Winter Weather Restrictions

We are headed to a record setting December this year.  The driest in over 100yrs.  We have also had our share of freezing temperatures as well. Dry cold conditions, freezing temperatures all add up to less than satisfying turfgrass growing conditions resulting in course restrictions and closure.

In the Northwest, turfgrass continues to grow all year long.  The winter months become cold, but not so cold to initiate dormancy. As the temperatures get low for a week or two at a time it causes us to become cautious with letting people on the course.  This can put the turf team and the golf shop in a tough situation as we communicate course delays and closures to members that would like to go play.

Usually, a cold snap will produce frosty conditions which is straight forward on holding people back from playing until the frost lifts.  I have mentioned it before and most people understand why we cannot allow traffic on frosted turf.  Traffic on frost conditions can destroy leaf tissue and leave turf thin and weak all winter long. The slow growing conditions during the winter can slow healing down to a crawl and it could take months to come back with any other disturbances.

If the cold snap continues for an extended period of time then we have the possibility of the ground freezing. This opens up a completely different set of issues that are much more difficult to explain because they are not as visible as the frost conditions.  In fact the ground could be frozen and the turf not frosty at all.

When the ground is completely frozen and the turf is not frosty we can allow play.  When the ground begins to thaw and the top layer is thawed but frozen underneath we cannot allow play.  It becomes a little confusing because we could be open one day when it is cold and then when it warms up it only makes sense that it is better for golf, but it is not for the course.
As the ground thaws and there is a layer beneath that is frozen we are susceptible to a couple damaging issues.  One is the potential of the top layer shifting form the golfing traffic.  The other is the potential for extreme soil compaction.

If the top layer shifts from the traffic of players we have the potential to have root shearing.  A portion of the roots remain in the frozen layer while the rest of the plant has been thawed and in usually a saturated layer.  The saturated layer is not much for structure and can shift fairly easily.  This is why we do not allow any traffic onto the course even the turf equipment.  The damage is not easily seen like a frost damaged foot print but it can show its ugly head in the spring as the turf begins to need water and nutrients.

As I explained above, the top layer is in a saturated area which also lends to severe compaction.  Not even an inch below might be frozen like concrete which gives a good back board to squeeze that top layer between a foot and the frozen ground.  This also is not damage that is easily seen, but will give us problems as we enter the next season.

Please bear with us as we tread lightly through the winter months.  Although instant damage may not occur it is the future complications that we want to avoid.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG  

Fairway Plan

This fall we were planning on aerifying the fairways but with the weather turning colder and the summer staff going away for the winter months we have decided to take a different approach.  This fall we are going to solid tine to reduce the amount of labor needed for the cleanup and then follow with sand.  We will continue to topdress the fairways to keep our outstanding winter playability.

The spring will be the time we turn to wall to wall aerification.  To help us get this project done in a timely manner we will hire in a contracted company to help with the process.  The weather in the spring is always intermittent so we will try to communicate the dates the best we can as we get closer to time.  This year we aerified greens in early May.  We will try to get the fairways done well before we do the greens in 2014.

If you have any questions about the upcoming processes please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

Small Putter Repair

The last aerification cycle we harvested some of the plugs to replace some of our small putting green.  If you have been around the practice area lately you probably have noticed this area.  We currently have it roped off and it will not be usable until spring.

Thanks for your patience.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

Fall Aerification

The leaves are falling and the temperature is dropping.  I didn't think it was going to warm up today.

A couple weeks ago we aerified the greens with quad tines.  We typically do the quad tines in the fall and the larger, longer tines in the Spring.  I like to vary the depth and size each year.  This fall the project went well with very few hiccups.  We timed the weather nearly perfect as we had as much rain over the next few days as we did all summer.  The rain helped wash all the sand into the canopy.  Unfortunately the weather has been a little cooler than my liking.  It is making the healing process a little slower than normal although the greens are nearly 100% now.  We topdressed this week to help smooth out any left over bumps, but the greens have done fairly well given the cooler weather.
One week ago

Couple days ago

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

Junior Tournament

The junior event that we hosted recently was a district tournament that was weeding out players for the state tournament.

One of the highlights from the tournament was by a young man Alec Charles from Gig Harbor. He had a near hole in one on hole #14.

