Thursday, July 30, 2015

Area Golf Courses Use Technology and Science To Keep It Green


With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages.

On Thursday state officials announced that even with record-breaking heat throughout June, Californians continued to conserve water, reducing water use by 27.3 percent and exceeding the Governor’s 25 percent mandate in the first month that the new emergency conservation regulation was in effect.

Whereas residential and park usage of water statewide is only four percent of the total amount of water consumed, just one percent of that is used to maintain golf courses.

Still, the grounds keepers of Elk Grove’s two golf courses have heeded the call for conservation of water.

And, they add, it hasn’t been that easy or that cheap. They had to turn to science and technology, though, for some help.

Both Emerald Lakes Golf Club, a public golf course managed by the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD), and Valley Hi Country Club, a private golf facility, have the luxury of having their own wells from which to draw water for irrigation.

Brown, dry grass are common on area courses
“Although wells do not fall under the water restrictions, we have followed the CSD lead and reduced our water usage,” Gilbert Urbano, grounds superintendent of Emerald Lakes, said. “We have spent the last seven years replacing sprinklers and changing our cultural practices.”

Urbano said his crew has replaced and renozzled 147 sprinkler heads and have adjusted overall waterflow from 54 gallons per minute to just 18.5 GPM. Plus, of the 54 acres Emerald Lakes spans, 51 acres are now being irrigated.

“We have reduced our water days by 33 percent on the greens, rough and fairways and by 75 percent on our range tee areas,” he said.

At Valley Hi, golf course superintendent Sean McPhedran says he’s completely stopped watering the club’s large driving range.
Valley Hi CC's Jim Davis (left), Sean McPhedran and Gerry Kirchofer





“We use a green paint to designate target greens on the range,” he said.

But, the conservation effort at Valley Hi was well underway as far back as 12 years ago.

“It’s been the concern of our members here that we were doing our part,” Valley Hi Board president Gerry Kirchofer said. “We started the sanding program about 10-12 years ago and now we have much better soil, much better roots for the turf.”

Annually, Valley Hi has brought in about 1,000 tons of sand to spread across its grounds to the depth of about 1/8 of an inch. McPhedran now believes the golf course turf is sitting atop two inches of sand.

“Before that we are all clay and the only way to maintain grass was to flood the hell out of it,” Kirchofer explained. “We water a lot less now to maintain turf.”

But, that annual treatment has cost Valley Hi about $50,000 a year, according to McPhedran. However, the course uses five to ten percent less water with a more sandy topsoil.

Mayer To Coach Baseball at LC/Dragmire, Jack Ink LOI's

Derek Mayer, a 2005 graduate of Sheldon High School, will be the next baseball coach at Laguna Creek High School. Corey Clonce, the school's athletic director, made that announcement last week.

Mayer comes to Laguna after a road well traveled. He played college baseball at Delta College and three four-year schools, then independent professional baseball before returning to the area to be the junior varsity coach at El Camino High school.
Derek Mayer, Laguna Creek H.S.'s new baseball coach


He takes over for interim coach Mark Nill who led the Cardinals to a Metro League championship and a playoff spot for the first time in 13 years. Nill agreed to step into the job in February when Josh Lex was suddenly dismissed from the head coaching job. No reason was given for Lex' firing.

Dragmire, Jack Ink Baseball Letters

The two key pitchers who powered Bradshaw Christian High School's baseball team to its third-straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship this spring have signed NCAA National Letters of Intent.

Grant Dragmire has inked with UC-Santa Barbara while Dustin Jack will attend San Diego State.

Dragmire was 9-2 in 13 games with a 1.61 ERA. He struck out 83 batters in 58 2/3 innings. He also batted .580 with six homers to lead the Pride in both categories.
Dustin Jack, on his way to SDSU to play baseball


Jack, who transferred from Elk Grove after his junior season there, was 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA. At the plate he batted .380.


Kaur Qualifies For U.S. Women's Amateur

Gurman Kaur of Franklin High School was one of six golfers to shoot a 2-over-par 74 at Cameron Park Country Club and qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Emilee Hoffman of Folsom’s Vista del Lago High School shot a low-round 69 in Cameron Park. Modesto’s Shawnee Martinez carded a 72 and Danville’s Ty Akabane and Fresno’s Hannah Sodersten each shot a 73.

