Friday, November 22, 2013

Learn to play golf advertisement

Our three courses have been attempting to incorportate elements of the Tee it Forward initiative and the Get Golf Ready ideas that the PGA has been touting for a couple of years.  Many courses across the country have been trying to figure out how to get more players into the game of golf.  One of our local courses, not one of ours, has developed a program to get people interested in playing the game.  Monarch Dunes has a 12 hole challenge course designed by Damian Pascuzzo and Steve Pate.  The original design of this par 3 course was to allow skilled and unskilled players to compete against one another playing not only from different tees, but playing to different holes based upon difficulty.  One of our members, Tom Elliot, of the Central California chapter of Golf Course Superintendents has taken this idea to another level in an attempt to create and develop more golfers.

Have a look at the following video:

Tom's idea is creative and I love his alterego seen in the video!  If this idea works all of our local courses will need to thank Tom and his staff as we will all benefit from their efforts to grow the game.  Hopefully this post will spawn other ideas that courses across the world can use to grow the best game on earth.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chalk Mountain's fight to help stop diabetes

In September Chalk Mountain Golf Course was a site for a bigger cause than the ancient game and traditions of golf.  As a matter of fact the game and its venue helped provide resources to a growing social problem in our country.  This assistance was not through a golf tournament because we wanted to allow everybody away the ability to help.  So to facilitate this Community Walk for Diabetes the golf course remained closed until 9 am so that golfers could get their fix by teeing off from the 1st tee while the 10th tee and back nine were reserved for walkers raising money for diabetes.

What a fantastic day!  The weather was beautiful and the participation was incredible for a first year event that was really grass roots in nature.  The event attracted nearly 60 participants including Tammy Doshier, head golf professional at Chalk Mountain, and her family.  This was an emotional day for Tammy as she and her husband have battled this disease alongside of their son throughout his entire 12-year life.  It was great to hear Tammy tell some stories of their struggles and how he family maintains a positive outlook through it all and has built many fond memories of the past fighting this disease.  Tammy is great mom!

We all walked the 5 miles of the back 9 cart paths and finished in about an hour.  The event concluded with more stories and sharing of memories of many of the participants on the back patio as the golfers were making the turn.  Fun and tears were shared by many, but the winners will be those that benefit through events like this one.  Joel Clay, Chalk Mountain General Manager,  was the man with the idea for this event and he has a greater idea that many of you viewing this blog can help us to realize.  We raised $5,000 with this first event with little advertising or promotion.  Diabetes effects 2 out of 5 individuals in our country and it is growing.  What if every state in America hosted a single diabetes walk each year and raised $5,000?  That would be $250,000 raised for this worthy cause.  I can't wait to see how this event grows next year!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Newly renovated bunker or sand trap at Dairy Creek courtesy of Cal Poly's turf students

Before classes let out for the summer at Cal Poly, we were approached by Dr. Jason Lewis and the turf Management Progam at Cal Poly. He had a number os students that were looking for a project to gain real world experience before they graduated and asked if we had any good ideas.  After Albert and I peppered him with our thoughts I think he wished he had not asked.  After some discussion we concluded our practice bunker renovation at Dairy Creek's practice area would be perfect for the amount of time they had to spend coupled with our needs. The students were great and put in the work and effort in between classes and on weekends to complete the project.  I have put together a montage here for your viewing pleasure to view the action as it happened.  Enjoy!

The two before photos that demonstrate the nearly 2 feet of sand that have accumulated
during the 16-year life of the practice bunker.

The first step is to remove the old sand.

Removing the sod proved to be a bigger challenge than anticipated.
We rolled the sod and saved it for later.  

Found the drainage!

It's always nice to have a good leader.  Dr. Jason Lewis will be missed as I enjoyed our time sharing golf stories, Kansas State wins and losses, and working to provide opportunities for students.  

Aha!  We new the original grade was there somewhere.

 Newly installed drainage and decomposed granite.

Let's put the puzzle back together

Ready for sand!

Final prep and watering the sod (have you ever seen such a blue sky?)

