Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Warm Weather and Winter Projects

With the unseasonably warm temperatures and the additional moisture, the golf course feels more like April then December. The greens are growing slowly but require us to cut them a couple times a week. The overseeded Rye Grass in the fairways, tees and approaches has come in really nicely and is growing rapidly. Normally this time of year we've done our last cut on everything and were just focusing on winter projects but we've had to spend a couple days a week this month devoted to making sure the turf has a good cut on it and is playable. Below is a shot of number 2 fairway.

Even though we've had to devote time to keeping the course mowed we've also begun some of our winter projects. One of them that I'm really pleased with has been trimming the trees that have been blocking 14 fairway. Over time the branches on the right side of the hole going down the hill have almost completely blocked any shot to the fairway. This has created an unfair shot from the tee requiring golfers to take a blind shot over the trees or use an iron and try to lay it up on the fairway. Both shots required perfection and the dogleg style of the hole meant that you spent a good amount of time searching for a ball that may or may not be in play. 

As you can see the trees are blocking nearly half of the fairway

Thats me in the tree, you never know when training will come into play
You can see the huge improvement the removal of those limbs make. You can see almost all the way to the green now with a clean shot for any level golfer. 

One of the other projects we tackled was locating and cleaning out the drains on 14 green. This green sits in a bowl of sorts and is the lowest point on the back nine. All the water drains towards the green and it stays pretty damp throughout the entire season. We were able to locate one of the outlets and after running a hose up it found 3 more outlets and 2 vents on the high side. While I wish we could've found more this is a huge success since we didn't know where any of the drains were when we started.

Carlton running water down one of the vents clearing out all the debris that have been building up over the years 
As is usual out here we found more oddities in the ground. This looks like its an old school style drain line, virtually useless at this point.
Water from the hose clearing out the lines 

We're continuing to improve the course as we can. We made leaps and bounds this year not only in our turf quality but also in our rounds. As we wrap up the best year for the course since 2010 were looking forward to 2016 and hoping for another fantastic year. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Bunker Renovations 2015

This year we tackled the challenging job of making our bunkers more playable. After years of neglect most of the bunkers around the course we essentially unplayable. The sand that was there had become packed down turning them into a concrete like substance. On top of that they wouldn't drain, even when getting as little as an inch of rain the bunkers would become water hazards.

We took 2 of the worst bunkers and did a complete overhaul, digging out the old sand, installing drainage and then installing new sand. On the rest we "flipped" the bunkers, a process that involved moving all the sand to one side, digging out the edges and then redistributing the sand evenly over the bunkers. What was interesting in this process was that we found drainage in most of the bunkers. We had been led to believe there wasn't any due to the "water hazard" effect that would happen after rain events, but after cleaning out the drain lines we stayed dry for most of the year.

Below are some shots of this process. Hope you enjoy.

Cutting in the Drain Lines on the First bunker we did. 

After the Drain Lines have been installed 
We originally installed a bunker liner, we later came back and removed it after realizing it was causing more problems than it was solving. 
Bunker on number 2 after the sand was installed and smoothed out. 

After pushing all the sand up to the front edge we went through and redid the bottom edge

This was the first discovery of "drainage"

Old school style drainage that we found under 12" of sand. Essentially its gravel that had been "taco" folded by bunker blanket with a single drain line exiting. Not efficient or probably sustainable but it seems to be working. Water drains into the blanket which was placed at the low end, enters the pipe and then flows out of the bunker, or at least thats the idea lol. 

after the drain had been exposed

Clearing out the drain line using a quick connect and 1" hose

12' of sand. The top layer was so packed you would think it was down to the soil shell. However, what we found was that there was plenty of sand in the bunkers it just need to be "fluffed" and exposed.

All in all I would say the process this summer was a success. The bunkers were more playable and easier to maintain. There  are still a couple of bunkers that we need to come back and completely overhaul with new drains and sand. However it was an eye opening and interesting process discovering what was "under the soil".

