March 26, 2013

Tree Removal on 3rd Hole

This morning we had to remove the large white pine that guarded the left side of the 3rd/12th fairway.  One of the main leaders was split during one of the storms, leaving a serious safety hazard in a high traffic area.  Once the damage was discovered, we informed the Green and Golf Long Range Committees so that we could work together to find a solution. 
Before the decision to remove the tree was made we consulted an arborist to see if it would be possible to support the leader and save the tree.  The option he presented was to bolt through the crack, prune the limbs above the damage to remove some weight, and cable the limb to another part of the tree to provide additional support.  He stated clearly that the crack would never heal, and the stability would not be restored.  The limb that would be used to support the damaged leader was also damaged, and its condition would deteriorate over time.  Once we learned this the decision was clear that it had to come down.
As soon as we realized the limb was damaged and there was a possibility that the tree would be removed, we contacted Tim Gerrish to help us develop a long term solution to restore the strategy and preserve the character of the hole.  We are in the process of developing short and long term solutions that will provide a fair and balanced penalty for tee shots that miss the fairway, and will reward golfers that choose to challenge the left side to get a better angle for their second shot.
We will be working on this solution in the coming weeks, but for now our top priority is keeping the membership safe and informed of the situation. 

March 23, 2013

Good Friday?

I am starting to get inquiries about when the course will be open for play. We still have some work to do to wrap up our winter projects. The larger projects will take a couple of weeks, but we hope to get started with our spring cleaning this week. The main wildcard will be the storm on Monday. Any significant rain or snow will delay our ability to get out and get the course ready.
The decision to open the course is generally based on the balance between the amount of damage that is expected and the ability of the turf to recover. The damage comes in the form of ball marks, which are typically worse this time of year, and divots in fairways and on tees. Until the soil temperatures rise the turf will not be able to heal itself from divots and ball marks that are ignored or improperly repaired. In most years I am more concerned with ball marks. This year we have changed our aeration schedule and damage from ball marks will be insignificant compared to what I am going to do to the greens in a few weeks. So the focus shifts to divots. If we do decide to open the course early, we will avoid using prime teeing grounds. On some holes that may even mean off the tee surface.
I have already had a few conversations about opening the course with the Green Committee, and the consensus is that we should be sure that the course is able to tolerate the wear and tear. I will be watching the weather and temperatures closely this week, and will open the course as soon as I feel it is ready. I will continue to post updates here and in the weekly newsletter, so stay tuned. It won't be long now.

March 8, 2013

Transition to spring

Shop work update
George and the crew are working hard completing the winter service and cleaning of our equipment.  This involves engine service and maintenance, sharpening reels and blades, and checking to see which units are likely to require significant repairs in the future.  They spend extra time cleaning, painting, and waxing the equipment, which helps preserve the value of the fleet.  We also refurbished our course accessories, such as benches, ball washers, water cooler stands, tee markers, flagsticks, etc. 
We have invested significant time and money in refurbishing the roller and fairway mowers.  The roller is one of our most used units, and has a significant impact on golfers perception of the golf course.  While we have a new fairway mower as a top priority in our capital equipment plan, we felt that investing in the current units would make them more reliable and productive in the short term, and our current primary mower will become a reliable backup once the replacement is approved.

I spent the majority of the winter updating our maintenance programs, and reviewing the latest research related to fertilizers, chemicals, and cultural programs.  I focused my attention on fine tuning our maintenance programs to provide healthier turf that will be more resilient and less dependent on chemical control products.  Key changes include a more proactive approach to fertilizer chemical applications, and more aggressive cultural programs on greens and tees. 
Over the next few weeks we will complete the cleanup from our winter projects and begin the spring cleaning process.  Keep checking the blog for updates on projects, maintenance updates, and coming events that could affect the accessibility and condition of the golf course.