A sincere happy new year from your grounds maintenance blog! With yet another winter storm, or polar vortex, or whatever the hell nasty crappy weather has been bestowed upon us, it was finally time to dust off the blog for a new year.
I'm going to admit it is getting quite difficult to come up with interesting topics in the winter. I hate repeating myself, and chances of me taking an interesting photo of our current goings-on is zero. For new readers, check out the archives of previous winters for a more detailed look and lots of pictures of our winter activities. The crew is busy doing their usual winter routine. Our shop looks like a fairway mower exploded. The usual winter cacophony of spinning grinding wheels, whirring air tools, sparking welders, and loud swearing is proceeding normally.
As for the golf course - it's snowy. It's cold, and I have yet to see anything remarkable as of now. Once the current cold blast finishes, I will venture out and check on things. Mostly, I will be checking for ice on greens. With the record temperatures and freeze-thaw cycles, we will have to be wary of keeping the greens encased in ice for extended periods. Winter-kill and ice damage can be brutal, and with extended snow cover, snow mold could be an issue when we get towards the end of our fungicide coverage window. As of right now, however, we will stay inside and stay out of the forecasted -20+ windchills thank you very much.
I did make one little tweak to the page to start the year. On the left-hand side of the page, there are a handful of links to popular and useful golf sites like the USGA Green Section but also there are videos on proper ball mark repair and divots. Even during the winter, I get requests to put information on ball marks and divot repair on the page. I have written and blogged about these many times and will continue to speak on these topics regularly but I am still hounded constantly for more information across all forums on which I rattle my gums. They have been there for over a year and I have moved them up for better visibility. Old members and new members alike can use these links to get a refresher course any time.
That being said, I would like to speak about a few myths regarding ball marks and divots.
Myth #1 - "This membership is terrible about their ball marks." I would love to have a nickel for every member that claims they are the only one fixing ball marks out here. Truth be told, of the 7 facilities I've worked at in my career, this membership is the BEST at repairing ball marks I have seen. Other places I have worked the crew would spend up to a 20 minutes per green repairing marks prior to mowing. Here, it's usually about a 5-minute job to pick up the hand full left for us in the morning. Most of these are on edges of greens. If you want my best tip for you all, it's remember to fix your ball mark when your ball ends up OFF the green.
Myth #2 - "The LPGA doesn't fix their marks" Actually, they repair all of their marks, but you need to keep in mind that those players just hit the green a lot more than you all do on average. Plus, with the tournament in the middle of the summer every year, the post-tournament recovery that time of year is much slower under our normally hot, dry conditions. You are seeing more marks, but from mid-July onward, they just don't heal as quickly.
Myth #3 - "Sand and seed is just as good as replacing a divot" - REPLACING A DIVOT IS THE ONLY WAY TO "REPAIR" A DIVOT. Sand and seed is not a repair but a re-seeding which is starting from scratch. Now I understand that not all divots are able to be replaced and that hot dry summers don't help divots repair well for a few weeks, but I would bet that 60-80% of divots are replaceable. I see players, usually those in carts, hit a shot and reach straight for the sand and seed without even considering replacing their divot. ESPECIALLY on par-3 tee boxes. Honestly, I'm starting to think I should rip the sand and seed buckets off of the golf carts and not even give you the option. SAND AND SEED SHOULD BE A LAST RESORT OF REPAIR!
Myth #4 - "The maintenance staff doesn't repair ball marks or divots" - Actually, we repair leftover ball marks every morning and sand and seed un-repaired divots (especially par-3 tees) fairly frequently throughout the season. When I first got to Highland Meadows, we would go through about 2-3 loads (~22 tons each) of divot material each year. Now, we go through between 4 and 5 loads a year. That's around 100 tons each season.
The most important thing you need to remember is that this is a busy golf course. At many other private clubs in town, you won't see as many divots. A busy weekend day at Highland might have 200+ rounds of golf. Yearly we are doing around 25-27,000 rounds. That's a lot of pelts.
Since I promised more communication on ball marks and divots, I should stop now to avoid using up all my good material. Expect more to come and maybe even a reposting of this. I think these are important points to remember. You all do a better job than you give each other credit for, and since it appears to be such a source of frustration, I hope debunking a few myths might help you not be so frustrated by it!