Thursday, September 8, 2016

August 2016 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month of August was 92.2 degrees, on Aug 10th. That brings the number of days with high temperatures above 90 degrees to eight. In 2014 and 2015, there was only one day each summer that got to this mark. The low temperature for the month was 55.5 degrees (23rd.)  The average temperature for the month was 74.1 degrees. This is slightly above July's average temperature, which is normally our warmest month of the year.

We finally got significant rainfall in August, starting on the 13th. During a stretch of 6 days, Leslie Park got a total of almost 3 inches of rain, capped off by a soaking 1.93 inches on the 16th. This rainfall filled up our irrigation pond and replenished the soil moisture enough to bring un-irrigated areas out of dormancy. Total rainfall for the month was 4.07 inches, bringing the yearly total to 19.49 inches. This is about an inch short of what we average since the weather station was installed in 2010.

The average windspeed for the month was 1.5 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 28 mph, on the 12th.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Bunker restoration

We are trying a bunker restoration on the greenside bunkers on hole #11 at Huron Hills. The sides of the bunkers were very steep between the sand and the green. This area was starting to collapse from lack of support. We are going to soften the slope while shrinking the bunker size slightly. We would also like make the bunker have a flatter bottom so the sand does not wash out after heavy rains. We are starting on the left hand bunker. We hope that it will be the easier of the two bunkers, which will allow us to perfect out technique before trying trickier projects.

You can see how the edge has started to collapse. Over the years, this has expanded the bunker toward the green.

The boards allow us to form the new edge.

The slope has been taken down and used to fill in up to the boards.

Looking east, toward Huron Parkway.

The fill was covered with topsoil and raked out.

The bunker face will be sodded next week.

This slope will be easier to maintain.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

July 2016 Weather Summary

Lack of precipitation is again at the top of the weather worries. The month of July had 10 days of rain but that rain only totaled 2.38 inches, with the highest daily total falling on the 30th. (0.70 inches) For the year, we have gotten 15.42 inches of rain, which is about 4.5 inches below normal. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, we are abnormally dry in Ann Arbor, but other parts of Southeastern Michigan have lapsed into a moderate drought. Ann Arbor is not included in this area due to a couple of nice rainfall events in the early spring. There were 10 days with at least a trace of rain and seven with over a tenth of an inch. There were also only seven rain "events," as three times the rain started before midnight and continued into the morning. The weather station records the rainfall for each day, starting at 12:01 AM, thus that number can sometimes be inflated.

The high temperature for the month of July was 93.0 degrees, on July 23rd. There were 3 days were the high temperature got above 90, bringing the total for the year to 5. Each of the last two years had only one day above 90 each. I should note that this is not what the TV weather people think. The official weather for Detroit is taken at Metro Airport. The golf course is away for all of the buildings and concrete. The grass and trees help moderate the temperatures and keep those high temps lower than official. The low temperature for the month was 49.0 degrees (July 2nd.)  The average temperature for the month was 73.8 degrees.

The average windspeed for the month was 1.6 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 32 mph, on the 21st.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Irrigation Design Class 101

Here in the Midwest, irrigation is designed to supplement natural rainfall. It is not meant to supply all of the water that the golf course needs for a prolonged period. Unfortunately, we are in a prolonged period without a lot of natural rainfall. We are currently about three and a half inches behind the amount of rain we should have to this point of the year. Because of this, some of the deficiencies of our irrigation systems start to show.

At Huron Hills, the irrigation runs down the middle of the fairways. This is called "single-row" spacing.  We have two choices with this type of system, we can over water the middle in order to get the edges of the fairway adequate moisture. The other option is to water the center to the optimum moisture level. This leaves scallops of grass that receive much less water. As long as we still get occasional rainfall, these areas will turn brown, but they should not die.

A single row system is pictured below.
Each circle would have an irrigation head in the center. These heads are designed to throw water to the next head in the row, thus giving a more uniform spread of irrigation. The lighter green areas only get water from one head, and thus get only half the water they should get.

Most of the greens at Huron Hills have a "triangle spacing." This means that three heads cover the green. The benefit of this is redundancy, if one head is not working properly, the other two will still cover most of the green. It also evens out the edges separating the irrigated areas from the non-irrigated areas.

This is an example of triangle spacing. (Ed: I noticed that my picture has a small error. The labels on this should be: No Water, 33% Water, 67% Water and 100% Water.)
With this type of system, you need more irrigation heads as well as twice as much underground piping, but the distribution is much more even. Keep in mind that the irrigation heads we use on the golf courses throw about 70 feet, so you can have the heads on each side of the fairway and keep most of the shorter grass under the dark green area in the picture above.

Most of what we have at Leslie Park Golf Course is "square spacing." In this system, the heads are set out in a square. This gives the most even distribution in between the heads, as you can see in the illustration below.

In order to make the picture more understandable, I exaggerated the space that gets 75% water in the middle of the fairway, in general, this will give a even distribution of water between the irrigation heads. Also, this is under perfect conditions with brand new equipment. The irrigation at Leslie was put in during the 90's. In all honesty, I do not know when the irrigation at Huron Hills was put in, but it is considerably older than that. As such, we have to keep track of any problems we find and fix them as soon as they crop up. That means keeping an eye on about 600 irrigation heads at Leslie and 200 at Huron.

