Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Change in Aerification Plans

April 28th and 29th were supposed to be the days we aerated and topdressed greens.  Unfortunately we were met with a morning full of rain and clouds that have lingered for several days.  As such, we have decided to cancel our spring aeration of our greens and will plan on being a bit more aggressive with them this fall once the project is underway.  With the cool weather this spring and the shortened season due to the project, delaying aeration even a week would risk not having full recovery by Memorial Day and thus causing "less than ideal" conditions into the season.  I'm sure none of you are disappointed with this decision!

We will however continue with tee, fairway, and approach aeration and will pull plugs on approaches and tees along with a topdressing as soon as the persistent wet weather ends.  Recovery should be swift in these areas and the topdressing sand should help to firm things up. 
Steve and Wayne aerate #17 fairway.  Solid tines mean no cleanup!

As spring continues to ease its way by, please remember to take care of the golf course when you play.  As a reminder, we encourage everyone to REPLACE their divots.  If your divot explodes simply leave it and our maintenance staff will fill the divot with our multi-part divot mix.  Also, please remember to repair pitch marks on greens and encourage your playing partners to repair theirs!

Finally, May 5th marks another milestone in our upcoming Golf Course Improvement Project.  Architects Mark Fine and Scott Witter will be on site to conduct a Pre-Bid Meeting with all contractors who will be bidding the project.  Once the meeting is complete, bids will be due May 16th with the contractor selection taking place soon afterwards.  After seven years of planning and discussion, I am excited to get things started!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Early Signs of Spring!

Seasonal employee Andrew McDonnell puts the first cut on #8 green. 

There were times this winter that I had a hard time believing the snow would ever melt, and questioned whether April would actually arrive, or if we had entered some sort of perpetual winter that brought snow every single Saturday.

April has indeed arrived, and with it has come the first signs of our golf course waking up for the spring.  Many of us superintendents have been waiting patiently (sort of patiently) for the snow to melt so that we could finally see our turf and begin assessing the damage that may have occurred over what has been one of the snowiest and coldest winters on record.  As I have worked my way around the golf course and inspected greens, tees, and fairways, I have been pleased at what I have found so far.  We have had minimal turf damage from the winter and what did occur was on Poa annua and mostly near edges of fairways where water tends to sit for longer periods of time.  I believe this damage is a result of crown hydration during the few warm spells and then freezing during the extremely cold spells that inevitably happened after the warm ups.  As I said our damage was minimal and many areas will recover on their own without and seeding.

Our seasonal staff has begun to slowly return to the club and have been busy cleaning up winter debris and we have even mowed greens.  In the next week, I expect cleanup to continue along with fairway and tee mowing and plan on starting to put out our course accessories. Before too long the course will look playable again!

I will continue to post updates to this blog as spring goes on, and will soon be posting updates on our golf course improvement project.  Exciting times are upon us in 2014!

Friday, March 7, 2014


With spring upon us and after having endured one of the harshest winters on record, it is no surprise that golfers are chomping at the bit to get out and play!  This time of year, more than ever, is time to exercise patience.  According to folks that dig holes for a living, the ground in Champaign froze to a depth of nearly 30" this winter.  Currently we have only seen a couple of days of "ground thawing" weather, which means we have a long way to go before the frost is out of the ground!

With frost remaining in the soil profile, water from the thawing ground on top has nowhere to go and so the top layer of soil becomes completely saturated and unstable.  This puts fine turf areas (especially putting greens) at risk of becoming severely damaged if traffic is not held off.  Not only does this mean golfers have to wait, but it also means maintenance personnel have a difficult time getting around the course to clean up debris from the winter.  Our staff will do their best to work in the mornings (when the ground is still frozen) and then stay away from wet areas in the afternoon.

As seen in the following pictures, there is still much work to do before we can consider the course "playable" yet it would be counter productive to damage the turf while cleaning up!  Once the course is dry enough we will put the flagsticks back in the greens and open the course for play.

Please exercise patience as you await the beginning of the golfing season!

Twelve green showing signs of frost remaining in the profile.

The third green has a long way to go to be considered "playable!"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's all the Buzz about??

Last week we enlisted the help of beekeeper Tim Childress to help remove the beehive from the walnut just right of #8 tee.  We initially sealed off the entrance to the hive with some screening to contain the bees while Tim put together his plan of attack.  Knowing that Tim would have to gain access to the hollow tree through the side of the tree, we removed the top portion of the tree to allow for safe access into the hollow cavity and hive. Finally Tim arrived to do what he does best... remove the hive.  When all was said and done, the bees were removed and the hive gone.  The amount of honey in the hive was minimal (but tasted great!) and the queen was gone.  The worker bees in the hive were apparantly more focused on tending to the brood of eggs than making honey.  Tim estimated the hive contained around 60,000 bees and rated the hive in the "small to medium" size range.  Below are some pictures of the day...

