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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Redi-Rock pond wall to begin in January 2014

One of the golf course enhancements that was recently passed by the Board of Directors was the installation of a seawall along the pond on 4 North.  The reasons for this installation are both for aesthetics and erosion control.  The boulders that previously outlined this area did a poor job of holding the pond edge in place and also provided a poor visual appearance when the water level went down.

To solve both of these problems we have chosen to remove the boulders and install a 180' Ledgestone "Redi-Rock" retaining wall along the pond edge. The Ledgetone Redi-Rock looks almost identical to the new bridge that was built on the South course last season which helps provide a consistent look across the property. Redi-Rock retaining walls are built out of 1 ton precast concrete blocks that are stacked on top of each other and lock in place.  The walls that are created are not only very visually pleasing, but are extremely strong and useful in many different applications.  Feel free to click on the "Redi-Rock" link above to explore where Redi-Rock has been used, and to get a great idea of how beautiful 4 North will look this spring!

Example: Ledgestone Redi-Rock being installed in Brighton, MI

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Experienced Equipment Manager + Necessary Tools = Money Savings

As we prepare to bring all of the equipment back inside for the winter and do our normal preventative maintenance, old hydraulic hoses are our first concern.  Hydraulic hoses don't last forever on equipment and unfortunately that can be all too evident when they burst and the equipment is being used while on the grass. Hydraulic oil kills turf and it can be a costly repair when new sod needs to be laid plus the labor hours to repair it.  What also should be taken into consideration is the time you then have to wait because a new hose must be custom made by an outside company which means the machine in unusable.  It's Murphy's Law that a hydraulic hose would break when the machine was needed most too.

So why not just replace the hoses? To replace all the hydraulic hoses on one of our rough mowers, the cost would be about $1,800.  Now multiply that by three mowers, add the two sand trap machines, the back end loader...the cost adds up quickly!  This year our Equipment Manager, Hector Valazquez, worked out an outstanding deal with Lawson Products to get WCCC set up with an in-house hydraulic hose making machine and all parts needed to make our own hoses.  Hector has great experience in making these hoses and has even done a video on it so other equipment managers can take advantage of the savings for themselves.  This set up not only saves the club more than $2K this year alone, but we also now have the proper tools to handle making hydraulic hoses in-house which means minimal "down time" of the equipment.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Leaves....Leaves...and More Leaves!

With the recent wet weather followed by hard frosts and wind, many of the leaves have fallen from the trees.  A big thanks is in order to my staff for continuing to work hard on getting the course cleaned up so members and their guests can enjoy fall golf!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Assistants Training Day at WCCC

Today we hosted an Assistant Superintendent Training Day at Walnut Creek which was sponsored by Syngenta.  Assistants from many clubs in the area attended to take part in two training opportunities.  First, Aaron Hathaway from Michigan State University spoke about proper calibration techniques for chemical spraying equipment and its importance.  Calibrating spraying equipment to ensure the correct rate of pesticide is being applied is not only the right thing to do but it can save a lot of money by not over applying a product!  Following this, John Schlegel and his coworker Jason from ProPump & Controls spoke to everyone about proper irrigation pump station winterizing and maintenance.  Winterizing a pump station correctly at the end of the season is crucial as some repairs due to frozen equipment could not only be very costly but could also set back the irrigation start date in the spring.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Granite Hole Markers

Hole markers are going in on every hole now.  The North course is complete and the staff is currently working on finishing the South. Next week we will tackle the West.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Assistant Superintendent Training Day at WCCC

On Monday, October 28th, Walnut Creek Country Club with support from the MiGCSA will be hosting an event with Assistant Superintendents from surrounding clubs in our area to participate in a training day.  Topics that will be covered are how to properly calibrate chemical spraying equipment for precise applications as well as irrigation pump house winterizing and maintenance.  We're excited about hosting this event and believe it will provide a great learning opportunity for all those involved!

Friday, September 27, 2013

4 West Approach

4 West Approach painted out by Golf Course Architect Brian Huntley

Removing sod  in preparation for laying bentgrass sod obtained from the old rounded tee surfaces that are now square

Bentgrass sod starting to go down

Approach is complete! Sand is applied to the surface very heavily at this stage to fill in the sod seems, level the surface, and protect the plant.  It is important to stay off the newly laid sod until full rooting has been achieved. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Benefits of Fairway Aerification Done In-House

Top and Middle Picture: Walk-behind aerification equipment
combined with tractor mounted aerifier gets the job done fast
Bottom Picture: Pull behind drag mats are used to break the soil away from the thatch.  Soil drops back into the holes while the spongy thatch stays on top of the fairway which is then removed.

