About Me

My photo
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.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Maintenance Week

This week is a big week for the golf course. I consider it one of the most important aspects of the long term maintenance of the course, and has the most impact on the condition for the next six months. 

When there is not enough aerification and water is in excess, the greens develop a black layer and the roots die off, and opportunistic diseases take hold. Greens are in need of aerification so that they drain well during our wet season and make oxygen available to the root zone.  The aerification that is planned is the same that was done in the spring, with a recovery time of 4 to 6 weeks. The extent of the aerification is determined by the recommendation of our USGA agronomist and lab testing of the physical properties of the soil.

No black layer and multiple sand veins from aerification

No aerification veins and black layer

The fairways and roughs have taken a big hit this summer for multiple reasons. The lack of rain since spring, a stand of grass not yet a year old, added insect and disease pressure due to the length of the season, and heavy play with limited Monday closures have contributed to high stress on the grass. In July, the aggressive Poa control program became a tipping point. The chemicals that control Poa annua put increased stress on all the different varieties of grass and once damage occurred from the growth regulation, it prohibited the grass from recovering. The Poa control program has been modified and these chemicals will not be applied next year when the plant is under heavy stress.

Fairway rooting in June

Fairway Topdressing and Seeding

It is regular practice for the fairways to be seeded and topdressed in the spring and the fall. This year the amount of topdressing and seed is being increased to get the course back into the condition it was in last June. The amount of sand has been increased by 25% in the fairways and sand is being put onto the roughs, which is new. It will take years to see an appreciable improvement to the roughs, but the investment will pay off eventually. The increased sand requires more time to apply and the course will be closed Monday through Friday.


While the green surface is opened up it is the optimal time to introduce amendments that improve the physical qualities of the root zone. Calcium and carbon based fertilizers are incorporated into the green along with the sand topdressing to accomplish this important task. The result is sustained growth and soil health. The amount of fertilizer has been increased this fall to encourage growth and speed the recovery of the grass.

This next week is stressful with a lot of hard labor but it results in a good golf course and that is what we are all working for. Thank you for your understanding and patience during the closure and the recovery period.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Unusual Pests Associated With an Unusual Year

This year the weather has been unusual and the resulting insects and diseases have been unusual as well. There are diseases that are seen every year that we treat for and are able to avoid losses of turf. But sometimes when unusual things occur it can catch you off guard and cause problems.

This past winter when we did have rain it was extreme. The prolonged wet conditions were conducive for leaf spot fungus to break out on our new tender rye grass. This was a big concern that fortunately resolved itself with dry conditions.

Leaf spot affected grass in late December
Around a few green edges we began to see turf damage that was unusual. After excavation into the green we found young sod web worms which are rarely seen here. They probably came to La Rinconada in the sod that was installed around green edges. Insecticide was applied and the problem was resolved.
Sod web worm found in greens in August

A few days ago I was looking closely in the thin areas on the 15th fairway when I discovered a billbug. They are occasionally found in the South Bay area but rarely are a problem. The life cycle of the billbug generally results in damage in late spring into early summer and insecticides were applied in May to control grubs that should have taken care of billbugs as well. This year there was a second generation due to the length of the season and additional insecticides were applied.

Billbug found in fairways in September

Billbug damage in the 15th fairway


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Aerification techniqes

The main putting green was aerified yesterday (September 3rd) as a demonstration of an aerification practice that supplements traditional aerification.

This alternative aerification uses small .25 inch holes made at a tight spacing and done every 30 days. Recovery from the smaller holes is quicker than large diameter holes. Over the time of a year these smaller holes can greatly reduce the need for larger holes used in traditional aerification.

We are trying this technique to determine if it is practical for us here at La Rinconada. At this time our traditional aerification is planned the week of September 23rd.

Aerifier pulling small cores which are then blown to the edge of the green and picked up

Small diameter holes spaced about 2 inches apart