Friday, December 30, 2011

Tree Work: Before and After

I have been discussing and preparing you for the planned tree work around #12 green and #13 tee for quite a while and now the time has come to show you the results of our plan. For those of you that don't recall these discussions or reading about it in previous newsletters, I will give you a 'Cliff's Notes' version of what all the discussion was about.

 During the last two summers we have faced unusual spells of very hot weather coupled with extremely high humidity and excessive rainfall leading to very stressful conditions for managing turf (especially on greens).  #12 green has not responded well during these stressful periods and has led to a loss of turf on the putting surface which required us to manage that particular green differently.  Even with the fan running to help cool the surface and increase air flow, it simply hasn't been enough. So, what could we do to help prevent this from happening again?  The simple answer is to improve air flow even more and to increase the amount of sunlight the green receives.  In order to accomplish both of these goals, an aggressive tree removal plan was evaluated, discussed and approved.  Below, you will see several before and after photos of the areas around #12 green and #13 tee.  This post is significantly longer than my normal posts, so please take your time and enjoy the photos. Click on the pictures for a larger view.

The first two pictures show  before/after of the area directly south of #12 green (looking toward #7 green tee).  The goal with removing five very tall and equally large trees in this area is to improve the amount of sunlight that the green will receive in the spring and fall when the sun travels across the horizon at a lower angle than it does during the summer months. More sunlight = Healthier turf.


The next two photos really show how many trees were removed with the goal of improving air flow coming from the west.  These photos were taken from the north side of #13 tee looking toward #12 green.

 While improving air flow from winds out of the west will be extremely helpful, we really aren't accomplishing much unless we evaluate how to utilize winds from the northwest as well as the north.  These four photos show the work that was done along the fence line on the northern edge of the property by #13 tee and #12 green.  We had been talking about cleaning-up this area as it always seemed rather unsightly. I think you will really enjoy the new view to the north, while #12 green will enjoy being able to breathe a little more easily.

Looking northeast from #13 tee - Before
Looking northeast from #13 tee - After
Looking northwest from #13 tee - Before

Looking northwest from #13 tee - After

And now for the big reveal! Many of you are probably extremely nervous about how the view has changed from #12 fairway looking toward the green.  While we did make some rather significant changes, I think you will find that the backdrop to the green hasn't changed much.  Yes, it does look different, but I feel very strongly that we were able to keep the same overall view for your approach shot while opening the area for improved air flow to the green and surrounding areas.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

After nearly a year of negotiating with Verizon Wireless and SBA Communications, we finally have an agreement in place that will secure an additional source of revenue for the club that could potentially last 25 years or longer.

Auger and tower at lease site
 SBA Communications, the owner of the tower, isn't wasting any time getting started.  Initial work began on December 13th and is expected to be completed within 2 months.  Personally, I feel it will be completed well before that, but time will tell.  Because of the way the lease is structured, payment has already begun, so we are not at the mercy of someone else's schedule.

Auger drilling the hole for concrete footer

I will try to provide timely updates about their progress, so please keep checking back.

Rebar form for concrete footer of tower. Concrete will
be 25 ft. deep and 5 ft. wide.

Conduit for power to lease site
Tower frame on the delivery truck

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Course Update: Tree Removal Has Begun

Just as we do every year, we spend the latter part of each fall and a majority of the winter performing necessary tree work throughout the golf course.  This off-season is no exception.  As mentioned in the most recent edition of Elcona's newsletter, the Emerald Ash Borer has now made its way here.  A number of our Ash trees have been impacted and will need to be removed. Luckily, none of the ones that will be removed play any significant roll in the playability of a golf hole.  Other areas of focus are trees that are beginning to negatively impcat cartpaths because of root growth.  With the increased focus on maintaining/improving our cartpaths, we must first remove the trees that are causing problems to the paths.

As always, our primary focus is improving turf health when deciding which trees to remove.  We have come a long way in the last few years, but there is till a long way to go.  Trees that create an abundance of shade on any of the greens, restrict air flow or trees that are notorious for leaving debris (Silver Maples, Locusts, Ash, Tulip etc.) are at the top of the list.

Stay tuned for an update on the clearing of the fenceline by #12 green and #13 tee.

