Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Fauna of Adams Pointe

A baby Eastern Cottontail sits on No. 1 green
One of the most special traits of Adams Pointe Golf Club is the abundance of wildlife on the property. From small, indistinguishable insects to white-tailed deer, every round played has encounters with the animals of Adams Pointe. And with numerous different habitats, ranging from native grasslands and deciduous forests to riparian zones and protected native wetlands, the viewing options are endless.

An unexpected find on the first hole of the day.
The baby Eastern Cottontail pictured above was inside the cup on No. 1 green on a morning in the spring. While the rabbit was undoubtedly nervous about being trapped, we recovered it from the cup unscathed, and it hopped right off. 

A young White-tailed deer heads toward greener pastures.
While many animals visit Adams Pointe at various times of year, our permanent residents are abundant. White-tailed deer can be spotted nearly any day on the course, especially during morning and evening golf rounds.

But one species that has even the deer outnumbered is the wild turkey. Large groups gather on different holes in the mornings to feed on seeds and insects, and in the heat of summer, you can hear them foraging in the shaded woods. Their high-strung nature can cause some entertaining moments, as they do everything possible to get away from approaching carts.

One of the most overlooked segments of our wildlife population is the large variety of birds on the property. Seasonal visitors such as the Killdeer and Red-winged Blackbird can be seen and heard around No. 10 and No. 18 pond during the summer. In winter, Black-capped Chickadees and Brown Creeper take over the woods on No. 8, while American Kestrels invade the grasslands on No. 15 to hunt for a rare January meal. We have observed more than 100 species of birds on the property.

An osprey perches in a tree overlooking the pond on No. 14.
This spring, we were visited by a migrating Osprey. During its rare and brief stay, we were lucky enough to spot it in the trees above the water south of No. 14.

Our most mysterious resident by far is the solitary bobcat. A lucky few have had the privilege to see one while playing a round, but the views are usually fleeting. Although bobcats prefer the dense woods and are nocturnal, there have been several sightings in the day and out in the open. If you do spot a bobcat while on the property, it is best to give it space and just enjoy the view. 

A bobcat patrols the native on No. 11. 
A bobcat kitten runs across the path to the maintenance shop.
While the bobcats might get more attention, another cat at Adams Pointe is more famous and rightly so. Affectionately named Knucklehead, the cat pictured below has lived at the maintenance shop for at least 15 years, although historians argue about the exact number. Serving as a therapy cat, head mouser, and lunch hour entertainment, she has been the best shop animal in the golf industry and continues to do her duties without complaint. If you happen by the maintenance shop and see old Knucklehead, feel free to give her a pet.

Knucklehead hiding in the tallgrass.
During your next round at Adams Pointe, be sure to keep an eye out for our wild course companions. Spying a bobcat or watching the bluebirds harass a perched Red-tailed Hawk can further immerse you in the joy of golfing. Just remember to be respectful of their space, as these creatures are nice enough to allow us to golf on their front yard.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Adams Pointe Photo Gallery

A perfect Adams Pointe sunrise on July 31, 2017.
This month, we're sharing some of our favorite 2017 pictures from around the property. Our maintenance crew is in a unique position to see the course at interesting hours of day and from uncommon vantage points. Capturing moments like these is definitely a perk to the job.

Crew dog Murray patrolling for geese after a rare snowfall in January.
Looking good shortly after spring aerification in March.
No.10 pond glistens in the late March sun.
A season of amazing sunrises started early and hasn't let up since.
Sunrise on No. 7 tee box.
Good looking finish down No. 18 in mid June.
It isn't all beautiful sunrises and green grass. Here's one of the clogged drains we fixed this year.
It's almost getting old isn't it?
Foggy start on No. 14 in July.
Clouds threaten No. 15 the morning of the solar eclipse. We were lucky to dodge them and have a clear viewing of totality.

Above is a timelapse from hole No. 12 taken in May. Stay tuned to the blog for upcoming posts about the animals around Adams Pointe, plans for fall projects, and information pertaining to the much anticipated bunker renovation.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Dog Days of Summer

Sunrise on No. 10 July 31, 2017
July typically provides the most challenging growing conditions we see each year at Adams Pointe, and this year proved to be no different. Temperatures in the 90s or above most days and never dropping below 70 degrees at night, combined with high dew points and humidity, little to no wind, and high amounts of foot and cart traffic, wreak havoc on the turf. Overall, we had a much better month compared to July 2016, but some areas still struggled to withstand the extremes of summer.

