Friday, December 15, 2017

Winter Golf

Although you probably wouldn't know it by the weather, winter is basically here. You will likely notice on the course that we have converted to our setup to reflect the season. Here are a few things that have changed for the next few months:

No Tee Markers. In order to help spread the play out on the tee boxes while the Zoysia is dormant and susceptible to overuse and winter damage, we have removed the tee markers. Winter golfers are asked to simply chose the best teeing ground to hit from. We have done this in the past and it works well for us to preserve the turf.

Winter Pins. Due to the fact that the greens will freeze and we are then unable to cut cups, we put winter pins on each green. This means pin locations will be random and each green will have two locations that we will select from each day. This just gives us a second option on each green to reduce wear on one area over a long period of time.

Cart Path Only. Everyone's favorite rule, I'm sure. We do this because the dormant turf cannot handle the traffic of golf carts and we would have significant damage if we allowed carts off paths through winter months. We have removed all directional rope and stakes for refurbishing so we just ask golfers to respect the Cart Path Only rules and keep the carts off the turf. Even when parking the cart, we prefer you leave it on the path completely. The majority of lost turf due to golf carts is actually from just slightly leaving the path or parking just into the grass.

Irrigation. If you have noticed in the last couple weeks there has been water running off and on throughout the days, it is because of this unseasonably dry weather. Our goal is to hydrate the turf so that we can blow out irrigation for the winter. The problem we are running into is that mother nature doesn't seem to want to play ball. Please bare with us while we run water during the day (our only time without the risk of freezing) and we should have it blown out and put to bed for the winter soon.

We will still have some great weather I'm sure for golf this year, so I look forward to seeing you out at Heart of America Golf Course.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

#9 Tee Project

As many of you know, number 9 back tee has been a thorn in HOAs side for years now. There are numerous reasons why this tee does not thrive during the season and this fall/winter we are going to be addressing some of these issues in an attempt to maintain a healthy tee.
For those that don't know, this is the back tee of number 9 and in the middle of the season the majority of the turf is lost.

A few of the reasons this happens is as follows:

*The surrounding trees shade the majority of this tee for most of the day, it does not get the proper sunlight to photosynthesize and thrive.
*There is dense underbrush almost entirely surrounding this tee and airflow through the area is minimal.
*Being a high-clay push-up tee, there is little to no drainage that peculates down through the tee and due to the low-center shape, water sits for far too long on the surface.
*This is a very small tee with a portion being essentially unusable due to the fact there would not be a clear shot down the fairway. This creates heavy traffic and compaction in a small area.

Now we are going to address some of these issues directly, as well as create new ways to take direct pressure off of this tee during the rough summer months.

Thick underbrush between 8 green and 9 tee
Our first project that will be addressing the air flow as well as sunlight is to remove all of the underbrush between #8 green and #9 tee. We will also be pushing back the undergrowth that is growing around the back and sides of the tee. This should help with air movement through the area as well as letting in the morning sunlight.

Our goal this off-season is to restructure this tee and add a drainage system that would draw the water from off the tee. This would reduce standing water time and help the tee dry down quicker. Reshaping to get heavy rains to run off the sides of the tee instead of sit in the middle is also part of the restructure project.

In order to address the small tee and compaction issues, we will be trimming back the underbrush and trees to the right of the teeing area so that the entire tee can be used properly. A regular aerification process will also be implemented to help reduce some of the severe compaction caused over the years.

One other way we are planning on reducing the stress of this tee is to build an alternative tee. The details and logistics of this are not set in stone yet, but you can expect to see Sam and myself out working on it throughout the off-season.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fall Seeding and Course Recovery

This month at HOA we made big strides toward getting the course back to the condition our patrons expect.

All of the weak rough areas on the river course have been seeded and is beginning to fill in.
Flooded area between #2 and #3 that was bare dirt before
As many know, number had a very rough season this year. All of the rough on the hole was lost to the flooding and we have since seeded it with good results.

#7 tee bank before seeding

#7 tee bank after seeding
The vast majority of #7 fairway was covered in very thick silt when the river receded.

After we aerified numerous times and removed as much silt as possible, we now have a much better stand of turf and the rough seeding is starting to fill in

The warm weather in September gave the Zoysia another good month of growth this year, which helped with the recovery process on our heavily damaged fairways.

The course recovery is a continuous process and I would like to remind everyone to obey the rope and stake and signs we have on the course to help give the turf the best chance possible to heal.

