Monday, September 14, 2015

Fore The Golfer: How to Repair Ball Marks


        The golf course maintenance staff walks the greens in the pre-dawn hours with a flashlight and a golf tee as their tools. In those hours, they are cleaning up messes left behind by others.They're ugly, hideous depressions in the greens -- ball marks left behind by golfers who didn't care to take the 10 seconds necessary to heal a scar on the putting surface, where a true roll is of the utmost importance. A ball mark that goes un-repaired can be unsightly for more than two weeks, cause putts to roll off line and possibly become a bigger problem if a mower -- one capable of cutting within a tenth of an inch -- goes over it in the pre-dawn hours, leaving a blemish the size of a soft drink can. The importance of repairing ball marks applies to every course and every golfer. Repair is not only a courtesy to those in later groups on a given day, but it should be a common courtesy no matter the importance of the round.
        So, what is the best way and tool to use to fix a ball mark? Ball marks vary in shape and severity so there is no one best tool. In fact, virtually any pointed tool will work as long as the proper method of repair is performed. This has even been the focus of several research projects in recent years where multiple repair tools were evaluated. Each study concluded that no particular repair tool was significantly better than any other when used correctly. 
        It is the understanding that it is the method, not the tool, that is most critical to restoring a smooth surface and allowing turf to heal quickly. Begin by inserting the repair tool into the soil behind the rear of the ball mark at about a 45-degree angle. Gently pull the top of the tool toward the center. Continue working around the ball mark, gently stretching the surrounding turf toward the center until the indentation is filled in. Less is generally more when it comes to ball mark repair, so this should be done just three or four times; anything more generally adds injury to the already damaged turf. Use your putter or foot to tamp down the repaired area to make it smooth and level with the rest of the green. Avoid prying actions that tear live roots and bring soil to the putting surface. Doing so causes significant damage and greatly slows recovery.

         Fixing ball marks is on par with many other course courtesies that golfers should follow. Golfers should follow the signs, be courteous to fellow golfers and know that the superintendents want to keep the course as pristine as possible. So when a sign says, "Cart Path Only," there's a reason. When a sign says, "90 degrees," there's a reason. When a sign says, "Please repair ball marks," there's a reason.

We at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, want our members and patrons to treat the course as their own: Obey cart rules, rake bunkers and repair ball marks.
As always any questions, comments or concerns is always welcomed.
We'll see you out there!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

2015 Bunker, Collar and Approach Renovation Update


 The 2015 bunker, collar and approach improvements are under way. And, despite the uncooperative weather of late, the golf course construction company has made up ground and are currently not that far off of the original completion schedule. I have been informed of some questions and concerns regarding our current project. I would like to answer some of those questions and concerns, by discussing the intricacies of golf course construction and renovation.

     Today, many mature golf courses face a number of common problems. As assets age, golf clubs can be burdened with increased operational and maintenance costs. And increasingly, golf clubs are asked to comply with more stringent environmental restrictions. But older clubs still hold certain advantages. Often, they sit on prime locations and have mature landscapes that might take a newer club years to develop. These advantages make them prime candidates for renovation. Golf course renovation can improve the play-ability and overall strategy of your course. It can address environmental issues and revitalize your aging assets. Above all, it can reinvigorate the current membership and help add new members.

Golf course construction and renovation can be a monumental undertaking for any golf club. Every renovation project is unique and demands creativity, flexibility and investment from all of the involved parties. It requires a well-orchestrated team of individuals including the club manager, golf course architect, golf course superintendent, etc. These stakeholders must have the necessary vision to see the possibility of what could be and the passion to market and illustrate their plan of action to the general membership of the facility. Despite the often glaring need to renovate aging and outdated facilities, there still may be some individual club members resistant to the proposed change and it’s accompanying monetary costs. It is very important during this time to secure the confidence and approval of the membership. 
     Construction and renovation of a golf course is a highly specialized and technical affair. The decisions made in this phase will last a lifetime, so it's essential that the job is done right from day one. Ultimately, for completed construction to match intended design, it is important for the golf course architect and the selected golf course construction company to interact and remain in constant contact during the various phases of construction.
   During a construction or renovation project, there a number of hurdles that can/will be encountered that can slow or stall the project, resulting in completion schedules and dates to change. It is preferential to undergo construction in the late fall/early winter. However, the sod that is being used for the majority of this project (Zeon and Palisades Zoysia grass) plays a major factor in the scheduling of the project. Zoysia grasses do not establish as quickly or as aggressively as Bermuda grasses. Therefore, sod availability is not even an option until March. It would not be beneficial to begin a construction project until the sod is readily available to finish out the project. 

The biggest challenge to any construction project is weather. Excessive rainfall can bring a construction project to a complete halt. And, if the rain is significant enough, can destroy previously completed work that will need to be re-done. And, it’s not just the weather in the specific area of the project that can create a delay. For example, the sod that is being used for our current renovation project is coming from a sod farm outside of Houston, TX. Rainfall events in their area can cause delays or cancel sod deliveries if the ground is too saturated to harvest sod for delivery. With the sod being delivered form that great of a distance, it is imperative that the sod be harvested, trucks loaded and immediately en route for delivery. This is to ensure that the quality of sod is still acceptable for use on the golf course.
    I would like to thank all our members and patrons, for their continued patience and support while we continue our current renovation project. I hope this provides some insight of what challenges we face during the construction and renovation of this golf course. If you have any further questions regarding construction and renovation, please feel free to catch me the next time you see me out on the golf course. I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Any questions, comments or concerns are always welcomed.

We’ll see you out there!