dodges dirt

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fantastic weather in October and into the month of November has made this one of the most productive off-seasons of golf course work in recent memory. In addition to cleaning up most of the remaining tree damage from the blow down we had this past summer, we were also able to install over 1300 linear feet of drainage line on holes 1, 2, 5, 9, 16, and 18.

Typical drainage installation in progress-9 Fairway

This past season was one of the wettest we have ever experienced in the area and so we had a very easy time identifying areas that needed the most help.  After doing this sort of work, every fall, for the last 15 years, since the course has been open, there has been a vast improvement on drainage.  Cart path only rulings that used to last 48-72 hours now last 24 hours or in some cases less.  This is all part of our commitment to improving conditions for players not just for next year but for many years to come.  This is messy, labor intensive work that cannot be done effectively while open to the public.  I am deeply appreciative to have great people who willingly stuck around to perform this chore.  Without seasonal staff Andrew Buchholz, Roger Makela, and Olaf Walkky this work would not have been possible.  I cannot say thanks enough.

As we say goodbye to the 2016 season (the forecast is for snow on Thursday and Friday) I would like to say thank you to all the golf course staff and customers who make it possible for work to be something that I look forward to each morning. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I look forward to seeing all of you in 2017. 

Vincent Dodge

Monday, August 01, 2016

This year gets better and better.  We start with an extremely dry April and early May followed by an extremely wet late May and June.  This pattern has continued going into July with consistently high humidity resulting in violent storms that have rocked the golf course in a variety of ways.  Some of these storms have dropped excessive amounts of rain on the golf course in a very short amount of time, resulting in washouts on bunkers and in some cases creating springs underground that cause persistent wet areas that take weeks to go away-if the rain stops.  Some storms bring the added benefit of lightning which has, on two separate occasions, caused damage to irrigation satellites and computer components.  These two items take labor and money to repair but are things that we are accustomed to dealing with and really not a huge deal.  The latest gift, however, is not something that happens every year.

Ninety mile per hour winds hammered on the golf course right around 2 A.M. on Thursday morning.  This wind destroyed sixty-seven trees on the golf course (this number does not include other trees lost on the property that are not in play).  The debris on the golf course was widespread and the fallen trees made navigation on the golf course impossible without extensive chainsaw work.  We were able to open the golf course an hour later than usual-the course was playable but admittedly not in its best condition.  Recovering from this sort of damage takes time and careful prioritizing in regards to what needs to be done right away and what can wait.  The first order of business is to make cart paths passable and putting greens playable.  This took all day on Thursday.  The second priority after this is to clean off tees and fairways so that we may continue to mow them.  This was done on Friday.  What is often forgotten when getting hit with a storm like this is that we cannot just drop everything we are doing and take a few weeks focusing solely on cleanup.  The routine golf course work does not go away while we are handling this challenge.  In effect, it is a balance between cleanup and maintaining optimal playability that must be achieved.  With this in mind, please be patient as we continue to systematically get to cleanup work on all areas of the golf course.

I have attached a few photos of the damage done by the storm.

16 green  July 21, 2016

16 green  July 21, 2016

Multiply this mess by about 20 or so and you get the idea of what it is that we are dealing with.

See you on the golf course.

Vincent Dodge

Friday, July 01, 2016

The relentless rainfall that we have received during the latter part of May and into the middle of June created numerous challenges for the golf course and crew.  We received close to the entire monthly rainfall amount for June in the first half of the month and the place showed it.  Numerous cart path only rulings and difficulty in accomplishing routine maintenance.  Fortunately that appears behind us for now and the course in moving into summer form.

One item of note you may notice-or likely not-is the way in which annual bluegrass i.e. Poa annua is beginning to show signs of stress on putting greens.  This is intentional and accomplished through the careful application of turf growth regulators.  The picture below should help to explain.

Close up 14 green

Stressed Poa annua surrounded by bentgrass.

Note the areas of thinning, yellowing grass surrounded by darker green, growing grass.  As the annual bluegrass patches begin to thin and die, we are driving growth on the bentgrass in order to crowd out the Poa annua.  We drive growth by fertilizing a little bit more on putting greens.  What this means from a playability standpoint is that greens are now stimping a 9’ (checked this morning) as opposed to the “normal” 9.5’ for this time of the year.  This is, really, a minor price to play for managing the golf course for the future-particularly with the heavily contoured nature of our putting greens.  As the summer continues and the bentgrass begins to fill in the vacated areas we will then back off on the fertilizer and recover the extra 6” or more of green speed.  We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we fight the good fight against this putting green weed.

