Monday, December 5, 2016

Turtle Basking Structures

As part of the Traver Creek Restoration Project through the City of Ann Arbor owned Leslie Park Golf Course in 2013, a permit was submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ.) To satisfy the MDEQ permit of the project, turtles were relocated to avoid  the construction. You can read more about the turtle project HERE and HERE

After the project was complete, turtle habitat was supposed to be improved. One way to do that is to install basking structures. This is a place where the turtle can lay in the sun to warm up, while also having the ability to drop quickly back into the water to escape a predator. If you ever go canoeing along the Huron River, you will see lots of turtles on fallen trees along the river banks. We are trying to replicate this type of basking area in the ponds on #8, #12 and #17.

The first step was to find some suitable branches. An opportunity came in the form of some tree trimming we were planning on doing along #11 tee. In order to frame the shot from the Championship tees, we needed to trim back some Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila) trees. These trees are non-native and are considered a semi-invasive species.

Once we had the correct size branches, Natural Area Preservation staff started to install the structures.

Positioning the branch in the pond.


Installing lag bolts to hold the anchors.


The "Duckbill" anchor is driven into the ground.


When the drive rod is pulled out, the anchor rotates to lock into the surrounding earth.



Waders were a necessity to place the structure properly on this cold December day.


You can see one of the structures in the pond on #8.


Another basking site near Traver Road on #12.

Friday, December 2, 2016

November 2016 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month of November was 77.3 degrees (Nov 1st) while the low was 18.6 (22nd.) You can see how this month starts the transition from Fall to Winter. The average temperature was 45.6 degrees, nearly ten degrees cooler than last month. Over the last 60 days, the average temperature has dropped by more than 20 degrees. Nine days had temperatures that were below the freezing point in the morning.

There were 10 days of precipitation with a monthly total of 1.90 inches. Four days saw more than a tenth of an inch of rain and the 28th had the most rainfall with 0.64 inches. The total for the year so far is 28.71 inches.

Average windspeed was 2.7 mph. The highest recorded sustained windspeed was 31 mph, on the 28th.

Friday, November 4, 2016

October 2016 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month of October was 81.7 degrees (Oct 7th) while the low was 32.0 (28th.) The average temperature was 55.0 degrees, eleven degrees cooler than last month.

There were 10 days of precipitation with a monthly total of 3.26 inches. Eight days saw more than a tenth of an inch of rain and the 20th had the most rainfall with 0.93 inches. The total for the year so far is 26.81 inches.

Average windspeed was 2.2 mph. The highest recorded sustained windspeed was 26 mph, on the 17th.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fall Project Update

We finished aerification on the Huron hills greens today. We hope to start Leslie next week. We have aerified some of the tees at Leslie and hope to continue "plugging" away at those. (That is an aerification joke.)

We had a tree company come in to trim up one of the oaks on #5 as well as cable the three parts of the tree together. The large oak on the left of the hole was developing a split and in order to cause less stress on the joint, they took some of the heavy limbs off. After the limbs were removed, you do not notice a difference, but the weight reduction was significant. Hopefully, this tree will be around for several decades.

How many climbers can you find in the tree? There are 3.


We have also built a new forward tee on #11. The tee that was on the far side of the wetland was too small and also accentuated the dogleg. This made the hole more difficult than it should be from the forward tees. The new tee will give players a straighter shot to the hole.

Half the sod in place.

From this view, you can see down most of the fairway.

Another project we have started was on #16. When the Traver Creek Project was going on, the approach on #16 was used as a haul road. Hundreds of dump trucks full of silt from the pond were hauled over this portion of the fairway and dumped on the left side of #14. When the project was done, this area was supposed to be excavated and filled in with topsoil. If you have played during the summer since the project, you probably noticed that this area was never looking good. After digging it up and examining the soil, it looks like the compacted soil was never removed. It was just graded out and two inches of topsoil spread on top. 

We excavated the area down 4 inches. The we roto-tilled the compacted soil.

Topsoil was dumped onto the area and spread around.

The next step is to lay some bentgrass sod over the leveled topsoil. It should be fully grown in by next spring.









Tuesday, October 4, 2016

September 2016 Monthly Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month of September was 90.2 degrees, on Sep 6. That brings the number of days with high temperatures above 90 degrees to ten. The low temperature for the month was 49.0 degrees (27th.)  The average temperature for the month was 66.7 degrees.

#17 green and pond. 

Total rainfall for the month was 4.06 inches, bringing the yearly total to 23.87 inches. The highest daily rainfall was 1.77 inches on the 29th. Seven days in the month saw more than a tenth of an inch of rain and 9 days had at least a trace.

The average windspeed for the month was 1.4 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 23 mph, on the 7th.

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."


Thursday, June 2, 2016

May 2016 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month of May was 87.0 degrees, on May 28th, which was in the middle of a stretch of 9 straight days above 80 degrees.That stretch is likely to grow longer, since we are currently still experiencing those warm temperatures. The low temperature for the month was 35.5 degrees (16th.)  The average temperature for the month was 60.0 degrees.

The month of May had 8 days of rain that totaled 2.14 inches, with the highest daily total falling on the 12th.(0.86 inches) Five days saw precipitation of over a tenth of an inch. For the year, we have gotten 10.08 inches of rain. While the monthly total was a fair amount, the last appreciable rainfall was on the 14th. By the end of the month, areas without irrigation had started to go brown and dormant.