This week we began our in-house fairway aerification process. For many years this process had been contracted out to a company who had the equipment necessary for such a big job.  Although this sounds good to have somebody else do the aerification, there are many negatives to it.  With our recent upgrade to our equipment, we obtained the equipment necessary to handle the fairway aerification process in-house with our own staff!

The benefits of this include:
1. Approx. $12,000 annual savings (based on not contracting this job out)...$24,000 annual savings if we aerify twice.
2. Flexible timing and schedule (not having to schedule around the company and the other 100 golf courses they aerify each year)
3. A better quality job done by the staff in house as attention to detail is much higher.
4. Closer spacing of holes that removes more unwanted thatch material without an increase in cost. (Contracted companies charge more for closer hole spacing due to labor time and wear on their machines)
5.  Overall quicker completion with rotating staff shifts that keep the aerification program running dawn till dusk.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nothing better than the tradition of a great event...Welcome to the 2013 Brassie Member Guest!

Friday, August 23, 2013

4 West Fairway

Members will notice a white line painted in front of 4 West green and will wonder what it's for.  This area is not GUR or a drop zone.  Brain Huntley, our Architect, painted this line to indicate the new fairway section that will be added according to his master enhancement plan for the courses.  This  fairway area will be constructed using the bentgrass sod removed from the tee squaring project going on right now on the North and West.  After this area is complete it will offer a bit of relief for a short shot for both the men and ladies on an already difficult par 3. The work on this area will begin following the 2013 Brassie tournament.

Prepping, Seeding, and Watering Fescue Areas

The staff has been doing a great job preparing our new fescue areas on the North and West courses and we are now seeding.  Here are a few pictures of the process involved with seeding them.

Frances, one of our Chinese interns, is mowing the dead turf down to 1" to prepare for seeding.  Leaving a little bit of dead grass on top is a good thing as it serves as a germination mulch or straw which helps retain moisture and heat for germination.

After the old turf has been cut down to 1", a tractor seeder is used to distribute the new fescue seed.  The seeder cuts thin groves in the ground and drops seed at the correct rate directly into them.  

Finally, we use portable "roller basin"sprinklers for establishment because the rain all fell in June and July this year instead of August!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fescue Seeding

The large area to the right that was once maintained rough is now being converted to Marco Polo and Ecostar fine fescues.  The seeding of these areas will begin this week.  Total between the North and West there is about 10.5 acres that will now be fescue.  These new natural areas will offer outstanding definition across the property and also reduce labor costs associated with maintaining unused rough.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

North Fescue and Tee Update

A non-selective herbicide application was made to the North course future fescue areas today. These areas will be turning brown within 7-10 days.  After these areas die, they will then me mowed down very low to prepare for seeding.
Fescue will germinate in these areas this fall but will not get very tall this season.  

#8 North tees are shown here.  Last week we completed #1, 2, and 3 North and they have already germinated and are growing nicely.  Early progress this week got slowed down after we received 1.3 inches of rain but we've made up for it today.  #8 tee was soiled, seeded, and fertilized today and will be sprayed and covered tomorrow.  #5 tee surround was completely stripped today and will be top soiled tomorrow as well as seeded and fertilized.  #6 tee surrounds are scheduled to be stripped tomorrow.  As of now we are still on track for completing three holes of tees per week.  If we can continue this pace, North and West tees will be completed by the middle of September.
#5 North tees are completely prepped and ready to be top soiled tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tee Squaring/Fescue: North and West

TEES: Brian Huntley, our Golf Course Architect, was recently on property and he worked on marking out where the North and West tees will be squared off.  Red lines have been marked on tee surfaces indicating the "new" square tee top. 4 West and 4 North have not been marked at this time as Brian is still deciding how the tees will be set up for these holes.

This week our staff will begin removing some of the old surrounding areas around the square tee tops that have been marked and we will begin the topsoil and seed process again as we did on the South.  Check back often for updates on the progress of our project.

FESCUE: Members and guests will notice red and white lines in the rough with an occasional irrigation flag on the North and West courses and may wonder why they're there.  These areas are future fescue areas that will be seeded this fall to tie into the same look that will be on the South course.
1 NORTH MEN'S TEE: PVC pipe outlines are used to get a good look before the square tee plan is finalized


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Recent Irrigation Repairs

Deciding the best plan for fixing the broken tee

Last week we were plagued with two irrigation repairs that took a fair amount of time and money to fix. Having irrigation repairs to do is very common during the summer months when irrigation is being used frequently, but these two repairs were uncommon.