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fall Color

Never is the golf course more beautiful than in the fall. The trees that cause so much headache during the summer turn brilliant shades of orange and yellow. The overseeded Rye grass in the fairways is growing like wild fire giving a gorgeous green contrast to the leaves. While this provides picturesque golfing conditions it means our staff is working double time to keep the golf course in top playing condition.

We spend the majority of each day blowing leaves off of the greens and the in play areas. Luckily we have many areas around the course that are out of play that we can blow the leaves into. We are also mowing just about every day to keep Rye grass on the fairways, tees, and approaches under control. Its a busy time at the course but its satisfying and enjoyable work. Below are some photos from around the course this week.

Gorgeous color on #14 
 This monster has been hanging around 18 tee this week 

 The overseeded Rye Grass taking off in the fairways
 The 15th hole 
A view from the pro shops back Deck

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Child I never wanted

Anyone that knows me knows the frustration I've experienced over our 17th green here at Rock Creek Golf Course. We began the renovation last September and its been nothing short of a disaster ever since. From digging out drain lines in the rain to not being able to establish the bent grass seed as we planned, its been nothing but pain and agony for me and our staff.

We eventually sodded the entire green in May only to lose 65% of it in July. We decided to cut the damaged areas out and re-sod them, bringing in 1,500 square feet of sod. We lost about half of the new sod in 8 hours one Sunday. After trying to recover what we could we ended up takin plugs from our aerification of the other greens and putting them down on about half of the dead areas and sodded the rest from the nursery green at our "mother" course.

Its been a long process, 14 months to be exact, and we still don't have a playable green. However, I'm happy to say we are close to being able to open the green. Right now we're just waiting for a few areas to fill in and to bring the height of cut (HOC) down to our other greens. We are at about a 1/3 of an inch on 17 right now and we need to be down around 1/8 of an inch.

Below is a video of us sodding the green for the 3rd time as well as a photo of what the green currently looks like. We currently have put down over 4,500 square feet of sod on a green that is just barely 2,500 square feet. Here's to the insanity of golf course maintenance and hoping that we have a playable green prior to the season end.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


My name is Peter. I am a turf grass enthusiast. My entire life has been spent maintaining turf in the transition zone. At 11 years old I started working at Rocking Horse Farm, helping out around the stables and cleaning out the fence line. It was there that I first found my passion for maintaining turf grass. Although the mowing and weed whacking I was doing was far from Country Club quality the satisfaction I received after a hard days work resonated deep within me.

I began to pursue my new found passion by attending a 2 week Landscaping course when I was 15. It was there that I first learned the proper techniques in turf and plant care. I quickly began doing work for all of my parents friends and with that came the decision to start my own landscaping company.

After graduating from high school I attended a year long trade school and got certified in Property Care and Management. It was there that I got my first taste of golf course maintenance. Embassy Hills Golf Course was a 9 hole facility that had 2 sets of tees, in case you wanted to play 18, you would get a different look at the greens the second time around. I was in charge of the whole thing. spraying, mowing, maintaining the reels, irrigation repair, all of it was on my shoulders and I loved it. I learned every aspect of golf course maintenance and fell in love with it all. The irrigation system was antiquated and completely useless, half the holes were shut down because there were so many leaks. There was a combination of Rain Bird, Toro, and Hunter heads sprinkled throughout the course. Along with the pipe leaks there were numerous crossed wired and box issues, most of the time when you programmed water different heads would come on than the day before.

The Course was in bad shape but I didn't see that. I saw a blank slate with my name on it. I tackled the irrigation first asking my instructor as many questions as I could. The course had no money and was "busy" if we got 20 golfers, all of my repairs to the heads came from parts that had been stored in the shed for years. Unbeknown to me this would be a huge asset, I got to work on all 3 major heads at the same time and learn them inside and out, even down to replacing hydraulic lines and stators. By the time I left I had all the irrigation in good working order and we were even able to program run cycles over night and sleep easy.

