President’s Story about Turf!
- Vistas Green Aerification Video Update (7/4)
- Summer Transition and Aerification (6/20)
- Summer Transition Update (5/29)
The game of golf is different from many other sports because each golf course is different, all the way down to the grass. Being a well-rounded golfer means knowing how to work with different types of golf course grasses. Bermuda, Ryegrass, Poa Annua and Bentgrass all play differently and require specific maintenance processes and schedules. Not all grass types can be found in every part of the country, as certain grass types prefer hot and humid weather, while other grass types prefer cooler conditions. This article will focus on the different fairway grasses used in the Southwest.
The Lakes GC fairways are Common Bermuda. Our Vistas GC is Common Bermuda with a twist. The twist is of unknown growth and even our USGA agronomist cannot positively identify its uniqueness.
Perennial Ryegrass is used in the transition from Bermuda in the summer to Rye in the winter and is used on both courses during that time.
So let’s talk Bermuda. This is an exceptional heat and drought tolerant grass. Bermuda is ideal for hotter temperatures. It can be mowed nice and low for those tight lies and last longer before it needs another cut. It has the capacity to withstand heavy use and recuperate quickly. However, it isn’t resilient to cold weather and begins to lose color as it goes dormant from the cold.
Bermuda grass flourishes in sites with full, direct sun and good drainage (think aerification and dethatching). It has the fastest growth rate among warm-season grasses. It spreads by both above-ground stems known as stolons and below-ground stems called rhizomes. Mowing heights with Common Bermuda have an impact on look and feel. Because the stolons SPREAD and lay relatively flat as they do that, too high a cut makes the look and feel less desirable. Too high in the roughs slows down pace of play as golfers have to spend more time searching for the ball that has fallen in the grass trap. It also becomes a bit dangerous for our old wrists as we try to exit from its depth.
Many courses in the Valley use another popular hybrid Bermuda grass called Tifway 419. That is the strip you see across fairway #18 Lakes GC.
This is a deep green Bermuda grass with a fine texture. It can handle mowing heights of ½” to 1 ½” . It has excellent weed and disease resistance and is a superior turf for fairways, tees, athletic fields and home lawns. When cut at ¾” to 1 ½ “, it tolerates more wear and better resists weed invasion. It is more resilient in winter months when the grass is dormant. And before you ask, to replace our Common Bermuda with Tifway 419 would be quite expensive and require the course to be closed 6-7 months . And unfortunately it is not possible to make Common Bermuda look like Tifway 419. By way of example, Pebble Creek and Sun City Grand both use Tifway 419 in their fairways.
Summer Transition is an ugly time for golfers and a nightmare for Superintendents. David and Jose evaluate thatch level, sand level, compaction, water usage, root structures, and mowing height to prep the course for the 110+ weather months that lie ahead and the October Overseed. The better the Summer Transition, the better the Overseed potential.
When you think about this Overseed process, it is a bit crazy. We seed up with Rye Grass in October just before the Bermuda Grass goes into its dormant stage due to the cool weather. Then in March, we start killing out the Rye Grass so we can get the Bermuda thick and strong during the summer and healthy enough to do the same thing again next year. Grow, kill, care, seed, and repeat. And then Mother Nature either helps, delays or hinders the process.
So what are the best heights for fairway and rough? I spent many hours researching these topics and have regular meetings with David to get educated on what we do here and why. Finding the Right Fairway Height, by USGA, is a great read that addresses the height that delivers both the desired playability and healthy turf. So if you want to know the answer, click here and read away.
Here are eleven neighboring golf courses you might visit and the fairway and greens grasses used there. We will dedicate a separate email about the grass on greens. For that is a “whole nuther” story!
- Sun City CC: Fairways are Common Bermuda and Greens are 328
- Arrowhead CC: Fairways are Common Bermuda and Greens are Champion
- Coyote Lakes: Fairways and Greens are Santa Ana Bermuda
- Briarwood: Fairways are Common Bermuda and Greens Tifdwarf
- Desert Springs: Fairways and Greens are 328
- Cimarron GC: Fairways are Tifway 419 and Greens are PD102
- Granite Falls N and S: Fairways are Tifway 419 and Greens are PD102
- Union Hills CC: Fairways are Common Bermuda and Weeds (their words not ours) and Greens are Tifdwarf and 328 mix.