The first repair came from an 8" main line tee that had a hole wear into it over time and began to leak.  This happened due to how old the system is and the pipes that are getting worn out.  After four days of work and disruption and over $400 in parts, the repair was complete. Normal problems with pipes are generally with smaller piping that is closer to the surface and can get freeze thaw damage with shifting soils. These smaller fixes are much easier to repair in the heat of summer and cause much less disruption to golfers.

The second repair we did this week was due to Mother Nature.  Last Friday night we had storms that produced a fair amount of lightning that came through and we we're not missed. Lightning struck a tree left of #2 fairway on the North course and traveled through a nearby irrigation pipe.  The lightning exited the pipe and shattered it in half.  Water poured out of the pipe all night and flooded #8 North and the surrounding areas.  This fix was much easier to handle since it was smaller pipe, but none the less a lot of work and disruption to play.  Both irrigation repairs are complete and the system is once again in working order.

New tee installed. Ready for the new 2" valve installation

2.5" irrigation pipe broken from lightning strike

Irrigation pipe shattered from the lightning strike

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fescue Update

By now members are beginning to see the previously marked fescue areas on the south course turning a little brown while other parts are still green.  Since we applied a selective herbicide a few weeks ago to kill the grasses we don't want in these areas, only the fine leaf fescues remain which are the green patches you currently see.

So what about the brown dead areas? All of the fescue areas were seeded with Marco Polo and Ecostar fescues and have germinated nicely.  With the recent cool/wet weather, the fescue areas have started to establish well.  In a few years, these areas will look beautiful!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Drainage installation and New Cart Path on 8 South

Drainage installation to the left of 8 South men's tee before new cart path is installed 

Removal of the old cart path leading away from the gold tee on 8 South.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lighting Detection and Prediction at WCCC

We've reached the season for strong thunderstorms that pop up out of the blue and often ruin your perfect round of golf or invitational as it often seams to be the case.  Strong lightning has also been a problem in the last two days which brought up a good question a member asked me today after another strong storm hit us.  "When are you going to sound the all clear siren?".  It was at this point that I realized most golfers haven't ever been educated on how lightning detection systems on golf courses work.

The siren system we have for lightning prediction and detection is made by a company called Thor Guard.  Most systems are only lightning detection systems which will detect electromagnetic disturbances in the scanned area and sound the alarm only after lightning has already struck.  The same is true for sounding the all clear.  Normally systems that are detection based must wait for 30 minutes since the last disturbance to give the all clear horn.

Thor Guard systems, the one we have here at WCCC, actually predicts lightning before it strikes.  According to the Thor Guard website, its equipment measures the electrostatic forces that are building between the thundercloud and earth below and can predict when this field, which is capable of producing lighting, enters the zone of which you are monitoring.  This being said, it uses the same technology to predict when it is safe for people to resume their outdoor activities with the least amount of time wasted sitting around and it automatically sounds the alarm.

All that being said, the answer to the question of when anyone at the club will sound the all clear is up to the technology in our system keeping us safe rather than to any one person at the club blowing a horn.

Friday, June 14, 2013


The Fescue that was seeded last spring has gone to seed on its first year of maturity and is starting to turn golden brown.  This color offers great definition on the course and the Fescue provides a nice habitat for wildlife.  The area photographed here is between 8 and 9 South.  The future Fescue areas that are are currently marked out on the South course will be seeded next week and, at maturity, they will look very similar to this area.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

South Tees: Update

The tee squaring project on the south course is complete! Holes 1 and 2 are looking great as they were the first ones seeded and the rest aren't far behind.  Next week we are beginning the Fescue seeding project which will move fast! As always, check back frequently for updates.