The average windspeed for the month was 2.4 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 28 mph, on the 4th.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Course Changes

At Leslie, we have changed the fairway on #11. A couple of years ago, we put a cart path that crosses the fairway in front of the green. It used to be fairway right up to the path. Last month, we cut out some of the fairway and laid in rough sod.


This video was taken in February. It is hard to see, but the path cuts across the fairway.

This video was taken in May, after the bluegrass sod has been placed and the fairway was re-shaped.

This picture is taken from above the green on #11 looking back toward the fairway.


At Huron, we began to lower and enlarge the 14th tee last fall. We seeded it this spring.

This was taken April 25th, one week after seeding.

May 2nd

May 10th

May 16th

May 25th.

Next week, we will begin mowing the tee. Hopefully, it will be fully open in a few more weeks.








Friday, May 6, 2016

Killdeer

We had a couple of killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) nests at Leslie Park this spring. The nests for these birds are really hard to spot. The eggs look like rocks and the mother will run away from the nest when you approach.


Source wikipedia, photo by user:Đ’asil

Today, I noticed two sets of babies running around. The video is poor because I could not get too close to them, so my phone was zoomed in all the way.




Thursday, May 5, 2016

April 2015 Weather Summary

On April 18th, the high temperature was 81.8 degrees which was the first time since September 17th, 2015 that we reached 80.  The low temperature for the month was still just 16.9 (April 5th.) The average temperature for the month was 46.1 degrees. There were 10 days when the the low temperature got below freezing but every day got above the 32 degree mark.

The month of April had 12 days of rain that totaled 2.07 inches, with the highest daily total falling on the 21st.(0.47 inches) Eight days saw precipitation of over a tenth of an inch.

The average windspeed for the month was 3.2 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 29 mph, on the 6th.

Monday, April 4, 2016

March 2016 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month was 69.6 degrees (March 8th) while the low was 11.3. (3rd) The average temperature for the month was 42.3 degrees. There were 16 days when the the low temperature got below freezing and 3 days which never got above 32 degrees.

March had 11 days of rain that totaled 3.63 inches, with the highest daily total falling on the 24th.(0.98 inches) Six days saw precipitation of over a tenth of an inch.

The average windspeed for the month was 3.7 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 39 mph, on the 17th.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

New Video Capability

A few weeks ago, we got a new tool for diagnosing disease and for documenting the golf courses. I have been testing it out and would like to share some videos from our drone.

Hole #5 at Leslie Park


#12 at Leslie


Traver Creek


The Maintenance Barn at Leslie



Thursday, March 3, 2016

February 2016 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month was 62.3 degrees (Feb 28th) while the low was -4.2. (14th) The average temperature for the month was 31.1 degrees. There were 26 days when the the low temperature got below freezing and 8 days which never got above 32 degrees.

February had 6 days of rain that totaled 1.24 inches, with the highest daily total falling on the 2nd.(0.43 inches) Four days saw precipitation of over a tenth of an inch.

The average windspeed for the month was 4.2 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 39 mph, on the 20th.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

January 2016 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month was 51.5 degrees (Jan 31st) while the low was 7.8. (Jan 19th) The average temperature for the month was 27.4 degrees. There were 29 days when the the low temperature got below freezing and 15 days which never got above 32 degrees.

January had 7 days of rain that totaled 0.99 inches, with the highest daily total falling on the 15th.(0.24 inches) Five days saw precipitation of over a tenth of an inch.

The average windspeed for the month was 3.8 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 29 mph, on the 10th.

Monday, January 4, 2016

December 2015 Monthly Weather Summary

The high temperature for the month was 62.1 degrees (December 23rd.) while the low was 21.9. (Dec 20th) The average temperature for the month was 40.4 degrees. There were 12 days when the the low temperature got below freezing and one day which never got above 32 degrees (Dec 19th.)

December had 9 days of rain that totaled 2.17 inches, with the highest daily total falling on the 21st.(0.54 inches) Six days saw precipitation of over a tenth of an inch. The total precipitation for the year now stands at 30.24 inches.

The average windspeed for the month was 3.6 mph. The highest sustained windspeed was 36 mph, on the 23rd.

2015 Yearly Weather Summary

The highest temperature recorded at Leslie Park Golf Course during 2015 was 90.0 degrees on August 2nd. The lowest temperature was just - 20 degrees on February 8th. There was just one day where the high temperature reached 90 degrees. On the other hand, the year had 50 days where the high temperature did not get above freezing. For comparison, there were 67 days in 2014 that did not reach freezing. The low temperature reached below 32 degrees on 112 days. Sixteen days had low temperatures below zero. Last year saw 20 days below zero while 2010-2013 combined had just nine days with negative temperatures.

For the year, the golf course received 30.24 inches of rain. The most rain in a single day was 1.98 inches on June 23rd. June was also the month with the most rain at 7.27 inches. There were 106 days with at least a trace of rain, while six days had over an inch in a 24 hour period.

The average wind speed for the year was 2.8 mph. The highest sustained wind speed was 37.0 mph on March 25th.