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USGA VISIT 08 01 17 | Course Consulting Service Report Page 1 McCall Golf Course McCall, Idaho Visit Date: August 1, 2017 Present: Ms. Jackie Awmon, Mayor (short visit) Ms. Rita Bolli-Neal, Golf Committee Mr. Eric McCormick, Superintendent Mr. Allan Morrison, Head Professional (short visit) Mr. Larry Gilhuly, USGA United States Golf Association Larry Gilhuly, Agronomist | Green Section | West Region 5610 Old Stump Drive | Gig Harbor, WA 98332 | (O) 253 858 2266 (C) 253 278 2766 | lgilhuly@usga.org The USGA Green Section develops and disseminates sustainable management practices that produce better playing conditions for better golf. | Course Consulting Service Report Page 2 It was a pleasure to once again visit the McCall Golf Course on August 1, 2017, on behalf of the USGA Green Section. This visit was conducted as a “thank you” on behalf of the Idaho Golf Association for hosting several of its events this year. This was my first visit back to McCall in over 25 years, with significant changes noted in many areas. First, the new clubhouse, practice facility and additional nine holes have been added since my last visit. There is no question that the addition of the new clubhouse has been a major upgrade, with outstanding facilities for those using the golf course. While the new nine is very different and far more difficult than the original 18 holes, it has proven to be a good addition due to high player demand during the growing season. It was also good to see that multiple trees have been removed near greens to assist in turf growth on the original 18 holes, along with the complete renovation of Aspen No. 1 and resodding of several greens that suffered ice damage during the past few years. Poa annua continues to play a significant role in the populations on the greens, but all of the greens still have a large percentage of creeping bentgrass despite their small size. This report will focus on existing programs and topics for the future to address economic sustainability, improve staff efficiency and increase player enjoyment. Should you have any questions concerning this visit or report, please do not hesitate to contact our office. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The following brief summary provides a non-explanatory list of topics discussed that can be found within the main framework of this report in the same order. Each topic is discussed in greater detail including observations and recommendations. Greens - Continue the current aeration program. - Is Poa annua control possible? - Continue overseeding with improved creeping bentgrass. - Consider the addition of reverse-rotation brushes. - Renovation of Aspen No. 6. - Trees still impacting turf growth on greens. Green surrounds - Address the approaches in a similar manner as the greens. - Expand winter disease protection around the greens. - Further improve rough surrounds by controlling voles. Tees - Add forward tees where needed. - Address trees, Birch No. 4 tee. Fairways - Selectively protect fairways where needed. - Begin addressing heavy earthworm populations. - Seriously consider the use of GPS spraying equipment. Misc. topics - Consider the USGA Resource Management Tool in 2018. - Generation of more funds is needed. | Course Consulting Service Report Page 3 GREENS Observations and recommendations. There is no question that the putting surfaces on every golf course are the most important areas for golf course maintenance. For this reason, it was good to view very healthy putting surfaces despite recent invasions of the turf pathogen anthracnose on some of the greens as shown in the right photo. Appropriate fungicides had been applied to minimize this issue, as it is only weakening Poa annua and not desirable creeping bentgrass. Several topics were discussed concerning the greens including the following:  Continue the current aeration program. One of the recent trends noted at many golf courses has been the elimination of the standard core aeration. Mr. McCormick aerates in the spring using open tines, with a combination of both standard aeration equipment using 5/8-inch tines and 3/4-inch deep aeration with a Verti-Drain®. This combination removes a considerable amount of organic material and is needed on your greens due to the many layers found in the profile. No changes are suggested at this time for those greens with “push-up” soil or slow-draining materials found below the first few inches of the surface. One of the greens viewed that will not require deep aeration is No. 1. The T-1 creeping bentgrass on this green was very healthy and producing deep root systems after a better mix was used to a depth of 12 inches. Since there are no layers in this profile, deep aeration is not needed. You | Course Consulting Service Report Page 4 may also wish to consider aerating this green using solid tines. However, any change in this direction will require more sand applications during the growing season to dilute the organic material that has not been removed.  