Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Update 3/19/13

Good Afternoon,

I hope all of you are doing well, and have welcomed the new Director of Golf Course Maintenance to The Club at Sonterra - Donny Latham. Donny brings years of experience and will be an asset to all areas of the club. I know that you all will extend the same support to Donny that was shown to me over the last two years, as he continues to improve playing conditions and takes both courses to the next level.

I also want to thank all of you for visiting our turf maintenance blog. We are currently working to determine the best way to transition the management of the blog over to Donny. There will likely be some down time as Donny is still learning is way around Sonterra, but check back in the coming weeks for information on the future of the blog.

As many of you already know, I am now in Waco, Texas as the Golf Course Superintendent at Ridgewood Country Club. Please take a moment to read my resignation letter in the post below. Thanks again for all your support and please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime. My new email is: tmoore@ridgewoodwaco.com.


Travis Moore

Sonterra Resignation Letter

I would like to take this opportunity to inform all of you that I will be leaving The Club at Sonterra on March 8th. I have chosen to accept the position of Golf Course Superintendent at Ridgewood Country Club in Waco. This was not an easy decision nor was it entered into lightly.
Ridgewood offers several unique opportunities, both personal and professional. It is an older, private equity club that will be undergoing major renovations in the next year. It will also allow me to gain extensive experience in managing bentgrass greens – a skill that I feel will be valuable as I progress in my career. From a personal standpoint, Ridgewood is the course where I began my career in golf maintenance in 1999 as a laborer on the maintenance crew. I am excited to return to the club as the Golf Course Superintendent and look forward to utilizing the skills that I have gained here at Sonterra. As many of you know, Waco is also my hometown. My family, girlfriend, and many close friends still reside there. It is rare that you can improve professionally while becoming closer to family and friends and it is for these reasons that I have decided to leave.  
I have thoroughly enjoyed working at Sonterra since December of 2010. It has been an amazing opportunity for me and I am thankful to have been your superintendent. The relationships that I have made with members, golfers, and co-workers have been rewarding and I hope to continue them in the years to come. It has truly been a pleasure to work for and with all of you.
Finally, I want to assure the membership that I am dedicated to the success of Sonterra both now and in the future. I will do everything in my power to make the transition process as smooth as possible and will continue to provide updates on course conditions in the coming months.

Travis Moore

Friday, January 25, 2013

Course Update 1/25/13

Good Afternoon,

I apologize for the long lapse in updates. We have been very busy over the last several weeks working to accomplish several of our winter goals. Check out the list and pictures below to see what we have been working on:
  • Wildflower establishment - 8 areas planted (I will describe in detail next week)
  • North bunker liner removal - Greenside bunkers completed, Fairways in progress
  • Adding sand to bunkers - North and South
  • Tree trimming and removal
  • Shop cleanup - 50% done, see pictures below
  • Other small projects - native grass maintenance, cart paths, brush clearing
  • Irrigation repairs
  • Teaching tee
Establishing Wildflowers
We decided to experiment in several small areas on both courses with planting wildflowers. The flowers are a combination of bluebonnets, phlox, poppy, and paintbrush. If successful, we should see a nice crop in mid to late spring. Areas planted this year include holes 13, 14, and 17 on the North, and holes 6,7,13 and 14 on the South.
Mike McCarty planting seeds on #13 South

Bunker Liner Removal
One of our big goals this year has been to eliminate the problems caused by the bunker liners on the North Course. We began this process in late 2011 and successfully completed the greenside bunkers on holes 1 through 12 last year. We have now finished all of the greenside bunkers and have started work on several of the fairways.

