Allister MacKenzie

“A golf course should be made interesting and a good test of golf by the tilt of the greens and the character of the undulations.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Water Restrictions

Water Restrictions have been postponed due to excessive rainfall.  We just received our year end report detailing our water usage.  Our staff tracked weather data daily and did a great job utilizing every drop allocated to us the past 6 months.  The graph below shows our allotment in red and our actual usage in blue.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


We are off to a great start with rain totals now approaching 17.5"!  Significant rainfall is forecasted for most of the week and the long term forecast looks to be more of the same.  We could easily reach 20" within the next ten days.  The City of Santa Cruz is calling for 35"- 40" of rain for us to not be under restrictions next year.

Most of the seed we planted in the fairways germinated and will continue to mature and grow as long as the temperatures continue to be moderate.  A fertilizer application on the fairways is scheduled as soon as we get a break in the weather and are able to get some equipment on the turf.

The drought has consequences beyond loss of turf.  Turf has more competition from broadleaf weeds due to lack of coverage.  Weeds are very opportunistic and will fill voids where turf is absent.  New seedlings are vulnerable to damage from herbicide applications until they mature.  The new seedlings in the fairways are now mature enough for an application.  We will make a herbicide application during our next break in the weather.

It is important to recognize how far we have come the past 30 days.  We will continue to do everything we can to improve course conditions as we distance ourselves from one of the worst droughts this area has experienced over the last 50 years.  Thank you for your support during a challenging time.

December 14th 2014

September 13th 2014 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Well Driller is Here

If I had a dollar for every time Ken Woods asked me about the well driller I could retire and buy a share at Pasatiempo.  It's been a long and frustrating wait but the well driller is on property preparing the site for the drill rig.  The actual drill will be here next week depending on the weather and access to the site.  This is the beginning of a process we expect to last 4-6 weeks.  Cart traffic around the area could be diverted at anytime so please pay attention to signs or instructions from Ken and his staff.  We are in the process of building a temporary tee on the right side of #12 at 245 yards.  This should make for a fun drivable par 4.  Keep in mind the well drillers will be working everyday until the well is completed.  We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause while playing the 11th green and 12th tee.

Temporary Tee #12

First Day

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fairway Maintenance

The fairways are starting to fill in from the recent rains and overseeding. Rainfall totals since October 1st are now 2.6".  It looks like we are going to get some more help with rain extending into the 10 day forecast.  We are currently doing everything we can to germinate and protect the new seedlings.  Fairway heights were raised, mowing frequency was decreased and carts will be restricted more often and for longer periods of time after rain events.  Fairway heights are currently .600" and mowing frequency is bi-weekly.  These changes are not uncommon under normal winter conditions.  The density of turfgrass and germination of new seedlings has more of an impact on playability right now than mowing heights.  For example, #1 and #9 are mowed at .500" but look and play like they are maintained at a much lower height of cut because of the high density and maturity of turfgrass.  New seedlings germinating in the other fairways are difficult to cut until they mature and harden off and combined with low turf density give the appearance of much higher mowing heights .  We now seem to find our ball in areas void of turf or just beginning to germinate in the middle of the fairway.  If you currently play the ball down this can be frustrating and the complete opposite of the extremely low heights of cut and firm conditions we became accustomed to this past season.  We ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to grow in the fairways and increase turf density.  The pictures below shows how turf density and new growth can mask actual mowing heights.  The difference between the two heights of cut is only .100"!

.500" #1 Fairway
.600" #10 Fairway 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fairway Seeding

The past aeration went very well and the greens are healing up ahead of schedule.  We slit seeded #1 and #9 fairway during aeration and the results are very positive.  We accumulated another .5" of rain over the weekend and the forecast looks like we are going to get another rain event Friday and Saturday.

We have decided to move forward and slit seed the rest of the fairways.  We are optimistic with a few long days most of the fairways will be completed this week.  The process will involve slit seeding, top-dressing, dragging and fertilizing the remaining fairways.  We believe with favorable weather over the next 14 days this process will fill in many areas void of turf and improve playability through the winter.  We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this process may cause.

slit seed #11 fairway today

12 days after slit seed #9 fairway

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall Aeration

The golf course is closed today and tomorrow for aeration.  We will be aerating the greens, tees and approaches.  We need several more days of rain before we will consider seeding the fairways.  If given the right conditions we will utilize our new seeder in the fairways and not aerate.  Seeding the fairways two directions with the new seeder will give us the best opportunity to fill in the fairways with the least amount of disruption to members and golfers.  The use of the new seeder this Fall would not substitute future aerations next season.  We are also utilizing these days to trim several trees along #1 and #9.  We thank you for your support during these important maintenance days.  See you on Wednesday.    


