Friday, November 8, 2013

Congrats, Renovation Update and Busy Beavers!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Friday, November 8th and I want to quickly bring you up to speed with everything taking place on your golf course.  We just wrapped up a spectacular weekend with some incredible golf in this year's Carolina Invitational (won by our very own Stephen Woodard and Brett Boner).  Their two-day total of 126 (16 under par) may or may not be a tournament record but their second round 64 was definitely one of the best rounds this year given the cool, breezy conditions the field encountered.  The Invitational is always special and this year was no exception with beautiful sunny skies both days.  Check out the scene below I captured just moments after the fog lifted prior to the start of play on day one.

A Beautiful Morning!
The tournament wrapped up late Sunday afternoon and with the time change back to standard time my staff and I jumped head first into "off-season" projects.  Monday saw all the greens at Carolina aerated and topdressed.  Did he really just say that?  To clarify, the putting greens were vented using solid, needle tines and lightly topdressed to help smooth the putting surfaces.  October was a very busy month with the Donald Ross Challenge, Pro-Am, Guest Day and Tough Day all leading into the Carolina Invitational.  During all that time the greens were mowed, double mowed, mowed and rolled, double mowed and rolled, even mowed and double rolled all in effort to provide the absolute best putting surfaces.  We performed the venting operation to alleviate compaction from all the rolling and the topdressing was applied to help smooth the accumulation of ball marks over the course of those events.

Of course Golf Course Services, Inc. (GCS) mobilized and began our bunker renovation project right away.  Taking advantage of a closed golf course this past Monday they were able to work unimpeded on the par 3 ninth hole. 
Old Sand Being Removed
To reiterate, we are removing the existing bunker sand.  This old sand is contaminated with silt and clay soil particles from several years of severe rain events washing the sand away from the bunker cavity.  The contamination changes the playing characteristics of the sand.  The silt and clay particles hold moisture thus making the sand "heavy".  (The old bunker sand is being stock piled on site to be reused as topdressing for tees and fairways).  Once the sand is removed the original bunker cavity dimensions are exposed and grass lines modified accordingly. 

Exposing the original bunker edge
Notice the sand build-up above the clay cavity

New, improved bunker sand is installed.  The newer bunker sand we are installing was not originally available when the golf course was renovated in 2008.  This newer sand is more angular and thus provides both a firmer surface but also holds in place better minimizing severe wash outs which lead to contamination over time.  The new sand is compacted and the bunker then raked and ready for play.
New Sand Being Compacted
If you look closely at the two photos below you can see the new sod that was added to portions of the bunker face to reestablish the grass lines back to the original contours.  Also, the layer of sand build-up has been removed from under the turf and the sod tamped to create a "rolled" edge into the bunker on the low side.
Finished Product!
Raked and Ready for Play!

After all four bunkers on number 9 were completed the crew moved directly to the par 5 eighth hole where they have managed to completely renovate 5 of the 7 bunkers on that hole and they are working on one of the two remaining this morning.  That's 10 bunkers in one week thanks to some very cooperative weather!  There are 79 total bunkers on property (77 on the golf course and two practice bunkers).  This project will be continuing over the next couple months as we make our way through the entire golf course (minus of course, the bunkers renovated in the same manner this time last year).

A few other projects we are busy working on include trimming low hanging limbs and branches on three key holes.  Holes 8, 13 and 14 are located on the perimeter of the club's property and many limbs and branches from our pine tree buffer were too low and adversely affecting our ability to grow and maintain quality turf.  We have been busy working along these holes lifting the tree canopies to allow better sunlight penetration.
Not for the Faint of Heart
Also, we have installed additional stone "curbing" alongside the cart path where some people have a propensity to drive NASCAR style (through the grass) on the inside edge of turns.  These areas will fill in with new turf next season and add to the overall aesthetic quality of the golf course.

Number 8
Number 10

Since we are on the subject of cart paths, this time every year we edge the cart paths to remove unwanted bermudagrass encroachment.  The process is lengthy because we have several miles of cart path but this is a perfect time of year for such a project.

Removing the Debris
A Clean Edge!

Another task we are working on right now is applying compost to high traffic and weak turf areas.  Currently we are concentrating only on the roughs so as not to adversely affect the playing conditions of fairways since the bermudgrass has ceased growing for the year as it enters winter dormancy.  The compost will break down and help modify the soil in these areas to better sustain quality turf.

Fully Loaded!
Always Improving!

So, to recap...congrats to Stephen and Brett, greens recently aerated and topdressed, bunkers being renovated, trees limbs being trimmed, cart paths being edged and curbed, compost being applied...wonder what we are going to do next week!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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