Welcome to the grounds blog for Calumet Country Club, the source of information related to the maintenance and improvement of the golf course. Check here often throughout the year to learn about the work we do to provide the membership with the best possible golf conditions, look at interesting pictures from the course, get updates on the upcoming and ongoing projects, and get information about course conditions.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pump Station Repairs

Last season we had three leaks in the main pipe that feeds our irrigation system, so last fall we inspected the pipe and determined that it had significantly deteriorated over its 15 years of use.  The steel pipe had many pits in it that were nearly as deep as the thickness of the pipe which meant that more leaks were likely to occur and there was a chance of a catastrophic failure.  If the pipe failed during the summer, we could potentially have been without irrigation water for at least a week or more, not a risk that is work taking, so the decision was made to replace the pipe.

This was a huge undertaking due to the fact that the pipe is over 6 feet under ground, and the underground pipe fittings were encased in concrete to prevent the pipe from moving.  We rented a small excavator with a jack hammer attachment to dig the hole and remove the concrete so that a contractor could come in and do the pipe work.
Jack hammering away at the concrete, exposing the pipe and fittings.
After we did the work to expose and remove the old pipe, the contractor came and took the old pipe to their shop so that they could fabricate a new piece of pipe with the same dimensions.  The first few days of this week they were here installing the new pipe and fittings.
New pipe going into the pump house.
Final welds being performed on the new pipe.
Now that the new pipe is installed and ready to go, we still have to encase the pipe in concrete again.  We hope to have the concrete in next week, and once it's cured we will finally be able to start up the irrigation system, hopefully in about a week and a half or so.

Friday, August 22, 2014

August Grounds Update

Fall Aerification Schedule
  • Fairway Aerification September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (if necessary).   We will complete as many holes as possible on the 2nd and hopefully finish up on the 3rd.  Please be advised that the back nine will be closed for most of the day on Wednesday to allow the grounds staff to complete the work quickly and safely. 
  • Greens Aerification September 15th and 16th.  We will work to complete all the greens while the course is closed on the 15th, but we may need part of the day to finish up on the 16th, which could mean some hole closures. 
During both fairway and green aerification, call the pro shop for the latest updates when making golf plans.  Thank you for your patience during this disruptive but critical process.

Course Etiquette
With the increase in rounds played we have seen over the last few months, player maintenance of the course is very important.  Please do your part to help maintain your golf course.
  • Properly repair ballmarks.  Never pry up the turf, only push it in from the sides.  
  • Replace your divots.  Any divot that comes out in one large piece should be replaced and stepped down.  If your divot breaks apart and does not have any soil attached to it, use the sand mix that is on the carts to fill the divot.  Make sure the sand is smoothed out and just below the level of the turf. Overfilled divots cause extra wear and tear on mowers.  
  • Keep carts away from greens and tees.  Please use the cart paths around greens and tees and whenever possible in other areas.  Always park your cart with all four wheels on the path.

Current and Upcoming Course Projects

  • Forward Tees.  The forward tee on #9 is complete and will be open for play in a few weeks.  Work has begun on #15 and should be completed next week.  
  • Landscaping behind 11 Tee. The plantings behind 11 tee that were damaged by storms will be replaced by the end of October.  
  • 12 Green Bridge Repairs.  A contractor will be reinforcing the rusted areas of the bridge late this fall and it will be back in use by the opening of the golf course next spring.  
  •  Converting bentgrass contaminated rough to bluegrass.  We are going to begin replacing bluegrass rough areas that have been contaminated with bentgrass.  The green bank behind 13 that is very difficult to play out of will be sodded to pure bluegrass in September, and we are going to be experimenting with a herbicide that kills bentgrass in bluegrass in an effort to find a less expensive way to remove the bentrass from the rough.  More information on this experiment will be posted soon on the blog at www.calumetccgrounds.blogspot.com.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I never thought that a blog post written in the middle of April and the next one written in the middle of May would be talking about snow in the Chicago area, but snow is again the talk of the superintendent world.  Fortunately, unlike the snow in the middle of April, the snow stayed north of the course this time.  Obviously, the "spring" weather that we have been experiencing has been the big story this week, but despite the weather, we have been able to get quite a bit accomplished recently, and the few spurts of warm weather that we have experienced have allowed the greens to recover nicely, and we will be putting the 8th and 9th green back into play for the season at tomorrow's Men's Mixer!  

If you haven't been out to the club to use the range yet, you will see that it has a new look to it.  To add some visual interest to the range field we converted the turf on the target mounds to bentgrass using sod from the small fairway on #5, and we added some bunkers to further add visual interest.  It really makes a big difference in the look of the range, and hopefully will enhance your practice sessions.

The new look range field.

Our other big task that we completed recently was verticutting the fairways.  We did this to the fairways last fall using some smaller machines, and it really helped stand up the turf, but didn't do much to reduce the thickness of the thatch layer.  This time we borrowed a dedicated verticutting machine that is mounted to a tractor.  It is much more aggressive and removed a great deal of thatch material.  Removing this thatch material will make the fairways less spongy and will hopefully provide a firmer playing surface in the future.  
The VC-60 throws lots of material!
Massive amounts of thatch were pulled out of the fairways.
Close-up of some of the material that was removed.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April snow, greens update

#10 Tee.  April 15, 2014
Although, it doesn't look like it on the course right now, it was great to finally get some warm weather over the weekend.  The fairways, tees, and greens are now pretty much fully greened up, and I now we have a much more definite view of which areas of turf are going to recover on their own, and which areas require seed.  
#5 Green after greening up

Last week, along with opening the course, we began our recovery process.  The three greens that we are currently covering, seven, eight, and nine, have been slit seeded with new varieties of bentgrass.  They were each seeded in three different directions so that the new turf will be able to fill in quickly once it germinates.  We are hoping to see some grass growing by the beginning of next week.  The covers not only help to get the grass to grow faster, they are allowing us to seed earlier than we normally would be able to get the seed to germinate.  The other thin areas on uncovered greens and the dead areas on fairways will be seeded when temperatures are higher.  
Slit seeding #8 Green
Close up picture of the slits the seeder makes.  The seed is
dropped into the slits, and then the slits are rolled shut.
Last Friday, we also sprayed green pigment on the greens to help the ground absorb some heat from the sun.  I wasn't sure if it would really be effective or not, but after seeing that the greens were the only turf not covered with snow, I have to think that it has some effect on soil temperature, and we will take any help we can get!
No snow on green pigment sprayed greens.

