Course Notes, 8/30/2020

IMG_2023.jpgAugust has come and (almost) gone, which means the kids are back in school in some fashion, football season is opening up, and Club Championships have been contested. I would like to congratulate all of the winners from this year’s Men’s Invitational and club championships. While 2020 will be remembered for many changes globally, the golf course here at Elcona will remember it for a large increase in rounds played and members enjoying it, a complete bunker face lift, and long spells of hot, dry weather.  Before last Friday’s welcome rains, the course was in desperate need of soil moisture and reprieve from the summer temperatures.  Looking at the latest long term forecast it looks like the pattern is finally flipping.

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Drought Monitor, 8/25/2020.  Very dry soils!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Drainage pipe, soil and gravel for the upcoming Golf Course Improvement Plan

The beginning of Golf Course Improvement Project is rapidly approaching.  All the pea gravel, pipe, and topsoil has arrived.  Better Billy Polymer has begun to arrive, and bunker sand will begin to arrive after Labor Day.  We will be storing that sand up near the cart barn, to limit contamination from grass and soil.  On September 8th, Golf Creations will begin work on the Practice Facility.  The bunker at the Short Game area will be renovated in its current area, while we will be moving the bunker next to the practice tee to the South end.  This approved change to the plan will create a bunker that will allow you to see each target flag and will be built in similar style to the flat bottom bunkers that will be out on the course.  The location of the current bunker will be filled in by our staff this fall and serve as new tee space that will be ready in mid-2021 for you to practice on.

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Approximate new location of the Practice Bunker.

Another dramatic change you will begin to see on the course is dead grass around bunkers and the areas where the new bunkers will go.  We are killing off this grass on purpose to conserve and reuse the topsoil necessary to construct the new bunkers and their surrounds.  After spraying, these areas will be roped off for a couple days to prevent tracking of the herbicide to areas that we do not want killed, and may be treated as ground under repair.  Please heed the signs in these areas if you happen to hit into them.

Greens Reseeding tool

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The golf course has made it through the summer in great condition, much in part due to the great efforts of our staff, but that does not mean there is opportunity to make things even better. We are currently in prime re-seeding season, and many areas that have thinned out are being repaired after a long season. The pictures above show how we overseed thin areas on the putting greens, where the tool punches small holes into the green, and deposits seed in one motion. We then fill in the holes with sand flush to the putting surface.  You should see germination from these areas within the next 14 days.

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New intermediate strip around 4 Green

We also are testing out a 50” strip of intermediate rough around greens on holes 4, 9, 15, 17, and 18. This intermediate strip should improve playability in those areas and while they look a bit ragged with the initial scalp, they will fill in and create a nice surface throughout the fall.  If you have any feedback on this, please let me know.

 

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The butterfly garden on 14 tee continues to add beauty and habitat for our pollinator friends.  Monarch caterpillars are now being observed on plants and soon will begin the metamorphosis process and become new butterflies.  I am very please with how this addition to the golf course has added beauty and create conversation among everyone.

IMG_1948Lastly, I wanted to remind everyone that we are also starting our fall aerification schedule this month. With the golf course project going on, our goal will be to accomplish much of the greens and fairway aerification while those holes are closed. Tees will be aerified on September 8th, and green surrounds will be solid tined throughout September when the schedule and labor allows. I will provide a more defined schedule via email and the blog on specific dates for greens and fairways, as these depend on the productivity of the Golf Course Improvement Project and Mother Nature.

Have a great month and I will see you out on the golf course! If you have any questions, please email me at ryan@elconacc.com, or stop me when you are out on the course. And please remember the RESPECT course initiative:

Repair your ball mark and one other.

Every divot should be replaced when possible.

Sand should be thoroughly raked each time you are in a bunker.

Please park your cart 30 feet from greens and tees to help keep the surround turf more playable.

Enter and exit bunkers from the flat back side.

Care and think about the members playing behind you.

Together this will make a HUGE difference!

