Course Notes, 11/22/2020

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2020 has been a year that has tested all of our abilities in some form or fashion on how to accomplish our goals successfully, and November has been no different than the 10 months that proceeded it, with abnormally warm and dry weather conditions. These conditions all fall have been perfect for completing the Golf Course Improvement Plan and I again cannot thank our staff enough for their tireless efforts in accomplishing our goals this year.

Golf Creations came back last Monday and Tuesday to lay the last 2 acres of bluegrass sod surrounding the newly constructed bunkers. There was sod left over, so our staff used it to complete the area behind the new practice bunker. In total, it took 8 weeks to complete all changes to the golf course. The project has now entered what is called the “Punch List” phase, where the design committee will walk each hole with Golf Creations, and any small item or area that needs tweaking will be completed by their staff. Our staff has a bit of fairway sod left to lay on 1 and 4, and then the road begins to prepare all the new sand and grass surfaces for member play in 2021. I will blog more on how we will accomplish that later on this winter.

The staff and I have been working on other things on property as well in the last 2 weeks. Leaves came down hot and heavy before Veteran’s Day, but have been all swept or mulched up now. We also performed our annual fall deep tine aerification on greens, for the first time using our own aerifier! The process involved 1/2″ holes punching 9″ deep, with rolling and a smoothing layer of topdressing sand applied afterwards. I am quite thankful for the membership’s continued support and investment in equipment to better maintain the golf course. A video of the process is below. Our winterization of the golf course continues this week with application of plant protectants, and after Thanksgiving a heavy blanket of sand and fertilizer to both protect the plants from winter injury, and give them the food necessary to begin 2021 on the right foot. I wrote about the steps we take to prepare putting greens for winter and why we do it in this blog post.

We also are beginning in house project season, and our big project is expanding the practice tee north and east. The plan is the fill in the old practice bunker and the pit behind it to create an additional 5,000 square feet of hitting surface. The first step is taking fill dirt from our north field and hauling it to the site. My goal is to have this tee ready for use in the middle of 2021.

Dogwood Hills was also out this week to plant 3 trees from Elcona’s tree nursery on areas on 12 and 18 approved by the Golf/Greens Committee. Dogwood will return next spring to plant more trees from the nursery before they become too big to move.

As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com. From my family to yours, have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be thankful for in these challenging times!

Ryan

Course Notes, 11/8/2020

What a beautiful start to November, with record amounts of sunshine and warmth. As Tom always tells me, these days are “bonus days”, so hopefully you have been able to take advantage of them and enjoy a round or two. Our staff will continue to blow and remove leaves as a main focus.

The team from Golf Creations took advantage of our bonus days and finished shaping, spraying Better Billy polymer, and adding sand to all bunkers. As a reminder, all sand and newly laid sod areas (fairway and rough) are to be played as ground under repair and will be for the foreseeable future, given the forecast. While you may enter these areas to retrieve your ball, please do not hit your ball out of these to protect your investment in the golf course’s future. This sod continues to grow new roots, but is not yet firmly established in its new home.

Also, please do not drive on the new sod or around the ropes on the golf course. This sod will be better off and establish much quicker without the wear and tear of golf cart traffic to deal with. Thank you for your cooperation with this.

We completed the winterization of the irrigation system last week. One challenge this dry weather will give us is keeping the sod moist. You will see us out and about with sprayers and water tanks this weekend hitting hot spots and dry areas. One good thing about this time of year is the lower sun angles, which limits the intensity of drying turf out.

It truly is exciting to see the finished look of a sprayed bunker, especially with sand added. While the bulk of Golf Creations’ staff and equipment has left Elcona, they will be back Thursday and Friday to lay the remaining 2 acres of bluegrass sod surrounding the new construction. The front 9 will be closed those days to allow their staff to complete this in a timely manner.

Our staff has been balancing leaf blowing and removal with laying bentgrass sod. Our efforts focused on holes 1 and 2 this week. I especially am proud of the new look at #1, the staff did an awesome job completing this in 2 days. When the weather becomes a bit more seasonable, we will finish our bentgrass sod work on hole 4.

Our irrigation modifications are complete as well. Hole 5 needed all new wiring with the fairway bunker shifting south a few yards. Steve Ott and Paul Gleissner did an outstanding job with all of these modifications, both planned and unplanned.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask me at ryan@elconacc.com. Have a great week and I hope to see you out on the golf course!

