Welcome Wing Point Members

This blog is intended to keep the members at Wing Point up to date on the course conditions, the challenges we face with weather, the day to day update on projects, and hopefully add some insight to your overall golf experience. The blog will be updated as much as possible. Information on things that may impact your golf experience such as sanding or aeration will be posted as well. Take time to read one of the polls on the side of the page. The results will help us make decisions on course maintenance practices and give us feedback on what you, the members are thinking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We are running a lean crew the next 4 days so the guys can enjoy time with their families. We'll have 2 people in each day from Thursday to Sunday. The greens will either be mowed or rolled each day. The tees and pins will be changed each day as well. Hopefully the weather holds up and the course can have a chance to dry a bit. Katy and I will be dry...Cabo San Lucas, here we come! 82 degrees and that thing that shines bright in the sky, the sun I think is what they call it. I almost forgot there was a sun. See you all next Thursday.

My assistant Peder Rauen will be left in charge while I'm gone. Everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things a happening

The parking lot will start filling up with irrigation materials in the southeast corner the week after Thanksgiving. Pipe will be delivered on December 4th and the irrigation contractor, Milroy Golf Systems, will begin moving equipment in. They are finishing up at Tam O'Shantor Golf Club in Bellevue over the next few weeks. Our scheduled start date is January 4th.

The course is getting a break from the heavy rainfall. We are actually able to get some things done. We're going to mow greens today for the first time in 8 days. Wow! Tees are getting mowed today as well...for the first time in 2 weeks. The tractor blower is able to drive around to blow leaves without making a mess. Our goal is to get the course cleaned up and the greens rolling smooth for the Thanksgiving weekend. We'll probably take most of Wednesday to work on bunker repair. So far so good....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Came across this 30 day forecast...

On NOAA, the website of the National Weather Service. This is a portion of the 30 day forcast models.


Let's hope they are wrong!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mother Nature is beating up our greens!

Rain, rain go away...It keeps adding up, and that means more stress on the greens. We've been hanging in there, but the past 45 days has been brutal. Sunlight is scarce even when it doesn't rain. Everything will be just fine in the long run, but we are seeing some adverse conditions on a few of the shady greens like 4, 7, 10 and 15. I've been in close contact with many of my peers about what they are experiencing. Most of them are also seeing decline in the turf on their shady greens. We believe the root systems on greens are weak from the harsh weather extremes over the past 12 months.

Last winter was very cold and relatively dry, but with a prolonged period of snow cover. Summer started in mid May and ended up being one of the hottest and driest on record. Anybody remember when we hit 101 degrees the day of the Charity Pro Am? October was double the average rainfall for the month and we are already double the average for November.

Everything I just listed is abnormal for our turf, and all of these weather extremes spell danger for the root zone. Add in the routine practice of aeration, which innevitably puts extra stress on the greens for a couple weeks, and you've got one heck of weak plant going into Winter. Keep in mind that aeration is very necessary, it's just the nature of the beast, you're going to hurt the plant for a short time for the long term health benefits.

Most of the turf is just fine, but the perennial weak greens due to shade are seeing the effects of Winter much more and much earlier than normal. We most likely came out of summer with a weak root system and now they have been water logged, cutting off oxygen exchange, resulting in even more stress. We are trying to back way off on anything that will cause stress to them outside of good old Mother Nature.

We are mowing and rolling less and less. Since we've backed off, there has been a "break" in the progression of turf decline in the shady areas. Let's hope this weather subsides soon and we can get back to somewhat of a normal maintenance routine. In the meantime, we need to be patient and give the greens a break.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I will miss this man I barely knew...and the woman that did so much for me

Gary Peterson was someone I never knew very well. We spoke maybe a dozen times and never played golf together. On January 15th, 2008, Gary sent an email to me. At the time, I had never met him and couldn't tell you who he was if I saw him at the club. That didn't matter, because the email he sent told me everything I needed to know about this man. He thought enough of the job my staff and I did to go out of his way and send an email to someone he had never met to say "Thanks".

2 or 3 months went by before I finally met Gary on the 9th fairway. Someone had pointed him out to me earlier that day when I asked who he was. Every time he saw me, he complimented me and the staff. This man I really never knew has passed far too early. I hope his kindness resonates through the club, because he was exactly what Wing Point is all about. He will be missed.

The following is the email he sent me. I saved it because I've never had someone do this without ever having met me before. It truly is something I cherish to this day.

Hi Mike,

During my rookie year at WP starting last June, I have greatly enjoyed the superb condition of your course. Every time I have a friend over they are very complimentary of the conditions. Simply perfect and year round too!

Thanks to you and your crew on a terrific job.


