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USGA GREEN SECTION TURF ADVISORY SERVICE VISIT REPORT
PASATIEMPO GOLF CLUB
Santa Cruz, California
July 15, 2009
Present: Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Mr. Bob Freeman, Green Chairman Jay Walkinshaw, General Manager Paul Chojnacky, Superintendent Jacob Gardner, NCGA Intern Phill Cahoon, USGA Intern Patrick Gross, USGA
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INTRODUCTION The following report summarizes the discussions and recommendations made during the Turf Advisory Service visit on July 15, 2009. It was a pleasure to return to Pasatiempo Golf Club and discuss golf course maintenance issues on behalf of the USGA Green Section. The focus of the visit was to review general course conditions and offer suggestions for long-range and short-term improvement. Specific topics covered in this report include: Addressing water use restrictions Putting green management programs Fairways Other topics Please contact our office if you should have any questions concerning this report, or if we can contribute in other ways to your turf management operations. ADDRESSING WATER USE RESTRICTIONS Regional perspective - Many courses throughout California are suffering the effects of mandatory water cutbacks. Los Angeles and San Diego imposed a 15% mandatory reduction in July with restrictions on days and times that golf courses can irrigate. Variances to the ordinance have been allowed on a case-by-case basis if the golf courses agree to an additional 5% cutback. The most severe situation so far this year is the City of Santa Cruz, where a 28% mandatory cutback has been imposed. Courses throughout California are incorporating many different programs to deal with the water shortage, including: Eliminating irrigation in the rough and practice range facilities. Reducing water applications to the fairways. Installing wells to provide a supplement to the water supply. (Unfortunately, most of these wells are either poor quality water or do not have the capacity to provide a significant amount of water to meet irrigation needs.) Expanding water storage capabilities.
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Investigating options for constructing on-site water reclamation facilities. Converting fairways and rough to drought tolerant turf species.
Eliminating irrigation in the rough has been a prudent program to reduce water use by 28% while preserving playing quality on the tees, greens, and fairways.
Irrigation system replacement – Given the pressure of dealing with a restricted water supply, the timing is perfect for finalizing plans for the replacement of the irrigation system. Furthermore, the new system can be accurately designed according to provisions of the turf reduction plan. Based on the experience of other courses in California that have recently installed new systems, it has been possible to increase irrigation efficiency by 15% - 20%. Evaluations are underway to test various brands and models of sprinklers to see which would be the best fit at Pasatiempo. In addition to your on-site testing, the following comments were offered during the visit regarding planning for the new system: Test different nozzles in both the Toro and Rainbird sprinklers. In particular, good results have been observed with the FCI brass nozzles available from Underhill. Perform catch can tests to evaluate sprinkler coverage and distribution uniformity. Equipment for conducting catch can tests is available from: The Toolkit Company P.O. Box 10822 Bakersfield CA 93389 Phone: (661) 587-9854 Website: http://www.tkwateraudit.com
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Perform an independent test of sprinklers and nozzles at the Center for Irrigation Technology. The results of the test will be useful for determining the most accurate sprinkler spacing. More information is available at www.cati.csufresno. It was good to hear that plans include the use of subsurface drip irrigation on many of the steep bunker slopes. This technology has been very successful at Corral de Tierra Country Club and the California Golf Club. Include multiple quick coupler valves throughout the property that will be indispensable for spot watering and assisting with the establishment of native grass areas. Turf reduction plan – Preliminary plans were reviewed during the visit to reduce the amount of irrigated turf from 105 acres to 70 acres. The plan does an excellent job of reducing turf in out of play areas without severely affecting the middle to high handicap golfer. The proposed non-irrigated grass areas will blend with the native hillsides and provide a very beautiful appearance. From a practical standpoint, the water saved by not irrigating the rough will save money, and a portion of the water can be used to keep tees, greens, and fairways in good condition. Overall, this is an excellent plan and is sure to benefit Pasatiempo from both a practical and aesthetic standpoint.
Hole No. 5 is an example of a proposed native grass area that will provide an attractive appearance and reduce water use without impacting the middle to high handicap golfer.
