Long Summer

The summer season may be winding down but as many of you know we have a long way to go before the golf season on Martha's Vineyard wraps up. This time of year is especially difficult since any summer help is leaving, we lose daylight, the workload does not diminish, in fact it may increase as more leaves and acorns fall, and the play is rock solid. That last part is actually good news from a business perspective but from a bedraggled employee perspective more golfers to work around is not very appealing after a long hot summer.
I prepare for this by making sure the staff gets plenty of time off and no one gets too over worked. Of course I do not often look after myself in the same way using the reasoning of you love what you do and your hobby is golf anyway. Toss in a malfunctioning irrigation control system, (so I never know when it will actually complete a full irrigation cycle and all the sleepless nights and insurance company bureaucracy), the need to prepare my budget for next year, preparation for a potential mosquito trenching project this winter, a possible visit from POTUS and one morning off in the last month just doesn't cut it.
I actually rolled over on Wednesday morning when I looked at the radar at 3:30 am and then heard the rain. I was up by 6 and all hell was breaking loose as some staff had already come in and left and others were texting to see if we were working and the rain had stopped. The predicted 1-2" (and a nice relaxing day) looked like a bust so it was game on. Then the irrigation computer took a nose dive and most of the day was spent trying to express the urgent need for a replacement to the claims adjuster while trying to breathe some life back into the thing since it was not raining. What a waste of an extra hours sleep. We ended up getting .26" of rain and almost a full day of golfers in. Much better than the 13" Islip NY received in 4 hours.
It's past 5 PM on Friday so time to call it. This post has been a good segue for something I read over 20 years ago and enjoyed it so much I framed it and put it on my office wall. I am not sure of the original author or the date but believe it was 1950's or 60's and in New England. I changed the school from UMass to URI:

 THIS  IS  THE  WEEK  THAT  WAS~ GREENSKEEPER’S DIARY

Monday - Want to spray bad dollar spot on greens.  Cushman won’t work.  Sprayer won’t work.  I don’t want to work.  Nobody else wants to work.  Two of the crew stayed home and did not work.  Just had a phone call the Junior Golfers are to have a shotgun start on both nines at 8:30.  Hung up in caller’s face.  Should not have had that last beer last night.  Mowed greens and tried not to notice that the cups needed changing and the dollar spot is even worse than I thought.  Did not mow 13.  Hate it.  Between the winterkill, oil spill kill and the disease, we ought to tow it to the S.P.C.A. and have it put to sleep.  Chairman left message in the pro shop to get in touch with him at once.  He better not hold his breath.  Hit 95 by late afternoon.  Late for supper, wife mad, supper lousy, I’m mad.  Watered ‘til dark.  Showered and went to bed.  Wife sexy - I’m not.

Tuesday - Went in at daylight - the air feels like a police dogs breath.  Got the sprayer working.  Can’t figure out why the chemical companies package dusty chemicals in bags that are impossible to open without getting it all over yourself, and the sprayer, not to mention breathing it.  The cheapest cereal on the market is packaged in easy-to-open-and-close containers.  We all should go to granulars - that would snap their eyes open.  Fairway tractor stuck in wet spot right next to the huge localized dry spot the crew calls Iran.  Why are there so many cars in the club lot?  The Pro shop says it is a ladies member-guest transferred from another club that had a fire in their kitchen.  I think I will set one in ours and let them eat at Burger King. Went  home early - slept through supper.  Wife mad again, too tired to be mad.  Mowed rough ‘til dark.  Showered and ate cold, leftover supper.  Felt sexy - wife still mad from early evening.  Lost interest.

