Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August at Swope

 Summer's fading days



(It's a beaut, Clark!)

The end is finally in sight, and what a month it was to get here. August was brutal. The first and only rainstorm of the month, that has affected us, is happening as I write this on the 31st, and what a sweet sound it is. The course was beyond crispy, and our mental states were burnt out. Any precipitation we receive not only hydrates the turf, but helps our spirits. When mother nature gives us a break, we welcome it with open arms. August in its entirety was plain hot. A cool hour or two in the morning was soon forgotten as the temperatures rise to more than 90 day after day, making for a brutal afternoon. During stints of heat like this, its strictly survival mode. We mow in the morning and throw water every afternoon, a process when repeated for 20 plus days can wear a man down. To bring this paragraph full circle, this rain is a damn god send.


(Peaceful morning before the afternoon heat.)


(A normal afternoon view of hand-watering greens.)

Changing it up, we got rid of two eye sore tree's on the periphery of holes 10 and 18. These trees were monsters; tall, wide, and deader than Thomas H. Swope. Because of their size, we had to bring in an independent contractor. SAFETY Tree Service out of Overland Park got the job done in two days, leaving nothing behind but tire tracks and wood chips. 
 

(Before.)


(During.)


(After.)

September is welcomed with open arms. Cooler weather, shorter days, and football; there really isn't anything more to say.


Except....


Fix your divots.

Friday, July 30, 2021

July Heat

 Sprinkler Season at Swope

(The worst employee of Swope, Abby.)

Holy humidity. July finally showed the true colors of a Kansas City summer. The temperatures sky rocketed up to high 90's, and the humidity followed suit. Just tying your shoes outside would cause a man to sweat through his shorts. Luckily, most patrons took these days off to stay inside and avoid anything without climate control. The course doesn't have that luxury. There is no better time to be able to spot irrigation/sprinkler problems than during the dog days of summer. Somewhat comparable to 'where there's smoke, there's fire', 'where there's dead grass, there's a dead sprinkler'.


(Sprinkler on #11 with electrical issues.)

Our most common issue with irrigation are sprinkler malfunctions. Problems include: the valve from the main line to the sprinkler, the electrical control box on each individual head, the sprinkler motor malfunctioning and not turning, and a few others. Its always a process of elimination, going from most simple repair to the possibility of having to isolate an entire hole. As you could imagine, isolating an entire hole for a single sprinkler in the middle of July is daunting, so when problem can be remedied without turning off a main valve, we cross our fingers for those easy fixes. 


(A bald guy rewiring sprinkler on #17.)


(Instant gratification.)

The left sprinkler above had been inactive for years. Apparently, there hasn't been this type of heat for a few of them, and a huge dry spot appeared on the front right approach of #17. We, myself and Sam, knew that there should be a head there, but had never seen it run or where it was. After contacting multiple past superintendents, it was deemed to be a break in the wiring, causing the sprinkler to be inoperable. One remedy to this was to re-wire the dead sprinkler to a working sprinkler 30 feet away, which is exactly what we did. It was a tedious repair, but the feeling of hitting the 'Run' button in the control box and seeing the water fly is a hell of a reward. 

As always, we will continue to improve Swope Memorial Golf Course, sprinkler by sprinkler, to make it a home course to be proud of. 


Oh, and fix your divots!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Summer Season

 

Aaaaaaand we're back!


It's been two months since we last spoke, and believe it or not, we don't have much to report on! May was nothing but rain and cool weather, then in true Kansas City fashion we were hand-watering greens in 95 degrees and full sun shine. Within a week, our course went from flush and green to crisp and yellow. After a month of drought conditions, here we are at the end of June going on the 5th straight day of rain and 70's. This is not the best golfing weather, however you will not hear myself or Sam complaining about spring weather sneaking a week into summer. 


(Summer help throwing water on 9.)

We've gained two new employees this summer. Jack from New York, New York and Ian from Sublette, Kansas. Jack is visiting family for the summer and this is the 16 y/o's first job. He picked up hand-watering on the first day and has continued to improve. Ian came to us from working at Buffalo Dunes in Garden City, Ks. He's pursuing a degree in Computer Studies at JOCO, but is a great helping hand out here this season. Good help is hard to find, especially these days where getting paid to stay home is actually a thing. We are thankful for these guys and hope they continue to improve.


