Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A New Chapter Begins!

A new chapter in the life and career book is opening for our (soon to be former) Assistant Superintendent, Scott Vincent! It's the step every progressive assistant aspires to and that is to become the Head Superintendent at a well respected facility. After preparing himself with a solid educational background and working over the last 15 years, at 5 different golf clubs, each adding to his knowledge and experience base, Scott has made the step to the top in the Golf Course Management business. After a long process and among many highly qualified individuals, Scott recently received some wonderful news and that is, being selected to serve as the Head Golf Course Superintendent at the Onwentsia Club!

The New Superintendent at Onwentsia Club - our own Scott Vincent!

The selection process was nearly a year long and included individuals from top level clubs throughout the country, but in the end Scott’s education, experience, communication skills, due diligence, passion, personality, vision, and plain hard work, among many other favorable attributes, won over the selection committee and secured him an outstanding position at a high quality neighbor club.

Scott will truly be missed as he has been my right hand man for the past 4 years and has become not only a competent colleague but a trusted friend. He’s provided fresh ideas and solutions to various course challenges we’ve had through the years, always planned thoroughly and executed well, and excelled at teaching, communicating with, and supervising the staff. His enthusiasm for course architecture, the golf course, and its conditioning undoubtedly has helped me and the rest of the Grounds & Greens staff bring new improvements, effective and efficient practices, and quality daily play conditions to greater levels.

Scott will be starting his new position very soon, on October 12th, but I’m delighted that he is only moving a short distance north. I’m personally ecstatic that he has achieved this step in his career, at a club of the quality and prestige as that of Onwentsia, and I am thrilled to have been a part of his training process to this point in his professional life.

This is an exciting time for Scott, his wife Betsi, and their toddler Sawyer, and I know Scott will make Onwentsia proud and all of us proud knowing that was a well-liked member of our Skokie Country Club family. Congratulations Scott, on this great achievement, and we wish you all the best in your new position!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Aeration Commences

Today marks the first day of our annual fall aeration process. As usual, we are starting with the tees, followed by the fairways and greens later in October.

For today's aeration, we are only doing those tees which will NOT be used during the Windon Memorial tournament this weekend. These include all of the dedicated championship/blue tees, as well as those where multiple markers are located (eg. 2, 8, 11). We are skipping these tees to maintain their firm, stable hitting surface, but we will be aerating them after the tournament is finished.

Aeration underway on the 1st tee.

Today's dry, windy conditions were ideal for core drying & processing.

If you missed our May blog post on our aeration practices and would like to read up on it, click here. This will help explain the details of the process and why it's so important to the golf course.

As always, thanks for your patience during this important procedure. We will keep you updated on upcoming green and fairway aeration next month.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Course Update

It's been a few weeks since we've had a chance to post - lots of things happening this time of year. With warm days and cool nights it's the perfect time to establish new turf and/or natural rough from seed or cores. As you scan below you will see that we're doing both.

Fairway Expansion:
Over the last few years we have accelerated this work which was originally planned as part of the Master Restoration. Last year we expanded a significant amount of fairway on No. 3 and this spring we expanded the approach area on No. 4. These areas have both grown in quite well and are seamless due to the establishment method we use. Recently, we continued this same process on No. 7, near the bunker at the second dogleg and the left side approach.

Preparing expansion area for core planting

The process includes: 1) removing existing sod (which is then used in rough areas wherever needed) 2) preparing the soil with aeration and or tilling procedures 3) Aerating fairway areas to harvest soil/turf cores 4) Spreading harvested cores in prepared expansion area 5) Overseeding with bentgrass seed, and 6) "Dimpling" the cores and seed into the prepared area, to insure good soil contact, by driving over with a bunker machine equipped with knobby tires.