No. 3 Poa annua decline in fairway.
As predicted in our May 22 post, Poa annua on the course was no match for the summer weather conditions. The above picture illustrates how decline on our course tends to be contained to the Poa annua, with bentgrass in the same areas doing fairly well, despite unfavorable conditions. As noted in our earlier post, this is an annual event, the damage from which we are constantly trying to limit, and it should not be construed to mean our spring drainage project is not working.

View of clogged drainage pipe on No. 13
We had a drainage project of a different kind take place in July, as well. After observing continual saturation on No. 13 green, we investigated to find a major clog in the green's drainage. After some wrestling, we were able to remove the clog (all 30 feet of it), and the green has dried up exceptionally fast.
Clog in No. 13 drainage removed
Luckily, we finished this project before a large storm rolled through on July 27, dropping more than 5.5 inches of rain on the course. While we did not see the extreme flooding that troubled other local courses, we had enough standing water to necessitate a full course closure the following day. After a full day of pumping out bunkers and newly created water hazards in the fairways, we were able to open Friday, July 28 on schedule.
Looking down No. 2 fairway on July 27
Please follow all signage on course
Looking ahead, we have fall aerification currently scheduled for Monday, August 28. The course will be closed for the day but we will reopen Tuesday, August 29 with minimal disruption to play. Check out our Aerification Alert post for more information about this vital cultural practice.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

No. 8 and No. 12 Tee Expansion

No. 8 tee establishing nicely one month after sod being laid.
Last year, some of our maintenance efforts at Adams Pointe focused on developing ways to maintain the health of our tee boxes. A few tee boxes have always caused us problems, most notably No. 8’s green and white tee and No. 12’s green tee. Lack of sunlight, lack of air movement, and excessive traffic are the main reasons these tees fail to withstand the full length of the golfing season. To address these concerns on No. 8’s green and white tee, we began a sun study in the fall of 2015 to determine what trees, if any, around the tee were contributing to our lack of sunlight. Five large trees were identified as problematic, as well as a few smaller trees, and we started removing them in January 2016. Below is a video showing the cutting and removal of these trees and the amount of material removed from the area.

While the lack of air movement and sunlight definitely play a role in the struggles of the turf, the size of these tees is the biggest limiting factor. For all tees, golf course architects typically recommend 100 square feet of usable teeing surface for every 1,000 rounds played. For example, if a specific tee sees 20,000 rounds a year, that tee would ideally be about 2,000 square feet. While a few tees at Adams Pointe hold up to this design standard, most of them do not come close. The vast majority of our rounds are played from the white and green tees, creating a situation where these tees are overused for their size and have no chance to recover from damage.

No. 8 green and white tee before expansion began.
In March 2016, we began work to expand the teeing surface on No. 8’s white and green tees. This expansion was challenging because of surrounding trees, limited space, and a hard slope on all sides of the tee. Westward expansion was our only option, and we took great care to not disturb the environmentally protected wetlands around the tee. We began by filling in the slope off the tee and building it up slowly to create a new teeing surface. 

First load of soil added to No. 8 tee.
As you can see from above, it took several dozen loads of soil to get us to our desired height. To help avoid erosion or outright collapse of the new teeing surface, we spent a lot of time packing down the soil to create a firmer base. That is also the main reason we waited to sod it until this season. We wanted to be absolutely sure that the new teeing surface was structurally sound.

Using the Bobcat to shape the tee and pack down soil.
New teeing surface beginning to take shape.
After allowing an adequate amount of time to pass to ensure stability, we were ready for sod this spring. In total, we added 950 square feet of playable teeing surface, creating a tee approximately 2700 square feet in size. While this doesn't quite meet the architectural standard discussed above, the tree removal and added square footagshould make a dramatic difference in the tee’s ability to survive a full golf season.

No. 8 green and white tee on sod day.
Many of the same factors on No. 8 caused us issues with the green tee on No. 12. Once again the size of the tee was our biggest limiting factor. We did drop two trees to help increase sunlight to the tee surface but expansion was our main goal. In November 2016 we stripped the old sod off and began adding soil to expand.

