Thursday, April 22, 2021

APRIL '21 UPDATE/DROUGHT CONDITIONS

 

This is my 11th season at Devil's Thumb.  In that time there have been many years where we have been in severe drought conditions, but this year is different.  Year after year of continuous drought has depleted our water supply to the point where there just isn't much there.  We have barely a trickle currently coming into the golf course that isn't close to what we need. I've been watering at about 50% of what I would normally be running right now, and it shows.  The dire reality of the situation is really sinking in.


Because there is only so much water to go around we will be focusing on targeted irrigation.  Greens and tees will of course be the priority and we will work from the center of the fairways out.  What does this mean?  The rough will take a big hit.  The perimeter of holes will receive little to no water and I'm sure if you have played here recently you already knew that.  I will try and give them just enough to keep them from turning to dirt, but so far in this practice I've found that to be extremely difficult to do.  The other area that will be limited is the driving range rough.  The picture above of the driving range illustrates what we will be dealing with moving forward.  Some rain would certainly help, but I've learned to not hold my breath on that around here.  To date the course has only received .71 inches of precipitation since the first of the year.


Above is a shot of the intake to our pumps.  The water should normally be a couple of feet above the top of it.  I've never seen our pond this low.



We did receive some winter kill caused by the utter lack of adequate moisture this winter coupled with the golf course being extremely busy with play.  There are a number of areas around the course that look like the picture above taken from #18 fairway.  I've seen worse winter damage, but I've certainly seen much better.  We will be seeding these areas as soon as is appropriate, but I'm not sure how successful we will be without water.  These areas will eventually fill in, but they will take some time.  It's still very early and the turf is just starting to wake up.  We haven't had a lot of consistent weather that would be conducive to growth.  

Staffing has been difficult to come by.  We are currently maintaining the course with myself, my equipment tech and 2 seasonal employees.  Not many people read this blog, but if you are and you know anyone looking for work please have them go to this link to apply.  https://cityofdelta.net/hr/page/golf-course-maintenance-worker




Wednesday, March 3, 2021

MARCH '21 UPDATE / WATER

 


This was quite the welcome site back on February 15th.  The golf course got about 3 inches or so and sadly was by far the biggest snow event of the year.  It's a broken record comment around here, but it's been another extremely dry winter that was preceded by another extremely dry summer.  



Above is the most recent state drought map I could find from a week ago.  As you can see most of Delta County is in the D4 exceptional drought level.  It don't get no worse, that's as bad as it gets!  The entire state is in a drought with Western Colorado in the worse shape.  

Below is the current snow water equivalent graph from the Mesa Lakes area on the Grand Mesa.  This is an important one to the golf course because it's where we draw our irrigation water from.  The black line on the graph is this years numbers and shows that we are 31% below average, not good.  

And the map below is the current snow water equivalent for the main basins in the state, ours being Gunnison.  All are below average with some areas fairing better than others like the upper Rio Grande.



The pictures below are how I spent my time for about 3 weeks in January.  It's never a good sign when you see a water truck watering fairways!  I can't say for sure if it helped, but at least I can say I tried.  I know for sure however that hand watering the greens kept them alive during that stretch.




Unless we have a huge spring as far as snow/rain then this season will be interesting for water in our area to say the least, and could potentially be the worse season in the 10 years I have been at Devil's Thumb.  March is historically our snowiest month so there is still hope.  There is a chance of precipitation tonight and tomorrow so I'm crossing my fingers for something.  After that it looks to dry up through the weekend with highs in the 60's!  Great golfing weather at least.  But if it stays that way there is a chance you may see sprinklers running as early as next week 👎.



And finally, a big shout out to the loser that took this divot out of 10 green over the weekend.  You represent all that is wrong with the world today.



Wednesday, February 10, 2021

BUNKER ETIQUETTE REVISITED

 



The past couple of years have been hectic with 2020 of course taking the cake.  Staffing has been very difficult and I haven't had time to keep up with this blog, hence the 2 year absence.  Another attempt will be made to start it up again as time allows and I will try to have 1 or 2 informational posts a month.  Hopefully staffing wont be an issue this year, but you never know.        

