Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

On behalf of the grounds staff at Glen Echo CC, have a great Christmas! Ladybug is ready for Grandmas, walk around the table and pick up a few crumbs!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Trees and the Design of #3

In the last couple of years, there have been discussions regarding Hole # 3. Most of it has centered around the use of trees in the right rough between the fairway and the cart path. Their has also been discussion with Kye Goalby the designer and architect who did our bunker renovation so deftly about some minor routing changes of the hole. Allow me a moment to give some back history.

A few years ago, a large Oak tree on the right of the cart path near the top of the hill lost most of its top and fell in a thunderstorm. When it fell, it damaged an Ash that is on the fairway side of the path in a narrow area between the fairway and cart path. I left the tree in place knowing that it would need to be removed a few years later. Well, that time has come because the tree has a split in it and must be removed. Earlier in the year, we removed a severely compromised Ash that was in the narrow area between the fairway and cart path at about 185 yards from the green. Pretty far from the green but in this same narrow rough area. Some think that if there are trees in a spot, no matter how inappropriate the location in regards to design and play-ability of the hole, another tree should be placed back in the same spot.

Part of my discussions with Kye have evolved from the design of the hole and how an architect helps to route a hole to give players the proper direction the ball should travel and the best location for it to rest if struck properly.

As you can see from the picture below, once the fairway goes up the hill it falls to the left. The red arrows show the fall line from the center of the fairway to the left. The current fairway boundary on the right side moves in that direction as well. One of the things that was done years ago which Kye and myself agree was that trees were inappropriately planted along the right side between the fairway and cart path. If your ball lands in the narrow area between the fairway and cart path, you were forced to either go over or around this tree. If you were too close to the tree, it forced a play to the left which is not the direction the hole should be played because the ball will roll off the left side of the fairway due to the slope. If the hole was being designed today, the fairway shape would be more to the right. A properly routed hole leaves areas open so that if a ball is properly struck will be in decent shape for its next shot or will be on the green. All the great architects in history speak strongly against the placement of trees too close to the line of play not allowing a ball to be advanced forward. Of course, how close is too close to the line of play is in the eyes of the beholder.

The picture below shows this hole. You can already see how narrow the rough area is anyway. The green lines my interpretation of the potential changes that Kye and I have spoken about regarding changing in the fairway/intermediate. The right side of the hole toward the top is flatter and much better for a ball to land than the left side which falls off drastically into the rough and left tree line.

This gives you a little idea of the thought process that goes into tree removal and the potential to not replace what I would consider a mistake made from our past. I think not learning from our past and now trying to move past these type of issues is a mistake. It makes the course play truly unfair, reduces the opportunity to advance a ball forward, disrupts maintenance such as mowing around objects that should not be there and take time and creates problems for future. Some would say you've made it easier, it can be easier for someone who strikes the perfect stroke to a uphill green where you can only see a flag and hope that your shot does not go off line more than a few degrees or you will be in a bunker. It plays at least an extra club or maybe two depending upon your length.

A little winter season discussion regarding tree or not to tree, that's a pretty big question??

Friday, December 18, 2015

Weather Stats For November

Weather stats for the Month of November. Some much needed
rainfall and above normal temperatures.
              Observed Value  Normal Value  Depart from Normal Last Years Value
High                61.0          55.5             5.5              50.0
Low                 42.3          38.1             4.2              31.3
Mean                51.7          46.8             4.9              40.7

Rain                6.48          3.91             2.57             2.46








Sunday, December 13, 2015

UMSL Golf Team Fundraiser For Indoor Training Facility On Campus

Just ran accros this fundraiser for the UMSL Golf Team's efforts to build an indoor training facility at the Mark Twain Center on campus. As you should already know, these talented young men and women train a majority of their time at Glen Echo. They have had Championship teams in the past in NCAA Division II and continue to build the program. This is a 3 year fundraising effort with 2 days left in the 2nd year fundraising program.

Here is the link to the fundraiser page. Below is a video explaining how the money will be used for the program.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What a Great Summer's Day We Face Today!

What a great summer's day we face today! Oh yes, its not summer but 62 with heavy dew and fog and a high of 70, it will feel like summer being its December 12. The staff have been busy this week aerating rough as you might see some plugs here and there and red flags marking heads. Continuing to change holes weekly and mowed greens on Wednesday. Rolled them on Friday and have been chasing leaves as needed. We are getting close to the end on those pesky critters.

No major construction projects planned this winter. Normal Tree Management Plan work including pruning and cleaning up trees all over property, inspecting others and a few removals that take place every season. We do have a couple of areas where planting will be taking place as well as the nursery. We also need to begin to tree health improvement work doing some deep drilling of compost around some of our Pin Oaks in strategic locations and applying some humic acid to improve their overall health.

The new irrigation system is reaching 9 years old this spring. With new heads comes the raising of the new heads. As you might notice when and if you are down the middle of the fairway, the heads are sunk down by an 1" or more. As the turf continues to grow, this gap will become even wider making it unsafe for golfers, difficult for equipment to go over and last but not least the sprinkler head throw pattern will be disrupted by the difference in elevation. What has to happen? Each head has to be raised to level grade. There are some mechanical ways of doing this our there but the one's I have researched appear to be very difficult to use with a very tight soil like we have here at Glen Echo.