Ryan

Course Notes, 11/1/2020

While the calendar look to make a close on the 2020 golf season, the weather forecast has a different agenda.

It is looking like a great week for you to visit Elcona and get in a final round or 2 for the year. The back 9 holes will be open and available for you, and as a reminder all sand and newly laid sod areas (fairway and rough) are to be played as ground under repair and will be for the foreseeable future, given the forecast. While you may enter these areas to retrieve your ball, please do not hit your ball out of these to protect your investment in the golf course’s future. This sod continues to grow new roots, but is not yet firmly established in its new home. Thank you for your cooperation! Another reminder is to be cautious Tuesday and Wednesday if you venture out, as we will be winterizing the irrigation system those days. High pressure air is used to remove as much water from the underground piping as possible. We try to always have a visual on what holes we are working on but cannot be everywhere at once.

Some of our staff’s main focus will continue to focus on leaf removal, via mulching or sweeping. Leaves that are swept are piles and taken to our compost pile, where they will break down and someday be useful soil for new plantings around the property.

The following Monday, November 9th, we will be deep tining all greens, creating root channels for 2021, providing fresh oxygen to the rootzone, and allowing for better winter drainage. The golf course will be closed that day.

The Golf Course Improvement Project is entering its final couple of weeks. Tom, Tom, and I continue to be impressed with their attention to detail and willingness to work together to achieve the best outcome. The sodded areas are rooting down nicely on the back 9, and we are mowing and topdressing them weekly to further smooth them out for 2021. Below is a summary of the combined efforts of our team and theirs:

Hole 1 took final shape, and is ready for polymer, sand, and sod. We spent a lot of time with this design given the challenge of draining rain and water run off in this area. The fairway bunker had its back two-thirds removed, and the remaining sand area stayed roughly in its same location on the hole. Fairway sod will be expanded slightly behind the bunker. The green complex received a nice facelift, removing the back bunker and expanding the front bunker slightly on both sides. A large amount of bentgrass sod will be laid by our team this week around this bunker to create an island bunker that will be quite visually appealing along the club drive to all who visit. Stay tuned for its final look.

The bunkering on hole 8 was altered slightly to increase their visibility off of the tee. The left bunker was expanded towards the tee to accomplish this, while the right bunker moved a couple yards closer to the tee. Mounding was added behind this bunker, to hide the expanded cart path that will be added here in the Spring 2021.

Hole 7 received some much needed upgrades in shaping. Our goal as a design team on this hole, as they were for all, was to keep the visual effect off the tee of a large sand area blanketing much of the hole, fix the maintenance opportunities and poor drainage, and ensure these bunkers had easy accessibility for all members to get in and out of. The first two fairway bunkers were reduced in size a bit, and kept in their same location. The major change on 7 was to the grouping of 3 fairway bunkers roughly 80-90 yards from the green. These were combined into one larger sand area, with mounding added on the north side to accentuate the new bunker. Both greenside bunker areas stayed in their same location, with the left two bunkers being combined into one new bunker.

The bunkers on 2,3,4,5,and 6 were sprayed with Better Billy Polymer, and are all ready for sand and sodding. The bunkers on 1,8, and 7 will be sprayed this week. Bluegrass sod will begin to surround the front 9 bunkers later this week. Our staff continues to do an awesome job cutting and transplanting bentgrass sod to areas where we are expanding the fairway and approaches, like this work on 2 pictured above.

I for sure can begin to see the end of this project within the next 2 weeks, which will make this an 8 week project in total. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask me at ryan@elconacc.com. Have a great week and I hope to see you out on the golf course!

Ryan

Course Notes, 10/25/2020

What a beautiful show Mother Nature has put on outside this past week. I was pleasantly surprised how vibrant the colors were given the dry August and September 2020 brought. The warmth in October also allowed us to have a successful aerification season and heal in all signs of it quite quickly. There are still some great days in the forecast for you to enjoy your golf course, and we hope to see you out as we continue mulching and sweeping up all those beautiful leaves when they fall off of the trees.

The new bunkers that the team from Golf Creations have completed got their first real test from a quick, heavy rain last week, and I can proudly say the design and shaping of these bunkers held firm with no standing water or sand washing down from the edges. These are a great improvement to an already great golf course and our team and I thank you for your investment in its future! All work performed last week is summarized further below.