Soil being added to No. 12 green tee.
Because of the cart path’s north-side location, we focused on building out the tee in the other three directions. In total, we more than doubled the teeing surface here, from 400 square feet to 820 square feet. Like No. 8, we were unable to reach the 10:1 design standard, but the large expansion will undoubtedly help the turf recover from damage.

No. 12 finished on sod day.
As you’re out playing a round, you will probably spot us continuing to do these tee expansion projects. It’s just one more way we’re striving to make Adams Pointe a great place to enjoy the game of golf.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Drainage Project Follow-Up: Poa annua Effects

After our last post, we received several questions regarding our drainage project and how it might affect our Poa annua. If you've played Adams Pointe recently, you probably haven't noticed many issues with our fairways. But because of the amount of Poa annua on the property and the inevitable summer heat, that will almost certainly change, even with the added drainage.  

No. 3 Fairway showing contrast between bentgrass and Poa annua

The picture above shows two very different shades of green in the No. 3 fairway. The darker green is bentgrass, and the lighter green/yellow on the right side of the fairway is Poa annua. The color difference is partly caused by a plant-growth regulator application to the fairways. This application helps slow vertical growth in the Poa and weaken its competitive ability. The Poa is typically easy to spot, but this spray really illustrates the amount of Poa we have on the property. 

The optimal temperature for Poa root growth and shoot growth is 55 to 65 degrees and 60 to 70 degrees, respectively. Overall, root growth is more important because turfgrass can maintain growth at relatively high temperatures, as long as soil temperatures stay cooler. As you can see with the temperature ranges listed above, we quickly exit optimal Poa temperatures in late May or early June. Once soil temperatures increase beyond that optimal range, it doesn't take long for the Poa to declineAs you continue to visit Adams Pointe throughout the year, you might notice these changes to the Poa. This doesn't mean our drainage project isn’t working, but rather, summer has rolled in temperatures the Poa annua cannot survive. We use the annual Poa loss to our advantage, seeding bentgrass in the affected areas in the fall, hoping it will outgrow the Poa in late fall and early spring. That’s no easy task, as Poa annua is the most widely distributed weed in the world, even documented as an invasive species in Antarctica. Everything from animals to wind scatter its seeds, and during optimal temperatures, it establishes rapidly. We will never completely rid the property of Poa, but with our current management plan, we hope to limit its growth and give the bentgrass every chance to compete.

For further reading about Poa annua control in turfgrass, check out this article from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

2016 In Review: Welcome to Water Wick

The WaterWick drainage system trench with minimal disruption to the playing surface.
If you played Adams Pointe last summer from about late July on, you undoubtedly noticed some issues with a number of our fairways. Several factors contributed to the decline of our bentgrass, most notably excess water and heat.

The 2016 golfing season started off relatively normal. Temperatures and rainfall stayed right around average through April. The month of May started off average, but with a wet final two weeks, we finished 2 inches above average in precipitation. Typically, this extra precipitation leading into summer would be cause for concern, but we deal in extremes in this part of the country, and last June was extreme to say the least. Every single day hit 85 degrees or above, with 18 days at 93 or higher. During the heatwave, we went a stretch of 22 consecutive days without precipitation and ended the month with 1.45 inches of rain, or 3 inches below average. Despite the record warmth of June, course conditions remained excellent. We can manage moisture levels far more easily when it is hot and dry, rather than hot and wet; It’s easy for us to continue watering but much harder to get rid of excess moisture. And although the days were warm, we were still getting needed relief at night with the average low for the month at 67 degrees.

The floodgates opened in July. In the first three days of the month, we received 4.75 inches of rain. Three days later, we picked up another half inch. The following week, 3.7 inches of rain fell, and by July 17, we had received 8.95 inches of rain, or 3.75 inches above the monthly average.

Water sits on No.15 fairway after one of the many downpours of 2016.
Then the heat turned on. The average high temperature from July 17 through July 25 was 97 degrees, and the average low for that same span was 76 degrees. This time frame caused the most damage. With saturated soils, these temperatures essentially "bake" the turf roots, causing soil temperatures far greater than bentgrass can withstand.