Finished product that will be beautiful in a few weeks.  We could have used new sod, but waste not want not is our motto.  We filled the stressed and dry areas with compost and seed mixture from our Zero Waste site and the germination was perfect!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Resurfaced cart bridges

The bridge at Dairy Creek's 14th hole
Dairy Creek Golf Course celebrated its 16 birthday this past June!  In that time we have provided nearly 700,000 (~670,000 rounds of golf) great recreational opportunities for golfers.  The rounds of golf we have put through the facility in this time has taken its toll on our 5 bridges that are provide golfers and my staff access throughout the course each and every day.  Obviously it is not only the traffic, but also the weather and irrigation that have helped to degrade the quality of the wooden surfaces over time.  Many of the wooden boards had lost the ability to be screwed back down to the base structure over time as staff constantly mended the bridges over the time of their existence to keep these access ways safe for use.  The wood simply will not hold screws and longer and it is time to refurbish these areas.

The completed bridge on the 10th hole at Dairy Creek
I work with an extremely talented staff of horticulturists, masons, framers, builders, and general problem solvers so this task was simple for such craftsmen.  The wood was stripped off and carts were allowed to cross the bridges while the work was being performed by using the understructure which is amazingly in like new condition.  They removed the old wood and screwed down new treated redwood timbers.  In the past the bridges were never treated with a protectant and that will be a new task that we will perform each year in the future to help sustain the life of this new wood.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

If a tree falls and no one is around...

I was not around to hear the sound when this monster Oak tree fell at Chalk Mountain, but I am certain that it made quite a commotion.  

Large fallen Oak tree between the 15th and 12th holes
This tree contains at least 4 cords of wood and is a sad loss to the course as it has guarded the left side of the 12th hole since the course has existed and was probably home to many squirrels long before the course was even dreamed up 35 years ago.  As you can see from the photo, the tree was completely hollow at the base and the sheer weight of the tree was finally too much for it structure.  All of the branches and smaller wood from the tree have already been cleaned up, but the massive trunk and base will be left in place to decompose over time and provide habitat for insects and other wildlife that will call this tree skeleton home.

The photo to the left provides a better perspective of the size of the tree with the yamaha cart parked beside its base.  The base of the tree had a diameter that was nearly as wide as the golf cart is long!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A true "Golf for the Health" of it example.

Hopefully, if you are a golfer you understand or know that golf is good for your health.  Playing 18-holes of golf burns roughly 2000 calories while walking and 1300 calories in a cart.  That 18-hole walk is equivalent to a 5 mile walk or a 3.5-4 mile run and your blood glucose levels can fall by 10-30% depending upon your age.  These facts and figures have been proven to be true by the Walker Research Group.

The game of golf also provides ample opportunities for charitable organizations and foundations to raise funds through golf tournaments.  In 2011, $3.9 billion were raised in the US using golf as a vehicle.  12 million people attended the various events that raised the funds across the United States.  $40 million has been awarded by the United States Golf Association (USGA) since 1920, for environmental and turf research to provide golf courses with information to reduce impacts to the environment.

Saturday September 28th we are combining the best of both of these worlds at Chalk Mountain Golf Course without the golf!  The golf course will remain closed until 9 am.  At 9 am both nines will be used.  The front 9 will allow golfers to get their fix and begin play, while the back 9 will host the first Community Walk to stop diabetes. 

This is the 6th hole at CMGC as seen from the 7th tee box
The participants will walk the cart paths and fairways of the back 9 holes to raise funds for the American Diabetes Association.  If you are not a golfer, this is your weekend to get out and experience all of the beauty that a golf course has to offer.  To join in the walk or make a donation please click on this link: Chalk Mountain Diabetes Walk.  Who knows you may even become a golfer so that you can come experience this beauty more often while you improve your health through recreation.  I look foward to seeing you on Saturday!
Deer grazing the rough on the second hole at Chalk Mountain with the 3rd green in the background

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It has been a while...

