If you are like me and are a native Hoosier, you probably love the peaceful setting that winter brings to our area. Go out on any morning this time of year and take stock of scenery like above. But if you are also like me, you look at the calendar and see it is late February which creates excitement for another great year of golf here at Elcona. Golf will be here soon enough, but it will take more than a few days to melt the almost 20″ of snowpack on top of the course, as well as thaw out the frozen soil. We will keep all of you abreast of the latest course conditions and when it is ready for the 2021 season to begin.
The ice and snow on greens were a strong focus for us this month. In past years where we had ice storms and a prolonged ice cover on turf, we have had to remove the ice to prevent suffocation of the turf from harmful gas buildup. Fortunately this year the ice was quite porous and we have not observed any irregularities or damage from this winter. We will continue to monitor all playing surfaces as temperatures stay above freezing the next few days to ensure the health of them.
During the deep freeze that was February, the staff and I continued to work on preparations for your golf course. Our tree management program has taken a different direction the past couple of years. While there will always be a few trees to remove for various reasons, gone are the years of removing 70-80 trees off of the property in any given winter, with our focus shifting to more of a maintenance approach to the trees that define the playability and aesthetics of the course. To accomplish this, a telescopic lift is rented for a few weeks to safely raise us high enough to remove lower hanging branches, any dead branches that are stuck up in the tree, and create a more uniform look to any stand of trees lining the golf course. Our goal with this rental this winter was to tackle 5 holes of trimming, and by the end of the week we will have accomplished that. This will be an important activity of our winter program going forward.
On the days where we cannot work outside, work inside continues. We have completed 95% of all equipment objectives, both repairs and winter maintenance. One extra project this winter has been the refurbishment of the above pictured 1965 Toro Parkmaster. This piece used to mow rough and spray fairways back in the 70’s and 80’s, but now has an important role as our water buggy. All new tree plantings are watered with this machine. The before pictures showed that is was well over due for replacement of the driver’s floor and needed a paint job. The staff took great pride in this work and did an excellent job of making this piece look new again.
Please stay tuned for the latest course news and conditions. As soon as it is ready for play, you will know and we will get you out playing. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your week!
The golf course is quiet and peaceful this time of year, with exception to the 12 deer that we have observed in our walks and drives. Bowser and I walk the property many occasions to check turf (and the new bunkers this year) and I am happy to say all turf is doing well. There is a fair amount of porous ice on playing surfaces, but nothing that concerns me at this point in time. Seeing all the new bunkers gets me quite excited for the 2021 season, as I am sure all of you are as well. In the meantime, below is a video I created from the best pictures and videos I captured in 2020. Elcona is such a wonderful canvas to capture, I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed compiling it.
This winter so far has been about the same as 2020, weather wise. Warmer and drier than normal, with one large icy exception on New Year’s Day. As you can imagine, clean up from this has taken the majority of our time in the past 2 weeks, but if you look at it from a positive angle, we have gained about 4 loads of mulch that I was not expecting to have, and we will utilize it later this spring in beds on the course that could use freshening up.
Along with this clean up, our annual tree maintenance and removal has been going at full steam the last 2 weeks. Each fall, the Golf/Greens Committee, Tom Thome, and myself review trees that are considered safety hazards to members, impede proper playability of the golf course, detract from the natural beauty of the course, or impede proper turf growing conditions. The GG Committee then approves these trees for our staff to remove. Above are some pictures of this week’s work, where we removed two additional Sugar Maple trees between 10 and 18. One of these maple trees was hit by lightning a couple years ago, while the other had a severe ant infestation. Both were becoming severely rotten, had much falling debris, and were a safety hazard to anyone close to them on a windy day. In their place, 4 maple trees will be planted in a line between 10 and 18, one of which was planted in November.
While each year we remove a fair amount of trees as part of our annual tree maintenance, we plant our fair share too, in the right places. We were fortunate to have forward thinking staff members years ago plant a significant tree nursery north of the short game area. Many of these trees have been transplanted on the course over the years, and in 2021 we will be transplanting 15 additional maples onto the golf course from this nursery. Unfortunately most of them are too big for our digger, so Dogwood Hills will be visiting Elcona to perform this work. Their spade can move 7″ diameter trees, which these maples have grown to be.
The staff and I also have much work over the winter to do inside to prepare for the 2021 season. All equipment is serviced, blades are sharpened, plaques and signs are cleaned and painted, and the shop is deep cleaned for our benefit. Our equipment manager, Steve Ott, is doing his usual magic on our large fleet and we are quite fortunate to have him at Elcona, as he is beginning his 43rd year of service here.
We also have welcomed Austin Dance to the Elcona team, as a new assistant superintendent. Austin and his wife are South Bend natives, and Austin graduated from Purdue with a degree in Turf Science. He has worked previously at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland. We are quite happy to have Austin on our team and he is excited to be here too. When you see Austin out on the course this spring, please say hi and welcome him. Along with our other assistant Adam Morr, our team continues to grow and learn together.
Finally, in cleaning out some older items from the shop, we came across many of the older wooden informational signs that were on property years ago, and they are pictured above. Since we do not have any use for them any longer, I would like to offer them to anyone interested in one or multiple, free of charge. Most need some paint and TLC but they are in rather good shape for anyone’s Man Cave or She Shed. They will be available first come, first serve, so please email me at email@example.com with which signs you would like.
I hope everyone has a great, and safe January. Lots of exciting things happening at your club this winter, all in preparation for an AWESOME 2021 season of golf, food, and fellowship! As always, if you have course questions, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We as a staff have begun the transition to winter maintenance in full force, while still being able to work outside on projects, such as adding irrigation heads along our western entrance with US 20. This area dries out quite quickly so the turf will benefit tremendously and look much better to all who travel by it each day.
One other large step we completed this month was preparing the turf for winter, whenever it decides to show up here. Plant protectants were applied 2 weeks ago to all playing surfaces and green surrounds to defend the plant against fungal disease. Yesterday, a heavy blanket of topdressing sand was applied to the greens, and you can see by the below picture, was thick and not broomed in like other sand applications.
The reason behind this is to maximize the protection and insulation the sand provides the Poa annua, the predominant grass on Elcona’s putting surfaces. The close up view with a microscope below shows how the sand tightly protects the crowns of the plant from winter desiccation and cold temperatures. This sand also promotes a smoother, firmer surface coming out of winter.
In our industry, we liken this final heavy application to putting a blanket on the greens and “tucking them in for the winter”. Bob Vavrek of the USGA has written a great article further explaining this application that you can access here. This application combined with the beginning of frozen soil conditions, it means also that the golf course will be closed for the foreseeable future until conditions permit safe play again.
What a great year for golf 2020 has turned out to be. The most rounds since 2007 were played at Elcona, and it was so nice to see many of you enjoying your golf course, trusting it to be a safe haven for you and your family to recreate. We also hit the jackpot weather wise to complete a major renovation of the golf course, something that was in doubt 3 months ago. Thank you for all of your support and I hope each of you have a Merry Christmas with your families!!
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 email@example.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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great week and I hope to see you out on the golf course!
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 email@example.com. Have a great week and I hope to see you out on the golf course!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you are enjoying the transformation of your golf course as much as I am. Have a great week!
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 email@example.com. Thank you again for your patience and understanding during this quite exciting time for your golf course. Have a great week!!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again for your patience and understanding during this quite exciting time for your golf course. Have a great week!!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. Have a great week!