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Farewell to the Irrigation Contractor

According to the experts, leaf season in WNC is supposed to be the best that it has been in years. The above average dry conditions are one of the main factors that contribute to this.  Normally the leaf season begins when temperatures become cooler and I have already noticed some maple trees teasing us with early hues of red and orange.   The grass seed that was hydroseeded, slit-seeded and broadcast spread last week is reaping the benefits of the cooler temperatures as well.  We are seeing our bluegrass germinate in 7-10 days and bentgrass is germinating as quick as four days.

Another tool that has been a huge help has been a walk behind slit seeder.  Many thanks to my former boss at the Country Club of Asheville for loaning this machine to aid in reseeding.  While the tractor mounted slit seeder is great for many seeds, the walk behind unit is wonderful for the small bentgrass seed.  We have been able to slit seed all the back nine tees, collars and any small areas on the greens that we could not sod.  The plan is to open the back nine holes for play on 9/11/15 and then use the small slit seeder on the front nine tees and collars.  We will continue to use several methods of seeding on the remaining dirt exposed areas on the golf course. This work will continue all the way into fall as weather permits.

I’m really pleased with the cleanup and reseeding progress of the entire golf course, especially on the back nine holes.  Since less rock interrupted the construction, the process has been much quicker and organized.  Yesterday we finally bid farewell to the tractors, trucks, loaders, excavators and trenchers as the as the contractor and his crew left the property.   My staff will take over from here with rock cleanup and trenches that settle as our main focus in addition to the demands of normal golf course maintenance.

When the golf course is reopened next week, we will ask that all golfers follow specific cart rulings and requests so that we do not harm the areas that are only beginning to recover.  The less destructive that we all can be on the golf course, the better everyone enjoys our wonderful property.  Please tune in next week for more updates as we open the full golf course to members and guests.

Logan Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

Walk-Behind Slit Seeder

Walk-Behind Slit Seeder

Seeding with the Walk-Behind Slit Seeder

Seeding with the Walk-Behind Slit Seeder

Back Nine Holes To Reopen September 11th

I am very excited to announce that the back nine holes will reopen on September 11th and all 18 holes will be open for play.  Construction cleanup should be complete then, but golfers may encounter a worker seeding or mowing.  Care should be taken to follow the intended routes as some holes will be cart path only/follow white flags and some will have an entrance/exit point for fairway driving.  Because of the tighter layout of the back nine, creating temporary cart paths would be unsafe.

Progress on the golf course cleanup is going well.  A final ” walk through” with the contractor will provide an opportunity to change or correct any issues as needed.  Instead of starting the walk through on #1, we have decided to start on #10.  This will let the contractor work freely without interrupting golf on the front nine.  Following this thought, they will work from #10 through #18 then #1 through #9.

I am encouraged with the cooler day and night temperatures.  The seed and young plants that were sitting idle are now germinating and growing.  We are seeing even more growth where vehicle traffic is minimal or non existent. Obviously the soil is better on some parts of the golf course than others, so some areas are way ahead.  Even though I’m not a fan of Bermuda grass, it is amazing to see how quickly the small amount of Bermuda fills the trench in vs. Bluegrass.

We look forward to letting members play the entire golf course again and finally reaping the benefits of this enormously challenging project.

Logan Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

Bermuda fill in vs bluegrass fill in

Bermuda fill-in vs bluegrass fill-in

Fertilizer will be put out next week to aid in the fill in process

Fertilizer will be put out next week to aid the fill-in process

Finished!

Finished!  That’s a word we all have been waiting for since Laurel Ridge Country Club’s irrigation project began four months ago!  I am very happy to report that all of the new irrigation system has been installed and the pipe, wire and heads are all working properly.  The irrigation contractor will now go back through the entire property and do what is called a “final walk through”. During this process, they will fill low areas, level heads, adjust valve boxes, clean weeping heads, fix asphalt, level dirt and do a total cleaning once again.  This step is very important because we want to make sure everything is as it should be, although we are also anxious to get the contractors off the golf course.

