Monday, January 19, 2015

Winter Newsletter


We hope that you all enjoyed your holiday season and that the New Year brings excitement and joy to your life. The maintenance staff was able to relax, enjoy time with family and regroup before heading into 2015. We are truly excited and feel that 2015 will be a special year. As most of you know, Victoria National will proudly be hosting the Big Ten Championship, April 24th-26th and the United Leasing Championship, April 27th - May 3rd. These ten days of championship golf will be an exciting and busy time for the Victoria National team. With the early dates of these tournaments there is plenty for the maintenance staff to do in preparation.

December was a successful month. The tasks covered in the last letter were all completed and some additional projects were tackled. We finished a practice referred to as "dabbing" on our greens. "Dabbing" is the process of using a specific herbicide that will reduce the encroachment of Poa Annua onto our Bentgrass greens. This process is best done during the early spring and late fall because Poa is at its weakest during cold weather. By minimizing the amount of Poa Annua on our greens we are able to provide smooth and consistent putting surfaces during the golfing season.

Drill and fill was another agronomic practice that we did on greens. This process involves drilling a hole 5/8" in diameter and 18" deep into the green. It removes a black layer that has built up in the soil profile which causes poor root growth and reduced drainage. New sand is then introduced into the holes and will help with resolving these issues. This process can be contracted out to companies that have machines capable of performing drill and fill; however, the spacing of their holes is further apart at 7.5" and their depth is only 8". We constructed our own template that allows us to manually drill and fill holes. By using our own format and tools we are able drill 350 holes in the same area that a contracted company would only produce 78 holes and we go more than twice as deep. Changing of the soil profile through drill and fill allows us to provide an optimum playing surface that is consistently firm and true throughout the entire green.  
Drill and Fill - each board has 350 holes 

Blue grass rough sod will be laid over the newly shaped mound on #3 
Those of you that have been out on the course recently have probably seen the changes to holes #2 and #3. The mound on the right side of #3 has been shaved down and reshaped. Before the course opened the green for hole #3 collapsed into the water and was moved to its current location. This causes for an unfair blind shot into any pin located on the right side of the green. In 2012, Tom Fazio commented that had he been given time he would have addressed the issue with the mound. The shaving down of the mound allows for golfers to visually see the top of the flag for most pin locations. The difficulty of the hole still remains intact but now a golfer is no longer penalized with a blind shot into the green from the fairway. 

Over 100 loads of soil were removed from #3 and used to fill in the deep gully that was in the rough on the right side of #2. This area will be sodded as blue grass which will allow an entrance way to the fairway for carts. By moving cart traffic patterns throughout the summer we hope to be able to have extended cart access to the hole.

As we move forward we will continue to remove trees and bushes that are both unsightly and pose a safety risk. Areas are being thinned out to allow for the landscape and the flow of the golf course to be promoted aesthetically. Many areas are too cluttered with trees and growth that it does not look appealing from the course.  The idea is to have the overall view and layout flow from one area to the next with everything appearing in place and aestetically pleasing. Safety also plays a major factor in determining whether or not to keep a tree.  Cottonwoods are a good example of a tree that will be removed due to safety.  Due to their weak wood structure and shallow root systems, Cottonwoods have a tendency to break or become uprooted. This can cause serious damage not only to the golf course but to a person as well.  Besides physical damage to trees there are also trees that are unhealthy  that also need to be removed.  This may be from disease, age or animal damage.

We will continue to work on native areas. All of these areas have been mowed down and sprayed with a pre- and post-emergent herbicide. Next we will begin burning the native to promote a healthier and more even stand of grass and it will remove the under growth and debris that has been left behind from mowing. The herbicides that are applied are just like the ones you use on your home lawn in the spring and fall. They are used to prevent any new weeds from growing and also get rid of weeds that are already present. Aesthetically it will begin to look outstanding and these processes will increase the likelihood of finding your golf ball in the native. Our goal is to produce a native area that would be comparable to that of Whistling Straits or St. Andrews. 
Whistling Straits
 hole #13 Native Areas

Irrigation satellite controls are being replaced this winter. The satellite boxes themselves need to be replaced and the controls inside of them are due for an upgrade. This upgrade will give us the ability to control every irrigation sprinkler individually. By doing so, we can select how much water to run in certain areas depending on need. This will provide the golfer with a more even firmness across fairways and approaches as watering will be done more specific to every hole and every area.  
An old irrigation satellite box that will be replaced

A ball resting in a head that is too low and needs to be raised 
Also, raising and leveling of irrigation heads is an ongoing process that will provide a better playing surface as the irrigation heads will be flush with the turf. This will lower the chance of a golf ball coming to rest on top of the head causing an unfair and unfavorable lie. It will also improve irrigation coverage by allowing the sprinkler to function properly and not have the arc of the water impeded by the turf.  

Our mechanics are performing annual maintenance on all equipment. This ensures that all equipment is ready to be used during summer and that it is operating at a high level. Regular maintenance not only extends the longevity of our equipment but directly correlates to the conditioning of the course. When equipment performs as it is designed to, the finished product is more consistent throughout the course and allows us to provide optimum playing conditions throughout the season.

We are very excited for the upcoming year and cannot wait to see everyone on the golf course in the spring.

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