Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ice Storm Update

I'm sure all members are anxiously waiting for a report on how the course fared the ice storm. With apologies to all,  my family and I were out of town until Sunday night.
Monday morning I arrived to the ice which had trapped the chain and lock on the front gate.
I spent the day trying to get sand and ice melter onto the driveway, parking areas and walk ways to the trailers/office.
By the time three or four hours had passed I realized I needed help from some "Big Guns".
After another hour the phone I finally found a snow plow contractor who agreed to bring down his truck and sander/salt spreader. He insisted on cash up front. While I waited for him to arrive I toured the course to assess damage.
Most everything had between 1/2 and 3/4 of an inch of ice.
Weak trees, especially Silver Maples which we have far too many of, received the most damage. This large Silver by the 7th tee is typical of the damage sustained to all weak species, mainly Silver Maple and Willows.
Not a lot of Chines Elm's left on the property, but they also are weak and many upper branches were lost.
Silver Maples on right sd of 5. 
Looking into the valley from 4 tee
Not all bad news. 6 newly spaded trees at 8 were unharmed
I would have bet the spruce beside 15 green would have lost the top half....but no damage at all
Strong species such as this Sugar Maple......
....and the Oak behind 4 stood up to the ice with very little problem. There's no question we have a big clean up ahead of us, but at least we were not trying to open the course the next day.
I will be submitting a special request to the Board of Directors to purchase a wood chipper as renting one for the length of time it will take to complete this clean up task  will cost so much we may as well invest in one for the future. I still have significant ice layer on the driveway and parking area to deal with once Christmas is over. Whitevale, the last time I checked is still without power.
Now.............I need to get back to the family.
Merry Christmas all!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pre Christmas Update

I have high hopes that the start to this winter is proving a return to consistent winter weather for us. The last few winters fluctuations in high and low temperatures along with rain events rather than snow falls gave us some challenges to keep the turf healthy as we went through this part of the season.
 Early cold weather put frost in the ground and a recent blanket of snow is absolutely perfect for the golf course. The early frost also allowed us to get the large tree spade on the property to plant 6 new maples on the left side of the 8th hole last week.  As you know these trees replace Ash and Austrian pines that were removed as they were dying off from disease and insects.
Dropping the first of 6 significant sized new maples on the left side of 8
All 6 were successfully installed before the latest snow fall
Not completely spectacular without leaves, but I am confident they will be fully appreciated next season when the leaf breaks from the bud on all these new additions.
As mentioned in an earlier Blog we stripped the back of the 7th green to stop water from pooling which will also cause significant ice buildup making the grass prone to winter kill.
Poor surface drainage leads to pooling of water as seen here on the Putting Green after a summer rain. This leads to saturated soils and if left long enough, death of the turf during the growing season.
The same pooling of water in the winter over frozen soil is a much bigger job to remove before it freezes. In this file photo we are using a shop vac to suck water up from the greens surface.
This photo shows how we remove the sod with the sod cuter and meticulously reshape the surface by hand with a shovel. This project was about 75-80% complete when the snow shut us down completely. There is no concern for us getting it finished and sod back in place for opening day 2014.
With Christmas around the corner I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our members a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.   I look forward to spending time with my family over the holidays and hope to see all of you at our AGM in January.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Winter Golf School

As mentioned in the last Sideline 30, Kevan Goble and Steve Rodriguez will be operating a winter golf school. Originally called Active Golf and scheduled to open on December 1st, their location will now be known as Better Golf and the new opening date will be January 10. Better Golf will offer Whitevale members a location to take lessons until the new range opens.

Below is an article on Better Golf submitted by Kevan and Steve.

Teaching Philosophy

Better Golf’s teaching philosophy will be based on the twin pillars of technology and physical fitness. By utilizing today’s latest technology, golf lessons can be more productive and dynamic than ever before. We also believe, in conjunction with the Titleist Fitness Institute, that the true potential of a golfer’s swing can only be attained when his/her body is in optimum condition. Do you have to be ripped like Tiger Woods or as malleable as a gymnast? Of course not. But even a moderate improvement in your strength and flexibility will directly enhance your ability to hit great golf shots.

