Monday, April 28, 2014

Yes, the brown fairways at Rattlewood are NORMAL (right now)!

As many of you have no doubt seen over the past 3 years, we have begun converting fairways (and some bunker surrounds) to warm-season species turf.  Fairways are about half way there, with 8 fairways having been converted to bermudagrass.  I wanted to write this post because even though there are signs around the clubhouse, we continue to get a lot of questions such as "Why are the fairways dead?" (They're not! They're still sleeping!)

Dormant #1 fairway (taken from green)


If you have been out to Rattlewood this spring, no doubt the color of some of these fairways may lead you to believe there is something WRONG with them.  THERE IS NOT!  The turf on these fairways is still mostly dormant, and we need some warm weather to wake them up!  The cold spring this year is not helping at all. Bermudagrass is a southern turf that performs extremely well in the challenging Mid-Atlantic summer, when cool-season grasses like fescues, bluegrass, and ryegrass begin to be challenged by the extreme heat and need a LOT of extra inputs to keep them alive.

Bermudagrass, even while dormant, provides an excellent playing surface, and needs less water, and virtually no fertilizer or pesticides to keep it healthy all year long.  We began the task of converting these fairways in 2011 as a big start towards a more sustainable future!

So enjoy your great lie as you hit your approach shot from these sleeping beauties!  And standby as warmer weather around the corner will green them up very quickly!


Monday, June 3, 2013

MCG Golf Studio at Needwood GC

In case you’ve missed it, or haven’t heard over the past couple of months, MCG has opened a brand new, state-of-the-art golf studio atop Needwood Golf Course.  The MCG Golf Studio allows you to get custom equipment fittings, club repair, golf lessons and clinics, and the ability to play and practice on a top of the line golf simulator.  If you haven’t already, this is an absolute MUST for you to check out!

GOLF SIMULATION: The MCG Golf Studio features the latest in golf simulation technology utilizing E6 software with the most realistic graphics in the industry.  There are  20 championship golf courses to choose from, as well as the opportunity to use the practice range module, attain flight data information and participate in contests that will test your skills!  If you are looking for something just a little bit different than your typical round of golf, I encourage you to grab a foursome (or more) and book at tee time on the simulator.  The courses you can choose from are some of the best, including Pebble Beach, Pinehurst #2, The Old Course at St. Andrews, and many more! 


CUSTOM CLUB FITTING:  Over 75% of all golfers do not have golf clubs that fit them properly.  The Studio’s trained staff is certified with many manufactures such as TaylorMade, Titleist and Ping to fit you with the correct equipment.  When you invest in your game you should take the time to confirm that what you are purchasing FITS you! Make an appointment when you are ready to go through an extensive fitting with their staff where you will receive comprehensive data about you and your game!

CLUB REPAIR:  Whether it is grips, shafts, loft and lie or which clubs should be in your bag, the MCG Studio’s team has several years of custom repair experience and can “tweak” and adjust your existing equipment like you are on tour! If you have any special requests or have seen something you want done to your club, stop by to discuss the customization that you deserve.

GOLF LESSONS & CLINICS:  Come rain, snow, sleet or shine, the MCG teaching professionals are ready to offer personal and group golf lessons.  They offer the ability to instruct students, both indoors and outdoors, on the range or on the course.  They utilize state-of-the-art technology and have the extreme desire to improve your golf game.  A two camera setup featuring face-on and down-the-line angles allow them to capture your swing to analyze and dissect any issues to take corrective measures for your improvement.  Swing Catalyst Software also supports balance and weight transfer analysis.  This will indicate proper and improper weight transfer, allowing them to teach the proper mechanics of the golf swing. 


Like I said, if you have not already done so you MUST stop by the Studio and see what it is all about.  It is a great place to help improve your golf game but also a fantastic place to go and have some fun!  Don’t be afraid to grab a few buddies and rent the simulator for a few hours.  The Studio has tables and food & beverage service so you can eat and drink while you are playing or working on your game, and happy hour specials run daily.  To keep up with all of their specials and “happenings”, visit them on the web at www.mcggolf.com/studio . 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mornings on the golf course



The day for a golf course superintendent and his or her crew starts very early, especially as we get into summer.  Waking up at 2:30 or 3:00 this time of year is more common than you would think!  The task of setting up the course for the day, which many of us refer to as the "morning shuffle," is a carefully planned and orchestrated task, as there are only so many bodies to put on equipment for the day.  As we go about our morning jobs well before sunrise, care is taken to ensure that we are focusing on the #1 priorities that will affect not only the health of the turf we manage, but more importantly the experience of our customers.

Here is an insightful blog post from Chris Fernandes, Superintendent at Northwest Golf Course.  Enjoy!
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            This is how most mornings look for the maintenance departments at your favorite golf course.  While most people are just getting up, getting ready for work, getting their kids ready for school, drinking their first cup of coffee or still enjoying a good night's rest, the maintenance staff is hard at work out on the golf course getting the place ready for our customers.  Everyday is different for the maintenance staff, but one thing that is always the same is setting up the golf course for play.  Mornings are the most important part of the day for the maintenance staff and will set the standards for the course that day. 
            Before the staff members even get to the first hole, there are tasks that need to be done.  Blowing around the clubhouse, picking up debris and trash in the parking lot, setting up the cart restriction and hole location signs and communicating with the pro shop on the days course rules, conditions and what the superintendent and the assistants have planned for that day.


