Shaping Up To Be A Great Weekend

August 25, 2011

All cart restrictions lifted; 80 degrees and sunny with a light breeze; quick greens and very receptive.  Hope you can all make it out to Hilldale.  Below is the maintenance schedule for Fri.-Sun.:

Greens-Double-cut and double-roll all three days.  Depending on stimpmeter readings, greens could also be mowed on Sat. evening.  Goal is to be at 11.5 ft. in the morning, which normally would indicate about a 10-10.5 ft. speed in early afternoon.  I know many players would like to see speeds in the 12 ft. range, but past experience has shown the amount of time for an 18 hole round increases significantly when greens are rolling that quick.

Tees & Fairways-Mow on Friday and Sunday.  Both areas have firmed up nicely and with no rain in the forecast, should play to your liking throughout the weekend.

Rough-All rough areas will be cut at a 2″ height on Thursday and Friday, with the primary rough (20-30 ft. around greens and fairways) mowed one additional time over the weekend.

Bunkers-Will be raked with a mechanical rake on Friday and Sunday, and hand raked on Saturday.  As I’ve written in earlier posts, the unusual number of heavy rain events over the last 4-6 weeks have caused an excessive amount of washouts in the sandtraps.  Because of this, we’re using the cultivation tool on our mechanical rake to “loosen” the sand and attempt to minimize the number of “hard lies” in Hilldale’s bunkers.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and good luck to all those playing in the Hilldale Men’s Club event on Saturday and Sunday.

 


Just When You Think…..

August 21, 2011

18th fairway at noon on 08/20/2011

 

It’s safe to go out and play golf….we get another 2″ (just shy) of rain in barely one hour’s time!  Hilldale is open for play, and although there was originally more rain in the forecast for Sat. evening, the updated (5:30 p.m.) future radar looks like Hoffman Estates should be rain free  through the night.  And of course tomorrow looks to be a glorious day (79 deg., sunny, and less humid.  Carts must stay on cartpaths at all times and it’s hard to foresee that changing until Monday (8/22).  We did have a chance to dry out some this week after receiving .5″ of rain last Sat. evening (8/13), so at least the ground wasn’t overly saturated prior to today’s moisture. 

18th fairway at 4:30 p.m.-8/20/2011

Again, the bunkers took a major beating from the heavy rainfall. So for what seems like the upteenth time this summer, the major focus for the grounds department will be dealing with washed out bunkers.  Carlos was a huge help this afternoon as all water has been removed from the front nine bunkers, and  tomorrow we’ll deal with water in the back nine traps.  As many of you know and have graciously commented on, I’ve been extremely pleased with the condition of Hilldale’s greens this summer.  Considering the amount of heat, humidity, and rainfall the past six weeks…it’s hard to imagine the putting surfaces coming through the stress season in any better shape.   With cooler nights and hopefully drier weather ahead, I see no reason why greens conditioning practices can’t be very aggressive well into the fall months.  Stimpmeter readings were consistently above 11 ft. this morning (prior to the rain of course) after double cutting and rolling.  It’s hard to say if the greens will firm up enough overnight to employ the same practices tomorrow, but that is the hope right now.  Thanks for coming out to Hilldale.

Hilldale's 18th hole-5 hours after a 2" downpour

 
 

After The Storm…

July 25, 2011

Well amazingly, we’re pretty much back to normal on all fronts at Hilldale Golf Club…only 48 hours after record (5+ inches) rainfall.  There will be no cart restrictions and I think you’ll find the course to your liking…please, just be patient with us regarding green speed and bunker conditions.  It’s imperitive that we “baby” the greens for several days (especially with more 90 degree temperatures on the way), and as you can see in the picture above…we’re hard at work putting the bunkers back together after the extreme amount of water and subsequent washouts.  A heavy downpour plays havoc with bunker conditions…sand gets contaminated with the underlying soil and therefore causes “hard pan” type lies when playing bunker shots…long story short…bunker consistency becomes an issue.  We had 5 or 6 heavy rainstorms in 2010, and as many of you know, bunker consistency was very poor last year.  So please bear with us as we correct problems left over from an extreme rain event.  Thanks and I’ll see you on the course!


Winter Golf, 2010 Review, A Look Ahead

December 1, 2010

A few years ago it was decided that Hilldale Golf Club would remain open to play for winter golf.  On days when temperatures reach the mid-upper 30’s with no snow, the course will likely be open.  Please call ahead to be sure (847-310-1100).  Golf carts with full enclosures are available.  Come on out and keep your swing sharp… the 2011 season will be here before you know it.

Speaking of winter, with Thanksgiving now past and cold weather setting in hard, a few important winter preparations were performed this past week.  The irrigation system (pumphouse, pipes, sprinkler heads) was emptied of all water using a large portable air compressor.  Greens, tees, and fairways were sprayed with plant protectants to prevent snow and cold weather disease. Finally, greens were topdressed with a heavy layer of sand to help insulate the turf from extreme cold and wind.  If weather allows in the coming days, I would like to add more sand to the fairways that were overseeded this fall (#’s 2,5,11,18).  Drainage work on #5 fairway was completed the week prior to Thanksgiving, and again…weather permitting, I would like to add drainage to a small area on #2 fairway (near the 100 yd. marker). 

