Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lighting it Up!

The 6th-7th-8th corridor of Pasatiempo is a stretch of the golf course that is nothing to brag about.  From an architectural standpoint, the trees that line this area of the golf course completely ruin the intended architecture.  The 7th hole is a short par-4 but the tee shot is visually intimidating as a long line of massive cypress trees create a tunnel vision effect in ones mind.  For several years, most tree work in this area has been delayed or pushed back.  However, the aging trees have created a significant shade issue and a potential safety issue with many broken limbs.  From a playability standpoint, the low hanging limbs were impacting golf shots and making the short par-4 play much more difficult.  During the week of November 14th, the golf course was closed due to aeration of greens, tees, and fairways.  It also was an opportune time to complete a massive trimming project in this area without having players to work around.  24-cypress trees were limb up 50-feet and the lateral growth was removed.  This has dramatically changed the view from the tee, the overall playability of the 6th and 7th holes, and has substantially increased the amount of sunlight affecting the 8th green along with the fairways in this area.  No trees were removed during this phase of the project, but there is the possibility of taking some trees out in the future to really improve this area of the golf course.
View from the 7th tee prior to the beginning of the tree work.  Notice the amount of the shade impacting this area along with the "tunnel vision" effect.

The 8th green complex with shade covering the green.  Once the tree work is done, the goal is to dramatically increase the amount of sunlight affecting this green.

Late afternoon view of the tree work that has eliminated a "wall" of green and will allow much needed sunlight to hit the 8th green during the winter months. 

Day two of the thinning and trimming process.  Notice the two trees on the right side that were not done.  More sunlight...more air movement...better turfgrass and better playability.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

They're Baaaaack !!

Hard to believe that it was over a year ago that a herd of goats arrived at Pasatiempo.  Their goal was to restore the rugged look among the canyons traversing throughout the golf course.  Throughout the past year, we had an extended rain period that saw more rain fall in June than in January.  This allowed substantial regrowth in the 10th tee canyon along with the 18th canyon.  Beginning on October 25th, this 5-acre area will be hit again with half the crew we used last year - about 75 goats and the timeframe will consist of about two weeks.  The other barancas that the goats wandered through last year did not experience such strong regrowth and we will evaluate following the rainy season if they will need to be brought back again during the fall of 2012.

View from the 10th Tee prior to the Goats in September 2010

View from the 10th Tee following 2-weeks of having the goats eradicate the non-native species

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

5 Years in the Making

View of the 9th Green Complex during Spring 2009 with landscaping behind MacKenzie Clubhouse

View of the 9th Green prior to installation of new bunker

An original pair of bunkers rested behind the 9th green when MacKenzie designed the golf course back in the 1920's.  Over the years these bunkers were filled in and the area was landscaped.  Additionally, a cartpath directing players to the 10th tee eliminated the furthest left side bunker.  During the renovation of the golf course in the 2000s, these original bunkers were supposed to be put back to match the original design.  There was no way to eliminate the cartpath to add a bunker and the club elected not to remove the necessary landscaping for the other bunker to be built.  In the winter of 2009 the maintenance staff took out all the overgrown landscaping below the clubhouse and converted this area to native grasses.  Jim Urbina, who has been instrumental throughout the restoration process came on-site on September 12th and carved out a new bunker on the back left side of the green complex.  MacKenzie's vision was to alter the depth perception from a player's approach shot from the 9th fairway.

Current view of 9th Green Complex with the addition of new bunker

Friday, August 19, 2011

Venting Greens

Wednesday we "vented" the greens, which is another way of saying we used a small solid tine aerification to give the greens a little mid-summer breather. At this point in the season our native soil push-up greens tend to get a little "tired" and stressed with the drought season in combination with all of the traffic they receive. By venting the greens we are able to provide much needed oxygen to the root zone which makes the grass plant healthier, while minimizing the impact on the putting conditions. The process included sand top dressing, solid tine arefication with 1/4" tines, brushing, rolling, and watering in that order. When we were finished with a green you could barely tell anything had been done.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Irrigation Adjustments

We are now just over a year removed from the completion of a completely new irrigation system. We've made it through most of the major "tweaking" that goes along with the installation of a new system, which allows us to get much more detailed in the adjustments that we are making. Starting tomorrow we will be taking the makeshift tool shown in the picture above and begin measuring the degree arc of every part circle sprinkler head on the golf course, and then inputting those numbers into our central irrigation database.