While the golf activity on the course has began to dwindle down, many jobs need to be accomplished before the real cold air shuffles its way here. Besides all of the extra work needed to be done with the Golf Course Improvement Project, leaf clean up consumes most of our time in the next 4 weeks. Ballwashers and other water features are pulled in for the year. Two major jobs ahead for us include winterizing the irrigation system, which will take place November 2-4. If you are out on the course these days, please heed caution as sprinklers are automatically turned on and off during this process.

The greens will have their annual deep tine aerification performed on November 9th as well, weather permitting. These 1/2″ holes, penetrating the soil profile about 8″, create three advantages: additional channels for spring root growth, aid in relieving any deeper compaction within the rootzone soil profile, and extra drainage capabilities for ice/snow melt to prevent ice formation on the plant surfaces. The greens are rolled immediately after being aerified, and these holes do remain open throughout the winter for the above mentioned reasons. For the first time, we will be doing this in house, thanks to our purchasing a deep tine aerifier this past March.

Golf Creations was a bit hampered with last week’s rainfall and muddy conditions, but they accomplished additional shaping on holes 1-4. While conditions did not allow for any polymer to be sprayed, the drier forecast will allow them to spray this week. Their focus will be finishing holes 1-2, and rough shape holes 8 and 7. Our goal is to have all bunkers rough shaped by the end of next week.

Our team continued irrigation work where fairway bunkers moved farther down the hole, on 2, 4, and 5. 7 is the last hole where we (knowingly) have modifications to work on with this project. A special thanks to Steve Ott and Paul Gleissner for their hard work on this end of the project. Others on our staff have worked hard on sodding fairway and approach improvements, and they have done a tremendous job. Thank you Adam, Ron, Bob, and Jeff for your efforts here.

The bunkers on hole 3 are ready for polymer. The front left bunker was removed, making way for the back left bunker to be expanded slightly and lowered so that it is more visible from the tee. Later this fall our team will slide the approach more to the left. The back bunkers had no performance issues with shaping and framed the back part of the hole quite nicely, so liner and sand were installed here as is. One of our goals that Tom, Tom, and I have as a design team is to create beautiful visibility off of each tee, and I believe we have accomplished that greatly.

The right greenside bunker on 2 was shifted a bit to the left, with the left greenside bunker eliminated and being replaced with a grass swale. Fairway sod will be added to the left to create another small run off area, similar to others we have added on the course. These bunkers will be ready for polymer by the end of Monday.

The shaping on hole 1 has been one of the more dramatic improvements of the entire project so far. The fairway bunker is being reshaped and downsized to allow proper collection and drainage of all the water that runs down the fairway and hilly areas surrounding it. The greenside complex had its back bunker replaced with a grassy swale and one singular bunker surrounded by fairway grass, ultimately becoming a similar look to what was created on 14. Stay tuned for its final look!

If you have any questions, please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com. I hope you are enjoying the transformation of your golf course as much as I am. Have a great week!

Ryan

Course Notes, 10/18/2020

Another very productive week has come and gone out on the golf course at Elcona. For those who ventured out, you noticed a dramatic change in scenery as a bit under 2 acres of fresh bluegrass sod was laid by the team at Golf Creations around the newly constructed back 9 bunkers. A more detailed look at their transformation and other happenings with the Golf Course Improvement Project is below.

Tom and I are happy to have the back 9 holes open for play, but we still need your cooperation regarding the newly constructed features. All sand and newly laid sod areas (fairway and rough) are to be played as ground under repair and will be for the foreseeable future, given the forecast. While you may enter these areas to retrieve your ball, please do not hit your ball out of these to protect your investment in the golf course’s future. This sod will take some time to root down and firmly establish itself in its new home. Thank you for your cooperation!

Speaking of the forecast, the bottom has dropped out temperature wise. This means mornings with the potential of frost, and delays to the start of your round. Click here for a great video from the USGA Green Section explaining why we delay during frosty mornings.

Our team has also have begun other activities that will maximize turf health and protection from the severe winters that can visit our area. For our Poa annua greens, that entails the following:

Raising mower heights. The height of cut on greens from the normal height of .120″ to .135″ slowly. Raising height of cut allows more leaf surface for the turf to maximize their photosynthetic capabilities and carbohydrate storage. Raising height will also lessen stress to the plant and create a deeper root system going into winter. While raising heights may not create the speeds that summer brings, it is best for the long term health of the greens going into winter.