Covers also did their job absorbing the sun's heat.
For the time being, the holes with covered greens will continue to be played to temporary greens until we see what kind of success we have with our seeding.  Eight and Nine are still looking very thin and weak, but Seven is already looking much better just from being covered, and I believe that we will be able to open it much sooner than the others.
#7 after only five days under cover
Along with getting the course opened up and the greens seeded last week, we were also busy with many other tasks on the course.  Fairways and tees got their first mowing, we finished cleaning up all the sticks and debris that accumulates over the winter, and we started up the irrigation system.  We were hoping for another busy and productive week this week, but mother nature had other ideas for us....
#6 Fairway getting its first cut of the year

Friday, April 4, 2014

Finally - Course Opening April 9th!

It's been a long winter, but hopefully it will soon be a memory.  The course will open for the season on Wednesday, April 9, the latest opening that anyone around remembers.  Right now, the forecast is calling for nice weather towards the end of next week, so clear your calendars and get ready to come out and take some swings in the fresh air!  Yesterday we received 1.75 inches of rain and it's right now it's raining lightly and the course is extremely wet, so the status of carts on opening day will be determined when the day gets closer.

It will be great to get the course open, but the course didn't get through this brutal winter unscathed.  As is the case at many Chicago area courses, some areas of Poa Annua on greens and fairways were killed by the turf being buried under ice for over 60 days.  Our problems began on January 13th when we received nearly an inch of rain on snow covered, frozen ground.  Because of the frozen ground the water wasn't able to soak into the ground and left puddles that left many areas of the course encased in ice when temperatures went below zero soon after the rain.
Hole cut through the ice to take samples of the turf below

In normal winters, this probably wouldn't have been much of a concern because we usually have a thaw or two during the year that rids the course of ice, this year was obviously different.  Poa is thought to be able to survive at least 45 days under ice before damage begins to occur so when we started to approach that amount of time we began to worry.  (On the other hand, bentgrass can survive at least 120 days under ice.)  Throughout the February and March we brought samples of turf inside to monitor conditions and in some cases we didn't like what we saw, others appeared to be fine.  To help remove the ice from some of the worst greens we even removed snow ahead of warm ups.
#8 Green with snow removed, before all the ice melted.
So now that all the snow is gone, we have a better idea of what level of damage we are seeing across the course.  Overall, I believe that the course held up to the ice quite well.  For a course that is as old as it is, we are fortunate to have a high percentage of bentgrass on the fairways and tees, and even many of the greens have large populations of bentgrass.  Of the greens, #9 and #7 took the most damage, but most of the greens have some small areas that were damaged.  

Moving forward we will be working this spring to repair any turf that doesn't come back.  The first thing that we will be doing is placing covers on the worst greens to help warm up soil temperatures and get the turf to come out of dormancy faster.  Next week we will be seeding bentgrass into #7, #8, and #9 and leaving them covered to promote faster seed growth and recovery.  Those greens will remain covered for a few weeks and will require temporary greens to start the season, depending on the weather, the temporary greens may be necessary until the middle of May.  All the other small areas on greens that were damaged will be open and in play, and once the weather warms up to the point where seed will germinate and thrive, those areas will also be seeded.  

Fairway areas that were damaged will be treated on a case by case basis.  Most of the areas are fairly small and will be sodded, but some of the larger areas will be seeded and marked as ground under repair until they are ready for play and cart traffic.  

On a positive note, things are already looking better after yesterdays rain.  Some sun and warmer temperatures this weekend will go a long way in getting the recovery process started.  Stay tuned to the blog for updates on the work that we are doing to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Course closing

Due to the upcoming weather forecast, which is calling for winter like temperatures and conditions,  the golf course will be closed to play beginning on Monday, November 25.  This will allow us to complete our winter preparations before winter sets in to make sure that the course will be in great shape in the spring!

Right now we are in the process of doing our final clean up of leaves, finishing our preventative snow mold fungicide applications, and continuing to clean up the branches and downed trees from last weekend's storm.  Next week, after the course is closed,  the greens will be buried in a layer of sand to protect the turf from drying winter winds and to help maintain a smooth putting surface in the spring.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fairway Aerification Day 1

Right now we are working on finishing up day 1.  Overall it went well, until the end of the day.  This morning it looked like we would easily complete the front nine and get at least two holes done on the back.  I guess we didn't knock on wood hard enough.  Currently, our aerifier, and the one that we borrowed from another course are broken down.  Unfortunately, this is usually part of the game of fairway aerification.  Considering the late breakdowns, we were still able to finish quite a bit.  The front nine, which includes four of the biggest five fairways, is finished, and part of number 10 is finished.  Tomorrow, the back nine will be closed until we are close to finishing it, at that time the tenth tee will open for play.  Contact the pro shop for updates.  Until then, here are some pictures from the day.

Pulling the plugs.

Grinding the dried plugs with flail mowers.
Dragging the ground plugs in.

Blowing off the remaining tufts of thatch and grass.

Mowing the fairway for the finished product.

The end of our day....