We are heading into a warm weather pattern for the next week which undoubtedly triggers everyone’s desire to play some golf. Unfortunately, we still have frost in the ground so we will not be opening the course anytime soon. Extensive damage to the golf course turf is inevitable if we allow play during the transition to spring. We strive to provide the highest quality playing conditions and allowing play too early would be counter-productive to maintaining that standard.
Early December snowstorms and frigid temperatures have moved most of our activities indoors for now. Equipment Technician Don Fort is busy sharpening cutting units and servicing all of our equipment so it is ready to go in the spring. We are also repairing ball washers, tee markers and other signage followed by a fresh coat of paint in preparation for the 2017 golf season.
Our staff would like to thank all of our Abbey Springs members for providing us with a great place to work and are wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
The fall season is always a very busy time for the maintenance staff. It is a time when our mowing schedule slows down and we can concentrate on accomplishing a multitude of projects. Recently we have been installing subsurface drainage lines to aid in drying up areas that are negatively affected by too much moisture. Leaf removal is a huge undertaking on the course, common areas and within the condominium units. We also have to prepare the golf course for the winter which includes aerifying, topdressing and pesticide applications to protect our turf from winter fungal diseases.
This is one of the small projects we completed this week. The approach to the 10th green has long been a golfers nightmare. Any putt rolling toward the front of the green would likely end up back in the fairway 30 yards away from the green requiring a chip shot back onto the green.
We removed about twenty feet of sod from in front of the green and added soil to raise the approach about twelve inches. The sod was put back into place and roped off to protect it until a new root system can be established. The ten feet of approach closest to the green is now almost level with the putting surface and will be cut at collar/approach height. This will prevent any balls from taking off down the hill and ending in the fairway.
This week we aerated the greens with a machine that uses vertically mounted blades that cut through the putting green surface creating 3 1/2″ deep slits. The objective is to allow for efficient gas exchange and water infiltration as well as stimulate root growth and reduce compaction. The putting surface disruption is minimal and no longer detectable after the next mowing. Cultural practices like this are very helpful in maintaining healthy greens particularly during stressful weather conditions like we have experienced lately.
This is not your ordinary aerator. This unit is called a Hydroject, it uses water under extremely high pressure to make a hole in the soil a 1/16″ in diameter and about 8″ deep. It creates fissures in the soil that improve percolation, gas exchange and compaction relief. We use this method of aerating in mid-season because it creates minimal disruption to the playing surface yet provides some stress relief for the turf.
Yesterday morning on the 8th hole another large branch from a weeping willow broke and fell to the ground. You can see in the photo, I have outlined in red, the very small area of live wood that was supporting the weight of the entire branch. Hazards like this are difficult to detect because the wood has rotted from the inside and there are no visual signs of decay. This particular willow is dangerous and will be removed. We will also assess the health of other willows on property and take appropriate action to ensure the safety of our members and guests.
I am often asked if I hate getting up at 4:00 am every day to go to work. Honestly, I have to admit the first 5 minutes or so after the alarm goes off I wouldn’t mind going back to sleep. But it’s beautiful scenes like this that I wouldn’t experience if I did roll over for a few more minutes of shuteye. I have been blessed to be on the golf course my entire working career. It has its challenges but as long as I remember to take time to appreciate the little things I cannot imagine any place I would rather be.
This year we recognize the retirement of David Smith after 34 years of dedicated service to Abbey Springs. David earned his degree from Cal-Poly in Pomona California and gained experience through his work at Pebble Beach Resorts and other courses along the Monterey Peninsula in California.
When he was hired as Abbey Springs Golf Course Superintendent in 1981, David immediately saw the incredible potential of our property and applied his knowledge and experience to improve playing conditions from year to year over the course of three decades. But David’s responsibilities did not end with the golf course. As our community continued to grow, he was the obvious choice to fill the position of Director of Grounds created in 1990, taking on the care and maintenance of the entire grounds, not just the golf course. And as amenities were added for the benefit of our residents, David was there to see that they were done correctly and maintained to last a lifetime. Our membership will be forever grateful for his dedication and hard work in making our community the beautiful summer retreat it is today. We wish David great health and happiness while enjoying his retirement.