Screening Process

When first arriving at Better Golf, we encourage students to take a screening test designed by the Titleist Performance Institute to help determine their current level of strength and flexibility. The screening will help enable us to determine the best course of action to follow for each student’s situation. After the screening, you’ll also have the option of consulting with one of our sports fitness and injury experts who can create a program for you ensuring your body becomes stronger, more flexible, and less susceptible to injuries.

If you are only interested in golf lessons, you may choose to bypass the screening and/or the option for a fitness program. That’s entirely up to you. Bear in mind, after consulting with the sports fitness and injury expert, you may find some of their services are covered by your health insurance.

Our Technology

Simulator: instead of hitting balls at a busy dome or into a net, the simulator enables you to enjoy watching your shots from start to finish, with true-to-life graphics.

Launch Monitor: reveals all the characteristics of your ball flight including distance, roll, sidespin, spin ratio, ball speed, and smash factor.

Head Measurement Technology: measures the characteristics of your clubhead during a swing, including clubhead speed, swing path, and face angle at impact.

KVest: a 3 dimensional tool capturing the biomechanical movements of your body. From a teaching perspective, it allows us to measure the efficiency of your swing. Bottom line: efficient swings are more important than pretty looking ones.

Tomi Putting: calculates swing path, tempo, and clubface data during your putting stroke.

Lesson Packages

Screening Consultation: $90.

One hour process designed to determine your current level of strength and flexibility as well as clarifying your objectives for taking lessons. Upon completion of the screening, we’ll recommend a program intended to help you realize your goals. Both Steve and I have been certified by TPI to perform these screenings.

*Screening is complimentary for Monthly and Winter Technology lesson packages.

Technology Lessons

One hour sessions taking full advantage of the technology we have at our disposal.

1 lesson: $90.

Monthly Package: 4 lessons, includes complimentary screening: $320.

Winter Package: 12 lessons, includes complimentary before and after screening: $875.

Old Fashioned Lessons

Half an hour long. Use of video included.

$50 per lesson.

Monthly Package 4 Lessons: $180.

Winter Package 12 lessons: $425.

*Junior Lessons: 25% off all above listed prices.

Fitness Programs and Services

Through our association with qualified health and fitness experts, you will have access to services such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, spinal decompression, massage therapy, and acupuncture. As mentioned previously, the cost of fitness and health programs may be covered on your health insurance. The fitness programs are designed to work in conjunction with the golf lessons.

Location and Contact Numbers

Better Golf will be located at 1101 Kingston Rd (at intersection with Dixie Rd), Pickering, Unit 104. It’s conveniently located between the Whites and Liverpool Road exits on the 401.

Kevan Goble can be reached at: or 416-873-6984.

Steve Rodriguez can be reached 905-767-2110, Twitter@Roddy_Golf.

If you have further questions regarding the winter lessons, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Wishing everyone a great holiday season. Look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Kevan Goble, Whitevale Teaching Professional.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Migrating south for the winter?? I wish!

