Saturday, December 9, 2017

Nov/Dec 2017

We hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season. A happy belated Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas form the Agronomy Department.

The weather is finally cooling after a prolonged warm fall with above average temperatures into December. The prolonged warmer temperatures have presented challenges to the ryegrass overseed and have helped the Bermuda substantially recover and compete with the ryegrass. Due to the competition, the overseeded ryegrass has had challenging time establishing a mature root and does not allow the ryegrass to tiller out multiple leaf blades. (see picture below) The ryegrass can be crowded and choked, reducing its ability to survive. To promote the ryegrass ability to out compete the Bermuda we keep the golf course on the wetter side with increased irrigation. The ryegrass is very susceptible to drying out because of the shallow roots and deceased leaf production due to the Bermuda competition. We understand the increased irrigation does not help present the best playing conditions. Fortunately, now that the temperatures have dropped we will be able to reduce the irrigation and help dry the golf course down to a better moisture level.

The bermuda competition also has the potential to turn the golf course off color during the frost season of December and January. Once we reach frost temperatures the Bermuda under the overseed can turn yellow and enter dormancy during these cold months. We have been anticipating these onditions and have been applying foliar and granular fertilizer applications to help the ryegrass excel in growth and reduce this effect. 

Pinnacle Peak is not the only club dealing with the challenge of the prolonged warm temperatures.. We have spoken with several of our neighbor courses and have found that this has been a consistent condition around the valley. We are constantly managing our daily operations of mowing, watering, and fertility to help produce the best conditions for our members and guests.  

Once we have a couple of frosts you can expect the non-overseeded roughs and bunkers to go off color into a dormant yellow or brown color. To produce a consistent dormant look, we will spray a product that will take all of the green color out of the leaves of the Bermuda grass and help create a consistent golden yellow look. This application will give a stark contrast against the overseed areas. We do ask that players DO NOT fill the divots in the Bermuda rough through the winter season. Please fill divots in the overseeded areas only.

Now that the greens have had a year of maturing we are starting to see a much higher density in the turf. This has helped to keep the greens at faster and more consistent speeds. We have been able to keep the stimp reading between 11-12 daily. While the performance of the greens continues to improve, the greens are still very young and have not yet developed a mature mat layer below the green leaf tissue. This mat layer is the layer of living stems and leaf tissue that creates the padding between the leaf tissue and the sand the greens are built on. This is also the layer that helps absorb the impact of a golf ball and reduce the severity of the ball mark. This layer will continue to improve over time and will continue to firm and strengthen our young greens. This layer will eventually turn to what is known as thatch or the layer of dead leaf and stems tissue. Too much thatch and not enough thatch both impact performance of the green in terms of ball marks, firmness and speed. Over time it is our challenge to manage the greens to a “happy medium” to consistently produce the best playing surfaces for our members.

We have recently introduced an additonal practice to help improve the ball marks. You may have noticed green sand in the ball marks. We have been sending several staff members out daily to repair ball marks and use a “micro top dresser” with green painted USGA sand mixed with a bentgrass seed. The top dresser is being used on larger ball marks either poorly fixed or where the turf is too damaged to recover on its own. The small top-dress also help to level the ball mark to improve putting conditions.We appreciate everyone's help in diligently repairing their ball marks. 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!!!

Root depth is about 9 inches after the summer

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Overseed 2017

A beautiful morning with the seed down and water running.

Overseed is in full swing here at Pinnacle Peak, with the Agronomy staff going all out last week to make it happen.  Over the course of 5 days beginning last Monday, our department fully scalped and prepped the golf course, completed a course-wide greens aerification in one day and wrapped things up on Friday by successfully seeding the entire property in one day.  Hat's off to the maintenance staff for a hard and successful week.

Beginning the first Monday of closure, we began to scalp and prep the golf course.  Thanks to the cultural practices we were able to do during the greens renovation and continued to build on earlier in the Summer, the fairways and tees prepped far easier than in years past, which helped enable us to wrap up this portion of overseed in three days.  Having this completed allowed us to focus on our greens surfaces Thursday, including prepping the collars for seed, verti-cutting the greens two directions, punching holes with a 1/4" hollow tine, topdressing, applying fall amendments and flushing the sand profile.  Being able to aerify and let our greens breath and recover this fall should allow for excellent playing conditions as soon as we open.  

