Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Next sport

Preparations are under way for the next season of recreation at BRCC.
Now, wind stay away.
Need some cold weather,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Open on temporary greens only

Looks like old man winter finally found his way to Northwest Indiana.
We have put the greens to bed for the season. The photos show the application of sand, a final topdressing for 2012. The grass will now be dormant until spring when we will count growing degree days to predict the return of growth to the plants.
The turf is closed to winter play as frozen root zones could result in damage to the surfaces. Today, we will be shooting a video to examine the reasons why we close the regular greens. Look for this to come out later this week.
The temporaries are located on the original back nine, 1 and 9 white, 1 blue, 4-9 blue.
Seven shopping days left,

Monday, December 10, 2012

One more week

Forecast is not quite wintertime-like yet.
We will keep greens open one more week.
If the lows dip below freezing, expect long delays as we wait for surfaces to thaw.
No more excuses....get that tree up! We are two weeks and counting.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Final weekend for regular greens

Looks like winter may finally be here. We will leave the regular greens in-play through the weekend. Come Monday, we will be open on temporaries only.
Expect late starts this weekend, possibly 10:00am.
But get to the club in time for an Irish coffee, perfect in weather like this. I hear they are awesome.
Thanks for a great season!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The incredible shrinking green

Our greens have shrunk! Not from washing with hot water, but from a few years of the greens mower operator being too careful.
When the operator mows the final pass along the outside edge of the green, they must follow the edge perfect. If they veer outside the edge, they will scalp the taller turf that makes up the collar. If the operator stays too far inside the green, some of the turf that should be maintained at green height is not cut, a few days is all it takes for this "new edge" to appear as the correct boundary of the green.
The effort to maintain a "pretty" edge, is more conservative on the operators part. This is all my fault. The boss (me), tends to not like scalped areas.
This is the perfect time of year to "reclaim" these areas. You will notice yellow paint defining the new edge of the green. We will pick up a few awesome pin locations that I am excited about.
Now if I could do something about my shrinking attention span.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Know what makes these people happy?

Well, they are rocking some sweet Christmas garb for one. They are also celebrating the fact that they can sport their festive-wear while playing golf....on regular greens.
That's right, we will keep eighteen holes open on regular greens through the weekend.
We see the forecast as an opportunity to show the membership our appreciation.
We will remain open as the weather allows and will not close simply based on the calendar. I will keep you updated as we monitor the forecast closely to determine the date we will go to temporary greens.
Just to say you golfed December 1 is pretty cool, come on out!
Christmas sweater golf event anyone?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Throw out the "anchor"

We knew it was a matter of time, and today the USGA along with the R&A announced proposed rule change 14-1b.  

Just kidding........ rule 14-1b will "prohibit strokes made with the club or a hand gripping the club intentionally held directly against the player's body, or with a forearm intentionally held against the body to establish an anchor point that indirectly anchors the club."
I personally applaud the governing bodies of golf for this decision, which preserves the nature and tradition of the game.  Now if they will do something about the distance race (guys, are you listening?).
The proposed rule would not make such equipment illegal, just prohibits the anchoring of such a device. Check out this video to see if you will be cheating in 2016, http://usga/anchoring.  
This proposed rule would not take effect until January 01, 2016, so there is plenty of time to take up the practice, win a ton of dough from your friends, then struggle horrifically when you have to give it up in three years.
Anyone want to buy a slightly used long putter?

Sent from Erwin's phone, please excuse grammar and punctuation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cross country update

The cross country event on Friday will be a ten o'clock shotgun. Weather forecast says high of 41 with 16 MPH winds. The temp at projected tee off is 38. This is truly a test of endurance. Not that I am advocating drinking before noon, but Irish coffee may be available prior to tee off.
Soil temperatures are approaching freezing overnight. Expect long delays Saturday and Sunday as we wait for green profiles to thaw. This could be the last weekend for play on the greens.
Have a great thanksgiving,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cross country / true closing scramble

Sad, but true...
It looks like the cross country event (scheduled for Friday), will be the true closing scramble for play on regular greens. The forecast, mild for now, takes a devious turn for frigid temperatures Saturday and beyond.
We are preparing the temporary greens, so we can always get a winter fix.
The cross country is a wonderful, fun, and adventurous event. Make sure you sign up, teams will be drawn Thursday afternoon, so call the proshop today!
I have some delightful tricks up my sleeve,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Good news, better news

There is progress being made in the clubhouse upgrades. The club project is really looking nice.
The extended forecast looks like we will keep greens open for a week or two yet. We close the greens and open temporary greens as the soil begins to freeze and does not thaw completely through the profile.
I will let you know when the forecast is such that it looks like we will be on temporary green for the remainder of the season.
Come and take a peek,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Here we go again

We are very busy around the club.
Several improvements are being made to the clubs interior. I can't wait to show you the new and improved clubhouse!
Just a reminder, the bathrooms have been winterized. Please keep this in mind as you venture out this weekend.
If the rain stays away, we should have some good golfing weather.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Men's grill demolition