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PUTTING GREEN MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS Turf health and playing quality – The greens displayed smooth, fast putting conditions and good surface quality on the day of the visit. The vertical mowing and light sand topdressing program has done an outstanding job of improving surface firmness. Root growth continues to be shallow; however, the root tissue was healthy and functional. Current programs for mowing, fertility, cultivation, and topdressing have struck an acceptable balance for sustaining healthy turf growth while providing fast green speeds.
Despite shallow root growth (as noted by the dotted line), the greens continue to be healthy, firm and fast.
Expansion areas – The new sod installed on some of the putting green expansion areas (e.g., No. 1 green) continues to display a mottled appearance. This is typical of Poa annua sod, and the visual impact is expected to fade over the next one to two years as the turf adapts to the new environment and additional aeration and topdressing treatments are performed. Moisture management – As we discussed during the visit, the use of a portable moisture probe can aid in making daily irrigation decisions and assist with water conservation efforts. A small but growing number of superintendents are using moisture probes, such as the TDR300, from Spectrum Technologies to monitor volumetric soil water content. By taking readings every day over a period of several weeks, it is possible to determine critical moisture levels on various sections of the course, and more accurately determine when and where irrigation is necessary.
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It is also a useful tool for training irrigators on proper hand watering techniques and identifying problems with the irrigation system with regard to the over application or under application of water. Further information on the TDR300 moisture probe is available at www.specmeters.com
The use of a portable moisture probe can help with making daily irrigation decisions and training the staff on proper hand watering techniques.
FAIRWAYS Incorporating fine fescue into the fairways – The experiment to incorporate fine leaf fescue varieties into No. 14 fairway was moderately successful. Fine fescue varieties are very slow to establish and it may take several years of interseeding before populations become visible. Once established, these grasses are more drought tolerant and provide excellent playing quality typical of a links style golf course. The main drawback is the lack of traffic tolerance. Article regarding the establishment and management of fine fescue on fairways are attached with this report as a further reference. Suspending fairway topdressing – It was reported that applications of sand topdressing to the fairways would be cancelled this year due to budgetary concerns. Although this is understandable, it is recommended to resume sand applications as soon as possible to avoid cancelling the benefits achieved over the past five years. OTHER TOPICS Alternative for plastic water bottles – Alternatives to offering drinking water in plastic bottles was briefly discussed during the visit. Many courses throughout the country made the change to bottled water due to sanitation concerns and the outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit in Arizona regarding a contaminated water cooler at a golf
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course. Although the plastic waste generated by the water bottles is a concern, it is a safer alternative than the use of water coolers. A note on this topic was distributed to the USGA Green Section staff, and I will forward the responses regarding alternative as they are received. Course accessories – Recent efforts have been directed at reducing the number of benches, ball washers, and tee accessories throughout the course. As a result, the course has a very clean, classic presentation, and uncluttered look. Ball washers have been installed on the golf carts, and it is typical for walkers to carry a wet towel to clean golf balls, which should eliminate the need to place ball-washing stands on the course. Overall, I applaud your efforts to eliminate the furniture and obstacles – the golf course looks cleaner as a result. Size of the Green Committee – USGA publications and a recent article by Dr. Paul Rowe recommend that the size of the green committee should be relatively small – no more than seven. The committee members should represent a variation in handicap index, age, and gender. An article that provides further details on this topic is attached with this report as a further reference. CONCLUSION Thank you for the opportunity to visit Pasatiempo Golf Club and offer assistance with your ongoing maintenance program. These are challenging times with regard to water resources, and it was good to see that Pasatiempo is taking all the necessary steps to address the issue proactively, thoughtfully and economically. I trust the suggestions and recommendations contained in this report will assist your efforts to fine-tune current programs and steadily improve overall turf quality. Best wishes for continued progress over the coming months, and I look forward to being of further assistance on behalf of the USGA Green Section. Respectfully submitted,
Patrick J. Gross, Southwest Director USGA Green Section
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Distribution: o+r: cc: Mr. Paul Chojnacky, Superintendent Mr. Jay Walkinshaw, General Manager
Reprints/enclosures: Fine Fescue Roughs and Fairways (GSR – July 2009) Fine Fescues on Golf Courses The Role of the Green Chairman (GSR – July 2009)