Monday, May 13, 2019

What we would really like to do

In sharing the frustration with golfers, the Turf Department has collectively had its fill of the "Sprinter" of 2019.  Cold, windy and unbelievably wet, it has been terrible to work in and even worse to try and manicure a golf course with while dealing with whatever season you feel like calling this.

Simple mowing of every surface but our putting greens has been a challenge - although, getting around the property on a three-wheeled unit with slicks on it has been no piece of cake either.  

Had we kept track of the number of times our machinery has been stuck this spring, well, it would've been sickening.

But there comes a point when we must move forward.  Be it labour and scheduling issues or simply the fact that the grass continues to grow at a rapid pace, we still have to make an effort to keep the place in check....even if it looks like this when we are done....

It's tough to have pride in your work when these are the results, despite knowing that there isn't a thing that we can do about the weather.  It truly is, what it is.  

Making it even more difficult is seeing the "to-do" list accumulate.  To give you a bit of an idea of what we haven't been able to accomplish, here is a brief glimpse of what has been delayed:
  • Pre-emergent crabgrass control
  • Broadleaf weed control
  • Cleanup up of the creek spoils (somehow our contractor graded the majority of it between rainfalls)
  • Topdressing
  • Portable toilet servicing
  • Cutting of the grass along Lakeshore Road
  • Filled in bunker grading (plans to hydroseed ASAP)
  • Weed control in all landscaped/stone areas
  • Continued work on the fairway at #10 (addressing the settling that occurred)
The list keeps growing only further delaying the answers to the questions we hear most often, of "when will ____ be done".  

The answer is, it will....when we can finally do what we need to do.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Doing what we can

If you've been out to the course during the brief breaks in the rain over the past few weeks, the above is a pretty standard sight.  Green, lush grass followed by mud tracks from our attempts to keep it under control.

The ground in many spots, shifts under your feet due to the saturation of the golf course, let alone the added weight of machinery.  The challenge of course has been trying to keep the course playable despite conditions not being conducive to maintenance.

It is frustrating for all parties involved - golfers, turf employees and of course for the bottom line of the facility as we have to continually keep cart traffic off of the course.  

This blog has had a history of tempting fate with its ramblings, so let's hope it holds true here and now:

It can stop raining!  Please.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

What's up with that dog on the course?

It's not uncommon to hear in the marketing world that sex sells.  In the social media world, pictures of a golf course dog sell....a lot!

But on a serious note, I wanted to get out in front of any inquiries as to why there is a mean looking, Husky/Sheppard cross following me around the course on a daily basis.  I joke that he is mean looking simply because he may in fact be the softest, most sensitive pile of fur that I have ever owned....

Sasha is now up to 9 months old and continues to learn the way of the course.  After having spent the winter alone on the course with efforts made to be a pest to nesting migratory birds, he is now having to adapt to the new normal of a busy daily golf course....this of course is a work in progress.

Sasha's role although simple, is of great benefit to the golf course and its patrons.  To have him roam the grounds at varying times through the day prevents geese from becoming accustomed to his schedule and will hopefully prevent them from setting up shop here for the season.  We aim to keep our property from becoming a haven for young goslings and the potential for geese becoming territorial over their offspring.  This, in a nutshell is why there is a golf course dog....

We will continue to work with our eager team member this season to help him understand his role, his place and the rules of the course.  He is under a "whistle-command" which we will continue to utilize in an effort to make sure he adhere's to our rules.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, April 15, 2019

Jumping out of the gate

The 2019 golf season is now underway!.  Following a warm morning shower on opening day, we were blessed with a couple of nice days of warmth and sunshine to kick it off.

With a handful of days where we hit double digit highs and plenty of sunshine, our short turf areas exploded.  Never before have I observed such colour and vibrancy from our putting surfaces this early.  In fact there have been years' where we are begging for the slightest shade of green 5 weeks from now!  The colour certainly is nice but truth be told we still have a ways to go to achieve our desired ball roll consistency.

You may have noticed a return of all ball washers to the course to start the year.  After a one year hiatus, they have made their return for the 2019 season.  Please bear with us as we attempt to resolve leakage issues on these aged units - some are struggling to hold their seal.