Having both the overseed prep and greens aerification behind us, we tackled the last major chore of the week: seeding.  After a lot of miles walked and seed bags opened, we completed the course by Friday afternoon.  The majority of the crew enjoyed a much deserved break over the weekend, as the irrigation crew worked through last weekend to make sure the irrigation system was working as it should.

About a week prior to our closure, we applied a chemical to the collars which targeted and attacked the bermudagrass that had encroached over the course of the Summer.  As a follow-up, a second application was done prior to prepping them to ensure a complete kill.  Before the greens aerification, we vertically mowed the collars to help open things up and scalped them down.  Following that, we applied a layer of sand by hand to ensure smoothness and a good bed for seeding.  Bentgrass seed was then applied and gently raked into the top layer of sand, quite similar to our process last Summer while growing in the greens surface.  

Having given the bentgrass a five day head start, we applied ryegrass seed to the collars.  Because of bentgrass seedlings tendency for thin leaves and a slow tillering process, it was determined the ryegrass was needed to ensure an acceptable playing surface for opening day.  The plan moving forward remains the same, with consistent inter-seeding of bentgrass through the Spring to ensure a healthy and thick stand on collars going into the tough Summer months.  

We've been seeing germination on the course on day 4 with the course really popping Thursday.  We should see a pretty steady stand of ryegrass by the weekend, and anticipate potential first mows middle to end of next week.  During this time period, the staff has been productive cleaning and trimming all desert areas on property, and should have the course dialed in and ready for opening day.

Jose Elias on the dust-mobile prepping fairways for seed.

Cody Horstman getting in on the fun during greens aerification.  What focus and determination.

Desiderio Gomez seeding the apron.  A lot of miles put in this day.

Hats off to these tired guys.  Here we are wrapping up seeding on the last green of the day.

What a difference a day makes.  On the left is the North tee on Tuesday afternoon.  On the right is Thursday morning.

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 2017

We hope everyone has enjoyed their summer. It has been a busy few months here on the course. We’ve accomplished many projects and practices throughout the summer to continue to improve the playability of the golf course. Here is a short list of our accomplishments:

  •         Dethatched aprons, approaches, fairways
  •         Aerified aprons, fairways, and tees
  •         Topdressed aprons, approaches, fairways, and tees with almost 1500 tons of sand
  •         Aerified & dethatched both driving range tees two times
  •         Topdressed both driving range tees
  •         Aerified roughs and driving range floor two times
  •         Completed multiple drainage projects to improve troubled wet areas
  •         Installed a retaining wall and rebuilt the black tee of #10
  •         Completed trimming of all trees

With the completion of these summer projects, we have spent the last several weeks catching up on detail work and desert clean-up throughout the property.

The plan for overseed this season is the same as the previous two years. We will be overseeding the fairways, approaches, tees tops and greens surrounds. None of the bunker faces or rough will be overseeded. We have seen tremendous gains in the health of the Bermudagrass by not overseeding the rough. This past winter season, dormant rough was significantly healthier and produced much better playing conditions throughout the summer.

We are now beginning to prepare for overseed. There are several important steps we take leading up to our closure that help ensure a successful overseed. Starting the week of Sept. 11, we will begin to spray a pre-emergent herbicide along the lines of the fairways and greens surround where the Bermuda will not be overseeded. This product will help ensure that no ryegrass can germinate in the areas we do not wish to have overseed.

Beginning the following week, we will begin to spray herbicides that will aid in the preparation of the overseed areas. On September 18, we will apply a growth regulator that will suppress the Bermuda. This product helps to keep the Bermuda grass from competing with the new ryegrass and will allow the ryegrass to outgrow the Bermuda. Around September 21, we will spray another product that will turn the Bermudagrass brown. This product does not kill the Bermuda.  It simply de-hydrates the leaf tissue temporarily to make the mechanical preparations of the Bermuda much easier. This is the same chemical we spray during the winter season to give the dormant Bermuda it’s uniform, golden color.  Members can expect the course to go significantly off color during this week.

In addition to these applications, we will also be spraying the Bermuda encroachment out of the collars. The collars were designed as an expendable buffer between the bentgrass putting surface and the surrounding Bermuda. As many of you have seen, we have struggled with the collars this summer. A majority of the short falls have come where the collar was predominantly ryegrass and was unable to survive the summer heat and humidity. A majority of the success came where the collars were predominately bentgrass. Therefore, our goal is to re-seed the collar with bentgrass this overseed to help establish a healthier and more consistent stand of bentgrass to produce a better collar year-round.