Fertility and Plant Protectants. While we limit nutrients on finely maintained turf during the season to provide great playing conditions, the fall is the best time to feed the turf to maximize carbohydrate storage going into winter. The more carbs the plant stores, the quicker it will break dormancy when temperatures warm up in the spring. Winter can also bring the threat of snow mold to all varieties of turf on the golf course, and our sprayers will be out applying plant protectants to help prevent infection from those fungal diseases.

Topdressing. When growth has ceased for the year, we will apply a thick coating of sand topdressing to bury the crowns and as much leaf tissue as possible. This sand helps protect and insulate the crown of the plant from any extreme cold temperatures. This practice is very effective in protecting the turf from any potential ice damage and helps maintain a smooth surface when the course opens next year.

The Golf Creations team has transitioned from finishing the back 9 to beginning work on the front, beginning with holes 4-6. We changed the order to complete the middle of the golf course before any detrimental weather set in, and to leave better road access to their machinery when the project enters the final phases (holes 1,8, and 7). Unfortunately, Monday night’s downpours left them with cleanup to the new sand in a few bunkers. This silt was quickly removed from the bunkers by their team, and the sod laid around the bunkers will prevent this from happening in the future.

Bluegrass sod was laid around all bunkers at the Practice Facility, 9 approach, and all bunkers on the back 9. Some sod work is needed around 10 green, and their sod team will return to complete that. Our staff spent some time last week laying fairway sod left of 12 green, completing that hole’s fairway expansion to the left. Great job fellas!

The bluegrass sod was laid over the edges and into the bunker, with sand then raked over the sod and to the edge. Why? This method seals the liner system and prevents contamination of the surrounding soil into the bunker, which reduces the playability of the sand and the drainage capability of the liner. This look will be maintained for the first year after installation to properly seal the new bunker system.

Before the sod team arrived, construction of the new fairway bunker on 10 was performed. The 2 old bunkers were combined into one, and the area is much better centered from the view at the tee. The bunker will be sprayed with Better Billy polymer and have sand added this week, weather permitting. The green complex features a couple of new mounds to the left, and will have a bentgrass run off area to the back left of the green. The bunker was removed at the green and the surrounding terrain was sloped to better shed water away towards CR 21.

Holes 5 and 6 are also ready for Better Billy polymer and sand. The fairway bunker on 6 was moved a bit further down the hole and reshaped to better shed water away. The left greenside bunker was filled in and will be replaced with a slightly widened approach and bluegrass mounding. The right greenside bunker was massaged and brought slightly into the existing approach. Our team moved irrigation and old stumps that were in the way of the new fairway bunker. The fairway bunker on 5 was moved further down the hole a bit and reshaped. Gone are the deep 3 greenside bunkers along the left side of the green complex, and in their place will be one single bunker, closer to the green, along with a series of swales and mounds designed to shed water away from the green complex and improve the playability of the turf there. Stay tuned for its final look!

The Golf Creations team began work on 4 Friday afternoon. The first fairway bunker is being moved slightly down the hole, the second fairway bunker is being filled in, and the third fairway bunker is being reduced in size and reshaped. The greenside bunker is being massaged but will remain in its general shape and location.

This week’s agenda includes finishing work on the above holes, as well as work starting on holes 2 and 3. Our team will begin solid tine aerification on fairways, laying more bentgrass sod at new fairway and approach areas, and irrigation modification made necessary by the GCI project.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them at ryan@elconacc.com. Thank you again for your patience and understanding during this quite exciting time for your golf course. Have a great week!!

Ryan

Course Notes, 10/12/2020

Another week of gorgeous fall weather here at Elcona has our trees beginning to show their vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows, with peak color estimated to be within the next 10 days given our quite dry season. It has been awesome to see many of you take full advantage of some great golfing conditions at your club. Greens aerification continues today with the Front 9 greens being completed.

Thank you all!!!

Many of our staff members have begun to leave for the season, and I again wanted to say a HUGE thank you to all of them for their tireless efforts this year. 2020 has been one for the record books for many reasons, and each person above stepped up and hit it out of the park this year. By the middle of November, we will be down to our full time staff.