Tee blocks are all out on the course and you will notice that some aren't quite pushed back into their normal positions.  It is imperative during the shoulder season that we not utilize prime tee block positions in an effort to conserve quality turf.  Some blocks may be blended with others while some (such as the black tees on 6 and 7) will be up for a few weeks until we start to see regular growth.  Keep in mind that the method to our madness is turf health and sustained play-ability as we brace these small surfaces for the next 200 days of traffic.

The cleanup of the creek project as well as the municpal drain project from the fall continues.  We have struggled to move some of the gigantic chunks left behind from the creek (with some still containing blocks of ice as of late last week) and have had to enlist help with its cleanup.  As for the municipal drain, the settling that took place over the winter is fairly significant.  We have our hands full in bringing it back to life.  

Finally, with some of our staff trickling back in, make sure to give them a smile and a wave.  It's always nice to see these fine men and women return each year and perform the magic that they do.  We are still a few weeks away from being fully staffed but should be there around the second week of May.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, March 8, 2019


After initiating a conversation many years ago with the Town of Plympton-Wyoming, this past week has finally brought about some progress on the state of Errol (Sawmill) Creek, and the condition of the waterway.

Although it is not 100% complete and not looking like it will be completed at this very moment, there has been significant cleanup and dredging completed of the creek.

I'll let the photo's do the talking here......

As you can see there is a dramatic difference in the state of the creek.  The brush has been removed and the creek should now flow in sections without any barriers.

The project itself is not complete.  We have our share of material to remove - both brush and soil.  Weather will make this tricky over the next couple of weeks, as we begin the spring thaw.  Attempts to move the soil today were futile, as the chunks of soil are still frozen solid.  Of course once it thaws, the surrounding area will also thaw, making it difficult to cleanup without making a bigger mess.  Patience will be key here as we make efforts to put everything back together.

You will notice too that the Town did not go up and down the entire ditch.  Some areas were impossible to get their machinery into due to the severity of the slope with other areas being a mystery as to why it was left untouched.....

Nonetheless, we should see a vast improvement with the way water moves and drains off of the course.

Thanks for reading, 


Monday, February 4, 2019

Times Like These

There is a lot of unknowns when it comes to turfgrass management.  A million questions sometimes without any answers at all.  It can be beautiful and infuriating all at the same time while we try as turf managers to control the uncontrollable.

Kind of like this weather ride we've been on lately.  This chart sums it up nicely:

That is quite the week we just experienced - we hit an actual low of -24 degrees C and a high of 9 degrees C.

So what is that 33 degree swing doing to the turf?  That is a great question that I really can't provide an accurate answer to.  With so many factors playing into turf health (moisture, crown exposure to those frigid temperatures, etc) it would be tough to even make an educated guess as to what the future holds for our turf.  But we remember times like these when dormancy breaks as possible contributing factors to turf growth.

We continue to prepare for the upcoming season in the Turf Department.  A fresh coat of paint, wood refinishing and equipment maintenance has all been at the forefront of our daily task lists as we ready ourselves for the next season.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, October 12, 2018

What a Rush

I believe in one of these posts I proclaimed that our foot comes off of the gas pedal once the calendar flips to October.

I lied.

Big time.

I will preface the remainder of this post by stating just how amazing this tiny little Turf Team of ours' is.  For a lack of a better term, this month has been wild and yet somehow these people have kept the train on the track.  I hope to pass along a little bit of praise with this post, so pardon the mushiness you are about to encounter....

Exactly what have we been up to?  Here it goes....

Municipal Drain Installation

Step One: Strip 7500 square feet of fairway sod and relocate for temporary storage
This step was extremely labour intensive as we prepared for the install.  Conditions were wet at the time, making all 1200 rolls extremely heavy.  The secondary problem was with the warm temperatures, we needed to roll out each roll knowing that it would be on the ground for approximately 9 days.  

Step 2: Disconnect irrigation system
We followed this by having to disconnect the three main lines, and our main power line to the irrigation system.  We had to remove sprinkler heads, and pre-cut all of the lines to prevent further damage when the big machinery arrived.

And then of course it rained....
The day the contractor was to move in, it rained....hard.  Nothing new for 2018, but certainly not welcomed.