The entrance to the hive was sealed off with screen and expanding foam.

Tim Childress began the day by sucking out bees with a shop vac.

Tim gaining access to the hive through the side of the tree.

A look into the tree and hive.

Beginning hive removal.  No gloves were used!!

A small piece of the hive.

After removal was complete, we discovered an upstairs resident. 
This mallard hen was just above the hive in another cavity in the tree.
Unfortunately her nest was removed by another animal (maybe our hawk) later
that night.  The rest of the tree was removed the following day.

Monday, January 28, 2013

No, it's NOT nice weather!

The recent warmth has put another damper on our tree work.  Just getting around the golf course when the temperatures are in the mid 50's and 60's is difficult to do without creating some sort of damage.  When it is warm like this we are relegated to our shop yard (which has no shortage of work needing to be done) as opposed to doing more harm than good on the golf course.  Today we opted to process some of the logs that we have brought in over the last week and begin quartering the big logs into sizes that are easier to handle.  If you are looking for some firewood for next winter, let me know. 

Another wild temperature swing is in the forcast for later this week, dropping from a high of 66 degrees on Tuesday to a low of only 3 degrees on Thursday.  This should refreeze the ground and allow us to get our equipment back on the course, but will also likely cause damage to any plants that have been fooled into growth due to the recent warmth.

My hope is that between now and April 1st we can enjoy a more normal weather pattern with plenty of cold and some snow thrown in for good measure!

Tracks left from just driving across the golf course.  Impossible to
do any work without causing significant damage to the ground.

Alan and Ben C. process logs from last week's removals.  Free
firewood for anyone interested!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

You never know what you'll find...

While cutting up a pine tree from between #15 and #16 fairways, we ran across a golf ball that had obviously been lost some years ago.

Based on the rings on the tree, we estimate it was lost sometime between 1988 and 1992!  If you are missing a Hogan 1 with a logo on it, let me know (although we "damaged" it a bit with the chainsaw)!

You just never know what you'll find on a golf course...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Go Figure...

It figures that on what the Mayan's have predicted is the last day of our existance, winter finally arrived at CCC!  Last night Winter Storm "Draco" impacted the Midwest causing travel woes and general headaches for millions of folks trying to get from point "A" to point "B".  Here in Champaign we only saw an inch or so of snow, but howling winds that made it seem like much more.  I was finally able to get the plow out and push some snow around, which is good therepy for this Minnesota native!

Assuming the Mayans were wrong about the world ending today, and I think they were, the cold weather that Draco has ushered in will prove to be a benefit to our winter productivity on the golf course.  We have some large sweetgum logs to bring in yet and have plans for more tree work that will be easier if the ground is frozen.

As far as the Doomsday is concerned, odds are you are reading this sometime after December 21st, 2012.  If you are, then we made it!  Having read several articles on this date and what it means, it seems that today truely is special.  Today, the winter solstice, the Earth is in perfect alignment with the exact center of the Milky Way, where scientists have recently discovered a black hole.  Some believe that this alignment will cause a polar shift in the Earth's mantle, causing apocalyptic world wide catastrophies.  This alignment, along with many other celestial events was predicted by the Mayans thousands of years ago.  According to their Long Count calander, today marks the end of the 12th Baktun, a period consisting of 144,000 days. This date is specifically identified as  It also marks the beginning of the 13th Baktun, also known as "" which ironically "restarts" the Mayan calander.  It is sort of akin to the odometer on your car "flipping" back to all zeros.  There is research that shows that the Mayans actually looked at today as not the end of the world, but a period of cleansing and rebirth.  A new beginning. To me this is a better outlook than one of doom and death!

Ironically this day falls at the end of a work week preceeding a long Christmas weekend, the holiest of all Christian holidays.  It falls during a time in our country where clarity, cleansing, and "a new beginning" may be needed more than ever before, with Hurricane Sandy, the shooting in Newtown CT, and the impending Fiscal Cliff that has so many Americans losing hope that 2013 will be better than 2012. This day falls on a day that preceeds four to five days that will likely be spent with family and friends, away from the stress and monotony of our daily work lives, and hopefully in some state of relaxation.  I challenge you to take this time to heed the Mayans advice and look inward.  Cleanse, strive for clarity, and search for a new beginning.  Spend the Christmas holiday weekend reconnecting with family members and friends who you have lost touch with, taking stock in the things we have and the people we love.  Enjoy this time of rebirth.

With any luck the world will not end, but will get better.  All of us will return to work with renewed vigor and a more positive outlook on life.  Life will carry on and the 13th Baktun will prove to be prosperous!

Here's hoping you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!