Mission Statement

The Maintenance and Grounds Management Team will provide superior playing conditions and an alluring living environment, while maximizing enjoyment and safety, for our members, guests and homeowners.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Last Post

Unfortunately this will be the last post for the Raven at Lora Bay Maintenance Department blog. My position has been eliminated following the recent purchase of the club. The new owner already owns a club just down the road and the ownership group have made the decision to operate both turf departments with one Superintendent.

Many thanks to all who followed and took interest in our activities over the past year-and-a-half. Being involved with the construction and maintenance of the club since day one was an absolute thrill and a real pleasure.

There won't be any posts for a while but keep your eyes peeled for updates on my new adventures when everything gets settled. Please keep following chrislecour.blogspot.com!

All the best for a great summer and here's to the future...


Friday, July 16, 2010

Irrigation Woes

It's often true that equipment will most likely cause a Golf Course Superintendent and his staff grief late on a Friday afternoon. In this case it was late on a Friday evening, technically early Saturday morning. Just when we needed it most, our irrigation system experienced a significant pump failure during the extended heat wave that began the week before the Gretzky Event at Lora Bay. At some point in the last 2-3 weeks, a power surge in the irrigation system's pump station caused a surge protector to blow and take with it a component that allows both of our 75 hp pumps to work in tandem. Conditions have been so wet in June that we rarely used the pump station to water the course in the evening which explains why we did not notice the problem earlier. Without the damaged component, only one pump was working during the evening of Friday July 2nd while the system was calling for twice as much water as that pump can handle. The end result was a 'low pressure shutdown' and in essence, no water applied to the couse that Friday night, the following evening and two days later at the start of the Gretzky Event. Our pump station distributor was quick to respond to our calls for assistance and the problem was quickly identified and fixed in time to avoid losing turf on the course. Below are some pictures of the widespread droughty conditions seen throughout the course last week and a bonus shot of the carnage in the pump station from the blown surge protector. Luckily the Kentucky blue grass on our fairways is quite resilient to drought and has almost completely bounced back.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fairway Snake

All the rain we've collected over the past several weeks has made it difficult to keep on top of our rough and fairway mowing schedules. The equipment we use is designed to be relatively low-impact in terms of inflicting damage on saturated turf but that doesn't solve the problem of what to do with the clippings that remain on the fairways after they have been mown. The Fairway Snake helps us combat the problem of excessive clumps of clippings left on the fairways. The Snake can be used in the mornings on days when fairways are not being mown to knock the dew off of the turf, thereby decreasing potential disease pressure. We've been using it after mowing to break up the clippings. It's a great tool that fits nicely into our IPM program when we have available staff on no-mow mornings. Thanks to our cinematographer, Ryan Caesar who is more comfortable capturing snowboard acrobatics on film than cultural practices on turf!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wet Bunker Sand

Almost 5" of rain has been recorded at the Raven Golf Club in the month of June (4.95" to be exact). In fact, we have only had 5 consecutive days without any recorded precipitation! What happened to our long, hot, dry summer?!
When the course becomes saturated, so too does the sand in the bunkers. And when our bunker sand get wet, it tends to become compacted until it can be gently cultivated and allowed time to dry out. There have been a number of complaints from some golfers this month about the condition of the bunkers; obviously the conditioning of the bunkers has been less than ideal but unfortunately the cure is out of our hands. Mother Nature simply needs to string together a few warm, slightly breezy days to allow the sand time to dry.
Several golfers, however, complained of several deep grooves, or furrows left in the bunkers after the Sand Pro had been through the bunker to rake the sand. Apparently these furrows made recovery shots very difficult as the ball tended to bury itself in the furrow, making for a more difficult shot than normal.
The reason behind the furrows was that excessively moist sand began clumping together on the tines that help loosen the bunker sand before the finer rake attachment on the machine makes its final pass. This wet sand resulted in a regular 1/4" tine increasing in diameter to up to 1" or even 1.5" before the bunker was fully raked. Our operators have become aware of this condition and will attempt to knock the sand loose from the tines when possible. Unfortunately, the quickest and easiest solution involves the sand in the bunkers completely drying out which, given the forecast, may not exactly be right around the corner.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Plugging out Grease Spots