Work will begin in this entrance today, and it will be closed! Anyone who tries to enter will be devoured by this angry dog. Just kidding, the door will be locked.
We are sorry for any inconvenience. Please use the main entrance or the office doors located at the north end of the building.
Expect frost delays this weekend and clocks go back Saturday night,

Monday, October 29, 2012

Closing of bathrooms

We are getting closer an closer to winter. We are preparing the bathrooms for freezing nighttime temperatures. Bathrooms will be closing this week. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
The greens on the course will remain open as long as they are free from regular freeze thaw cycles. Once the greens begin to freeze at night and only partially thaw during the day, we will move to temporary greens.
High winds! You may want to move patio furniture in if you haven't yet.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Christmas in October

Today looks like a great day for golf. Get your work done and get to the club. Chef is whipping up something special for you, and I have a special present!
We will allow carts to go off the path, to the ball and back to the path. The course is a little wet, but it looks like one of the last good golf days. Please be mindful of the conditions are drive with concern for the course.
We are blowing out the irrigation system, but we should be wrapping up early afternoon. We are doing our best with leaves, so I apologize for lost balls.
It's a beautiful day,

Monday, October 22, 2012

Salmon in the creek

We have been watching for the salmon to begin pushing in the creek. Drought conditions coupled with the warm temperatures have delayed the run this year. The first report of fish came Saturday by Mark Heaney, good eye Mark!
The water levels are still low as you can tell by the photo showing the bank. If it cools an we get the predicted rain, by the end of the week we should be able to view them regularly from the bridges.
We manage the golf course to protect the water quality of these streams and to protect the habitat of these creatures. These habitats are important sources for their survival, especially when we consider the current situation in the Great Lakes with the introduction of invasive species. The proliferation of the Asian carp could be devastating to this great natural resource. Many people are unaware of the magnitude of the fishery industry that exists in Lake Michigan. We do, and that is why we are so dedicated to the management practices that slow runoff, filter nutrients, and preserve water quality.
Happy Monday,

Friday, October 19, 2012

You got your poa in my bentgrass!

Many Northern courses have poa annua (annual bluegrass) and bentgrass blends that comprise their playing surfaces. Despite the best efforts of turf managers, true stands of bentgrass are difficult to maintain, if not impossible. The reason? Well, we have three golf seasons in the north with two distinct types of growing conditions. Fall and spring tend to be cool and wet, while the summer is warm and dry. Voids, or bare areas in the turf will be filled with whatever grass has the competitive advantage at the time. Poa annua likes the cool and wet, while bentgrass favors the hot and dry.
Photographed are two examples of voids, earthworm castings and divots. Other types of voids include ball marks and traffic damage. As long as their exists voids in the turf during more moderate weather, Northern courses will always contend with having poa / bentgrass surfaces despite the best efforts one can afford.
These may be fighting words for turf managers who don't believe in Darwin.
My inbox will be full of comments soon,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Leaf season and a new look

Leaf cleanup season has begun! Our staff is busy picking up leaves, blowing, and mulching. Try as we may, we cannot keep up, so remember the "leaf rule."
We have also been busy cleaning up several areas like the one on the right and left of one red tee. The photo does not do the work justice, but the new look is amazing, and should help speed up play off the first tee.
Thanks to everyone for your support. The cards, phone calls, text messages, and yes, even a road trip, are much appreciated and more than I could have imagined.
You're the best,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mr. Powers

The plaque has arrived at the flagpole. The tribute to Mr. Powers, in my opinion is perfect. Please take a moment and come to the club to see for yourself. Located just outside "the turn" is the fantastic symbol of our freedom waving in the autumn breeze among three pines that could easily be life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In the background the palate of fall color compliments the vivid green of the golf course which is soaking up the last rays of sunshine before the sun takes its dip towards the winter solstice.
It is really pretty out,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trees and turf

Sometimes these pictures are just too good not to share. This spring the irrigation to the small putting green was overhauled as the construction project destroyed the old lines. The red dotted line is showing the trench line. The grass opposite the trench from the trees (or to the right of the red dashed line) is no long competing with tree roots because they were severed by the trencher.
The line that appears in the left of the photo is simply leaves that are caught in the ornamental grasses. The big story is in the really green healthy grass.
Pretty cool,

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cooler temps / range tee closing

The leaves are turning into a vibrant background, the days are getting shorter, and the recuperative potential of turf is slowing. These things are indicators that our golf season is winding down....(insert sad face).
This will be the last weekend for the driving range tee on the grass. Next week we will go to the mat on the back of the range. The main reason for this is as soil temps dive, seed germination stops. We don't want to do any damage to the tee that won't repair itself.
The mat upgrade was a great addition this year and makes cool weather practice possible.
Time for hot cider,

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Closing scramble

Today is our closing scramble. What a year 2012 has been!
For golf course managers, it has been the most stressful of years. The weather extremes tested the best of turf health programs. Cultural programs, fertility regimes, and irrigation practices were tweaked and re-tweaked. The thing that made 2012 really difficult was that there were days that exhaustion and frustration took over. Crews left golf courses after long shifts knowing turf loss was imminent, but they had done all they could. I remember telling a colleague that superintendents would not lose their jobs due to turf loss in 2012, but for succumbing to the stress in some way, shape, or form.
Thanks to everyone for your support this year, hope you have a great finish (like the one in the photo;-).
My staff and I appreciate all the kind words and comments. We really enjoy our membership and believe we have the greatest club in the county!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Trees and turf, oil and water

