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.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mid Season Update

The golf course is entering into the toughest part of the year and I thought it beneficial to provide an update on where we are and where we are going in the next few months.

Reflecting back a year ago, the changes that have been made at golf course maintenance are remarkable. New turf, new irrigation control system, a lot of new equipment and a complete change in management level staff.  These changes have resulted in a much more efficient operation that has stood up well to the challenges of maintaining the course.

The 16th hole July 11th showing good color

One of the biggest challenges we have is keeping the Poa annua from becoming the dominant turf species. The strategy in place was to utilize all known means available at this time to combat the Poa. Every golf course is different and what works at one area course may not work at La Rinconada because of a difference in soils, water, and climate. One of the common chemicals in use by all the area courses has turned our roughs off color. Essentially, we have applied this growth regulation chemical to the level that the grass has stopped growing and with heavy traffic, and a dry firm golf course many areas are thin and off color.  The fairways have not been affected because of the sand profile.

The 9th hole July 23rd 

To get these areas growing again we will be applying more water and fertilizers in the next few weeks. Just today we applied a spray mixture of enzymes and hormones that will signal the plant to come out of its regulated state.  Additional fertilizer and nutrient applications are planned to continue to push growth, and the amount of growth regulators will be reduced.

The 4th hole July 23rd

Now that we have found the threshold level for this specific growth regulator for our course, we will apply below this amount in the future.  The color and density will return to the roughs in the next 2 weeks, and the course will be maintained as firm as possible without compromising the recovery.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Conundrum of The Playable Golf Course

Maintaining a golf course for playability is one of the pleasures of my job. That sounds strange as I say that because it may occur to you that it would be one of the obvious joys of being a superintendent. But taking into account the playability of a golf course complicates things . This spring has been that way. Complicated in the use of water in a prolonged dry period.

Staff finishing course prep during the Ladies Invitational

The course has been maintained purposely dry for playability. The new grasses have kept fantastic color despite soil moisture levels being very low, which is one of the main reasons the turf conversion was done. It hides the fact that the soil is very dry. But you put a lot of traffic on this grass, and it will eventually thin out and die like any other grass. You may have seen all the small sprinkler sets out on the course that take care of these small  dry areas. They are time consuming for the staff, but are the best way to avoid over watering. We do have staff to do this work and keep up on the mowing rotations, but we have very little margin for error. That makes for more stress for me.

Small portable sprinkler set on the 13th tee complex

Ultimately golf courses are for golf. Another statement that seems obvious, but if you think about everything else a course provides it describes another part of a superintendents job. Golf courses boost real estate value, and attract people who may not even play the course, for dinners and special events based on the vibrant colors and pastoral setting they provide. There are times when the course may not look its best, but it is playing the best. If you are confused about this, just think of the U.S. Open last week, or possibly the British Open.

The extreme playing conditions of the "Opens" are not sustainable, even for Merion and St. Andrews. Go there most of the year and they are mostly green, and the Superintendent is doing his best to provide the combination of playability and color. It is no different for me. It is very difficult to ride that line of really good playability and loosing grass for months at a time in our summers. The closer you are to that line the better the playability and the more stress for me. Providing a great playing golf course is much more difficult than providing a green one, and when you have both; that is when you know you are doing a really good job.

For the next few months I am going to talk about some of the things are done to provide a playable golf course, and give you some insight on the decision making process.