Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 Year in Review

A very busy and exciting 2014 has passed, and a new year is upon us.  Admittedly, attention to this blog was lacking in 2014 as I tended to some matters in my personal life.  The most important of which was navigating the mountain of paperwork, classes and the obstacles that occur when adopting a child (and raising a baby).  After about 17 months, we were finally able to complete the adoption of our second son Rowan in August.  Now, back to the year in review.

2014 brought us several new and exciting changes to the golf course.
                                                                                     New golf carts were purchased!

The former fleet of golf carts had aged to the point that replacement was necessary.  Annual regular maintenance had evolved into annual repair of major components on most of the carts.  

The cart paths from #8 green through #13 tee were replaced.  With more to come.  The paths were prepped for paving by our staff in-house, and then paved by Martin Paving.

 Additionally, a bunker restoration project was initiated.  This project is also being done in-house to control costs.  We currently have 26 bunkers on the course.  Approximately 25 bunkers have been removed over the years.  Our goal is to restore the existing bunkers, and replace ones that have been removed.

The bunker project is especially exciting for my department.  Re-instating the fairway bunkers will add some much needed character to some of our holes.  The fairway bunkers, like the one added this past summer on #8 will feature sand bottoms and grass faces to emulate the original style of Galen Hall's fairway bunkers such as the existing bunker on the right side of #2.  This style also aids in the maintenance of them, since the sand will not wash down from the faces.

The biggest hurdle in re-installing the omitted bunkers is their placement.  Much thought, measurement and attention is incorporated to determining their exact location.  The primary determining factors include: balancing originality with today's equipment (verses the equipment 100 years ago), and keeping shorter-hitters from being penalized.          

My staff and I look forward to a great 2015 golf season!

Stay tuned for more updates!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Happened to Summer?

We do refer to the recently completed greens aeration as "fall aeration", but I certainly didn't expect summer to wain as quickly as it seems to have.  Temps for the foreseeable future will be below normal, making for nice golf conditions.  Rainfall however, has been abundant, although the course is holding up well, especially considering the high volumes of play we've have been experiencing lately.

As previously mentioned, we completed a core aeration of greens on August 6th and 7th.  They are healing well, and should be back to normal in about a week or so.  The rest of the course is in really nice shape right now, so come out and enjoy it!

My department is in the planning stages of several construction projects scheduled to start this fall.  The next few months will be a busy time around the golf course for my department.  As the summer slips into fall, we are able to transition away from the intense daily maintenance type tasks to more project/construction types of work.

The fall is my favorite season, and many would agree that it is the nicest time of year to play golf.  So come on out and play Galen Hall!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Heat Is On

Summer is in full swing and so is the grounds department here at Galen Hall Golf Club.  By now you may have noticed some of the projects and improvements that have been completed to date thus far:
      1. Tees, Fairways, Green Surrounds, Tee Surrounds, Primary Roughs have been treated for broad leaf weeds, and annual grassy weeds (such as crabgrass).  A fertilizer application was made to these areas as well.  Turf quality will continue to improve season after season by incorporating these practices.
      2.  An approach was added on hole 15.  Although this hole was obviously created to be a difficult test, in my opinion an approach adds the option for players to lay up.
      3.  Trees have been limbed up to allow players to more easily play out of those areas.  Aesthetics is also improved, and the turf quality around them will as well.
      4.  Native areas have been mowed for the season, and herbicides have been applied to control weeds, and control the thickness of these areas.  Properly maintained native grass areas are thin enough to allow balls to be found, and played from.  These areas will continue to improve over time.
      5.  Numerous drainage projects have been repaired/replaced.  Including work on number six, and number 8.
Obviously, there are many more small projects that add up to an improving golf course.  But these are the "big ones".
We have been getting many complements on the condition of the golf course, and the grounds staff has been working hard to provide the best course that we can every day.  We are all proud of the work we do and are excited to see the course continuing to improve.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We're Getting There......

After a winter that seemed never ending, we are finally starting to feel seasonal temperatures.  This week, we completed greens aeration.  From what I've gathered, its been due for a while.  Weather forced us to cancel it last fall, and almost put us back again this spring, but we made it through without issues.  With the rain on Monday, 4/29, we were able to feed the greens with a granular quick-release fertilizer to help them recover from the scheduled aeration..
This spring we aerated greens with a 3/8 inch diameter hollow tine on a quad-tine block.  This doubles the amount of cores pulled to help give more of the benefits gained from aeration.
After the greens were aerated, and topdressed, some bulk amendments (calcium and potassium based products) were added to amend the soils.  Soil tests revealed that the average pH of our greens was at 5.2.
When the soil pH is in that range(low, very acidic), many nutrients become locked in the soil, and are unavailable to the plant.  I plan to manage the pH at around 5.8 to 6.0.  This will help free up nutrients, and help our greens perform a bit better through the stresses of the season.  It may help them "wake up" a bit faster in the spring as well.  To raise the pH I have put together a program of calcium and magnesium based products that will get the reading up to where I want it to be.
You will start to see us running the irrigation system more now that we have aerated.  All of those tiny open holes coupled with the warm, low-humidity weather will really dry the greens out quickly.  You may see us watering with the overhead sprinklers, and hand watering with the hoses several times a day.  This is normal during the aeration recovery process.
While working with the hand watering crew today, I snapped this picture of number 16.
Hopefully the weather will continue to cooperate.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pin Placement/Cup Changing