Ryan Bowser Signature Picture

Ryan

 

Course Notes, 8/10/2020

IMG_1833.jpgHeading into what is officially called the “Dog Days” of summer, the golf course continues to look and play extremely well.  We as a staff have had quite a busy season so far, and I could not be more proud of their efforts this year and the product they have produced for you to enjoy. Throughout the next couple months most of them will be leaving us for the season and will be missed until they return in April 2021. So a huge “Thank You/Muchas Gracias” to Adam, Steve, Greg, Ron, Bob, Paul, Harold, Larry, Caity, Jeff, Migler, Andonis, Yony, Keenan, and Joe for all your hard work and dedication to Elcona this year!IMG_3283

Other notes and information from around the golf course:

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Cart parked well within 30 feet of 2 green
  • With the current state of our world, rounds and golf course activity has been much higher this year, and it is awesome to see all of you enjoy your golf course this year.  It has also become quite noticeable lately the effects of golf cart usage and traffic in the rough, especially around greens and tees.  Carts continue to be observed parking way to close to green and tee surfaces, which greatly impacts the playability and health of those areas when they continually get exposed to the tire traffic of a golf cart.  Per the Elcona Membership rule book and the Golf/Greens Committee, I would like to remind everyone that golf carts are to be parked no closer than 30 feet of a green or 15 feet from a tee, except when a path is available.  30 feet is about 10 normal paces.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter and remember to RESPECT the golf course:

Repair your ball mark and one other.

Every divot should be replaced when possible.

Sand should be thoroughly raked each time you are in a bunker.

Please park your cart 30 feet from greens and tees to help keep the    surround turf more playable.

Enter and exit bunkers from the flat back side.

Care and think about the members playing behind you.

Together this will make a HUGE difference!

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New wire ran behind 15 green
  • We have had our share of electrical issues with the pond pumps on holes 3 and 15.  We have these issues resolved, and will treat those ponds this week to clean up the excess duckweed and algae that developed as a result of no water movement.
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Billbug damage, hole 12
  • Some insect damage has been observed in the rough surrounding 6 and 12 green.  These areas have received one treatment insecticide to eliminate the grubs that are eating the roots of this turf, and a second application may be necessary.    It will be overseeded later this month.

 

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Below ground view of a sprinkler.  The black component is the decoder.  
  • Many of you also have asked why I am continually digging up sprinklers.  While I do actually enjoy digging our beautiful sandy soil as a workout, most of the time it is to replace a decoder that has failed.  A decoder is like a mail box for the irrigation system.  Each of the over 1200 sprinklers on the property has a unique 5 digit address that is programmed into both a computer in my office and each decoder in the field.  When I want to run a sprinkler, the computer sends a 24 volt signal through the miles of wire below ground to find the specific sprinkler’s 5 digit address and turn it on.  The computer does the same to turn the sprinkler off.
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Tree roots creating issues with a decoder connection

So why are these failing?  There are a few reasons why.  Our beautiful sandy soil can be difficult to make/keep a firm grounding connection, and can create a short in the system.  Lightning strikes can reek havoc on the electrical components, sending surges through the system.  I have also observed tree roots and ant colonies push open the grease packs that protect the wire connections, exposing the wires to drainage from rain and normal soil moisture that can cause a short.  As these issues are found, we repair them as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the components.

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  • With this spring and early summer’s heavier rainfall, crabgrass pressure has been through the roof and a challenge this season. We have spot sprayed the crabgrass that emerged in a few areas on the fairways and rough with great results. The bronzing of the fairway turf surrounding the crabgrass will grow out within a couple of weeks.

 

  • Our pollinator areas have continued to see a large increase in butterfly activity this year, especially Monarchs. The areas of milkweed you have noticed along the native areas are the Monarch’s main source of food and habitat for them to complete their life cycle on their migration from Mexico to Canada and back. Where appropriate, we will continue to provide habitat for pollinating insects while not impacting your experience on the golf course.

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  • Finally, an update on the upcoming Golf Course Improvement Plan, which you can view the plans here.  All the materials needed for the project will begin to arrive on property within the next 10 days, including 600 tons of pea gravel, 7300 feet of irrigation pipe, and 1200 tons of bunker sand.  There will be increased truck traffic on County Road 21 delivering these materials, so please be cautious as you enjoy your round crossing CR 21.

The project will begin September 8th at the Practice Facility.  The Facility will be available on a limited basis that week, so please be on the look out for information as you visit the club that week.  On September 15th, work will begin on the golf course. In discussions with Golf Creations (contractor for the project), the Design Committee, and the Golf/Greens Committee, 9 holes will close at a time.  While this may not be a popular decision, it is in the best interest for your safety and the installation crew’s safety and efficiency to have 9 holes closed at a time.  The less the crew has to stop work to allow play through, the quicker the project will be completed (as long as the weather cooperates!).

You can also expect weekly updates from me on the progress of the project.  I will also have more as we get closer to go time on what you can expect to see as our staff prepares the course for this project.  We are extremely excited to begin this project next month and am looking forward to what will be a beautiful improvement for the next 30 years and beyond.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at ryan@elconacc.com, or stop me when you see me out on the course. Have a great, safe week, and I will see you out on the golf course!

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Ryan