Fall is always a busy time for the turf department. Preparing the golf course for winter, or “putting it to bed” as we usually refer to it, is a process that cannot be completed in just a few days. Winterization of the irrigation system alone is a two day event; applying fungicide to greens, tees and fairways can take a minimum of two days if the weather co-operates. Applying dormant fertilizers, installing top dressing of sand and tarps to greens, leaf clean up, and storing all the course furniture (or hardware) adds to the time it takes to properly prepare the property for the winter ahead. This year a snowfall one week after closing gave us more challenges than normal. I am happy to say that weather this week helped us accomplish everything we needed to, before winter sets in for good.
This fall has been a little more hectic than normal with the new clubhouse development happening. In addition to my daily responsibilities, I have been highly involved with many of the developments in and around the Clubhouse and its surrounding landscape. From curb installation to interlock and retaining walls, light standards, cart barn construction, irrigation additions, power supply, septic tank decommissioning, sewer and septic tie ins, even down pipe locations to drain the roof during rain events and shuttling water tanks up to the clubhouse so the tile guys can continue with their work, I have been working diligently with all levels of the installation to make it a seamless process. There has been nothing normal about 2014 so why would the fall be any different? Our ultimate goal is to have all landscape installed before the winter, but this goal is looking less likely as frost is setting in. There will most likely be some tree and grassing work required in the spring.
Back out on the golf course we are continuing improvements on many fronts. For starters, we have a new tool in our arsenal which we used to strip a 6 inch wide channel of sod off of the 16th green to allow a low spot that holds water and causes ice build-up, a better chance at draining away.
This small puddle usually becomes a large spot of ice over the winter on 16 green
This manually operated sod cutter allows us to cut a channel for water to flow off of, and away from the turf grass.
After the snow melts we will simply lay this sod back down and it will mend quickly enough members won’t even know it had been disturbed. A bigger job is happening on the 13th green where we stripped a significant portion of the left side to remove a high spot that trapped a lot of water. This area will now surface drain and significantly reduce, if not eliminate, water pooling up.
Sod is already being reinstalled on 13.
There is also the never ending tree work. We are continuing to remove trees that are dying from disease or from insect infestation such as our Ash. We are now at a point where the vast majority of diseased or rotting trees have been removed. Of all the tree work completed there is only one tree I think the majority of members will notice in the spring. The large white birch tree that was to the right of the 1st green is no more. We have battled with this tree over the years, it roots had invaded the bunkers and it produced significant amount of debris all season long both in the bunkers and on the putting surface. The tree was damaged in the ice storm last winter and we did our best to prune it back to health in the spring. Once the leaves were out and that extra weight was on the branches many more cracks appeared which were very noticeable after the tree dropped its leaves this fall. The kiss of death came earlier this week with the 100KPH wind storm causing more damage. I brought in an arborist to consult and it was determined the tree couldn’t be saved so it has been removed. This does open up the view between 1 and 8 greens, but I believe after two or 3 rounds of golf in the spring members won’t even remember it was there. Careful planning in the future will continue for planting replacement trees in many locations, just not where they will cause shade issues it the future.
While most of the outdoor closing duties have been completed, there is still a lot of work to do to course hardware and machinery during the coming winter month. I hope you enjoy your holidays and the down-time the winter brings. I will be hard at work prepping for the coming 2015 season which we all expect to be the best year ever at Whitevale.