I left Embassy Hills Golf Course and my trade school with a strong sense of what turf care required and looked like and despite the joy I had working at the Course I was still set on owning a Landscaping co. Flash forward almost 10 years and that passion for turf maintenance is still there. I have owned a Landscaping Company and I loved it. But even more than that I love seeing fog roll over a fairway as the sun peeks above the trees while I'm checking moisture on my greens. I love seeing the fruit of my hard work every day, the challenge of keeping a Bentgrass green alive in august, and the challenge of developing new strategies and plans to decrease disease pressure without blowing our budget. I'm enthusiastic about my job and my career, I never want to stop learning and I'm not afraid to ask questions of it means I can do my job better. I am the Guardian of my greens.

I am Peter Danaher, Superintendent Rock Creek Golf Course.

Peter Danaher, Golf Course Superintendent, Resume

Peter S. Danaher
13406 Misty Way Fredericksburg VA 22407
Phone: 540-424-9535

Objective:  To obtain a high level position where I can utilize the skills and knowledge I have gained through managing turf in the transition zone over the last 10 years.

Rutgers University 
·      Professional Golf Turf Management School Class of 2016
Germanna Community College
·      Business and Accounting Classes
International ALERT Academy
·      Property Care and Management Certification

Work Experience:
Rock Creek Golf Course, Washington DC
Superintendent - 2013 to Present
·      Brought historic Rock Creek Golf Course out of decline and restored it to its former glory and luster by improving turf quality and implementing standards of excellence
·      Increased revenue and rounds by 12% in my first year by increasing quality of the playing surface and addressing and resolving long standing problems on the course
·      Renovated the iconic 17th green to restore it to its notoriety as one of the top three par three holes in the Maryland, DC, Virginia region as described by the Washingtonian in 2008
·      Rebuilt and restored the current irrigation system on the tees and greens, fixed or replaced over 60% of the valves and 50% of the heads on site
·      Collaborated with the National Park Service to develop ecologically sound weed control programs and environmentally friendly management programs
·      Increased productivity and efficiency by developing teaching and training programs that emphasized standards of excellence, safety, and integrity
·      Oversaw daily maintenance operations and helped develop long-term strategies for the success of the golf course
·      Rebuilt 35% of the existing tees and designed and built 18 new tees

Wellspring Lawn and Landscape, Fredericksburg Virginia
Owner – 2011 to 2013
·      ­­Increased managed accounts by over 50% a year for three straight years by providing the highest quality service and producing an excellent “need to have” product
·      Designed, planned and managed finances and materials on numerous landscaping projects
·      Developed strategies to increase efficiency and revenue
·      Managed projects such as maintenance, installs, tree trimming and felling, equipment upkeep, retaining walls, and drainage issues
·      Experience hiring and managing crews

Cannon Ridge Golf Course, Fredericksburg Virginia 
Irrigation Tech – 2010 to 2011
·      One of Golf Digests 4 star best places to play 06, 08, 09
·      Prepared the course for numerous golf tournaments
·      Troubleshot and resolved wiring issue
·      Gained experience fixing various pipe sizes and valves
·      Rebuilt numerous tees
·      Participated in daily operations and upkeep

Peeks Nursery and Lawn Care, Fredericksburg Virginia
Lead Foreman – 2007 to 2010
·      Supervised resources and crew on a daily basis
·      Managed maintenance of 15-20 accounts daily
·      Developed strategies to increase productivity and efficiency

Embassy Hills Golf Course, Big Sandy Texas
Assistant Superintendent – 2006 to 2007
·      Developed strategies to solve weed and maintenance issues
·      Troubleshot and rebuilt entire irrigation system
·      Developed strategies to handle wiring issues around the course
·      Fixed problems with the pump and the pump intake
·      Trained on proper tree felling, trimming and topping procedures

Related Skills:
·      Experience operating heavy equipment
·      Experience maintaining and setting reels
·      Experience developing teaching and training programs
·      Experience maintaining golf course equipment
·      Experience managing diverse crews
·      Experienced in tree felling, trimming, and topping in high value areas
·      Proficient with chain saw maintenance and operation
·      Proficient with operating and calibrating sprayers
·      Experience in construction and home remodeling  
·      Experience in equipment maintenance
·      Extensive experience in planning and budgeting projects