Several crew members removing liner on #2 North
Shop Cleanup

 We have been working diligently to make clean up our shop yard. It has been our goal to make it a safer, cleaner, and more efficient place to work. We still have a lot of work to do but so far we have recycled over 200 tires and 300 pesticide containers, filled a 30yd dumpster with trash, and salvaged several tons of metal. Check out the before and after pictures below:

Driving Range Teaching Tee
 The work on the driving range teaching tee is now complete. We were able to establish winter grass seed that will provide good coverage and reduce erosion over the next few months. We have plans to spring the tee with bermuda grass in late spring.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Course Update 12/13/12

Last week we battled a significant disease outbreak on both the North and South greens. Fortunately, we were able to respond quickly enough to prevent the disease from causing any real damage.
One of the great things about working in this industry is the amazing network of professionals. Immediately after Mike McCarty notified me of the symptoms we were able to take pictures and solicit help from experts all around the country. This consultation confirmed our diagnosis and allowed us to make correct curative treatments. I thought I would share with you the email that I sent out this week to summarizing the disease. Please feel free to check out the links at the bottom of the message.
Good Morning,

I hope everyone is staying warm this morning. I just wanted to drop everyone a quick note to say thanks for the help and to provide an update on the disease issues that we experienced over the last few days. Overall, the greens look much better. I think the applications and reduced disease pressure did the trick!

We first noticed this "disease" on 12/6. It appeared to be spreading at a substantial rate, and was visible on most of our South Greens (Emerald Dwarf bermuda). We also saw similar patterns (much less severe) on our North Greens (Miniverde bermuda). It was worse on the edges but was also found in the center of some of the greens. It can be described as dark purple/orange spotting. Some spots were the size of a penny with others closer to a baseball. Weather conditions San Antonio in the week leading up to the outbreak can be described as cool/cloudy/misty in the morning, with warmer sunny afternoons. Highs in the mid to upper 70s with lows in the upper 50s to mid 60s. These weather conditions continued until the afternoon of 12/9 when a cold front blew in. After consulting with several industry professionals we determined that the most likely culprit was a combination of Pythium blight and Leaf spot. We treated all greens with a combination of Subdue Maxx and Secure between 12/7 and 12/8. On 12/10 it appeared that disease has been greatly diminished and substantial turf recovery can be seen. My theory is that the application of the above products allowed us to stop the disease in time for some recovery prior to the cold front’s arrival on 12/9. In addition, we will be covering select areas with makeshift covers the next couple of nights to boost the chances for recovery. I also believe that disease pressure was greatly reduced due to environmental conditions associated with the front. Feel free to browse the pictures by clicking the link below. Please contact me before downloading photos for personnel or professional use. Also feel free to shoot me an email at tmoore@clubatsonterra.com for more information.

Thanks again and Merry Christmas to all of you

Link to Pictures:

Link to interesting post by Lane Tredway discussing Pythium on bermuda grass greens:

Travis Moore
GCS, The Club at Sonterra
San Antonio, Texas

Friday, November 9, 2012

Course Update 11/9/12

The "Fajita Team" on Friday 11.2.12
FAJITAS! Last Friday Gordon Hudson and crew arrived at the maintenance facility for their 2nd annual fajita cook out. The entire maintenance staff was treated to an afternoon of food and camaraderie sponsored by several of our members. The showing of support and gratitude for another long summer of work was greatly appreciated by all. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who helped put this unique event together.

We have been very busy working on several areas of the course. Our primary objective right now is completing final fall preparations both courses. There are several ways to go about this process - all with the underlying goal being to get both courses as healthy as possible before the cold weather arrives. Overall conditions on both courses are good, and we feel that we are heading in the right direction for this time of year.
Overseed on 10 Tee North
A quick note on overseed. This year the only areas that will be overseeded are the Par 3s, the driving range tee, the driving range target greens, and a few areas around the clubhouse and tennis facility. Last Monday we completed the seeding of these areas. The seed has successfully germinated and we are now in the process of cutting back the water and starting to resume normal mowing. The driving range tee will be open tomorrow morning - 11/10.