I hope you enjoyed our most recent post about the sheep on the golf course.  They really are neat to have as part of our course as they have been part of and remain a part of golf in Scottland and Ireland. My apologies for the lack of posts for the past couple of months, but it is not because nothing has been happening we have just been busy.  I will follow up with a montage of posts getting you up to speed over the next week or so.  Here is a list of happenings since we last spoke:

  • Morro Bay hosted a LiveGreen event to promote golf and the games efforts toward environmentalism
  • All of our courses and 11 other courses in the area received recycling containers for the golf courses as part of a grant program with the Integrated Waste Management Association.
  • County Park and Golf courses participated at the Mid-State Fair
  • Dairy Creek is Teeing it Forward
  • Fairways and tees were verticutt at Morro Bay
  • Sheep are now at Dairy Creek

Friday, September 6, 2013

Zero Waste Golf - the next page

The sheep as they munched the grass and weeds along the left side of #10
Perhaps you have read a golf article preaching the use of goats or sheep to clear areas of brush or out of play areas.  Maybe you have even played golf on a course where this tactic is used occasionally. We hope to take this step a bit further than most in the name of research and sustainability.  Yes sheep are being used to maintain our Dairy Creek golf course.  No, we are not going back the the original practices of golf where these animals were the sole way that turfs were managed, but we will use these amazing creatures to maintain and enhance our "native areas" surrounding the holes and golf course.

Our goal with our sheep is to assist with land and resource management as part of our Zero Waste initiative.  Before the land was developed into a golf course this area looked like the surrouning hillsides including whispy grasses as a food source for grazing cattle.  As the earth was churned and tilled to create Dairy Creek various weed seed and undesireable plant species were able to germinate and compete with the new landscape.  Although the golf course was created with minimal disturbance to the topography and soils the disturbance was just enough to allow these undesireable species to flourish in unirrigated areas of the course.

The Animal Science professors at nearby Cal Poly University have worked with us to develop a plan to return the plant species back to what it once was through the use of grazing.  Many people envision grazing as a negative practice.  Performed correctly it can be an amazing tool for land management.  Grazing has gotten a bad repuptation as animals are often left in areas too long and over-grazing occurs.  Our animals are left in a certain area for no more than 2-4 days dependent upon the amount of feed and litter for ground cover and habitat.  We don't want bare or nearly bare soil.  Actually when the sheep are ready to be moved there is actually quite a bit of plant material left for other wildlife to use for cover.

The sheep in this photo are ready to be moved.

Before we added the sheep to our maintenance team we had some grad students come to the course and perform a plant population study to determine what species currently exist in our native areas and in what densities.  These students utilized our Environmental Impact Report taht was developed before the land became a golf course to determine what waws here before the course exhisted.  The goal is to bring the species diversity back into what nature had intended and at the same time alleviate our need for chemical and mechanical means to maintain these areas of our course.  Our hillsides do provide food and shelter for some large predators in the form of Mountain Lions, so we were are not able to let the sheep run free.  Instead they are moved around the property in approximately 1/8 acre sections enclosed by electrified fencing.  This has proven to work well as we still have all 20 ewes and their 20 lambs.  We will keep you up to date as this project progresses.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

New carts for more fun!

Chalk Mountain golf course just added, well about a month ago (sorry for the delay), new carts to the ammenities at the golf course.  Joel Clay, General Manager for our concession operator, had a great idea to enhance the golfing experience. 
If you are celebrating your birthday or special event be sure to let staff know and you may have the priviledge of driving a special cart with chrome wheels, cooler, and black metallic flake paint.  These carts are sure to make your next outing even more memorable.

The regular fleet has been ordered in two different colors to help manage the fleet by aiding in the rotation of carts, red one day, blue the next. 
Red carts to start the day today with blue to follow after the reds are all rented.
Tomorrow blue will be the first out and red will follow.  This will help to ensure
all carts receive nearly equal use. 
This may not be interesting to the golfers, but take note all of you owners and operators out there.  Just another way to think outside of the box. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Free golf for women, really?!

