Thursday, February 18, 2016

The end of an era...

This announcement is one of those bittersweet ones that is quite difficult to make, which is probably why I've been delaying publicizing it as long as I could .  Our Turf Care department is saying good-bye to two of the hardest working, dedicated and most determined individuals that I've ever had the pleasure to work alongside.

First off, our Irrigation Technician, Aaron Swail, has accepted a career advancement position elsewhere and will be taking on this new role beginning next week.  Aaron, or A-Aron as we call him, arrived here at Quilchena back in 2011 as our first ever AIT (Assistant in Training).  We have watched him grow immensely in the past 5 years here, both professionally and as a human being.  A-Aron is exactly what every Superintendent hopes for when hiring an AIT.  He is an extremely self-motivated individual with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.  A-Aron has experienced many aspects of the turf management industry here at Quilchena and will be a huge asset to his new employer.  He has put in many hours on the sprayer and has spent the last 3 seasons as our Irrigation Technician, a role in which he excelled in dealing with the intricate micro-climates of the property along with salinity concerns and the extreme drought and watering restrictions of 2015.  A-Aron is well-equipped to shine in his new role as he continues to obtain the remaining necessary skills and experience on his path to becoming a Superintendent.

Next, my right-hand man for many many years, Josh Webb, has also accepted a career advancement position at another facility and will be wrapping up his employment here at Quilchena at the end of this month to begin his new role in early March.  Josh, or Jashua as I like to call him, and I began working together 15 years ago in Southwestern Ontario and I was fortunate enough to recruit him to team up with me again back in the spring of 2009, not long after I arrived here towards the end of 2008.  Josh began his tenure here as the Irrigation Technician and was promoted to Assistant Superintendent in the spring of 2011.  In the 6+ years that Josh has been here at Quilchena, he has experienced every facet of the turf management industry and has gained all of the necessary skills and experience to be a top-notch Superintendent.  His new role will allow him to hone his skills as he puts the final touches on mastering his craft.  Rest assured, Josh's new facility will greatly benefit from acquiring him and I personally cannot wait to hear about and see firsthand all of his accomplishments.

Working together with these two individuals in this industry that we all share such a huge passion for is undoubtedly my proudest accomplishment as a Superintendent.  As I stated up above, I am sad to lose them as two of my most valuable team members, but I am delighted to see them advance in their chosen careers and move one step closer to their ultimate goals of becoming successful Superintendents.  All the best guys, you've earned it!
A-Aron, myself & Jashua at the 2016 GIS

Thursday, November 26, 2015

COURSE UPDATE: Frozen Greens & Cart Path Removal

What damage can be caused by traffic on frozen greens?
Our regular greens are closed and we have been forced to utilize temporary greens for play.  The sub-zero nighttime temperatures on several consecutive nights that we've been experiencing have resulted in frozen greens.  The problem with playing on the greens right now is that they are not frozen enough.  If they were frozen to a depth of 4" or more and frost-free at the surface, they'd be open for play.  Right now the deepest they've been frozen is no more than 1.5" below the surface.  Even worse, when they are thawing during the daytime, there are large sections of them that are only thawing to a depth of about 1/2".  This is when the greens are prone to severe damage.  I completely understand the frustration that many have with the regular greens be closed on a beautiful sunny day and I am also well aware that there is a feeling amongst some that we are being too overprotective of the putting surfaces, but please take the time to read this excerpt from the USGA Green Section that describes just how damaging it would be to open the greens under these conditions:

"Traffic damage on frozen turf areas usually occurs during periods of freezing or thawing.  The most devastating situation occurs when the grass blades and the upper one-half to one inch of soil has thawed, but the ground beneath their level remains frozen.  Traffic will create a shearing action of the roots, rhizomes, and crown tissues at this time.  This is comparable to cutting the plant tissue from the underlying root system with a sod cutter.  Complete kill of leaves, crowns, and rhizomes can occur if the temperatures soon drop below -6°C.  Symptoms from this severe injury include whitish to dark brown leaves that may mat on the surface.

Once temperatures allow thawing to a depth of three to four inches, the probability of turf damage declines since about 75 percent of the root system is in the upper four inches of soil.  Frequent soil probing is the only positive way to effectively monitor the freezing level.  Traffic should be adjusted accordingly."

Again, we are currently experiencing the conditions that will result in the most severe damage with only the top 1/2" thawing during the daytime.  

Protecting, not over-protecting, your greens is our #1 responsibility and we will continue to ensure any unnecessary damage is avoided so that they remain healthy.

Cart Path Removal
With the very heavy frost conditions that we’ve been experiencing, I’d like to make you aware of what we have been doing to keep busy since there isn’t much we can do on the frosty and frozen turf.  We are removing the asphalt path to the right of #9 green that is in terrible condition, has a negative impact on playability and is more of an eyesore than a functional path.  The path material is being relocated to build a temporary roadway off the path just past the tees at #14 to the large “brush area” behind #15 green.  This temporary roadway will serve as a suitable path to dispose of tree debris and other “green waste” to avoid astronomical disposal fees for removing this material from the property.  Any dead trees that need to be removed will be disposed of here, which is certain to result is significant cost savings.  It’s remarkable how much space we’ve cleared out behind #15 green!

Once the path at #9 is completely removed, we will remediate the working area, including regrading around the existing drainage catch basins so they function more effectively, and then we will prep it for either seed or sod.  We are confident that this will provide significant aesthetic and playability improvements in this area.

We will also be removing the existing gravel path to the left of the forward tee deck on #18.  Cart and golfer traffic will be rerouted around the right side of the tee with the use of stakes/rope and signage, much like at #1 tees as you can see below:

This will not only be a significant aesthetic improvement, it will also improve the playability of the hole.  The gravel path that is removed will also be used to dress the temporary roadway at #15 green.