What a difference a week makes!

According to the Weather Channel, we just had the warmest average June temperature on record.  With temperatures reaching 92 degrees on the golf course last week, and no watering capabilities on the back 9 holes, I think it is pretty obvious why a new irrigation system is desperately needed.  The maintenance staff has devoted about 40% of the man hours allowed to apply water on the greens that do not have any irrigation yet.  This required three staff members 8.5 hours per day to accomplish.  Unfortunately, we do not have the capabilities to supplement watering on the tee boxes or fairways.  Some tee boxes lost their leaf blade, but many crowns of the grass plants are still alive.  Areas that are dead will receive aerification, seed, and topdressing sand to grow back in.

Some members have asked about the hydro seeding of holes 1, 7-9.  We will hydroseed these holes when irrigation is pressurized in the next several days.  Applying seed now would be gambling with the weather being able to keep the seed moist enough.  Seed will not germinate when temperatures are like they were the last couple of weeks.

We appreciate the patience on the practice areas at the driving range.  The Director of Golf, Duane Page and I made the split second decision to allow the construction crew to install these areas, while cleanup was being done on #7-9.  These two areas will be complete as we transition onto the back 9.  Irrigation construction on the back nine holes started on 6/30/15.  I feel really good about the time on these holes.  Only two holes on the back nine will have the 3-trench procedure (11 and 18).  Everywhere else will be a 2-trench process like #1.  Many holes on the back nine are dead ends as well.  This means the crew can install the hole and water can then be turned on immediately.  Also, we installed pipe ranging from 2.5″ all the way to 12″.  I’m very relieved that all the 12′, 10″, 8″ and almost all the 6″ is installed on our property.  Larger pipe is slower putting in due to the weight and the machines used to install.

Please excuse our new project underway on #3 tee boxes.  We have the ladies tee area complete and ask all golfers to tee from there until the other tees are laser leveled and sodded.  We will be doing tee enlargements on #4, 6, 16 & 18 ladies’ tee boxes.  Please excuse our dirt on those areas.  As well, remember that the front nine holes are growing in tender grass plants.  These areas will play as “ground under repair”.  While we strive to provide great playing conditions all the time, a major project like this sometimes shifts focus.  Most staff members are keeping the golf course maintained.  However, some must be involved in projects related to the irrigation install.  Thank you all for the patience; the end is in sight!

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

 

 

Front Nine Irrigation Construction Nearing Completion; Getting Ready to Tackle the Back Nine

The first full week of summer has brought above average temperatures of up to 91 degrees!  This drought, with limited irrigation water, has made things difficult for my crew.  We currently are watering with a 1,500 gallon Hydroseeder, a 500 gallon water trailer and two motorized pumps.  The motorized pumps allow us to water the greens around a water source (pond or creek).  Even though these machines help, devoting three workers requires special schedule planning.  The greens have responded very well considering they are only getting about 25% of the water they will once the new irrigation is installed.  I apologize if anyone has been inconvenienced by this watering process; watering nine hours per day is our only option to keep the greens alive.

The progress on the irrigation construction is going very well.  Work is now underway on hole #9, the driving range, chipping area and tennis courts.  We closed the driving range for two days to install product in order to maximize having two trenchers and keep them working continuously.  Once the back nine is closed, we will move to #18 and #10 first.  I have been encouraged with the soil on the past couple of holes.  It seems we have left the rocky conditions and have been able to dig much quicker in clay soils.

We will be able to partially reopen the front nine holes on Monday, June 29th.  For the first week, holes 1-6 will be open.  Instead of playing #7 & #8, we ask you to play #16 & #17 before finishing on #9.  This will allow the holes finished most recently (#7 & #8) to germinate grass seed.  After this temporary, quirky routing, the entire front nine holes will be open for play.  Let me remind you that conditions will not be perfect, but I have been so impressed already with the abilities of the new irrigation system.  Some of the pin placements and tee markers will be located differently; the greens and tees that were affected from no water on these holes continue to grow back in and need reduced traffic.

I would like to conclude with some reminders.  Golf rangers will be on the course to monitor activity.  These guys will be there to answer any questions that you may have and aid in maneuvering around the front nine holes.  Please help us and yourselves and obey the requested rules.  There will be a penalty for people that choose not to follow the rules.  My staff will be painting an arrowed path routinely for carts to follow.  This will be painted on the turf in bright orange paint.  I remind you to stay on the cart path on the paved holes and in the rough on holes that are not paved.  Please avoid driving across any exposed dirt.  This dirt houses tender grass plants that are thriving and need to remain undisturbed to grow.  Also, please ride two golfers per cart unless you are playing solo.  The reduced tire traffic from fewer carts will aid in less damage to the grass plants.

