It is Fall! Changing leaves and apples are among us. We have scheduled our Greens aerification for late Fall to allow for great play and great greens for as long as possible. After October 20th, we will be pulling cores with hollow-tine aerifier. Pulling cores helps reduce the thatch layer. It’s like losing an extra 30 pounds. When hot summer weather comes, the turf-grass is more susceptible to over-heating and drying out. They need to go on crash diet (de-thatching practices) and then stay lean (regular verti-cutting & top-dressing of sand). Another analogy is going to dentist 1-2 times per year and regular brushing & flossing. Like the dentist office, no one likes punching holes in our beautiful greens; but it will be better in long run. We will reduce dead-spots in greens, reduce frantic hand watering, and play on a firmer, smoother putting surfaces. So, should be a great Fall for golf here at Sunset Ridge GC; no aeration holes until Halloween!
We did buy another Jacobsen triplex mower in August. This allows us to use our 2nd greens cutting units that have mechanical groomers. These units stand-up the bent grass just before the bed knife & reel cut at 0.150” height of cut. This provides less grain, more aggressive cut and smoother, faster greens. We lost our speed in August due to hot wet weather but also because we lacked this essential grooming equipment. We are continuing to examine our equipment to keep improving golf course conditions.
My favorite new toy in the maintenance barn is the Toro blower. It took 1 hour to blow each messy green last year with back-pack blower. This year, we slowly drive this pull-behind blower across greens and have the green & surround cleared in 10 minutes. Going to be great for blowing leaves this Fall too. Other “imagined uses” are to blow dry ornamental grass clumps when wet & droopy. Roses at #1 tee get a quick dry as I drive by too. Pro Shop Mark suggested blowing fog off course when it rolls in from the valley. Seriously, this is a great tool and is a game changer for upping our golf course maintenance.
Our summer staffers: OCS senior Nathan Frye and Cobleskill senior Chris Brizzi were a huge help and are missed this Fall. Our core crew is with us through the remainder of the growing season. I am a huge weather watcher. It has been a wild year: wet-cold Spring; turned to hot-dry early summer; then hot-wet late summer. It’s been a roller coaster. My favorite prediction for our weather is that storms are going to be “rainier” – – they will linger and dump a lot of rain in some locales. I can’t imagine 30” rain like in Carolinas this September or 50” in Houston a few years back. We had 5” in 3rd week July 2018 and we thought the sky had fallen.
All for today. See you on the links. Sincerely, Scott Winkelman.
What a difference a month of rain makes. Whew! We are green again and our ponds are full. We got 4.5″ the last week July and 2.5″ this past week in August. A few weeks of drought and a week of deluges! We shall be over-seeding and de-thatching throughout the Autumn. We have re-tapped the Murphy Farm’s old well out front; this will supplement our water supplies in future.
We have mowed many of Sunset Ridge’s long grass areas. We cut annually to control woody plants and obnoxious weeds. There are monarch butterflies around this year; they thrive on our milkweeds. Mowing also speeds play and looks neat & tidy. Hate it or love it, the long grass areas add character and are an essential part of our “links-style” golf course. We’ll find a happy medium between totally wild and totally manicured.
Our resident Red Tail Hawk likes it when we mow the long grass areas. It had a field day behind #2 tee. It sat on nearby mounds and tee sign all week. Not sure if it was still hunting or too stuffed to fly away.
Hazard stake adjustments have been made on lower left of hole #14. The lateral hazards (red stakes) have been brought back to corner of dogleg for ease of rulings, pace of play and play-ability. Could be a stroke saver!
We have a few Purple Martin Houses on the course. They could use an upgrade. Anyone willing to build new houses? The birds will eat a lot of insects but the houses provide golfers a target on blind shots. The 4th hole is an obvious good example. The big bird house between #11 Green and #12 is not so well positioned; it might be better behind #11 Green(?). Please let me know if we have any birders out there that would be willing to build some nice boxes. Thanks.
I ‘m excited for Men’s Member-Guest next weekend. We will be verti-cutting, rolling and mowing a little extra. Might be using a couple of “alternative Tees” too. Hopefully the weather cooperates. Please help Sunset rebuild our membership. I’m convinced the new Sunset Ridge is here to stay. New ownership is filling the tee sheet almost daily, making many improvements and planning for long-term. Very sustainable! Please share our sense-of-place with a guest and play for fun and glory!
New equipment as we head into fall includes a Toro pull-behind blower and a Graden verticutter. The blower is a top-of-the-line gas powered wind tunnel and can be towed with light-weight cart. The nozzle rotates for efficiency. We will be able to blow leaves & debris from Greens, Tees, Fairways and Rough. Yes, you can still play “the leaf rule” but I think we’ve got a lot of beautiful golf to play this Fall.
“Damn nice weather!”
