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