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

Course Notes, 9/7/2020

Happy Labor Day to everyone! A quick note informing everyone that the start dates have changed for the Golf Course Improvement Project. After discussing with our contractor, Golf Creations, and the Golf/Greens Committee, the project will begin on September 17th.

This change in start date will alleviate concerns of the project impacting major events that still take place in September, including the Hole in One Stag event. This will also allow our contractor flexibility in their scheduling regarding the mobilization of their personnel. Once Golf Creations begins on the 17th, they will work 7 days a week, weather permitting, until the project is completed. Even with the later start, their staff is planning on an 8-9 week completion date for the entire project and is committed to complete our project in its entirety in 2020, given their busy Spring 2021 agenda.

After discussions with the Golf/Greens Committee and the Design Committee, there will also be a change in construction order. After the Practice Facility upgrades are completed, the construction crew will work on holes 9 and 18, then work backwards from there. That will simplify the communication on what holes will be available to you on a given day you decide to visit Elcona. There will be signage at the Pro Shop as well to communicate the daily availability and happenings on the golf course.

If you have any questions, please let me know at ryan@elconacc.com. We are all excited to get this project started and I can’t wait to see the final product. Thanks for your continued support and have a safe, happy Labor Day!

Ryan

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.

August 25 Drought Monitor
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

 

Course Notes, 6/28/2020

IMG_1507.jpgWhile there may be differing opinions of the year 2020 out there, the fact that it is half over already bring to mind a busy, but exciting time for the club and our staff.  I always look forward to preparing the course for the Walter Wells Men’s Invitational, and with a larger amount of teams participating this year, it should be an excellent event and fun for all.  Our young staff continues to learn and get a bit better each day. I am quite proud of their efforts and very happy to work alongside such a great group of people.

IMG_1557The golf course has been quite firm and fast given the very dry June we have had (1.12” rain all month so far).  We continue to adjust maintenance and irrigation practices on greens to keep speeds as consistent as possible and surfaces receptive to well-struck  shots.  Given the forecast the next 2 weeks, we may have to make some changes there.  More on that in a minute.

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Cart path edging with our bunker rake

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The final look.  Turf had overgrown on the path by 2″!

Some Invitational preparations have already begun.  Our annual mowing down of the native areas has started, except around areas of milkweed and other wildflowers that we are saving for our pollinator friends.  I will blog on our efforts there later in July.  We also have been edging cart paths with a new tool.  Over the winter we machined an edging device using a cultivation disc that fits on our bunker rake that allows the process to be faster and more efficient.  I want to thank Rob Steger at Saginaw CC in Michigan for the inspiration of our build.  We will continue to edge these through the month.

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14 Tee’s new butterfly garden

The butterfly garden on 14 tee is finally complete and it looks spectacular.  A special than you to Greg Stump for his beautiful vision and work on this awesome addition of color and habitat on the course.  I hope you enjoy it as well as it matures over time.

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Brownish rough around 12 fairway

A few of you have asked me about the brownish ring around the fairways.  This is a negative result of a growth regulator application made in early June to slow down growth in the rough around fairways and greens and improve the playability out of it.  The hot, dry month we have had turned some of the leaf tissue brown, and the growth regulator has inhibited the recovery efforts of the plant.  Upon closer inspection, there is much green leaf tissue below and as the regulator wears off, the turf will recover just fine.

IMG_1425The rains of the past week have been much welcomed after receiving only 0.2″ of rainfall the first 22 days of June.  Given the next 14 days of forecasted heat and humidity however, we may have to play defense on our putting surfaces to maintain their health and vigor through the rest of the season.  I wrote a blog article last year that you can click on here for more information on defensive maintenance practices we use to defend the turf as best as we can through tough stretches of weather.  As I wrote, it’s not necessarily what we do when the heat and humidity arrives, but more about what we don’t do.  Any changes in maintenance are intended to be temporary and that the ultimate goal is to provide you with a golf course that you can be proud of through the summer season, and the rest of the year.

While I have not raised mowing heights yet, dragging the dew off of fairways and keeping irrigation to a minimum have been our main weapons so far to help fight turf stress. Our staff has been and will continue to be out syringing greens on hot summer afternoons, and a video of the process can be viewed here.  Plant protectants are helping us as well, although they have been performing well without increasing rates. The humidity forecasted can and will lead to some decreased green speed, with the added moisture in the humid air being taken up by the plant, creating larger leaf blade surfaces.

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Cross section of the Better Billy Bunker system.

Finally, I wanted to provide an update on the Golf Course Improvement Plan.  The design committee of Tom Thome, Tom Zimmerman, and myself have been meeting fairly regularly discussing final logistics of the project, as well as procuring top soil and the other amendments needed for the project.  One of the most critical components is the gravel necessary to construct the drainage and liner of the Better Billy Bunker system that we are having installed.  Above is a picture of a BBB cross section model I saw at the Golf Industry Show that illustrates the liner system well.  Around the drainage pipe there is a layer of pea gravel, which is 3/8″ thick stone.  Another layer of pea gravel is placed on the entire floor of the bunker, which is the layer that receives the Better Billy polymer.  The BBB polymer is heated and applied using a pressurized spray wand.  After curing, it is inspected for any additional work before sand is added.  While not totally representing what our project will look like, there are a few YouTube videos on the BBB installation process, my favorite is hereHere is an informational video from Better Billy Bunker as well on the history of the product and the process.

I will be sharing a few holes on what our project will look like with you each blog article I write from now through Labor Day.  Today holes 1-3 are below, with the legend of what each line or color represents in the beginning picture.  As a reminder, all of these bunkers will have maintainable grass slopes that will be easier to get in and out of for both the member and our machinery, and the sand area will be flat bottomed with minimal flashing up any slope.  The entire project design is also on the club website for those who are interested.

2020 GCIP LegendGCIP Hole 1GCIP Hole 2GCIP Hole 3As always, if you have any questions about the golf course or the upcoming Golf Course Improvement Project, please do not hesitate to reach out at ryan@elconacc.com or when you see me out on the course.  Have a great, safe 4th of July holiday and I hope to see you out on the golf course!

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Ryan