Once we have completed the mechanical prep of overseed, we plan to aerify and topdress the greens to give the greens some relief from the summer stress. This will be a small ¼ inch tine. The impact will not be noticed when the golf course re-opens. This aerification is planned after the mechanical prep of the golf course is complete to reduce the potential for any Bermudagrass contamination during mechanical prep for overseed.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

August 2017

August has arrived and the heat and humidity are in full effect here at Pinnacle Peak.  This is by far the most stressful time of year for our greens, as soil temperatures spike and the humidity makes it difficult for the greens to transpire.  Despite the struggles this time of year can bring, the greens continue to perform well and are in good shape for taking on the remainder of what Summer has to offer.

One area we’d like to address is our collars.  While we have seen some collars hold up exceptionally well, others have thinned and melted out substantially.  During grow-in, we seeded with a combination of bentgrass as a base and ryegrass as a filler; a common practice for courses in our area.  What we’re seeing through this summer is areas that were majority bentgrass have held on well, while areas that are primarily ryegrass have not been able to handle the tough summertime weather.  While we are disappointed that the collars aren’t as good as we’d like them, the fortunate thing is that our collars were designed and installed last summer to be sprayed out and re-seeded every fall during overseed.  Remember, the collars also serve as our primary buffer in keeping bermudagrass out of the putting surface. 

Our plan moving forward this fall will be to re-seed with only bentgrass seed and if needed, a lighter rate of ryegrass to act as a filler.  As winter and spring progress, we will be interseeding small rates of bentgrass into our collars monthly with the intention of creating a strong, primarily bentgrass collar which should stand up to summertime heat and stress far better than the rye has this year. 

In other news, the majority of our summer cultural practices have been completed.  Fairway aerification and topdressing wrapped up last week, and quality of cut should get better within the next 7-10 days as the fairways heal and sand settles.  As we’ve mentioned before, while somewhat invasive, these practices are by far and away the best thing we can do to promote a healthier, firmer playing surface year round. 

Andy’s tree service continues to work on property during Monday closures, and should be completed with their trimming contract within the next 2-3 weeks.  Rick Phelp’s, the architect that assisted with the greens renovation last year, has been working with our department this summer to create and implement a long-term tree inventory and management program.  

Earlier this year, we had Bartlett’s Tree Service come out and GPS inventory every tree on property, which is now in a mapping program that helps track maintenance and provide a health assessment of each and every tree.  Using that in conjunction with several on-site visits, Mr. Phelps is creating a year by year plan which the membership and our department will refer to in order to determine which trees to remove, add, trim, fertilize, back plant and protect.  This plan will be invaluable moving forward for the long-term management of one of our clubs most valuable and cherished assets. 

Looking forward into August, our department’s primary objectives are to get surfaces smoothed and healed, deserts cleaned and begin working on drainage additions throughout the golf course.   

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 2017

Things are in full swing here within the Pinnacle Peak Agronomy Department.  Aerification of the tees and aprons has been completed and the recovery has been very good.  The first round of aerification has been completed on the rough, with the intention of making another pass within the next couple weeks.  Plugs should be mulched and impact on play should be minimal.  Last week, vertical mowing, aerification and application of topdressing sand was completed on the back 9 fairways. Similar to tees, recovery has been good.   

On Monday, vertical mowing of the final fairways on the front was complete, and aerification work began on the front 9 fairways.  Much like last week, this process will continue throughout the next couple of days with the intention of finishing holes 1-9 this week.  Our goal is to apply another, lighter application of sand to all fairways within the next couple weeks, which should wrap up cultural practices on the course for the summer.  While this process does cause some inevitable, temporary decline to fairways, this process is by far the best way to continue providing a healthy and firm playing surface throughout the year.  We appreciate everyone's patience during this process.  

Construction of the retaining wall on #10 black tee has been complete and was sodded last week.  This tee will remain closed for the next few weeks while we work on growing in and smoothing the surface.  Andy's Tree Service continues to trim the larger tree species on the course, and have completed most of the back 9.  They will be on property for the next few Monday's until their contract is completed.  

Work has completed on well number 2 located inside the pump house.  The second acid treatment worked exceptionally well.  There is an increase in productivity from the well while using less electricity to operate it.  It is nice to have both well sites back up and running.

The humidity has been picking up substantially over the last couple weeks, and Sunday night we received our first monsoon rain of the season.  We received just under .5 inch, and with the exception of a downed tree on 9 and a few lost branches throughout the course, everything held up well.  