The list and photos below show a few of the things we have been working:
Driving Range Practice Tee prepared for final grading
  • Overseed complete on Par 3s, Driving Range Tee, Driving Range Target Greens
  • Fall Color change out on all beds around the clubhouse 90% complete
  • Pencil tined, topdressed, and applied organic fertilizer to the greens on both courses
  • Completed several spray applications to the greens
  • Edged bunkers on N and S, and finished edging cart paths on the S
  • Continued work on the driving range teaching tee
  • Repaired the broken drain line on 18 tee North
Thanks again to everyone for your continued support of our maintenance operations. Come and enjoy your courses this weekend. Or better yet - celebrate the Aggies victory over Alabama at the club following the game saturday. BTHO Alabama!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Course Update 10/27/12

A sneak preview of Mike McCarty's entry for the employee pumpkin carving contest on this coming Tuesday.
Finally some October rain! We received just over 1" of rain in the last 24 hours. Both courses are fully open with only select holes being cart path only. It looks to be a great day with plenty of sun, cooler temperatures, and a steady North wind. Take a break from college football and come out and play a few.

As we wrap up another busy week, I would like to illustrate of couple of the areas that we have been working on:
  • Pencil tine all greens
  • Repair and paint fence on 10 South
  • Began work on driving range practice tee
  • Repaired several irrigation leaks on the North
  • Completed fall preventative weed control applications
  • Treated weeds in the rough on the South Course
  • Spot core aeration on several greens
  • Began fall change out on clubhouse grounds
Spot Aerating Greens
Isidro aerating #16 North
We are finished with any large scale core aeration. However, there are several areas on both the North and South greens that we need to continue to aerate. These areas need to have organic matter removed in order to promote drainage and increase oxygen available to the roots. We will use a combination of small solid tines (pencil tines) and small coring tines to accomplish this goal. The coring tines will only be used in very specific areas, while the pencil tines will be used on entire greens. Last week we pencil tines all of the greens, and cored certain areas. 
Driving Range Teaching Tee
John from TWC rough shaping the tee at the back of the Range
Fence of #10
Freddie and Beto did a great job working on the fence on #10
A quick look at next week:
  • Overseed driving range tee, par 3s, and target greens - Monday
  • Light topdress and fertilize all greens - Monday
  • Continue fall change out
  • Continue driving range tee project
  • Continue North irrigation repairs

Friday, October 19, 2012

Course Update 10/19/12

PARTY GOLF!!! Mr. and Mrs. Renfro take two shots off their score by tackling the beer bong!
It is hard to believe that is has already been two weeks since my last post. The weather has been perfect and both courses are seeing lots of play. The rain and warm temperatures have allowed both courses to see substantial drought recovery, and we are looking forward to entering this winter much healthier than last year.

We have been extremely busy keeping up with normal maintenance, completing fall and winter preparations, and tackling a busy tournament schedule. The list below shows a few of the items that we have been working on:

Nacho aerating the South greens on 10/8.
Our one year old sprayer is a huge help in making crucial apps
  • Completed final aeration on both North and South greens. From here on out we will only be using small solid tines to provide air to the root system.
  • Completed fall fertilizer applications to all areas of both courses
  • Completed 90% of our preventative weed control applications
  • Started repairing the fence on #10 South
  • Treated the bees on 13 North
  • Completed several spray applications on N and S greens in order to protect the greens for the months ahead
  • Mowing heights on roughs, tees, and fairways have been raised and will stay at this height through the winter
  • Steadily raising mowing heights on greens in order to provide protection over the winter.
  • Completed clean up in several areas on the North Course perimeters - including #7, #1, #15, #16
  • Fixed multiple irrigation leaks on North Course
  • Added sand to several bunkers on the South

We have a lot in store for the next couple of weeks. Including:
  • Overseed the driving range tee, and par 3 tees
  • Core aerate specific areas on several greens
  • Begin work on driving range teaching tee
  • Complete fence repairs
  • Continue to fix irrigation issues on the North
  • Solid tine aerate and lightly topdress greens
  • Continue perimeter clean up
  • Edge bunkers and cart paths on both courses
  • Continue to add sand to South bunkers, and stockpile sand for North bunkers
Overall things are going well on both courses. We look forward to completing our fall cultural practices, and shifting gears to accomplishing our winter goals. I will post more next week on our winter goals. Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you on the course.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Course Update 10/5/12

Players in this year's SWGA Classic Affair participate in the Marshmallow Long Drive Contest
It's finally Friday! I would like to start this week's post by thanking everyone who played in the Classic Affair, our SWGA Member/Guest Invitational. The weather was perfect for the three days of golf, and I hope that everyone enjoyed the courses. Congratulations to Marian Dyer and her guest who secured first place gross. Also, congratulations to our Club President, Sue Colburn and her guest, for capturing first place net. Special thanks also goes out to Gary Tupa for providing the flowers for the tee placements.