The Golf Creations staff have taken full advantage of the warm, dry weather last week as well. We started to see the process of how Better Billy Bunker liner is installed, as well as sand put into a few bunkers. I have again summarized their work below. This week will be a short period of transitioning from the back 9 to the front 9. If the weather cooperates fully, rough shaping will commence and finish on holes 7,8, and 10, while sand will be installed on holes 11-14. The other exciting part of this coming week will be seeing sod installation, completing the final look of each hole’s transformation.

The transition of construction to the front nine holes will also create the need for a different configuration of holes that are available to you when you visit Elcona for a round of golf. It will still be imperative that you continue to check in with the Pro Shop staff to see what holes are available. There will be a period of time where a few holes on the front and a few on the back will be available for you to play.

Also, when holes are open that have newly constructed bunkers and sod, these areas will be Ground Under Repair, and need to be played as such. We all understand that these bunkers and newly shaped surrounds are the shiny new toy that everyone is wanting to play out of and get a feel for, however there is much work and sod growth that is still required to make the new construction playable and up to member expectations. These areas will remain Ground Under Repair until all areas have healed sufficiently, and it is crucial for the project’s success that these new areas be left alone. Thank you for your cooperation in this!!

Besides seeing earth moving and the physical changes to the golf course, the most interesting sight in this project has been the spraying of the Better Billy liner, and the QC process determining the success of this product. Above are 2 videos shot that show a glimpse into that work. The quite simple drainage needed here for the liner’s success, given the loamy sand soils, is a definite advantage for our turf and bunkers to be playable and consistent going forward.

As I mentioned earlier, sand installation began Thursday, with bunkers at the Practice Facility and holes 16-18 fully completed. Sod work will commence at these areas next Thursday weather permitting. The sand is installed at a 5″ depth, which will be compacted down to a 4-4.5″ depth. One observation you will see is the sand being installed short of the bunker edge. This is to allow the sod to be installed below the sand layer to the Better Billy Bunker liner, thus sealing the system from soil contamination. I will blog more on this process and the reasonings why next week, but it is a crucial step in the success of the liner system.

The bentgrass run off area on 14 green was installed by our staff this week too. All of this sod came from the very beginning of 15 fairway. Much work is left to do to smooth the playing surface out, including multiple sand applications and aerification. The right greenside bunker will be surrounded by rough sod mowed at intermediate height, creating a pretty cool island bunker surrounded by fairway height bentgrass. Fairway bunkers were finished and Better Billy polymer installed.

The final shaping on 13 was done on Wednesday. Pea gravel and Better Billy polymer was sprayed on Friday.

Hole 12 saw rough shaping completed at the green and the fairway bunkers. Our staff stepped up to the plate and removed all the old bluegrass sod at the left of the green, which will be replaced with fairway height bentgrass, creating a new collection area that will give you a multitude of options to play out of.

Hole 11’s bunkers received a overhaul shaping wise on Thursday too. The 2 new pot bunkers on the right side of the green surround replace the huge bunker that collected much of that area’s water runoff. The left bunker was massaged to shed all the surface water drainage away from the sand. Better Billy polymer was installed, and sand will be put in this week.

Hole 10 is currently in transition. Rough shaping on the fairway bunker is ongoing, with the goal of directing all the water run off from the fairway around both sides of the bunker. The greenside bunker has been removed and in its place will be mounding as well as another fairway height bentgrass area. Stay tuned for its final look.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them at ryan@elconacc.com. Thank you again for your patience and understanding during this quite exciting time for your golf course. Have a great week!!

Ryan

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Course Notes, 10/4/2020

Although the weather was not the best on the golf course much last week, lots was accomplished by our team and the team from Golf Creations. Our team is beginning to get the golf course prepared for winter, and a huge step begins Monday with Back 9 greens aerification. As in past years, we will be solid tining these greens and the small Practice Green with 1/2″ solids, followed with a healthy dose of sand to fill the holes left behind. Here is a previous blog I wrote on the process of how we accomplish aerification, while here is a link to a great video from the USGA explaining the process and why we perform it. The Front 9 greens will be aerified October 12th, weather dependent. We will be deep tining the fairways throughout the month of October, as staff and weather allow. Thank you for your understanding while we perform this necessary maintenance!