Is Poa annua control possible? Over the past 35 years with the USGA Green Section, many “silver bullets” have come and gone, with none providing selective control of Poa annua in creeping bentgrass. The same situation exists today, with only some growth regulators (Trimmit® and Cutless®) minimizing the spread of Poa annua but not eliminating it. While the use of Cutless was recommended on a demonstration basis, it should be done with great care and only during the growing season. While none of the current products provide consistent control of Poa annua, an experimental product viewed during the past five years offers a very effective answer. PoaCure® (methiozolin) has been used at multiple golf courses in similar climates. Excellent results have been achieved when this product is applied in the spring and fall on a consistent basis, with Poa annua slowly fading away and creeping bentgrass filling in the voids. Unfortunately, the release of this product has been delayed until 2019, at which time it will hopefully become available. When this occurs, it was highly recommended to purchase enough material for use on all of the greens at McCall based on the percentage of bentgrass currently noted. The expectation would be to eventually convert the greens from their existing population to nearly 100 percent creeping bentgrass in as little as one to two years.  Continue overseeding with improved creeping bentgrass. It was good to learn that the greens at McCall are being maintained at a reasonable speed and mowing height. The current mowing height favors the competitive ability of creeping bentgrass and should be retained. Overseeding with T-1 creeping bentgrass at 1 pound per 1,000 square feet during the summer months will produce the best results. During the summer, Poa annua is at its weakest, thus with your current mowing height and overseeding, you will have the best chance to increase bentgrass competition. For best results, aerate with 1/4-inch solid tines on the closest possible spacing, and no more than 1 inch in depth. The sand can be applied first, then aeration and seed placed on top before dragging.  Consider the addition of reverse-rotation brushes. One of the more common improvements noted with newer mowing equipment is the addition of grooming attachments that allow for reverse-rotation brushes. Many that have used these brushes on their creeping bentgrass/Poa annua greens report much better removal of seedheads and reduced grain on the surfaces. A good example of this positive result is noted in a recent email from a municipal golf course equipment manager in Oregon to the manufacturer of these brushes that can be adapted to all of the major manufacturers: The results are absolutely amazing. We see great improvement with grain, and when the Poa starts to pop they're very effective against the seed heads. Groomers have their place, but for overall results nothing I've seen beats these brushes." For more information contact Rod Lingle at greensperfection@gmail.com. | Course Consulting Service Report Page 5  Renovation of Aspen No. 6. It was good learn that this extremely small green is the next targeted for reconstruction. As you contemplate the renovation of this green, it will be important to move it to the left as much as possible to nearly double its current size. As this is done, you will have more problems with shade from the trees to the far left of the green. Also, it was suggested to consider using a qualified golf course architect for input on this green and future putting surfaces. While there is certainly nothing wrong with the renovation of No. 1, the use of a qualified golf course architect generally provides the best possible results. In this regard, it was suggested to contact either Mr. Dave Druzisky in nearby Boise or Mr. Mark Miller in Denver, Colorado.  Trees still impacting turf growth on greens. The Sun Seeker app was utilized during the visit to show the sun track during the middle of the winter (blue line), spring and fall equinox (green line) and the day of this visit (yellow line). Several greens were reviewed including: ◦ Aspen No. 6. Should the putting surface be moved to the left, the large trees in this area will impact shade on the new portion of the green even more. The photo to the right shows which trees would need to be removed or have lower limbs removed for more morning sunlight onto this putting surface. This photo was taken from the proposed left side of the new green. ◦ Aspen No. 9. A considerable number of aspens to the left of this green need to be removed to provide several hours of needed morning sunlight during the spring and fall equinox. It is important to understand that morning sunlight is the most critical, | Course Consulting Service Report Page 6 as this is the time the plants are storing carbohydrates for winter hardening and faster recovery during the spring. As can be noted in the photo at the bottom of the previous page, both sides of the green line have substantial shade issues that need to be addressed through extensive tree removal. The wider the gap that can be made, the better the results will be for this green. ◦ Birch No. 9. Several aspens need to be removed between the left side of this green and the practice tee. It was suggested to remove as many aspens as possible