Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September 2014 Weather Summary

The highest temperature for the month of September was 92.2 degrees. This happened on the 5th. It was also the only time this year we recorded a temperature above 90 on the weather station at Leslie Park Golf Course. The lowest temperature for the month was the morning of the 14th, where we saw a chilly 38.9 degrees. It was also the date of the first frost of the year. The frost can happen, even when the temperature is above freezing because the weather station is 15 feet above the ground. Closer to the turf level, the temperature can be significantly lower because colder air sinks. The average temp was 61.2. For reference, June, July and August were all in the upper 60's for mean temps.

September also saw 3.74 inches of rain fall. The yearly total is now 27.78 inches. The most daily rainfall fell on the 10th (1.25 inches) but the precipitation event that started on the 20th and ended the morning of the 21st had 1.45 inches. The 20th had 1.15 inches while the 21st finished with just 0.30 inches. There were only two days with over an inch of precipitation and six days had more than a tenth of an inch. Nine days had at least a trace of rain.

The highest sustained windspeed was 29.0 mph (Sept 5.) The average windspeed for the month was 1.5 mph.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Aerification

We have completed the aerification of the greens at both golf courses. Leslie Park was done during the week of September 8th. We just finished Huron Hills yesterday (September 24th.) Completing the process this early will really allow the greens to recover and go into the winter at full strength.

Here is a video about why we aerate.

To review the process, first we use a mechanical aerator, a Toro Procore 648.  It is self-propelled, 48 inches wide and has 30 1/2 inch tines.  The speed we use puts the tines down every 2 inches.  Here is the machine in action.

The plugs of soil, grass and thatch removed from a green.

The playing surface after removing the plugs.

After these plugs are shoveled off the green, we use a mower attachment called a verti-cutter to break up any remaining plugs, as well as groom the playing surface of the green.

The verti-cutting units mounted on a tri-plex mower.

The verti-cuts in action

This is how the green looks after the verti-cutting.

At this point, we need to replace all of the material that we just removed. We do this with sand. Sand is a great medium to grow grass because it drains well and resists compaction. The sand is spread on the greens and then drug into the holes.

The top-dresser putting sand on #12 at Leslie Park a couple of years ago. The willow behind the green fell over during a windstorm in 2012.

Leslie Park's #18 green covered with sand.

A video of #10 green being drug in.

The finished product. Notice how all of the holes are filled with sand. This is the objective.

Monday, September 1, 2014

August 2014 Weather Summary

The highest temperature recorded at Leslie Park in August was 88.7 degrees (on the 26th.) The low temperature was 45.8 (Aug 15.) The average was 69.4 degrees.

The weather station at the golf course recorded 3.81 inches of rain. This brings the yearly total to 19.57 inches. The largest single day of rain was on the 11th, which saw 1.09 inches of rain. This was the only day with over an inch of precipitation, and 6 days had over a tenth of an inch. Eleven days saw more than a trace of rain.

The average wind speed was 1.4 mph. The highest sustained wind speed was 30 mph, on Aug 26.

Friday, August 1, 2014

July 2014 Weather Summary

The highest temperature recorded at the weather station at Leslie Park Golf Course for the month of July was 88.1 degrees, on the 22nd. The lowest temperature was 48.1 degrees. ( July 29th.) There were no days above 90 degrees in July for the first time since we put the weather station up in 2010. In that year, there were 3 days above 90. In both 2011 and 2012, we had 10 days with a high of at least 90 while 2013 saw four days. The average temperature was 67.9 degrees.

There was 3.94 inches of rain at the golf course, with the 7th seeing the most of any single day. (0.88 inches) Seven days had over a tenth of an inch and 12 days saw at least a trace of precipitation. For the year, we have gotten 20.25 inches of rain.

The average wind speed recorded was just 1.7 mph. The highest sustained wind speed was 44 mph, on the 1st. That wind speed is a new record for the golf course weather station.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Sand in Bunkers

We have ordered new sand for all the bunkers at both Huron Hills and Leslie Park. We are almost finished spreading the sand in the bunkers at Huron and will soon begin the bunkers at Leslie.

One of the worst bunkers was the fairway bunker on #12 at Huron Hills. It did not look like it was filled with sand, but rocks and soil. We scrapped all of the previous "sand" out and replaced it entirely with new bunker sand. This will hopefully improve, not only the play-ability of the hole, but the drainage in the bunker, as well.

The base is on the left in this picture, while the new sand is being spread out from the left.

The entrance point to the bunker.

A view from the signature "island" in the bunker.

Number 10 green at Leslie Park on the morning of the first day of the All-City Championship.

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."