years.
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) currently has a membership of over 2300 golf courses in the United States. The Wilderness at Fortune Bay has been a member since 2005 and has recertified on four different occasions since then. Participation is this program has been both an excellent opportunity for us to access information and an inspiration for us to improve our efforts. Our wash water and spill containment systems, recycling program, energy audit, electric and hybrid equipment purchases, reduction in irrigated areas, addition of butterfly habitat, and fertilizer usage reduction plan have all been a part of our commitment to the environment and to the ACSP. Please see the following link for more information on the ACSP: https://www.auduboninternational.org/resources/Documents/Fact%20Sheets/Program%20Fact%20Sheets/ACSP%20Golf%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
Turtle chilling out on drainage line. Note white clover in out of play rough. In areas where playability is not affected, we will let the clover take over to provide a pollinator for bees.
Our next effort will be to provide an environment for Monarch butterflies. I remember seeing these butterflies all over the place when I was a child but now I do not remember the last time that I saw one. Statistics say that their populations have declined by 90% over the past 20 years. We at the Wilderness would like to do something about that with the Monarchs in the Rough program:
We have already been in touch with the administrators of the program and hope for their help in seeding an acre of the golf course with plants that allow Monarchs to thrive. The area that I have in mind is the sliver of rough behind the 12th green running between the lake and the wood line. A perfect, out of the way area that should be fun to prepare and seed. As you can tell, these efforts to improve our environmental commitment are continual and, honestly, not very difficult to accomplish. All it requires is a commitment to environmental conservation-something which the Wilderness at Fortune Bay has had since its inception.
Beaver Hole #3-Wilderness at Fortune Bay
Have a wonderful Christmas season and a Happy New Year,