I want to say thank you again for your patience and understanding, we hope to have the course looking great going into next season.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Course Update

As everyone knows, the golf course was hit by yet another major flood in August. I thought I would take a moment to update everyone on the cleanup progress and other ongoing projects at HOA.

The flood cleanup has been equally extensive and exhausting. Starting from greens and working out to tees, fairways, and rough we cleaned as much of the deposited silt off the turf. Currently we are in the process of seeding areas that are too far gone to recover. Many areas still have silt that has nowhere to go and we are trying to break it and get grass to grow through it. You will likely see hundreds of feet of rope and stake on the course, which are areas that have been seeded.

The reason carts have stayed on the path so long is that the flood water and silt deposits weakened our cool-season turf severely. Most of the fairways are in good shape, but getting carts from the path to the fairway is the problem and any excessive driving on the weak rough areas will certainly kill the turf and lead to more seeding. This week our goal is to get everything seeded and roped off so that we can get carts back off the paths, but it will be imperative that carts stay on the fairways and out of the rough.

During this disaster cleanup regular course maintenance has to continue. With a crew of only a few guys this is extremely hard to do, but we have managed. All of the greens were aerified last week and the main driving range tee has been aerified and seeded. Unfortunately the grass does not stop growing for us to clean the flood so it has been a very long process. One of the major eye-sores on the course that has not been fully addressed since the flood are the bunkers. We hope to get the bunkers back into playable condition in the comings days.

Thank you all for your patience and I look forward to putting this flood behind us and getting the course back to the way it should be.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

HOA Flood

 On 07/27/17 this is what we came to work to at Heart of America Golf Course. The Blue River, which runs through the river course flooded severely and was still rising all Thursday morning and afternoon.

More than 50% of the River Course was under water for hours.
Once the river was high enough, it spilled into the pond flooding both #1 and #9 
Deer stranded on #7 green, which became an island during the flood.

We are able to track the river water levels from just up stream. We know the level the river must be at in order to spill over our bridges. This flood, which most people we have talked to believe is the worst of the courses history, crested 18 feet above the bridges. 

By the time the river was done rising, water was right at our front gate. Police shut done all the ways into the course and asked us to shut it down and leave. We have had flooding at HOA, but nothing ever like this.
Water inching closer and closer to our front gate.
 Seeing the substantial flooding, we were expecting to see some silt deposits and flood damage, but what we experienced was worse than expected,

Some of the course, including this tee area was under 10+ feet of water.

Silt was deposited all over the course and cleanup has been extensive. Silt that is left to dry thick like this on the turf will likely kill it and must be removed as well as possible.

On the tee boxes we have used hoses and squeegees to remove the silt. Each tee box took us about 3 hours to clean.

As I am sure you have noticed, the River Course has been closed since the flood. Even though it looks as if many of the areas have dried enough for golf, any cart or foot traffic will be very detrimental to the turf. As you can see in these next photos, the damage from carts and foot traffic is substantial and guarantees loss of turf.
A mistake made by an employee, but shows well what cart traffic will do to the current condition of the turf.

I would just like to say thank you for baring with us while we continue the extensive cleanup efforts and we will try to get the course back open and playable as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Meet Heart of America's Assistant Superintendent: Sam Marlin

In the spring of this year, Heart of America Golf Course hired a new assistant superintendent. I would like to take this chance to introduce him.

Sam Marlin:

Sam grew up in Southwest Kansas in the small town of Sublette. There he picked up his passion for golf, which took him all the way to the college level and a little beyond. He plays in the occasional professional event when he gets a chance.

Sam's career in the golf course industry started in 2012. He worked a few seasons at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, before eventually taking over as Superintendent at Cimarron Valley Golf Course. The 9 hole course near his hometown was failing and the two years Sam was at the helm brought it back from the brink of disaster. From there, Sam decided to move up to Kansas City, where is girlfriend was working and took our open assistant superintendent position. His experience from Buffalo Dunes to running his own 9-hole course has been very beneficial for us here and he has become a integral part of our operation.

If you don't see Sam on the golf course, which is where he spends the majority of his day working or golfing, you will most likely find him in his garage. Hes a tinkerer and spends free time working on his truck or small engines. He is also an avid hunter and fisherman.

So if you see Sam on the course make sure to say hello, he's probably the one with the shovel in his hand. Sam definitely fits in well at HOA and we are happy to have him.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Little Things

At Heart of America this year it is my goal to complete small aesthetic projects each week. I think that it is the little things that really set a course apart from the rest and we are looking for ways to improve the look and play-ability  of the course with small manageable projects.

