Monday, December 7, 2009

Blow Out

Well it's the time of year we've been waiting for all summer BLOW OUT. Typically we blow out our irrigation system the first week of December. Most years we have fairly good weather but some years we have had temperature in the negative numbers, and a foot of snow on the ground. This year we caught some good weather for the first day and the next few were a little colder with temperatures in the teens, but we made it through. Over the last seven or so years we have used a 900 CFM air compressor hooked up to the pump station to blow out all 27 holes, driving range, practice areas and club irrigation. At least a day before blow out the pump station is turned off and we open all our drains in the lowest parts of the system and drain most of the water out of the main lines. The next day we run a small irrigation program to push out the rest of the water and the 2nd day we finish up head by head to make sure nothing was missed. This program for blow out has never failed and seems to be the quickest most economical way to blow out our irrigation system. Most years it only takes two days to blow out the entire system, weather dependent obviously. Now with the irrigation system off we are all wishing for timely snows and cool weather in 2010 so we do not have to charge up our frost free system.

Fine mist at a head

Last bit of water at a quick coupler

900 CFM air compressor @ 30 psi

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lateral Break

We woke up this morning to a lateral break on hole #17 of all others. If you remember we had a 6 inch main line break a few weeks ago on #17. The break happened early this morning 3:38 am to be exact and we lost approximately 48,000 gallons of water, which is now a glacier. We will fix the break today and charge the lateral back up on Monday. Better now than in July I always say. We all cant wait until blow out in one week. Lets hope we have a favorable winter and we do not have to charge up our frost free system.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Winter Preparation

It is that time of the year again, winter time. So we need to prepare for the onset of cold and snow. Besides our snow mold applications, blow out of the irrigation system and bringing in amenities. We also put out the winter cups and snow fence. The winter cups are in place so we can rotating the pin location on the greens throughout the winter. We have to cut the cups now before the ground freezes or we will be stuck with only one pin over the winter. With these three pin positions we can distribute the play on the greens evenly. The snow fence will help us keep snow and moisture on select southern exposed areas as well as turf that is susceptible to winter kill from dry freezing winds. These winter preparations will help us get through a long cold Colorado winter.

Snow fence

Winter cups

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Valve

While we have #18 and #17 isolated we are adding a new 6 inch gate valve. With this valve we will be able to isolate the irrigation pipe that runs under Lake View Dr. and Fairway Lane. The new valve will prepare us if the old 6 inch line breaks under the roads. If this pipe fails under the roads we will not have to isolate any areas on the golf course, giving us much more control of our water. Then we can fix the break in a timely fashion, with out having to worry about getting water out to the course.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Old Main Line

Recently we discovered a main line leak east of #17 green. This leak was part of the old system and the only part of the old system left. This six inch main line is part of a 100 yard road crossing from #17 green to #18 tees. While the area is isolated we will also add a gate valve near #18 tees so if the pipe breaks again we can isolate the road crossing only and still have water to #18 and the chipping cove. One of the problems with this break is that it is surrounded by utilities like cable, power, water, phone and fiber optics. With all the utilities in the area the entire break has to be dug by hand and very carefully. We hope to have the new gate valve in first so we can work on the road crossing at our leisure. Lets hope the pipe does not break under the road in the future.

Bailing Hay

It is that time of the year again to mow down our native. This fall the native is especially thick due to all the moisture we received in the spring. One of the reasons we mow the native is to keep the weed population under control and to help spread the grass seed in the seed heads This helps the native out compete current weeds and weed seed from germinating. This mowing will also spread precious wildflower seed as those flowers seeded with the grasses. This is a long and dusty mowing process with over 200 acres to mow. We hope to have all the native mowed by Thanksgiving if the winter weather holds off.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Old Man Winter

Well it looks like winter is here but the calender says otherwise. This storm might go down as the Halloween Blizzard of 2009, and maybe even the 4th snowiest October in Denver History. The old record was 17.8 inches way back in 1923. Here at the Pinery we received roughly 22 inches and drifts over four feet! Believe it or not some areas in the foot hills received over 40 inches, WOW! The tennis bubble did fantastic throughout the storm, so I think we can breath a little easier when the next snow storm hits. We are also glad we put down our first application of snow mold fungicide on the greens earlier this week, as well as buttoning up the fairway drainage on holes #7 and #11. Now we will wait for the big melt off over the next week or so. In the meantime we will start on our indoor projects.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Keeping it Green

The Pinery Golf Maintenance department prides it's self on being GREEN. And I don't mean the color of the grass. Over the past few years we have taken our green/organic turf program and brought that philosophy into the shop. Some of the green thinking ideas that we have implemented are as follows.