Once the contractor moved in on October 2nd, the installation of the 30 inch line commenced with some very deep holes!  The contractor was very clean during this process, and despite the extended time needed, they were very gentle on the course.

Unfortunately, during this extended period of time, we still had to care for the fairway sod that had been removed.  Of course the temperatures soared and with a little bit of rain all 1200 rolls decided to root to the field it was laying in.  In what may have been the worst day of his life, Jake spent 8 hours pulling up on semi-rooted sod making sure that we would be able to get it back to its home base when needed.  An absolute awful job to hand out, but one which ensured that we would be able to re-use our turf.

 Meanwhile, as the contractor was trying to get off of the golf course, we had to work around them in an attempt to get our irrigation system back together.  In what can only be hailed as meticulous planning prior to the job, Claude managed to put everything back together with nary an issue at all.  This was no small task; anticipating all materials needed, following less than accurate maps and a nightmare of working around both turf and outside contractors.  This could have been a nightmare, but instead turned out perfectly - well done Claude.

What was most amazing out of the project was the cleaning out of the outlet of this drain in Errol Creek.  It had been discussed many years ago about the prospect of the Town cleaning out the creek  on our property and bringing it back to its original depth.  As a part of this current project, the contractor had to ensure the outlet was clean....and clean it now is.  

I lost count of the number of dump trucks that were needed to remove the material in this small area, but it was incredible.  It is now clear to see just how overgrown this waterway has become.

Fortunately, the engineer responsible for this project called in the Town to view the severity of our creek.  Upon inspection, they agreed; something needs to be done.  We have now received commitment from the Town to begin work in January on cleaning out the creek!

And finally, today we were able to revisit the fairway sod, and actually reinstall it....16 days after cutting, and 7 days longer than what we had anticipated....

Lena, Shelley, Dan, and Jake slugged it out entirely today, managing to get the fairway back together.  It was a long day, but they knocked it out of the park.

Greens Aeration

Meanwhile over the last two weeks we have taken advantage of sporadic course closures and performed our annual greens aeration.

With my time and energy being spent on the drainage project, I had to do what not many Superintendents can, or will do: I had to pass off the cultivation of our putting greens to Jim, Dan and Jake.

I had not stepped foot on our greens in days, and yet everything was perfect; holes punched and plenty of topdressing down; a supremely successful aeration!  Well done gents!

Winter Prep

Meanwhile, Shelley, Lena and Ruth tackled something that had not been touched in 5 years; the bamboo around the pumphouse.  What a jungle!  

Turf Crew Addition

We have been blessed on the crew to see the arrival of our newest member; Sasha.  He joined us on Labour Day to patrol the grounds, assist with the removal of geese, and to provide a morale boost to everyone on the crew.  So far, he is batting 1.000!  

Sasha is a Gerberian Shepsky; a half German Shepard and half Siberian Husky.  He has done remarkably well thus far, and is extremely obedient.  He is still learning however, so I apologize in advance if the puppy in him momentarily takes over...he is after all only 15 weeks old!

What is next?

The winterization of the irrigation system is slated to begin on October 22nd, and will run for two days.  We are still tackling the annual cultivation of the natural areas, and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.

We still have significant cleanup to do on #10, and hope to have it all buttoned up by mid-November.

Seasonal Staff Departing

It is also of course that time of year when we unfortunately have to say goodbye to some of our seasonal staff.  Last week, Randy finished his second season on our crew, and today we said goodbye to Tyson following his third season on the crew.  Both of these gentlemen were considerable assets to us on the Turf Team this season.  Thank you both!

Thank you for reading, 


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Swampmill Creek

Image result for it only rained twice this summer

A bit of a stretch I know, but it certainly feels as though it has rained all summer!  The dry spring is long but forgotten as we deal with the frequent rains of the past 6 weeks.  

The golf course is incredibly saturated.  I cannot recall in the past 10 years  the course holding water as much as it is at this time of year.  The challenge of course is in the attempts that we must still make to maintain the golf course despite the rain.  Grass certainly does not stop growing, and we have to find ways to get things done - albeit not as cleanly as we would like it to be.