Below are summaries of what our team and Golf Creations accomplished last week on the Golf Course Improvement project. It is truly neat to see some bunkers shaped and ready for Better Billy polymer. In speaking with the Golf Creations leadership team, you will see more staff next week to form 2 finish teams, one shaping team, and a polymer team. As bunkers are sprayed, the leaders at Golf Creations along with myself, Tom Thome, and Tom Zimmerman will be performing quality control to ensure the polymer has been applied to BBB specifications. Once all the bunkers on a hole have passed all tests, the hole can reopen, with the total disturbed area treated as ground under repair. Sand will begin to be added by the team at Golf Creations as their levels and productivity allow. Please continue to check in with the Pro Shop to see what holes are open when you decide to enjoy some golf at Elcona.

Above is a slideshow of the bunker “finish process”. The first step is to use a mini excavator to remove all soil around and inside the bunker to create the base depth and shape. After that is complete, the mini excavator switches buckets and digs a series of drainage channels, such as in the video below. These channels are for the installation of slotted pipe that will take water out of the bunker and into a drainage pit outside of the bunker. After all the plumbing is done, pea gravel fills the pipe channels, and the entire bunker to a 2″ final depth. This gravel serves as the liner aggregate that receives the BBB polymer spray to create the final liner.

The 4″ pipe at the top of the bunker serves as both a vent for the system as well as a clean out in case the system becomes clogged in the future. The 15″ pipe outisde of the bunker is the pipe that will accept all waters from the bunker, and allow them to drain naturally though the pipe into a large area of river rock that surrounds the pipe, and into our beautiful sandy soil. While above the ground currently, these pipes will be cut to grade once the sod is installed.

Drainage Install at the Short Game Area

I continue to be quite proud of our staff and their efforts this year, and last week was no different. Besides cutting and laying some of the new bentgrass sod in areas, all irrigation changes are our responsibility. above are pictures of the installation process on 17 fairway. Last Thursday was the first time participating in this work for many of the staff, and they all were intrigued by the process. We all enjoyed working together to accomplish a single goal that day! Below is a tool that made the job much easier, the tractor mounted trencher. Thanks to your continued support, we continue to invest in equipment that make Elcona a great place to be a part of, and work!

Our staff installing irrigation on 17

The bunker at the Practice Facility and 18 are ready for polymer. These will be the first bunkers to be sprayed this coming week.

All the bunkers on 17 are ready for polymer as well. The darker soil on the first picture indicates where the fairway will be extended to. This extension was seeded Thursday and hopefully we will see grass seedlings emerge by the end of this week. A drainage pit was added in the new bentgrass collection area behind the left greenside bunker, and that sod has already begun to root down in its new home.

Trenching inside 17 fairway bunker

The bunkers on 16 were finished Saturday and are ready for BBB polymer as well.

The bunkers on 14 green are where the finish crews will begin work on Monday. The right greenside bunker has its final shape, and our staff will be adding sod behind it as another run off area. The white line in the second picture above marks where the bentgrass will end and rough will begin. The fairway bunkers are rough shaped and ready for the finish crew Tuesday.

Not much was worked on 13 last week, but this hole is ready for the finish team to work their magic.

Moving earth on 12 fairway bunker

Rough shaping was started on 12 late last week, with the fairway bunker requiring the most work. As the media above shows, the heavy equipment was brought out to move the bunker farther down the hole, and additional mounding added as a backdrop on the left. Much work still needs to be done before 12 is ready for the finish crew, including finishing the rough bunker shape near the green, and rototilling the fairway expansion to the left of the green.

It is exciting to see the entire process of making these much needed improvements at Elcona, and I hope you are enjoying seeing them too. It truly is an exciting time for the club. If you have any questions, please ask me at ryan@elconacc.com. Have a great week!

Ryan

Course Notes, 9/28/2020

Golf Creations continues to make progress on the Golf Course Improvement Project. Rough shaping was completed last week on holes 13-17, and the finish crew has arrived to begin prepping the rough shaped bunkers into ones ready for polymer, sand, and sod.

This week you will begin to see additional holes closed, due to both crews working on different areas of the golf course. If we get some good weather, it could be very possible that most of the back 9 could be closed by Saturday, so it continues to be critical that you please check with the Pro Shop on what holes are available on the days you visit Elcona for a round of golf. Once the finish crew has finalized the bunker shape, added drainage and gravel, the hole will remain closed until polymer is sprayed. This is to preserve the integrity of their work and ensure the gravel layer is not disrupted, which is a critical step in the quality of the Better Billy system being installed. I appreciate your understanding regarding this project!