Wednesday - Slept late, went in at 7:00.  Changed cups 18 greens, hit 14 rocks.  No record, but close.  Thirteen green has a disease that looks like vomit - on close inspection it is vomit - what a relief!  You can always hose off vomit.  Birds working on greens - how many cutworms does it take to fill up a crow?!  I think their mother was raped by a rooster the way they scratch with their black toenails and dig with their beaks.  The member who owns the ice cream plant told me we need more sand in the traps - I told him his maple walnut needs more nuts.  He said “times are tough” - I agree.  Went in the club for a cup of coffee and the manager asked me if I knew anything about the septic backing up.  Left without getting the coffee.  Fairly normal afternoon except we are down to one Cushman.  Are flat tires contagious?  Home for supper at the right time for a change - no one is home.  Note says heat a T.V. dinner.  Go down to the Old Eagle Inn and wash a steak down with a half-dozen ‘hinnies’.  Finish mowing rough.  Wife mad.  Don’t care, sleep on floor after watching Sands of Iwo Jima.  Love Big Duke.

Thursday - My yellow crud is back.  Every year it comes the end of July.  Interesting light green spots get weaker looking then turn yellow ... then gray ... then dead.  Some say it is Fusarium, some say Anthracnose, some say funose.  Wife says it is my imagination.  My assistant got rid of the persistent red leaf spot patch on the practice green, he cut it with an eight-inch patcher and threw it in the pond.  Sure is wonderful what they teach you at the University of Rhode Island.

FRIDAY - In at dawn again and fell over the barn dog before I could get a light on. Friday is the day we do EVERYTHING. Assistant late again. Sometimes I wonder about him. He wouldn't even hold still when I had to cut the bubblegum out of his hair. Got mad because I cut his headband. This is the day I was going to spray because I missed last Friday that should have gone down the Friday before that. Maybe Monday. Maybe by then the cutworms will have turned to moths and have flown away. Looped around the course in the pre-dawn light and saw four joggers, a mushroom picker, two ball hoppers in the pond, three members walking dogs, an old Italian lady cutting dandylions and a partridge in a pear tree. Threw a rock at the last mentioned. I love the course this early in the morning - so quiet, peaceful and tranquil. I think I'll call the state troopers and have all these people arrested. Picked up the remains of a big beer party by the fifteenth and then went to work.

SATURDAY - Everyone in the world loves weekends except Greenkeepers. More turf disasters have happened on Saturday and Sunday than all the Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays put together. Right off the bat four pins and a dozen markers missing and the usual moronic messages written in the sand traps. Why can't they write inspirational messages or the weather report? A neat group partied last night. All imported beer, an empty Southern Comfort bottle and two Cutty Sarks - members' kids. Went to look at a very large pupa dangling from the tree by the ninth and after gazing in wonder for two seconds realized it was a tampon. Left it there, maybe it will hatch.

SUNDAY - Greens mower failed to show till I had mowed five greens. I would have fired him but then I would have had to finish. Things looking pretty good today. Can't wait till Monday to see what the hell will happen next.

AUGUST

I think it is official this has become a bi-weekly blog. Last Friday was the men's Member-Guest so maybe I will run with that excuse for not posting. Speaking of the Member Guest we survived. The ladies had a perfect day for a change and the men managed 27 holes un-scathed. Only a few groups bagged out on the final nine holes and the rest fought the good fight through a steady rain. A few teams earned points and a few lost them. It finished with a three-way tie for first and it was decided on a chip off on 9 to avoid playing more full holes in the rain. Great events and a good time was had by all.
last nine  of men's mem-guest radar
We continued to do a few projects around the property. During the Ladies Mem-Guest we headed to the beach to install some snow fence. It helps divert sand blowing into the channel. It was a nice reprieve to be off the course. Hard to complain about the view. The course continues to hold up and we seem to have recovered from the dollar spot fungus outbreak, thank goodness. I had not been on the nursery putting green in many days and was a little surprised to see a major outbreak on it as well. That green gets shortchanged sometimes on our plant protectant sprays and when the pressure is high it is susceptible.
beach excursion