  • A paper, cardboard, plastic, old magazine's, aluminium and tin can recycling center. We have recycle trash cans located all over the shop. We also recycle all those empty beer cans and water bottles off the course. Believe it or not we actually generate more recycled product than normal trash now.
  • A efficient hot water on demand water heater that saves on propane and water. And the hot water is limitless. We have seen a reduction of our propane over the last year.
  • A metal recycle program that contains all of the metal collected over the year. Such as old bed knives, reels, rollers and miscellaneous scrap metal. We bring all the scrap metal to a recycle center once a year where it is melted down to make new steel products. Maybe even your new car, or your steel shaft clubs.
  • Recycling of old tires to a local tire plant. These tires can be shredded and colored for mulch or used for topdressing on artificial turf fields.
  • Recycling used oil and hydraulic filters the paper liner is burned and the metal in the filter is recycled. These old filters would usually end up in the trash, contaminating our land fills and water sources.
  • Most recently we have added a organic parts washer that is environmental friendly, non flammable, Bio-Degradable, non toxic, safer for human contact and cheaper to operate per year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Beautiful sunrise a day before the incoming snow storm. The old sailors tale holds true. Red sky night sailors delight, Red sky morning sailor take warning. It was a busy day and we accomplished everything we had planned.

Snow Mold

This is our first snow mold application. This early application of fungicide is the first of two treatments one in Late October and our large application in December. The two types of snow mold we treat are pink snow mold and gray snow mold. Both types of snow mold can devastate golf course turf and well as your home lawn. Pink snow mold actually doesn't need snow cover to be active just wet cool conditions can create a environment suitable for this type of snow mold. However gray snow mold needs snow cover to be active. We typically see both types on the golf course on all turf areas.

Large Pink Snow mold area

Pink Snow Mold patch

Gray Snow Mold patch

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ready for Snow

Our first large snow storm of the season is on the way to Colorado. The National Weather Service is expecting 8-14 inches for the south of town so we will see what happens. Currently we are spraying our first application of snow mold on the greens and some select approaches before the incoming snow. We are also dusting off our plows, snow throwers and shovels for a busy few days removing snow from the club and tennis bubble.

Some interesting history for October snow storms in Colorado. On October 26th 2006 we received over 14 inches of the white stuff. And most folks recall digging out from the October 25th- 26th Blizzard of 1997 where we received over 42 inched in two days. Now that was a snow storm!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Neither rain, nor snow

Even though we received snow on Tuesday the work must go on. The smile drains on greens #3 & #10 and fairway drains on and #3 & #5 must be finished by Friday afternoon for possible play on Saturday and Sunday. Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat, nor gloom of night shall keep the golf course maintenance crew from accomplishing their appointed tasks.

#10 smile Drain

#3 finished smile drain

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Moisture !

Our first large snow fall came this Wednesday dumping 5 inches if the white stuff. This moisture was much welcome since it has been a fairly dry October. So far this month we have only received two tenth of a inch if rain. With the recent snow we can add another half a inch for the month. With temperatures reaching into the 50's this Friday and weekend the snow will not last long.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Greens Drainage

We have identified two more greens that need additional drainage #10 valley and #3 mountain.
These greens will be closed until the project is completed. Both greens needed smile drains to pull the water away from the front of the green. This is a very labor intensive project because all the work has to be done by hand. For more information on this type of drainage see the post on smile drains earlier in this blog.

