Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017 Core Aeration

Our fall core aeration has come and gone in the blink of an eye.  I've talked in the past of continually changing our strategies based on what the greens tell or show us and this year is no different.  The hole pattern is the same as years past: a core that is 0.4" diameter on 1.5" x 1.25" spacing.  We also use the deep tine aerator that goes 8" deep after the sand was applied like years past.

What was different this year is that we have abandoned using the blower to fill the holes with sand.  While blowing the sand into the holes provides a cleaner playing surface, we lose the opportunity to further dilute the thatch layer by leaving more sand on top.  Instead of the blower we use a metal mat and a mechanical brush to work the sand into the holes.  It does beat the greens up more than the blower, but the extra sand on the surface makes it worthwhile.  

Dragging the sand in allowed me to change our fertilizer strategy as well.  Instead of applying the follow up organic fertilizer after the aeration holes had been filled, we applied while the holes were open allowing the fertilizer to get dragged into the soil.  I also used a new fertilizer that smells much better than the normal chicken manure that we typically use.  The fertilizer is blended locally and is called ProBiotic 1G which is designed with the soil food web theory in mind.  


It's got one of the oddest list of products in it that I've ever used, but it works after 3 years of testing on the practice green.  It is composed of raisin stems, urea, alfalfa meal, soybean meal, rice bran, potassium sulfate, kelp meal, ferrous sulfate, lignosulfonate, humic acid, and a wetting agent.  It's got a nice sweet smell that you know will get the soil biology going.  

The holes are now filled in and we will work on getting their speed back over the next month.  In the meantime enjoy less break in the greens and a low total putt round.  Who knows, you may lower your course best or even break par!

  The pictures above are just 7 days after aerating. 
  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Don't Be Fooled by the Green

I can't tell you how many times I've heard a caddy or golf shop person say that Northern California golf course greens break towards the ocean.  That's a good way to lose your money if you choose to believe that non-sense.  

It's also non-sense to think that despite Cinnabar being more green than last year, we are wasting water.  We are actually using less water year to date since 2010.  I grant you that we had rain this year, but that stopped in April.  So let's look at May.  The evapotranspiration rate (loss of water from soil and through plant transpiration) for May 2017 was equal to 2013 and higher than last year by more than a 1/2" and yet we saved 4.6 acre ft more than 2016.  Looking at June 2017 to date, we are trending towards a 29% savings compared to 2013 which is equal to 2016 and weather has been nearly identical.


I know the Governor has said that the drought is over, but we still live in a desert.  The investments we've made and things we've learned are now just a way of life which doesn't equate to a lesser product.   

It should be noted that this has been written on the verge of a 6 day heat wave.  I have no concerns about water usage during this time as it won't change our practices much.  My only concerns are that the pipes remain charged and there isn't a blackout.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Family Tees

If you've been out playing at Cinnabar over the last week you'll have noticed that we have some new orange and green stakes placed in the fairways.  These stakes indicate our new family teeing area.  The family tees play to yardages ranging from 1,578 to 1,960 yards per nine.  What's interesting about these new stakes from the maintenance side of things is that they can mowed or driven over and then they spring back.  



To kick off the program, we have two family golf night events.  The first being on June 20th and the second on July 18th with both events beginning at 4pm.  More details can be found here.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Restless Natives

With our first good winter in the last 4 years, the native areas are growing like gangbusters.  When the natives get out of control, it has a big impact on how quickly the game is played.  For that reason, and a few others, we are slowly making our way through the course and chopping the native areas down.  

What was once a safe haven for rodents
is now open season for the raptors.

Another reason we cut them down is for weed control.  The idea behind that is that you give the grasses the competitive advantage and choke out the weeds.  This doesn't happen overnight, but there are areas that have less weeds which have been chopped down annually.  This year is an anomaly as there are more thistle than I have ever seen before. 

Lastly, we chop them down for rodent control.  Does that one catch you by surprise?  Take a look at our worst rodent infested roughs on the course.  4/5 Mountain, 7 Mountain, 7 Canyon ( I know there are more).  All blanketed by heavy grass and weed growth.  The reason rodents do so well is because they take cover from raptors in the taller grass and weeds.  Can it still be called natural selection if we are giving the raptors an edge?

    

Thursday, March 23, 2017

2017 Greens Coring

Below is a picture I’ve used in a previous post showing the top 3” of the greens soil profile on the left and 3-6” on the right.  The picture on the right is the original sand profile and the picture on the left is the same sand, but with twenty years of organic accumulation.  Results from a physical soil analysis that we do annually indicate that water infiltrates through the profile on the right over 36” per hour.  The results for the sample on the left is less than 6” per hour.  A very dramatic difference and the major reason why we core and topdress the greens.   


So that’s what the lab says.  Here is a picture that may help you further understand why we core the greens. 



That's two minutes of water and in case your wondering, that's not good.  We will core the greens the week of the 27th using 3/8" tines.  We are going smaller and tighter to aide recovery time.