As putting green speeds have increased over the years, so have the debates of the "fairness" of hole locations.  Golf courses periodically move hole locations on putting greens to spread out wear, in the hope of achieving a more uniform putting surface.  In a tournament situation, hole locations are changed to provide a different challenge to players in the tournament. 
During a typical week at Galen Hall, cups will be changed 2-5 times per week depending on volume of play.  If a tournament is scheduled, we will change hole locations after each round of the tournament.  During the golf season hole locations may change 140 -180 times per year.
When multiplied by eighteen holes, there will be over 3,000 different hole locations used.
We WILL make mistakes.
Under normal play, we set the golf course up to coincide with provided weather conditions.  We try to keep traffic away from dry spots, and during rainy periods we try to keep pins away from wet (low) spots.
During tournament conditions, we try to provide varying degrees of challenge based on history, and the type of tournament being played.
Holes will never be changed for the sake of providing a different "look" to every player on a daily basis.  I have worked at numerous golf clubs, and have never seen this practice used.
When there is a pin that you believe to be unfair, please notify me or the pro shop of the specific hole and date.  Without specifics, no remedy can be made.
It will always be my goal to provide challenging, but fair hole locations to our members .  I would also remind our players that Galen Hall's total green surface area is about half as compared to previous clubs' that I have maintained, which essentially provides half of the available hole locations as most courses have.
Our greens are 100 years old, and are very small and undulating by today's standards, but these challenging targets, and undulations are in my opinion, the backbone of this golf course.
If you ever have any comments or concerns I can ALWAYS be reached by email at:  My department phone number is (717) 484-2523.

Cold Weather = Bumpy Putting Greens

I think its safe to say that last spring's weather was preferable to most than the temperatures we've experienced so far this spring. 
Our greens are composed of two species of turfgrass.  The primary species is Creeping Bentgrass (Agrostis Stolinifera).  The secondary species is Annual Bluegrass (Poa Annua).  The two species concurrently occupy almost every putting green in the United States, if not the world.  During 90 percent of the golf season, the two species coexist very well.  The Annual Bluegrass grows very upright, and the Creeping Bentgrass grows laterally, which is why they compliment each other well.  Both tolerate the low mowing heights of which putting greens are maintained. 
This is the problem: 1.  Creeping Bentgrass is a perennial plant.  This means that it lives an essentially long life.  It does not die in the winter.  It can be equated to a tree or the grass in your lawn. (2) Annual Bluegrass is an annual plant, which essentially means that it lives one season, produces a seed, then dies.  It can be equated to a Marigold, or any plant in your vegetable garden.
As soil temperatures warm up in the spring, the two species resemble "the tortoise and the hare".  The Bentgrass is slow and steady, while the Poa is quicker, but erratic.  The Poa is affected much more than the Bentgrass by the cold weather once things get going.  The Bentgrass keeps growing.  The Poa shuts down.
Which, after this week has created the bumpy conditions on some of our greens. Overnight air temperatures have dipped into the 30's recently, and there was a frost on three nights last week.  We also had a frost on Friday night this week (April  26-27th).
It is hard for me as well as our members to remain patient, and let the warmer temperatures prevail.  As the nighttime temps come up, the greens surfaces will level out.
I apologize for the bumpy conditions of the putting greens, but I assure you that the conditions are very temporary, and will not persist.
Greens are also scheduled for aeration on 4/30 and 5/1.  This process will further smooth the greens as well.    

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring cleanup

After hours of raking, and countless loads of debris have been removed from the course, our spring cleanup process is coming to an end.  We have been able to refocus on completing unfinished projects that have lingered from the fall.  The mounding installed around the thirteenth tee has been seeded, along with the cleared area left of twelve green.
On the fifteenth hole, an approach is being added, complete with extra irrigation to improve the turf quality of the approach and green surrounds.  Improving the turf around fifteen green is a major priority for my department.
Numerous drainage projects have been completed on the sixth hole, and the back filled areas have been seeded.  As many may know, there is extensive drainage installed on the sixth hole, and it takes many man hours to keep the drains flowing properly. 
As you make your way around the course, you will notice white markings around tees and along fairway edges.  We have begun the process of re-contouring fairway and tee edges.  
Some of the areas maintained as tee surfaces have expanded over the years to include unusable slopes, and are being unnecessarily maintained. The edges are also being squared off for a more formal appearance.  Fairway edges are being tweaked to contour around trees, and undulation. Some landing areas have been expanded as well.  Overall there will be very little change to the total area of the tees and fairways.  
I know certain holes are looking uncharacteristically unkept due to the construction projects being completed.  My staff and I are excited to see this work come to fruition, and I hope our members are as well.