I thank every one of you for your continued patience.  This construction will be complete shortly and Laurel Ridge Country Club and Events Center will be thriving!

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

 

 

 

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Considerable Progress on Golf Course Irrigation Construction & Tee Box Project

Welcome to summer!  The heat and eccentric weather patterns have arrived. As all of you know, we are currently in the middle of the irrigation project.  Progress is going very well with the addition of another trencher and more workers for the contractor. We added three more workers this week, bringing their total to around 11.  Also, we added another Vermeer trencher, which makes two total. These additions were evident this week with the progress from number 7, 8, and now 9.  After leaving number 7 where we ran into major rocks, holes 8 and 9 have been rock free.  Progress increases everyday that we are trenching in good soil.  Once the product is installed, cleanup is finished and seeding has been done, we will then open the front 9 and close the back 9.  I would estimate this to happen around Friday, June 26th.  Once again, all front 9 holes will be cart path only for about a month for the seed germination and maturation to occur.

With construction underway on holes 7-18 and 1, please remember that we currently do not have watering capabilities on these holes.  Small motorized pumps and a watering trailer are being used to keep the greens alive.  If you see an area that needs water, please do not panic.  We are watering the course as best as possible with this unconventional system.  Thank you for your patience while playing around these staff members.

The tee work has begun as well.  We are now working on #3 tee boxes. This hole will be the largest tee project.  I am convinced that this upgrade, along with the member volunteer tree cutting from the spring, will make this hole special.  We are trying to enlarge/level all of #3 tees, #4 ladies tee, #6 ladies tee, #16 ladies tee and #18 ladies tee while the hole closures are happening. Hopefully this fall, my staff can work on additional tee boxes needing attention.

A special thank you to everyone who came to the informative meeting last Monday, June 15th.  Like I said at the meeting, I love the face to face contact and am open to additional gatherings in the future. Many great questions were asked and the fellowship afterwards was wonderful.

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

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Effort & Passion Result in Golf Course Improvement

Over my 13 years as a golf course agronomist, this is my third irrigation installation project.  The first came at the Country Club of Asheville in 2004.  The second was at Sequoyah National Golf Club in Cherokee in 2009.  This is the smallest of the three projects that I have done, so I’m more than capable and feel very comfortable managing this project.  While the Country Club of Asheville was around 950 heads and Sequoyah National was 1,568 heads, Laurel Ridge will be around 590 irrigation heads.  This project was estimated to take approximately 90 days for completion and the contractor has been tasked to finish the front nine holes first, then the back nine holes.

Early in the project, we experienced heavy rains rain which slowed initial work.  More recently, the large amount of sub-surface rock and product shipment delays have added to slower than anticipated project progress.  The contracting company has run into major rock occurrence on holes #1, 2, upper 4 and upper 5.  This significantly slows the trenching process and hinders the clean up time.  In addition to the aforementioned conditions, working around cart traffic and golfers was slowing the process down and seed was not germinating due to golf play/traffic. We also experienced some significant vandalism.  For these reasons, a decision was made to close the front nine and get the project back on track.

I had a question last week about why we can’t do nine holes now, and nine holes after the season.  Several reasons prohibit this.  First, we have already secured the company and received the product onsite to do the work…under a contract.  It would entail revising the contract and cost even more in mobilization expense to bring them back a second time, and the UV rays would surely compromise some of the outdoor product.  Secondly, our new system feeds up hole #8.  The new booster pump could not be used on the old pipe/heads and our golf course quality would surely suffer as a consequence.  Thirdly, this would provide very inconsistent playing conditions.  Some greens would be on the new system while some greens would remain on the old, inefficient system that is beyond its useful life.  Thus, we cannot allow the contractor to complete nine holes and leave.  As planned, the contractor will be here for the duration of the project as contracted.

The projected completion time for this irrigation project has been a topic of much conversation.  Our installation contractor is still projecting a finish date of July 10th.  While it is hard to imagine the work on all holes being complete by then, the easiest and fastest portions of the project are on the golf holes at the very end, thus the completion of this project on time may well be achieved.

While the healing time for the turf is complex, it is not difficult.  I can’t promise that every single square inch of the areas affected will be healed by Fall, but the majority will be grown in and well on its way to being full and lush.  Our golf course is not going to be “bad” for one year and certainly not two as some have said.  The best way to help my staff and your golf course with recovery is to follow the rules.  We will be “cart path only” for about a month once we re-open.  Where we do not have paths, please drive in the rough only.  Please do not drive across a newly seeded area.  We will provide several rangers/marshals to monitor the course once we re-open.  Please do the right thing and help our course grow in and heal up properly without incident.

