Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Everyone Plays an Important Role in Our Success!

As we progress further into the busy season here at Avila, there are a few important things I would like to touch on. We are very pleased with the way our new Champion greens have withstood what colder weather we've had so far, but must remember that we are still in the season of slower growth and recovery. Our greens have certainly held up to their reputation of being more tolerant of the elements, but we ask that everyone do their part to help them remain true and healthy by repairing ball marks. Besides potentially disrupting putts, ball marks that go unrepaired will take significantly longer to fully heal, especially during the cooler seasons, as well as leave damaged and unsightly spots. This goes for filling divots as well, as our non overseeded turf is already experiencing slower recovery times. Properly filling divots helps the turf recover more quickly and evenly.

An un-repaired ball mark: Damaged turf and an uneven surface
A properly repaired ball mark is almost unnoticeable  2 days later
So far this season we have been fortunate in the fact that we have not had any severe frost or extended cold snaps, combined with rather warmer temperatures than usual, which has helped our new grasses continue to develop and remain strong. It will be important to remember that the coldest weather is still ahead, so continuing to practice good habits of filling divots and repairing ball marks will benefit everyone.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Greens Management During a Challenging Time of Year

Since November 15th, Avila has received over an inch of rain in combination with shorter days and cooler temperatures, which are all Mother Nature's way of working against faster greens speeds. Our nighttime temperatures, however, have been relatively warm, and our Champion greens have been elongating their leaf blades in an effort to reach out for more of the sun's energy. The reason that we are not able to aggressively lower our mowing heights to compensate for this is because the recovery rate of the turf is significantly slower at this time of year than during the summer season, and will only continue to slow down as the winter season progresses. At this point in time, our primary focus is to dial in the lowest possible mowing height that will allow us to keep the greens as fast as we can without compensating the quality and overall health of the plant. We will also roll the greens as much as possible to increase speeds and provide a true roll. However, this process is also somewhat of a turf stress, and can only be performed in moderation in order to maintain a healthy turf. Finally, we will be constantly monitoring the greens for the presence of any fungi or diseases, as the shorter days and less intense sunlight provide optimal conditions for their growth. At this time, we have adjusted our fungicide applications to provide preventive control in order to deter the emergence of any diseases, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to control these diseases before they have a chance to thrive.
Mowing heights on greens were slightly raised this week to reduce stress

Applying a preventive fungicide spray to fight off disease and fungus

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No Seed?

Typically, this is the time of year in which golf courses in our region of the state apply overseed for the coming winter months. This year will be a little different for us than years past because of the fact that we have new grasses on all of the playing surfaces. The benefit of overseed is that it provides color and helps to fill in bare areas that go dormant during winter months, however, it also introduces competition with the bermudagrass foundation. Because our grasses will not fully go dormant throughout the winter, they will still be growing and developing root systems, but at a much slower pace than during the summer months. The Celebration bermuda is a very high quality cultivar, and although the growth rates will slow down, its excellent cold tolerance will help to retain color and deter cold stress. Because our playing surfaces are all new, they will need the full benefits of the water and nutrients they will receive through fertilizer to continue to properly develop and to avoid thinning out because of competition from the seeded grasses as they move into the transitional period in the coming Spring. We will be doing a minimal amount of seeding to certain areas including the range tees, short range tee, par 3 tees, and chipping green area because of the fact that those areas take on more traffic and divots. So although the course may not have as much color as it would if we had seeded, the overall health and strength of our bermudagrass foundation will doubly benefit.
Topdressing the seed on 5 tee to insure good soil contact

Seeding 5 tee

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prevention is Key for Control of Annual Winter Weeds

We are quickly approaching that time of year when the climate change becomes optimal for the germination and emergence of winter weeds, especially annual bluegrass. You may have noticed that the fairways last week were a little softer than usual. This was due to the fact that we applied a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent seeds of any annual winter weeds from germinating. This herbicide works by creating a preventive barrier or film at the soil surface which stops these weed seeds from reaching maturity. The product is most effective if it is thoroughly and evenly dispersed along the soil surface, hence the need for extra irrigation cycles. This process will also take place in the coming weeks as we make the applications in the roughs to achieve effective weed control throughout the entire golf course.
The spray hawk was used on approaches around greens to get into tighter spaces

Spraying and watering #3

Watering in spray on #14

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Future Success Through Sustainability

Things on the golf course are back to normal, and we hope everyone is enjoying the improved course thus far. One of the main goals of the renovation process was to make sure that we would be able to maintain our improved playing surfaces in the coming months and well into the future. We are very pleased with the outcome of our new greens, but must take this opportunity to remind everyone that they are still at a very young stage and still need to develop and mature. It is imperative to overall plant health as well as to the smoothness of the putting surface that we continue certain cultural practices in the future. We will continue the star tine process, as well as topdressing, which will work out the small imperfections as the greens continue to mature. We will be performing these tasks on Mondays so that we can avoid disrupting play throughout the week and on the weekends especially. We will do everything possible to make sure that the work we perform in order to protect and strengthen our greens is of minimal disturbance to the playing surface.
Again, we hope you are all enjoying our newly improved course and hope that you are looking forward to a great upcoming season.


