Superintendent's View

"Superintendents View" will give golfers the unique insight into daily maintenance routines through the eyes of course superintendent Dennis Jones. Updates will include course conditions, projects, challenges, and any other pertinent information to our golf course. 

12/14/18

Since it’s been awhile since I updated everyone on the activities of the Waverly Golf Course I would like to take the time to fill you in.
As of July we have had a shakeup in our crew. Chris Miller has transferred from the Public Works Department and taken the position that was held by Eric Schares (Eric has moved on to the Vegetation Management Division) Chris is not new to the Waverly Golf Course or the Horticulture field, He was on the crew as a seasonal worker while attending Hawkeye community College back in 2003 before landing a job with the Public Works Department. Chris brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team and I am extremely pleased to have him on board.

A few of the things we have been doing  this off season as well as our plans for the upcoming season  include Cutting done our infected Ash and Scotch pine trees. At present time we have cut down a total of 10 Trees, and have plans for a few more. Keep checking our Facebook page for updates and location of these trees. Our plans for the upcoming season is to level and enlarge the forward tee on #5, adding rock to the waterways on #1 pond and #2 ponds hopefully eliminating the washouts there, digging out the sand in the fairway bunker on #17 and turning it into a grass bunker, Come up with a plan to de-muck our remaining pond on #2, Create a berm around the water holding areas in the dry run on holes #1 and #2 to prevent water spilling over on to the two cart paths in major rain events. With this our plan is to make a few Mogul’s to replace the 3 ash trees that we had to take out on hole #1. (Can’t make the hole too easy…….).  

Next year will also be the 3rd year of our 3 year equipment replacement program. We are submitting our needs that will include a pull behind brush so we can drag in the sand topdressing, a greens mower, a utility vehicle to replace our club car, this will include a hitch to pull the brush, a walk behind aerifier that will allow us to needle tine our dry spots and be less aggressive on the turf, a HD truckster with a 200 gal sprayer attachment this will allow us to use it as a work vehicle during the summer and having an extra sprayer in the fall, and the last thing is to replace one of our fairway mowers.

Happy Holidays
From our family to yours


4/12/18

Yes it is spring.

I know it doesn’t seem like it outside with temperatures barely above 40, and we are on a pace to be the coldest April in history. But rest assured we will be out soon enjoying the days with friends and enjoying the game we love.

For me this is one of the most frustrating and challenging times of the year. Our equipment is all primed and ready, the staff is all hired, we have set our goals for the upcoming season, and just like a race horse that is locked and loaded in the starting gates. We too are pumped up to enter into the big race. 

I’ve been in this business for a long time and I’ve learned that no matter how you try, you cannot control Mother Nature; she is holding all the cards. All we as Superintendents can do is follow her lead, do what we can to assist her in her efforts, and sit back and admire all the things she accomplishes.

We have an awesome little gem of a golf course here, and I indeed am blessed to have been a part of it for the last 38 years. 

So sit back enjoy a cup of coffee, enjoy the life that has been given to you.

After all good things are worth waiting for……..   


2/12/18

As I look out over the golf course I see nothing but snow. And while you probably think that gets me sad and depressed, in actuality, it is a good thing. Here’s why:
First off, a good, solid snow pack that covers most of the turf area is actually a very good thing. This is because the snow cover will help protect the turf from what is known as “transpiration”.

You can think of transpiration as “evaporation” from plants. Moisture contained within the plants in this case grass blades, is literally “sucked out” by the very cold dry winds constantly whipping across them. If you have a nice coating of snow over the turf it is protected and shielded from these winter winds.

Another reason a good snow cover is wanted is because when it melts, it will take the winter nutrients from your fall application down into the soil where you want it, another benefit is that the melting snow has a nice effect of evenly putting those nutrients into the root zone right when they are stimulated by the spring heat.
So keep these ideals in mind the next time you look out your window and see nothing but white as far as your eyes can see, knowing it’s all for the good in the long run. Stay warm! 



1/29/18

Wanted to update everyone on what has happened and give everyone a preview of things to come.
Both Eric and I just got back from attending the annual turf conference we always look forward do this fantastic opportunity to learn from the finest Professionals in our industry we always get fired up when we learn new things we can bring back and use on our awesome course. One of the things I would like to implement into our program is a soil moisture meter. This device measures the amount of moisture in a given area; it then gives you a percentage. We can take a reading when the greens are at an optimum level and use that as a bench mark to determine when we need to irrigate, taking the guess work out of when and how much water the greens need saving us money, and creating a healthier more uniform playing surface. This can be used on our tees, aprons, and fairways.

As spring approaches we are gearing up and planning for what we will need to do to keep things moving in the right direction. We will have our guys complete their employment paperwork so they are ready, I like to have everything done and ready by March 1st.  Our sprayer is set up to spray herbicides and we will be spraying the knotweed in our newly seeded areas and those areas we were not able to get to last fall.  We will be burning our no-mows as soon as conditions allow us too. Our emergent and grub control fertilizer has been order and we will be applying that sometime mid-April.

Looking forward to seeing everyone and the season ahead.



12/5/17

“So what do you do during the winter?”