In this photo, taken in 2012 of #4 fairway at Leslie, you can see a spot in the middle of the fairway where a single head was not operating properly. The other three head covered that spot to around 75% of what the grass needed. You can also see how the rough, which is outside of the square spacing of our irrigation, has turned brown and dormant.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

June 2016 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month of June was 90.6 degrees, on June 11th, with the 27th also reaching 90 degrees (actually, 90.1.)The low temperature for the month was 45.1 degrees (9th.)  The average temperature for the month was 69.1 degrees.

The month of June had just  5 days of rain that totaled 2.97 inches, with the highest daily total falling on the 4th.(1.18inches) Four days saw precipitation of over a tenth of an inch. For the year, we have gotten 13.44 inches of rain. This is drier than the past three years have been up to this point, but still nearly 5 inches more precipitation than we had in 2012 to the beginning of July.

The average windspeed for the month was 1.6 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 26 mph, on the 20th.

Here are some pictures from July of 2012 to show what we looked like then.

Looking toward #5 green from the orchard near #8 fairway.

#16 green and fairway.

The irrigation pond has since been dredged and hold significantly more water.

#4 fairway.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Turtles and golf

When the Traver Creek Project was started, one of the most interesting parts was the turtle stipulation. In order to begin the creek renovation, a permit was submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ.) To satisfy the MDEQ permit of the project, turtles and other herptofauna were relocated from the two inline detention basins (AKA ponds on holes #12 and #17) on Traver Creek to the pond on #8. There are at least four large snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) and numerous painted turtles(Chrysemys picta) in Traver Creek and there was concern over what would happen to these turtles during and after the project was completed. To help them after the project, four sand piles were created for the turtles to use as nesting areas. 

A mother laying her eggs.

The eggs in the nest.

The eggs are marked  so that the same side remains up in the new nest.

When there is a nest located where someone doesn't want it or in a place that this young will not have a good chance for survival, NAP staff will collect the eggs and bring them to one of the nesting mounds. These eggs were taken from the bunker on #6 at Huron Hills and transplanted to the pond near #12 at Leslie. A shallow hole was excavated and the eggs placed inside. After covering the eggs with soil, a predator exclusion box was placed over the nest. This will keep raccoons and other small animals from eating them until they hatch in September.

One of the turtle nesting mounds. There was also a nest that was found on the nesting mound that was covered.

The predator exclusion box, along with an explanation of what it is and a phone number for questions.

This is a favorite place for turtles to lay eggs, as this is the third year in a row that the same spot has been used as a nest.

The turtles go into a trance when laying eggs and do not respond. Please stay away from them during this process.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Dr. Leslie's Orchard (Revisited)

Note: This is an blog post I first published in 2012 and again in 2014. It has been updated, but I also feel like it is good information to keep putting out there.

Before Doctor Leslie donated the land for Leslie Park Golf Course, he and his wife had been running the land as a farm. On this farm, he planted wheat, corn and other annual crops, but a large portion of the land was devoted to orchards. They had cherries, pears and apples, as well as blueberries and raspberries.  The area where 5, 6, 7 and 8 are now located was predominately pears, apples and cherries. A small portion of this orchard was retained when the course was built. It was originally a 12 row by 12 row section, with a few trees outside of this square. That would have been 144 trees.

The Orchard looking toward #8 green from #6 fairway.

When I started with the City of Ann Arbor, there were less than 100 of these trees left. Through the previous 40 plus years, the trees naturally died out. Since the purpose of Leslie Park was to be a golf course and not an orchard, this was not a priority. The life expectancy of these trees is not overly long, and since they were planted around the time of World War II or before, it became clear to me that if nothing was done, we would lose the entire orchard. Since this was an integral part of the strategy for playing holes 6 and 8, as well as an homage to the former use of the land, we decided to start replanting the orchard.

Planting trees in 2012.

The first step was to decide what to plant. The "holes" in the orchard were filled in with a mixture of Bartlett pears, Comice pears, Honeycrisp apples and Red Delicious apples. The apples were added to bring about some of the historical feel to the orchard, even though this part did not have any apples. We started slowly on the 8 fairway side. This was to get a feel for how to proceed and give us some experience with the different trees. In 2010, we planted 16 apple and pear trees. We soon discovered that the deer love the apple trees but leave the pears pretty much alone. We started to experiment with deer deterrents and finally settled on cages. The following year, we planted another 18 pears and apples, along with 12 cherry trees.

The cherry trees are added to the northern section of the orchard, near #7 green. In 2009, there were 6 cherries here and stumps for 30 more. Over the past seven years, four of these old cherries have died. Unfortunately, the last two do not appear to have survived the harsh winter. Then, this spring, one of them fell over.

The two old cherry trees still do not have leaves.

Only one original cherry tree remains.

This pear has seen better days.

This is an apple tree we planted in 2014.

Since 2009, we have planted 48 apple and pear trees, as well as some cherry trees. Only 71 of the original pear trees are still alive. The gaps in the old  orchard are now almost filled. When that happens, we will only be replacing the old trees when they die.
As a golf course manager, you have to stay one step ahead. As an ancient Chinese proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is right now."