Organic Fertilizer

This year we've been trying a new organic fertilizer. The fertilizer comes from the water treatment plant at Chambers Creek. It seems like the fertilizer is doing a good job because the grass is greener this year than it was last year. The turf is holding up well to the heat of the summer.
If you have any questions about the organic fertilizer please contact me.
Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

Divot party

I'd like to thank all the members that helped us out with the divot party this year. We had an amazing turnout of over 60 members. It took us a little over two hours to finish the hole golf course. The members not only fixed divots in the fairways, but they also fixed ball marks on the greens.
Thank you,
Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

Clean Up

If  you have been out on the putting green lately you probably have noticed the blackberries growing tall enough to block the view of the wetland.

We have done some clean up to remove a lot of the blackberries and open up a better view of the beautiful wetland that the back nine surrounds.

Thank you for your comments out on the course this summer.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG


PhotoIt has been a while, but the waterfalls on #3 and #8 are working again.  Last season for a short time we had the pump in working order.  A power failure took the pump offline and it became a warranty item.  Recently the work was completed and we installed the pump.

The waterfall pump on #2 is still in disrepair.  It is currently in the shop but on hold until we can figure out what the best mode of action might be to have the waterfall operating again.  The pump has been rebuilt several times and rebuilding it an additional time might not be the best way to go about the issue.  We have had an engineer look at the waterfall and he will draft up a plan to install a larger pipe to achieve better flow and less wear and tear on the pump.

If you have any questions about the water features please contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG


It has been a long time coming, but we finally have purchased grinders for our course.  What does this mean you might ask?  Well, having our own grinders gives us the ability to grind our reels more consistently to provide the course with a better cut on a daily basis.  In the past we were stuck taking our reels to Hawks Prairie to sharpen the reels.
We already had a grinding room in the shop and now it is being used for grinding.  Sharp reels reduce plant injury.  The best analogy that i can think of is cutting a piece of paper with a pair of scissors gives you a clean cut while hitting a piece of paper with a hammer will cut the paper in half but does a lot of excess damage and takes a lot of effort.  It is the same with the mowers.  Dull reels cause problems for turf and the machinery.

If you have any questions about our new grinders please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

Training Day

Last week, Dan the Assistant Golf Course Superintendent held a training day for the staff.  He brought the crew out to the putting green to teach them all how to mow and roll the greens.  After he felt everyone was well versed with the walk mowers and roller he headed to the eighteenth fairway for fairway unit training.

The training day was great for the guys to not only learn and teach each other how they mow the greens, but it also brought the guys together to have a little fun a share some camaraderie.

It was a great way to kick off the summer with the new guys.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

Chipping Green Construction Update

The chipping green project is coming along nicely. We started the project last fall during aerification.  We used the plugs that we harvested from the greens to create a new chipping green.  My vision was to have the green represent the golf course much better and also give our members many more options to practice their short game.

The small chipping green is now roughly double the size.  It has three distinct tiers that flags can be placed on the green.  Many more shots can be played around the green by either running it up the tier or having a shot that might land on one tier and filter down to the next.  I wanted to exercise the imaginations of the golfers. If you want to increase your short game imagination, Steven, Sam and Brandon can show you some very unique shots that will not only impress your friends, but might save you a couple strokes as well.

We are still in the process of coming down to the final height of cut that will match the greens on the course.  The green will provide a true comparison to the golf course.

If you have any questions about the new chipping green or want to add some ideas to the practice center
improvement plan, please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

Greenhouse Installation

This winter has been busy for us on the turf team.  We have started and finished many projects and are still trying to tie up more projects before the grass begins to grow too fast.
Another project that we have been working on this winter was the installation of a greenhouse in our maintenance area.  The greenhouse will give us the ability to grow our own annual plants for color in the summer months.
We spend a few thousand dollars every year to purchase annual color for the clubhouse and around the course.  Our greenhouse project has cost a fraction of the price and I expect that we can cut our costs in half if not more by growing our annual plants from seed.

I will post more pictures as we begin to assemble the new greenhouse and start planting our new annuals.  I am hoping to grow some perennial plants as well to either replace, add to or create new landscaped areas that will help add some finishing touches to the golf course.  The greenhouse will give us the ability to have more control on when we want to install our annuals and how healthy they are coming into the season.

I have to thank our new mechanic Geoff Adams.  This has been his project and he originally tossed the idea onto the table as a way to become more self sufficient and be able to utilize our composted green waste.  He has been a great addition to the staff and he has done wonders to our shop as well.