The photo above is of the 8th fairway and the damage being incurred by traffic (both golf carts and grounds machinery).  This is just a glimpse of the many soggy areas found on the golf course.  We have installed some signage in certain areas - such as 10 fairway - in an attempt to minimize damage as we continue to experience wet conditions.  Thank you for your help in adhering to these directional signs.

On a side note, I would like to ask for your cooperation with garbage disposal on the golf course.  It has become common practice for golfers to simply drop their empty cans and garbage at a tee stone, and not in the receptacles.  At the onset of the golf season, we made a switch to using centralized garbage stations as a result of reallocating Turf Team labour.  With that change we no longer specifically spend labour hours on garbage collection daily, and empty the receptacles only a couple of times per week.  This means that the garbage being dropped on the ground, will either blow away in the wind, or sit at these stones for days on end.  This of course is not the look or reputation that you or I are trying to achieve for Sawmill Creek.  Please help us all out by utilizing the garbage stations located on the course, and allow the turf team to utilize their time on productive tasks such as keeping our playing surfaces pristine.  The Turf team thanks you for your cooperation.

Thanks for reading, 


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Spring out of July

August has arrived - always a joyous occasion for the turf professional as the days become shorter and the finish line starts to appear on the horizon.  It is not said to wish time away, but intended as the joy that a marathon runner feels when they see the finish line - pride of accomplishment but still an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion.

This season is like most others - a wicked ride on a roller coaster of weather patterns.  What started out as one of the driest seasons I have experienced at Sawmill, has given way to a two week pattern with an abundance of rain and growth conditions that we generally see in May and June.  During the latest period of drought, our turf saved its energy and retreated to a dormancy.  All of those stored carbohydrates are now being released causing this influx of growth - leaving us short of our desired cleanliness goal as seen below:

Rough clippings everywhere!
Trying to keep up with fairway growth

It is easy to forget during extended weather periods such as what we are in right now, just how dry it was early in the season....fortunately we have this blog to remind us!  Bearing in mind that we have not had to run any irrigation cycles whatsoever in more than two weeks, we have still surpassed - this season - the total amount we used in all of 2017....a staggering statistic when coupled with the fact that we did so shortly after July began.

Which brings me to the question which has been posed recently as to why all of this wet weather has not resulted in our irrigation pond level rising.  During the period of July 16th to the 30th, we experienced close to 70 mm of precipitation.  These rain events occurred over several days, and were never much hindrance other than to keep everything growing hard. With the ground having been as dry as it was in the previous months, it simply absorbed all it could get, resulting in very little run off.  That run off is what typically refills our pond which has now resulted in its level remaining relatively flat.  With all of our storage ponds at, or near capacity and the calendar flipping into August, I am confident that we have more than enough water to get through the season, even should the tap in the skies shut off.

Pond Banks remain low

This is also a great time to point out just how great our greenside bunkers are performing after our renovation in 2016.  They are passing the wet weather test with flying colours!  Kudos to Dan W for the beautiful job he does at bunker setup each and every time he is out there.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Almost liked we planned it.....

The last blog post started off with a bit of superstition; which has worked out nicely to be frank....I'll leave it at that....

As is the primary topic of this blog, let's talk weather.  It has been, and looks to continue staying hot for the foreseeable future.  I love the photo taken the other day from the shop....almost like an oven preheating; which as you all know has been the case lately.

The course is handling it marvelously thus far, although it is always a guessing game as to how long it will hold on.  These are extreme temperatures for cool season grasses to thrive in - especially the high overnight temperatures.  The high dew points may make irrigating easier - or absent as has been the case - but it also creates a petri-dish of potential fungal activity.  Dollar spot is certainly taking hold in our fairways and tees, with the pressure mounting on our putting surfaces.  It should be an interesting ride over the coming weeks as summer rolls along.

Clover has been quite active over the past month, with only the back nine having received any treatment so far.  The control has been marginal, but has at least knocked the flower head back.  The front nine will be taken care of as soon as possible.

Thank you to the many who have flagged down our staff lately with compliments and praise.  It goes a long way in keeping the motivation for many of us during these grueling summer days, and is nice to know that our efforts are appreciated.  Thank you!

Enjoy the heat!