We do this because we strive for a cleaner bentgrass surface on putting greens for more consistent putting quality and, more importantly, we want to ensure that we come out of our winters with putting greens that are not dead.  Annual bluegrass can be and sometimes is a wonderful putting surface.  Oakmont in Pittsburgh is a great example.  I have grown fine annual bluegrass putting surfaces in the Chicagoland area during my career.  In parts of the country, however, where winters are extremely severe it simply does not survive the off season some years.  Slow greens sometimes result in complaints but can be remedied.  Dead greens often result in job loss.

See you on the golf course.

Vincent Dodge

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Fires across Northern Minnesota this May were a pretty good indicator of just how dry conditions were throughout the entire month on the golf course.  I do not recall irrigating as much in any other previous year and while many would think that this makes things tougher, the fact is most superintendents prefer this over the opposite-too much rain.  We can always add more water but on this site it is not so easy to remove it.  We like to be able to have control of conditions and with dry weather this control is much easier to achieve.  Our production as a golf course staff this May has been outstanding as a result of dry conditions.  I may say it too much but my staff makes me enjoy coming to work in the morning.  They all share a commitment to the golf course that makes me proud.

One challenge that we have had this year is getting putting greens dialed in to the optimal height of cut and corresponding green speeds of a consistent 9 to 9.5 feet.  In a normal winter-which means extreme cold-greens come out of the winter underneath our greens covers green in color but without excessive growth.  This lack of excessive growth means we can bring the height of cut on greens down quicker and so achieve excellent putting quality as early as possible.  This year was different.

The warm fall followed by an extremely mild winter led to excessive growth underneath the greens covers.  We removed the covers as soon as we could this spring.  While at first glance one might think that lots of grass under covers is a good thing, it really is not.  Scalping greens down in order to establish our regular height of cut is not good for the greens, the equipment, or the operators.  Other courses in the state have reported similar challenges this year due to the mild fall and winter.  Even now, some of our greens are showing the stress of this kind of aggressive mowing to achieve playability.  Looking at the close up picture below of 16 green (it has a southern exposure); you can see the old, scalped stems and leaves from the stress of low mowing.

16 green 5-26-2016

This type of injury will go away in a few more weeks as we continue to have warmer temperatures and better growing conditions.  Keep in mind two weeks ago we had snow on the ground.  In addition, light topdressing and brushing will also help to bring greens to their normal condition.  While this has not been a huge problem, it certainly has been an annoying one.

I thank you all for your interest in our facility and look forward to seeing you on the golf course.

Vincent Dodge

Sunday, May 01, 2016

To me the most enjoyable time of the year to be working on the golf course is the time period from when snow melts and the course opens to play and the time period from closing day until conditions become too harsh to work outside productively.  While there is definitely more physical, “character building” type of work that requires completion before we open, the feeling of accomplishing projects that make the golf course better in the future makes it worthwhile.  Add to this the fact that you do not have to look over your shoulder wondering where the next player is and spring/fall work is pretty cool stuff.

The projects this year included the addition of a new patio by the clubhouse to better accommodate the needs of the restaurant.  Also done was over 1600 linear feet of drainage line grading and sodding in preparation for play.  These drain lines over the years have made it possible for us to lift cart path only restrictions much faster after heavy rain events.  I am both very thankful for and proud of this group-many of whom have been with us on the golf course for many years.  Simply put, without them nobody plays golf. 

Drainage line sodding-10 fairway

April 2016

I have seen some crazy things on the golf course over the years.  Crack heads driving on putting greens and racial slur bunker art come to mind as I write today, but I saw something this Spring that warrants a shout out.

Snake Skin Irrigation Satellite 1 fairway


This spring while making a repair on an electronic board on an irrigation box, I came across this when I removed the old board.  Apparently, snakes like to climb up into those green boxes you see on the golf course and shed their skins.  Kind of makes you think twice before opening those boxes to water stuff.

Bob and Boomer


Everybody likes dogs so I thought I would post the latest picture of the two village idiots taking a timeout from their strenuous duties on the golf course.  See if you can find Bob in the picture.

Take care everyone and we look forward to seeing you on the golf course now that we are open.

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