We as Turf Managers have been asked that question more times than the hair on our heads. Okay, perhaps that is an exaggeration, but there are things that make all of us want to pull out our hair, and for turf managers this question qualifies as one of them.
Winter is not ‘Down Time’ on the Golf Course a snow-covered golf course may suggest that all is quiet on-site, but there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work happening in preparation for next season. Winter is the time of year in which maintenance budgets are closely inspected; adjusted, and approved. It is the time that we sit down and analyze what worked and what did not. We use the information to create maintenance programs for the next season.
Some but not all of the duties that we do are:

Equipment Maintenance and Repairs: Some equipment operates seven days a week all through the growing season, and others run two to three days per week on average. Parts become worn and need to be replaced, fittings loosen, bearings and seals wear out, engines and motors require tune-ups, and wiring needs to be inspected. Extensive preventative maintenance in the winter is crucial for equipment reliability during the golfing season, and reducing costly break-downs results in substantial cost savings. Additionally, there simply is not time to have multiple pieces of equipment waiting for parts or repair during the summer. While breakdowns in the summer cannot be eliminated, winter prevention and maintenance can go a long way in assisting with equipment durability and dependability. Keeping equipment clean and operating efficiently does not just mean a better conditioned golf course; it also increases equipment longevity and trade-in value. Do not forget equipment painting needs done as well.

Mower Blade Sharpening and Reel Grinding: With dozens of reels and blades on multiple fairway, green, tee, and rough mowers, diligent sharpening and grinding of cutting units in-house takes weeks. Some courses contract out this work, but it can be very expensive. Performing theses jobs in-house can produce significant cost savings. Bearings, seals, and roller rebuilding are necessary, too.                                                                                                                                                            

Snow Removal: As part of the Leisure Services department we are assigned areas in Waverly that we are responsible for removing snow.                                                                                                                                                                                    

Monitoring Greens and the sledding hills: We monitor the course for ice as well as damage caused by sledders and skiers. We are responsible for the safety of sledding hill as it requires us to close it when conditions warrant.                                                                                                                                             

Capital Purchases: Maintenance equipment, chemicals and fertilizers, and other capital purchases require a purchasing and bidding process.                                                                                                                                                                                       

Continuing Education: Whether it be the annual Golf Industry Show, local superintendent chapter meetings, USGA regional conferences, pesticide recertification workshops, etc., continuing education is needed to stay abreast of the newest chemistries, technologies, products, and techniques. Continuing education is required not just in certain instances (such as pesticide applicators); it is integral to the success of the facility.                                                                                                                                                

Time to recharge: Running a golf course is a 7 day a week job. It requires working a lot of the holidays that others have off. For the golf course the off season gives us as superintendent’s time to relax and spend time with families.

Thanks for a great 2017 golfing season and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

10/20/17

 

Fall has finally arrived, and with it the possibility of dealing with frost. Especially for those that are early risers.

 Frost is basically frozen dew that has crystallized on the grass, making it hard and brittle. A grass blade is actually 90 percent water, therefore it also freezes. Frost forms when the grass absorbs sunlight and heat during the day, and then loses that heat when the sun sets at night, causing the grass temperature to be lower than the actual outside air temperature. This temperature difference causes moisture to condense on the grass at night. When the temperature of the grass is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the moisture crystalizes and becomes frost. Many golfers think an air temperature above 32 degrees will prevent frost from forming, but frost may occur even when the air temperature is in the mid to upper 30s.

Walking on frost-covered greens causes the plant to break and cell walls to rupture, thereby losing its ability to function normally. When the membrane is broken, much like an egg, it cannot be put back together.

When frost occurs on the golf course, there will be delays until the frost melts. While this is usually not the best news a group of golfers wants to hear, it is in the best interest of the golf course. Frost itself doesn’t kill the grass like it does with flowers and plants; however walking on a frost covered surface will cause long-lasting damage. Footsteps will cause the frozen grass to break, then turn brown and die. You will see the footprints in the grass long after the frost has melted (sometimes even three or four days later). This makes the damaged turf more likely to have disease and weeds in the future.

From a golf operations standpoint, frost delays usually bring the course to a stand-still until the frost melts. You may be upset about having your starting time delayed, but the golf facility staff is doing what is best for your enjoyment on the course. You may notice from the clubhouse that the course appears to be frost-free, but remember there are many acres of grass in shady areas that also need to melt. The upside is, you can take advantage of some food and/or beverages in the clubhouse along with engaging conversation from your golf group until the frost has melted.

Fall is a great time for golf, so take advantage of the warm temperatures and enjoy the beauty our course has to offer. 


10/3/17

This month’s view is about aerification. Here is an article posted April 2016 by the USGA that explains the reasons for and the benefits associated with aeration:

The word aeration stimulates negative emotions for many golfers. It may come as a surprise, but golf course superintendents also dislike aeration. After all, the last person who wants to disrupt the smoothness of the putting greens or tees for that matter, they work so hard to maintain is the superintendent.