My main recent motivation for starting this up again is to try and promote proper bunker etiquette.  I was taught the game by my grandfather at a fairly young age.  He was old school golf and course etiquette to him was just as important as hitting the ball.  So when I see these common courtesies being neglected it drives me up the wall.  Simple things like fixing your ball marks, replacing divots and proper bunker practices seem to be becoming a lost art.

It hasn't helped that Covid has forced us to remove the bunker rakes from the course for the time being, though even when they are out they don't see a lot of use. The main courtesy that you can do whether there are rakes out or not is to enter and exit from the low flatter sections of the bunker.  DO NOT REPEL INTO AND OUT OF A BUNKER FROM THE HIGH STEEP FACES.  The only time you should set foot in these areas is if your ball plugs into a steep face and you need to play it from there.  If your ball settles in the flats of the bunker then there is no need to step onto a steep face. I understand that this means you may have to walk a little further, so be it.

Main reasons to stay off steep faces:

1. It creates very deep and disruptive footprints that are difficult to rake out, even when rakes are available.



2. These deep footprints are inconsiderate and disrespectful to your fellow players.  By rule you are supposed to play the ball where it lies.  If someone playing behind you hits their ball into your footprint then they have to hit the ball out of it. More often than not if the deep footprint wasn't there the ball would roll to the flats of the bunker instead of being trapped on the steep face making it easier to play. As you can see from the picture below, this can create a very difficult shot.  I personally would take it out of the footprint, but a lot of people will not and attempt to hit it.



3. When these deep footprints are created the persons foot can go all the way down to the subsurface of the bunker.  This churns up soil and pebbles which in turn gets mixed into the sand.  This is one of the main causes of sand contamination and can reduce the life span of the sand by years.  A lot of time, energy and funds have been spent over the last few years to renovate the greenside bunkers which included adding new sand.  Keep in mind that this was not an easy project to pull off, so please do your part to help keep the sand clean ensuring as long a life span as possible.


4. These steep faces are hand raked by staff and is labor intensive and time consuming.  We run an extremely small crew, so having to rake these edges unnecessarily is a waste of time that could be spent on other tasks.  Especially in the winter when I am the only one here outside maintaining the course.  




I understand that there is only so much you can do with the rakes temporarily removed from the course, but by just doing this it will make a big difference.  Please help do your part in keeping our great golf course in good shape.  Little gestures go a long way.



Saturday, May 18, 2019

AERATION/HYDRAULIC LEAK

SOME SNOW IN THE PEAKS LAST NIGHT
Next week we will be aerating the greens.  Tuesday we will do the front nine and Wednesday will be the back.  I'm still not close to being at full staff so I'm not sure how we'll pull it off.  On top of that the weather looks questionable for those days as well.  But we'll get 'er done one way or the other.  All the crew I do have will be involved with the aeration process.  This leaves 0 people to maintain the rest of the course during those days, so expect things to be even more unkempt then usual.  Below is a quick video put out by the USGA on the importance of aeration.


HYDRAULIC OIL LEAK #3 GREEN
On Thursday we experienced the worse hydraulic oil leak I've seen in the 20+ years I've been in this business.  Hydraulic leaks happen from time to time.  But when they do it's up to the equipment operator to be paying attention and notice it's occurring as quickly as possible to minimize the damage.  This operator did not do that.  He continued to mow 5 greens with oil spraying out everywhere completely oblivious to it happening.  In fact the only way he realized there was a problem was when the oil reservoir was completely drained and the reels wouldn't lift anymore....deep breaths.  #3,4,12,13 and 14 greens were affected and look similar to the picture above.  I forgot to mention if you didn't already know this, hydraulic oil kills the grass the second it touches it.  So the majority of the grass in the lines you see in the pictures will die!  

