"Edwards USAF Services"
EDWARDS AFB STAFF ASSISTANCE VISIT 14 – 18 June, 2004 MAINTENANCE REPORT MUROC LAKE GOLF COURSE A simple clubhouse overlooks a challenging golf course 1. PESTICIDE APPLICATION PROBLEM I gathered a lot of information on the application of, or lack of, pesticides on the Muroc Lake golf course and none of what I found out was good for the course operations and playability. The present contracting system of application puts the golf course at the lowest priority in the Edwards operation. With the golf course being the largest green belt on base and with all the challenges of producing quality golfing turf, the vector control applications need to be correctly timed and of the proper product and rate to achieve the quality turf the Edwards golfers demand. The following points of information will highlight the problems and roadblocks that the golf course maintenance operations are facing. a. The control operations on the golf course used to be under the direction of the past superintendent but due to numerous problems such as no license, and unreliable reporting, the operation was taken over by CE to prevent any environmental problems. At the time, this was a viable option, but in 2002, a highly trained superintendent was hired to take the course to a higher level. But not having a DoD applicators license kept the pesticide operations under the control of CE. b. In the spring of 2004, the superintendent enrolled in the DoD pesticide applicators course held by Navy in Jacksonville, FL. He easily passed all sections of the two-week course and has his certification hanging above his desk. He now is fully certified to handle the golf course applications and with his 4-year degree in Turfgrass Management, and his GCSAA training, is the most qualified person at Edwards to identify, recommend products, and control disease, weed, and insect vectors on the golf course. c. The Base Pest Control Officer has been tasked to oversee the application operations by the base contractor. There have been several problems that have arisen for the superintendent to overcome using a contractor to apply control products on the golf course. 1 d. .For instance: An application for Yellow Patch was requested in December 2003. This is a disease that can seriously damage quality putting greens. The contractor finally applied the application in April 2004, 4 months late. The golf course was very fortunate in that the disease was weather controlled, but if the climatic conditions were different, the disease could have had dire results. e. Another instance: An application of a non-selective herbicide and pre-emergent was request to clean up desert areas. The product requested by the superintendent was Roundup, the material of choice at all other military installations. Another product was used at the wrong rate so the application to the golf course was worthless and controlled nothing. Yet the golf course was charged the full herbicide rate for the application. The superintendent requested the contractor come back and reapply but has never returned to honor the contract. f. Yet another instance: The superintendent requested an application to remove the abundant amount of clover on the course, especially in the fairways. He requested one of the newer products that have excellent clover control. The Pest Control Officer stated he would make the product selection since clover is a broadleaf weed and a less expensive broadleaf weed control is available. As a turfgrass agronomist, I know that a 2,4-D type broadleaf control products may be acceptable for dandelions, but has poor control on clover. A 2,4-D product was to be used by the contractor. The application was requested for early spring but has yet to be delivered. An application in the summer may cause undo turf loss due to stress if a 2,4-D product is used. g. The Pest Control Officer is also against the use of Roundup, a non-selective herbicide that is approved on the DoD Pest Managements Boards authorized product list, and is used by all the services, worldwide. Roundup use on the golf course would clean unwanted growth from around trees, structures, pathways, and desert areas. The many hours of handwork pulling and trimming weeds would be greatly reduced leaving the maintenance crew more time to concentrate on golf course duties. h. When the last superintendent was working, an approved pesticide storage shed was purchased and install in the maintenance compound lot. As you can see in the photo, the structure is in very good shape and can once again be used for proper storage of control products. This structure needs to be used as the superintendent’s pesticide storage so he can maintain the Muroc Lake golf course as an educated and trained certified applicator and turfgrass professional. i. The final anomaly I found was the cost that the golf course is being charged for any one- control application by the contractor. A typical herbicide application costs the golf course $2000. The price of the 2,4-D products to do all the fairways is estimated to be $200 and at that, the amount of control is suspect. If the superintendent did his own applications with the proper products, the golf course would see huge savings, plus getting much better control with better timing. Recommendation Institute the golf course superintendent as the certified applicator of pesticide products on the golf course. Through the proper product authorization process already in place by EM, allow the superintendent to recommend for order, receive, store, apply, and document the control products that he needs to protect the Muroc Lake golf course. Only he knows what the golf course really needs and is always on site to determine if the time and weather factors are such for required control. 