Here are a few examples of the types of projects you can expect to see this year at HOA:

 This is the walk-up to #9 River Tee. Previously it was an undefined area of old mulch and rock. The new pavers create a functional, eye pleasing element to the finishing hole.
Finished Product #9 River Tee

The pavers were generously donated to us and you can expect to see them pop up in a couple more spots on the course this year. The golf course greatly appreciates donations like this that may have been thrown away otherwise and can be utilized on the course to improve its appearance.

Even simple projects, like defining the water cooler area with edge stones and some mulch help clean up the area and make the course look nicer
The Kansas City Chiefs resodded Arrowhead Stadium this spring and were kind enough to let us have some of the leftover Bermuda from the project. We used some of this grass to resod a Footgolf green with the warm season grass to match the others. Bermuda is a very heat and drought tolerant grass and should thrive in this situation with little rain or irrigation.

Before the grass was laid

Immediately after the grass was laid

3 days after the grass was laid

Just this week we really tried to clean up around #1 River Tee so that a golfers first impression of the course is a positive one. We lined the fence and marshal turn-around area with some ornamental grasses and made a clean mulch bed.

These projects will continue throughout the year, and will not affect our day to day maintenance. The crew will also be completing much larger bunker renovation and pond rejuvenation projects this summer, but I am a firm believer that the addition of these mini-projects will make us stand out.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Springtime at Heart of America

These spring months are often times some of the best turf-growing conditions we see. As long as mother nature plays ball, we can expect to see big progress in turf health and growth. Of course the weeds also excel during this time of year, but what's life without a challenge?

I wanted to take a moment to update everyone on what you can expect if you make the trip to wonderful Heart of America Golf Course.

Greens are recovering very well from aerification. The rain played havoc on our scheduling this year and some greens got punched and healed much faster than others, but most are almost completely healed at this point. We will be continuing a routine topdressing program that will continue to smooth and firm the greens.

The main turf range tee is opened all the way up now. The 1.6 acre teeing surface is healthy and looks great so I encourage you to come out and hone your game.

All manicured turf on the course has been mowed and we are back in the routine for the season of keeping clean, playable conditions. We have also put out all new flags and sticks, which looks very sharp on the course. In the next couple days, the footgolf holes can expect a face-lift, as we are going to be putting out new front tee flags and new numbered flags for the holes.

My goal at Heart of America is to make this course as fair and enjoyable as possible as well as making all of our patrons happy. We are a thin crew this year, and inevitably will overlook things along the way so I truly encourage you to bring any concerns to our attention. Most people know who I am now and if you see me, please stop me and let me know what you think we are doing right and what you think we are doing wrong. I love the feedback good or bad. That goes for anyone on my crew, and if not the crew, you can let them know in the clubhouse, they will certainly pass it along. Thanks in advanced and I look forward to seeing you this season at HOA.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017 Spring Aerification

It's that time of year again, albeit a little sooner than normal, Spring Aerification. Heart of America Golf Course will be aerifying starting Monday, March 27. This will be entirely dependent on weather conditions, being that next weeks weather seems to be up in the air a little. If we do get rained out, (and at this point I'm welcoming any rain at any time), we will just push back the start day until we are dry enough to begin.

A little bit about aerification:

Although the aerification holes can be unsightly and affect play-ability for awhile, the benefits far outweigh the very minor draw-backs. The process helps in many ways including: helping gas exchange in the soil, allowing water and nutrients to penetrate deeper into the green, thinning thatch, strengthening the root zone, relieving compaction, and a number of other benefits.
 Above is a great graphic that helps show whats going on "behind the scenes". This is a generic description of aerification on a lawn, but the premise is still the same. We will obviously be expecting the short turf on the greens to be healed in far less than 8-10 weeks. One thing the graphic does not show, is the topdressing. Topdressing is the sand you will see us spreading on the greens, which will fill the aerification holes and give the roots an easy place to take hold. The topdressing is key in replacing the compacted material that was there and helping thin the thatch down even further while smoothing the playing surface of the green.

This process will typically take us two-three days to complete if the weather cooperates, so bear with us while we complete this essential maintenance practice, which will undoubtedly improve the health of the Heart of America greens.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Superintendent Introduction

My name is Josh Linn and I am the new head superintendent of Heart of America Golf Course. I have 14 years of experience and I have had the pleasure of being the assistant at Swope Memorial Golf Course for 3 years. Welcome to our new Maintenance Blog! Our hope is to provide our patrons with useful, timely information about general maintenance at our course. We will add content from standard course care to comprehensive details about our agronomic practices.