Greens aeration next week should help these areas heal for a few reasons.  But I'm not gonna kid myself, there will be a lot of work ahead to fix this.  It's extremely frustrating to work as hard as we do to get the greens in good shape like they are right now only to have it ruined by a mistake like this.  But, life goes on and grass grows back! 




Friday, May 10, 2019

MAY '19 UPDATE


For mid May the golf course is coming around pretty well.  It's been a wet spring for this area which in turn has created productive grass growth.  We have had 3.75 inches of precipitation up to this point and have already passed our total from the entire year for 2018!  The one downside to all this moisture is a hearty weed crop as seen in the shots below.  I started treating them this week but it's gonna take a while to catch up.

DANDELIONS ARE OUT IN FULL FORCE LIKE I'VE NEVER SEEN.
EVEN THE DESERT HAD A MAJOR BLOOM.  THIS AREA IS NORMALLY VOID OF ANY VEGETATION OTHER THAN SOME SAGE BRUSH.  PRETTY TOUGH FINDING A BALL IN THIS STUFF RIGHT NOW!

The 2 pictures below are of hole #3.  The first one was taken last year in the middle of April after our drought winter, and the other is from this year after a winter with decent snow cover.  The 2 pictures below that are from #2 approach during the same time frames.  Praise to ULLR!  That's the difference a dry winter makes compared to a snowy one.

MID APRIL '18

EARLY MAY '19

MID APRIL '18
EARLY MAY '19

It's been extremely difficult finding staff this year.  We've had ads out for almost 2 months now and are still not close to being at full staff.  That's saying a lot when you consider I run a very lean crew as it is.  Needless to say getting anything done has been frustrating to say the least.  The staff I do have has been working hard though and considering the skeleton crew we have I think the course is hanging in there.  I essentially have had to start an entirely new crew do to a large turnover.  Training a new staff takes time and patients, there is a lot to learn.  You will notice a few mistakes here and there like the scalping that can happen when learning a new piece of equipment as seen in the pictures below.  The other issue that arises with new staff is teaching them how to work around play.  This may sound easy but it takes time and experience to figure it out, especially when most of them have never even stepped foot on a golf course.  Please be patient with them if they accidentally get in your way, it's a work in progress.


THIS TRAINEE DECIDED THE ROUGH WAS TOO LONG AND TRIED TO MOW IT DOWN TO FAIRWAY HEIGHT WITH THE FAIRWAY MOWER.
CLASSIC COLLAR SCALP FROM A TRAINEE WHILE MOWING A CLEAN UP PASS ON THE GREENS.  PROBABLY ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS TO LEARN HOW TO DO WHEN FIRST STARTING.
AND OF COURSE THE OLD CURLY CUE FROM NOT RAISING THE MIDDLE GREENS REEL ALL THE WAY WHEN COMING OFF OF THE GREEN.
Poa annua seed production is in full bloom right now.  The greens are treated with a product that helps inhibit this problem and was about 70% successful (see this post for Poa annua suppression explanation http://devilsthumbgc.blogspot.com/2015/04/poa-annua-growth-regulation.html).  100% suppression is impossible and some years are better than others.  A 30% breakthrough is not that bad and I consider that a success.  I do not have the resources (money), to treat any other parts of the course.  During this time some parts of the golf course actually look white, this is Poa seed.
WHITE PATCHES IN #15 FAIRWAY CAUSED BY POA ANNUA SEED PRODUCTION

POA SEEDHEADS 
The snow mold that I reported about in an earlier post has almost completely healed on it's own as seen in the photos below from #15 approach.


SNOW MOLD MID MARCH
SAME SPOT EARLY MAY
And last but not least, over the next few years I am going to experiment with Grass Carp in our ponds to help control our overgrowth of vegetation and algae.  I figure it's worth a shot right?  I put them in the pond on #10/18 to start this year and next year will probably introduce them to #9.  Significant reduction will not be noticeable immediately, but over time they should help.  Just another tool in the tool box.