to provide several hours of needed morning sunlight above and below the green line. While these trees may provide desirable shade during the summer, the putting surfaces should always be the first priority. ◦ Cedar No. 4. As noted in the photo to the right, a small clump of trees to the left of this green needs to be removed to provide needed morning sunlight. In reality, for a 27-hole golf course, the issues with shade on your greens are not considered major. It was good to learn of the work already completed in this area by Mr. McCormick as it has been a very positive way to improve greens and promote creeping bentgrass. GREEN SURROUNDS Observations and recommendations. While the putting surfaces deserve the highest level of priority, the green surrounds are not too far behind. This includes the approaches, collars, nearby rough and bunkers. Specific recommendations for these areas included the following:  Address the approaches in a similar manner as the greens. Perhaps the most difficult shot in the game is hitting into a firm putting surface with a forward hole location and a soft approach. For this reason, many golf courses have opted to treat the area 10 to 15 yards in front of the greens in a similar manner as the putting surfaces. In other words, regular aeration with cores removed and topdressing to fill the holes is done twice annually. In addition, when the greens receive light sand topdressing, so do the approaches. Finally, you | Course Consulting Service Report Page 7 may wish to consider acquiring a powerful deep vertical mowing unit such as the First Products® VC-60 shown in the right photo. This type of unit can go as deep as 1 inch and address thatch in this area, teeing surfaces and the fairways where earthworms have not reduced this issue.  Expand winter disease protection around the greens. It was mentioned that fungicides are applied on the fairways, but this basically protects the undesirable Poa annua. While there are certainly areas in full shade that will still require protection, you may wish to consider not applying protective fungicides to some of the fairways and utilizing this material for areas around the greens instead. This is particularly important early in the spring, when ball lie around greens requires touch that is impossible when turfgrass has been wiped out by winter diseases. It was recommended to extend fungicide applications at least 10 yards out from the greens, especially on holes with shade issues.  Further improve rough surrounds by controlling voles. The control of voles is extremely difficult, with this problem a bigger issue on the open holes of the Cedar Course. Others have had very good success using different types of snow packing techniques with a primary emphasis around putting surfaces or areas in play along the fairways. While there are no techniques that are 100 percent effective, the use of existing equipment and consistent packing should minimize vole damage without the use of various products that could cause problems with the many pets found around your site. TEES Observations and recommendations. It was refreshing to view a golf course that has already added needed forward tees, with many found on the fairways on all three nines. However, it is in this area where the greatest improvement can be achieved with pace of play and simply providing more fun for your players. Recommendations for the tees included the following:  Add forward tees where needed. One of the most outstanding trends occurring over the past several years is discussed in the article Move Forward, Not Back. While this article was written 15 years ago, the same principles apply today. As mentioned in the article, the average female player hits a golf ball approximately 75 percent as far as the average male player. With this fact, any total yardage or yardage on an individual hole can be compared to create a situation where those with less swing speed can be hitting the same club into a green as more accomplished players. With the preceding in mind, please note the charts on the next page showing the current distance of your yellow, red and blue tees and the comparable distance for male players. | Course Consulting Service Report Page 8 Finally, the last column shows the suggested forward distance for each hole based on our tour of the golf course. These distances are only suggested as a starting point. Based on the topography and the input of your golf course architect, the final distances will vary. Also, the goal of this exercise is to achieve the same par for all players. With this in mind, a combination of red, yellow and a different distance may be suggested for the proposed distances on each nine. Aspen Course – Forward Tee Recommendations Hole Current Yellow Distance Comparative Distance Current Red Distance Comparative Distance Current Blue Distance Comparative Distance Proposed Distance 1 276 368 341 455 370 278 278 2 60 80 139 185 192 144 139 3 275 367 342 456 378 284 275 4 303 404 320 427 388 291 303 5 304 405 377 503 458 344 377 6 211 281 276 368 354 266 276 7 234 312 296 395 330 248 234 8 68 91 138 184 201 151 138 9 344 459 409 545 431 323 323 Total 2075 2767 2638 