The Midwest drought continues. While we should be focusing on projects such as aerification, we are continuing to hand water areas in the fairways adjacent to trees. Turf quality is impacted negatively by tree roots.
One way that we give the turf some relief is by root pruning. This process involves cutting a trench along the edge of the fairway, cutting the roots that encroach in the turf area.
As golf is a game that is played on turf, the turf quality and health should take precedent when deciding on tree location. Growing quality turf in any situation where the conditions are compromised is going to require greater resources ($$).
Golf courses have some of our countries most stately trees. The effort to properly maintain trees must be put forth to have trees that are mature, healthy, and stately. If a property has more trees than it can afford to properly maintain, the ability to have beautiful mature trees that enhance the landscape, gets increasingly difficult.
Contrary to popular belief, I like trees. I really like the stately tree that stands tall among the landscape. We have some phenomenal trees here at Briar that are lost in the forest.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oh bee-have

It is feeling more and more like fall here at Briar Ridge. The trees on the golf course are turning colors, and the last of our fall plants are flowering. The native areas on the golf course have more meaning for me now than they ever have.
The flowers shown below are the last nectar flow for our bees. This important food supply will boost the honey production that we will soon harvest. Mr. Valvanis and I were excited for this years harvest. We were expecting over fifty pounds of honey as two of our hives were strong. Then reality set in.
We witnessed first hand what we believe is colony collapse disorder. Our second hive weakened by bees failing to return from daily gathering made the hive susceptible to intruders. The intruder in this case was the wax moth (TBD). We lost the entire hive and over twenty pounds of honey.
What was gained however, was a very real understanding about the environmental situations we are facing. We knew about colony collapse, read about it, but it just wasn't real. "Not here," I thought, problems exist somewhere else, for other people, in other lands. Not so.
I have a new appreciation for the land I steward, a boost that I needed.
The areas with wild flowers will be cut down, as soon as the flowering stops.
Protecting our resources,

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ball mark repair

Cooler temperatures are here!
This means that the turf growth will slow, and so the recuperative potential for the turf is reduced.
This time of year, it is more important to repair the regular damage that the course endures.
Not only is it important to repair ball marks, but to repair them correctly. If your ball marks look anything like the ones in the photograph, please stop fixing ball marks. Your helping is not helping.
Remember to never lift any turf in the process of fixing a ball mark.
I am always available to demonstrate the correct way to repair a pitch mark. I promise to do so with kindness and compassion, no ridiculing or belittling will take place.
You can also view this process in the privacy of your home by visiting my youTube channel at theworldofturf.
Happy Friday,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Aerification change

What do they say about the best laid plans?
We do not like to change our schedule, but when opportunity knocks.......
We have the opportunity to aerify some greens a week early. This is a great change of events for us because earlier aerification typically means that they will recover quicker. Aerification is an intense labor endeavor and we have a great video of the process at theworldofturf youTube channel.
We will begin with the white 9.
We will keep you informed.
This process is very important to the quality of our putting surfaces.
Thanks for your support,

Saturday, September 8, 2012


The canopy of a tree is the engine that drives survival. Trees convert light into energy via photosynthesis. I will spare the details about electron transfer and ATP, remember those terms? Anyhow, the larger the tree, the more energy they require. Optimum health is achieved when a full canopy develops. Over-planting and crowding of landscape trees, compromise plant health. Proper spacing is important for a tree to be able to develop its proper shape and to utilize as much sunshine as possible.
It is important to thin areas to allow certain trees to mature and thrive. Overcrowded areas can eventually become treeless, as no single plant is allowed to be healthy. In the presence of intense competition with other trees, plants shoot toward the sunshine, never developing a proper canopy.
Enjoy these examples.
It's a beautiful day,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Introduction to trees

This is the beginning of several blogs on the topic of trees. I would like to set the record straight, I love trees. I think they are wonderful. I even really enjoy certain species and have favorites.
The definition of a weed is a plant that is out of place.
When plants, regardless of their "woody" nature, are out of place, they are weeds. Here at Briar Ridge we have many beautiful trees. We also have plenty of unhealthy and overcrowded ones as well.
Topics that the next few blogs will cover are; tree forms and deformations, canopy, rooting structure, competition, framing, likely hood of long term survival, destruction of assets, playability, and how trees are used in golf course architecture.
I have included some photos as examples of the topics. Can you guess which ones represent which topics?
How many trees do you see with a healthy canopy and proper form?
In the words of my friend, "this is going to be exciting!"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Aerification time

We are entering the most important time of the year for growing quality turfgrass. Fall is the time that we engage in cultural practices such as verticutting and aerification.
We will be aerifying tees and fairways Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays through the fall.
Greens aerification is scheduled for the week of September 24th.
We appreciate your understanding through this time. It is through these efforts, that we are able to produce high quality playing surfaces.
We have begun on the red fairways, and it looks like rain.
Oh boy,