That means every head must be dug up by shovel down to the swing arm approximately 15"-20" or so into the ground, head raised and repacked. Down the center row of fairways alone we have 150 heads. This will be a long process. Wish us luck.

Have a great day, might see you on the course for a few minutes this morning but I've got to get home and clean the leaves up in my yard. Hurt my back at home about 10 days ago and have not been able to do much of anything. Feeling a little better so I will see what I can do outside. Have a great day.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tree Management Plan

(This was emailed to all members but does not hurt to communicate through this route as well)

Each season during the last eight years here at Glen Echo, I have asked permission to remove trees. If its during the season and a tree has died or becomes compromised and I do not want to wait for winter, I see my chairman and or committee members and tell them of a tree that needs to be removed. They give me their blessing and its removed. I do not remove trees without a consensus on my committee.

I take my actions very seriously in regards to this work. I understand that tree removal for some is difficult. I also understand that there are people on the other side that prefer great grass to trees and expect me to do whatever I can within reason to achieve that goal. So, as a manager responsible to all members on all sides of all issues, who do I follow? Well I follow what I believe is best with my 25 years of experience in this business. I spend hours upon hours taking pictures and evaluating this work. I confer with Aborists, USGA officials, course architects and in the end I present my findings to our member committee to make the final decision and I live with their decision.  

I evaluate the removal of trees based on if its dead(duh)! Is it unsafe or hazardous. Could turf conditions be improved if there were only 5 trees in a specific area than 10 and does the tree add architectural value to the course. ie, separation of holes, protection of doglegs etc. I also evaluate trees if they create extensive clean up efforts from the mess they leave on the property. If you have Sweet gum trees in your yard and you clean them up or have someone clean them up, you understand the issues. Now put this tree on a property where people spend thousands of dollars a year to come to your property and want great conditions, this creates an issue for me. Instead of doing work to improve play down the middle from tees, to fairways to greens, I'm forced to deal with other issues. If they are near greens like 2 or 3 are, they place trash on the greens from fall through mid-spring. Walnut trees should not be on a golf course but we have four or five on our course. Trees create massive amounts of work for me and my staff and compromise turf grass in many ways. But they are necessary here because of the lack of fairway bunkers, and no doubt the right species, planted the proper distance from one another in the correct location are awesome! Yes that's right I said trees can be AWESOME!!

Normally our committee meets in October and we discuss the trees that I want them to consider for removal with a tour of the course. This year, that did not occur during the usual period. With the end of the year rapidly approaching, I told the committee that I would ribbon trees that I thought should be considered for removal over the last few days and asked that they evaluate them before our meeting. Some were quite obviously in need of removal and red x's were put on the trees by me but a number of others I thought needed the evaluation and approval of the committee. I have begun to target Sweet gums from the reasons listed in the paragraph above as well as weakened and or damaged Ash which are going to be under attack from the Emerald Ash Borer. I've also discussed with the committee an attempt to save some Ash through the use of insecticides. This would include trees in strategic play areas where the loss of the tree would leave major voids. This work will cost us a few thousand dollars each season. In the meantime, we have also planted a couple of trees in some of these areas to offset some of the older species that will probably die from natural causes.

If you do not follow my blog, you should because you would have known that we are in the process of starting a 4-6 tree nursery behind 17 green. We will grow these trees for 5-10 years and then will hire the Big Tree Spade company who could move these larger trees into an area that needed more than just a 2" tree bought at a local nursery to be placed in that spot. Once a tree is removed, another will be put back in the nursery.

So, in the end what happened. We are still evaluating trees on the list. We will be placing red x's on trees that will be removed. There are a couple of trees that I was evaluating for removal but our Arborist stated that they could cable them and delay the splitting process that concerned me. Tree removal will began when all approvals have been finalized and we have time to begin the work which for the most part will not begin until after the 1st of the year.

In the end, I can't help the folks that do not want any tree removal and or those who want all the trees removed. I will work in the middle attempting to first make sure all of us are safe. I then will use all the other tools and expertise that I have at my disposal to evaluate and balance and the desires of all
members on both sides of the issue and to move your great old golf course forward.

Thanks for your time,

Joe Wachter
Certified Golf Course Superintendent
Glen Echo CC

Friday, December 4, 2015

Carts Off Paths Weekend 12/5-12/6

Little bonus with some nice weather this weekend. Carts will be off the paths. Come out and see us and stop for cocktails afterward in the pub. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

General Member Meeting Thursday, December 3

A General Member Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 3rd in the Living Room. The Board would like to update you on the current financial standing of the club as well as some exciting plans for the future. If you plan to attend, please go online and sign up or call the clubhouse. Drinks will be available at 5:30 and an excellent buffet will be prepared by Chef after the meeting and can be charged in the usual manner. Hope to see all of you Thursday night.