Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It all starts and ends with Best Management Practices

Like most turf maintenance facilities, our golf operations are fueled by our staffs' reliability to follow policy and procedures.  Regardless of what you may call these policies and procedures they all revolve around Best Management Practices (BMP's).  BMP's are used in many different industries to describe the thoughtful use of resources, materials, and practices that help to protect our natural environment.  In our service yard alone you can see these practices nearly everywhere you look.  double walled fuel vaults to prevent spills; filtered wash pad to reduce/eliminate water contamination; separate chemical storage facilities with proper signage and containment; and even our weather station and irrigation methods are considered methods are considered BMP's.

The EPA is getting serious about Storm Water Management Plans here in California and they are stating their regulatory processes with State and Local governments which is requiring us to look at how we use and where our water moves throughout our properties.  The ultimate goal is to protect groundwater from pollution and sedimentation.  Many, like myself, believe that much of these efforts are overboard and over-reaching, but none the less important to think and to be concerned about.

One of our BMP's I am speaking about in this post is the use of Polyon fertilizers.  These products are great for protecting our water resources as well as our budgets.  We apply 7.2 pounds of fertilizer (41-0-0) per 1000 square feet to our fairways in March each year at Dairy Creek GC.  This fertilizer carries us through to late October and possibly even November.  The application reduces the number of fertilizer throughout the year, which in turn saves fuel, labor, and water costs.  Another huge benefit involves the reduced risk of water contamination.  Each Polyon particle is coated in a polymer cover that works like an osmotic material that releases the fertilizer slowly over time until it is all gone.  This process is not dependent upon water solubility like most conventional fertilizers, but rather is dependent upon temperature.  We could even put this material out in December and likely receive the benefits through October as the fertilizer would not release until soil temperatures reached ~50 degrees farenheit.  Since the product is not mobile in water and the particles stay put in the turf there is little chance for polluting our water ways or ground water as there is no run off or leaching that occurs with this product.  It is the double wammy...cost and liability savings!

We have used mini prills in the past and last year we used a medium grade to save money.  Mini prills provide better coverage and thus carry a premium price.  To combat the larger particle size we raised our mowing heights from 1/2 to 5/8 inches and did not mow for nearly 5 days after application.  The worry was that the prills would get cut open with our fairway reels and the fertilizer would then become a quick release product triggered by water since the polymer coating would be cut open.  The practice worked perfectly and we did not see a flush of growth and we held our green color through to Thanksgiving.

I played a little golf over the weekend following the Thursday fertilizer application and I snapped a few photos on the 14th fairway to illustrate the fertilizer.

You can see the green fertilizer prills in these two photos.  This is two days after application and they are working their way down into the canopy safe from mower reels where they can feed our turf for the next 7-8 months

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tiger wins again

Tiger was able to conquer the field at Doral this past weekend in record style until his final round and lack luster strides to the finish line.  Either way you look at it the man the myth the legend was a close to his past form as we have seen for quite some time.  This win puts him 6 victories behind the career wins leader, Sam Snead.  If his confidence with the putter grows, look out, because I believe success with putter will breed confidence within the rest of his game and the rest of the tour may be playing for 2nd as they did 3 or 4 years ago.

It is always good for the game of golf when Tiger is leading or in the hunt on the weekends.  People watch more golf and generally get excited to get out and play.  Right now we need people excited about golf as we continue our climb out of the recession within the golf industry.  Now if we could only figure out how to stop sharing our profits with 3rd party tee time sellers...

These topics are not the reason for my article, but rather to say congratulations to a job well done to a good friend and former employee Don Thornburgh.  Don was an intern of mine more years ago than I care to remember while he was studying at Purdue University in Indiana.  He was always a hard worker and a thinker trying to figure out everything from efficiency of operations to "how do I land that top job I want?"  This past year Don landed that job with Trump Golf.  After paying his dues as an assistant for many years in warm weather climates like Southern California, Arizona, and Florida building and maintaining courses, he was rewarded with a great opportunity!  Don skipped the step of  becoming a head superintendent and went straight to the Director of Agronomy working for Donald Trump at his newly purchased Doral Golf Resort in Miami.  Don now directs and oversees the superintendents that manage the day to day operations of the 5 courses on the resort.

Last weekend was a culmination of Don and his teams' hard work over the past 7-8 months to get the Blue Monster in top condition for the world's best golfers.  TV always makes golf courses look good with their blue filtered lenses that make yellow turf look lush and green.  I remember sitting in the shop after our morning detail with our crew at Southern Hills during the 2001 US Open.  John Szklinski, head superintendent walked in with and said, "what course is that?"  What we just got done mowing was a mild resemblance of the perfectly green conditions seen on ESPN.

When I called Don this week to say congratulations, I asked how he felt about the course.  He said he now has a new understanding and respect for water management and how turfgrass can withstand the fine line we as turf managers tip toe between turf life and death.  He said he was "way past his comfort level, but the numbers on the moisture sensors reassured him things would be fine."  And on TV the course looked dry but green none the less.  So much for brown is the new green.  Augusta is just around the corner and superintendents everywhere are squirming in anticipation of the questions, "why can't our course look like that?"

Don is standing to the left of Tiger in this picture and his superintendent is on the far right.

Congratulations to Don and his staff!  Now catch a quick breather before you rip up the course April 1st for a complete remodel.  There truly is no rest for the weary...or is that the wicked?  I'm proud of you Don!  Best of Luck, buddy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

2013 SLO Golf Card Member Appreciation Event

We held our 4th annual Appeciation event for our SLO Golf Card Members on February 16 and what a fantastic event it was.  It was the first time we have held the event at Morro Bay GC and we were greeted with 40 teams within 24 hours of the first email blast!  If you did not get in this year, please make sure you sign up early next year.

All lined up and ready to go!  (You gotta love/hate Kikyugrass)

There are two goals each and every year we hold this event.  The first is to say "THANK YOU" to our SLO Golf Card holders.  Our second goal is for everyone to have fun and enjoy their time with one another.  This event routinely brings together golfing spouses or significant others, long time golfing buddies, as well as individuals looking to enjoy their day.

Albert and our staff did a great job setting up the mini golf.
These guys decided to play to the 6" hole!
Each year we try to provide memorable experiences by changing something about the golf course or playing some fun games during the round of golf.  Some things we have done include miniature golf course on the putting green, playing blackjack to move up a tee box, closest to the line with a curvy line that extended far into the rough, bottle of wine prize with closest to the pin in each group, 6" holes, two holes per green, playing a hole from a tee box of another hole, and collecting cards each time you hit a green in regulation in an attempt to form the best poker hand.  There are more to this list, but it could go on for quite some time.  Raffle tickets and prizes are part of the event so that no one goes home empty handed and if they do, all of the food is free everyone is guaranteed a full belly!  All of this for the pice of a green fee.  I'm tellin' ya...sign up early next year!

It's hard to beat these views and the ocean ain't bad either.