2 2. HOLDING POND FOR ADDITIONAL EFFLUENT WATER After investigating the effluent pond situation, there seems to be two main concerns. The first and foremost is the golf course presently has an inadequate size pond for irrigation use. The existing pond has only a 400,000 gal usable volume, is full of cattails, and is leaking which causes maintenance problems on hole 12. On a typical 24-hour day, water use on the golf course ranges from 900,000 to one million gal. This is very typical for an 18-hole golf course in the desert. This means the pond must be filled several times a day with the base effluent line just to keep the pond from going dry. The golf course never has any reserve water for emergency use. The second concern is the base needs a larger pond to discharge more effluent water so a project is being worked to accommodate both concerns. I was asked about sizing and location and I present the following information. The superintendent needs a week of reserve irrigation water if the effluent system ever goes down and filling the new pond is shut off for a while. 1 million gal per day is needed for a reserve of 7 million gal. One acre-foot of water is equivalent to 350,000 gal. So the new pond area needs to be 20 acre-feet. A great area to construct a new holding pond exists around the existing pond site. It would include the site of the existing pond, the old swamp area from the right side of 17 green to the back and right of 17 tee, and then into the low area of hole number 12. See the following photos. Existing pond on hole 17 with cattails and a leaking bottom Suggested new pond site with existing pond in upper left, the swamp area in the middle extending back to the maintenance road and forward past 17 tee, and the low area on 12 to the right. 3 It was the concern of the base that with the increased surface area there would be more potential for a bird strike with the pond attracting geese. This is a legitimate concern but there are proven methods used by airports that can deter the landing and nesting habits of the large birds such as the nuisance geese. These include, but not limited to, stretched wiring across the water surface, sight barriers planted around the ponds banks, and physical scare tactics. Geese or other large birds should never become a problem with what is available on the market. The area on hole number 12 can be expanded as far as the desert allows but the one design factor would be to create a narrow gap along the right side of the hole for a bridge span. This would allow for golfers and maintenance equipment to traverse from 12 tee to 12 green area. Recommendation Plan the new effluent pond on the golf course with 20 acre-feet of reserve. This would allow for a suitable 7-day reserve if needed during an emergency and add sufficient size to create spectacular holes on number 17 and 12. A pond liner and installed fountain aerators are also necessary when effluent water ponds are constructed. Geese control methods should be included at the onset of this design. Design should also include for the safe passage of golfers and maintenance equipment on hole 12. 3. PASPALUM USE FOR SEVERAL BAD TURF AREAS There still exist a few turf areas that have become very difficult to grow acceptable turf as seen on the front collar of number 14 green and other miscellaneous areas. These spots are due to very poor soils with high sodium and pH levels attributed to the effluent water system. This is a common occurrence when growing either close mown bentgrass or bermudagrass. There is an alternative turfgrass that will work in these spots and thrive on poor soil conditions. A number of turfgrass Paspalum varieties would work in your situation. One local sod farm in southern California is Westcoast Turf, in Palm Desert, and can be contacted at 760-360-5464 for availability and costs. These varieties, when mowed at collar height, are very similar in texture to fine bermudagrass and will produce a very good playing surface. Recommendation After locating a good source, a trip to a local sod farm for a pickup truck load, is all you would need to refurbish a number of stubborn areas. Just cut out the bad area and level so the new sod will have surface drainage, and keep from drying out until established. Paspalum will form a good root system in short time and you will have a good area of turf for a long time. 4. CART PATH CONSTRUCTION PROJECT A project long overdue to spruce up the golf course and provide the customer with a more enjoyable ride are the addition of quality concrete cart paths. As seen in the above photo, the area that joins 1 and 17 greens and 2 and 18 tees is an eyesore. The addition of a quality path in this area, tying all the laterals into one with 4 curbing to keep the carts off the playing surfaces, will highlight a now defunct area. With a little planning, the soda machine could be given a pad and placed closer to the electrical panel so it isn’t as obtrusive. All the par three holes have “cattle” paths where the carts have just turned turf areas into desert. As seen here on the 6th hole, a new path would clean up the view and playability, be it down the left side or cutting down the right side. Recommendation Before starting your project, investigate all the path areas to be built for proper location, accessibility for golfers, and the elimination of drainage woes when curbing is installed. I recommend the one-way paths be a minimum of 8 feet wide to accommodate maintenance equipment and have cart pull-off sections where golfers must exit carts to walk to playing surfaces. 