Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our Native Grass Blend

One of the most frequently asked questions’ lately has been with the native grass hydro-seeding project. What does all this native grass stuff mean?

The goal and strategy of the club is to create world class conditions in keeping with the fine tradition of a MacKenzie course. As the price and availability of precious water resources continue to drive our operation, we are eliminating nearly 30-acres of previously irrigated turf. This will be a major change in the appearance of the golf course and many clubs especially in California will be faced with the same adversity, they must cut water and other costly maintenance practices that are required to keep a golf course wall-to-wall green. This process will take time to evolve, and many areas will look barren for the first few years. Native grasses are vastly different from the turfgrass species that we maintain on a daily basis. They take time to grow, and several years to fill in an area. The expectation for these areas cannot be set too high for the first several years, otherwise everyone will be disappointed. Every golf course is different in regards to growing conditions, soil types, seasonal changes, etc. Therefore, when someone asks what these grasses will look like, it is hard to explain.

 Our specific seed blend will react differently here than other areas of the country. We have spent a tremendous amount of time researching specific native grasses. We have selected six species that will help achieve our goal of creating native areas that will not become so thick that they cannot be played out of, will provide a wonderful habitat for wildlife, significantly reduce costly maintenance inputs including water, and help return the course to a more traditional links-style course. In speaking with our seed company, they have helped to identify one golf course that has planted a native grass blend similar to ours. The following pictures are from this course and these pictures were approximately three years following seeding of the native grass blend.

Keep in mind these grasses will not be watered during the summer months and will be thinner that what they appear in these pictures. Our intent is to be able to play from these areas and for them not to eat up lost balls.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Creating a Minimalist Look

Area surrounding the 7th tee as it currently appears. All
landscaping plants will be removed, including the wood steps
and rubber matting. The area will then be sodded with
ryegrass to create a simple blend from the 6th green to 7th tee.

In keeping with our club strategy of creating a minimalist look along with keeping high environmental standards, the landscaped areas throughout the golf course will undergo a transformation. No longer will we change out the annual flowers and plants each spring and fall as we look to blend the native grass look into these locations. The landscaping surround the 7th tee will be completely removed including the one-step staircase. This “buffer” between the 6th green and 7th tee does not fit with our goal of creating uniformity throughout the golf course and it currently looks out of place. With the native grasses assuming these locations, there will be less maintenance, little or no water required, and the seasonal changes in the grass varieties will offer a dramatic character to the golf course. The most significant change was the removal of all non-native blackberries and rosemary surrounding the #2 tee hillside and facing Clubhouse Road. This was a major eyesore that has been seeded with our native grass mix and will now blend in better with the appearance of the course. 

Previous view from Clubhouse Road looking up to the 2nd 
teeing area. This was a major eyesore and the first 
impression of the golf course. All rosemary and blackberry 
plants have been removed.


The current view of the 2nd teeing area following
hydroseeding of the hillside with native grasses.

Friday, February 5, 2010

El Nino Wreaking Havoc

Over the past week we have witnessed fairly dry weather for the most part, despite the nearly two-inches that fell last night.  With the break in the rain the maintenance crew has been able to catch up on most of the mowing and clean-up following the ten inches of rain that fell during the last half of January.  One area that remains an issue is the bunkers, which we oftentimes forget are hazards.  Due to the vast amount of damage that was caused during our last series of storms, as well as the ongoing sub-surface irrigation installation around the bunkers they are not in as good of shape as during the prime golfing season.  For our golf course maintenance staff it becomes a “catch 22” because when we rake the bunkers the sand becomes fluffed up and much more mobile, therefore eroding more severely when it rains causing us to have to spend valuable time and resources in repairing these areas only to watch them wash away with the next rain.  However, when the bunkers are not raked as often they will become compacted by the rain and somewhat unsightly.  As the irrigation installers make progress on the subsurface system, and we feel that we will not be wasting time or resources, and the maintenance crew will follow behind the irrigation crew and edge, cleaning, and then add new white sand to the bunkers as we prepare for the upcoming season.  Moving forward, you should recognize improvements in this aspect of the golf course’s maintenance program, primarily based simply on the optimal weather that accompanies the spring season.  Rest assured that we are doing our very best to produce a high quality product on a daily basis for our members and guests while at the same time responsibly manage the funds and resources that we have available to us with regard to the bunkers.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Irrigation Installation

The white trenches in this picture represent the location of the sub-surface drip irrigation system that we're installing on all of our bunker noses to keep them watered in the most efficient way possible while minimizing unwanted over-spray onto other playing surfaces as would be the case with larger "pop-up" style irrigation heads. We've fabricated a special blade that attaches to a string trimmer which has made the trenching portion of the installation process much more stream-lined, and saved us many hours of labor. Following installation of the drip tubing we fill the trenches with sand and then apply divot mix in order to re-grow the turfgrass which completes the process.

In the case of this picture we had logistical issues with trying to complete the installation of lateral irrigation lines on the third tee and keep the hole open for play at the same time. We ended up having to move all of the tee markers forward to a temporary tee until the rest of the tee complex was done being worked on. Other challenges have included the issues of saturated soil from the heavy rains over the past several weeks and extremely undulated terrain which have, at times, made it difficult on the equipment and the turf.

The main-line installation has definitely been the most obtrusive part of the whole process; however, when they are done the only evidence of them being there is the fresh sod work. The main-line trench in this picture is about eight feet deep and a muddy mess but the contractor did an excellent job of putting it all back together when they were done.

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