It's not uncommon for Ontario golfers to think that once the course closes for the season, the turf department brings in the flag sticks and tee blocks and goes home for the winter.
 Nothing could be further from the truth.
 It took us almost a full week to bring in, clean, inventory and put away all of our course furniture, and then our winter work has just begun. It took another two days to fully winterize the irrigation system. We have also leveled low sprinkler heads, added, removed and relocated other heads and valves to better suit the layout of the newly added range and practice facility. Additionally, we aerified our sand greens with ½ inch hollow tines to continue removal of the organic layer, and all 18 greens were then deep tine verti-drained and top dressed. A final dormant fertilizer was also applied to all greens.
Course clean up of leaves and branches continued through last week from the significant number of weak and messy silver maples we have across the property.
The new driveway has been marked with T-bar to help keep snow removal equipment off our new practice facility. Snow fence has been installed to help snow drift onto the new greens and range tee which will act like a blanket, keeping the cold, desiccating north winds off our tender seedlings.
I have put significant time and effort into preparing the 2014 capital and operations budget. Properly building the  budget requires me to detail the time, equipment, supplies and labour required to complete every task we intend to perform next season in the most economical way possible, while providing the high level of course conditioning expected by our members. It's never an easy task.
Construction of a new path has been completed for better access to the first tee and parking lot area by power carts. We are also enlarging the 12th black/blue tee deck. With the amount of play this par 3 tee receives in a season I’m proud that we were able to keep any turf on the deck at all. When complete this project will double the overall tee surface, improving this area significantly. In addition, we have stripped the sod off the back of the 7th green so that we can re-grade to establish better surface drainage to allow water to escape without pooling. The early arrival of snow and freezing temperatures have put the brakes on these last two projects (and allowed me to stay in the office long enough to finally do a Blog entry), possibly until spring arrives. But that does not mean we get to put our feet up.
Fill being placed at the back of 12 tee
 Jobs on the to-do list:
I have been working diligently to prepare for the Ontario Government regulated public Integrated Pest Management (IPM), meeting which requires us to compile all pesticide applications and detail where, when, and why they were applied. We also report the total active ingredient of each product we use over the season and put it into a presentation for the general public. Once completed, I prepare for the follow up audit mandated by the IPM Council of Canada which confirms all our reporting is accurate. In all, a tedious and costly program.
Perhaps the biggest job of all is safely completing all the tree work required. Winter is always the season to evaluate the health of our trees and execute a plan for pruning and if required, removal. This winter may mark the most significant tree work in any single year in Whitevale's history. This is due to a number of reasons. First, any tree that is a safety concern or hazard must be taken down before it comes down on its own. At no time will we take a chance with the safety of our members, their guests or our staff.
To the untrained eye this tree looked solid, but inside significant rot made it a hazard
Second, any tree that is either dead or in significant decline will also be removed. This accounts for a significant number of trees which must be dealt with. Austrian pines have been killed or are near death due to a disease called Diplodia. We have slowly been removing these pines for the last 8 years, but this winter we have many more that must come down than in previous years. Emerald Ash Borer is a devastating insect that is killing ash trees all over southern Ontario. This will be the most noticeable of the removals to members, with trees on the left side of 8 and right side of 15 being removed.
Lastly, but most significantly, are trees that cause shade to our putting surfaces. While we all have attachment to trees for different reasons, I cannot let a tree that is causing turf decline on any of our putting surfaces take priority over the health of our greens. Trees that were not an issue 5 or 10 years ago have grown significantly and now need major pruning or removal. It is clear that plantings undertaken for the first 40 year of the club's life were not done with the consideration of the size of the tree at maturity, or its location with regard to the morning sun. The sun is in a different location in the sky depending on what season we are in, and this needs to be taken into consideration when we are talking about shaded green sites. Some trees cause significant shade this time of year but are not an issue during the growing season, and vice-versa. In the 30 years I have been managing turf grass, I have not once regretted the removal of a tree I have cut down with my trusty chain saw. Safe to say, I have never met a chain saw I didn’t like. We continue to strategically plan tree variety and sites requiring trees, and are planting new trees yearly. In the years after course renovations were complete, we invested over $100,000 in new plantings around the club, and this will continue with a capital commitment of $13,000 in new plantings during 2014. Tress are an asset, but only if the right species is put in the right location.
Significant shade on a sunny day wont even melt off the lightest layer of snow by mid day
In conclusion, here's an update of Whitevale’s practice facility. I owe everyone involved a big thank you; from Thomas McBroom, to the Vergeer boys to my staff. Everyone put in a committed effort to complete the job within our fair weather window. When this area has had a chance to mature, I have no question it will be the envy of almost all private clubs in the GTA.

A sneak peek at the chipping green when we removed the tarp to apply winter fungicide and fertilizer shows significant green fuzz! We have seen great germination across all seeded areas and anticipate an explosion of green growth as soon as soil temperatures jump in the spring. I know the spring will bring a flood of members asking the same question……..”When is the practice facility going to open”? Of course I have an answer for you right now….”Not until its ready”! The best the winter can do for us is to give us frost in the ground and a layer of snow and stay cold, so far exactly what we have got. The worst would be no snow cover and significant cold temperatures and wind which would cause desiccation and the ultimate death of some of the tender seedlings. Mother Nature cannot be controlled, but as always the turf department is at the ready to respond to whatever comes our way.

One last note, I have decided to start “tweeting” on Twitter. While there may not be a lot for me to tweet about until spring, if you’d like to follow me, you can find me @BlairWhitevale.

Hope you enjoy the winter; I’m heading to sharpen my chain saw.