About Me

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Los Gatos, California, United States
Kevin is currently the certified superintendent at La Rinconada Country Club. Kevin was the Director of Maintenance at Lahontan Golf Club for over 14 years. Some of the responsibilities over the expanse of his career include the daily upkeep of multiple golf courses, natural resources, environmental compliance, and roads and streets. The wide ranging expertise has come from a combination of education and experiences. Degrees in Meteorology (1987 University of Nebraska/Lincoln), and Horticulture (1992 Colorado State), complete the formal side of this important combination of qualifications. A lifetime of experience around golf courses, and the game of golf was provided by Kevin's father.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

First Impressions and Planning

This is the first posting on this blog, so lets start of with a bang.  After just 2 hectic weeks on the job at La Rinconada there have been small changes made, a lot of listening, and constant thinking and planning on my part. 

Let's start with small changes.  These changes are a reflection of my desire to instill discipline, and pride in the staff. It demonstrates my goal of continual improvement, and the Memberships commitment to provide the resources to make them successful in there jobs.

Some items on the short term list that have been accomplished.
Organization in the maintenance yard.
Daily morning staff meetings with all employees.
Bunker raking techniques changed.
Cups, tee markers, directional signs replaced or refurbished.
Record keeping of chemical, fertilizer, and water applications.

The biggest issue on the Clubs agenda is the re-grassing of the course next August.  This practice has both positive and negative implications, however it is the most impactful things that the club can do to improve the aesthetics of the course, and  it will also improve the playing conditions in fairways and roughs. 

Fairway topdressing is one of the best practices that has happened in the last 20 years for golf, especially in this area.  It has been going on at La Rinconada for over 12 years, and there is a good build up of sand. The current depth in the fairways at about 60% of where they need to be in order to reap the full benefits of this ongoing practice. Putting more financial resources towards this practice is a high priority.

Bunker liner not draining
Bukers. The bunkers will be gone through individually and work done as needed. So far about half a dozen bunkers have had contaminated sand removed and the cause of the problem identified and corrected. In many cases these same bunkers will need to be returned to on a regular basis to mix sand in order for it to dry out. In the case of the bunker pictured at the left, the liner was removed and the soil under the liner recontroured so that the drainage was working properly.

Increasing the capacity of the irrigation computer control scheduling is very high on the operations priority list. The current software may not be adequate. This current system will be tested by staff increasing the scheduling programs this winter so that those programs can be used this summer.  If the course can kept dryer and remain healthy, this effort will be considered a success. If that cannot be achieved, then the purchase of a new control system will be needed to improve the irrigation system and the resulting course conditions.

Greens health. The organic matter and thatch in the greens is relatively high and is inhibiting the movement of water.  This can impact the health of the greens, and has resulted in very soft putting surfaces whenever they are irrigated or rainfall occurs.  Fairway drainage appears to be fair, however it can be improved as well. Aerification practices will need to be adjusted in order to remedy these problems, combined with increased topdressings.

Tree management. As mentioned before, irrigation and drainage play a role in drying the course down and providing firm playing surfaces. Another component is shade. A comprehensive long term tree management plan is necessary. Trees that are not in play, but are compromising the playability and health of the course are identified and prioritized for removal as part of long term planning.  Tree roots are also a problem in competing with grass for water and nutrients, and they are intruding bunkers, and in some cases greens. A root pruning program will be part of tree management.

Bermuda grass.  Although unsightly in the winter, the Bermuda provides good coverage in the summer when managed. The purchase of a verticutter, using more chemicals to control it in the late summer, and increasing the overseed into these areas will be done next year. The regrassing program will not permanently remove this grass from the golf course.

Fescue grass around tee boxes. Slightly increased fertility, physical removal of weed grasses when chemicals are not effective, and providing walkways through these areas will be a priority. They are meant to be low maintenance, and natural in appearance.

Staffing. All these things happen with effort, dedication and time. The effort and dedication will be in place, and the timing and prioritization will be ongoing with the various Club committees. Planning and schedules are best when they are living documents, as priorities change so will the plan.

This is a lot of information for a posting. I hope no one has lost interest. There will be a lot of work to be done in the next year, and it will be enjoyable to see the results of our efforts. In this blog space I will document the progress with pictures, and commentary about what is happening within Golf Course Maintenance, and I hope you frequent this forum and enjoy the journey.