Friday, March 22, 2019

MARCH '19 UPDATE


Winter isn't done with us yet.  The photo above was taken this morning, (melted by late morning).  The good moisture we had this winter has carried into the spring, total opposite of last years miserable drought conditions.  It's been a nice stretch of warmer days followed by a little precipitation, just how I like it. There is a multitude of benefits to this of course, but my favorite is that it has allowed me to not have to charge up the irrigation system yet.  Last year at this time it had been on for close to a month now.  The party is over next week however because I'm going to fire it up ready or not.



And speaking of good moisture, above is a chart of our current snow water equivalent for the state.  Looking pretty good!  It's not often you see that dark blue color signifying greater than 150%.  Quite a bit different from where we were last year at this time seen in the chart below.





1st greens cut of the year.


Our first greens cut was on March 5th.  We've been mowing them twice a week since and will probably go to 3X starting next week.  The greens are in excellent shape.  The only other areas we have had to mow so far are the collars, a couple of approaches and #5 fairway.  No other areas warrant it at this time.

As mentioned in a previous post the course wintered very well.  The only damage that occurred was from a disease called Grey Snow Mold.  We came out of the prolonged winter snow cover in good shape.  Then we received an inch and a half of really wet snow on February 22nd.  The wet and cool weather created a perfect growing environment for this pathogen and it took advantage of it.  It's not too bad and is mainly on some tees and approaches.  I treat the greens for this disease in early winter and the product did it's job, there is no damage to the greens.  This is only the second time in my 9 winters at this course that I have seen this disease emerge.  It will generally heal on it's own but may need some seed to help it along.  Below are some photos.


This was taken on March 1st when I started to see it on #2 Blue T
Same spot on #2 T taken today March 22nd


Larger patch of snow mold on #15 approach
We were able to renovate another 12 greenside bunkers this winter.  That makes a total of 26 done and only 3 more greenside bunkers left.  Then it's on to the fairway traps.  Hopefully we can pick back up on the project next fall/early winter.  We also eliminated a trap on #3 and #18 green.  Other than some final prep work and seeding the one on #3 is complete.  #18 is partially filled in and will be completed in the near future.  We also eliminated about 2/3 of the large left hand bunker on #5 green.  This one is not complete yet either.


Back #17 greenside bunker Prior to renovation in dire need of  help.

View after being shelled and drainage redone. Notice we filled in the back 2 steep faces to ease future maintenance and reformed the edge.

The final product.  The filled in areas will be seeded shortly and the rough area at the bottom of the picture will be cleaned up as well as time allows.
Filled in bunker on #3
Reduced bunker left #5 green. Still work to do filling it in.
That's it for now.  Hope to see you out here soon.  Looks like we'll be pushing 70 degrees for a few days next week!


Friday, March 1, 2019

JOB OPENING

Below is a job advertisement for a 2nd Assistant Golf Course Superintendent position that recently opened up.  If you or anyone you know is interested I encourage you/them to apply.


February 28, 2019                                                             For more information
                                                                                                Please contact Kathy Drayer at 874-7906


                       
Help Wanted:  The City of Delta is now accepting applications for a 2nd Assistant Golf Course Superintendent for the Devil’s Thumb Golf Course.   Starting salary is ­­$16.03 per hour.  Works under the direction of the Golf Course Superintendent.  Operates & maintains golf course irrigation systems, supervises work crews as assigned, and assists in application of chemicals and/or fertilizer.  Position is part-time and hours to be worked will be scheduled as needed; must have ability to work flexible hours with some weekend and holiday schedules.   Must have any combination of experience and training equivalent to graduation from high school and two to four years turf care management degree or related field.  One to two years of past experience in supervisory capacity preferred.   Must possess a valid Colorado driver’s license. Must successfully pass a pre-employment drug screen and background check.  Submit applications the City of Delta, Attn:  Human Resources, 360 Main St., Delta, Co 81416 (do not submit application to the golf course). Deadline to apply is March 15, 2019 no later than 4:30pm. Full job description and applications available at the above address or online at www.cityofdelta.net  Incomplete applications or applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered. EOE




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