Thursday, June 4, 2015

Golf Course Update

The golf course is coming in nicely due to all the hard work performed by the GCM staff. I just wanted to take the opportunity to elaborate on a few issues on the course. I have been receiving a lot of questions regarding the patches in the fairways and large areas of turf that are thin/dead. The patches on a select number of fairways are Spring Dead Spot. This is a perennial disease that occurs on bermudagrass and different factors play a role in the severity. Cold winters, poor drainage, and soil compaction are just a few factors that can increase the severity of the disease. Fairways on #4 and #17 were the worst hit with this disease this year. Therefore, we will apply fungicides in the fall preventatively on these two fairways and a couple other holes and monitor if this practice helps combat the disease.

Hole #10, once again, didn't fair well over the winter. The majority of the fairway/left rough on the hill is in the shade for most of the daylight hours in the winter. This area of the hole also receives a great deal of foot traffic whenever it snows due to sledders. The foot traffic compacts the snow and delays melting. Excessive shade and cold temperatures are a combination that can lead to winterkill. Virginia Tech has found that Vamont bermudagrass performed well coming out of dormancy this year. However, Tifway struggled in areas susceptible to winterkill. The turf areas on #10 that experienced winterkill are predominately Tifway. In addition, the north-facing slopes on #12 and #16 also experienced winterkill. The following are a couple articles detailing the severity of winterkill experienced in the Mid-Atlantic this year:

 That being said, we are working to fix these areas. Fescue sod was laid on the left rough on holes #10 and #16 in place of bermuda. The fescue will perform much better over the winter being in shade and on a north-facing slope. I'm hoping the fescue on #10 will also help hold some golf balls before they roll into the woods. Hole #10 continues to be prepped for sod that will be laid early next week. We have decided to go with a different variety of bermudagrass that we hope will transition from dormancy with little/no setbacks. After the sod is laid please abide by the signs and rope/stakes directing golfers to the cart path in order for the sod to tack down as quick as possible. Thanks for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you out on the course.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Additional Vandalism

Trust me when I say that this is not the next course update I wanted to be writing.  Unfortunately, the golf course suffered additional vandalism overnight on Friday, February 14.  When assessing the damage, I'm 100% certain that both acts of trespassing/vandalism have been committed by the same person(s).  This time they entered the property on the left-side of the gates in between the main gate landscaping and the condominiums at Fairway Villas.  They preceded to drive over the practice putting green, do another loop on #10 fairway, and then go back to #2 green.  They had another campfire on #2 green in the exact same spot as the night before.  They then drove their vehicle onto the green and did a few circles.  I'm optimistic that the areas where they drove onto both the practice putting green and #2 green will be ok.  They could potentially thin out a little but I think they will bounce back.  Hopefully our saving grace was the fact that the tires were on snow/ice rather than directly on the bentgrass.  I tend to be a very optimistic person and a glass half full kind of guy, but I'm worried about the area where the fire occurred on the green.  We will take a wait and see approach with this area and monitor closely everyday.  I'm hoping that warmer weather and aerification will potentially allow this area to fill-in.  That being said, even if it does fill-in it will probably be weak all season long and appear stressed.  If the area doesn't bounce back we will either have to plug or sod the area and monitor/care all throughout the growing season.

The Chesterfield County police were on property again on Saturday to assess the damage and file a report.  They have a couple potential leads and I'm hoping that they can catch those responsible.  The main gate is locked every night when the last employee leaves and this practice has been in effect for a long time.  Scott and I are currently discussing different options in order to secure the rest of the front entrance.  My hope is that this can be a project that's completed soon and I can go back to getting some sleep at night.  Thank you for your understanding and once again I'm sorry that this had to happen.  The Golf Course Maintenance Dept. will do our best to fix the damage and have these areas fixed ASAP.

Long Overdue Course Update

I realize that it's been awhile since I have updated the blog and explained everything that the Golf Course Maintenance Department has accomplished in the last few months. As you all are aware, it's been a severely cold winter with an abundance of rainfall and snow. However, we have gotten a lot of projects completed and the following highlights a few.
 We cut down some trees this Winter throughout the golf course and grinded the stumps. The majority of the trees removed were dead and posed safety concerns. A couple of trees were removed to improve conditions in order to grow and maintain healthy bermuda/bentgrass. Topsoil will be placed in the holes where the stumps were and sod will be laid in the Spring. Below is an Oak tree that was removed on #3 because it had been hit by lightning.

