Wednesday, December 17, 2014

French Drains at Stanford GC

I'm often asked why we don't sod over our French drains, leaving the gravel open to the surface? And why we will actually go back in the fall and remove the turf mat that had grown over them?  

Without going into an in-depth discussion of how water moves in the soil, the answer comes from the primary type of water we're trying to capture - surface water.  

We have really gummy, slow-draining, clay soil;  especially on the upper holes.  With the open drains, we are trying to maintain the best possible path for surface water to enter the drainage system. We are trying to catch water sheeting across the sloping turf before it has a chance to soak into the clay soil below.  Most golf courses do cover the French drains, but their rate of capture is far slower than if the drains are left open. Turf grass quickly forms a mat of thatch that impedes rapid water movement into the drains. We do try to keep the open channel to less than 4” in width, because the drains do come into play. Thankfully, the Rules of Golf do allow free relief from these areas, whether open or covered by turf.  

With our heavy soil, we’re trying to do everything in our power to provide the best possible route for water to enter the drainage pipes below.  If impeded even slightly, the water would spill over the drains and slowly soak the clay soil.  Wet clay soil forms an unplayable, unmaintainable muck that is very slow to dry, especially in winter.  This year has been very bad, with over 10" of rain in just the first 15 days of December.

Turf will slowly creep over and cover the exposed gravel drains. But this method provides the best possible drainage, even if somewhat unsightly for a month or so.  

Sand topdressing is another practice that could be very beneficial.  Regular fairway topdressing has proven to be successful in the Pacific Northwest.  Unfortunately it is very expensive, a bit disruptive, and must be done regularly throughout the playing season for a number of consecutive years.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Heavy Rain 12/11/2014

A few photos from the course this morning.  We've had almost 1.5" of rain in the last three hours.

Monday, December 1, 2014

PG&E Pipeline Work at #8 Tee

PG&E pipeline work is continuing at #8 tee.  The new 24" natural gas pipeline has been bored under Alpine Rd., and will be connected to the older gray pipe coming up from the creek.  The older pipe was installed in the early 80's when the JSB bridge was constructed. Below are a few photos from this past weekend.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hydrojecting Greens

Greenskeeper Martinho Dias is using a Hydroject machine on #2 Green.  The machine injects high pressure jets of water to open a small holes in the green.  The holes allow water to penetrate and for gasses in the soil to freely exchange with atmosphere.  This machine has been s a big part of our program avoiding regular core aeration in the greens.

This fall marks the 19th year we've been able to maintain the greens without any disruptive plugging. The program was designed to keep bent grass as the dominant turf type, which has also allowed for almost no pesticide use on the greens.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tournament Morning

Getting ready for the Stanford Intercollegiate, hosted by Condoleezza Rice......

Go Cardinal!

Friday, August 22, 2014

University Lake Water Pipe Extension - Driving Range

Pacific Underground Construction is currently installing a University Lake Water Main across the parking lot at the Driving Range.  This line will expand the University's Lake Water (non-potable) Service for landscape use in campus residences.

Driving Range parking is being shifted while the work occurs, so please allow extra time to get back and forth from parking areas.  Signage and/or flagmen will direct cars and pedestrians during the period. Since this is an active construction site, please use caution in the area!

Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of August.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

PG&E Contractors Starting Tree Removal Near #8 Tee

(Click to Enlarge Photos)

The tree removal has begun for the PG&E Gas Line Replacement project near #8 tee.  Trees are being removed to facilitate a new pipe for Line #109 which runs the entire Peninsula.  The new 24" steel pipe will be bored beneath Alpine Road surfacing in a receiving pit in front of the Red tee on #8.  From there it will be trenched through the cart path toward the creek, eventually connecting to the pipe in the creek that was re-coated a few years ago.

The tree work is expected to take a little over a week, the entire project is hoped to be completed by early October.  Please respect the safety barriers, and use caution in the area.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wildlife Sightings From This Past Weekend!

Below are a couple photos snapped by our early morning regulars.  The golden eagle was seen on #7 fairway, and the young coyote near the bridge on #14.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Golden Eagle Perched Above #9 Fairway

(Click to enlarge)

Many of you have heard the screeching calls of a pair of Golden Eagles 
that have been soaring above the front nine recently.  I finally got close enough to snap a couple photos of one of them above the 9th fairway.  For more info on this top predator, follow the link below:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Water Reduction Efforts

(click to enlarge photo)

Shown here is an area on the perimeter of the course (#2) where irrigation has been cut off.  This is being done to save water to help with the ongoing 3-year drought.  The University is primarily pumping ground water for irrigation this summer, since surface runoff  was negligible this past winter.  