Looking back on the 2010 season, above average temperatures were all too common.  The months generally associated with cool/damp weather (April, October, November) were very pleasant and dry.  Hot/wet conditions dominated the summer months, which made it a very challenging and hectic year for “yours truly” (fun was the word I originally used to describe the year, but as many of you know, sarcasm is not my strong suit). Seriously, managing a golf course grounds department through a year like 2010 causes a fair amount of anxiety and time away from family.  Because cool-season turfgrasses (like those grown on golf courses in the Chicagoland area) don’t handle high heat and humidity very well, a great deal of time and sleepless nights are spent conditioning greens, tees, and fairways to survive stressful weather.  However… I take a lot of pride in preparing the golf course for our members, guests, and regular players.  It’s a fun and tremendous challenge to continually present the course in a way that meets your high expectations.  I love this job and consider myself very fortunate to come to this golfcourse everyday — where so many people enjoy and appreciate the quality of our work.

Just like 1988, 1995, and now 2010, we’ll use the challenge of preparing a golf course during extreme environmental (weather) conditions as a great learning experience.  We’ll review our maintenance practices and use that knowledge to improve upon all facets of the course.  Hilldale’s greens came through the season in great shape, but now, we’ll find a way to make them even better and more pleasing to you.  Several fairways did not get through the season in the best shape, so what can we (the Grounds Dept.) do better to prevent or minimize turf loss the next time severe heat pressure hits? 

I was disappointed with the consistency of Hilldale’s sand traps in 2010.  Economic conditions have made it difficult to devote the time and money necessary to provide outstanding bunkers.  But, no excuses… we will figure out a way to ensure better bunker playability next year.  My first thought is to ask our players to please stop hitting shots into sand… ok? All kidding aside, improvements will start by adding 2-3″ of new sand to all green-side bunkers.  If time allows, we’ll do fairway bunkers also. Obviously, hitting a bunker shot with a “hard lie” isn’t as frustrating (maybe preferable) coming out of a fairway trap as it is a green-side trap.  Winter is the time when equipment repairs, snow removal, and tree upkeep (pruning, removals etc..) dominate most of our time.  But if conditions allow, we’ll make every effort to get a head start on the bunkers and start adding sand this winter.  Whatever start date is used, we’ll have a completion goal/date of 4.15.11 to coincide with a new golf season.  Check back here for progress updates.

Thanks to all for your patronage this year.  My staff and I appreciate the many comments directed our way and we look forward to seeing you on those nice golf days (let’s hope for many) this winter.  Finally, thank you to the wonderful people on Hilldale’s Grounds Department who make my life and job so much easier.

  • Fernando Chavez-Mechanic
  • Rosa Castro-Assistant
  • Jaime Jimenez, Sr.
  • Juan Maravillas
  • Victor Rosales
  • Carlos Rosales
  • Antonino Angel
  • Ricardo Rivera
  • Oscar Hernandez
  • Dave McDonald

Happy holidays to everyone.


June Course Update

June 7, 2010

As we head into the heart of the golf season, beginning this blog with a few words detailing recent weather events seemed appropriate.  Rain has been plentiful the last few weeks, but compared to our neighbors to the south and west we’ve been very fortunate. Memorial Day weekend and the past five days have produced roughly 1.25″ of rain in the Hoffman Estates area, where as many Chicagoland areas have seen 3-5 times this amount. Due to the fact that our area, and more specifically Hilldale Golf Club, has been at the heart of bad storms and severe flooding the past few years, I find it hard to apologize for our recent good fortune. The golf course is in good condition as we dive into the summer months, and obviously that is what we hope for each year as aggressive maintance practices now become the norm.

All annual flower beds were planted this past week, and I’ll take this time to thank Rosa Castro for her fine work managing this yearly project.  Rosa has been a key member of the Hilldale grounds department for better than thirty years now, not to mention an excellent staff leader and assistant.  Fernando Chavez (Head Mechanic), and Juan Maravillas (Crew Foreman), are also excellent employees who make my work look better and thus more gratifying.

The coming week will see the grounds department: begin tree/brush removal along  property lines on holes 3-11-12, edging bunkers, drainage improvement work, and ballmark/divot conditioning. The increase in play this time of year produces considerable scars left from ballmarks and divots (especially on par three holes).  The staff will begin the routine of adding a sand/seed mix to ballmarks this week. Of course divot repair started long ago and goes without saying, but good results can also be had from adding such a mix to ballmarks on greens. To that end, I’ll wrap this up by preaching the importance of good course etiquette by all golfers. Please help us keep Hilldale in good condition by fixing ballmarks, raking sandtraps, and filling divots during your round of golf. 

We hope you enjoy your day and golfing experience at Hilldale Golf Club and thank you for your patronage.  Until next time…

Bryan Widmer, CGCS