Gary Peterson 1136

Lori Ogle served as the Green Chairman of the club in 2007/2008. I don't know if many people stopped to realize she was the first female Green Chairman the club had, which is quite an accomplishment. She was amazing in her pursuit of what I needed to get the job done. I remember her calling me every week to ask what our needs were and how we could fight for them. She took the job very serious and in her time we saw the rock wall constructed on #10, the lease package on equipment pushed through the final stages, and of course her totally unpredictable meeting that started the ball rolling on the irrigation project. Most people have no idea that Lori spearheaded the movement of the irrigation upgrade.

We all came to a Green Committee meeting one evening with no real agenda, but Lori took that opportunity to point out our need for an upgrade. I guess she had enough of all my complaining about fixing leaks. The people in attendance can tell you, she was passionate about it! I remember thinking, "Wow, she means business!", as she challenged people at the table to acknowledge we had a big problem on our hands.

That meeting started it all. I wish she were here to see how quickly we were able to accomplish the goal. Much like Gary, she was far too young. Wing Point owes Lori Ogle a great deal. Her passion was infectious and I will always remember all the hard work she did for me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Am I in the hazard? Where are the lines?

We had that issue a few days ago on #17. Jeff D'Amico hit a towering drive off the tee in a valiant attempt at the green. The ball flew down the right side of the golf hole along the cart path. It came to rest about 15 yards short of the green, down near the water. He was left with a very manageable lye, but was clearly within what is usually marked as a hazard. If the lines were marked, he would have been about 2 - 3 feet inside it. He grounded his club and made a pretty good shot from where he was. In this case he made the correct decision to ground his club.

In the winter months we play the water's edge as the hazard line. Stakes are for vertical marking and reference points, they are not meant to indicate the edge of the hazard. We don't mark the hazards this time of year because the wet weather would wash it away quickly. Also, with a limited staff, some things get put off so that others can be prioritized. It takes about 2 hours to paint hazards in the summer, but that's when we can keep a steady hand and drive along in a cart. This time of year we need to walk along every hazard. That job takes about 4 hours right now, and may need to be done more frequently due to rainfall.

So next time take advantage of those extra few feet and ground your club. You'll wish we could do that all year long.

Frost Alert

Looks like we will have frost this morning. It's currently 32 degrees and dropping as sunrise approaches. Please be patient, we don't have a good guess on an opening time since this will be our first real good frost of the season. My initial guess...if we really do get a frost...is about 8:30 - 9:00.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Where's all the geese?

Most people have already noticed the geese are pretty much gone! For those of you that might be down south already, or just haven't been out due to all the rain, we may have solved one of our biggest problems. We bought 12 Mute Swan Decoys and put 4 in each pond. That was over two weeks ago, and we haven't seen geese on holes 10 through 18 since. Swans are very competitive for territory and geese stay away from areas with swans. Pretty simple it turns out. We also purchased a Coyote Decoy and Dead Goose Decoy. These are used in combination to make it look like there is a fresh kill from a predator. We move them daily between #1 and #4. I am bringing my dog Osos to work about 3 days a week as well. The geese really hate Osos and we think they are getting the coyote decoy confused with him on fly overs. The end result to these techniques has been a reduction in the goose population from around 75 to maybe 10. Those 10 geese are rarely seen.

Some funny things have been witnessed with all the decoys. Vince Lanza watched from his deck on the 17th hole as the two Bald Eagles stood over the dead goose decoy and attacked it. He said they also dove down on the swans a few times. The coyote scared the heck out of Al Clasens and Gary Hurt. On a foggy morning the day after the coyote was first put out, Al approached it with his golf club high above his head until he realized it was a fake. Maybe it's time to visit Brad Maier for a check up guys? On a more serious note, the geese being gone has improved work efficiency. The greens crew routinely had to blow goose poop off the 18th, 10th, 11th, and 17th greens before mowing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Water hazard on the 10th green!

We were finally able to mow the greens again. We've had 3 inches of rain in the past few days. Some of the greens were under water most of yesterday. The 10th green has been under a lot of water the past month and is showing signs of weakness. The back 1/3 of the green is usually a puddle when we get rains like we've had recently. The low point is in the back up against the hillside, which is not good. We have a small catch basin just on the green edge, but it's not the low point. The low point is about 2 feet onto the green and then another low point 10 feet further on. We certainly don't want a catch basin on the putting surface.

The root zone is water logged and weak. That, combined with too much shade is taking a toll on the green. We have not mowed the green in 6 days so it can take a break. Hopefully the weather improves and we see signs of better health soon. Most people never get to see this puddle, so I am going to take a picture of how bad it really is and post it on the blog. The other option is you could ask Brian Johnson who laughs at me every time I'm on the green scratching my head in frustration. His favorite comment to me is, "Mike, you're gonna have to rebuild it you know." Unfortunately that may be the only solution.

FYI: 9" rainfall in last 30 days...3.5" since Saturday morning!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Have you seen those spots on our fairways?