Having more accurate data in the computer instead of just labeling every head as 180 degrees will give us the ability to know to a much greater extent how much water is actually going out on the course. It will also help us maintain much better irrigation uniformity, especially on and around the greens, creating more consistency throughout the course.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Rain and drizzle during a very rare early June storm

June has been a very odd month in terms of weather.  We are accustomed to the extraordinary micro-climates in the Bay Area where it is 58-degrees at the coast and scorching to well over 100-degrees a few miles inland.  Typically, the golf course falls in the middle of the two extremes, making it one of the most desirable climates in the world with 70-degree weather dominating the forecast.  However, turfgrass likes consistency and when it goes from rainy at the beginning of hot...back to cool and foggy, the grass doesn't know if summer is coming or going.  It is rare to receive rain during the month of June.  You have to go back to 1964 to see the last significant rain event for June...after that the last time this area recorded over 2-inches of rain in June was back in 1884!

This random, inconsistent weather can create undesirable response in turfgrass.  For instance, earlier in June the green surfaces were eliciting extreme seedhead production.  As we approach the end of June, the greens are fairly "clean" following the application of a product that stops seedhead production.  The annual poa will develop seedheads as a stress response, especially if it has been cool, then a spike in heat.  The seedheads most often affects the late-afternoon players as the "puffing up" of the poa can create bumpy greens and green speeds that are slower than desired.

While we do not experience many of the summer weather extremes as other parts of the country, we still have issues and the most recent forecast has rain expected on the 28th or 29th of June, officially allowing us to rename this month as Junuary.    

Intense seedhead production on the 18th green in early June prior to an application of Proxy / Primo

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mowing and Rolling

Over the past several months we have been using some very interesting research that is being done by Dr. Rob Golembiewski at Oregon State University to manage our green speeds. For those of you that don't know Pasatiempo has some of the most severely sloping/undulated greens in the U.S. (original Alister MacKenzie design), and we are simply unable to manage the greens for daily play at anything faster than 10.5 on the Stimp meter and still maintain fair hole locations.

Dr. Golembiewski's research, which is a replication of similar trials that were done at Michigan State University on bentgrass, has shown that you can attain viable green speeds while mowing less often and at a slightly higher cutting height than what was previously thought. Currently we are mowing four days per week (at a cutting height of .120") and rolling seven days, while targeting the higher volume play days to mow and roll in combination. By keeping this schedule we've seen improved consistency from day-to-day with speeds ranging between 10' and 10.5' most days, and slightly higher on the days when we mow roll in combination. As the summer progresses, we also expect to see all of the obvious benefits of mowing at a higher cutting height (i.e. reduced damage from our local nematode, reduced disease and water use, better wear tolerance, improved density, etc...).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

#3 Cartpath Update

After a week of hard work by the maintenance staff, the cartpath on #3 will finally be open. Although the concrete was poured on Tuesday morning, it took several days for the concrete to "cure", and be ready for regular cart traffic. During the past week we had several of our guys out there making sure all of the shaping and sod work was done to our standards. The finished product looks great, and should improved the look and playability of the hole substantially

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Now...Let's Get This Straight

Existing cartpath and the Outline of where new cartpath will be located.
The big storm of March 19th not only took out the tree adjacent to the 3rd green, it significantly damaged the cartpath that circled around that massive tree.  Losing the tree was great from an architectural standpoint as the MacKenzie bunker complex is no longer hidden from view at the main entrance.  Another side benefit was the straightening of the new cartpath to go right through where the tree used to be.  This eliminates the awkward curvature of the previous cartpath and significantly increases the playability from the right side of the green complex.  Does it make the hole easier without the tree?  Not sure how a 235-yard uphill Par 3 is easy to begin with...

Project began on Tuesday June 7th with the pouring of concrete to occur on Monday June 16th.

Side view indicating just how close the old cartpath was to the bunker complex.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


That one object is situated perpendicular to one another.

10th Fairway showing undesirable cart traffic patterns

As turf professionals we have enough to worry about instead of being rules enforcers. It should not be that difficult to follow this age-old drive across the fairway, hit a shot, then drive back across to the cart path. The idea is to avoid driving up and down the fairways creating a dizzying effect due to an overload of tire tracks.  In short,  the "90-degree rule" minimizes the time a golf cart spends rolling over the grass, while still allowing convenience for golfers.  If anyone has had any luck in adequately controlling this issue please comment...