And high soil temperature wasn’t the only factor. Due to the design of our fairways, almost all holes drain toward the middle, causing these areas to stay saturated longer. Poa annua then thrives in these areas early and is the first to turn south when the temperatures increase. What is under the fairways also plays a large factor. With the exception of our greens, our soils are very heavy clay. This prohibits adequate water movement and drainage and causes areas to stay more wet than they would in sandy soil. Adding in compaction from foot and cart traffic, lack of air movement from trees and/or weather patterns, and the constant disease pressures, your Adams Pointe crew had quite the stressful summer.  

With July’s initial rainfall, we began doing all we could to slow down the inevitable decline. We started flagging heads for Aerwaying on July 6, beginning July 7 with the holes that traditionally suffered the most. Below is a slow motion video showing the Aerway process. The blades slice narrow channels in the turf, allowing enhanced water movement and increased oxygen to the root zone. Volume warning here.

It was a slow process that, with interruptions due to storms the following week, took us about six days to complete. Seeing those storms in the forecast, we also planned a fairway application of a soil penetrating surfactant. This application helped improve vertical and lateral infiltration through the soil profile. This was another slow process, but we were able to complete it by July 14, just as we hit 8.9 inches of rain for the month.

#6 Fairway - July 31, 2016
#6 Fairway - August 31, 2016
We ended August with 9.6 inches of rain, almost 4 inches above average. In the latter half of the month, we started seeing cooler overnight temperatures, providing desperately needed relief to the turf. Starting August 16, we began seeding fairway areas that declined through the summer. As you can see in the picture above, by the end of August, we had made a lot of progress in the recovery efforts. In mid-September, we began laying sod in the areas that were not established with seed. In the span of a couple weeks, we were able to lay more than 6,000 square feet of bentgrass sod. We took sod from the No. Four fairway and were able to reestablish that hole with seed very quickly, with optimal growing conditions in September/October. 

After spending the off season weighing options about how to address the summer decline of our fairways in a cost-effective and minimally disruptive way, we decided on the Water Wick Drainage System. The Water Wick system is essentially a vibratory plow that creates a trench through the soil while injecting gravel into that trench. The process creates new channels for water to drain, thereby aiding our existing drainage. On March 16, we trenched more than 4,700 feet across nine of our most troublesome holes. Volume warnings again.

We again focused on areas that traditionally show the most stress during the summer and trenched along both the existing drainage lines and areas around our drainage boxes. In order to avoid damage to our boxes, we trenched those by hand. Once at the box, we simply drilled a few holes in the side to allow water to escape. Here's a short video showing the water after the first hole is drilled.

After connecting trenches to boxes, we went back through and sodded some of the bigger gravel areas. Any smaller trenches with exposed gravel should grow over quickly, creating a drainage system that is virtually invisible to our patrons. While the Water Wick system can utilize up to three plows at a time, we were only able to use one plow at a time, because of our extreme clay soils. Due to this and other time constraints, we were only able to complete half of what we had hoped for this spring. The current plan is to go back at it this fall, trenching on the other side of the drainage lines we did this spring, as well as a few holes we didn't get to.

As with any option available, this is not a fix-all; We will never make it through any season without experiencing some turf loss. What we will do is continue to remain observant, informed, and proactive to produce the best playing conditions possible year-round. We’re looking forward to seeing the improvements from the Water Wick system this season, and we’re just hoping it doesn't immediately get tested with 20 inches of rain!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Parks Maintenance Sales Tax Initiative

On April 4, residents of Blue Springs will have the opportunity to vote on a sales tax initiative to benefit city parks. The proposed initiative would increase Blue Springs’ sales tax by one-half cent, which equates to 25 cents for every $50 spent inside the city.

Estimated to generate approximately $15 million during a five-year periodthe tax would help address major concerns in the city’s parks and trails and would allow Adams Pointe to make important upgrades to its facilities. If passed, the tax is slated to address the following deterioration issues at Adams Pointe:
  • Replacement of clubhouse roof
  • Bunker repair and replacement
  • Main drive replacement
  • Cart path repair and replace

These improvements would allow Adams Pointe to continue offering quality recreational opportunities for the entire community while improving guest experience. 

Additional information can be found by visiting the City of Blue Springs website at