Friday, August 26, 2016

T.W.I.T... And the Previous 3

My absence throughout the month of August can only mean one thing; It’s coring time at Cinnabar Hills.  It has been a hectic month and it’s time to catch up on what we’ve been doing. 

Coring of the greens took place on the first of August.  We cored the greens with ½ tines and used a deep tine aerator to punch a solid hole that is 5/16” in diameter and 8 inches deep.  We used approximately 95 tons of sand to fill all holes which makes my heart flutter with joy.  The week following coring, we applied another 10 tons of sand to top the holes off and further dilute the top layer of thatch.  

The later topdressing is a variation from years past where we historically only applied 3-5 tons of sand on 4 acres of greens.  We started going heavier with the second topdressing last spring and with just one coring we saw greater water infiltration rates and what I believe to be a firmer playing surface.  

Looking at the physical soil analysis pictures below from 2012, what I’m trying to do is further dilute the top ½” of the soil profile which is currently over 4% organic matter.  More organic matter means softer surfaces and lower water infiltration rates.  The darker soil profile is the top 3” and the lighter profile are inches 3-6.  Inches 3-6 are more or less the original greens mix and the richer brown profile in the top 3 inches is accumulated organic matter.  The water has been moving through the surface so much better this year that next year I may have to switch up the type of wetting agents I use.  We currently use a wetting agent that promotes water movement and I’ll play around with lowering that rate or use a product that promotes water balance/ retention. 

In addition to coring the greens, we used  a solid tine to punch holes in fairways, tees, and approaches.  It was a very successful two weeks of cultivation events.  This was all followed by an application of gypsum to help with soil structure and salts.

During coring, Valerie Baldwin of the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center released another rescued owlet.  I don’t remember its story, but it was in pretty bad shape.  Whether it makes it or not is to be determined, but it's nice knowing that we are one of the best chances it has towards surving.  Lee Pauser is nursing it along with gophers that are trapped on site.  I'd also mention that all gophers trapped on site go to our owls or other raptors that are at the wildlife center and are in need of additional food.  Lab mice get pricey and seem to be hard to come by these days.   


Friday, July 15, 2016


This was going to be titled Smurf Tees and Albino Praying Mantis, but T.W.I.T, or this week in turf, just came off the tongue better.  

It's hard for me to believe that kids growing up today don't have the smurfs in their lives.  I guess they do have those horrible movies that came out, but those were just strange, but I digress.  We've had a struggle with a handful of tees this year and instead or re-sodding them, we are seeding them.  To help keep the seed bed cool and moist we are using a type of hydro mulch that you can spray out or just apply over the top.  In this case we are just applying over the top.   With temperatures increasing, it's hard to keep the seed bed moist and I really hope this is the ticket.  I had a customer ask me today if it'll work and I'd like to think that since it's been done, it will, but...

In other news, I found this praying mantis on the course Thursday and it sent me to google looking up a white praying mantis.  From what I can best determine, it is a normal praying mantis, but praying mantis's molt several times and after molting they appear white for a period of time.  Aside from being one of the cooler looking insects, they are known to eat June bugs (other flying insects too) which morph into white grubs.  As some remember we've had a problem with skunks, raccoons and crows digging for white grubs.  I'll take all the help I can get.  

Lastly we have begun coring preparation by doing two practice greens on Wednesday.  It's three weeks out, but I don't like surprises.  We'll tweak what we did this week next week and hopefully we'll be dialed in for the 2nd of August.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Just Another Day

I was once in a restaurant and listened to two older gentlemen go on about how firefighters are the most overpaid of all city service workers.  "All you ever see them do is clean their trucks and buy ingredients for chili at the grocery store", they said.  I didn't agree with these gentlemen then and after helping put out a recent fire on course, I've got even more respect for what firefighters do on a daily basis.  

A call came in Wednesday afternoon from the Pro Shop about a fire that started on the 6th hole of the canyon. As I approached, smoke was looming over the trees.  Upon arriving the fire was rather small, but the wind was blowing strong through the canyon.  Fortunately, another staff member and myself were able to get hoses hooked in and the fire was quickly extinguished.  The little bit of smoke was brutal to be in and I can't imagine how so many men and women are doing it on a daily basis throughout California right now.  

This was started by hitting a ball out of a native area and the club sparked on a rock. Whether you're playing for money or not, I don't see the reason why you can't give your playing partners a little bump.  Put them next to a rattlesnake hole if it doesn't seem fair.   

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sophie the Cat

It seems that Superintendents are known for their love of dogs.  I'm not a dog lover.  I'm not really a fan of cats either, but I find myself with a young kitten that I'm bending over backwards for.  We got Sophie from a women who finds homes for barn cats.  All we need is a mice catcher here.  We got Sophie almost 8 weeks ago and she is just now becoming comfortable with my office.  I have a hole in the ceiling tiles above my office and as soon as she discovered that area, I haven't seen much of her.  I'd try and lure her down with treats and fresh water, but she'd never come down during the day.  One day I had forgetten something in my office after the crew had left and walked in on Sophie sitting in my chair.  We both stared at each other and she then bolted.

I have to say it's kind of fun having her here and getting her comfortable.  She may not chase any geese or lick me when I'm down, but there aren't any mice in my office!

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