Thursday, 20 November 2014

Golf Course Closed!

November golfing was limited to just one nice day. It is now November 20th and a it feels like December 20th. We have already had a couple significant snow falls and freezing cold temperatures. It looks like milder temperatures are on the way for next week. We did manage to apply our snow mould fungicide and dormant fertilizers which is very important for healthy greens next spring. Many people have asked me if we are planning on doing anything different than last year to prevent the turf loss the East course greens experienced. The short answer is no. Every year we prepare the course for winter the best that we can. I would like to recap what happened last winter.  
The ice storm in late December and another rain event in January left a four inch ice layer on the greens. The solid ice layer trapped noxious gases which caused significant turf loss to the greens.  The Valley greens did not suffer any ice/winter damage because the greens are creeping bentgrass whereas the East greens are predominantly annual bluegrass.Annual bluegrass invades creeping bentgrass greens overtime. Most golf courses have poa annua. The grass can be identified by the seedheads throughout the year. The older the golf course, the more annual bluegrass unless the greens have been recently rebuilt. Annual blue grass or poa is a fine turf for putting greens except it is not as tolerant to extreme winters as we have witnessed in 2014. The Valley greens did not have any damage this spring because the three year old greens do not have any annual bluegrass – yet! 
We were aware of the problem during the winter and tried different methods to break up the ice. In hind sight our efforts did not make a difference and may have actually made the situation worse. The damage to golf courses was wide spread across southern Ontario and the eastern United States. Many of the top rated golf courses in North America were devastated. There has been many experts give their opinion on why this happened and what could have been done different to prevent this damage. The agreed consensus was that you cannot fight Mother Nature. Last winter was terrible and it did not make a difference if you covered your greens of if you shovelled off the show and ice. If your golf course was in a geographical area where the accumulation of ice was bad and the temperatures were frigid then you lost some poa annua. The only greens that had little to no damage were newer greens with mostly creeping bentgrass and smaller budget courses that keep there greens mowed much hire. Remember the demand for fast greens has forced superintendents to lower the cutting heights to the extremes. 

Once the damage was evident, Jason and his staff worked diligently to get them back in shape. This included overseeding and covering the worst areas with seed blankets. The seed blankets act as a greenhouse and allow the seed to germinate as well as encourage any surviving turf to fill in. We closed certain areas of the greens for as long as we could. Being a golf course that relies on public green fees and tournaments to financially survive we were forced to take the covers off sooner that most private clubs. The result of this was that most of the creeping bentgrass seedlings would not survive and more annual bluegrass would fill in the dead areas. The staff spent a considerable amount of time fertilizing, topdressing, hand mowing, taking tarps on and off and plugging the worst areas until the greens were finally filled in. The extra resources required for all this definitely meant some other areas of the golf course suffered like the bunker maintenance, line trimming etc. We thank you for your patience during this time. As for going forward, we will continue to prepare the greens the best that we can for the upcoming winter. The chances of us having a similar winter with all the variables that caused the problems are very remote. I was speaking to some retired Superintendents and they have not seen anything like that in forty years. 
Lets hope Mother Nature is better to us this winter. I will keep you posted throughout the winter. Until next time....

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Interesting find at the valley

Eastern Newt

Over the last few weeks I have noticed some of these small amphibians walking across the greens at Victoria Park Valley. I immediately thought it was some kind of salamander. When I looked on the internet I realized it was an Eastern Newt. In all the years I have worked at both Victoria Park East and Victoria Park West or the past three years at the Valley, I have never seen one.  According to the following web site    
it is not considered endangered or at risk. I am pleased to see such species diversity at the golf course and confirms golf courses and the environment can co-exist.
I will keep you informed of other interesting wildlife.
Until next time...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Fall Activities

 Where has the time gone! It is now October 1st. I am completely embarrassed I have not posted a blog since July! The summer was very king to turf managers with cooler than normal temperatures and timely rains. We deserve it after the winter we experienced which devastated many golf course greens across the province.  Once the greens came back the golf courses have been in perfect shape. Now we are completing many of our fall activities. The pictures on the left show me (yes me) aerating tee decks at the Valley.
The greens were aerated in late August. The leaves are now just starting to fall which will add to the list. However it is a great time of the year. There is nothing like a sunny fall day to enjoy your favourite golf course!
Until Next Time....