Problems in these areas include turf mortality, weed encroachment and golf cart damage. Later on, when rain returns, these areas are likely to become wet and muddy.  Unfortunately, the turf is very slow to recover in the short, cool days of  fall/winter. So watch for effects of this drought to linger well into next season.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Two Hawks Near #7 Green This Morning

(Click photo to enlarge)

Two Red-tailed hawks were spotted this morning near #7 Green.  One is flying, one is standing on the turf having his breakfast (a Field Mouse.)   Hawk sightings have been a bit less numerous this year due to the ultra-dry conditions in the native areas.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Water Reduction Underway at Golf Course and Range

Driving Range Before

Driving Range After

Hole #4

The Stanford Golf Course, Driving Range, and Siebel Varsity Golf Training Complex use non-potable, non-drinking water for irrigation of turf and landscape.  The water comes from creeks flowing onto the campus lands, as well as ground water from wells.

In the face of the drought, we've been asked to conserve water wherever possible.  At this point we've cut perimeter irrigation in many non-essential areas.  So far we've been able to completely turn off 36 large (120' diameter) sprinklers on the Driving Range and Holes #1 - #5. We've also converted six sprinklers from full-circles  to part-circles, cutting their water use in half.  

With these reductions, we will net a savings of 58,320 gallons per week and a projected savings of 933,120 gallons (2.78 acre/ft.) over the June-Sept. irrigation season.   

We are continuing to look for other areas where we can reduce consumption, and will implement them throughout the summer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sandpiper Nest on Path at Driving Range

Four Sandpiper eggs are shown here along the Driving Range.  The eggs are very well camouflaged, and the mother bird has been doing a great job of luring away predators.  Hopefully we should see some baby chicks soon!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Memorials to be Claimed

We're currently looking for descendants or other family members who may want to claim these memorial plaques. Under the Gifts and Memorials policy, memorials are slowly being removed from the golf course as the course accessories are updated.

Merl Mooney
Jack Brumbaugh
Bob Levison
Jack Christiansen
Ginny McCarthy

Please contact me if you know someone who'd be interested in having one.

Ken Williams, CGCS
(650) 323-0937

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Trial of Re-Purposed Brick for Path at #6 Tee

We're experimenting with the use of crushed brick which has been re-purposed from building demolition.  The material looks attractive and appears to make a nice path.  We're looking for a more attractive, sustainable option for our gravel paths.

                                                                                              (click to enlarge)

Monterey Pine Removals - #5

(click photos to enlarge)

This Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) on Hole #5 was severely attacked by bark beetles.  Fortunately we've planted smaller native oaks nearby that will quickly fill the vacant space.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bark Beetles, Drought and Monterey Pines

Many of the older Monterey Pines on the golf course are showing stress this year.  Some of the stress is drought related, as the rainfall never amounted to enough to deeply water the trees. And as the older trees become stressed, it provides an opportunity for the bark beetles to invade.  The trees' defense mechanism is their sticky sap, which normally stops the beetle larvae from advancing.  But as the trees age, they produce less sap and the beetles gain the advantage.

This has been an ongoing problem in the Monterey Forest, and to a lesser extent here.  Below are some photos showing the effects of the stress and the beetles, and a close up of the frass (sawdust) produced by the beetle larvae while tunneling.  The tunnels under the bark are very problematic.  Once the tunnels become extensive, they girdle the tree, preventing nutrients from reaching the root system.  Then, with a dysfunctional root system, the tree canopy dries and the tree perishes.

Unfortunately, treatments have proved ineffective, as the beetle larvae are protected by the tree's bark.  Injections have shown promise, but have not solved the problem.  The best recommendations are to keep the trees as healthy as possible, and plant replacement trees that are naturally resistant.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Fertilization!

Spring is here and it's time to fertilize the golf course again!  Look for our spreader applying Polymer Coated 24-4-4 prills to the turf.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Aerial Footage From A Quadcopter

Here's a link to some video shot by a Quadcopter with a GoPro camera.  It was shot by an amateur hobbyist who lives near the course. See if you recognize anything!

Monday, April 7, 2014

What Things Make A Golf Course Superintendent Grumpy?

Shenanigans like this make a Golf Course Superintendent grumpy!

Respect the course, respect the game!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Another Couple GoPro Vids

Here are links to another couple GoPro Vids done Thursday 2/13/14.......

Great view of #7 Fairway

Bunker Raking Near #5 Green

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A GoPro Video Shot On Holes #6 & #7

Superintendent's View of #6 and #7

Here is a glimpse of what it is like to ride around the Stanford GC with me (and Pirate!)

For a Higher Quality view, please go to