9th Fairway as viewed from the Clubhouse.  Cart traffic patterns clearly show disregard for the 90-degree rule.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Trees a Crowd

120-year-old Coastal Live Oak tree that split and quietly fell during the March 19th storm

How the wide open, right side approach shot appeared after the oak tree was lost

The first two of three oak trees added to the right side of the 14th fairway
During the March 19th storm, we lost seven trees total when the intense wind and rain storm ripped through the golf course.  Losing the massive 120-year-old coastal live oak along the 14th fairway was a tough.  Not only was that tree there before the golf course was ever built, but it is had impacted shots for many generations.  With that tree gone, the right side of the fairway had no protection.  MacKenzie intended shots to play from the left side and the angled green complex clearly identifies his intention.  Looking over several pictures from the 1930's, there were (3) trees that stood on the right side of the 14th fairway.  When the final soldier fell, it was time to bring back the design intent.  Three coastal live oak trees were transplanted in the same location as in the 1931 aerial photograph indicated.  

Third tree added to frame the right side and bring back the original design of the 14th hole

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ghost of MacKenzie

A view from the 2nd fairway showing how the 3rd green complex looked in 1929

Photo taken two years ago with the massive Monterey Cypress adjacent to the right side of the 3rd green
Following the March 19th storm the cypress was severely damaged and was completely removed
Turf managers know the problems trees can possess on the ability to grow healthy grass.  Architects know the fine balance between trees and turfgrass.  Dr. MacKenzie never intended a tree to be planted adjacent to the third green and felt that the severe green complex would be a fair enough test for the 235-yard uphill par 3.  The massive monterey cypress tree that grew on the right side of the green complex impacted shots for nearly 50-years and MacKenzie intended the right side to be a bail out area.  If you hit a shot that landed under that tree or had to hit through it, up to the third green, you almost guaranteed bogey.  The ghost of MacKenzie roared through on the night of March 19th when a massive wind storm took out the majority of the tree.  It was so severely damaged that the decision was made to remove the remaining stump and limbs.  Upon driving through the club entrance, one is now made aware of the famous MacKenzie bunkering as it is no longer hidden by the cypress tree.  From an architectural standpoint and a turfgrass manager standpoint, we all agree that this was a good thing.  The third hole is now more reminiscent of how the green complex looked in 1929.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Native Revival

How the Native Areas look following the rainy season and heading into a period of no rain and no irrigation.

From a distance the native areas look like a full meadow, but up close are more open with bunch-type  grasses that still allow players to find there ball and play shots from.
It has been quite some time since the last update on the native grass program at Pasatiempo.  This project has been a test of patience for not only the membership, but also those of us who have developed and implemented the strategic plan.  When first researching the project, we felt that within 3 to 5 years, there should be a significant stand of native grasses.  In January of 2010, the first areas were seeded with our native grass seed and following that rainy season, there was decent germination, but the look during last summer was less than desirable to most.  Amazingly, many of the grasses and small tufts hung on during the summer with no rain and no irrigation.  Once the first rains hit in October of 2010, the grasses began to show life and following a December that recorded over 15-inches of rain, the natives really took off.  Overall, there was an abundance of rainfall throughout this past rainy season and the areas that were seeded in January of 2010 are well ahead of the original 3-5 year plan.  A tremendous difference from year one to now and we look forward to many of these grasses going dormant and showcasing the golf course with their dramatic golden brown seedheads.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Our "First Day of Spring"

We came in Sunday morning to discover that the first day of spring had not been too kind to us. Due to a combination of several days in a row of heavy rain, and unusually strong winds for this region of the country, we lost two trees completely as well as large portions of several others. Although the golf course is totally saturated, our staff is working hard to put the golf course back together, and push forward with our preparation for the fast approaching season.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Aerification Progress Report

One week removed from core aerifying the greens with .600" tines, we've seen excellent recovery. The greens should be pretty close to normal by the end of this week, and the fairways, although soft, should be looking good as well.

As soon as the fairways are done we will be starting the tees and approaches. This part of the process should be pretty quick and painless. Our target for completing the entire course is Thursday of this week, and if the weather holds, we will have no problem meeting that time frame.

In the thirteen years that I have been in the industry, I've never seen the aerification process go better than it did here this season, and it's definitely showing in the quick recovery of the golf course.

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