Friday, June 7, 2013

2013 Walnut Creek Country Club Grounds Staff

Special thanks to all my staff members for all their hard work this spring and for the nice job I know they will do this summer.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fescue Seed Heads

The area left of #8 South that was seeded with Fescue last year came in great, and is already producing seed heads.  In July these seed heads will turn golden brown and be about 18 inches tall.  The vista from the tee will be great and will help shape the hole.  As always, please refrain from driving in the Fescue areas.  When the seed heads are matted down by a cart tire, they will not raise back up for the rest of the year. So, if a cart drives through these area, the cart tracks will be very evident all season long. We appreciate your understanding.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kevin at the Memorial Tournament

Kevin Kretz, one of our Assistant Superintendents, is in Dublin, Ohio through next weekend volunteering on the grounds crew for the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.  This is the home course for Jack Nicklaus and a great tournament to experience.  Kevin is with about 40 other volunteers helping manicure the grounds for the event.  When you're watching it on TV next week, you can be proud knowing one of our staff members is representing the club well and gaining knowledge to bring back home!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tee Squaring Update

The tee surrounds on #1 and #2 South have germinated and are starting to grow in nicely.  The germination covers have been removed but it will take more time for these areas to fill in completely and we ask that all foot traffic be kept off these areas until further notice. Holes 3 and 4 were prepped for seeding today and the others aren't far behind. By the weekend, we hope to have all the tee surrounds on the south course seeded, fertilized, and finished.

When the tee renovation is complete, our staff will begin to kill off the future fescue areas marked by our course architect that are currently bluegrass rough, and we will be seeding them soon after.  As with any seeding, keeping cart traffic off these areas is very important as it will be very moist from extra irrigation to germinate the seed.

8 & 9 South Officially Open!

It's finally here and the wait is over! After last night's ribbon cutting there was a nice turnout of members to play these holes on the South and I think everyone was excited to have the complete South course back! With the weather looking great for the next 10 days, now is the time to get your tee time reserved with Brad! Enjoy-

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hector wins first place for Best Instructional Video/DVD from TOCA

Hector Velazquez, our Equipment Manager, recently won first place for Best Instructional Video/DVD from  the Turf and Ornamental Communications Association, or TOCA, for a video he did last year.  Today I was contacted by Jon Kiger from Turfnet who told me about the TOCA. He wrote, "It is made up of communications professionals from turf media, client supplier companies and their ad and pr agencies. For someone not working full time as a communications practitioner to win a first place award is quite an achievement".

I would like to personally congratulate Hector for this accomplishment and thank him for everything he does for Walnut Creek Country Club!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What are those dead lines in the rough?

Members will notice yellow stripes in certain areas of the rough on the south course that resemble a hydraulic leak from a piece of equipment, but these lines have been intentionally killed with Round-Up, a non-selective herbicide.  These lines were killed to indicate the new native Fescue seeding areas that were marked by our Golf Course Architect, Brian Huntley during his last visit to the club.  In a few weeks, these areas inside the yellow lines will be killed entirely with round-up and seeded with our chosen Fescue varieties.  Germination will be seen this season but it will take 3-5 years to reach it's peak and look it's best.  Most likely it will go to seed and look beautiful the second or third year.

Tee squaring and aerification update


#1 South tee surrounds have germinated! This morning we observed the first signs of germination only 7 days after seeding.  By the weekend it will undoubtedly be fuzzy with new growth.  As we continue to grow these areas in, we ask that members and guest continue to use the designated walk paths on and off the tees and to avoid walking on the newly seeded areas.

Germination on 1 South Men's Tee 7 days after seeding


South and West greens aerifications are complete and today we're tackling the North course.  The anticipated rain tomorrow is great since all of our greens will be done and the rain will help work in the sand for a smooth surface.  Given the nice weather, a 10-14 day recovery can be expected.

Core collector built by Hector saving money by reduced time and labor
as well as leaving a cleaner, smoother green surface instead of shoveling off the cores!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Tee Squaring Update

Weather is starting to cooperate now and we're moving full speed on the tee squaring.  You will notice the tees that are now complete are covered in what looks like white fabric. This material is seed germination matting that is laid down after seeding to offer erosion control, moisture retention, and better seed germination.  It's preferred that members and guests utilize the sodded walk paths up to the tee surface now versus walking across the newly seeded turf when playing the south course this season. Below is a description of the process taken to seed the tee surrounds this spring. If you're wondering why you don't see grass coming through yet in week or two, that's because germination of Kentucky bluegrass normally takes 21 days so patients is needed, but the outcome will be great.
Prepped surrounds are seeded

After seeding, slow release fertilizer is applied to
aid in growth after germination

Using a bunker raking machine, the newly seeded and
 fertilized surrounds are driven over back and
forth to make small dimples. This is done to make
good seed to soil contact needed for germination.
Close up photo of dimpling made by the bunker rake

When seeding and fertilizing are done, a pre-emergent herbicide is
applied to hold off weed growth while the seed is germinating

Stapling in the germination matting

After all that is done, it's all about the aftercare!