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cart Restrictions

Rain fell throughout the night for the second time this season.  The total rainfall the past week is now over an inch.  It is very apparent the golf course will need to be protected from mechanical damage in its current condition.  If we receive rainfall carts will be restricted to paths only.  Our maintenance practices in the fairways and roughs will also be reduced.  Until we start to see significant turf coverage in the roughs and fairways we will take a conservative approach to cart traffic and maintenance practices.  The timeline for this is weather dependent.  If we receive a few more days like today we are optimistic we will be able to aerate and seed the fairways and roughs the week of aeration (October13th-16th).  We thank you for your support and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Drought From Above

It's been a long dry summer.  The effects of the drought and water restrictions are having a significant impact on the aesthetics and playability of the golf course.  The drought has been a huge learning experience for all of us.  I wish it upon know one but can't deny the experience will make me a better golf course superintendent and will ultimately provide long lasting benefits to Pasatiempo.  The drought has forced the issue with local municipalities.  We now have offers for a long term contract for recycled water and are drafting a proposal.  The well drillers will begin exploring our own water supply very soon.  The pictures below say to all.

June 2014

July 2014

September 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Digital Maps

We are releasing 5 maps this week.  These maps confirm #9 and #11 only have 3-4 pin locations.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Maintenance Day

Today is our final maintenance day of the year.  The greens will be vented with a solid tine, top-dressed and flushed.  The maintenance days and cultural practices are having a very positive impact on plant health and playability.  The current root structure and overall plant health is exceptional for Pasatiempo  this time of year.  This was confirmed by the USGA agronomist last week during our annual site visit.  Just a reminder aeration is scheduled October 13th -16th.

Digital Mapping

We are releasing 4 more maps this week for viewing.  Please look at #8 and tell us where you want the pin.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More Digital Mapping

We've been asked to release more contour maps of our greens.  We will release 4 greens every week for the next month.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall Aeration and Seeding

Fall aeration is scheduled for October 13th-16th.  We will aerate the greens, tees and approaches during our scheduled aeration dates.  We are planning for two scenarios on the fairways and roughs.  One, we receive enough rainfall in October to saturate the soil and immediately begin aerating and seeding the roughs and fairways.  The window of opportunity will most likely not be within the scheduled aeration dates.  Two, we do not receive enough early rainfall and are forced to wait until next Spring.  The cooler temperatures, short days and low sunlight throughout the golf course will limit the amount of Ryegrass we can germinate after the first week of November.  This does not mean the course will  remain in its current state throughout the winter.  The enormous bank of Poa seed in the soil will start to germinate once the rains begin and will fill in many areas throughout the winter.  Poa seed thrives in cool wet environments which is one reason it dominates golf courses along the California coast.  Many factors will dictate what we ultimately do and most of them we have no control over.  If the opportunity presents itself we have the equipment and materials ready to aerate and seed the entire golf course.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Drop Zone

The new drop zone on #16 is now open.  The drop zone is an additional option if your ball is lost in the water hazard.

MacKenzie enjoying the new drop zone! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Digital Archive

We are pleased to announce the digital archive of the greens, green surrounds and fairway bunkers are complete and in our possession.  We would like to thank Dean Gump for all of his hard work during the restoration and recommending this project to the green committee last year and Scott Pool, Terra Shapers LLC, for scanning the golf course.   Below are a few examples of the contour maps.  All pinable areas are green to yellow!



Monday, August 11, 2014

Maintenance Day

Today is the 3rd scheduled maintenance day of the season.  Maintenance days give us an opportunity to complete cultural practices which would otherwise be difficult during normal play.  Today we vented the greens with a small 1/4" solid tine, lightly top-dressed and flushed.