(7 green complex with native grasses around bunkers.)

Okay, for the big news, we have trimmed down our bunker face grasses. The grasses that made great golfers question their love for the game. Aesthetically the bunker complexes were menacing, and added a challenging approach to certain greens. However, they had a tendency to be too penalizing when already playing out of the bunker. We knocked down the native grasses to help golfers not lose their balls, while still keeping a thicker, taller medium to play out of. This was done on 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 10. Also, this job wouldn't have been possible without our summer help, so if you were a golfer that vocalized your disdain for these areas, make sure to vocalize your thanks to Jack and Ian when you see them out there....also thank you for all the balls we found in these areas.

That's all for now, enjoy the cool rain, and remember

Fix your divots!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Welcome Back to Swope

Golf season is back! 

(Drone photo of 18 - courtesy of Dimitri Lash)

Hopefully this blog finds you all alive and well. The cold winter months are finally behind us and the sun is starting to be a normal sight again. That means Swope is back to business as usual. It's just the end of March and you'd think it was the middle of July with the golfers enjoying a round out here. Our greens are starting to green up and heal from Spring aerification, fairways are waking up from dormancy, and the rough is ready to eat some Pro-V1's. 



(Spring aerification on #4. We went with a curved path to avoid the previous aerification hole pattern.)

As mentioned before, we are around 4 weeks since aerification and our greens are close to fully healed. Twice a year, we aerify our greens to promote new growth in the greens, along with allowing nutrients and fresh air to reach the roots. This is one of our largest tasks of the year and it went smoothly, luckily. Here at the end of March all that's left is slight dimples.

(Safety posts for cart security.)

Aerification is expected each year; having our carts stolen is not. Some thieves made their way onto the course one night and stole two of our carts. They had made a trail from behind 12 tee box, through our dump pile, and then rode the rocks near the train tracks all the way down to 67th street. With a new fleet of carts on the way, this problem needed to be addressed yesterday. Our crew, with the help of a jackhammer and auger, installed and concreted 37 posts around our cart parking area. Also, the trees we cut down near 2 green are now piled on what was their trail behind 12. If the thief is reading this right now, please don't do it again, jack-hammering through asphalt and cement is a killer on your upper body. Literally, I'd rather be hand-watering greens in sweltering heat than do that job again.

Any who, welcome back to Swope Memorial Golf Course. As always, we will be doing everything we can to make this a home course to be proud of.

Remember:

Kansas State was uninvited,
Gonzaga's Center pivots,
KU got whipped,
Fix your divots!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Winter is here

 January here and there

                        
(Big Sky, Montana)

Winter, as always, is our favorite time of the year. There are no greens to worry about, golfers to keep happy, or sprinklers malfunctioning.  The projects we day dream about during the heat of the summer can get started. Not to mention, some much needed vacation time. The pictures above are from Big Sky, Montana, taken on my annual ski trip. Besides hand-watering greens, getting to the mountains is my second favorite thing to do.

(Two dead trees removed on the left side of #2 green complex.)

Course aesthetics are important to every person who plays Swope. From clean fairways to clean backdrops, we are always looking for areas to improve. Tree work is a large task, but can bring large pay offs. We took down two large, dead, mangled Elm trees from #2's green complex. This will improve sunlight and air to the green, and also a beautiful view of #13's corridor. Less noticeable, a dead tree on the left side of hole #12's green was also dropped. Opening up an already picturesque backdrop. 


(New tee markers for the 2021 season.)

Staying on the course aesthetics topic, we are finally getting rid of our old, aluminum parachute style tee markers. It seems like every other day more paint would chip off, showing off the years/layers of re-paints, or they would be in pieces. Hopefully, distressed golfers won't take their snap-hook drive frustration out on our new designs like they did our old ones. We went for a simple flag design with 1934, paying homage to Swope's Tillinghast design's inaugural year. 

We hope to enjoy one more month of cold until the course starts calling our names. 

Until then:

- Fix your divots
- Tip your waiter
-     Go Chiefs!!!