Golfers often ask, “Why aeration is needed so often?” Aeration is an essential program to keep playing surfaces healthy and in good condition. Aeration primarily is performed to control organic matter-i.e decaying roots and grass stems- relieve soil compaction, stimulate root growth and improve drainage. If organic matter becomes too thick, it acts like a sponge and holds water at the surface after rain or irrigation. Excessive organic matter also inhibits root growth, reduces oxygen levels in the soil, encourages disease and eventually can lead to turf failure. Furthermore, excessive organic matter creates soft surfaces prone to ball marks, foot printing and inconsistent playing conditions. Aeration and topdressing are the most effective ways to control organic matter and maintain smooth firm putting surfaces.

Playing conditions are of the utmost importance for most golfers, and aeration is needed to keep turf healthy and playing well. Aeration can be disruptive, but the long term benefits of aeration far outweigh the short-lived disruption. The next time you play on greens that were recently aerated, keep in mind that aeration is performed for the long-term health of the course. The greens may not play their best immediately following some aeration treatments, but everyone is playing the same conditions and golfers still can enjoy the game and make plenty of putts.

8/23/17

Summer is winding down; the kids are getting ready to head back to school. But here at the Waverly Golf Course, things are picking up. This is a busy time for us. We still have several tournaments that we need to prepare for, an irrigation system with numerous repairs to be dealt with, a pond project that we need to continue growing in, aerification of our greens, tees, aprons and fairways, spraying of our fall broadleaf herbicides, doing an extensive tree pruning program, and writing up a report of our accomplishments and challenges for the City Council. All with a crew that is starting to dwindle.  It’s also a time for us to look ahead to the upcoming months and start planning for the end of the season/winter months topics we will be discussing in future view articles.

Here is an update on the ponds. The part of the contractors is done. We decided to eliminate the work of the contractors on #2’s pond and use the money saved to have them seal the ponds on #1 and #7 with Bentonite. Our intention is to do the work on the remaining pond in house. We have added dirt around the wall on #13/#17 pond and seeded the haul roads. We will continue to topdress those areas to smooth them out. We will use chemicals to treat the algae and pondweeds to keep them at bay and to improve the appearance. In the future, we will need to budget for an air system to help with the algae.   

5/30/17

OUR PONDS ARE NOT HOLDING WATER…………
One of the things I wanted to accomplish with our pond project was to suppress the Aquatic weed problem that was infesting our ponds. There were several reasons for this. One was that the ponds had become shadow. We took care of this by our de-mucking project. Another reason was that the ponds had a 3 foot shelf around them; that was allowing sunlight to reach the bottom of the edges were it wasn’t as deep. During the pond project we had them remove the shelf and develop a 3 to 1 slope, this will help with the weeds by blocking out the sunlight, but by doing this we exposed the natural soil. Although Baker did haul in clay there were pockets of sand that has allowed water to leach through. The solution is to apply Bentonite to the soil and incorporate it in. Bentonite is clay formed by the decomposition of volcanic ash, having the ability to absorb large quantities of water and to expand to several times its normal volume resulting in a water tight barrier between the water and soil. We are in the process of adding a change order to the original project with Baker Concrete and Excavating to have them do this.

On the brighter side our seeding project has been coming along very nicely. We have taken the ropes down on most of the areas and eventually take down all the ropes as the grass fills in. We have appreciated your patience in this very frustrating project.

Let me also take this opportunity to remind everyone with the fact that it is getting lighter earlier in the mornings therefor there will be times where the golfer and maintenance crews will be in conflict with each other. We have instructed our staff to be courteous to our patrons, however keep in mind the faster we can mow an area the faster we will be out of the way. And we all have a good shot in our bag. The shot you think you can’t hit that far could be the one you are hitting at the moment. “WHEN IN DOUBT DON’T TAKE THE SHOT”. 

3/27/17

One of the questions we get this time of the year as Golf Course Superintendents is “When is the Golf Course going to be open?” In this first article I would like to explain the different processes we go through to determine just when that date will be.

Many people would say the temperature should be the deciding factor, after all it is the most obvious sign right? While it is a part of the process. There are many other factors that we consider when we look at possible opening dates. One of the first things we look at is the frost levels. We like the frost level to be down past the plastic cup which is about 6 inches. The reason for that is, the frost creates a layer under the turf that water from the melting snow or rain can’t penetrate making the ground above it soggy and unable to handle the traffic from carts or walkers.

We also look at the condition of the turf. Coming out of the winter the turf is still somewhat dormant it doesn’t have the same ability to repair itself as it would in the summer; therefore injuries (divots) take longer to heal.  

Which brings us back to the temps; because we live in Iowa we are on a rollercoaster ride when it comes to temperatures in the early spring. Temps can range from 60 degrees one day to 30 degrees the next and can get down to 20’s at night this creates even more stress on the plant on top of the stress associated with normal play.  When deciding on a date we look at the long range temps. We like temps at night to be above freezing and daytime temps to be around 50 degrees. Both of which, make for a more enjoyable experience for the turf and for the player. Here at the Waverly Golf Course our motto has always been: “We maintain the Golf Course not for today but for tomorrow and the day after that”

I hope you have an enjoyable start to the 2017 golf season and I look forward to seeing you.