The bunker drainage on #7 was fixed and water now drains as it should in this bunker with no standing water. Not only had the drainage collapsed within the bunker, but roots from a neighboring tree had completely clogged the drainage line.  The bunker drainage runs across the fairway, through the rough, and exits in the creek in the woods to the left of #7.  Tree roots had entered the drainage at a coupling joint and completely clogged the line as shown in the photo below.This area has been GUR since we fixed the drainage because I'm not able to get the YBD pure white bunker sand at this time. The sand comes from Maryland and it has been too cold for them to mine the sand. I have been assured that when conditions improve, sand will be delivered as soon as possible. Once the sand is on property we will fill-in #7 bunker and add additional sand as needed to other bunkers throughout the course.

All course amenities have been brought in during the winter and have been refurbished. The guys have done a tremendous job making most of the amenities appear new again. In particular, the tee yardage plates have been repainted, sanded, and the yardages have been re-engraved. I believe the finished project turned out great.

In other news, we did experience some course vandalism overnight on February 13. The main gates were locked throughout the night but a vehicle bypassed the gate and drove around the right side of the front entrance column. They then preceded to drive on #10 fairway and turn around and then they drove around the maintenance shop and down behind #2 green. They parked their vehicle behind the green and had a campfire on #2 green. They then drove back up the hill behind #2 green and exited the property. Luckily, they didn't drive onto the green. However, the fire appears to have reached the putting green surface and is an area we will closely monitor. The area may bounce back or we might have to plug this area. The Chesterfield County police were contacted and a report was filed and they came out and observed the damage.

We still have a lot of work to do before the winter is over including adding drainage around greens, beginning to replace curbs with cobblestones, and finishing our Roundup/pre-emergent herbicide application. I can't wait for the warmer weather and to see all of you again out on the course.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

GUR Areas

Recently, we had to mark a couple areas as GUR(Ground Under Repair).  These areas are the approaches on 6 and 17.  In addition, the back of the tee box on 10 is very soft.  These areas are extremely soft due to a heavy infestation of earthworms.  While earthworms can be very beneficial, extremely high populations can affect play.  Methods have been applied to correct this problem on various areas of the course and results should be visible in a week.  The process is twofold and requires a week for satisfactory results.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Native Areas

As you might have noticed, over the past week the native areas were mowed down with a bushhog. I just wanted to let everyone know that these areas will not be going away, rather this is just routine maintenance. The native areas, while allowed to grow freely, still require yearly maintenance in order to achieve the best possible appearance. These areas will be mowed twice a year in order to promote new growth. The mowing schedule will be once in the Fall and once in the Spring. In addition, they will be fertilized and a pre-emergent herbicide will be applied in the Spring annually in order to reduce the weed population. I hope this explains the process completely and there isn't any confusion as to why we were cutting them down.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Preparing for winter

The decision was made to remove the intermediate cut during the winter months. The reasoning behind this decision was because the height of cuts would be almost identical between the fairway and intermediate cut in the winter. The height of cut for the fairways will be raised before the first frost in order to provide more plant material for the bermudagrass to survive dormancy. There would have only been a 1/4" difference between the fairways and intermediate cut so I decided to include the intermediate cut into the fairway. The only other option was to expand the 2" rough and I didn't think this would be fair. The scalped turf will look unsightly for a few days but will blend in with the fairway cut very soon. This area will be included when we paint the fairways on #1, 8, and 18. We will also paint the fairways on #7 and 9 but since they are par 3's, they don't have an intermediate cut. Only having two heights of cut during the winter months will provide dramatic definition to the golf course.

Friday, August 23, 2013


The short game construction project began on Wednesday, August 21, 2013.  The newly designed and constructed practice facility will consist of a 4,000 sq. ft. A1/A4 creeping bentgrass green and a 1,200 sq. ft. bunker.  In addition, there will be a 7,000 sq. ft. teeing area with a bermudagrass target green located about 50 yards out.  New irrigation will also be installed in order to provide thorough water coverage for the turf.  The goal of the project is to allow members the opportunity to practice chip/bunker shots that will resemble the exact conditions on the golf course from a design/playability aspect.  Therefore, shots will now land onto a bentgrass green rather than the old bermuda green, and the bunker sand will be identical to the sand on the course.  Furthermore, the practice bunker will be constructed as a Better Billy Bunker.  The Better Billy Bunker consists of a 2" gravel layer that is sprayed with a polymer that provides superior drainage without the use of a liner.  This method of construction will eliminate washouts in the bunker due to heavy rainfall and will also eliminate silt contamination.  I'm very excited that this construction technique is being applied at Stonehenge and I think it will be something to consider down the road as far as the bunkers on the golf course.  I will continue to update the blog as progress continues.

In picture above, Trey begins leveling out the old green and shaping the newly constructed putting green.

The green has been shaped and dug out with drainage channels excavated.  The teeing area can be seen in the background.  The practice bunker is positioned in between the green and teeing area.

A base layer of gravel is placed in the drainage ditch, 4" perforated drainage pipe is installed, and additional gravel will then be added so that the entire drainage ditch is filled-in.