Saturday, 21 June 2014

First Day of Summer.....Where has the time gone???

Hole #7 

It is hard to believe that tomorrow we start to lose minutes of daylight. This season feels like it has gone by quicker than any other in my time on a golf course. I think I can attribute that to my increased role at the club as the Superintendent as well as the General Manager. I have had no choice but to improve my time management skills, but that is still a work in progress. A few things have had to be put on the back burner, with this blog being one of them. Andrew Smith, our Assistant Superintendent will start to contribute to this blog to keep it current, and now that I am feeling much more comfortable with my new role, I hope to add posts more regularly as well.

The course came out of winter in good shape, with virtually no damage to putting greens, and minor snow mold damage to all other playing surfaces. Our tees and fairways continue to recover, but the lack of warm temperatures has definitely slowed down their recovery. We core aerated, overseeded, and topdressed our tee decks last week, with a solid tine aeration on fairways planned for the near future.

Andrew Venting Greens 
This season we will pick away at a few course improvement projects, such as improving drainage on the back nine, and working to clean up some of our ugly areas around the property. With virtually no spring project work to repair the course from winter damage, our team is in summer mode, focusing on keeping up with daily maintenance practices.

Turf Care Team Enjoying a Friday BBQ
 Our greens management plan is in full swing with regular verticutting,venting, and topdressing. We have made some changes to our fertility program as well and I am happy with the results we have seen thus far. We have also applied an organic fertilizer to our soil based front nine greens to help control earth worms and their castings that affect ball roll. The product was very effective for a few weeks, but I have started to see the castings return to the greens.

The start of the 2014 season for the DTGCC Turf Care team has been a great one and we hope to carry that momentum right through to the end. Personally I am happy with the way everything is progressing. It has been a huge learning curve for myself, but I have a great team of leaders in all departments which makes my life easier. I probably spent too much time at the course, but as I feel more comfortable with the position, I hope to get that balance back in my life. I am lucky to have such an understanding wife that allows me to pursue my goals and supports me in everything I do.

Mitch Davidson

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A New Hat

Jenn and I 
Hard to believe it has been over 3 months since I have updated this blog, and a few things have happened since December.  In my personal life, Jenn and I got married on January 14th down in the Mayan Riviera surrounded by 64 of our close family and friends. It was a week we will never forget, our wedding day was perfect, and we felt so lucky to have everyone celebrating with us in a beautiful location.

Professionally I have had some changes in my position at Dinosaur Trail. Scott Westman, our GM and Head Pro resigned from his position while I was down in Mexico. Many things were up in the air during that time, but around the middle of February the Board of Directors approached me and asked if I was interested in being the GM/Superintendent. I told them I was, but I wanted to bring in an experienced management consultant to help guide our team along the way. James Smith from Smith Golf Group Inc. has come on board to make sure we are heading in the right direction. I feel very confident in James and his knowledge in the business of golf is second to none.  We have a strong management team in place starting with Chef Peter McDiarmid who has been instrumental in growing our event revenues. Our new food and beverage manager Carmello who joins us from Carnmoney Golf and Country Club will also streamline that side of the operation and provide great leadership. We are currently in the process of hiring a new golf operations manager. Decisions based on this position will be made in the next week as we have some great candidates, but want to make sure they are the right fit for our operation.

Andrew putting new vinyl guard on the flagsticks
I am definitely going to miss working with Scott, but look forward to the new challenge ahead. The only reason I feel like I am capable of taking on these extra responsibilities is because of the strong turf care team we have developed over the past two seasons. Andrew Smith our Assistant Superintendent has been with me since my start at Dinosaur Trail and I have all the confidence in him to lead our team when I am busy with other tasks. As well our new mechanic Keith Seitz, will be a valuable addition to our team as his skills and knowledge will keep our operation running very efficiently. He has picked up reel grinding very quickly, and now understands the correlation between the conditioning of the course and quality of cut. Who knew there was so much to maintaining a golf course, right Keith!

Keith grinding some fairway reels
Currently in our Turf Care operation we are finishing up all the reel grinding, getting the course accessories cleaned up or painted  for the season, and starting our hiring process. We plan to get out onto the course in the next 10 days and clear our cart paths to check on things. I don’t anticipate any issues with turf health going into the spring as we have had good snow cover all winter and no formation of ice that I have been able to find.  

I look forward to seeing everyone out at the AGM on March 17th and hopefully we are only a little over a month away from opening the golf course.

Monday, 2 December 2013

In a Nutshell

With mother nature hammering Alberta with a blizzard for the next few days, it is safe to say winter is here to stay. We had a few stressful days in November where we were very close to having precipitation fall as rain and potentially form ice on the turf. Substantial ice formation this time of the year on turf will almost always lead to dead turf in the spring if not removed. We were lucky that the course had a few inches of snow cover during these events to prevent this precipitation from reaching the turf.
9 green snow cover - Nov 21

Andrew and myself have just returned from the annual Alberta Golf Superintendent's Association property managers conference in Canmore. The conference is a great place to build our professional networks, increase our knowledge, and bring back new ideas that will help Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club. As a professional I believe that the only way you can improve your operation is through education. I will be looking to implement a handful of new ideas in 2014 and work towards continuing to provide consistent playing conditions as well as making sure our operation is efficient as possible.

1st cut on greens April 26th 2013
I have taken the last few days to look over my daily notes and reflect on what I believe was a successful 2013. The season started a little later than normal, but with little to no turf damage from winter we hit the ground running. The turf care team this season was one of the best I have had in my 12 year career. A word I would use to describe this year's team would be automatic. Everyone bought into our team first mentality and that is a huge reason why I believe we were successful. If something needed to be done on the course, it did not matter who you were, it got done without any hesitation. I anticipate a very similar look to next years turf team, but there will always be a few changes.

Flooding on the 18th fwy
As far as the golf course, we had our ups and downs. We were lucky to escape any serious flood damage, but the heavy rains and subsequent run off damaged turf, filled in drainage trenches, and caused substantial erosion on the back nine. We repaired as much of the damage as we could "in house" but with little to no money to make repairs, these areas will be problems in the spring.

Our team members from the Drumheller Institution spent a majority of the season pruning the trees on the front nine. The work they did is evident by the huge pile of brush you can see as you turn into the golf course. Trees and tree roots are the largest issue on the front nine at the present time. Andrew and myself have identified a few problematic trees that will be removed before the 2014 golf season. As well in the spring we will be doing some root pruning along fairways and around greens. As we continue to remove trees from the property a plan is being developed over the winter to start replacing the poplars with new species of trees to ensure the course does not lose its identity.

Overall I was happy with the playing surfaces on the course. Next season we plan to focus on our cultural practices to ensure the course stays competitive with other courses in the Calgary area. As time goes on this will prove to be difficult to stay competitive if the club does not make any capital improvements. Our turf care team will do everything we can to keep the course at the standards we have set for it. The fact is that next year it will take more time and resources to keep the course at the same standards we had this year, if improvements are not made in a few areas.

I am optimistic for the future of  the Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club. We have made some positive strides the last two years and our turf care team will continue to put in an honest effort every day. Our team goal each day is to make sure we leave the course better than the day before.

Thanks to everyone for their words of encouragement during the 2013 season. I look forward to seeing everyone out at the course for some of our Christmas events.