- Tuscany Falls West Fairway Tifway 419 and Greens are Tifdwarf
- Tuscany Falls East Fairways Tifway 319 and Greens are Tifdwarf
- Eagles Nest Fairways Tifway 419 and Greens are Mini Verde (Under construction)
- Vistas Course Fairways Unknown Common Bermuda Hybrid and Greens are 328
- Lakes Course Fairways are Common Bermuda and Greens are Tifdwarf
Jill Riedel, President
7/10/20 - Golf Course Maintenance Update
With the arrival of the dangerously high temperatures I would like to remind everyone that there will be some wilting on the golf courses as the turf will go into its defense mode because of the extreme heat. The forecast for the next several days is for temperatures to exceed 115 degrees. Some forecasters think we may touch 120. There is not a plant on earth that thrives in those conditions. Arizona’s native plants shut down in the afternoons when extreme temperatures arrive. Cacti will fold slightly like an accordion and use their thorns to protect their skin. Grass does not have thorns to protect it so it heavily depends on moisture in the ground. Even though we water heavy in the evening the soil and grass lose moisture at an alarming rate once the temperatures exceed 100 degrees. This loss of moisture is called evapotranspiration. We call it ET for short. ET rates increase significantly when temperatures rise and humidity is low. On nights when it’s windy the water from the sprinklers will not hit their intended target very well and that creates issues when daytime temperatures are going to be hot. This forces us to hose syringe and put out portable sprinklers on what we call “hot spots”. Watering “hot spots” is a constant battle throughout the summer and is done at all golf courses regardless of their budget.
Attempting to grow lush green grass in the Arizona desert in the summer provides unique challenges that golf courses in other parts of the country do not have to deal with. Dealing with these extreme temperatures is one of them. In many parts of the country you will see lush green vegetation along highways and common areas. Not here. This time a year most un irrigated vegetation is no more than dry kindling. It is important to remember that course conditions this time of year will not be perfect at any golf course regardless of budgets or staff.
There are several varieties of Bermuda grass. Some are greener than others. Some require different maintenance practices than others. But I can assure you none of them thrive in these conditions.
I hope you found this information helpful. Please remember to drink lots of water, and give your plants a little extra water this week.
Vistas Greens Aerification Process Video
- Step 1 - Pull Cores
- Step 2 – Break Up Cores
- Step 3 – Blow Greens of Debris
- Step 4 – Water Greens to Help Soil Settle
- Step 5 – Fertilize
- Step 6 – Top Dress with Sand to Smooth
- Step 7 – Drag Sand to fill holes
- Step 8 – Water Greens
These eight steps help keep our greens healthy throughout the season.
David Escobedo, GCS
Tree Maintenance Plan & Water Features
First let me share that the BoD abhors losing trees be it by storms, disease, or maintenance requirements on our golf courses. Each year we replace, not necessarily in the same location, trees on the golf course for both golfers’ and residents’ enjoyment. More for the residents than for the golfers. Last year the Club replaced 22-25 trees.
Each year the USGA Agronomist visits both golf courses and provides a report on the course health and recommendations for keeping grass, landscape, trees, tees, fairways and greens healthy. The reports are available on our Member web page.
In the 2020 report, and reports that go back as far as 2016, tree extractions around our greens on both the Lakes and the Vistas have been part of the annual tree removal and maintenance program. A major issue on any golf course is that of sun exposure for the greens in order to stay healthy. Greens do not thrive when shaded over an extended period of time and nearby trees pull the nutrients from the ground away from the green for their own survival. The Club has delayed extraction as long as possible. The greens are showing extensive damage caused by lack of sun exposure more each year.
The 2020 report, once again, recommended extraction at the greens located on, Vistas #3, Vistas #4, Vistas #10, and Vistas #16. We are in the process of completing the tree removals as recommended at these green locations. Failure to follow these recommendations could cause the loss of those greens.