Once the staff arrives at the first hole the work really begins.  On the tee boxes the staff will be filling in divots with seed and sand from the previous days rounds, moving tee markers and divot boxes in their new location and depending on the day mowing the tee boxes.


On the way to the green the staff will be checking for trash on the course, blowing any debris and moving the cart directional signs.  Once on the green, depending on what is planned for that day, many of the staff will be on every green everyday.  Weather it is mowing or rolling, mowing and rolling, spraying or just setting the new pin location there are a lot of tasks that need to be completed.

Also while on the green workers will be blowing sand or debris off the green, checking for any high or low plugs and repairing ball marks to make sure the green is perfect before the staff members move on the the next hole to start the process all over again.  During the morning set up other task are being completed such as emptying trash, making sure coolers are filled and checking the bathrooms before golfers start their round.




While workers are preparing the greens others will be mowing fairways, tees, intermediates, and rough while others will be raking bunkers, mowing collars, or anything else that needs to be done. 



Superintendents and their assistants spend these early hours following up on the tasks performed by crew members to ensure quality control, and will also spend time ahead of any equipment to look at dew patterns (good indicator of stress where there is a mottled or broken dew pattern), check soil moisture, scout for pests or disease (or vandalism!), and innumerable other tasks.  The golf course mechanic is also busy in the morning checking to ensure his equipment is performing up to par, and that the quality of cut is excellent.

These are just some of many tasks that happen everyday on the course to ensure that our customers have the best experience possible every time they come out to play.  


Friday, April 26, 2013

Tee construction and irrigation at Hampshire Greens

One of the final winter projects that was wrapped up in March at Hampshire Greens was the construction of two new tee boxes on holes #8 and #14.  Par 3 tees get beat up with divots throughout the season, especially the bentgrass ones at this course.  The new tees will provide increased teeing area to distribute divots, as well as adding an additional challenge to our golfers playing the back tees there.

Here is an update from Golf Course Superintendent Teddy Blauvelt, who has done a great job with MCG since 2007 at this property.
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Many people ask, “What does maintenance do in the winter when it’s cold.” My answer is “projects.” Projects are labeled so because they are outside the realm of everyday golf course maintenance work. They are not completed during the golfing season for two main reasons. The first is because the scope of work would severely interfere with the golfer and their round. The second, is well, there is plenty of traditional everyday work to fill each day for the maintenance staff.

March is a busy month which includes getting these winter projects wrapped up, but also later in the month to get ready for the golfing season with routine maintenance. Some winter projects include: Bunker renovations, tee constriction, irrigation installs and upgrades, drainage projects etc… Today we will focus on two projects being completed at Hampshire Greens this winter. Tee additions, to the par three 14th and 8th holes, and an irrigation addition to the right side of 13th hole.

The tee additions, why? Both holes have limited tee space in comparison to the length of tee shot. The addition of championship tee tops will lengthen the holes, relieve traffic stress, help with divot recovery, and create an aesthetically pleasing yet challenging golf shot.

The 14th will be about 155 yds and consistently hold the black, championship tee markers.





We utilized the hillside behind the current 14th tee to simply cut and fill, then shape the new tee top.

The new 8th will be about 205 yds and will be used in rotation with the current championship tee to hold the black markers. 

We needed to add a LOT of soil to build the tee. We used soil from 2 mounds on the seventh hole to build the tee. We did this to alleviate a cart traffic problem created from these mounds on the left side of the hole. We also needed to lower the current blue tee top on the 8th in order for the new tee top to have clear sight to the green. This will also increase area of the blue tee, a win win. Almost a, “3 birds 1 stone deal!” 


Along side the right side rough of the 13th fwy we installed a third irrigation line and sprinkler heads. Currently, the sub-par irrigation system has two rows of irrigation heads. One runs down the left side intermediate/fwy. The second runs down the right/middle of the fwy. This leads to very poor irrigation coverage to the right side of the fwy, especially in the tee shot landing area. By adding a third row of heads we will create a superior playing surface on the right side fwy, relieve labor hours from hand watering, and provide a more efficient way to water.


I hope this helps answer any questions about some of what maintenance does during the "off-season."

Teddy Blauvelt
Golf Course Superintendent
Hampshire Greens Golf Course

Sunday, March 10, 2013

It's that time again! (Aeration)



The most important cultural practice that is performed at our facilities is core aeration, and I could literally wear out the keyboard discussing the benefits of this process!  The process of aeration and recovery is very stressful both physically and mentally for our staff, because we take such pride if maintaining great conditions for you!  But this temporary disruption to our playing surfaces is what helps the turf remain healthy throughout the year and is very important!  So what exactly is so great about removing all these plugs of soil from your beautiful golf course?
  • Improved root growth
  • Improved gas exchange (oxygen to the root zone and actual air movement underground!)
  • Decreased thatch and organic matter that can hold excess water (bad for root development and increases disease pressure and insect problems)
  • Incorporation of pure sand in greens to keep these important channels open (tremendous root growth in these holes!) as well as firm the playing surface
  • Alleviates compaction caused by foot and vehicle traffic
  • Improved water infiltration
  • Improved microbial activity (healthy microbes help the soil environment function better)
  • And the list goes on!

Superintendents LOVE this root development in aeration holes!
So when exactly will our courses be aerating? 
Find our aeration schedule HERE.  

On the date of aeration, the areas mentioned (front 9/back 9) will be closed for the day.  We have selected aeration dates that work best for the specific needs of each course based on types of grass, staffing levels, equipment sharing, and environmental conditions, as well as trying to work around major events and outings that are already scheduled.