Monday, 30 June 2014

Greens update Victoria park east - June 30, 2104

9th green
First of all, I apologize for my late blog on this subject. The greens have been recovering. Most of the greens are completely filled in. A few greens still have small patchy spots. You can see in the picture on the left our ninth green still has some thin areas. Jason Sewell our course superintendent has been working hard trying to promote growth in these areas while at the same time having all the greens open and maintaining them for good ball roll and speed. Some golf courses have decided not to open the greens as soon as we did and if they did open the greens they may be mowed much higher to allow the newly seeded grasses to mature. Being a public golf course we found that not to be a viable option. The difference between the two management procedures is that the courses that remained closed much longer than we did will probably have more creeping bentgrass in their greens which is a good thing. We will continue to top dress with sand, spike or aerate with small tines, and plug out any remaining bad areas.
I want to thank all the members and public who have been patient throughout this process.
Until Next time.... David

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Ice Damage Update - May 22, 2014

Practice Green at East
 The greens are slowly improving. We have had some warm temperatures lately but not on a consistent basis to allow any germinated seedlings to mature. Most of the improvement has come from existing turf filling the voids. We are going to continue to aggressively plug out the any bare spots. We now have all 18 greens open and any tarped areas are much smaller. The greens should be in great shape in another couple of weeks.Thank you for your support and patience.
Until next time.... David
#9 green with small tarped area

Valley Clubhouse is Now Open!

 We have had the Clubhouse open now for a couple of weeks. It is not fully completed. The wet weather has delayed the completion of the exterior and the landscaping.
We are obviously still going through some "growing pains" of a new building. The comments so far has been good and we thank you for your continued patience during the final stages of construction. Please come visit us if you have not done so.

Until next time.... David

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Ice Damage Update - April 30, 2014

9 green April 30
 The greens have recovered to the point where we definitely know where the turf has survived and where the dead spots are. The greens have definitely filled in a lot in the last two weeks but there are some greens that lost turf. At present we have three greens that are closed and nine greens with partial closures. The worst areas have all been seeded and covered. The covers give a green house effect and warm the soil for better growth and germination. In saying that the cold weather has not been good for growth or germination.

Dimple seeder - April 15
 We need about 18 degrees to warm up the soil enough for germination. As you know we have not had many days at that temperature.
Replacing cover - April 30

The covers need to come off every 4-5 days for mowing and fertilization. Every week we will asses the green and alter the covers if needed. Until we get warm temperatures the recovery period will be slow.

We have also started plugging out dead spots. This process will help fill in small areas. The process will talk some time. Lets hope for nice weather to help with our recovery efforts. Until Next time... David
Plugging Greens - April 30

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Valley Clubhouse Update April 23, 2014

 The Crew has been busy and is moving right along. Our goal is to have the upstairs finished by the first week of May and complete the downstairs shortly after that. The flooring started last week. Ceramic tile has been placed in the Kitchen and the Snack bar area. Some of the kitchen equipment has been installed and the snack bar counter has been partially installed. There is still a lot of coordination and work to do to have the clubhouse partially open the first week of May.
The stone masons have been working around the weather to complete the stone work. They should be finished today. Above the stone work will be stucco. They have to have nice weather to work the temperature cannot go below 0 degrees. They are expected to move in Monday. Landscaping will start after the stucco crew has finished. We will open the clubhouse while the landscaping is finished. Until Next Time.... Davie

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Ice Damage Update At Victoria Park East

 As the snow is melts we are seeing the true damage to the greens at the East course. We have started tarping greens with a permeable (breathable) cover to help warm up the soil temperatures and promote growth. there Until we get some warm rains and temperatures and the turf starts growing we will not know the extent of the damage. There is definitely damage some greens worse than others. We will be starting the year off with some greens partially closed and may even have a few greens completely closed.
The picture on the left shows a few golf course superintendents from Guelph, London, and Toronto meeting with David Otis from the United States Golf Association at the Cutten Fields GC discussing the damage. Golf courses all over Southern Ontario and the North Eastern United States have suffered from the harsh winter. Not every golf course is affected and some are worse than others.

The good news for Victoria Park members and guests is the Victoria Park Valley course's greens did not suffer any ice damage because of the new greens still have 100% creeping bent grass which is much more tolerant than annual blue grass. We hope to have the Valley course open for play Easter Weekend weather permitting.
Until next time.... David

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Valley Club House Update - April 1, 2014

Deck on South Side
 The construction crew started working on the decks this week while work continued inside. The main floor has been dry walled. The mudding and taping still has to be finished. The duct work was also being completed today.
There is a lot of activity in the basement including framing with metal studs, electrical, plumbing, duct work, walk-in freezers, and Over head doors. It will be another busy and hopefully productive week. Until next time.... David

Overhead door in Basement

Main Floor

Monday, 24 March 2014

Work Has Moved Inside the Valley Clubhouse

Duct work and metal studs
Now that the roof is water tight the contractor has concentrated on the inside of the club house. All outside walls have been framed, insulated, and dry-walled. The interior walls have been framed with metal studs. The duct work for heating, air conditioning, and cooking ventilation is on going. It is also a busy time for the plumber and electrician running the services required throughout the walls. The basement floor was poured last Thursday and framing immediately started on framing walls in the basement on Friday. Enjoy the pictures.  Until next time...