Cores quickly establishing - 10 days post planting

The establishment progress on No. 7 is proceeding very well and in time we expect to address several other areas on the course including No. 6, No. 8, No. 10, No. 11, No. 15 and more.
The reason behind this expansion is to better "tie-in" areas such as bunkers, and to add reward to shots that carry a bunker. So in some cases a wayward shot may carry more easily into a bunker or a well placed shot over a bunker may carry further down the fairway. In either case aesthetic appeal, strategy, and challenge are all realized.

Approach Expansion - more consistent with other approaches (eg. #10, #16)

Grassing Natural Areas:

You've surely seen the new back tee on No. 13, the planting activities, and the new seedling growth in the areas adjacent to this tee and the existing tees. Earlier we added a few low mounds, smoothed this area, and applied a non-selective herbicide to control all vegetation so that we could re-plant begin with a clean, weed-free soil. After final soil preparations we sowed a combination of fine fescue, Little bluestem, and Idaho bentgrass and covered with a straw erosion control/moisture retention mat. This seed blend of native and common grasses will be maintained as a natural/tall rough and the variety of textures and colors from both the foliage and seedheads, at various times of the year, should be quite attractive.

Final grade work and preparations for seed
After seeding, straw blanket is used to accelerate germination.

In your travels throughout the course you may see other areas, such as adjacent to No. 12 regular tees, where the vegetation is browned out. These are areas where the same re-grassing process is in progress. Over time these natural areas become contaminated with undesirable and/or highly aggressive species and periodically need to be renovated. In time you will see the entire area surrounding No. 12 pond and other areas of natural tall rough, re-grassed with more desirable species.

Rough Growth:
Since the last post where we explained the lush aggressive rough growth that followed the August 3.5 inch rainfall, we have been able to repeatedly mow and have finally tamed the beast. This is not to say that it isn't still very challenging, it is, but that's the whole point of rough isn't it? The beautiful weather we have enjoyed recently is also enjoyed, as it's nearly optimum, by our cool season turfgrasses such as bluegrass, ryegrass, and fescues which are exactly the component species of our rough. It's growing rapidly, adding density at this time, and is certainly upholding it's intended challenge! We'll keep the blades sharp and the mowers running as often as we can.

A couple areas are being maintained at a slightly higher height of cut and these are: 1) the area between No. 1 & 18, 2) the left rough No. 3, and 3) between No. 4 & 11 near the approach bunker. The Grounds & Greens Committee felt these areas needed a little more challenge due to the loss of several trees in each of these areas which diminished the shot valves and strategy of these holes.

These pictures show the slightly thicker rough between #1 & #18, as well as left of #3.

Camp Skokie:
It was a beautiful night for this event (which you'll be able to read more about in the Skokie E-News) but we wanted to show a couple photos. The bonfire gave us a chance to clean up a lot of old pallets (about a hundred!) and a few piles of logs. The fire was lit at about 6:30 Friday night and the 3 foot high pile of coals on Saturday morning burned until Monday mid-day! The "fire pit," where we stripped sod for the fire, was restored on Tuesday.

The Blaze Begins
The Aftermath

This year's blaze was a bit larger than in the past and the perimeter area of the fire pit got a bit charred. An aeration, a little seed, and a bit of fertilizer should revive this adjacent area in no time. Good fishing, tasty food, some unexpected fireworks, a great fire, and much more, all added to the fun and camaraderie that was had by all!

Up and Coming:
In the next couple weeks we'll be beginning a number of important maintenance practices including: aeration, overseeding, and topdressing. In certain areas of the course all three are performed together in others these tasks are performed independently.

Aeration will begin on tees (soil cores will be pulverized and re-incorporated) then we will address fairways (same incorporation procedure) and then finally the greens. The timing for the greens will likely be mid-October and we'll be sure to give as much advanced notice as is possible. Prior to the fairway aeration we plan to topdress many of the irrigation lines that settled slightly since installation. This topdressing and the re-incorporated soil from the aeration core processing will help to smooth these minor depressions.

Stay tuned to this blog for further current information on all of these practices and various improvement projects planned.
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