Dollar spot on nursery
We have made it to August. As a resort area we survive on tourism but it seems our patience wears a little thin by the end of summer. And that is a collective MV not just Mink Meadows. There is often a stereotype associated with the August visitor. I am not sure they truly are more demanding or the above fatigue sets in?In the locker room the other night before my skate I heard this story where there was a long line at one of the post office counters and a woman walked up to the front and asked if she could cut the line stating "she was on vacation". I'll let you be the judge but that is surely a classic.
We are all preparing for our famous August visitors: The President, First Lady, their daughters and then a few hundred Secret Service, White House staff and press. They came to do their prep this week in case POTUS decides to play here. Always a fun experience to be part of "the Show".
Staffers getting ready for a vacation
The way this summer is flying by it will be Labor Day before you know it. That means cooler nights and great golfing weather, not that we have not had some of that already this summer. It also means aerification. We will again be contracting out a deep tine aerification of greens the day after Labor Day. We will attempt collars and approaches in-house as well that same day. Next will be tees and hopefully fairways and rough as the month continues. I will remind everyone again as we get closer. Until then enjoy the rest of summer.
Ethereal sunrise 1 fwy

great light 6 fwy from 4 green

window after a thunder storm

End of an Era

It has been two weeks since my last post and a lot has happened in that time. We continue to try and improve the property as well as maintain it. The rain is welcomed but adds to the pothole duty on roads, paths and some bunkers. We added stones in front of the course rest rooms to try and minimize the sand dragged into them which ruins the floors. We edged the sprinklers and fairway stones and then Murph painted the numbers on those stones. The brush cutting of the road edges continues in earnest and we even tackled some of the woods edges to help speed up play. The wildlife seems to be going nuts this year with sightings of all sorts. In fact one morning I was barely paying attention driving up three when I looked over at Bert sniffing the air. I looked around and saw my deer friend so stopped and engaged my phone camera for a picture. She actually started walking towards us and that is when Bert decided it would be more fun to chase the "big doggy". Murph found a lunar moth one morning so we snapped her picture and tucked her into the woods in hopes that she would survive.  The red tail hawks continue to dominate the course but the osprey can be seen flying overhead on a regular basis. The turkeys have been around but the number of poults is dwindling with each sighting. I made a collage of the different categories over the last two weeks: wildlife, irrigation, and projects


I could write an entire post on how a simple task of flushing a weepy head turns into a 24 hour project. Suffice to say Murphy's Law was in full force and if it could go wrong it did. A 3-5 minute flush turned into a new found leak then a broken valve which required a full system shutdown and draining. We managed and have seen a marked improvement on the pressure maintenance pump cycle so that surprise leak might have been going for some time.
7 fairway
As you can clearly see in the picture above there is a distinct line of disease damaged turf on the right. We spray our greens, tees, and approaches conventionally. What that means is we apply synthetic fungicides on a scheduled preventative basis. Much like your high blood pressure pill. The fungal pathogens are in the soil so always present. Once the conditions are met for growth they spring into life, so to avoid damage we have a preventative spray on the turf. Since September of 1997 we have not done this on fairways. Instead we have relied on a biological approach using a bacteria that we brew and either injected through the irrigation or for the last three seasons sprayed on the turf. This is more like your insulin monitoring and dosage with diabetes. When we noticed disease we would start brewing and spraying. As a contingency for this season I purchased a fungicide to avoid catastrophe like last season and pulled the trigger this week and applied it to all fairways. We have stopped the disease activity and hopefully will grow out of the damage. Most of the fairways are fine and you would not even notice, but other areas were hit pretty hard such as you see in the picture. It is hard not to feel like a failure when you have tried to be as environmentally progressive as I have and managed this long, but all in all it was a good run. I will continue to tweak the program and work to be fungicide free again but the reality is that I do this voluntarily. We are not under any restrictions and can treat conventionally but I have chosen since 97 to try a different path. Why be normal right? Thanks for sticking with me so far. I could not have done it without a great staff and tremendous support from the members and owners of the property. Maybe not quite the end  of an era but a speed bump along the roadway. Just thought I would keep you informed to the best of my abilities.
6 fwy. The sun always rises on a new day