Friday, June 24, 2016

2016 Water Supply Update: The New Norm

Did you hear the drought is over?  Unfortunately, that's what millions of Californian's heard when the State Water Resources Control Board announced that they were lifting the state wide band of mandatory 25% water reductions.  What they didn't hear was that they were turning over any water restrictions to the individual water districts and retailers.

The individual water districts and retailers were instructed to perform a stress test applying the previous three years of drought conditions and usage to the upcoming three years.  Where water supply is after 3 years of simulated drought conditions determines what restrictions are necessary.

Several water districts and retailers have lifted the ban due to water supply conditions meeting the stress test.  Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD), Cinnabar Hill's purveyor, has lowered the reduction from 30% down to 20%.  

We are allowed to use more water this year, but we aren't going to settle to just meet the 20%.  The drought and the last two years of conservation demand has changed our habits and mindset which is exactly what a conservation program is suppose to do.  We are as green as can be right now for June and it isn't because we are using more water.  We have actually saved 31.4% to date.   We've converted nozzles, added acid injection, applied tons upon tons of calcium, converted to single head control, changed the frequency in which we water and removed over 150,000 square feet of turf.  All of these permanent changes are part of our new norm and hearing golfers comments recently as they come off the course, our new norm is pretty darn good.

See how great we look on this recent drone flyover

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Learning on the Job

Just the other day I had a vendor in my office and we were talking about how cool it was to take the things we had no understanding of in school and see them actually happening on the course and really learning them. 

Fast forward to that same night while making guacamole.  I actually learned how to make guacamole at the golf course.  It was one of our first carne asada's and the guys on staff made the shopping list for me.  I brought back all of the items and Delfino, Gregorio and myself made the guacamole in the break room.  Prior to this experience, I had only been a consumer of guacamole.  I made it the following week at home and my wife loved it.  She never liked guacamole until that point.   It has quite possibly been the greatest thing I've ever learned at Cinnabar.  

For those who just do store bought guac, try this.

2 avocado's
1/4 C purple onion rough chopped
1/4 C cilantro, chopped fine
1-2 garlic cloves minced
1/2-1 jalapeno chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste

Lightly mash avocado's with fork, but leave chunky.  Add all ingredients and stir.  Add some lemon juice if it will be out for a while.  This feeds me just fine, but normally two people.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Greens Coring

With greens coring (as they say in New Zealand) here, our Marketing Director, Cecilia Ashley, asked if I had anything on our blog about why we core the greens.  I hadn’t yet and wasn’t planning on it as I tell the same story every year.  We’re removing thatch, getting more air porosity and better water movement.  The same boring thing you hear every year and you don’t feel any better about the process.  It’s still holes, sand, bumpy, and slow. 
So what if I put it this way.  For the last 18 years, you have arguably played the best greens in the South Bay, if not some of the best in Northern California.  Do you remember the time you sank that 25 footer for a skin?  Do you remember the first time you went under 80 because you rolled in a smooth 5 footer to finish on number 18?  Do you recall the time you had your friends over from the best private club in the Bay Area wishing their greens were like Cinnabar’s?  Sure there is a great deal of skill involved, but the first thing to be blamed for missing out on 79 isn’t going to be the putter?   

The greens at Cinnabar Hills are some of the best in California because of the process and yes, unfortunately for 6 weeks a year, it’s an inconvenience.  I’m told a colonoscopy is an inconvenience too, but it’s part of the process as we age.  Greens aeration can’t be that bad… or can it?


For those who see past the sand.

1.  Fertilize the greens one week prior to get them growing
2.  Core greens with 0.5" coring tine on 1.5" centers
3.  Remove 5 yards of organic matter and soil from every green
4.  Clean excess sand off of surface
5.  Apply gypsum
6.  Apply sand at 16 tons per acre
7.  Deep tine aerate with 5/16" solid tine
8.  Drag sand into holes with metal mat
9.  Blow sand off of greens
10.Seed greens with bentgrass
11.Drag sand again with coco  mat
12.Roll greens
13.Change cup
14. Fertilize with organic fertilizer next day
15. First cut 3 days prior
16. Additional sand to top off holes the next week
17. Apply wetting agent to naturally hydrophobic sand
18.Watch them grow
19. Enjoy great greens until we aerate again in August

Seems so easy now that I’ve written it down.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Early Season Bird Activity

American kestrel eggs
Our "bird man" Lee Pauser has been out recently and he's noted a lot of bird activity this season.  It's probably more like normal years of bird activity, but the drought has had its impact on the birds too and their activity has been down the last couple of years.  Lee reports that "5 of the 8 barn owl boxes have barn owl activity. Of the 5 active boxes, 3 have hens on eggs, and the other 2 have roosting hens".  Lee also shared a picture of two American kestrel eggs in one of the boxes.  It took a few years to get kestrel activity, but they finally seem to be here.  

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fairway Drainage

Over the last 10 years 5 lake fairway has become our worst draining fairway.  We had a situation like this a few years back where 1 lake fairway had become our worst draining fairway when it previously performed well.  What I attribute it to is better infiltration rates and that's a sign of all the aeration we've done over the last 5 years.  Before we started aerating so much I believe when it rained, a majority of that water just sheeted off the surface into collection drains.  Now the rain water is getting in the soil and once it is in, it moves lateraly below the surface and pops out in new areas each year.    It's a catch 22 because the better infiltration rates are great for irrigation purposes, but not so much in the winter if there aren't drains for the water to move to. 

You can see an example of the lateral movement by looking in the drain line we just cut on 5 lake.  We trenched a line to 2.5 feet and the day of there was barely any water in the drain line.  The next morning the line has standing water as shown in the picture.  We haven't had rain in 3 weeks and it shows us (or me at least) the importance of getting the drain lines so deep as to catch the subsurface water movement.   

Will this make the fairway playable the next day after an inch of rain?  No, but maybe instead of 5 days on the path, we could reduce that to 3 days.