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Spring update at Haymaker

Haymaker Spring Update

It’s always exciting to announce the start of a new golf season!  Though there is much work to be done preparing the grounds for opening day, Mother Nature and that beautiful spring sunshine is taking care of the snowpack quickly.

 At this time the course is clear of snow but the grounds are saturated and holding water high in the profile which is preventing us form operating equipment and beginning our maintenance practices. 

This week our grounds crew will begin the process of preparing the course.  Our first order of business will be aerification of the greens.  Now before you begin to dread the thought of bumpy greens let me explain the process for 2019.  This season we’ll be using a different setup.  Instead of running the usual 5/8” hollow ejectors which remove plugs, require heavy topdressing and take a fair amount of time to heal, we’ll be running a 3/8” solid tine.  The benefit of the 3/8” solid tine will be less topdressing, cleanup will be quicker and the healing time will be sped up.  What does this mean for you?  The condition of the greens will be wonderful for your early season rounds. 

Now that I have you feeling good about the greens I have to add one section that is disappointing to us all.  Vole damage on the grounds is fairly extensive this season.  Though we employ several tactics attempting to negate the damage caused by this unpleasant pest, no matter what you do, you have to take it in stride and this year is no exception.  We are seeing damage around the greens, approaches, collars, low lying areas near drain basins, tee boxes and in the rough.  Just like other years when we’ve had considerable damage we simply focus our attention on highly playable areas like the approaches and tees.  Once these areas have been addressed we’ll move onto other damaged areas.  Although the damage is unsightly and can provide you with an unfair lie, please be assured that we’re doing everything in our power to create favorable playing conditions.

Tomorrow we will charge our irrigation system.  This process also involves checking all irrigation heads for proper function and testing communication between our central computer and the irrigation controllers on the golf course.  Charging the irrigation system lets us know how the system wintered and if certain areas will need repair.  When the pumps are fired we’re looking for the pumps to stabilize and shut down.  This tells us that the system is tight.  If the pumps stabilize but continue to fire then we are out looking for the problems and finding solutions.  This process will be completed by our irrigation tech Rick Marchewka and I can say that he is the best there is!

There are several other tasks that will need to be completed in order for the course to open with favorable conditions.  The bunkers will be tilled and turned over.  This process involves our staff using landscaping style rakes, shovels and other hand tools to probe the bunkers and redistribute sand allowing the bunkers to be more consistent.  Debris left on the grounds from animals and Mother Nature will be cleaned, cleared and removed.  On certain areas of the course we’ll be using a small harrow while in other areas of the course we’ll be using large pull behind harrows to turn over and open up some of the rough grass.  After the cleaning and prep work is complete we will put a first cut on the grounds and lay the stripes for the 2019 season. 

We have plenty of work to do on this end but our trained staff is eager to begin work.  I have the utmost confidence to say the checklist will be handled with no problem this season. 

Thank you to all golfers who come out and enjoy the Haymaker Golf Course.  We appreciate your patience and understanding as always.  Hit em’ straight!

Assistant Superintendent, Adam Sando

DiNapoli set to Follow in the Footsteps of Golfing Greats

by Suzi Mitchell

Eleven-year-old, Michael DiNapoli who calls Haymaker his home course is about to follow in the footsteps of Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. Like both golfing greats once did, Michael earned a spot in The Optimist International Junior Golf Championship, which will be played on July 17-22, at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Florida. Six hundred and sixty junior golfers from 30 nations will be there, staking a claim on the winning title.

In May, Michael was in Boulder for a soccer game, when his Dad, Mike and golf coach Andrew Donner, Director of Instruction at Haymaker, suggested he enter a golf tournament being staged by the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado at Aurora Hills Golf Course. It was Michael’s third ever tournament.

It was a qualifier for the Optimist event but the intention was simply to give Michael some exposure to competitive play. He tied for 4thplace, and earned a spot in the 12-13 year age bracket, plus $500 towards the $3,000 it will cost to make the trip. “Its an amazing opportunity,” says Andrew, who has been helping the DiNapolis plan and raise funds.

“I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” says Michael, who can be found on the Haymaker practice range four days a week, fine tuning his talent. He is hoping his favorite club – the putter – will not let him down. “Everything happens on the green,” he says. He will be one of the youngest players in his division, due to when his birthday falls in July, and will play against competitors hailing from Argentina to Thailand.

No doubt this humble Haymaker junior will embrace the challenge with his trademark smile and sportsmanship. “I am so grateful to my Dad for getting me into golf (he started in his backyard at age three), he’s my favorite person to play with and I am thankful to coach Andrew,” Michael says.

Onward to the 2018 Golf Season

by Adam Sando, Assistant Superintendent

I would like to extend a welcome back to all golfers for the 2018 season. The Haymaker is in great early season shape thanks to the hard work of our maintenance staff.

I would like to start by addressing the most commonly asked question this time of year; “What’s up with the greens”?  Every season we begin aerification on the greens ASAP.  No other process on the course receives more scrutiny and ire than aerification.  It goes without saying that this cultural practice is aggressive and has an undesirable effect on the surface of the greens.  It’s difficult to convey to players that the long term benefits of the process far outweigh the temporary inconvenience but I promise you that this process is the most critical step to guarantee that Haymaker’s greens continue to thrive for years to come. 

Why aerify?

  • Allows water to move into the soil profile more efficiently
  • Increases the space available for oxygen to enter the green, this promotes healthy roots early and prepares the greens for heavy traffic and maintenance
  • Removal of organic matter from the upper profile of the green. At Haymaker our greens are USGA standard putting greens built upon a sand base.  We continually remove the organic matter from the upper portion of the green and fill the voids with topdress sand to keep the organic levels in check.  When organic levels increase the thatch layer can act as a sponge holding moisture and creating a potential for disease.
  • And finally, aerification alleviates compaction caused by traffic from both maintenance practices and play throughout the golf season. This also softens the surface allowing them to be more receptive to approach shots.

Where are we now and what’s the next steps for the greens?

Every season the greens react differently to aerification.  Most of this has to do with a combination of weather and nutrient recovery/overlap from seasons past.  Our approach to nutrition is not on a whim but rather is calculated and planned from a soil analysis that’s done every season to see what we do or do not lack as far as micro and macro nutrients are concerned.  What this means is that when the greens wake up from a winters’ nap we feed them exactly what they require to put them in an optimum state for growth and recovery.  This season what we seemed to lack from said combination was that soil temps did not climb as quickly as we would have liked.  Now that soil temps are on the rise and the bentgrass is fed, the greens are beginning to fill in nicely and growth has taken off.

The next step for the greens is a gradual lowering of the mowing height and our first vertical cutting. At the moment our greens are at our highest height which is .187” or 3/16”.  On Saturday morning the mowers will be lowered to .171” or 11/64”.  The following Saturday,6/2, our greens mowers will be brought down to our target height for the summer months of .156” or 5/32”. The lowering of the greens mowers in combination with scheduled rolling will dramatically increase the rolling distance of your putt (greens speed) and also provide a smooth and uniform surface.

Our first vertical cutting of the greens will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week 5/29 and 5/30.  This will also help get a clean clip on the greens and even out the surface.  If you are interested in reading about the vertical cutting process at Haymaker it is posted on Turf Talk from 2017.

Our goal every season is to afford customers at Haymaker an opportunity to play quality and consistent greens. The month of May is always a bit frustrating for both players and the maintenance staff as we all want the greens to recover quickly.  In short time we’ll be there and you can bet that that 10 foot left to righter will do exactly what you read. 

Stay tuned for upcoming plans and projects in the month of June.


Haymaker Golf Course
34855 US-40 East
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487