Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumn: The Season of Driving Around in Circles

The calendar says the new year begins in January. The city's finance department says the new fiscal year starts on July 1st but in the northern golf course industry, Labor Day marks the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Everything that we do from that point until the snow flies is aimed at getting the course ready for next year.

For some reason, a large portion of the golfers put away their bags after Labor Day. This may be due to football, the kids going back to school or some other reason, but play really drops in the fall. It shouldn't be the weather, because in my opinion, the fall is the best time to play golf. On many days in September and October, the high temperature will be in the upper sixties or seventies with very few clouds. If we are lucky enough to have this type of weather in April or May, golfers will be lining up to get out on the course. Of course, after a long winter, cooped up inside, I don't blame them for wanting to get outside. During the fall, this same weather will be met with open tee times and discounted rates.

Aerification cores from a tee.

This drop in play gives us an opportunity to perform some maintenance that is disruptive to golfers. Aerification is the first and most labor intensive of those practices and is why I call Autumn the "Season of Driving Around in Circles." We aerify in order to decrease compaction in the soil and to slow the accumulation of organic matter in the soil. We can do this by either removing the plug created when we "punch holes" or by dragging the plug until all that remains on the surface is the thatch layer. This dragging is done by pulling a plastic mat around on the tee that breaks up and separates the soil from the organic matter and a lot of driving around in circles. Do not eat a big lunch before doing this, motion sickness can be a real problem.

A drag mat. This is one we use on fairways.

Dragging the cores on a fairway.

A tee can make you dizzy.

After dragging, all of the soil is gone and just the thatch and other plant material is left.

The greens at Huron Hills were aerified September 14 through 16th. Leslie Parks greens will be done on the 28-29th. The back 9 tee at Leslie Park have also been aerified. After the greens at leslie are done, we will finish the front 9 tees and the begin work on the tees at Huron. Remember, you cannot trust the calendar. The New Year starts in September.

August 2015 Weather Summary

The highest temperature recorded by the weather station at Leslie Park was 90.0 degrees.

The high temperature for the month was 90.0 degrees (August 2nd) while the low was 49.8. (August 27th) The average temperature for the month was 69.1 degrees, just below the average temperature for July (70.1 degrees.)

August had 8 days of rain that totaled 3.23 inches, with the highest daily total falling on the 10th (0.89 inches) although the highest storm total came over the 2nd-3rd, with 1.15 inches. Six days saw precipitation of over a tenth of an inch.

The average windspeed for the month was just 1.6 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 28 mph, on the 19th.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


The fall of the year is a great time to grow grass. This is a good thing, because we need to do some restoration of some areas, that for one reason or another, do not have grass on them.

During the senior tournament, we had a hydraulic oil leak on #1 green at Leslie Park. This resulted in three and a half lines of dead grass spanning the width of the green.

Dead grass.

We took some sod from the practice green to repair the area.

One line has been replaced.

Right before the City Championship in July, we also had a hydraulic leak on #5 fairway.

After a month, you can hardly see the area we replaced the damaged grass.

The area near the front of #4 fairway where we took the sod to replace #5. The bentgrass is growing in nicely, for the most part.

You might wonder why we took sod out of one place to put it in another. In this case, the extreme slope on #5 would have been very difficult to get grass to germinate on, without the bare soil eroding away. Taking it from #4, which is not a landing area but is pretty flat, allows me to control the soil moisture more easily.

This hydraulic leak on #3 is in a flatter area. This will probably be cut out with a sod cutter and seeded.

The end of the cart path on #9 got beaten down from cart traffic. It got some top soil and seed. It also was roped off to let the seed germinate.

The end of #4 cart path got a similar treatment.

The end of #8 path was very sandy and rocky. The top soil was added and then roto-tilled to make a better root zone.

The end of #3 was roto-tilled to loosen the soil before adding top soil and seed.

