Ring Around the Bunker


Each winter season there are several inquiries as to why the edges of the bunkers dry out so fast, causing the grass to turn brown.  Even more prevalent this season with the consistent cold nighttime temperatures in December through early January, many of the bunker edges are browned out.  This has created a unique look…but it has nothing to do with drying out.  The grass around many of the bunkers edges is bermudagrass, an aggressive warm-season type grass that goes dormant once the first frost hits.  Over the years we have incorporated more fescues into the bunker noses as these grasses will stay green throughout the year and are drought tolerant.  The bermuda actually helps us in the summer season as the bright white sand reflects a lot of heat and negatively affects the poa and ryegrass that surrounds most of the bunker noses.   Even though the bermudagrass is quite aggressive, expect more of the fescues to fill in over the coming years, thus reducing the brown edges.

Dry Ice

Unusually dry December has created numerous frosty days with the long clear cold nights

Although the mornings have been cold without the rain and clouds, the weather this December has been great for playing golf with bright sunny days.  The only obstacle is the minor threat of frost in the mornings, but we have managed to dodge any major frost delays for the past several weeks.  Last December we had nearly 16-inches of rain for the month…still only .10″ has been recorded this year.  The irrigation system has been running periodically throughout the month and it hurts the budget to pay for water when normally it would fall from the sky for free.  Sure, it has been dry like this before, but the previous driest December was in 1989.  Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to 1876 to have witnessed a December with a .10″ of rain or less.  Since we are at the mercy of the city water department, if the pattern does not change as we get closer to spring we could be looking at another summer of mandatory water restrictions.  Another negative aspect is that there are several areas to establish with native grass seed.  While we are still seeding, these areas do not have any irrigation installed.  The seeds depend solely on the rain to germinate and grow.  The native areas that have been established also rely on the rain to begin their regrowth cycle.  If it had been raining, the grasses would all be green right now.  Most of the time, the climate has a way of balancing itself out and rain will hopefully fall in the coming months.  In the meantime, enjoy the golf course and the warm mild days.

El Nino Has Arrived

Looking over the past several years of below average rainfall data, this season was shaping up to be similarly just as dry. Given the hype of “El Nino” we anticipated a wet and wild winter with plenty of rain and numerous after-storm cleanups. With the exception of the significant, yet very rare October storm that dumped nearly 6-inches of rain on the course in one day, the rainy season has not lived up to expectation…until this past week. Since Sunday afternoon, the golf course has received 5.75-inches of rainfall, with more expected throughout the early part of the weekend. While the conditions are soggy and this may seem like a lot of rain, we are still well below normal due to a drier-than-normal November and early December. We need several more inches just to break even for a normal year. Then we would need more rain on top of that, just to put a dent into the drought that has been experienced over the last three years. The course has not been playable during the majority of the week with high winds and occasional bursts of thunder and lightning and the maintenance crew has focused on removing debris from the course and cutting up large branches that fell from trees. No significant damage occurred from the onslaught of storms and no trees were lost. Several bunkers throughout the golf course washed out during the first round of heavy downpours and with more rain expected early next week, the crew will focus on mowing areas where equipment can safely access. Bunker work will begin following next week’s rain as the replacement sand will be loose and not compacted enough to withstand another shot of heavy rain. We appreciate your patience as the crew prepares the course for the best possible playing conditions and while it may be frustrating not being able to play this past week, the rain is a tremendous benefit that we need more of in the coming months.

Winter Golf Course Conditioning


One of the greatest challenges in golf course maintenance is creating consistent playing conditions on a daily basis. The goal of the maintenance team is to create consistent conditioning year-round and keep in mind there is much more that goes into the science of maintaining quality turfgrass other than just watering, mowing, and fertilizing. Factor in the curve balls that Mother Nature throws our way (rain in the winter, hot spells during the summer) and conditioning can change significantly from one day to the next. The winter months can be the most challenging as one might come to play on a 70-degree day only to find carts restricted to path, fairways soggy in spots, and greens that putt slower than normal. The golf course consists of a living plant and weather plays a major factor in the conditioning of the golf course. While we are mowing the greens at the same height of cut as we did during the summer, they play differently due to fluctuating weather events. You may remember that several weeks back the greens were too fast due to consecutive days of frost and afternoon wind. Those two extremes inhibit growth, dry out the putting surface and create lightening fast greens…again even if we are cutting at the same height as the summer. During the past two weeks the golf course has benefited from favorable weather conditions, causing a growth spurt especially in the grass around the greens and bunkers. There is a lot of grass out there right now, but that indicates the health of the course is optimal and the maintenance team has been working diligently to ensure the course is kept playable throughout the winter months.