Below is a summary of all that has been completed since I last wrote:

The Practice Facility bunkers have been finished are are ready for the Better Billy polymer to be sprayed, which will create the liner. As the above slide show depicts, the crew uses both a mini-excavator and hand shovels to finalize the shape and depth of the bunker, as well as dig the lines for the drainage pipe to install. The pipe is installed in a herringbone pattern, that will collect water from all areas of the bunker and displace it into a 15″ catch basin, located outside of the bunker. These basins will be covered with a iron grate and allow water to escape during a heavy rain event. Gravel is then placed over the drain tile and across the bottom of the bunker in a uniform 2″ layer. Once dried to a specified moisture percentage, BBB polymer can be applied to create the final liner.

Hole 13 has one less bunker now on the right side, as the two were combined, with the majority of the sand area guarding the front middle of the green. The left two bunkers remain in their general locations, with sod/sand lines changed to make the bunkers more visible from the tee. The above video shows how Ramiro uses his skidsteer to rough shape a bunker.

14 Bunker Rough Shaping

While the fairway bunkers on 14 have stayed in their general location, there was some smoothing of slopes and lines to improve accessibility in and out of the bunker and to better shed water away from the sand area. The mound right of the first fairway bunker was shaved completely down so that now all sand should be visible from the tee and main landing areas, greatly improving the aesthetics of the entire hole.

The work performed on the greenside bunkers on 14 took a bit of time. Gone is the large knob in the middle of the left greenside bunker, and in its place is a much gentler slope along the front edge along with a clean view of the entire green. The front right bunker was moved slightly into the approach and reshaped to better shed water away from the sand area. The back right bunker was eliminated and in its place will be a bentgrass collection area behind the remaining bunker as well as bluegrass rough. Stay tuned once sod and sand are installed to see the final vision of these changes.

Hole 16’s fairway bunker was moved a bit farther down the hole, with the back half of the original bunker ultimately filled in to create a grass swale to collect water from the bunker and fairway. 16 greenside bunkers were left relatively unchanged in location. The left bunker’s front slope was softened and expanded a bit to make it easier to maintain. The front right greenside bunker had a mound removed and sloped softened so now the entire green can be seen while attempting a shot from it. The back right bunker’s design was good so no shaping was necessary.

17 Fairway bunker. Fairway will expand behind the bunker, along the white line

17 fairway bunker was shifted a bit farther down the hole as well. The back 2/3rds of the original bunker will become a combination of fairway and rough, and maintain its lower grade to collect water from both the surrounding turf and the bunker drainage.

17 greenside bunkers remained largely in their current locations, with slight modifications to the right greenside bunker. A bentgrass run off area was added behind the left greenside bunker to improve the playability of that area should shots miss the green left, giving every player different options of recovery (chip, putt, flop, etc…). One of our main responsibilities during this project is moving/adding irrigation for their crew. One example of this is pictured above, where we had to move a 2″ pipe to make way for the new drain in this run off area.

The approach expansion on 9 was sodded last week, and will remain ground under repair until the sod has rooted down and seams are knitted in.

If you have any questions, please contact me at ryan@elconacc.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this longer than normal blog post, and have a great week!

Ryan

Course Notes, 9/20/2020

The shaping team from Golf Creations arrived late last week to begin Elcona’s Golf Course Improvement Project. Tom, Tom, and I are already impressed with the skill set of the shaper, as he has over 20 years of shaping experience, many of those on renovations at top 100 courses. He also shares our vision on the changes we want to accomplish and can execute those seamlessly. Below are summaries of what all everyone worked on, and some other tidbits you may have noticed the last week out on the golf course:

Sand was rototilled into the existing native sandy soil to form the new bunker base on 18. The wood stakes are where the new sand outline of the bunker will be.

A question I received frequently last week was what the wood stakes were marking. Unless noted on the stake, these are marking the new sand lines for the shaper to identify and contour the outside accordingly. This was suggested by our shaper to help him visualize the new bunker and surround.