#17 green before Silver Maple was removed

#17 green after Silver Maple was removed

Preparing to remove the Silver Maple by #5 green

Silver Maple at #5 green on the ground

Classic "D" shaped hole caused by the Emerald Ash Borer
on an Ash tree located by #14 fairway

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

#18 Green: Heading Toward Winter

We are now approximately 1 month into the establishment of #18 green and I couldn't be happier with the results.  Thanks to unseasonably warm weather for the last few weeks, the turf has begun to mature nicely and generate new roots.  The sod is actually mature enough at this point that I felt comfortable having the Verti-drain go across the green (see pic below) on Monday.  This is an annual process that we perform on the greens each fall just before the ground freezes.  Believe it or not, the green was actually mown for the first time this week!

Verti-draining #18 green (click for larger view)
As we get closer to the winter months, we will continue to topdress the green to firm and smooth the playing surface as well as protect the plant from the harsh conditions.  Depending on when dormancy sets in, an additional application of fertilizer may be applied as well.

Just as I mentioned earlier, I am very pleased with condition and the turf quality of the green as we head into the winter months.  It is still way to early to predict an opening date as we never know what kind of weather the spring will bring us.  We still need the sod to mature more than what it currently is and need a significantly deeper and thicker root mass than what we currently have.  This will come with time as the temperatures begin to warm in the spring. Several solid and core aerifications will be performed throughout the spring and potentially another pass across with the verti-drain.

Please remember to keep up to date with all of our winter activities by checking the blog on a regular basis.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Now What?: Preparing #18 Green for Play in 2012

Now that the renovation of #18 green has been completed, there are many steps that remain to make the green playable.  During the next few weeks, you will see us performing several different cultural practices in an effort to help the green become as healthy as possible as we head into the winter. What we do now also has a profound imapct on how quickly we can get the green playable in the spring.

The green will be topdressed regulary to help smooth the playing surface and to protect the plant as we head into the winter months. The green has already been fertilized to promote growth and maturation and will likely be fertilized at least one more time to promote nutrient and carbohydrate storage for the winter months. Ideally, I would like to deep-tine the green with solid tines to a depth of about 12" to help even out the playing surface and create additional channels for roots to grow sometime this fall but the sod will need to be established before this occurs. In the spring, the green will continue to be topdressed regulary as well as be aerified numerous times with both solid and hollow tines.

Heavy topdressing to help smooth playing surface

It is hard not to notice the bright orange fence surrounding the green.  This is there for obvious reasons.  Excess traffic leads to excess wear-and-tear, especially on new sod.  Because of the popularity of this project and the fact that it is being viewed as the shiny new present that everyone want to play with, I have elected to put a fence around the entire green and surrounding area to minimize traffic and unnecessary stresses.  Please stay outside the fence.  Adhering to this simple request will pay dividends next spring when it comes time to open the green for play. At this point it is far to early to estimate when the green will be open for play. Rest assured that it will be opened as soon as possible, but only when the time is right.

Fence? ...What fence?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Renovation Complete: #18 Green Est. 2011

After two very long days of working to get our renovation project done before the rains came, I am happy to report that the renovation of #18 green is now complete.  The comments from the membership regardingthe size, shape and contouring of the new green have been nothing but positive. It will undoubtedly provide a significant challenge at the completion of every round played here at Elcona Country Club.

Ramon and his staff from O&J Construction as well as Mr. Arthur Hills and his associate Brian Yoder have been true professionals to work with and every day of the project has been completed without any major setbacks or surprises.

The final day of the project was spent finishing the sod on the green, the collar mow-out and around the new bunker.  After the sod on the green was finished, it was cleaned, rolled and topdressed. The haul road leading from the cartpath was cleaned-up and sodded as well.  The last step of the day was to add the new bunker sand and to clean-up any remaining debris around the worksite.

Please watch for future updates that will describe our agronomic practices to the green for the remainder of the year and into next spring.  Click on pictures for a larger view.

The back of the green.

Completed green looking toward the fairway.

