Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 2014 Weather Summary

The high temperature recorded at Leslie Park for the month of June was 87.8 degrees, which occurred on the 17th. The lowest temperature was 43.9 (14th.) The average temperature for the month was 69.1 degrees.

There were 12 days of rain for a total of 5.33 inches. Eleven of those days had over a tenth of an inch. On June 18th, 2.28 inches of precipitation was recorded. This was also the only day with over an inch of rain. This brings the total precipitation for the year to 16.93 inches.

The average wind speed for the month was 1.9 mph. The highest sustained wind speed was 27 mph (June 2nd.)

The weather station at Leslie Park with a Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) perched on the anemometer.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dr. Leslie's Orchard

Before Doctor Leslie donated the land for Leslie Park Golf Course, he and his wife had been running the land as a farm. On this farm, he planted wheat, corn and other annual crops, but a large portion of the land was devoted to orchards. They had cherries, pears and apples, as well as blueberries and raspberries.  The area where 5, 6, 7 and 8 are now located was predominately pears, apples and cherries. A small portion of this orchard was retained when the course was built. It was originally a 12 row by 12 row section, with a few trees outside of this square. That would have been 144 trees.

The Orchard looking toward #8 green from #6 fairway.

When I started with the City of Ann Arbor, there were less than 100 of these trees left. Through the previous 40 plus years, the trees naturally died out. Since the purpose of Leslie Park was to be a golf course and not an orchard, this was not a priority. The life expectancy of these trees is not overly long, and since they were planted around the time of World War II or before, it became clear to me that if nothing was done, we would lose the entire orchard. Since this was an integral part of the strategy for playing holes 6 and 8, as well as an homage to the former use of the land, we decided to start replanting the orchard.

Planting trees in 2012.

The first step was to decide what to plant. The "holes" in the orchard were filled in with a mixture of Bartlett pears, Comice pears, Honeycrisp apples and Red Delicious apples. The apples were added to bring about some of the historical feel to the orchard, even though this part did not have any apples. We started slowly on the 8 fairway side. This was to get a feel for how to proceed and give us some experience with the different trees. In 2010, we planted 16 apple and pear trees. We soon discovered that the deer love the apple trees but leave the pears pretty much alone. We started to experiment with deer deterrents and finally settled on cages. The following year, we planted another 18 pears and apples, along with 12 cherry trees.

The cherry trees are added to the northern section of the orchard, near #7 green. In 2009, there were 6 cherries here and stumps for 30 more. Over the past five years, four of these old cherries have died. Unfortunately, the last two do not appear to have survived the harsh winter.

The two old cherry trees still do not have leaves.

This pear has seen better days.

This is an apple tree we planted this year.

Since 2009, we have planted 39 apple and pear trees, as well as 23 cherry trees. The gaps in the old 144 tree orchard are now almost filled. When that happens, we will only be replacing the old trees when they die.

As a golf course manager, you have to stay one step ahead. As an ancient Chinese proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is right now."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Turtles come back to Leslie Park

In the last couple of days, we have seen an increase in turtles. You may recall that one of the big objectives of the Traver Creek Project was to minimize the impact on turtle populations in the creek and ponds on the golf course. You can read more about this program HERE and HERE.

Here is a snapping turtle laying eggs near the creek.

Turtles have been laying eggs on this stream bank.

This turtle was laying eggs near #6 at Huron Hills.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Verticuting Greens

Vertical mowing, or "Verticuting" is a cultural practice used on golf courses for a number of reasons. The first is to sever lateral growth and promote an upright growth habit in the grass. Bentgrass that lies parallel to the putting surface creates "grain." Johnny Miller used to rail against this grain during television broadcasts of PGA tour events. As an aside, the courses the professionals play on do not have grain on the greens. Most of the time his comments Grass that stands upright will promote a faster, truer green. It also improves the quality of cut for the mowers. Depending on how deep the mowers are set, it can also remove a large amount of thatch and organic matter. It is a practice that I would like to implement three or four times a year.

Here is Jim verticutting #3 green at Leslie Park.

Here is the putting surface after vertical mowing. Not the organic matter and thatch.

After the mowing, we blow off the organic matter and thatch that is brought to the surface. We then spread a very light layer of sand over the green and brush it in. This brushing also has the benefit of standing up some of the blades of grass that the machine cut but did not lift. Then we mow the green. After a few days, you will not see the lines any more, but you will hopefully notice a smoother ball roll.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May 2014 Weather Summary

The highest temperature recorded at Leslie Park for the month of May was 85.3 degrees, which happened on May 8th. The lowest temperature was 34.2 degrees (6th.)  The average temperature was 59.8 degrees.

The weather station recorded 5.17 inches of rain. May 12th saw the most rain at 1.31 inches of precipitation. The next day had 0.44 inches of rain which means that 1.75 inches of rain occurred during one rain event. Two days had over an inch of rain. May 7th saw 1.04 inches. There were 10 days were the golf course received over a tenth of an inch of rain and 15 days saw more than a trace of rain. The accumulated precipitation for the year is now just under 11 inches at 10.97.

The highest wind gust recorded was 42 mph. The average windspeed was 3.0 mph for the month.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April 2014 Weather Summary

The high temperature for April 2014 was 76.4 degrees (April 21st.) The lowest temperature recorded was 17.5 degrees (16th.) The average temperature at the golf course was 48.0 degrees. Six days had low temperatures below 32 degrees.

The weather station at Leslie Park measured 2.56 inches of rain for the month. The most recorded in a single day was 0.78 inches (29th.) Eight days had more than 0.1 inches and 12 days saw at least a trace of precipitation. The total for the year so far is 5.8 inches of precipitation.

The average windspeed was 5.0 mph and the highest recorded wind gust was 41 mph (April 14th.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Irrigation at Huron Hills

The irritation irrigation at Huron Hills is often a challenge. Whenever we start digging, you never know what you will find. This irrigation leak near #7 green has been on the agenda for quite a while. Last year, we dug down far enough to know that the leak was at the reducing coupling where the six-inch main line went down to 2.5 inches.  This type of repair is not easy and the leak was not big, so we opted to do it in the spring before we started up the water. This gave us a couple of advantages. The first is that we did not have to drain the water out of the main line. With a 6 inch diameter main line, this would be thousands of gallons of water we would have to remove. The second advantage is that usually in the spring, the water needs of the grass is not high and a fix of this size can take a couple of days.

When we got back and started digging out the lines, what we found was a maze of pipes.
I have no idea what the thinking behind this design was.

The six inch main line runs from the lower right to the upper left in this picture.

It seems like this might have been a repair and replacement of a four way joint, or cross. These cross joints are extremely tough to replace, especially on a six inch pipe. The "solution" was to put in a tee coming out to the north and size it down to 2.5 inches. Then come out and make a 90 degree turn with an "elbow" to the east. After another 3 feet of 2.5 inch pipe, a tee was added. This matched up with the 2.5 inch pipe that headed east. The problem was in then connecting to the 2.5 inch pipe that runs west. It is on the other side of the 6 inch mainline and at the same depth. They then took another elbow and came up enough to clear the mainline and then bring it back down on the other side. 

I should mention that the mainline here is only about 18 inches below ground. This meant that the pipe coming over the mainline was less than a foot below the surface.

We decided to put in two tees off of the mainline. One for the east and one going west. 

The two tees coming off the mainline.

In order to realign the pipe, we used 45 degrees turns. This cuts down on the pressure loss that would be experienced using 90 degree elbows.

The finished product with a new quick coupler that we will be able to use on #7 green.