Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Morro Bay Golf Course Icon!

If you are familiar with the Central Coast of California, when you hear the name Morro Bay, images of fishing boats in the harbor surrounding the "Rock" immediately come to mind.

Although these views are spectacular as seen from the course, this is not the icon of which I am speaking. I am referring to Tom Massey, our golf supervisor for both Morro Bay and Dairy Creek golf courses.

Many of you who play regularly at Morro Bay are familiar with Tom and what he has done for the golf course, but may not be aware of just how much he is attached to Morro Bay GC. Tom has nearly been raised on this course as his father was the head greenskeeper during his childhood and his family lived in the state parks caretakers' home which was located not far from the current turf maintenance facility. Tom learned his trade by watching his father and later his brother who also worked as a greenskeeper for the course. At the age of 17, Tom joined his dad and brother as a seasonal employee for the Department of Parks and Beaches.

Since that time Tom has been been a permanent structure at Morro Bay Golf Course...that is for the next 8 days. Tom Massey will be retiring from his 37 years of service for the County of San Luis Obispo on Nov. 6, 2009. Our staff and community of golfers owe Tom a great deal of gratitude for what he has meant to our golf courses, golf games, and lives over the years! I have only had the luck to have known Tom for a little over two years now, and I must say thanks for making my job easier by providing a stable staff and operation since I have been in my position as Golf Superintendent. I have enjoyed our many laughs, a few beers, the occasional round of golf, and the exchange of knowledge about the history and memories of this fantastic golf facility! I hope the golfers will take the time to congratulate Tom on his retirement and tell him thanks for all that he has done to facilitate their ability to enjoy a round of golf among the fantastic views afforded to us on Black Hill overlooking another Morro Bay icon. "Thanks Tommy and we wish you all the best!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cart Traffic and Ettiquette

While I was at our Parks Commission meeting last Thursday evening I was chatting with members of our golf course advisory board about strange things that golfers do or attempt to do while on the golf course. I told them about one of my experiences as a superintendent at a club in which the following commentary took place.

Me: "Excuse me Mr. Smith, but did you happen to notice the signs, ropes, and stakes on hole #14 directing traffic away from some wet areas in the fairway?" (Mr. Smith was now playing the 17th hole)

Mr. Smith: "No, why do you ask?"

Me: "Because they are missing, but I think that I found them." (I went to the rear of Mr. Smith's golf cart and removed about 25 - 30' of ropes and stakes that were being dragged since he played the 14th hole) "By the way, since we received 4" of rain yesterday we are cart paths only until things dry out. "

The moral to this story is don't let yourself become Mr. Smith, by following proper cart rules and etiquette so that our playing surfaces on our courses are more easily maintained without unnecessary inputs or maintenance. Golf carts have been proven to be one of the most destructive elements to turf conditions as they cause compaction, rutting, and tearing which result in thin turf or instances of total turf loss.

Turf is only as healthy as the soil that it is growing within. The three above elements are caused by individuals not realizing the impacts their actions have on soil conditions. Golf Superintendents hate to use stake and ropes as it creates work for staff because the ropes and stakes need to be moved and reset to mow the turf, not to mention that they break up the beauty of the landscape and clutter up the course. That being said there are few barriers that are as economically efficient at controlling cart traffic.

Thoughtfulness about where you are traveling and would go a long way towards preserving the golf course conditions and minimizing maintenance practices. The next time you are playing golf pay attention to the bare areas just off of the cart paths around tees and greens and I am referring to nearly any golf course. These bare areas are often times unlevel and sunken, which means drainage is an issue, but also that golf carts are being parked with two tires on the path and two tires on the turf. It is best to park all 4 tires on the path and any cart needing to get around can drive around your cart. The 90 degree rule is something that all golf courses promote through signage, but is rarely witnessed on the course throughout the day. The 90 degree rule requires that carts leave the paths at a 90 degree angle to their ball and return to the path at a 90 degree angle to the path. Think about your own cart habits ( now be honest) and I would venture to guess that you hit your shot and immediately drive on a straight line to your ball instead of returning to the path. Pairing up in golf carts is also a large help to reduce costs and maintenance because it simply reduces the amount of tires traversing the course. Not only that, but it aides in the social aspect that golf is known for.