If you would like to check out the behind the scenes action at Indian Summer. Please feel free to contact me and I would love to show you our progress.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG  

Drainage #15

It has been a busy winter.  We have been trying to get a few projects done this winter to prepare the course for the spring and summer season.  One of the projects that I had been talking about was drainage.  We got one section of drainage done on #15.  It was right in the landing area where golfers were having a lot of trouble during the wet months of the year.

The project took us a little longer than expected because just as we were wrapping up the pipe installation we had a two week cold snap.  This kept the area frozen and hard to work with.  Once the freeze lifted we were able to put the project to bed and start working on other areas of the course.

The picture on the left is the final look after we laid the sod back.  The area has already begin to dry up and the drainage has been working well.

If you have and questions or comments please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

Bunker Work

We have been doing some work in the bunkers over the last few weeks.  The sand has sloughed off of the sides over the winter months from regular maintenance and stormy weather.  We are trying to return the bunker shape to the original design with a more bowl shape into the bunker and not such deep bunker lips.
The work we are doing will be part of our training program for the new staff this spring.  It will be their responsibility to maintain this look as they rake the bunkers throughout the season.  I am also going to switch up some of the maintenance to see if we can do more hand raking and less mechanical raking.  It seems like the mechanical rake does more damage than good.

I would like to ask our members a favor during the 2013 golf season.  Please enter and exit the bunkers on the least sloped areas of the bunkers.  This will help maintain our bunker faces and not accelerate the movement of the sand to the bottom of the bunkers.  We will try to place the rakes in the best positions for entry and exit so that members will utilize these areas more often. We are also placing the rakes on the opposite sides of the green when possible so that there will not be a rake between the green and the bunker.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

The Green Approach

We have made some pretty big advancements in our efforts to become a little more environmental friendly. The side effects of our efforts have been some real money savings. The past challenges of the economy has made everyone look at their spending. Sometimes it is easy to look over the reoccurring expenses like electricity and gas and try to reduce spending elsewhere. My General Manager Trish and I took a look at those so called "constants" and figured out a way to save.

My team has been working on a large scale compost pile to manage our waste on the course. We have expanded our efforts and are now composting all of the fresh kitchen waste as well. We are composting the waste and then planning to re-use the compost when we plant annuals in the spring and summer months. We are also building a compost tea brewer to offset or potentially replace our fairway fertilizer program through the season. The savings is not calculated fully, but the potential is a healthy savings in our waste disposal and fertilizer budget.

Our mechanic, Geoff, is looking into converting the diesel equipment into burning used vegetable oil. At $4 plus dollars per gallon this could be a huge savings in fuel costs. He has also started looking at getting a used oil heater to heat the shop rather than relying on the propane heat we currently use. The savings would be from reduction in propane usage and eliminating the cost of waste oil recycling.

Geoff has also came up with a great idea to take a portion of the money we currently spend on annual flowers for the landscape areas and invest in a greenhouse. We can then grow our own annuals each year using our compost and cheap seeds. We will have the flexibility of changing color schemes, plant variety and timing of when we can plant. This savings will large since we pay quite a bit of money on annual plantings each year.

The clubhouse lighting was our first savings improvement. We took advantage of the corporate rebate benefits from Puget Sound Energy to upgrade to LED lighting. Some of the lighting was basically free with only the cost of tax. The rebates gave us nearly a 70% discount on lighting costs.

My first challenge was to match the lumen output of the bulbs. We have over a hundred 90watt flood lights that light the banquet rooms, restaurant and lounge. They do a good job lighting the rooms and the highest output LED bulbs weren't rated quite as high in lumen output. I bought one bulb to compare in our banquet room with the same color and it turned out to look actually brighter.

Once we saw the LED lights were capable of producing the same amount of light we replaced all the bulbs that we could. Small sconce bulbs, regular lamp lights and large flood lights. It all came to a real savings of roughly $650 per month. Lights that were using 90watts went to only using 18watts. 45watt bulbs went to 3.5 watts. Even the smallest bulbs that you might pass over were close to a 90% reduction in power consumption.

I am proud to say that Indian Summer Golf and Country Club has increased the carbon credits that we currently produce. After all, the course surrounds, what is considered by the state, the highest quality wetland in Washington. We work hard to protect our beautiful surroundings with sound practices.

If you have any questions or would like to see our practices please contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG


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