This area near #16 green has never recovered from the Traver Creek project. Hopefully, this time the grass will take.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

July 2015 Weather Summary

July turned out to be much more seasonable than the weather we have had the rest of the year. July should be summer-like and that is what we got. The high temperature for the month was 89.0 degrees (July 28th) while the low was 49.4. (July 3rd) The average temperature for the month was 70.4 degrees,  This is right between the average temperatures for 2014 and 2013. If you look back further, the average temperatures for July 2011 and 2012 were closer to 76 degrees, but each of those had 10 days that had high temperatures above 90, while the first day above that for 2015 came in August.

The record rainfall we had in June also came back toward normal levels, with only 2.17 inches of rain during the month. It was spread over 8 days with the most falling on the 9th (0.60 inches.) This also meant that we ran the irrigation for the first time this year. The All-City Championship ended on July 19th and the first full irrigation cycle happened on the 20th. That is definitely the latest that a full cycle has been used since I started with the city. Five days had at least a tenth of an inch of precipitation.

The average windspeed for the month was just 1.3 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 23 mph, on the 31st.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Parks and Rec Business Magazine

In the spring, I was asked to write an article for Parks and Rec Business Magazine that would be published in the July issue. Well, July has come and so has my article. I have put together a summary of the article, but I would suggest you check out the whole article and magazine HERE online, so you can see the beautiful layout the editors put together.

Municipal Golf Courses: Assets, not Liabilities

Many municipalities have decided to get out of the golf course business with the idea of saving money however, golf courses are assets to the community beyond just the bottom line. Municipal golf is often much less expensive than other places to play, serving as an entry point to the game. Greenspaces are advantageous in urban areas and studies show the health benefits when people are exposed to a natural environment. They also provide habitat for native plants and animals, while offering storage and filtration for rain runoff. During the off season, the course can also be used in other ways, such as skiing, sledding or snowshoeing.
Making the investment to maintain a quality municipal golf course will not only bring in revenue but will pay dividends to the community and the environment.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June 2015 Weather Summary

As I write this, on July 1st, it is raining. This continues a trend from June. The weather station at Leslie Park recorded 7.27 inches of rain for the month. That is the largest monthly total since the weather station was purchased in July of 2010. That is more rain than the golf course received during the summer (May, June, July and August) in 2012. It also comes on the heels of a May that saw nearly 6 inches of rain. Three days in the month had over an inch. The most came on the 23rd (1.98 inches) with the 14th and 27th coming in with 1.84 and 1.26 inches respectively. With that being said, the Ann Arbor area missed some of the heavier rains. Those rain events saw rainfall totals closer to 4 inches north or south of us. Nine days saw more than a tenth of an inch and 14 days had at least a trace of rain.

As a bonus, lots of water makes stream pictures better.

The high temperature for the month was on the 10th at 87.2 degrees. The lowest temperature was 40.6 on the 2nd. The average temperature was 67.0.

The high sustained windspeed was 25.0 mph (June 10.) The average windspeed was just 2.0 mph.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Traver Creek and High Rains

The Traver Creek Project was started back in 2012 with multiple goals in mind. One of these was allowing Traver Creek to take high amounts of precipitation and slow down the time it takes for the water to reach the Huron River. This helps to alleviate flooding and allows some of the sediment to drop out. With almost 3 inches of rain in the past two days, we got a chance to compare how the creek handles high rain events. The following pictures compare current water levels with a storm that happened May 25-26, 2011, when 3.25 inches of rain fell and Nov 22nd, 2011 when 1.75 inches fell.

The bridge near #10 green in May 2011.

The same bridge in 2015.

#10 green (Nov 2011)

#10 green (2015)

Traver Creek from #13 green (Nov 2011)

Traver Creek in 2015.

#11 fairway in Nov 2011 (Now the location of the Arrowood Branch)

The Arrowood Branch in 2015 (Looking in the other direction.

#12 Green (May 2011)

#12 green (2015)

#12 green (May 2011)

#12 green and created wetland (2015)

Bridge to #18 (May 2011)

Bridge to #18 (2015)

#10 Tee (May 2011)

#10 Tee (2015)