3517 3102 2327 2343 Birch Course – Forward Tee Recommendations Hole Current Yellow Distance Comparative Distance Current Red Distance Comparative Distance Current Blue Distance Comparative Distance Proposed Distance 1 331 441 392 523 407 305 305 2 235 313 305 407 329 247 247 3 90 120 93 124 149 112 93 4 219 292 287 383 316 237 237 5 388 517 453 604 507 380 388 6 383 511 447 596 471 353 353 7 55 73 113 151 148 111 113 8 283 377 324 432 404 303 283 9 296 395 322 429 400 300 296 Total 2280 3040 2736 3648 3131 2348 2315 Cedar Course – Forward Tee Recommendations Hole Current Yellow Distance Comparative Distance Current Red Distance Comparative Distance Current Blue Distance Comparative Distance Proposed Distance 1 161 215 241 321 307 230 241 2 360 480 433 577 521 391 391 3 272 363 339 452 431 323 323 4 62 83 131 175 187 140 131 5 388 517 331 441 369 277 277 6 46 61 104 139 155 116 104 7 415 553 492 656 580 435 435 8 46 61 106 141 193 145 106 9 230 307 288 384 342 257 257 Total 1980 2640 2465 3287 3085 2314 2265 | Course Consulting Service Report Page 9 As can be noted from the charts, some of the yellow forward tees are simply too short, while some are exactly the right distance. In regard to the existing red tees, some are too long and others, just right. For this reason, it is recommended to add a combination tee that will provide a comparative distance with the existing blue tees. The red and yellow tees can be seen by their colors, while the tees that will need to be changed are in black. Again, these measurements are only offered as a starting point in providing another option for players as viewed at numerous public and private golf courses with very positive results. While the distance for the tees is critical, when addressing forward tees on any golf course, it is also important that they be constructed properly, yet do not add to the overall maintenance budget. In this regard, many courses have had very good success by following the recommendations below: ◦ Remove the red color from the tees. This has been done at numerous courses with very positive results, as many with ego concerns simply will not play the “ladies” tees when the forward tees are red. This is simply no longer the case, as forward tees are being played by many skill sets. By simply changing the color from red to silver (or another color), you will immediately find that some players currently using the white tees will move forward for improved pace of play. ◦ Position the tees on the fairways where possible. Many top clubs have added forward tees at the proper distance without causing major differences in labor or mowing time. As discussed during the visit, many of the proposed forward tees can be placed on the fairways. Also, the positioning of the tees should always have safety and the topography of the area in mind. ◦ Build the tees out of soil similar to the surrounding area. Another trend that has been noted with positive results is building these tees out of soil that requires the same type of irrigation as the surrounding area. A combination of soil and sand will provide adequate drainage during the winter months, but will not result in excess drought during the summer that would occur with a sand-based tee. ◦ Keep them low and let them flow. Another very positive way to build the tees is by keeping the height of the tees no more than 8 to 12 inches. This allows the tees to be added onto fairways to further keep maintenance costs down. Also, by keeping the heights of the tees low, the contours can be added to fairways, with very gentle side slopes mowed with fairway mowers. A perfect example is shown in the right photo taken at San Francisco Golf Club. | Course Consulting Service Report Page 10 ◦ Build the tees of adequate size. One of the mistakes often seen with forward tees is building a tee by simply mowing out an area or creating a small “bump-up” tee. This should be avoided by all means, with flat teeing surfaces constructed at a minimum size of 500 to 750 square feet. Also, it is extremely important to take time to build these tees as flat as possible. This includes the current and proposed forward tees that currently are played with markers on the fairways. As a final comment concerning the addition of forward tees, virtually every golf course that has added these surfaces has reported positive results. While they may not be used extensively at first, with time they will become heavily used as all players lose distance, yet want to continue playing this great game. In addition, the removal of the red color will definitely remove the stigma of “ladies” tees and will result in more appropriate tee use. Also, these tees will improve pace of play and provide a positive economic impact for your course.  