Another view showing interior walls

Snack bar counter framed

View of the Basement

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Ice Damage Update Victoria Park East March 22, 2014

 It has been just over a week since we cleared the snow and ice off the greens in an attempt to allow the toxic gases to escape. We brought in more plugs on March 17 for observation. The plugs on top were taken the first week of March from various greens that we have had problems with in the past. You can most of them have some significant green turf while two do not look so good.
The plugs on the left were the samples taken March 17. The turf is severely discoloured. It is too early to tell how much of the turf is actually dead.

Yesterday (March 21) was the first day we had enough melt that I could see most of the entire green. The picture on the left is Green # 14. The green is severely discoloured. Some of the discolouring is just tip burn from the cold temperatures and wind. As I said before we will not know how much actual turf has died until the turf starts growing when temperatures rise. Unfortunately the weather is going to be below normal temperatures for at least another week. Lets hope for the best. Until next time....

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Ice Removal At Victoria Park East Using Sun Flower Seeds!

This winter has had its toll on everyone reading this blog. Unfortunately it may also have some negative affects to the golf course. Some of you may have read the article in the Guelph Mercury two weeks ago today.  Area golf courses were asked about the amount of snow and the cold temperatures we have experienced this winter and if there were any concerns for the golf course. The amount of snow will definitely be a benefit to the area's water table. Water availability is a huge concern in the Guelph area especially because the main source of water is from underground aquifers. This winter should replenish the aquifiers which is a good thing for all involved. The snow cover will also provide insulation for the turf which is also a good thing as long as your sensitive turf has been protected with a fungicide for snow mould. One main concern this winter is a thick ice layer which developed from the ice storm back in December and another thaw and rain event in early January. Putting greens can withstand about 60 days under ice for annual bluegrass (poa annua) or 90 days for creeping bentgrass. The East course being an older course has a high percentage of annual bluegrass and therefore is more the concern than the newer Valley course which is 100% creeping bentgrass. Even though the ground is frozen and the turf is dormant, it is still alive and gives off gases. If the gases are trapped by a layer of thick ice the turf will be straved of oxygen and may die after a period of time. This is called anoxia. This did occur in 2010 at the East course. We have been very proactive this week trying to remove the snow and ice to allow some of these toxic gases to escape. We were having good sucesss with mild temperatures on Monday and Tuesday but the storm on Wednesday and back to below normal temperatures today has slowed us down. The following pictures describe the sequence of events to date. My feeling is the will probably be some turf loss but it is too early to tell how much. I do feel our efforts over the last few days has helped. I will keep you posted.

Initial removal of snow down to first ice layer March 4,2014

Jason Sewell taking a sample with a drill and a plumbing core bit. This is done to access the extent of the damage if any.

Pulling out the sample plug in the frozen green. There is an ice layer followed by a few inches of snow followed by an ice layer directly on the green. In some areas this is 2 inches thick.

Green plugs that have been brought in after one week. There is definately some damage. 

Chris Shurrmans is digging down to the bottom ice layer. March 10,2014

The bottom ice layer is being exposed. It is thick enough not to cause damage to the green. 

Only the bottom ice layer remains. The temperature is 8 degrees Celcius March 10. 

Jason is spreading black sunflower seeds on the ice layer on # 9 green. Black seeds will absorb the sun and help melt the ice. The seeds will also melt through the ice releasing the toxic gases. This a brand new idea we just heard about that morning and tried it. 

The black sunflower seeds are definately working.

The sunflower seeds have definately  worked. This is #9 green one day later - March 11, 2014
Some channels have been made through the melting ice to help the water drain before it freezes again the next day.

# 2 green on March 11 one day after we exposed the ice layer and spread the black sunflower seeds.

Back to winter today - March 13, 2014

Until next time... David

Friday, 7 March 2014

Valley Clubhouse Update March 7, 2014

 Work has moved inside the clubhouse. There has been a lot of action. Enjoy the pictures and captions describing what is happening.
Until Next Time..... David

Insulation is being installed on exterior walls

Installing water pressure tanks for new well pump. We now have water.

Electricians are busy running wiring before the walls can be insulated.

View from the outside showing the windows have been installed.
Adding gravel in the basement.

A view looking outside towards the patio. Plenty of windows and a glass doors that will open up to the patio.

Installing windows.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Valley Clubhouse Update February 25, 2014

 Progress continues at the Valley. The picture on the left is the view of the club house coming up the entrance lane way.
 This picture shows the walls being covered up with OSB Board.

This picture shows the OSB board being covered up with an insulating material called DenseGlass Sheathing. Also shown in this picture is the roofing company which started yesterday. Until next time... David