Areas surrounding greens and tees are exceptionally susceptible to cart damage. These areas are smaller and more frequented by all players as compared to fairways. How many rounds of golf do you you hit every fairway? How many rounds of golf do you not tee off or hole out on half of the holes? Greens and tees typically have minimal entrance and exit points and thus have areas of specific traffic flows both foot traffic and cart traffic. Green surrounds receive a lot of play and no one likes to play from bare areas or thin lies any where on the course let alone when you have short sided yourself trying to get close to that pin four paces onto the green.

I just want everyone to think about their own specific golf cart driving habits and try to improve upon them. By being more conscious of how your actions effect your playing conditions and the conditions of golfers to follow maybe the golf gods will smile down upon you during your next round. At least it will reduce the number of times the marshall stops your group or the superintendent contemplates roping off every single hole. If it keeps you out of the ponds I my staff is happy!

I opened my email the Friday morning after my parks meeting and received these pictures from golf course personnel from earlier that week.

This is just a reminder that accidents do happen, but if we are all careful and think about what we are doing many mishaps such as this can be avoided. For more information and videos copy and paste this link to the USGA into your browser and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Drive safely and pay attention to cart etiquette!

"Every day you miss playing or practicing is one day longer it takes to be good." - Ben Hogan

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Upcoming events and Results



This event will be held October 24-25 at Chalk Mountain Golf Course.
The event is a NCGA points event and will be limited to the first 120 players.
Entry deadline is Oct. 16.
Call the pro shop at(805) 466-8848 for more information.


This event will be held November 5-6 at Morro Bay Golf Course.
The field will be limited to 144 players with a maximum GHIN of 40.4.
Entry deadline is Oct. 23.
Register online at: or call (805) 772-3380 or (805) 771-9582 for more information.



On October 8, 2009 the Morro Bay Women’s Golf Club hosted a full field of women golfers in the annual Monarch Invitational Golf Tournament. Following the tournament, participants attended a luncheon where 41 gift baskets were raffled off by president Nancy Brown. During the tournament, Marti Valley, a member of the San Luis Obispo Country Club, had a hole-in-one on the 8th hole of the Morro Bay Golf Course.

The following is a brief synopsis of the results and congratulations to all of the winners!

The winners of the Partner’s Better Ball Tournament were:
Low Gross over the field: Marion Roberts and Arlene Yost with a score of 70
Low Net Over the Field: Pat Dyer and Laura Hersey with a score of 59.

Other winners were:
A Flight: Low Gross: Liz Radvansky and Kathy Toth, 71
Low Net: Vicci Messer and Karen Collins, 61
B Flight: Low Gross: Nancy Brown and Nancy Oliveira, 82
Low Net: Kathy Torcaso and Dede Pestrello, 63
C Flight: Low Gross: Bea Anderson and Debbie Vargas, 86
Low Net: Barbara Perrine and Barbara Wilson, 63
D Flight: Low Gross: Rickie Spitzer and Patti Spitzer, 90
Low Net: Jackie Vaughn and Joan Price, 59

A Flight: Low Gross Leslie Rodman and Lynette Branch,71,
Low Net Betty Willaman and Marti Valley, 62
B Flight Low Gross Winnie Taylor and Mary Bruggerman, 82,
Low Net Jean Wilson and Virginia Woods, 60
C Flight Low Gross Judith Sweet and Shirl Bailey, 90
Low Net Charlie Brandt and Karen Wilson, 61

Rain on the Central Coast!

Mother Nature blessed us with the following rain totals:

6.6" Dairy Creek

2.25" Morro Bay

2" Chalk Mountain

The rain total from yesterday covers more than half of our yearly total from last year! Dairy Creek did not sustain any significant damage. There were a few small trees uprooted, the bunkers are washed out and some are still holding water, the ponds are full, and it looks like some of the pond banks to the left of #1 approach is sloughing into the pond.

Morro Bay was ready to play after the rain subsided. You just cannot beat the playability of Kikuyu grass grown on sand after a rain event. The course is dry and ready to tee 'em up! We sustained a little damage to the newly planted trees. Due to the sandy soils and minimal rooting of the new trees, we had a few blow over posts and all.

Chalk Mountain sustained the most damage with down limbs and trees, washed out sand bunkers, and various debris strewn about the course. There was no severe damage that will hinder play, but will require some extra effort to get conditions back to normal.

All staffs will be working diligently to get the courses prepped and mowed for play this weekend. With natural irrigation, aka rain, it is a bit tough at times being able to mow areas due to saturated conditions. Greens are usually ok the next day since they are constructed of sand, followed by tees, fairways, and then roughs last. There may be some added thickness to the roughs over the weekend, but we are working hard to get things mowed out as the soils absorb the water. Sand bunkers take quite a while to get back into shape after a substantial wash out and down trees and limbs require much safety, time, and energy as well. Thanks for your patience as we strive to get conditions back to normal as quickly as we can.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Whew, aerification is COMPLETE!!