David Escobedo, Golf Course Superintendent, continues to work with nurseries to identify appropriate plants and bushes which will enhance appearance of the area where trees have been removed, as well as throughout the golf course. We, like all residents, are restricted to the approved list of low water, low maintenance, desert choices for trees, plants and shrubs. And like the HOA and every homeowner, a budget is the driving force for the when and how many.
Any member or resident with a desire to assist in the speed of which replacement trees can be planted are welcome to make contributions to the WBVGC Tree Fund. They may contact the Administrative Office at 623-566-4548 Ext.4. Although the donor may offer a specific location, they do not have a voice in the final tree selection or placement and no “donated by” markers are permitted.
I realize it is not always noticed what the Golf Club does for the Community, but trees, are one of those things we contribute at our cost. Another is the beauty of the water features (fountains) throughout both phases of Westbrook Village.
WBVGC has six lakes with thirteen fountains operating in them. The maintenance cost alone for those fountains is approximately $12,000 annually. Electrical costs are approximately $25,000 per year.
There are only three circulation fountains which are necessary for the movement of water from one water space to another. The remaining fountains are solely aesthetics and have no impact on aeration for we have no stagnant lakes. Recently we placed 200 lbs of tilapia in our lakes (behind #17 and #6 Lakes Golf Course) which feed on the algae and keep the lakes healthy. Fishing is NOT allowed in the lakes for these fish have work to do and the fishing lines get tangled around the pumps and cost a pretty penny to repair.
The Board just completed an analysis of the costs and options to the use of water feature fountains. We have reduced the running time of the fountains. We have identified bottom diffuser systems which can replace the fountains. While that would reduce our repair and electrical expense by so doing, the Board realizes the fountains are part of the Village aesthetics. Where we are aware that the fountains are not part of the golf game but are part of the Village “look” , challenges sound budget decisions. It is difficult to imagine the Westbrook Village Golf Club lakes without the beauty of these fountains. What I ask nonmember residents to remember is the burden of these expenses fall solely on those residents who have chosen to be a member of the Club and pay annual dues. The HOA provides NO FUNDING for operational or maintenance expenses. And finally, the Club will fail in its charter if it does not pay attention to the requirements of keeping the golf courses a central focal point of the Village. Like the HOA does their job well to keep the resident portion of the Village marketable, the Golf Club does their job well to keep the golf courses marketable. And both the HOA and the Club place this responsibility over trying to make everyone happy.
COVID-19 Golf Rules Q&A "When is a ball holed?"
COVID-19 has currently changed how we play the game of golf, however there are a few areas we are seeing that seems to be confusing to members and guests.
When is a ball holed?
A ball is determined to be holed when the ball is at rest (Not moving) and any part of the ball is inside the hole.
If I hit the pin and it bounces out is that holed?
No. A part of the ball must be inside the hole when it is at rest (not moving).
If my ball hits the foam and bounces out, is that holed?
No. Again, a ball is determined to be holed when the ball is at rest (Not moving) and any part of the ball is inside the hole.
That seems pretty straight forward and it is, however in regards to posting of scores it gets a bit confusing as the score you post might not necessarily be the same as the score you shot for the game you were in.
The USGA has added a temporary amendments for positing and handicap purposes for COVID-19. Two of these TEMPORARY amendments are the following:
- If you determine that, in your best judgment, your ball would have been holed more than 50% of the time had there not been a foam (or other material) insert, you must record your score for handicap purposes ONLY as if the ball was holed.
- if you determine that, in your best judgment, that you would have wanted to remove the pin but we're not allowed to under club rules and your ball would have been holed more than 50% of the time had you removed the pin, you must record your score for handicap purposes ONLY as if the ball was holed.
These amendments are for score posting only, they are not to be used in events unless your group adds them to your group rules and remember, they are temporary.
All else fails, a round played under these conditions will result in an acceptable score for handicap purposes using the most likely score guidelines (see Rule 3.3 of the Rules of Handicapping).