5. GREENS CONSTRUCTION PROBLEMS In general, the greens at Muroc Lake are in super condition. The superintendent needs to be commended for the excellent job he has done in producing excellent putting surfaces in the desert. But there are some problem greens such as numbers 6, 7, 12, 14, and 15. A noticeable black layer has formed from past poor agronomic programs. As seen in the photo to the right, black layer begins at 2-1/2 inches, a sand break is seen, and then another black layer forms at around 8 inches. Even with installed underground drains, these layers will not allow for proper surface drainage. The black anaerobic layer also will not allow root penetration any further than the top 2-1/2 inches. A good healthy core sample is shown in the second photo from number 1 green. The root system was out the bottom of the sampler tube. The superintendent has initiated the only viable program available to correct poorly constructed greens without complete green rebuilding. He is bringing in a contractor to “drill and fill” his poor greens creating deep channels filled with good clean sand. This creates the channels for surface water to break through the black layer and find the subsurface drain tiles. With his multiple regular core aerations, light topdressing every two to three weeks, and the continued use of the “drill and fill” aeration, the poorer greens will get much better and the good greens will stay in excellent condition. 5 Recommendation Continue with the yearly “drill and fill” applications on the poor greens and continue the intense aeration and sand topdressing program. Until a greens reconstruction program becomes available to Muroc Lake, this is the best course of action to produce quality-putting surfaces. 6. TREES AND LANDSCAPING PROGAM A new tree-planting program has finally begun at the golf course. For many years, all that was done was to eliminate dying trees without any replacement. This past year, the superintendent has added about a 100 new native trees that should do well in the desert environment. He is also watching all the projects around base and when trees and/or other landscape plants are available, he plans to transplant them onto the golf course. That is how the cactus garden between 15 New trees behind number 1 green green and 16 tee was developed. Other plantings the superintendent has initiated is splitting and relocating clumps of pampas grass, bamboo, and oleander. All great ideas that put character back into the course. With the availability of borrowing a tree spade from CE and the drive to create, I can see the superintendent doing great things for the golf course. New cactus garden between 15 green and 16 tee Recommendation Create a tree-planting plan for the golf course indicating locations where plantings will make an impact. Concentrate on shade for tees, green backgrounds, and highlighting fairways. As funding comes available for additional trees, begin to instigate the plan. Use CE’s tree spade, as materials around base construction sites become available. Another great free resource found around base are the interesting boulders that could be hauled onto the course to be used as accents in the landscape. Anything to add interest to the course will be remembered by the customers. 7. EQUIPMENT NEEDS The one piece of equipment the maintenance crew will need to efficiently and professionally make control applications on the golf course is a new sprayer. It should have a “computer” processor control to precisely apply the new products developed for very low AI (actual ingredient) use. Some of these products are applied at 0.15 oz per 1000 sq. ft. A covered boom is required to be able to apply products in windy conditions. I suggest a tank size of 200 gal. It is large enough to spray fairways, but by using ½ loads, small enough to do greens and tees. Other options are an air-conditioned cab with air exchange and a foam marker. Several models are available in the Toro or John Deere AFNAF contracts. A new greensmower should be considered since maintenance only has one good unit. Greens should be given the highest priority; they are your main product. As a new unit comes in, then the older unit can be converted into a very needed tee/collar mower. 6 Also, I recommend purchasing a vibratory roller attachment that will fit on your old Jacobsen GK-IV triplex unit or any triplex unit. A roller of this type has multiple uses, but mainly used to produce smoother and faster greens without having to sacrifice mowing height. Used in a weekly program and for big events, your greens will be the talk of your customers. Another use is to “shake-in” the multiple light sand topdressings being applied. This eliminates some drag mat use, which causes undue stress. Also, firming new seed and/or sod areas become a snap. Turfline, Inc. is the manufacturer; www.true-surface.com or they can be reached at 800-443-8506. They have units to fit all the major triplex units. Roller attachments mounted on a triplex unit Recommendation The above-mentioned equipment is recommended to insure the maintenance operation continues to deliver a quality product. This is above the already scheduled equipment now in the system. 8. IRRIGATION EXPANSION AT FAIRWAY BUNKERS There is a need to expand the irrigation system to the desert side of the fairway bunkers. This would allow rough height turf to grow around the complete bunker perimeter, which would highlight the bunker and create a better playing surface. Some new lines were just being installed as I was visiting. This is just another visionary project that the superintendent has developed to make the golf course, better. Recommendation The maintenance crew should develop a project to identify and install irrigation heads at all the desert-bunker areas to create a more scenic and playable golf course. No bunker definition 9. ROUNDUP USE ON THE GOLF COURSE As stated in paragraph 1, Roundup is the product of choice for all Services as it is approved on the DoD pesticide list. It is there because the product is the safest non-selective herbicide on the market for both the applicator and the environment. It is only active on green growing plant material. It cannot be absorbed through tree bark and becomes inactive when it comes in contact with soil. It is also safe to fish and wildlife, as a product used in aquatic control “Rodeo” has the same active ingredient. That said, Roundup use on the golf course will save many man-hours of pulling weeds, trimming around trees and will clean up weeds in walks, curbs, and around structures. 