Greens continue to perform very well given the difficult heat and humidity we've been experiencing.  Mowing heights and clipping yields have remained consistent, as have green speeds.  Root depth continues to far exceed the old greens, with a healthy root mass 6-8 inches deep with runners pushing 10 inches in length.  Ball marks remain, and we would like to refer our membership to the video posted last month explaining the correct way to fix a ball mark.  Please remember it is the golfer's responsibility to fix your mark as well as at least one more to help alleviate this issue.  

Juan finishing up vertical mowing on hole 8.

Jose Elias beginning aerification of 1 fairway.

Guillermo applying topdressing sand to 10 fairway.

10 fairway 6 days recovery from aerification.

The guys are excited to get sod laid on 10 tee.

Completed retaining wall on 10 tee.

Downed tree following monsoon storm Sunday night.

Root mass from putting green.

Healthy root mass 6-8 inches, with runners extending past 10 inches.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June 2017

Well, the heat has arrived here in the valley.  So far the course is holding up well, with transition in full effect.  Overall, we are around 75% bermuda in the short grass (fairways, approaches and tees) while the green mounds, as expected, are further behind.  Over the next month or so we can expect the course to continue to thin, and will maintain our fertilization of these areas to encourage bermuda recovery.  

Our in-house tree trimming was completed this week, and Andy's Tree Service will begin their portion of the larger trees June 26th and continue through August.  Andy’s completed the removal of three diseased or damaged trees on Monday, which were the cracked mesquite behind one green, the cracked tree on the driving range and diseased eucalyptus on 18.  FNV Landscapes has completed the spring trimming of all oleanders on property and began construction of the retaining wall on 10 tee this week.  Until complete, the black tee for 10 will be moved forward to the blue tee box.  

Raising and cleaning all drainage boxes on the course is progressing nicely, and should be wrapped up this week or early next week.  From there, we will transition into installing needed drainage in some of our low-lying areas.  This will continue as time allows throughout the summer. Installation of the underground piping from the retention basin on 10 to the lake has been completed.  This will be a big help moving water following rain events.

This Monday we began the aerification process of the roughs, completing holes 10-16.  This will continue on Mondays for the next several weeks which should have minimal impact on play.  Then the following week, starting June 19th, we will be aerifying and topdressing our aprons and areas close to greens surfaces.  The topdressing should help smooth and firm these areas moving forward.  Once complete, we will look toward doing the same process on tee and fairway surfaces beginning in late June and July. 

Work on well 2 continues.  Following the brushing and chemical treatment to clean the well shaft, it was determined that the chemical treatment was not successful.  As a result, a secondary cleaning involving a stronger acid will be required to open up the perforations along the well wall.  While unfortunate, this second treatment is required to ensure the newly reconditioned well works at optimum capacity.  This new, stronger acid is being delivered to the course via semi-trucks over the next couple days, and throughout the next week or so Layne will be re-treating and brushing the column shaft and discarding into a large holding tank on property.  Once complete, this acidic water will be treated until neutral and slowly pumped back into our irrigation ponds. 

Greens recovery following last month’s aerification is complete and we are pleased with the density of both the canopy and the root system.  We can expect green speeds to remain similar to where they are currently throughout the summer, with the potential to slow slightly as the heat and humidity of the summer carry on.  Current root depth extends 10-12 inches down with a fibrous root system currently 6-8 inches deep. 

With the increased temperatures of summer upon us, you can anticipate seeing us out on the greens hand watering in the mornings and throughout the afternoons.  This is a required practice for the health and survival of our greens. We would like to remind the membership that during the summer months, it is the player’s responsibility to yield to the maintenance employee watering greens.  We make every effort to avoid golfers and can usually be on and off the green in under a few minutes, but on occasion getting in between players is unavoidable.  Please see the video below which helps explain what we’re doing and why it’s so important.

Before and after raising and leveling a fairway drainage box.

Installing the drainage pipe under the cart path from 18 to 10 tee.

Acid delivery to the pump house and well #2.

Removed tree from 18
Removed tree behind #1 green.

Removed tree from driving range.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

May 2017, Continued

Last week the agronomy department completed the spring aerification of greens.  The entire process went smoothly and the greens have responded well.  In anticipation of aerification, the agronomy department applied a fertilizer product to the greens in order to facilitate recovery and promote growth.  For the next week or two, you can expect greens speeds to be slightly slower than usual, and will increase as the fertilizer tapers off and growth slows.  Overall, we are pleased with how the greens have responded and recovered.