All of the sod work on the greens is complete.  Our golf course has a total of about 130,000 square feet of greens, and we have sodded about 7,000 square feet of area that was lost during the period with no irrigation water.  Already, these areas have started to root and will be eased into the normal mowing height of 0.130″.  There are some small areas that we will be aerifying, seeding, and topdressing shortly. These areas were not quite large enough to warrant sodding but they do need seed to help them recover.

In the next week, we will be sand capping and sodding #3 tee box.  This will be the final sod area for the new construction.  The sod for the new tees has been coming from #5 fairway.  During a visit earlier this year, golf course designer, Bob Cupp suggested that a dirt berm be installed to force the dog leg left on hole #5.  We will be landscaping and mulching this berm shortly.  Afterwards, the crew will grow all the bentgrass back in and have a wonderful nursery.

This update was written with a glad heart because I know this club and its members are really going to benefit from the construction process.  Look for more updates next week.

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

Laurel Ridge Horizontal Logo CMYK

Superintendent’s Golf Course Improvement Update

With the cool morning temperatures of late, pumpkin spice coffee will soon be needed!  These cooler temperatures are great for seed germination and the grass seed and sod areas are coming in nicely.  The seed also need wet growing conditions to germinate.  If you notice what you may consider excessive watering, that is what the seed prefers in order to develop .  New sod requires being watered several times per day for the first week and half.  Then we slowly transition into a normal watering cycle.

At present, the last of the pipe and irrigation heads are going in the ground.  Installing an irrigation system during the hottest months of the year has really been a challenge.  The process has been long and hard, but the outcome will truly be amazing.  Once the seed that has been put out fully comes in, members will see what they can expect in the future.  As they say, the proof is in the pudding.

Several tasks will be ongoing in the next couple of months.  Regular topdressing of greens and tees, seeding of dirt areas, mowing some different fairway lines and aerifying greens are at the top of the list, in addition to our regular maintenance program.  We look forward to the cooler daytime temperatures that allow us to accomplish many different tasks.  We realize that playing conditions have been tough and thank you for sacrificing the top-notch playing conditions you are accustomed to in order to ensure a brighter, healthier future for our championship golf course.

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

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Adding new sod on hole #15

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Trenching Continues Mostly Rock-Free on Back Nine as Water Flows on Front Nine

“What a relief…to be in rock free soil.” I have heard our Irrigation Contractor say this over the past few weeks. I have also muttered these words every time the trenchers were moving smoothly without the extra effort and time rocks add to the project. Excluding holes 10 and 16, the back nine holes have had very few rocks. I hope to continue this trend as we start trenching holes 12, 13 and 14 this week. At present, we have water from the new irrigation system flowing on holes 1-11, 15 green, 16 tees, 17, 18, and the practice areas. I love the feeling of being able to pressurize water and grow the course back from the drought conditions.  Every time irrigation water is flowing on the course, we are back on track, one step closer to getting the golf course back in playable condition, with great conditions to follow!

Our maintenance staff has been a work in progress so far this year. Unfortunately, we have had a lot of turnover with our staff in an effort to find hard-working, conscientious workers that care for our Club and take pride in their work. Finally for the first time this year, I feel comfortable with our team and I am ecstatic to continue training the crew. The sporadic rain showers have really shown the new guys how the scheduling is similar to a chess match. When a rain shower interrupts our plan, it is almost impossible to make that time up.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work towards an outstanding golf experience at Laurel Ridge.

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

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Ongoing Projects to Enhance the Golf Experience at Laurel Ridge Country Club

The golf course maintenance staff has been very busy this week!  Several projects are underway throughout the golf course that will greatly enhance your experience at LRCC.  A tee expansion project will enlarge and level some of the tee boxes around the course.  Holes 3, 4, 6, 16 and 18 will all have work done to tees where needed.  In some instances, tee markers will need to be moved to allow for this work to be done.  Sod work will continue this week and next to cover the tee surfaces.

During Golf Course Designer Bob Cupp’s visit earlier in 2015, Mr. Cupp suggested that a landscaped berm should be installed to encourage a dog leg left shot on hole 5.  Following his advice, we will mow a narrow fairway all the way to the green once temperatures allow.  Trucks have started hauling the base material for the berm and topsoil will cover the growing area once this is complete.

