I'd be willing to bet if the membership was asked how busy the turf department is in November, probably every last one of them would say, not very!
The course is closed. So what is there for us to do other than bring in the flags, tee blocks and coolers and go home for the winter, right?
Well................actually........I would argue that November may be the busiest month of the entire year. Not only do we have much more furniture to bring in than the three previously mentioned, every piece of furniture is cleaned, inspected for damage which needs to be repaired or replaced before next spring, and inventoried. With the small maintenance shop we have we need to carefully store as much as we can inside so we can get at it through the winter months to refurbish with paint or urethane and do repairs. Unfortunately some items will have to be stored outdoors.
The leaves continue to fall and we are constantly having to clean up branches and sticks so the vacuum can do it's job without getting damaged by the downed branches. Many tight areas such as bunkers, around gardens, and steep hills like the left side of number 3 have to be blown out with a back pack blower as larger blowers can't access these tight spots. The top growth of the turf has stopped, but below ground the roots continue to grow and now is a very important time for us to feed the turf so it can store carbohydrates to see it through the long winter. You may already know the turf is dormant all winter but continues respiration, just like the hibernating bear. So we have been applying fertilizers to all of our turf and the plants take this in even though there is no growth that can be seen. We also apply a winter fungicide to all greens, tees and fairways. This may be the single most important application of the year. Not having a fungicide on the turf would mean complete devastation of the turf as snow moulds would ravage the turf as snow melt begins either during the January thaw we are so used to seeing or in the spring.
We have to be extra vigilant on all the traffic we are putting on the golf course. With no top growth to heal the grass from the traffic we could do a lot of harm which would not recover until soil temperatures return in late May.
We also continue to repair what I call deficiencies. We had a 6 inch drain pipe which we know had been plugged all season, and this is a perfect time to dig it up and find out why it is no longer working. When we got it open, this is what we found,
Interlock and curb installation is also being done at the 18th tee, and below, at the 13th green. You can see the curb starting just behind where the utility cart is parked. We hope all areas will be complete before opening day in April.
The support posts on the rain shelter by the 16th tee have begun to deteriorate to a point where the roof is beginning to separate from the rest of the structure. If left unrepaired it will collapse under the weight of the roof.
So we have put in place a plan to shore up the roof, remove the existing posts, install new supports and set the roof down on the new, level support beams. Watch for a blog in the near future on our step by step process which is sure to be a job and a half.
Another job we have been undertaking is repairs to some of the damaged bunker edges such a the one below.
This bunker edge at the 1st green is now six years old. Over this time sand ends up building up on top of the original topsoil changing the grade and causing a weak bunker edge as the turf is growing completely in a sand root zone which is no where as stable as soil. Something as simple as a golfer stepping on this edge can tear the roots and damage the edge as seen in this picture above.
Digging down with a shovel quickly shows that almost 7 inches of bunker sand has been deposited on top of the original soil. This meant that the repair job will take more time and effort than originally anticipated.
Step one is to use a sod cutter to cut away the turf above the area we need to repair. We used a soil probe ahead of this step to determine where the sand is deepest and how large an area we need to open up.
Next, this area is all dug out by hand. The material removed is contaminated and cannot be reused in the bunker. It is all hauled away to our dump.
We install a bunker board between the sand of the bunker and what will be soil and sod.
Then we add soil to level and shape the edge the way we want it and install sod. This picture above is waiting on soil to be added and shaped.