Great Weekend Weather

July 30, 2011

All indications point to a couple of days w/o rain!  Now that’s a good thing.  There will be cart restrictions in place…at least on Saturday.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on the course, and if at some point during the day the fairways are drying to the point where turf damage will be minimal…then obviously we’ll remove the cartpath only restriction.

The excessive amount of rain and humidity has caused a rapid acceleration in turf growth.  We’ve double-cut and rolled greens the past two days (normally, something I prefer not to do when putting surfaces are sooo soft), and still have had a hard time getting green speeds above 10 ft.  We’ll continue these practices right through the weekend with the hope of achieving not only good speeds…but more importantly, a good/true roll.  Fairways will be mowed this morning and hopefully (weather permitting), the next several mornings as growth is at a peak rate due to all the moisture.  Bunker maintenance has required an extreme amount of man-hours this week, and this morning we plan to cultivate/rake the sand to minimize compaction (“hardness”).  The Hilldale Men’s Club has their two-day member/member event this weekend, so good luck to them and I hope all regular players and guests enjoy the golf course and find conditions to their liking.  The picture below is from earlier in the week when the Evanston Firefighters had their annual outing.

First foursome of Evanston Firefighters at the finishing hole

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Father’s Day-2010

June 21, 2010

The severe storm that hit Chicagoland this past Friday took a hard toll on Hilldale’s grounds.  Rain totals ended up around 1.5″, but winds in excess of 70 mph were definitely the big news.  As usual, willow trees took the brunt of the damage because of their weak structure.  Anyone who played the golf course this weekend, I’m sure noticed the large willow tree on #5 that was blown over.  Unfortunately, the tree fell almost directly on a smaller willow tree that had been planted just five years ago.  The small tree is still standing, but suffered a lot of damage.  Willows are a very attractive tree and do well near water (the reasoning for 5th hole location), but are only attractive if a great deal of care and upkeep are performed.  The tree that fell was right at the dogleg on #5, so you could definitely say it was in an important location.  With a large portion of the fallen tree being in the lake, we’ll have our work cut out for us trying to remove it without damaging the fairway (turf) in the process.  I hope to complete this removal in the coming days, but with more rain in the forecast that will be iffy. 

Course conditions on Father’s Day were affected somewhat by timing of the storms, but overall I was pretty pleased with the amount of work completed in the two days following.  Some cleanup work remains on several holes including #5, but most of the remaining debris is smaller and in out-of-way locations.  As you might imagine, turf areas are growing at a considerable rate with all the rain and warmer weather we’re having.  Fairways were mowed five times this week with primary rough areas cut three times.  Obviously this rate of maintenance will continue with the current weather pattern.  Green speeds were right around 10 ft. the past two days, and though I would prefer another foot or so of speed on weekends, we had to limit the maintenance intensity due to the “soft” nature of the putting surface.  As it is, the grounds staff double-cut and double-rolled greens both days.  Bunker conditions are a little less than desirable right now.  We will continue bunker maintenance this week (sand addition, edging, weeding etc…), but please be patient as storm cleanup, mowing of primary areas, divot repair, and additional greens maintenance practices are performed.

In closing this week, just a note regarding noise (distractions) out on the course.  All members of the grounds maintenance staff are instructed constantly on the importance of golfer (customer) respect when performing their duties.  This is “peak” season for the amount and intensity of golf course maintenance practices, but at no time is it permissable to perform their duties in a way that is rude or bothersome to our customers.  Please notify the pro shop or myself should you have an issue with worker conduct.  Thanks for keeping abreast with the Hilldale grounds department happenings.  Another update will be coming soon.

Bryan Widmer, CGCS


Mother’s Day and Beyond

May 10, 2010

As we head into the busy season, allow me to take this time to update everyone on course conditions, practices, and some general standards we try to employ. 

Green speed: The standard goal since I’ve been at Hilldale is for stimpmeter speeds of 9-10 on weekdays, and 10-11 on weekends.  To arrive at these speeds, the greens are mowed seven days per week with double-mowing and rolling required on Fri., Sat., and Sun.  Due to some overly cool days this past week, speeds were a little slower than preferred with a Mother’s day reading of 9’9″.  A light dusting of sand was applied to all greens this morning, a practice done every 3-4 weeks to keep putting surfaces smooth and rolling  true.

Bunker conditioning: Our typical maintenance schedule for sandtraps involves raking them with a machine 3 days per week, and hand raking (smoothing out foot-prints) the remaining days.  This past week we used a cultivation tool on the machine to loosen sand at the base of bunkers.  I know there has been some concern with guests and regular players about “hardness” or lack of consistency with sand conditions.  Hopefully as the cultivation tool becomes a more regular practice, this will no longer be a concern.  Just a reminder, bunkers are by definition a hazard on a golf course.  Just as rough is a hazard with inconsistencies due to shade, wet areas, cart traffic etc…bunkers will not always have consistent lies to hit out of, just like any other hazard.  Over the next few weeks, the grounds crew will be checking depth of sand in all bunkers with new sand added to areas in need. 

Course setup/marking:  Ground Under Repair areas are outlined with white paint.  You’ll see several of these locations on holes 2, 5, 7, 9, and 14.  Please take a free drop outside these areas.  The new tees on holes 4 and 13 are doing well and will possibly be open to play this coming weekend, weather permitting.  The renovated sandtrap located in front of 15 green will have the plywood removed later this week.  The plywood strips were used to hold the bank in place while the ground around the face firmed up.

Projects upcoming:  New drainage pipe will be installed in the low area behind the 3rd green.  The old pipe has deteriorated and no longer functions which is why this area remains wet and is marked accordingly.  Another area that will have drainage installed is between greens 2 and 6.  Work on both locations is slated to begin this week, and should be wrapped up in 2-4 days.  Again, weather permitting.

Thanks for your support and feedback.  Talk to you on the course,

Bryan Widmer, CGCS