Another great event begins today - The Logeman Invitational. Good luck to everyone playing! It looks like we have great weather for the 54 hole event, and we hope that you all enjoy both courses. On behalf of the crew, I would like to thank Larry Duke and the rest of the players for the food provided to the crew this morning.

Thanks to your continued support of the blog we have now been visited on the web over 10,000 times. I thought it would be fun to share a few of the statistics provided by our host - Blogger.
  • We are currently at 10,026 views
  • The overwhelming majority of views come from the US, however we have been viewed all of the world including: Canada, German, India, Australia, the UK, Mexico, Russia, France, and Malaysia, and the Middle East.
  • 67% of viewers use Internet Explorer, followed by 14% using Safari 
  • 15% of views come from mobile devices, with the highest being the iPhone or iPad
In other news...we spent the majority of this past week completing routine maintenance. The crew did an excellent job completing several tasks over a short period of time in order to prepare the courses for the Classic Affair and this weekend's play. A few of the items we completed:

  • Bunkers edged on both courses
  • All roughs mowed on both courses
  • Arroyo clean up between the North and South
  • Greens sprayed - South on Wednesday and Friday, North on Thursday
  • North greens fertilized
  • Completed clean up from last weekend's rain
  • Cattail clean up on 17 north
  • Tees, collars, approaches, and fairways mowed 3 times
  • Treated weeds in collars and greens surrounds on both courses
Spray Technician, Jerrod Frost applying folliar fertilizer and wetting agent to the North Greens. Jerrod has been
a great addition to our team since moving from Oak Hills to Sonterra earlier this year.
Next week will also be busy. We will be open for play on the North following the morning tournament. Call the golf shop for more information. I have listed a few of our plans below:
  • Begin applying fall pre-emerge
  • Aerate and topdress South greens (Final core aeration event of the year!)
  • Lightly topdress North greens
  • Begin fertilizing all areas on both courses with potassium
  • Continue cattail clean up
  • Spray greens - North on Wednesday, South on Thursday
  • Apply potassium fertilizer to greens
  • Apply biological nematode treatment to South greens
  • Repair and paint the fence on 10 South 
  • Clean up on 7 North
  • Patch thin areas on the North practice green and #3
  • Add sand to the chipping green bunker
As promised last week, Here are few more pics from the divot party:
Deb working hard to keep the divot fillers hydrated.

Filling divots on 8 fwy

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Course Update 9/29/12

Looking back at 11T North from the fairway at 7:30am on 9/29
MORE RAIN!!! We have received 2.75" as of 7:00am this morning. Currently the entire South Course and the front nine only on the North are passable. We are working hard to get the courses playable for today's play. We will be Cart Path Only all day today, and possibly tomorrow pending additional rainfall. We have also decided to focus our maintenance efforts this morning primarily on making the courses passable and preparing the greens for play. We are also working on bunkers, however many are washed and simply too wet to make much progress on this morning.

I want send a big THANK YOU! out to everyone who came out for the divot filling party last night. We had a great turn out, in spite of the weather, and were able finish a few holes on the North before the rain came in. We will definitely re-schedule this important event. I also would like to thank Jeff for his help, and of course our fearless beer girls Deb and Brianna for braving the rain.  Thank you again for being a member and for supporting our efforts on the course. I will post more pictures later in the week.
Divot filling on 8 Fairway North