YES!!!  If you have not heard, we are offering free golf to all female golfers throughout the entire month of June.  The only catch is that the offer is only good after 10 am.  We would love to see you and your friends take advantage of this offer 7 days per week, so pick up your phone or login to our online booking site at or and reserve your tee time right now!

Last year offered the same promotion in an effort to increase women's participation at golf courses in our area.  Women make up just over 10% of the golfers nationally and we want to do our part to encourage all of the ladies in our area to at least give it a try.  It's true that golf is a male dominated sport and that it can be intimidating as a new golfer to give it a try let alone as a women in a men's arena.

The fact is that golf is a very social game and a great recreational option for those that want to remain or be active without having to go to a gym.  You can burn over 3000 calories if you play 36 holes of golf while walking and even more if you carry your own bag!  The game puts you in nature and you interact with all that the earth has to offer, fresh air, sunshine, and many critters that call golf courses home.  Most courses do all they can to attract and retain the wildlife that inhabit their property and are careful about what methods they use to combat things like turf diseases or insect problems to maintain a healthy ecosystem by using an environmental approach.

What are you waiting for...get out here and if not at one of our courses, please seek out your local golf course and give it a try.  It may be like visiting a new country, but I promise that once you get to know the locals and your way around you will be sad when your visit is over and you will want to schedule your next visit!  Happy golfing!

Friday, May 24, 2013

2013 SLO County Amateur Championship Results

Here are this years' results and thanks to all of the participants for their great play!

Championship Flight (Gross)

            Brandon Vail                                   

              Blake Ahlin                                    

           Justin Warthen                                 

                Matt Lee                                       
            Brian Wiggins                                  

            Randy Armas                                  
             Derick Strain
            David Boyles

         Alex Stephenson                                

          Clayton E Davis

         Jack Henneberry
            Konner Baker
               Cody Neal

            Evan Lucado
           Trevor Cassidy
          Jeff Aranguena
              Drake Muir

               Riley Way
           Alex Nicholson

         Justin Roxbraugh
          Donnie Hedrick
        Brandon Erickson

          Anthony Borges

           Matt Vigilante
           Michael Brown

             Preston Way

        Garett Rasmussen
             Jason Peters

               Nick Klon

Net Flights
                    Flight 1                                     Flight 2
                    134                                       132
                    John Austin                                   Pete Moore

                    143                                       137
                   David Payne                                    Doug Kerr
                     Phil Biklen                                              
                    145                                John Gruendler
                  Jose Martinez                                  Mike Howe
              Stephen J Kobliska                                      
                    146                                  Dave Biklen
                     Daniel See                                              
                    147                                  Alfred Clark
                  John M Lejeal                                      
                  Thomas Biggs                                       147
                                                                       Andrew Heffner
                    149                                 Bryan Jackson
                  Marc Burgraff                                Eric Seeman

                    150                                       150
                     R L Lillo                                George B Dodge
                     Ron Gin                                                
                    151                               Martin Anthony
                 Allen Hallada                                        153
                     Eric Mar                                   John W Lejeal
                Jeff Blanchard                                          
                    172                                 Terry Herrick
                Damien Fuentes                                         
                                                             Rich Enger
                                                                       Vinnie Guerrero

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Our turkeys are evidently known around the world!

We had a couple of non-golfers visit our golf courses from across the pond last week.  I am not talking about the coots that come over from across highway 1.  I am talking about a couple of videographers from England.  They have been commissioned to create a documentary about wild turkeys and they received a tip that our County Golf Courses were a viable source for footage.

The group is part of Nigel Marven's entourage.  Mr. Marven has been seen on many talk shows and on Animal Planet describing and interacting with wildlife.  Check out this link and I am sure you will recognize the face if the name did not ring a bell.  Marven is a bit of a cross between Jack Hannah and the late Steve Irwin in my mind.  I did not have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Marven, but Alex and Mike from his film crew were quite a pleasure to work with.