7 As seen in the bottom photo on page 7, the trees in the desert could easily be cleaned up with a roundup application, which would eliminate all handwork. Other areas in need are seen in the photos above where I observed a day wasted pulling grass and weeds in the rose bed on the first tee. Another day pulling weeds is anticipated when the landscape beds in front of the clubhouse begins. When a program is initiated, the only requirement I can foresee is to dedicate a small power sprayer to this operation. You do not want to take a chance with a Roundup sprayer being used for any turf or ornamental applications. Recommendation Initiate a Roundup program at the golf course to clean up weeds around trees, landscape beds, structures and anywhere weeds are not wanted. A pre-emergent herbicide, such as Surflan, should be added to the tank to extend the effectiveness of your applications. A small powered sprayer, either gas or battery powered of 25 to 50 gal. is the ideal size for your operations. A maintenance cart can easily tow it, but any older dedicated sprayer could be used. 10. DRIVING RANGE NEED As I looked out over the barren landscape of the driving range, it was very apparent that some sort of target system needed to be installed so golfers can grasp distances while working with their club selection. Many suggestions came up during my out brief that included different colored stripped PVC poles, Astroturf targets, or even aircraft. What ever is decided, multiple targets should be included with laser measurements to at least three sections of the tee. This way, a target on the either side of the range would have different distances depending on which end of the tee the customer is on. Measurement plates should be installed flush with the teeing surface for ease of maintenance. Adding a water system to grow turf in the range was another option that was addressed. There are pros and cons when located in the desert. Even though effluent water would be used, there is still the perception of additional water use in a desert climate and the initial expense may be prohibitive. Piping, heads, control system, wiring, and manpower must be budgeted as well as seed, and fertilizer. Then there will be future costs of control products, fertilizers, and mowing. This could be a high price to pay for aesthetics. 8 Recommendation Decide on the target system that meets your needs the best and install them at multiple locations. Laser measure the targets and install distance plates to all targets in at least three locations on the tee. Also, research the cost factors involved in extending water to the range and the costs that will be incurred in the future. These costs may be difficult to recover in today’s reduced budgets. 11. AIRCRAFT THEME ON THE GOLF COURSE During my visit and then during the out brief, a lot of brainstorming was done to do something on the golf course to create a theme that would cause your customers to talk about, and then to return with guests to witness the uniqueness of the course. Since Edwards has always been about aircraft, it was a no-brainer to use that as the golf course theme. There are so many non-playable areas between holes that placing old aircraft or large aircraft parts in the desert areas would create that uniqueness. It was learned that there are many old aircraft and body parts already lying around the base. They could easily be lying in the desert areas of the golf course and be put to good use instead of lying elsewhere. If a ball would find its way to one of these structures, the rules of golf would identify them as an obstruction and a golfer would be given a free drop to continue play. Just look at the areas between these holes that could be used. View of many large desert areas between holes Recommendation A good idea to create an aircraft theme throughout the golf course would give your customers something to talk about as well as incentive to bring guests back out to the course for increased play. After you find out what can be used from existing aircraft and parts found on base, get an aerial photograph of the course and develop a sighting plan for those items. They would fit in well with the new aircraft theme tee signs and naming each hole. If the new pond on hole 12 is developed and a new bridge is required, an interesting addition to the theme would be to install a B-52 fuselage to pass through instead of a standard bridge. These are the types of unique structures golfers remember when playing other golf courses. 12. NAF CAPITAL LEASE PROGRAM FYI: The capital lease program for maintenance equipment and golf carts is available for remote golf courses. The same conditions apply as for a non-remote course such as being able to pay off the debt. The present interest rate of 3.25% is the only expense that would fall in the operational column. Contact Mr. Steven Holekamp at firstname.lastname@example.org or DSN 487-6672 for further information. This would be a perfect fit to upgrade an old maintenance fleet of equipment and to add new advanced equipment to Don’s operation. 9