About a month ago we aerified Morro Bay Golf Course and the results are beautiful! The greens are rolling exceptionally true and quite quick.Often times I hear the question, "Why are we aerifying greens just when they are rolling perfectly?" The answer is that they are rolling perfectly because of aerification and if we waited to aerify until the turf is really struggling it is too late and we would need to re-seed at the same time. For an explanation and turf benefits of why we aerify, see my earlier post titled "Arrrgh Aerification!"

This past Monday and Tuesday we aerified the greens at Dairy Creek Golf Course and I can say with confidence that we are expecting them to bounce back within a week to 10 days. The process was completed without mechanical problems or issues with "mother nature". The holes were filled completely and easily, dragged in with our cocoa mat, and watered later that night. Tomorrow they will be fertilized to enhance their ability to fill in the holes as well as give them the nutrition they will need going into the winter months by promoting root growth and carbohydrate storage.

The following pictures better tell the story about the process that our crews go through during this process. We have such a great group of people working hard to produce quality playing conditions for you our customers. Enjoy the back stage look at the process of aerification!

Yes, it is dark outside! This process begins while the early
birds are still dreaming about the worm.

Almost perfect! We prefer the holes are perfectly round and

if youlook closely they are a bit oblong. Adjustments were

made and we "plugged" along.

The necessary evil of scooping plugs.

Thank goodness for technology, this conveyor throws the cores

into the back of the vehicle and we follow again with a scoop

shovel to clean up any debris.

Sand to fill up the holes!

Dragging the sand into the holes with a cocoa mat.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Frost delays can be expected.

It is that time of the year when we begin to experience the natural phenomenon called "frost". Frost occurs in nature in the same way that your iced beverage sweats on your table or frosty mugs from the freezer are created in preparation for watching your favorite sport event on TV.

Dew is something early morning golfers are familiar with as it covers the turf of the golf course during the first part of the day. Dew is water in the form of droplets that appears on thin, exposed objects in the morning or evening. As the exposed leaf surface cools by releasing its heat, atmospheric moisture condenses at a rate greater than that at which it can evaporate, resulting in the formation of water droplets. When temperatures are low enough, dew takes the form of ice called "frost".

Frost crystalizes on the grass making the plant hard and brittle. In some instances like at Chalk Mountain in the north county, the entire plant can be frozen, as grass plants are made up of about 90 percent water. Walking on frost-covered greens causes the plant to break and cell walls to rupture, thereby losing its ability to function normally. When the membrane is broken, much like an egg, it cannot be put back together.

Golfers who ignore frost delays will not see immediate damage. The proof generally comes 48-72 hours later as the plant leaves turn brown and die. The result is a thinning of the putting surface and a weakening of the plant. The greens in turn become more susceptible to disease and weeds. While it may not appear to be much of an issue if a foursome begins play early on frost-covered greens, consider the number of footprints that may occur on any given hole by one person is approximately 60. Multiply that by four golfers and that is 240 footsteps on a single frost covered green by the first foursome everyday. That is significant damage!

"This picture shows the actual foot print pattern of ONE foursome playing the hole like normal. Multiply this a couple of times and you can see that when the ground is soft <or frozen> it doesn't take long to produce sever irreversible damage to a green."

As golf enthusiasts superintendents, like myself and my staff, do not like to delay play, we are more concerned about turf damage and the quality of conditions for the golfers. Frost also creates a hardship on a golf facility's staff as all course preparations are put to a halt until thawing occurs. Golf carts can cause considerable damage, therefore personnel cannot maneuver around the course to mow, change cup positions, collect range balls, etc.

One technique employed to reduce possible frost damage is to water the greens to knock off the frost. One problem with this technique is the water could then refreeze and take even longer to thaw or the interior cells of the plant may be frozen too. It may also be possible to reroute play to holes where the frost melts more quickly. But regardless of these methods, the best medicine is for all to understand the hows and whys of the delay and in turn gain a greater appreciation for the golf course. Here on the central coast frost is not a huge problem and usually takes no more than 30 minutes for maintenance and play to begin. When I was in Indiana, it was not uncommon for rounds to be halted until 11 am; we are blessed to live here! If you have any concerns it would also be wise to give the course a phone call before heading out to play to see if tee times have been pushed back due to frost.