Their intent was to show the human interaction with the birds and how the two species co-habitate a recreational landscape.  Atypical weather patterns were upon us during their visit and the species populations were not what they had hoped to capture on film as it was a bit moist and rainy during their visit.  None the less they got what they came for and included my ugly mug and golf shot into some of the footage.  The video is due out in January 2014 and I will send an update upon my receipt of the film.

I have included a few photos of them hard at work and a few of their subjects as well.  Enjoy!

Stalking the turkeys on #4 at Morro Bay.

Mike is trying to stay dry as the drizzle becomes rain.
Regrouping after the rain dampened their $100K camera.
Just what we needed shots with golfers and turkeys.  Can you tell which is which?

More bird and human interaction. Perfect!

Here is a better shot of who we had been stalking.

Mike capturing some mating ritual dances that take place all over Dairy Creek throughout the year.

The birds in the tall grass were not too excited to be caught on camera and were not interested in helping a bit.

Monday, May 13, 2013

2013 SLO County Amateur tournament

The SLO County Amateur golf tournament will be held this Saturday and Sunday at Chalk Mountain and Dairy Creek Golf Courses.  The event will crown the best golfer within the County!  Entries are still being accepted so hurry and sign up soon!

Please click below to follow the link to sign up or call (805) 466-8848.  Good Luck!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Why aerify putting greens or turf in general?

"Why in the world do you poke holes in the greens and throw down all of that sand?"  This is a common question for golf courses as golfers dislike the interruption.  I can honestly say that if we didn't need to we wouldn't becuase it is a long arduous process for staff that starts months before the date arrives.  This is becuase we have to order all of the materials, create work schedules, check equipment, and test drive everything to help curtail any breakdowns or mishaps.

This question is important to ask as many courses in our area have skipped aerification for a number of reasons.  Potential reasons include: revenue, revenue, and revenue.  After aerification is finished golfers tend to stay away until the turf has healed and conditions are back to normal, so its not easy on the financial statements as the course must be maintained and there are fixed costs.  It is true that some courses have a greens profile that has been constructed correctly, have a quality water source, and the turf has been managed properly so that core aerification is not needed.  Instead these courses are able to soley use vertical mowing (verti-cutting), venting with spikers, or using solid tines.

For the rest of us core aeration is a need and sometimes multiple times throughout the year.  We use reclaimed water at Morro Bay and Dairy Creek golf courses and this gray-salty water causes a number of issues with soil quality and water infiltration rates.  Without a "clean" water source to deeply water the greens in an effort to flush out the salts our turf struggles to maintain a vigor that keeps disease and decline at bay.

The aspect of maintaining greens is management.  See the pictures below that were taken from our 80+ year old greens at Morro Bay.  The greens here were constructed using a "push up" method.  This means the greens were built by pushing up the surrounding soil.  Over the years these greens have developed a sequence of layering seen in the photos that prevent water from percolating through the soil.  Instead the water gets trapped in these layers like a sponge and subsequently the roots will grow in this area as well.  These layers lead to shallow rooting turf that has an increased potential for disease or drought stress since these layers of thatch dry out quickly.

By aerifying these areas it creates channels for water, nutrients, and gases (oxygen and CO2) to move throughout the soil profile, thus promoting deeper more healthy turf surfaces.  I have included a short video created (USGA aerification video) by the USGA to help explain this process visually.  Please contact me if you have any questions.

Until next time, get out and play some golf!

The view from inside the golf hole in which you can see about 4" of layering that has occured over the years.  I remember a turf class that I took in college that showed this picture and it was accompanied by, "this is not what you want."

Another view of the layers.  In this photo you can see some old aerification holes that have since been buried.

This piciture is of the removed turf and you can see how beneficial the deep tine aerifying has been as you can see the roots following those channels and betting a penetration of nearly 6-8 inches.  Aerification does work!