Weather has been so nice that our irrigation ponds are dwindling; but rain storms are in the forecast. We’ve seen a lot of fiery conditions this season – – on T.V. and here at Sunset Ridge. Great for golf but I believe there is a perfect middle-ground between lush green and rock-hard brown. Yes, golf course conditions are very dependent upon the weather. We do have sprinklers at all greens, most tees and up the middle of each fairway; but we cannot use them with impunity. The recent weather has been rather extreme to the point that some of the trees around the clubhouse are dropping leaves! What are our plans? We have repaired the old Murphy Farm Well for back up water during times of stress in our irrigation season. It’s 180’ deep with 10-gpm capacity and has little competition now that OCWA serves the neighborhood. To better manage our storm-water we are clearing ditches; so when it does storm, more water gets to our ponds. We are repairing and adjusting our irrigation so water goes where we need it – – on our small tee surfaces not whole tee surrounds. We are fixing malfunctioning heads: no rotation, no electric on/off, leakers and still cleaning turtle parts out of sprinklers. We have had a few leaks in our main lines after pumping nonstop since May. I have measured only 0.6” rain in July and 2.4” in June (mostly over 1st & last weekends). It’s been hot and windy too.
It has been a full time job keeping our sand-based greens irrigated. Dragging hoses from green to green. Golf is not a game of perfect; and neither is green keeping. For any of you that travel to other courses in the area, hopefully you agree that we are as green or greener than most! Our monthly application wetting agents are working nicely and we will be seeding & sodding with plugs to improve the stressed spots on greens. This fall, we’ll be cultivating to reduce more thatch and consulting irrigation specialists for long range planning on irrigation system up-grades.
We are always striving to maintain and improve our golf course conditions. And it is nice to get roll in fairway but Mother Nature’s cooperation is appreciated. Have you noticed the little frogs on Greens #2, #3 and #4 this summer? They seek water too. With the rains coming again, we have more time for special projects. For visibility, play-ability and/or water movement, we have cut 10’-tall phragmites from ditch between #9 green & #10 tee; cut back cattails on #8 pond and mowed many “long grass” areas. Our signature holes #12 and #16 are scheduled for clearing in the ravine. Tree work is planned as well to eliminate some dead trees and cut down on some of that darn Cottonwood fluff that is still flying.
All in all, it’s summertime in Central New York. Enjoy all the golf you can. Thanks for all your prayers for rain! A brief, summer-afternoon down-pour is just now happening. It’s a beautiful thing!
Scott Wink., G.C. Supt.,7/23/2018
Our cool-season turf grasses (bent-grass & poa annua) and sand-based Greens went through culture shock with the short Spring. I apologize for the Localized Dry Spots that flared up. Wow, end of June and it feels like we’ve weathered a full month of summer – – warm, dry & windy. We are alleviating these perennial LDSs with multiple techniques. Dragging hoses & watering alone didn’t work. Our aeration helped to reduce thatch but much remains. On June 15th, we sprayed all Greens with special Wetting Agent. It went on like sticky soap – – helps water penetrate and helps holds moisture & nutrients in our pure sand root-zone. We have also cultivated several bad Green surfaces with slicer to assist infiltration. We even pitch-forked LDSs on #16. Sod plugs will be done in bad spots. The Wetting Agent will be applied monthly thru summer. Our goal is to provide our golfers with smooth, consistent putting surfaces.
With late start to season, we are still a few weeks behind. Equipment tune-ups & fixes are being sorted out. Irrigation repairs will help us keep Greens watered. Nothing seemed routine yet this season; but I have my full crew now. Just last week, we began rolling Greens 2 times per week; bunkers and cups will be done more regularly. Fairways are fertilized and getting 3/week mowing.
June had 0.5” rain early until June 19th’s 0.7” rain. Last Wednesday brought .9”, whew! Our manual irrigation system and pond water can supplement Mother Nature but Channel 9 predicted “normal temps and wetter than normal” summer for CNY. Firm and fast golf courses are all the rage now. I think there is a middle ground where we get summer roll in fairways yet the grounds are lush enough to allow divots, tees in ground & a little “hold” on Greens. We’ll get there. I do get nervous when we start using our Reservoir Pond (#8) so early in season.
Cottonwood trees putting out a bumper crop of fluffy snow this year. We have marked several of the most prolific for winter removal. We have returned Broken Tee boxes to green tees; help us tidy our tees: either toss in box or throw off tee surface, please. We have a qualified volunteer helping fill divots on tees this season; thank you Mark Clark. You can help too. Sand bottles are on carts and find extras bottles supplied on Par-3s now. Distance stones at Tees have been trimmed as well as all Fairway irrigation heads (down the middle). With all “rescue” watering on Greens, please repair ball punch marks.
Most importantly, get out and play. Enjoy the weather and the “new” Sunset Ridge GC.
Golf Course Superintendent