It’s a beautiful day for golf and we are now officially open for our 14th season. The crew did an outstanding job completing an incredible amount of work in the two weeks since they arrived. I feel incredibly thankful to have such a wonderful staff. I’m not bragging, but I don’t think there are many golf courses in the world that can get staff in on a Thursday and complete the projects ours did in less than two weeks all while completing aerification of greens/tees, vertical mowing and topdressing of fairways, bunker clean out and other agronomic related activities. When they’ve been here before and know the routine, we save valuable spring days training and enjoy a continuity that pushes efficiency to all time highs.
We now shift our focus from macro progress to micro progress as we fine tune the turf details and get it ready to make it through the busy summer.
The countdown to opening day 2018 is getting close and members are starting to ask, “How’s the course?”
After waiting almost 6 months to see grass again after snow covers us up in November, I’m always anxious to see the turf and assess how our spring is going to be.
This year I am very pleased to announce we did not lose any turf to winter kill from snow mold or ice damage. Last December after 3 weeks of open turf and intense UV radiation we opted to reapply fungicide on the greens. I’m glad we did because the snow mold pressure was high with all the free water from rain events and melting snow in January. A few fairways have a high percentage of grey snow mold infection which points to ideal conditions for the fungal pathogens. I was expecting ice damage in low lying areas and valleys on the greens but we lucked out and all the turf is still alive.
The vole damage was the least I have ever seen it. The result of our efforts last season to limit their populations, a strange winter with shallow snowpack or the hard frozen ground? I’m not sure but maybe a combination of all three. There is still some damage we are working to clean up now but compared to previous years it is minimal.
The elk have already migrated off the feedgrounds and are working their way through the course but no real damage to date.
The month of April has been cold, dark and wet thus far limiting the amount of spring wake up happening in the plant kingdom. The week of April 23 looks promising for lots of sunshine and warmer temps so we are optimistic to be able to aerify greens and tees on 4/25-27 which puts us right in the money for an on time opening on May 8th.
Our H-2B visa crew from Mexico is set to arrive on 4/19 just in time to get to work with clean-up and mowing duties. Looks like it will be another great year in the golf course maintenance department!!
It’s been a strange winter and the false starts continued right up to the end. Here’s a quick recap…
- A good late early November snow got us hoping for early winter only to be disappointed by three weeks of dry weather leading into December.
- A little teaser snow mid-December, we tried rolling it but not enough to groom until Christmas eve.
- The first official day of opening the track was Christmas eve and the first Ginzu grooming was on 12/26 but with only a few inches of snow.
- 12/27 we hauled snow from the clubhouse to the creek crossing on #9 and built the bridge and still only had a few inches to work with.
- Finally a good dump on 1/4 and the Pisten Bully made its maiden voyage of the season, only to be boondocked by hard rain on 1/10. We shoveled off greens and thought the track was done, then boom another cold dump on 1/10 and we were back in Big Red.
- Good skiing conditions and PB grooming for a few weeks until another rain event on 1/30. We had to close the track for a week from Feb. 5-12 and no grooming took place.
- Then whamo! Back in it again with a good dump on valentines day and we had good consistent conditions again until March 13th.
- The normal closure date of 3/11 came and went and we stayed open another week but the warm weather on 3/13/14 and a hard rain event on 3/15 forced us to close the track on the 15th.
- Total groomings: 70
- Grooming season: 12/24/17 – 3/15/18
- Man hours for ski trail maintenance: 263
- Total snowfall: <36″
- Max base depth: <12″
- 3 rain events, 1 week of closed track mid season
These photos compare snowpack conditions from 3/15/18 to the same day in 2017. They are almost identical, showing that no matter what kind of winter we have, by mid-March conditions are almost always close to the same.
Taking advantage of the first sunny warm spring like days of the season, on 3/13 and 3/14 we spread black sand on greens. Temperatures were in the mid 40’s with abundant sunshine, and snow was melting like crazy. We are at less than 90 days of continuous snow cover but there has been an ice layer under snow since January 10. I am eager to get that ice melted off and see how the greens came through winter. Additionally, the sooner we can get the green complexes free of snow, the less vole damage will occur in high profile areas.
Well, looks like our Pisten Bully grooming season this year will total 14 days….maybe I shouldn’t jump the gun. I suppose it’s possible we get get another big dump and cover up the ground again, but as of today’s weather report the odds of that don’t look so good.
We had adequate snow cover to use Big Red from 1/11 until 1/27. On Sunday 1/28 the temps warmed up to rain level again and we had four days in row of melting snow, chinook winds and close to 50 degrees on Tuesday 1/30!! We tried grooming with the ginzu on Wed. morning 1/31 but it was an ice layer and futile.
This morning I walked 16 fairway in a pair of tennis shoes and the snow was never more than ankle deep. We are discussing how to keep snow on the greens for as long as possible to conserve soil moisture vs. our normal challenge this time of year – how to get it off as soon as possible.
These two pictures show a startling contrast to the difference of today vs. one year ago.