On May 15th, the department applied a transition chemical to all overseeded surfaces, and should start seeing the ryegrass slowly taper off in the next 3-6 weeks.  We will begin fertilizing fairways and roughs next week to encourage bermudagrass growth and recovery, and will be ongoing for the next month or two.  Due to the hot, dry conditions we normally find in late May and June, we can expect an increase in water use to ensure the health and recovery of the bermudagrass base until the summer humidity picks up in July.

Reconditioning of well 2 located inside the pump house began last week, and will be ongoing for the next week or two.  Upon inspection of well 1 located south of the property, it was found to be in good working condition with acceptable energy use and water level recovery.  Upon inspection of well 2 however, it was discovered that there was severe corrosion and decay of the column pipe and shaft, decay and degradation of the pump itself as well as an estimated 90% blockage of the perforations along the inside of the well wall.  This is not entirely unusual considering it has never been pulled or inspected since it's initial installation in 2001, although all these conditions resulted in a well that was far less efficient than required.  Work to be done includes chemically cleaning and brushing the shaft walls to open up the wall perforations, new column pipe and shaft, a new, more energy efficient pump as well as reconditioning the motor that drives it.  Once complete, we should have a cleaner, more efficient well site to deliver irrigation water to the property.  

Beginning the last week in May, FNV Landscapes will begin trimming all oleanders on property.  This is to help maintain their shape and size, and will be completed again around overseed time.  Starting the first week in June, construction will begin on a wall that will surround 10 black tee.  It will look identical to the walls installed around 1 and 3 tee last summer and will allow the black tee to expand as well as clean up the look of the area. We are also installing a drain pipe along the cart path side of 10 over to 18 to help facilitate moving water from the basin on 10 after rain events.  The first section on 18 was completed this week.

We've been getting a few questions in regards to some of the patches and weak areas that have shown up around some of the greens and would like to address it.  In late March, we applied a chemical to these areas with the goal of eliminating any poa annua that had shown up over the course of winter and spring.  The intention was to be proactive in managing the poa, minimizing the potential for it to migrate into our green surfaces.  We previously used this product before in test plots throughout the course with success, but unfortunately it didn't translate as well when used this time.  The poa was indeed eliminated, but included with that was our overseeded rye and in some locations, the bermuda base as well. While certainly not ideal, the effects are temporary and the bermuda will recover given time and patience.  We have increased fertility and water to these areas to promote recovery, and do not anticipate any long term effects.

Some damaged areas are already showing significant bermuda recovery.

Friday, April 28, 2017

May 2017

It's been a busy winter season here at Pinnacle Peak Country Club, and with the conclusion of the El Cannip Championship last weekend, it's time to look toward a busy and productive summer.  The Agronomy department has a full list of items to tackle this summer, and we will be updating this blog monthly to help keep our membership informed of the things happening on the golf course.  

First and foremost, the golf course will be closed May 8th and 9th so our team can perform an aerification on our greens.  The chipping green was tested April 24th and went exceptionally well, with significant healing taking place during the week.  We expect the course to respond the same way with conditions quickly improving as the greens recover.  Although disruptive, this is an absolutely crucial practice for the longevity and health of the greens surface.  Please see the article below which helps describe the benefits and importance of aerification.

Looking further out, you might see our tree trimming crew and chipping machine on the course throughout the month of May as we make our way around the golf course trimming, lifting and thinning some of the smaller species throughout the property.  This will be ongoing as time allows.  We will also begin raising and leveling many of the drainage boxes throughout the course, a project that was started last summer.  In addition, the department has an ever growing list of areas marked for either drainage installation or repair.  We completed a significant amount of drainage last summer, with improved conditions where installed and we will continue this moving forward.  

Around mid-May, we will be applying a transition product to the overseeded areas to facilitate our change from winter ryegrass back to summer bermudagrass.  It is encouraging to see the ever increasing stand of bermuda currently in our short grass, and the use of this gentler product will hopefully allow for a slower, less dramatic transition.  

Lastly, we'd like to address the ball marks on our greens.  While our young greens have matured and firmed throughout the winter, ball marks are still noticeable and remain a top concern on our putting surfaces.  We cannot stress enough not only the importance of each and every member actively repairing their pitch marks as they happen, but also the act of fixing them CORRECTLY.  Please see the video below, which excellently describes the correct way to repair a ball mark.  If every golfer committed to properly fixing their mark and one other, the greens would improve dramatically, ensuring our putting surfaces remain some of the best in the valley.