The following is the best description I could find for Fusarium. Fusarium is the disease we struggle with the most in the Pacific Northwest. We treat for it on the greens and tees, but not the rest of the short mowed grass because of the expense factor. The recent weather has been perfect for this disease to take off in our fairways.

Pink Snow Mold and Fusarium Patch, Microdochium nivale
Pink snow mold and Fusarium patch are diseases caused by the fungus Microdochium nivale. Pink snow mold is the name used to describe the disease associated with snow cover, appearing when snow melts. Fusarium patch is the name of the disease that occurs without snow cover. The causal organism of these diseases, Microdochium nivale, was formerly known as Fusarium nivale. To avoid confusion, Fusarium was retained as the disease name.

Symptoms of pink snow mold on annual bluegrass putting green.
Pink snow mold is a true snow mold since it develops under snow cover. The disease gets its name from the accumulation of pink fungal spores that pile up on the leaves of infected grass plants, producing a pink cast on circular patches of matted grass. Usually only leaves are attacked, but under conditions favorable for disease development the fungus may kill the crowns and roots as well. Thus, pink snow mold can be more severe than gray snow mold.
Matted foliage of pink snow mold-affected turf.
Fusarium patch is similar in appearance to pink snow mold except that the centers of the patches are not usually as matted. Often, a fluffy growth of mycelium can be observed around the periphery of the patch. During periods of cool, wet weather from October to April, Fusarium patch may appear when temperatures are in the 40° to 50° F range. If pink snow mold develops in the cold, wet weather in early fall, the fungus may continue its activity through the winter and into spring. Damage to the turf is then likely to be quite severe and long-lasting.
Disease cycle
The fungus survives warm dry weather as dormant fungal mycelium or as dormant spores in soil and thatch. Spores germinate in cool, wet conditions, producing hyphae that infect grass leaves.

Cultural control
Pink snow mold usually can be managed successfully in home lawns without fungicides provided the lawn has been established for more than a year. Mow on a regular schedule well into the fall, and avoid high unclipped grass that tends to fall over and mat under snow cover. Try to avoid creating snow banks when removing and piling snow from sidewalks and driveways. Straw mulches and piles of leaves provide a favorable environment for pink snow mold and should be removed from the lawn before snow fall. In general, creeping bentgrass and perennial ryegrass are most susceptible to this disease, whereas Kentucky bluegrass and the fine fescues are only moderately susceptible.
Fusarium patch is typically only a problem on golf courses and can be managed by maintaining a balanced fertility program and avoiding excessive nitrogen applications in mid-fall.

Chemical control
Fungicide treatment may be needed to control pink snow mold and Fusarium patch in new turfgrass seedings or if a history of unmanageable outbreaks is known. On golf courses, fall or spring fungicide applications may be needed in cold, wet weather.


It looks like we've been fairly dry the past 36 hours. We will hopefully be mowing the greens, tees, collars and aprons. The pins will also be changed today. Let's hope for decent golf weather. The fairways might be dry enough to blow them off. Thank goodness for all that drainage and sanding we've done over the past 5 years!

On a side note, my assistant Peder Rauen is down and out recovering from hernia surgery last Tuesday. He's a hurting boy right now, but not missing the bad weather. We're missing his presence on the crew though. You would be amazed how much harder it is to get everything you want done when just one person is missing.

Go Seahawks! They are still limping along...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wet Weather

We've had 2 1/2 inches in the last 48 hours. The course is very wet and very messy with maple leafs everywhere! Our weekend staff is slim this time of year, so we apologize for the slow progress on cleanup. Our goal is to blow off the greens and tees for play. We change the pins today and will not change them Sunday.

Monday will be a full day of leaf blowing for the crew. Most of the trees have shed their leaves, so now we need to get them picked up. The greens haven't been mowed since Thursday because they are too soft and we would actually cause damage if we attempted to mow them right now. If the rains subside over the next 24 hours, then we will try to get them mowed on Monday. Please keep all carts on the path, the fairways and rough are saturated!

We have some thinning areas on the greens from all the rain, mowing them too soon afterwards, and compaction due to foot traffic coming on and off the greens. The areas are also in shady, heavy foot traffic areas. Please try to walk around some of these areas to give them a break. The thin areas are the front of #7, back of #8, back and left of #10, back of #15 and back right of #16. All of these areas are weak and need time to heal.

My first blog! Watch out world...

This is the start of a new era for Wing Point Members. I have created this blog so any member can see what is going on with the golf course. I am hoping to keep it up daily. My plan is to post each morning what the weather outlook is, course conditions for that day, maintenance practices for that day, etc. We'll keep it simple. This is mainly for keeping everyone abreast to the daily practices we do and why we do them, which is usually based on weather conditions. So let's see how this goes. I'm excited to have the opportunity to keep the membership informed as much as possible.