Additionally, we are going to be doing some tee box work.  We will be increasing the size of some tee boxes, and laser leveling others.  It is our intention to work during the closure of the hole to do the tee box work needed.  Many ladies tee boxes are very small and undulated.  While some senior tees will be addressed as well, our valuable women members deserve equal playing conditions.

My door is always open to answer any questions or concerns that anyone may have.  Please feel free to meet me or call me (828-452-0545 ext.180) to discuss anything.  I hope everyone realizes the effort and passion that we are putting into our golf course and club here at Laurel Ridge.  I realize this can be a frustrating time with portions of our course unavailable for play, but the imminent completion of our golf course project promises higher quality conditioning and superb playability.  We appreciate your continuing patience and support.

Logan Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

Major Progress on the New Irrigation System

Great news!  We are seeing major progress on the new irrigation system.  Holes 2-6 are complete with the product install, so all that remains there is a final cleanup of holes 2 and 3.  Currently, the booster pump is being installed on # 5 and hole #1 trenching began late yesterday. As expected, sub-surface rock is proving to be a challenge. The goal is to have no rocks contact the new PVC pipe. Rocks will rub the pipe, thus creating a hole and water leak. When the construction crew trenches into rock, this slows the process majorly, so we are praying for the rock occurrence to be as minimal as possible. We will finish hole #1 and the practice green before starting again at #7 and moving forward.

When the irrigation architect draws a golf course plan on paper, they very seldom walk to the entire property. In the field, changes happen quite regularly.  For example, the mainline pipe was supposed to go on hole #18, but due to hole closure of the front nine holes, we have moved the mainline to hole #9. The irrigation contractors are doing everything possible to speed up this tedious process and give us the best product for our money.

In the golf course business, unforeseeable things happen quite often. We had a huge locust tree uproot around the cart storage shed on Tuesday.  This tree was endangering the fuel pump and some phone wires in that area.  Luckily, we were able to chain the leaning locust into another oak and pivot the tree when it did fall on Tuesday night. Cleanup started this morning and will continue until complete.

We currently have double pins on the back nine greens. This gives golfers the opportunity to play a different pin location for their first and second rounds of golf.  When we change pin locations, we will only be changing one of the two pins at a time.  If we changed both pins every time, we would run out of pin locations very quickly.

With all the improvements to LRCC, this Superintendent has heard many, many people voicing their optimism. Thank you to all concerned for their patience and support.  It is both satisfying and encouraging to know that our members will be getting a better product.  The future of Laurel Ridge Country Club is very bright.

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

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Battling Summer Temperatures & Diminished Rainfall in May

What a difference a month makes.  We went from a very wet April to a bone dry May.  The golf course was really starting to suffer from the lack of natural rainfall.  The nitrogen in rain gives the turf a boost that irrigation water can not mimic.  The main areas that were suffering are obviously where we did not have water at the time (holes 2-4) and low pressure areas at the end of a line (17 tees, 11 tees).

Due to course conditions and vandalism, we have decided that it is necessary to close the front 9 golf holes effective immediately.  Golfers were encountering dust, rocks, trenches, sod and overall dangerous playing conditions. The construction crew will now be able to complete the project unimpeded and install product without interrupting your round.  During the closure, we will begin a tee box refurbishment program that will enhance your golf experience even more!

Holes 2-6 are almost complete.  The last of the product will go in tomorrow and a final cleanup will be performed on holes 2-6. With the hole closures, we will now begin hole 1 before moving back at #7.  This change in order will allow hole 1 to heal up sooner.

Some people have been asking about the cleanup of the trenches.  Although it appears that once the soil is compacted back into the trench, that is all that is required, however the process is much more complex.  The company has been asked to go back routinely and add/subtract soil, pick up rocks and dress the areas back up.  Rain and traffic often expose once hidden rocks, pack the soil even more or create a high or low area. We are working hard to get our golf course healed up and go to levels only achieved through good products and great people.

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent
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“Ins and Outs” of Irrigation Project

The good times were flowing at Laurel Ridge last week, literally!  We were able to run the new irrigation heads for the first time on Wednesday.  This helps to cut down on the man hours that it takes to currently water holes 2-6 with a portable water tank.  While we cannot water the entire playing surface with the portable tank, we have been able to water the greens and some tees on these holes.

The old irrigation system is still active on holes 7-18 & 1 which has helped.  But with #8 booster pump out, some tees and green surrounds show signs of why the new system was such a necessity.  To compensate for the bad pump, a zone planning process is implemented so that the main pumps are not overloaded with too many heads running.

