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