Address trees on Birch No. 4 tee. This tee is similar to the putting surfaces, with an extensive number of trees around both the blue and white tees. The photo to the right was taken from the main traffic area of the white tee, where very thin turf is found due to heavy traffic and excess shade. Several aspens noted in the photo and four pines were suggested for removal to provide several hours of needed sunlight onto this high-traffic area. FAIRWAYS Observations and recommendations. The fairways at McCall were originally comprised of Kentucky bluegrass but are now a combination of many different grasses. With lower mowing heights and winter problems over the past several years, a significant amount of creeping bentgrass has entered into the fairways, along with opportunistic Poa annua. Specific recommendations for the fairways included the following:  Selectively protect fairways where needed. As described earlier in this report, rather than using preventative fungicides on all of the fairways, locations around the greens should be a higher priority.  Begin addressing heavy earthworm populations. While earthworms certainly provide a benefit through the decomposition of thatch, they can truly pose issues with ball lie on heavily shaded fairways. A good example is Birch No. 4, where excessive earthworm populations create many bare soil lies. Mr. McCormick mentioned that he has purchased the fertilizer Early Bird™ for use. This is an effective way to minimize earthworm populations. However, this product needs to be used prior to a heavy rain incident for best results. When | Course Consulting Service Report Page 11 this organic fertilizer is applied at 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet prior to a heavy rain event, you should expect a significant amount of earthworms to appear on the surface. The effect of the irritant inside of the fertilizer (tea bean extract) lasts approximately four to five weeks, with reapplication necessary. In addition to testing this product, it was also suggested to experiment with Rhizo Aide™ (available from Grigg Brothers®). These products should only be used for areas where excessive worm populations truly impact turf density and ball lie.  Seriously consider the use of GPS spraying equipment. A recent visit to Priddis Greens included a look at basic technology that has been available in the Ag industry for many years. With the use of GPS spraying, extremely precise applications of all products can be made to dramatically reduce overall resource inputs. The golf course superintendent at this course reports as much as an 18- to 20-percent reduction in overall product costs, which pays for the leasing of the units on his site. MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS Consider the USGA Resource Management Tool in 2018. The USGA Resource Management Tool will be available in 2018. This tool is a web-based product to help golf course superintendents in their jobs managing the golf course. It is a tool to more accurately measure a golf facility’s consumption of resources (such as labor, water, fuel) down to a very defined area. Using this data will help facilities manage their maintenance in a way that reduces costs while improving the golfer experience. For more information, see New Technology is a Game- Changer for Golf Facilities. Generation of more funds is needed. It was mentioned by Mayor Awmon that the golf course operates at a deficit with City assistance. Due to the very short season, an annual deficit of $80,000 to $100,000 was mentioned. It was good to learn of the philosophy that providing this important facility to your community is just as important as any other sports field or park. Since there is an ongoing need to provide maintenance for the golf course, with labor and equipment costs constantly rising, the easiest answer is to simply raise the cost for playing the course, Specifically, the $800 annual player pass purchased for those who use the facility on a regular basis is one of the lowest cost and best values seen in the Western United States based on the quality conditions offered. Mr. McCormick should take pride in the conditions produced despite the challenge of finding adequate labor to maintain the course. While a slight increase in dues would certainly be helpful, another idea worth considering would be a user fee on top of the annual pass charge. In other words, each player would be asked to pay an additional $1 per round. With approximately 30,000 annual rounds, this would assist in reducing the deficit. If combined with a $100 pass increase with approximately 400 pass holders using this option, approximately $70,000 could be raised to nearly break even on an annual basis. Regardless of how it is accomplished, some type of funding mechanism is needed to assist in the ongoing maintenance operation. Thank you for your support of the Idaho Golf Association through hosting several events this year. It is hoped that the comments contained in this report shall be helpful as you look to the future. Again, should you have any questions concerning this visit or report, please do not hesitate to contact our office. | Course Consulting Service Report Page 12 As a final comment, would you like to receive the Green Section's electronic version of the Green Section Record? It's free, informative, and short. All you have to do is click the link: You may also visit USGA Regional Updates for current findings from the West and all the Green Section Regions. Respectfully submitted; Larry Gilhuly, Agronomist USGA Green Section Distribution: Mr. Eric McCormick, Superintendent