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.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Rain - Rain Come Back In August!!

The rains have been heavy in the last couple of weeks, and although it is seldom that a golf course superintendent would complain about rain, I could do with a week or so without it. But you take what mother nature gives you, and deal with it knowing that things always change. 

Water flowing in front of the 1st green December 23rd, 2012

Wash out of our new drain on #1

The storm washed out a 20 foot section of our new drainage installed in the first fairway. The trench will be cleaned out, the pipe re-installed, rock and sand put back in place and sod installed on top of this section.

A plug taken from the 18th green

The 18th green does not surface drain and standing water on it is suffocating the soil below. The water logged soil has no room for oxygen and the soil develops a black layer that eventually kills off the roots in that area. To combat this a drain has been installed in the green, and wetting agents applied to aid water penetration. An aerification in these areas would be the most beneficial thing for moving water out and getting oxygen in.

Diseased new grass plant

Prolonged wet conditions result in fungal growth, many of which attach grass plants. Most of the damage is superficial, and the plant can grow out of the disease when sunny dry weather resumes. However when conditions are continuously wet cool and cloudy, the diseases will continue, and can do a lot of damage.  The greens receive preventative treatments and they are showing no signs of disease, however fairways, approaches and rough do have disease and will be spraying fungicides to combat this as long as conditions warrant.

Standing water in the front of the #2 green in early December

New drainage at #2 worked December 23rd

The drainage here was not working a few weeks ago, so 50 feet of old drainage was removed and new installed this past week. There are a lot of areas on the course where the old drainage is in need of replacement. Mostly in the bunkers. Numerous bunkers have been worked on in the last year, with many more to go.

Down tree on the right of #2

Trees did pretty well during this storm, with the one pictured above being the biggest casualty.

Washed out bunker
Bunkers took a hard hit from the runoff. The result is silt at the bottom of the bunker that needs to be removed, and then sand moved back onto the face and compacted. There are at least 30 bunkers that are in need of repair.

Overall the course did well and with every storm there is work to be done. The successive storms we have had this month (and another forecast for Wednesday) have put us in a cycle of as soon as things get back into shape we get hit again and fix the same areas again. I believe that is what you call "maintenance".


Friday, December 14, 2012

Aeration Techniques

Over the course of the last few months I have been asked about the techniques that we will be employing on the greens. To produce greens that are healthy and fast, the methods and timing become critical so I am providing an outline of the machinery we will utilize, the timing, and the benefits that each process provides.

Maintaining water infiltration rates is critical to both health and play-ability throughout the year, and the machine that will provide this is the planet air. Click here for video and further explanation on what this machine does and the benefits it provides. What I like best about this machine is the speed at which it operates and that green speed is increased after its use. It is a lot less disruptive than using a traditional aerator to vent the greens and produces the same  agronomic benefits. Ideally this machine would be used every other week throughout the year.

Planet air on the 15th green

The Graden verticutter is the most agressive machine due to its ability to go deep into the turf. We have 2 Graden verticutters for greens, tees and fairways. I have provided a video link here so you can see them in action and get a sense of the blades and how verticutting works in general. This machine is not for the faint of heart. It is a lot of work and takes skill to not do damage to greens and other fine turf areas. This machine is used on the majority of top courses in the world. It would only be used during aeration and with green and ground committee approval, as it does take some time for the grooves to grow over and not be visually intimidating while putting.

Light verticutting  with triplex mowers will be done to remove thatch and regular light topdressings behind the verticutting will increase the sand percentage in the top layer of the root zone. The combination of these 2 practices keeps the greens true, and the increased firmness enhances the greens' ability to withstand damage from ball marks and foot traffic. And although grain is not presently an issue on our poa and bent greens, verticutting is the management method to make sure that it does not become a problem in the future. This process is done about once a month in the winter and about every other week in the summer.

Verticutting greens using triplex mowers

On a daily basis surfaces can be lightly groomed using grooming blades set at a higher less aggressive height. Our new walking greens mowers have the ability to groom the grass as they are cutting, and they are set on about half of the mowing days when the grass is aggressively growing.

New greens mowers with thatching blades

As you can tell there is a large menu of techniques that are available to keep greens healthy, smooth, and fast. They all entail hard physical work, and the motivation to using them is to provide great playing surfaces.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Heavy Winter Rains

Heavy rains impact the area and the course. Over 4 inches of rain fell over the last 4 days which has caused a number of problems that will need to be addressed this next week. 
Right approach at #2

This area of the 2nd hole has drainage installed, but obviously it is not working properly. This drainage will need to be re-done to eliminate standing water during future rain events.

The pond at the 11th 3 feet above average
These ponds at the 11th overflow and ultimately go down to the 1st hole. There are no obvious solutions to keep this water from going down to #1.

A large flow into down the 12th fairway

The water leaving the property at Wedgewood correlates to the water coming down the 12th fairway and entering the ponds at #11.

Water leaving the property at #1

The new drainage at #1 is working very well, however it was not designed to handle the amount of water that this latest storm has produced.

Standing water on the 18th green
This area of the 18th green puddles during most rains.  This is a  high priority to remedy, although it will be difficult to do. It is an indicator on how well the greens drain and the amount of aerification that is necessary.

There are a number of bunkers that have washed out. To put them back into shape the silt needs to be removed, then the clean sand is then shoveled back onto the face and compacted. In the bottom where the water accumulated the sand needs to be loosened up by turning it over with a shovel.

There is also a number of limbs, and a lot of leaves to clean up. This work will take the better part of this week to complete.