While the 18th green complex is unique as a Par-3 finishing hole that forces a carry over a large canyon onto a severely sloping green, the landscaping and backdrop has not been very appealing. Two weeks ago, the crew began transforming this area into a much more aesthetically appealing backdrop. The new landscape will consist of drought tolerant native grasses and plants along with ornamental grasses and shrubs that will add splashes of color throughout the back of the green complex. The initial preparation of the area involved cleaning up and removal of the existing plant material and shaping several oak trees that were covered up by years of overgrowth. Selective pruning of oak trees on the left side of the 18th green and removal of fir trees on the right side of the green significantly opened up the view of the entire green complex from all teeing locations. Once mature, the grown landscape will hide the parking lot and traffic above the green all while creating a much more dramatic backdrop for the finishing hole.
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, we had recorded over 50-inches of rain from October 1st through the middle of April. So far this season we are currently at 25-inches. The relatively dry winter combined with a December and January that had most mornings in the low 30’s prevented many of our native grass areas to germinate and begin their regrowth. Last season these areas began germinating in January and were well established by the end of March. This season it seems as they are about 2-months behind schedule as some of the specific species have only just begun their regrowth. With the late season April rains and warm weather, most areas have quickly rejuvenated and are well on their way to filling in. It is expected that most of the native areas will look like a full meadow from a distance, yet be spotty to create better a chance for a player to find their ball. The individual bunch-type grasses compose the blend that initiates growth during the rainy-season, then goes dormant as the soils dry out in mid-summer.
Every little piece counts. When fine tuning the irrigation system over the past two seasons, we have found many small areas throughout the golf course that are watered. These small areas are difficult to irrigate properly and because of their odd shape, tend to waste a significant amount of water. Throughout the winter months, the maintenance crew has been identifying these small puzzle pieces and converting them over to native grasses. The best example is below the forward tee on hole #2. This area used to be maintained as a walk path for golfers. The odd triangular shape required four irrigation heads to water this area of which a portion of the runoff spilled into the adjacent native area. Removing the sod and the four sprinklers creates a better flow of the native grasses and will not only save money on water, but fertilizer and labor resources as well. The area was then plugged with grasses from one of our native grass regions to fill in quicker versus seeding it.
The Western Bluebird is relatively rare for our area. Local birders have mentioned that the Bluebird used to be seen here, but that was 30-40 years ago. Our club horticulturist and active birder, Francine Moody has not seen these songbirds since she began working at Pasatiempo and that was back in 1978. This serves as a testament that as the native grass areas develop and mature, they will ultimately attract new wildlife and bird species. This is a good sign that all the changes throughout the golf course including overall reduction of pesticides over the past several years has created a better environment for our native wildlife to return to the golf course.
|How the Native Areas look following the rainy season and heading into a period of no rain and no irrigation.|
|From a distance the native areas look like a full meadow, but up close are more open with bunch-type grasses that still allow players to find there ball and play shots from.|
It has been quite some time since the last update on the native grass program at Pasatiempo. This project has been a test of patience for not only the membership, but also those of us who have developed and implemented the strategic plan. When first researching the project, we felt that within 3 to 5 years, there should be a significant stand of native grasses. In January of 2010, the first areas were seeded with our native grass seed and following that rainy season, there was decent germination, but the look during last summer was less than desirable to most. Amazingly, many of the grasses and small tufts hung on during the summer with no rain and no irrigation. Once the first rains hit in October of 2010, the grasses began to show life and following a December that recorded over 15-inches of rain, the natives really took off. Overall, there was an abundance of rainfall throughout this past rainy season and the areas that were seeded in January of 2010 are well ahead of the original 3-5 year plan. A tremendous difference from year one to now and we look forward to many of these grasses going dormant and showcasing the golf course with their dramatic golden brown seedheads.