Light topdressing on putting green at clubhouse


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Thankfully, the past two days have been mostly rain free and the course is beginning to slowly dry out.  The maintenance crew has been working overtime to make up for time lost due to weather over the past week and will continue throughout the weekend.  Pond levels are slowly receding with the help of additional trash pumps, and should vacate the fairways over the weekend allowing us to complete the first cut on every surface by Monday.

  While the course is getting drier, it is important to remember that while we are able to begin mowing most of the surfaces, the mowing heights had to be raised significantly to avoid causing a decline in plant health that would be felt throughout the winter months.  The standard rule of mowing heights is that removing any more than 1/3 of the leaf tissue at one time will significantly reduce the health of the plant.  With the height of all short grass surfaces being below 1/2 an inch when the golf course is open, missing multiple mows means we have had to raise the heights significantly and will need to work them back down one day at a time.

  The greens are mowed seven days a week to achieve acceptable green speeds, with the fairways, tees and approaches being mowed a minimum of three times a week to avoid removing too much leaf tissue at one time.  In order to account for the missed cuts we will be increasing the number of times each surface is mowed over the next week allowing us to work the mowing heights down incrementally without shocking the plants.

  Another point to remember is that each surface, with the exception of the rough, is only 90 days old, and it takes a year for the plants to fully mature.  While it would be possible to simply scalp down all of the playing surfaces in order to open sooner than next Friday, doing so would be a disservice to the entire membership as the shock to young plants would cause a slow decline of plant health throughout the cooler months and likely result in less satisfying playing conditions.  Both the pro shop and golf maintenance staff are just as disappointed by the unavoidable delay as the membership is, but to disregard the conditions of the golf course for the entire season in order to gain one week would be unforgivable.  We ask that you bear with us for one more week and allow us the opportunity to provide you with a golf experience worthy of your patience over the past four months.

The greens were fertilized on Thursday to replace nutrients flushed through the soil profile by the excessive rain.

A close up view showing the difference between our target height of cut and the current height.

View from the cart path to #4 green.  The pond is nearly halfway across the fairway, but is receding quickly.

The tee and approach mowers filled their carts with clippings after only 5 holes.

This shot from the afternoon shows how far the water has retreated thanks to the addition of a second pump.

The water feature at the fourth tee will recede as the level of the pond it drains to drops.

We were able to mow a number of the fairways at the increased height of cut this afternoon.

Despite the increase in mowing height, the fairway mowers still removed a lot of grass.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Opening Delayed Due to Flooding

Over the past several days, Avila has received substantial rainfall in excess of 6 inches. Unfortunately, this has delayed our opening date for the golf course which was previously set for September 27th. Our maintenance staff was eager to share the results of our summer renovation with everyone, but the substantial rainfall has delayed us for several reasons.

Nearly the entire property is at field capacity, and our soils simply cannot hold any more water, creating runoff and puddling that will take several days to drain. In addition to final touch ups prior to opening, the rains have added additional work to our schedule including bunker repairs, pumping water bodies down to normal levels, and repairing mulch and pine straw washouts throughout the course. Our staff will continue with final preparations and course repairs with a new target opening date of October 4th though an earlier opening is plausible. Please feel free to check in with the pro shop in the coming days for more information regarding an opening date.
View from #1 Tee
Right of the white tee on #3
#4 Tee
#4 Fairway
Pumping down pond levels
#7 pond

Canal overflow at #11 green

#14 Fairway

#15 at the green

Fairway bunker flooding on #16

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nearly there...

  The past month has been a busy one around the golf course here at Avila.  The grounds maintenance team has been working diligently to hone the course and prepare all of the new surfaces for play.  We are all getting excited as we see our hard work come to fruition, and each new day brings us closer to the exceptional playing conditions we have been striving towards.  Below are a few pictures from the past month, some of the processes shown have been repeated multiple times to refine each surface.  Others depict some of the final touches being applied to prepare for the course opening.  The tentative opening date is Friday September 27th, and more information regarding the opening weekend will be sent out next week from the golf shop.

The Bunkers have received a bit of attention to provide more consistent lies

Sand was added or removed as necessary in addition to being tilled, evened out, and tamped, as shown above, to help eliminate fried egg lies

Rolling all surfaces of the new #3
All of the tees and approaches have been topdressed with sand to smooth the surface, improve plant health, and provide better playability

Dragging in the topdressing sand

#4 Green

The rebuilt bunker on the right side of #16 green

#6 approach

#2 view from the fairway

This week, fresh pine straw was added to all of the bed areas

Even Randy couldn't resist getting in on the action

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Avila Greens Update

Having been aerified and fertilized at the beginning of the week, the new Champion greens are recovering quite well.  Shown below are some dated photos to show the progress, followed by current pictures of all of the greens.
#4 at planting 6/23/13
#4 @ 4 weeks on 7/21/13

#4 Today 8/11/13

#1 green 8/11/13
#2 green 8/11/13

#3 green 8/11/13
#4 green 8/11/13
#5 green 8/11/13
#6 green 8/11/13
#7 green 8/11/13
#8 green 8/11/13
#9 green 8/11/13
#10 green 8/11/13
#11 green 8/11/13
#12 green 8/11/13
#13 green 8/11/13
#14 green 8/11/13
#15 green 8/11/13
#16 green 8/11/13
#17 green 8/11/13
#18 green 8/11/13
Putting green at the clubhouse 8/11/13
Putting green at the first tee 8/11/13
Chipping green 8/11/13