In other news, we completed several important tasks in addition to our normal maintenance this past week. I have listed a few of them below:
  • Light top dress on both course's greens
  • Sprayed both greens with preventive fungicide applications
  • Started mowing the tall grass along the arroyos between the North and South courses
  • Pencil tined and fertilized the South greens
  • Applied organic fertilizer to the roughs on the North prior to Friday's rain
  • Repaired and tested out meters on the #5 and #7 Wells
  • Repaired two irrigation leaks on the North
  • Repaired the broken drain line on #17 South
  • Treated broad leaf weeds on roughs on North and South
Nacho and Israel show off the large mass of roots that had clogged the drain line for 17G South
We have a another busy week coming up. We will be hosting tournaments on both courses on Monday, and the Classic Affair, or SWGA Member/Guest will take place Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Our primary goals will be to clean up the mess from the rain and get as much normal maintenance done as possible in order to provide excellent playing conditions for this important event.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Course Update 9/21/12

#18 North taken on Thursday
Today begins the Club Championship! Good luck to everyone that is playing. The courses should play well, and have definitely benefited from last weeks rain. We ended up receiving just under 6" total from Thursday through Sunday. The rain combined with last week's fertilizer applications will definitely benefit all areas on both courses.
We had a very busy week completing normal maintenance, cleaning up from the rains, and preparing for this weekend's tournament. The list below illustrates a few of the things we worked on:

Willie Elte and Juan fixing water line
  • Lightly topdressed greens on both courses
  • Vertical mowed the North greens
  • Lightly aerated several of the South greens
  • Repaired several irrigation leaks
  • Repaired the broken pipe beneath the main driveway at the club - in conjunction with Nick, Willie, and Gary.
  • Sprayed greens on the South on Wednesday and Friday, North on Thursday
  • Mowed tees, collars, and fairways three times on each course.
  • Mowed all of the rough on the South, and most areas on the North
  • Left to Right: Gary, Rober Sr., Robert Jr
    , and Benny
    The new cart parking area at Tennis.
  • Gary Tupa and crew finished the cart parking area at Tennis

On a sad note....

Last picture taken of Birdie and Socks. 9.15.12
Birdie and Socks are no longer with us following a tragic accident on Monday morning. The pups truly had a great run, and will be sorely missed. We decided to lay them to rest on the South Course near the same area that they were born. Thank you to everyone for your support and for allowing them to enjoy the golf courses everyday.

Final Resting Place for Birdie and Socks

Friday, September 14, 2012

Course Update 9/14/12

RAIN!!!!! We received right around 3.5" of rain as of 7:00am this morning, and it looks like more is on the way. Both courses will remain closed for at least the next couple of hours due to high water. The South Course is currently closed due to high water beneath the 1604 overpass, near #4 tee, and #9 tee. The North is more accessible than the South, however high water on 7 and 11 make it very difficult to get around. We are currently working around the water to get as much maintenance done as possible on both courses. Our goal is to get greens mowed, cups changed, debris removed, and to make the bunkers as playable as possible.  It is very likely that the bunkers will remain ground under repair until sometime tomorrow.

Hipolito Gonzalez aerating 18 Green North
In addition  to our normal maintenance we were able to accomplish several tasks on both courses this week. Check out the list below to see of few of the things we completed.
  • North Greens aerated, topdressed, sprayed, and fertilized
  • South Greens verticut and sprayed
  • All bunkers edged
  • Completed fertilizer applications to the Tees, Fwys, and Roughs on both courses
  • Greens edged on North and South
  • Cart path repaired on 16 North.
  • Gary Tupa began work on creating the cart parking area at Tennis
Next weekend is the club championship. We will be very busy next week completing our normal maintenance and preparing the courses for the event. Here is a few of the items we have on the agenda for next week:
  • Finish removing debris and repairing damage from the rain
  • Light vertical mow on North greens
  • Solid tine and lightly topdress the South greens (following Monday's high school tournament)
  • Completely mow both golf courses.
  • Spray greens on both courses (South on Weds and Friday, North on Thursday)
  • Continue to work on the tees on 9 and 15 on the South. We are hoping to get these tees open in time for the club championship.
  • Repair the fence on #10 South
  • Continue to work on the cart parking area at Tennis