#3 Mountain

#10 Valley

#9 Construction

Over the past few weeks we started construction on the gully cutting through #9 lake course. Part of the reason for this reconstruction is to fix the old grade making it possible for carts to drive through the gully safely. The other is to add much needed drainage through the entire area. The old path is also being removed that was in a landing area, this area will now be rough and fairway. We will also extend the fairway and rough to the left at the end of the first fairway. We will continue adding and moving drainage as well as irrigation over the next few months. Once sodded and native is seeded in the spring the area will be more appealing to the eye, safer for cart traffic and more playable. I will continue to post pictures and updates through out the construction.

10 inch drain pipe installation

Looking from fairway 150 yards out

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tee leveling

Over the next few months we will start leveling and enlarging some select tees. Over the years the tees have developed a crown or hump in the center of the tee. This happens after decades of divot mix being applied to the tees to fill divots. The new tees are first being striped of sod then leveled. Some of the tees are also being enlarged to accommodate our large triplex tee mowers. These new tee boxes will give the golfer a better stance and more teeing area. Some of the tees that are being leveled or enlarged are as follows. #7 mountain men's and pro, #13 men's and pro, #6 mountain ladies, #5 mountain pro. This tee leveling project is a long term project that we will be tackling over the next few years. We are putting a priority on the worst tees and then addressing the rest of the tees that need work.

Friday, October 9, 2009

First Snow

Today was our first snow at the Pinery. We received about one inch of the white stuff, there isn't much moisture in this snow but it is a taste of what is on the way. On average we receive about 4.1 inches of snow in October. And the average first snow fall is on the 15th of the month. Historically there has been many years that October brings unexpected blizzards dumping numerous feet of snow over the Colorado front range. One of Denver's most famous October snow storms was the "Bronco Blizzard" which occurred on October 15th 1984 during a Monday Night Football game. Once the storm passed it dumped over 22 inches of snow over Denver and the suburbs.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Frosty Mornings

Today was our first hard frost on the golf course. The definition of frost is "The solid deposition of water vapor from saturated air. It is formed when solid surfaces are cooled to below the dew point of the adjacent air." We typically see frost in the Colorado front range from September to May and some times even in June. When we have a frost delay on the course the time delay can be from one to two hours depending on the sun and cloud cover. The reason we have to keep golfers and equipment off the grass is because the grass blade actually freezes. Since grass is mostly water the cells inside the plant freeze and if steeped on or driven on the cells actually break causing footprint or tire tracks that you some times see in the fall. So for all you golfers out their stay off frosty grass. One way to tell if it is ok to walk on the grass is if you drag you hand over the grass and you hand comes up dry the frost is still present, stay off. If you hand comes up wet the frost is melting.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wildlife Damage

We just recently finished our greens drainage project to find the last two nights we had a visitor. Our local Red Foxes have been digging up our new drainage, causing extensive damage to the area. We just recently put down some natural animal repellents and tonight we are going to try some chain link fence over the area to keep the foxes from digging. The Red Fox is just one many native animals to the area. Every year we have some type of damage to the course from the local wildlife. We have to remember they were here long before the golf course and us.


Just recently we added a smile drain to the front of #4 lake green. The reason for the drain is to remove the excessive water build up from the lowest part of the green basically the bottom of the bathtub. This type of drain was not part of the old Purr-Wick greens system when they were constructed back in the 70's so it is sometimes difficult to find the original edge of the green. We basically probe the green first to find the sand/soil edge, remove the sod and start digging. Once we find the plastic liner we dig down to the bottom of the liner some times close to two feet. Hopefully along the way we find a old two inch Purr-Wick drain and we can connect those old lines to the new smile drain. The new smile drain will not only help the front of our greens but also the rest since the old two inch drains may be clogged or crushed. With out the a smile drain the green starts to fill up with water raising the water table and creating a wet surface, poor turf and soil conditions, excessive ball marks and even algae. With the new drain in these conditions will gradually begin to disappear creating a even firm putting surface.

The reason it is called a smile drain is because of the way it looks. From above the drain actually resembles a smile. These drains usually follow the lowest elevation contour on the green. With the smile drain in it pulls the water that sits on the lower edge of the green. Typically all new USGA greens are constructed with smile drains. But for many years USGA greens didn't have smile drains so the fronts or lower elevations of USGA greens had similar problems.