The Practice Facility began to receive its facelift, with the addition of a practice bunker on the south end of the tee. We have always struggled with growing quality tee grass in that area due to the lack of sunlight, so it made sense to change direction and move the bunker to that location. The existing bunker next to the practice tee will be completely filled in over the next two months and eventually become an extension of the tee, adding additional yardage and square footage.

The Short Game bunker will be modified this coming week.

Rough shape for the new practice bunker

18’s bunker received a facelift as well. The slope going to the green was softened and recontoured to better shed water away from the sand area and to make maintenance of the turf easier. The floor of the bunker was raised approximately 18″ and given a slight upslope towards the green, and while you will still not see the green surface if in it, you will be able to see much more of the flagstick and have a better opportunity for recovery.

Rough grading complete on 18.
Ramiro uses both a skid steer and mini excavator to add soil and shape the bunker into its final form. Besides shaping, these units are critical in compacting the soil for stability.

The bunker on 9 has been filled in and the area is ready for sod. The approach will be expanded to the right about 3 yards with sod this week.

Tomas filling in 9 bunker with sub soil excavated on site. Approximately 30 loads of fill was needed to raise the soil to its final grade.
Ramiro using the skid steer to level topsoil to its rough grade. Both bentgrass and bluegrass sod will be needed to finish 9.
Bentgrass sod removal from 17 fairway. This sod will be used in other areas on the course, like where #9 approach

This week’s agenda for the Golf Course Improvement Project will focus primarily on the back 9 bunkers. Please check with the Pro Shop on what holes are available on the days you visit Elcona for a round of golf.

Animal damage right of 16 green.

Driving around Saturday afternoon I noticed raccoons/skunks were digging again to the right of 16 and 7. These animals are digging in the soil looking for grubs to eat. These areas have been treated again with an insecticide and the animal digging should go away as fall progresses.

Divot taken out on the left front of 8 green.

I also noticed a divot was taken out of 8 green on Saturday. While taken in jest or by accident, this turf will not recover and heal like a fairway divot and had to be plugged out. Please be respectful of your fellow member playing after you and take care of the putting surfaces!

If you have any questions please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com. Thank you and have a great week!

Ryan

Course Notes, 9/10/2020

One week from today, the Golf Course Improvement Project will begin.  As I mentioned in Monday’s blog, Golf Creations will begin on September 17th at the Practice Facility.  While the facility will remain open for use, some areas may be temporarily unavailable due to the construction schedule for that day.  Tom and I encourage everyone to check with the Pro Shop each day for complete information on what is available for you on any day you visit Elcona.  Another reminder that they will be working in this order: Practice Facility, 9, 18, 17,16, and backwards from there. As of today, hole #1 will be the last hole to be worked on.

Sprayed and roped off grass area at the Practice Facility

You also will begin to notice more areas being roped off before construction for a period of time.  These areas have been treated with Round Up to kill off the existing grass and conserve topsoil.  Golf Creations will then rototill the area to shape the new bunker complex.  These roped off areas are to be treated as Ground Under Repair and should not be entered until the rope is removed.  The reason for this is for your safety and to prevent foot traffic from accidentally tracking the herbicide to grass that we all do not want killed, like greens and fairways.  Signage like the example below will be placed in these areas to remind everyone of this.  Below also shows how easily the herbicide can track on accident.  The ropes will be removed in a day or 2 after application when it is safe to walk on again.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter!

Signage that will be placed in Round-Up areas.
Accidental tracking of herbicide and the result. Very easy to do!
Semi unloading bunker sand. The trailer is lifted 35 feet in the air to off load!

Finally, bunker sand has finally started to arrive on property, so all of the necessary materials are now here.  Below are each of the main aggregates needed to construct a bunker with the Better Billy Bunker liner.  

Topsoil piled high

Roughly 500 tons of topsoil was purchased to add additional shape to the new bunker complexes.  The topsoil was mixed with sand to best fit our native sandy loam soil here at Elcona.  

Pea gravel is stone that is between 1/4″ and 3″8″ in diameter.  This gravel will serve as both the fill between all drainage pipe and as the Better Billy liner.  Gravel is installed at a 2″ depth to create the liner before the Better Billy polymer is applied.  

1″ River Rock

River rock, similar to what you may find in landscaping beds, will be used to create drainage pits for the bunker drainage piping to feed into.

If you have any questions, please email me at ryan@elconacc.com. Have a great weekend!

Ryan