Recently a problem with one of the vibratory rollers with which we use to roll the greens resulted in a trail of grease spots on our putting green...not exactly the first impression you want your members to see before starting their round. Using a soil sampler I was able to remove 25 plugs approximately 1" in diameter, just large enough to cover the grease spots, from our bent grass nursery and transplant them in the affected areas on the putting green. The whole process took less than five minutes and it is difficult to tell where the injured areas were in the first place.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Helping Hands

Two weeks ago I literally locked myself in our upstairs bathroom to FINALLY (emphasis my wife's, not mine) put a fresh coat of paint on the walls and cover up 5 years worth of spills, scratches, and dents all caused by the unholy trio known as the Lecour children. It seemed to be a thankless job and no one seemed to miss me for the 4 or 5 hours I was missing from the family dynamic...until it was time to clean the brushes and I opened up the door to leave. I guess the audience outside just couldn't wait to see the finished product. Either that or they had been holding IT for a very long time.

Thanks to my son Ben for the smile it put on my face...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not All Aerators Leave a Mess

This morning we started our monthly aerification on our fairways. The soil profile on the tees and fairways is classified as a silty clay and is very prone to compaction. For this reason the very idea of pulling a core on the fairways keeps me awake at night. I've had nightmares where one aerator after another attempts to pull cores on our 6th fairway only to discover each machine in pieces before one pass can be completed!

For that reason the Aerway has been a tremendous help for us in maintaining healthy fairway turf. It allows us to penetrate 3-5" into the soil profile with its large shattertines and improve gas exchange in the rootzone. Most golf courses would only aerate their fairways once per season using the traditional method of removing a core. This method would be preferable to simply slicing our fairways; since the removal of cores is not an option, we simply slice more often to promote the exchange of gases and root development in the soil profile. It takes one operator approximately 3-4 days to completely aerate all 18 fairways and approches.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Farewell to Patrick Greenman

First Assistant Superintendent Patrick Greenman has moved on to bigger and better things and has bid farewell to the Raven Golf Club. Patrick has accepted a position at The Briars Golf Club in Sutton Ontario that will eventually see him take over for the current Superintendent who is retiring within the next two years.
Patrick has been instrumental in the success of the Raven Golf Club. He joined us in 2005 just as construction was starting to roll. His work ethic, knowledge, leadership and ability to motivate others are admired by all who had the privilege to work with him.
Patrick will be missed by his many friends at the Raven and we wish he and his family all the success in the world as they embark on this new chapter of their lives.

Heavy Rain Cleanup

Over 1" of rain fell Thursday afternoon into Thursday evening and the Raven staff enjoyed several new (albeit temporary) water features on the 8th hole yesterday as a result. Very little mowing was done on the course as most of the crew concentrated their efforts on bunker repair and cleanup. This rain event was relatively minor when considering some of the gully washers we have experienced since the course first opened. The 2.8" of rain we received in June of 2007, just a couple of weeks before the Telus Skins Game was to be held here, comes to mind...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Removing Poa...One Plant at a Time!

Our greens primarily consist of creeping bentgrass. Eventually another species of grass, a weed species to many Superintendents in this climate, begins to invade the canopy and attempts to establish itself. Annual bluegrass or poa annua is an extremely invasive turf type that thrives under shady, moist conditions. Problems arise for turf managers because it is a prolific seed head producer which can lead to adverse putting conditions; it also performs very poorly in the heat of the summer, does not handle traffic stress very well, and does not survive under extreme winter conditions (late winter periods of freezing and thawing, extended ice cover in the middle of winter).
For all these reasons we make every attempt to keep poa annua from invading our putting surfaces. Unfortunately it is an uphill battle. During the summer we manage the putting surfaces to promote bentgrass rather than poa and moisture levels in greens are carefully monitored. Since the species is so opportunistic, cultural practices such as core aeration are timed to take place when poa is less likely to establish itself.
When it does take root there is little choice but for us to physically remove the individual plants from the putting surface. At this time of the year, poa seedheads are easily identifiable. The individual plants are cut out of the greens and removed and the holes are filled with sand. All of this takes place when the greens are healthy, actively growing and recently fertilized to encourage the scar to fill in quickly.