Digging out the smile drain

Old Purr-Wick drains
the one to the left is not even connected?
Completed smile drain trench
See how wet the sand and soil are

Smile drain and outlet drain

New Mow Outs

Just recently we started some new mow outs and changed some others. This gives a little different look to the golf course surrounds, and different shot selections for our members. Some of the areas that were rough height at 2 inches were brought down to IR (intermediate rough) at a height 7/16 if a inch. Other areas that were IR height we brought down to tee and approach height .300 of a inch. These areas will be seeded and top dressed to their corresponding grass either bent grass or blue grass. The approach areas will be seeded to bent and the IR areas to Blue grass.

Below is a list of holes where we have added or changed mow outs. These new mow out should add to the golfers experience giving different playability for each area. Now you have a choice to putt, chip, or bump and run. Have fun!

- #1, #4, #6, #9 Lake Course
- #13, #18 Valley course
- #1, #3 Mountain course

Back of #1 lake course

Left of # 4 lake course

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Then and Now

A few years ago I came across some old construction pictures of the Pinery that I received from the grow in superintendent Jack Maurer. I thought I would do a then and now comparison of the old photographs taken back in 1971 when the golf course and club house were under construction. Most of the photos are not recognizable because of the lack of land markers but there are a few that I was able to recognize. I will post more Then and Now photos throughout the year.

#1, #9 mountain course

#8 green lake note the Purr-wick liner

#5 green lake

Monday, September 21, 2009

Snow in Summer ?

The first day of fall isn't until tomorrow but this morning we were all surprised with the rapid change in the weather over night and even some snow flurries this afternoon. This morning the temperature was only 36 degrees and falling. The National Weather Service predicted the high to be 49 degrees today. I don't think we are going to reach that today, not with snow falling at 11 am. The good news about the cooler temperature's and rain is our last fertilizer application went out last week. This natural irrigation it the best to water in all the fertilizer we just applied. On days like today we try to let the crew go home early and make up the hours later this week. But the forecast for the rest of the week doesn't look to promising until Friday. Lets hope for a little better weather over the weekend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall Bulk Fertilizer

This September is the time for our third and last bulk fertilizer application to our fairways, rough, greens and tees. This fall application is probably the most important application of fertilizer of the entire year. Fall fertilizer is so important because it allows the turf plant to recover from all the stresses of the summer, developing more root structure and storing carbohydrates for the long winter. We should only see a little growth from this fertilizer application because in mid to late fall the plant is starting to harden off and storing energy for winter and spring green up. The definition of harden off is "The process of conditioning plants to more stressful environmental conditions". We harden off the plant by reducing the water, reducing top growth, and several applications of potassium sulfate which helps with plant stress.

We typically use a 70% organic fertilizer comprising of feather meal, fish meal, meat & bone meal, blood meal. The fertilizer also has elemental minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, ammonium sulfate, urea and potassium sulfate. These applications of organic fertilizers are not only beneficial for the golf course but the environment as well. With organic products we are building beneficial soil microbes that reduce thatch and diseases, and with little chance for runoff it also protects our water sources. At the end of the day if we could all use organic or recycled products our world would be a better cleaner place for generations to come.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Anatomy of Aerification

The definition aeration is, “The practice of improving the movement of air, water and nutrients into the soil by making holes or slits into the ground". Specialized machines are commonly used in these practice to remove the plugs or soil. The main reasons for aeration are the reduction of compaction from golfers, carts and maintenance equipment. By reducing compaction you increase the air, water and nutrient movement through the soil creating a healthier environment for root growth. With heather roots you have a healthier turf grass plant. In turn this creates healthy roots, making the plant more drought and heat tolerant, requiring less irrigation and hand watering. All of the cultural practice mentioned above hold true for all turf grass stands, whether on the golf course, fairways, rough our your own home lawn.

This fall we will be aerifing the tees and small rough areas only. Some of the fairways will be spiked with a bayonet tine. This tine does not remove any soil but has similar benefits to aerification.

Punching the tees

Putting down fertilizer and calcium

Applying blue grass seed

Chopping up plugs

Clean up crew

Watering in tee

In conclusion the cultural practice of aerification is an annual event that will benefit the turf grass plant, the golf course, and create overall better playing conditions.