June 29, 2012

Course conditions

Wow! Two updates in one day. Must be important!
I have been working very hard to maintain firm, fast playing conditions on the golf course. Last week was a challenge with the mid-week heat wave, but thankfully the weather broke in time for the weekend. With the help of our moisture meter and roller we were able to get the most out of the greens for the 3 day Member/Member. This week we refocused on the health of the turf and began preparing for the Invitational in August.
As ridiculous as that sounds it is true. I recorded the steps we took this week to get through the heat and transition into tournament mode, and will review them the week before the tournament. We made a fertilizer application to fairways that will start releasing next week, and will meter out Nitrogen over the next few months so that the turf will be healthy, but not too lush. Now that the rough is slowing down, I will make a similar application to the green surrounds so that there is a reasonable penalty for an errant shot to the green, but not so severe that it affects the pace of play or your ability to enjoy a casual round.
I played a quick late round today and learned a lot about how the course is playing. First, I was surprised to discover how well the fairways were playing. The firm conditions allow the ball to bound and roll down the fairway, and sometimes into the rough which still offers a penalty. Second, as I feared the heat and humidity have the caused the greens to be a little lush. They still roll true, but I would like to see them a little leaner and roll out a bit more. I will watch the weather and fine tune my chemical and fertility programs, and try to get in a light topdressing. I am being a little cautious since we have a lot of golf to play, but I am committed to getting the most out our greens without sacrificing the long term quality and consistency.
Looking even beyond the Invitational, I have started looking at ways to further improve the condition of the greens through a variety of cultural programs for the early and late fall.
I am very excited about what we have done so far this year, and feel that I am hitting my stride as far as managing the conditions on the golf course.
Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated, especially if it goes through one of my committee members. Thanks again for your support.
Thanks again.
Pete Gorman
Golf Course Superintendent
Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club
Branford, CT

Srike Guard Procedures

Once again it has been far too long since I sat down to write a blog post, but things have been a little busy with tournament preparation and the recent heat wave.  We were just called in from the golf course by the Strike Guard Lightning Detection System.  Considering the recent incident at Lake of Isles I thought I would provide some information about how our system works so that everyone clearly understands what the warnings mean, and that we can avoid any similar problems here at POYCC.
During the 3 Day Member/Member we had one brief weather delay when the Strike Guard system sounded an alert that lightning was in the area and golfers were called in from the course.  There was some confusion about what the signal meant, and what they were supposed to do.  The main detector is located in the golf shop, and it is connected to a computer that shows any potential risks in the area.  Once lightning is detected within 15 miles an alert goes off in the golf shop indicating that there is potential for lighting in the area and that we should prepare to call people in.  Once a strike is detected within 5 miles, the system will sound an alarm on the golf course, and a strobe light will flash at the pool.   The units on the golf course have small lights on the side that flash green to signal that the system is working, and turn red when in alert mode until the "All Clear" signal sounds.  The system will be in alert mode for 30 minutes, or until lightning is detected again which resets the 30 minute delay.  There is no manual "all clear" option.  The system is completely automated to prevent possible accidents from people making judgement decisions.
So, to clarify what you should do when the alarm sounds:
  1. Everyone must clear the golf course and pool/dock area and seek shelter immediately when the alarm is sounded.  Mark your ball and head in immediately.  Do not finish the hole or continue on.
  2. Seek shelter inside an enclosed building.  The clubhouse, maintenance facility, or golf shop are appropriate.  During the tournament the field returned to the golf shop, but people remained outside, and some were even practicing putting (which may be a violation of USGA rules).  We should have directed everyone to go into the clubhouse until the all clear signal had been given.
  3. Wait for the "All Clear" signal to sound and the strobe light to turn off before returning to the course, pool, or docks.
The club leadreship made a decision to make a significant investment in this system to protect its members, and they should be applauded for it.  You can recognize and reward their forethough and committment by following a few simple steps to make sure we do not have a tragedy here at Pine Orchard.
Thanks for checking in, and we look forward to seeing you on the golf course.

June 2, 2012

Great feedback

I have been getting a lot of great feedback from members lately. Some are extremely encouraging, like the groups that commented on the condition of the first fairway this morning after 1.5" of rain in 6 hours. Another favorite is the condition of the rough, and how well we have done managing a reasonable penalty in spite of the wet weather we have been experiencing. We have dedicated a lot of labor resources on the areas immediately surrounding greens and fairways, and have been working closely with committee members to address the fescue areas that have too much influence on playability and pace of play.
The one comment that I found almost amusing came from one of my favorite members. He told me that he loved my blog updates. I almost fell over, since it has been so long since I have made time to sit at my desk and share some thoughts and ideas about the golf course and the work we have been doing.
I missed the follow up on the opening of the 1st and 18th holes, and I am embarrassed that I did not take a few moments to explain why we had to "ruin the greens just as they were getting good".
Well, it has been an extremely busy spring with Summer weather in April and April Showers coming in May just as the rough was kicking into high gear.
I will keep this short and sweet and let you know what is coming in the near future. I will be asking for photos from Tropical Storm Irene for a photo book to keep in the club archives. If you have photos of the club or golf course from late summer, during, or just after the storm, I would love emailed copies to include in the book. Make sure to include your full name so that I can give photo credit in the book.
The next topic will be a discussion of the Achilles heels of the 1st and 18th holes. The surface may look as good as it has in many years, but we have yet to experience extended heat and humidity. The poor soil and irrigation coverage will make it extremely difficult to maintain the current condition over time.
Enough for now. I promise to write more often, and one of these days I will dust off my clubs and will need someone to play with. If you ever need a fourth, please keep me in mind.