While the old irrigation system had “greens heads” that went a complete 360 degrees, the new system will have what’s called “ins and outs”.  Designated sprinklers eliminate overwatering the clay based greens surrounds and under-watering the sand based greens.  In just three waterings, I can already see the difference in #5 green with new sprinklers versus any of the greens with old sprinklers.  I hope you share my excitement as we anticipate the improvements coming our way!

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

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Irrigation System Construction Update & a Longstanding Golf Course Sediment Problem Solved

We hope everyone had a wonderful Derby weekend!   As most of you know, we have a lot of projects happening on the golf course.  First and foremost, we are in the middle of the irrigation system construction project.  The mainline from the pumphouse on #7 has been installed all the way to #4 rough.  Every irrigation head is on a loop coming off of the mainline.  Hole #6 has all irrigation material in the ground and will have the final (of many) grades done today.  Then all dirt areas will be hydroseeded with either bentgrass or bluegrass, depending on the area.  With a raised fertility rate and a growth regulator encouraging lateral growth, these areas should excel. 

Hole #5 has the greens loop installed also and the plan is to start the fairway loop today.  So far, we have already installed 6,000 feet of communication wire.  The downfall of installing any irrigation system this time of year is changes in the weather.  In the beginning, we had too much rain.  Now we are having to haul water in a cart to water areas that currently don’t have irrigation.  Our staff is doing everything possible to keep conditions favorable during construction.

An ongoing sediment problem on Hole #10 has been corrected.   For years, topsoil has washed off of the mountain, ending up in our creeks and ponds.  Over time, sediment, sticks, and leafs have clogged the culvert under #10 cartpath causing it to crack and settle.  Our great friend Burton Edwards has built a boulder head wall to solve that problem. Not only is water flowing correctly now, but the cartpath is much wider.

Trying to do construction and still be able to play golf is a challenge, but we are doing everything that we possibly can to keep any interruptions to a minimum. Once again, thank you for your patience.

Logan Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

Updating Progress on the Irrigation Project

Each week, I will write a blog insert to provide the members and interested parties an update on the irrigation project. The work is progressing great in spite of the rain early on and we have started to lay the PVC pipe and wire from #7 tees, up to #6. This will cross the cart path one time and feed water to holes 2-6. Tentatively, Hole # 6 will be closed Friday thru Sunday (4/24-4/26). Cart traffic will be directed down Skylark, left onto Will Hyatt, and Back onto #7 tee boxes. Our crew is very anxious to progress away from #7 tee box area and move onto dryer soil.

A few members have asked about the possibility of shorter mowing heights. Currently, we are mowing our rough at a 2 inch height of cut. The rainy days have made it very challenging to get the rough cut twice per week as we normally do. As we get irrigation installed on each hole, we plan on mowing an intermediate cut around most greens. This cut will be in between the fairway height, and the rough height of cut.

These sunny days have allowed us to get back into our normal routine. We thank you once again for your continued patience.

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

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Looking to the Future and Installing a New Irrigation System

In these days when golf courses are struggling and golf play is declining, Laurel Ridge Country Club is looking to the future and excited about what is on the horizon.   We will be doing some construction work on the golf course in the next 60-90 days, installing a new irrigation system that will improve the course condition and playability for years to come.  Our current irrigation system is about 30 years old and is in major need of replacement.  The average life of an irrigation system is about 18-20 years, so we are approaching double the expected life span.

The construction began April 8th and should be completed in June. It is always hard to put an exact time line on an irrigation project, due to sub-surface soil, weather, etc.    The installing contractor has been asked to complete one hole at a time to limit the disruption to members and guests.  Rarely will they start another hole until the first has been completed.  The installation process will cause limited disruption to golf play and the course should recover quickly.  Around the greens, turf will be cut, the product installed and turf re-layed.  In the fairways and rough, a couple of narrow trenches will be dug, then filled and compacted with soil, hydroseeded, and the surrounding grass will fill in these areas expeditiously. 

The plan is to start from the pump house at #7 tees and complete holes 6 thru 2, backwards. The reason to follow this route is, once each hole is complete, we can pressurize the water and continue on.  Also, the end of the line will be at #2 black tee; the pipe does not cross under the road over to #1.  Once holes 2-6 are complete, we will start back at the pump house on #7, complete holes 7-9 and #1. Once again, #1 is a dead-end pipe at the green. We will then have a complete front 9 open for play, without further disturbance.  From there, we will work on holes 10 and 18 as well as the tennis courts and driving range.  Afterwards, work will proceed to holes 11, 17, 16, 15 and finally end the project on holes 12-14.

We realize that this can be inconvenient at times and ask for your patience during the next couple of months.  The long term benefit far outweighs any aggravation.  We value each and every member at the club and feel this is a great leap toward providing the best product possible.  Thank you for you patience.

Logan Nesbitt, LRCC Golf Course Superintendent