Order of Operations

1. Mow greens
2. Vent greens
3. Roll greens
4. Top-dress greens
5. Spray greens with products to assist with the flush (remove salts and bicarbonates)
6. Apply granular amendments to assist with the flush
7.  Water in everything (flush)

This time of year is when we start to see a decrease in root mass.  The decrease in root mass makes the greens more susceptible to compaction and thinning caused by casual foot traffic and mechanical wear.  We are also entering the beginning of nematode season.  Historically nematodes at Pasatiempo become active early winter to early spring but other coastal courses frequently experience activity starting now. The best defense against a nematode outbreak will always be a healthy plant.  Maintenance days give us the time to perform cultural practices needed to provide an environment for healthy turf.  We thank you for your understanding and support.  The next maintenance day will be on Monday, September 8th.
Solid 1/4" Tine (Vent)
Before Roll


Recycled Water Update

Below is a summary version of the status of acquiring more irrigation water for our course. We are confident that this will be the last summer without additional irrigation water. We are working daily to get into a position where we can make a presentation to the shareholders on the budgeted cost of the project.

1.       The well drillers are extremely busy (the County has issued 50% more permits this summer vs. last summer) and will start a test well as soon as possible. We currently do not have an arrival date but are optimistic work will begin this year.  We have explored all other options for different drillers and we will stay the course with our existing selection.
2.       We have received separate “offers” from both the City of Scotts Valley and the Scotts Valley Water District for the cost of the existing water moving through the pipe and into the Pacific Ocean and the cost to treat that water and operate the plant. We have a place to start negotiations.
3.       We have hired a lawyer who specializes in these matters, Chris Sanders. Chris is with the firm of Ellison, Schneider & Harris L.L.P.
4.       We still need to receive approval from the CDPH (California Department of Public Health) to irrigate with the existing waste water (secondary) that is traveling down Graham Hill.  We have received a draft of the application and will be finalizing it in the next week. All indications are that we will receive approval.
5.       We are working with the pump station contractor, Watertronics, attempting to finalize the design of the pump station.
6.       We are working with landscape architect, Steve Sutherland, preparing a presentation to the board of directors.  The presentation will include 3D renderings of the storage tank, pump station, bathrooms and maintenance yard. 
7.       We are working with Greg Bargas and PG&E on the power needs for both the well and tank/pump station locations
8.       We have met with Anderson- Pacific representatives whom we have selected to be our general contractor for the storage tank installation
9.       I have met with both Santa Cruz County bank and Lighthouse bank representatives to find out the options for borrowing funds.

Scott Hoyt
General Manager 
Pasatiempo Golf Club 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kitchen Sink

Today we completed several cultural practices on the greens during one of our maintenance days.  The overall goal, as with most cultural practices, is to manage thatch and improve air and water movement through the profile.  The deep verticut will remove thatch and thin out the surface of the greens.  This will give the sand top-dressing a great place to fill and improve the overall firmness of the greens.  The solid vent and flush is part of our monthly cultural program.  This is the first time we have attempted to complete all of these cultural practices at once.  

Today's Kitchen Sink,

1. Mow Greens
2. Double Verticut Greens
3. Blow Greens
4. Hollow Vent Greens 1/4" Tine
5. Roll Greens
6. Top-Dress Greens
7. Apply Amendments
8. Spray Greens with Wetting Agents and Fertilizers
9. Water in Everything at .3"
10. Wait a Few Hours and Roll all the Greens Again

None of this would be possible without our scheduled maintenance days.  The amount of time and labor required makes this procedure impossible during normal business hours.  It is our belief the greens remain very playable and will completely recover within in a few days.  Thank you of your patience and support.

Verticut 1st Time

Verticut 2nd Time
Material pulled from a single green one direction

Hollow Vent

Green after double verticut and hollow vent

After Top-Dress and Flush

After Top-Dress and Flush Closeup

Material Removed From Greens!! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


GCSAA TV talks with Golf Course Superintendent Justin Mandon about Pasatiempo Golf Club and Dr. Alister MacKenzie.

Monday, June 16, 2014

View From Above

We are now 6 weeks into drought restrictions at Pasatiempo Golf Club.  This continues to be a huge learning experience for the staff at Pasatiempo and we continue to modify our approach to irrigation.  Recently we significantly reduced the amount of water in the roughs and reallocated it to the fairways.  Our goal is to maintain the existing turf in the fairways and fill in some of our weaker areas in the landing zones. 

Hopefully many of you had an opportunity to watch the United State Open Championship this past weekend.  The conditions at Pinehurst show the playability of the golf course does not always correspond to the aesthetics.  There seems to be a shift in golf course conditioning and restoration.  The Championship at Pinehurst may be the beginning of a much needed change in our perception of what a well maintained golf course really is.  Next year we will most likely see similar conditions when Chambers Bay plays host to the 115th U.S. Open Championship.  

Last month we started documenting the golf course from above with a drone.  Below are pictures from today showing the current state of the golf course.