Friday, May 3, 2013


The aerification process for both Morro Bay and Dairy Creek are complete for the spring.  This process is a necessary evil and always seems to occur just as the greens reach their best spring condition.  Our greens would struggle to remain in this good condition throughout the summer if this process were not performed in some manner.  Our reclaimed water takes its toll on our greens throughout the year even though we do our best to keep salt levels low using synthetic acids and monthly gypsum treatments.  Without a clean water flush we essentially flush the salts with salty water and hope our USGA greens perform as designed and pull the remaining water through the profile along with a majority of the salts.

Last year we used a smaller hollow tine called a quadra-tine which pulls out a lot of material, but is easy to clean up and is virtually unnoticed by golfers because we do not follow this with sand.  I am always concerned about using quadra-tines too frequently because although it removes thatch there is no sand filling the void and the turf will eventually coallecse over time and the thatch level may not be any better ultimately.  At least the gas exchange still occurs and the turf is opened up to help reduce salt levels with increased water infiltration rates.

The process is quite long with the aerifier starting around 3:00am and ending near 6:00pm.  Staff is beat by the time the whole process is complete.  So, trust me this is not something maintenance staffs relish doing once, twice, or more times per year.  With the lack of golfers during this day and a few days following we are able to also apply post emergent herbicides to clean up the fairways and roughs.  Here are a few pictures from the day at Morro Bay and I will have more pictures tomorrow showing exactly what we are fighting below the turf with our aerification process.

#12 sanded and waiting for the sand to dry out before initial brooming

#11 after the initial brooming

Albert adding calcium and manganese soil amendments to the green after the final brooming with our cocoa mat

 A picture fo the cart and cocoa mat Albert is pulling behind to drag sand into the holes.  After everything is complete the greens are watered heavily before leaving for the day and again that evening to help compact the sand and alleviate any stress caused during the aerification process.

#2 green the day after aerification.  Very nice results indeed!

Close up of #2 with the holes completely filled and a layer of sand that will be broomed once more later in the afternoon.  After growing for a few days the greens will be cut and eventually worked back down to the correct cutting height.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day at El Chorro Regional Park

Today was the 2nd Earth Day Celebration that we took part in with our Zero Waste Demonstration Park at Dairy Creek Golf Course.  We brewed up 500 gallons of compost tea with the intention to give it all away.

Last year we were an after thought as part of the celebration and we had a whopping 2 people stop by in the 7 hours we were on sight.  This year I contacted the event coordinators and worked out a route that would create a bus stop right at our ZW entrance.  This was a huge step in the right direction, especially since we were the first stop of the day!  What a change from last year as we were not officially part of the celebration at all other than our promotion and a banner that invited attendees to come experience a true Zero Waste Tour.

The first buses began to arrive and no one was getting off the bus.  Richard and I thought what the heck is wrong?!  So we began to take bottles of tea to the bus stop and commandeer the buses and solicit people to take the tour and give away free tea to interested riders.  We coaxed some people off the buses and to their delight our site was not a waste water treatment facility.  I asked the first person about where she heard it was a treatment facility and she said that's what she thought compost tea was, a recycled water concoction.  Throughout the day we gave about 60 tours and informed people about composting, composting with worms, and brewing their own tea in 5 gallon buckets.  Everyone was stoked and perhaps we did not get a huge volume of people, but those we spoke with were informed individuals so we had quality even it the quantity was not huge.  It is definitely a step up from 2 attendees last year.  I can't wait until next year.

Just to set everyone straight...compost tea is not a recycled water brew.  Our tea is composed of worm compost combined with traditional compost that is all created at our Zero Waste Park.  We take these ingredients and steep them in 200 to 500 gallons of water (our reclaimed irrigation water, it is important not to use tap water as the chlorine will kill the microbes) to create a tea that is at least 100 times more potent than compost alone.  This is because the brewing process takes place between 48-72 hours.  In this time the microbial population increases exponentially.  These microbes feed on your soil and also provide beneficial mycorrhizae that help your plants take up nutrients and water more efficiently.  Essentially this is liquid compost with a healthy dose of microorganisms that really give your plant a boost!  If you are interested in a tour of our Demonstration Park or would like some tea please contact me at and I would be glad to hook you up.  No tour group is too large or too small.