Written by Jerry Richard Monday, 29 April 2013 12:47
Recently a member talking with a staff member commented on the wetness of the course and suggested perhaps there was something more we could be doing about the rain and marginal drainage on the property. This is not an uncommon occurance and usually stems from frustration. I have learned that often it is better to do less and preserve rather than force the issue and create more problems, in this case trying to force work on a very wet property. Emotions and economics sometimes muddy things, but it has always been our responsibility to preserve our assets and control spending during slow times. That is exactly what we have been doing...if revenue is off then spending has to reflect that. I can already estimate that labour, fuel, irrigation costs, electricity and probably fertilizer will be spared a bit due to the later start. As for controlling the rain and wetness...I'll leave that up to a higher power.
There is never any shortage of work though, even with the rain and cold temperatures, we have found plenty to keep us working, birdhouses, pond rocks, stick picking and on Friday, the placement of a new message center near the clubhouse steps. Again I have to commend Jon on his woodworking skills. Please, please, please take adavantage of all the information being posted, sign up for events, and stay informed.
Written by Jerry Richard Monday, 22 April 2013 15:19
I apologise for the lack of postings lately but the server that produces our website has not allowed us to update until recently. The service that does this has rectified the glitch.
I wish there was more to report other than the occasional nice day, but I should state that our Management team has been faced with some pretty stiff decisions to make early on in the season. First was when to open the course, and now it's dealing with power carts. The problem is that as we all know, power carts can be problematic during wet conditions, and players who do not utilize carts will often be concerned when carts are allowed out during marginal weather as we have had. Several members at the club cannot play unless they ride and so we worked diligently on Friday and Saturday to stake off wet areas so that carts could go out. Hopefully we made the right choice and everyone got out in the beautiful weather on Saturday and a bit on Sunday.
We are only mowing greens today, Monday being a mowing day usually for everything, so we are banking on better conditions later in the week. Suffice to say that when it warms and the sun comes out, the grass is going to be growing like we've never seen before. We must keep in mind that April is usually only a ramping up month and that we shouldn't take too much out of this, last season being the exception. The long range forecast looks quite good.
You might have noticed that the small putting green is closed early on and we've been hopeful of giving it some time to heal after last season's drainage addition on the lower section. We are monitoring it's condition and we will get it opened as soon as it can be readied. All the greens are in good shape coming out of the winter, however tire marks are still visible from the mowers. We are hopeful to get the verticutters and topdresser out soon when the soil beneath has firmed up enough to take the heavy weight of the topdresser.
Written by Jerry Richard Monday, 22 April 2013 12:05
Today marks the first day of the season for golf at Craigowan, under cold but sunny conditions. It is rare that the course opens on a Monday but in lieu of the weather and still wet conditions on the course, this is the way it is. Our crew worked most of the afternoon Sunday performing what we call "dry cuts" on the turf, dry meaning now morning moisture (dew) in order to get better quality cuts and less build up of mud on the cutting reels. There is still much to be done but we will quickly ramp up this week as more services are brought on line.
Washrooms on the course should be operational as the irrigation system is charged, and the range will be open, but on the mats for the first days. Because our range is very wet, balls will plug in the soil and so there is a lot of hand picking needed. The small putting green beside the clubhouse is not open as there is still some hand work required around the new drainage pipe installed late last fall. We were having drainage issues on that green below the surface last year and so hopefully the new drain will help with that.
Today the staff will be putting out the rest of the course acoutrements, ball washers, garbage pails, divot mix boxes, 150 yd stakes, hazard stakes etc. There is still a considerable amount of debris lying around and so the blower will be going all week. Bunker maintenance will commence today including blowing out debris and pushing sand back up the slopes after a whole winter of erosion.
It has been quite a frustrating spring but hopefully the worst is over and we can get on with the season ahead.
Written by Jerry Richard Saturday, 20 April 2013 14:35
Here at the club on Saturday, winter is kicking us in the sides one last time (hopefully), as the weather forecast for next week seems to be improving. While warm temperatures are important, right now dry weather is even more important so that staff can get work completed. All the playing surfaces need to firm up and undoubtedly on Monday when the first rounds are played, there will be a sentiment of yuck, as players tiptoe through the squelchy conditions.
The decision to open the course each spring is never taken lightly or for granted, and many factors weigh in as I have commented on before. There is a difference between "fully open" and "open for business" as many public courses offer up the $20 green fee for less than ideal "open for business" conditions. The equivalent at Craigowan would be for us to put flags out on unmown frozen greens or sopping wet greens for a relative few patrons, and then have to commit to the full cost of operating when virtually no one is out here. Even that might be tolerable if we could justify the damage that would be done to the turf. Expectations for good conditions are higher at private clubs and that is why they tend to open after public clubs. This year however conditions everywhere are not going to be very good, as the weather refuses to permit the amount of work required to maintain high level golf conditions yet. Many private clubs and Superintendents I have corresponded with have planned on opening this past week or next. We need to remember also that for some reason Craigowan got socked with far more snow and precipitation than others, and our soils are wetter than most.
This skiff of snow should not affect Monday's opening, it just isn't helping with drying. We are going to try some late day maintenance on Sunday if we can get vehicles on the course. I am looking forward to seeing everyone back playing and excited about another playing season. See you soon.
Written by Jerry Richard Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:58
Wednesday didn't break any temperature records, but it was un-wet enough that we were able to get significant work completed on the course. Tree clean up will be ongoing throughout this month and maybe into May. Every poplar tree on the course looks like it was detonated from the clinging ice last week. During the morning frost, the staff cleaned the driveway and in the trees along #8 and #9. After morning coffee, we set out with mowers and cut all collars and par 3 fairways, greens (twice), and several fairways that could take the traffic. Blowing off greens, tees and fairways went all day as well. By the end of the day it was starting to look like a golf course again.
We didn't delay pressurizing the irrigation system, as we charged all the pipes yesterday and Jay checked for leaks while he purged the system of air in several places. Charging the system is key in that both on-course washrooms and the ball cleaning hut at the range run off irrigation water. Everything seems to be working fine, but as I've recently explained, our system is aging and we are going to be spending more on it each year to keep it working properly, starting in 2013.
Both new purple martin houses are now up and it didn't take more than 60 seconds before local swallows were checking in. The second new house is on #5, replacing an older structure.
Matt and Nicki put the first two cuts on the greens yesterday...they are still a bit punky in places but we were able to get on them. With the amount of debris and mud present, Mark is using the older 11-blade cutting reels until things dry up, and with the greens being as wet as they are, there will not be much in the way of speed in the early going. The greens have some off colour in a few places but the turf is not dead, it is mostly different species of turf reacting differently to the cold weather.
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