Beginning of the last day

Finishing the base of the bunker

New green after topdressing

The green after dragging the topdressing and the haul road after sodding

Adding sand to the bunker

Finishing the bunker

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Renovation of #18 Green: Day 8

Major progress today.  After an unannounced, but welcomed visit by Mr. Arthur Hills on Sunday, we had a few more minor adjustments to make to the green.  After the adjustments were made, it was finally time for some sod to go down.  By the end of the day we had about 75% of the green sod down and nearly all of the new mow out areas around the green.  It was an extremely long day, but well worth the effort by Ramon and his staff. Brian Yoder also made another visit to help with the project and to oversee the adjustments.

Bunker sand being delivered

Beginning to lay sod on the new bunker face

The first few rows of sod being put down

Making progress

Back half of the green done and the mow-out almost done

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Renovation of #18 Green: Day 7

Well, it was just a matter of time before our first minor set back.  Today (Sunday) was our first, and hopefully last, rainout of the renovation project.  We were able to get a few slope readings and some smoothing of the surface done before the heavy rain came, but it didn't take long until the green became too difficult work with.

Hopefully the sun and wind make a return trip to the area later today to dry things out so some sod can be installed tomorrow.  With another slight chance of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, tomorrow has suddenly become an extremely important day.

Giving the green a final prep before the sod goes on.  Unfortunately, this will
need to be done again because of the rainout today.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Renovation of #18 Green: Day 6

After another visit from Brian Yoder to review the final grade of the green, we are now much closer to putting the sod back on.  Today, a few minor adjustments to the contours of the green were recommended and a final shape was given to the bunker.

Most of the day was spent putting Brian's recommendations into place.  At the end of the day the green is now nearly ready for sod.  Some final raking by hand and another check of the slope percentages are all that need to be done before the sod gets replaced. Click on pictures for a larger view.

Brian Yoder (Black Jacket) showing some of the adjustments
that need to be made.

Bigger adjustments being made to lower tier

Brian adding some finishing touches

Ramon giving the upper tier the "eyeball" test prior to checkng with the laser
Orange paint indicating where the bunker edge will be located 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Renovation of #18 Green: Day 5

Once again, another big step forward after Day 5 was done.  All of the rootzone material has been added back into the greensite and the final contours are becoming more visible.  The irrigation has been re-routed and adjusted to work with the new shape of the green and the bunker is ready for inspection.  Brian Yoder will be back on Saturday to review the final shape of the green and make any necessary adjustments that he deems necessary.

We do not yet have a projected finising date, but it certainly seems that they are well ahead of schedule. Depending on the recommended adjustments, we may be able to put sod on the green at some point this weekend or on Monday.  The bluegrass sod for around the new bunker and the bunker sand will be here on Monday as well.  It is about to get even more hectic than it has been, so try to keep up. I will do my best to keep the updates coming.

Rootzone material being added

Working from the front to the back

View from the front of the green.  Much more of the green is now visible.

Beginning to work on final grading

Installing irrigation to match the new contour of the green

Renovation of #18 Green: Day 4

Today was one of those days where it may not look like a lot of productivity occurred, but we probably took our biggest step yet toward reaching the next phase of the renovation.  Coming into the day, the general shape of the green and bunker had been completed but had not been approved.  Mr. Arthur Hills and his associate, Brian Yoder visited the site to review the work and to make some minor adjustments.  After the visit, there was a definitive plan for the remainder of the project. 

The green took shape right before our eyes as Mr. Hills and Brian Yoder seemingly waved their hands and added subtle contours to the green.  The shape of the bunker from Day 3 to Day 4 took a more dramatic change.  The new bunker will be classified as a "coffin" bunker.  It will have a flat bottom and only a slight amout of sand flashed up on the sides.  I am thrilled with this decision, because the threat of washouts has almost been eliminated.  The grassed face of the bunker will be steep, but maintainable.  Make no mistake about it, this will be a very challenging bunker to go with an equally challenging green.

Ramon from O&J Construction, Mr. Hills and Brian Yoder making adjustments
Adjusting the flow of the transition between levels of the green

Combining the flow of the transition with the outer shape of the bunker
The new shape of the upper tier. Notice the spine running through the
middle of the tier (just like the old green).
The new shape of the transition between levels

The new shape of the bunker coming together.  You're not going
to want to be in this one!