The irrigation crew is currently working on holes 11, 16 and 17.   Progress is going very well now that the large mainline pipe is complete.  The two troublesome holes that had worried me most with sub-surface rock were 1 and 16, and I’m tickled to say that each hole is now trenched and the rock only created a minimal disruption.

Thank you to each member that has helped with landscaping or other tasks on the golf course.  Your contributions really help in a big way are are greatly appreciated.  Also, a continued thank you for everyone’s patience during the golf course improvement project at LRCC.

Logan Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

Laurel Ridge Horizontal Logo CMYK

Rainfall Woes

Just as there are two sides to every story, so are there two sides to the occurrence of rain.  Too little rain hurts our growing seed and parts of the course that are yet to receive irrigation, while too much rain hinders progress for our irrigation contractor.  Ideally, one-half inch of rain once per week would suffice.  These recent days of heavy rain have forced us to close the course several days due mainly to quantities of exposed dirt where the grass seed hasn’t germinated well yet.  This dirt turns to slick mud that is unsafe to drive or walk on.

Progress on the irrigation system was delayed once again due to the rain on Tuesday.  However, I am thrilled to report that all the mainline pipe has been dug.  This mainline ends just in front of the ladies’ tee box on #12.  Now the plan is to fall back and install all the fairway, tee, green, perimeter and rough heads and pipe on holes 11-17.  As I have mentioned before, the smaller pipe is a lot easier to install and much quicker.  I have been encouraged with the performance of the new irrigation system thus far.  Growing the golf course back in and getting conditions the way we want them is happening consistently.  The new irrigation system will allow us to provide water to the course when Mother Nature is going through a dry spell.

I thank those of you who have obeyed the rules of golf cart traffic routing.  Hopefully everyone playing can see the difference that staying off of these areas makes.  For example, please compare holes 2, 4, 6 vs. 3 & 5.  Holes 3 and 5 have had construction traffic on them more than the others.  For those who have not been following the cart routing instructions, Santa is watching you!  Please do your best to adhere to our routing paths while we grow the course back in.  Thanks once again for your patience and support.

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

Trenching on Hole #11

Trenching on Hole #11

 

Trenching on our scenic hole #12

Trenching on our scenic hole #12

Irrigation Update & the Challenges of Growing Grass in the “Transition Zone”

I think the saying is, “In the Appalachian Mountains, if you don’t like the weather…just wait 5 minutes”.  Fortunately, we live in a beautiful place in the United States known as the Transition Zone.  Rainy, 70 degree weeks are followed by dry, 88 degree weeks.  The Transition Zone consists of portions of several states where the weather and growing conditions can sometimes accommodate a certain plant one week and not the same plant the next week.  In the golf world, this has ballooned into cool vs. warm season grasses.  At Laurel Ridge, we have all cool season grasses, i.e., grasses that do better at temperatures below 75 degrees.  These grasses stay green all year long unless it gets too warm.  Balancing the golf course right now with limited irrigation is a challenge.  Water trucks, trailers and portable pumps are keeping the back nine greens alive during construction and these warm weeks.

With reduced staff mowing the golf course, inconsistent playing conditions are inevitable and for that I apologize.  Whether it is tall rough, lack of weedeating, limited teeing space or something else, please know that the maintenance staff is working hard for LRCC.  We set high standards for our golf course conditions; therefore, seeing something out of place and knowing the days just aren’t long enough to fix everything drives me crazy.

On an encouraging note, the new irrigation ran for the first time on the entire front nine on Thursday.  The irrigation contractors have shifted focus to finishing 10 and 18 as well as connecting the lines to the tennis courts and clubhouse irrigation. Trenching and product installation have started on 11 and will be bouncing around the back nine for the next three weeks.

Once again, I ask everyone to avoid driving across any trenches or seeded areas. Thank you for your patience and support.

Logan H. Nesbitt, Golf Course Superintendent

Laurel Ridge Horizontal Logo CMYK

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

Laurel Ridge Horizontal Logo CMYK

 

 

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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