Kaur tied with Lila Barton of Dallas, Texas, Kortnie Maxoutopoulis of Pleasanton, Elizabeth Schultz of Pleasant Hill, Regina De Guzman of San Jose and Caryn Khoo of Auckland, Nevada.

The U.S. Women’s Amateur begins Aug. 10 at the Portland Golf Club in Portland, Oregon. TV coverage starts Aug. 12 with Round of 64 matches on Fox Sports 1.


Kaur will be a senior at Franklin this school year. 

Kaur is in Florida this week to play in the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens. She is among 650 of the top young golfers competing in various divisions. 

Kaur qualified for the girls 15-18 division, which began Sunday.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cal League Not Interested In E.G./Will A Baseball Stadium Still Work?

Hours after a Citizen story hit the newsstands around Elk Grove Friday the president of the California League emailed that he won't be talking to City officials about their proposed sports complex.

"There have been no discussions whatsoever, and there will not be," Charlie Blaney, president of the Advanced-A Minor League Baseball organization, wrote.

He did not clarify his reason for refusing to talk to Elk Grove city officials, who are seeking ideas for a 100-acre parcel of land at Grantline and Waterman roads. The city seems ready to approve construction and development of much of the land for 12 youth soccer fields along with a multi-purpose building, a play area and parking.

Phase two would call for construction of a multi-purpose stadium and, perhaps, a home for the Sacramento County Fair.

The story in Friday's Citizen indicated an interest by both the Cal League and the city to talk.

Construction of a baseball stadium for a minor league franchise and other local teams makes sense, according to several local and area baseball people, because of the revenue it could bring to Elk Grove.

"There are multiple opportunities for events at a baseball stadium," Joe Matlen, president of the Elk Grove Babe Ruth League, wrote in an email to the Citizen. "I think it has to be done right, though. To draw teams here for tournaments, the field/park would need to be unique and special in the amenities, design, and facilities. You not only want to draw teams in for the first time but make it so they want to come back. I think an average stadium built to minimize costs is probably not going to have a lasting appeal."

Rick Cabral, who writes and manages the blog, "Baseball Sacramento," thinks the apparent withdrawal of the Cal League from consideration for an Elk Grove stadium isn't surprising.

"With territorial rights, it is unlikely the River Cats would approve another team from organized baseball," Cabral said. "It would certainly compete with their ability to draw at Raley Field. Plus, there's the misalignment issue with Bakersfield being in the southern division. The Cal League would probably prefer a replacement team from the SoCal area. That's my guess."

In an earlier interview Blaney admitted territorial rights held by the River Cats over Sacramento County could quickly end the discussion of minor league baseball in Elk Grove.

Elk Grove resident and Sacramento "Bee" contributing writer Mark McDermott thinks the future of the River Cats might be a bit uncertain.

"Attendance has declined and the Giants Triple-A franchise won't win," McDermott wrote in an email. "That's not a profitable combination. The Savages (owners of the River Cats) can reap the rewards of new merchandising and the Giants World Series titles right now, but eventually that excitement will go away."


"Secondly, I know there is group out there that is supposed to start construction of a brand new 3,500-seat baseball stadium in Sacramento as soon as October and will field a summer college team in the Big West League next year."

The River Cats are having one of their poorest seasons on the baseball diamond since their inception in 2000. They were 43-56 and in last place in the Pacific Coast League's Northern Division through July 24. However, they continue to lead the league in attendance, averaging 9, 179 a game.

But, would a baseball park in the proposed Elk Grove sports complex still make some sense?

"Mid-week dates or select weekends could be filled by adult leagues and high schools, but youth leagues would likely not have the money to use it on a regular basis, but perhaps for special events," Matlen said.

Cabral is a bit pessimistic, too.

"Granted I'm not familiar with the EG sports scene, but if there aren't at least three or four leagues/teams screaming for a new facility, it's probably unlikely the city would consider becoming involved," he said.

But, he said getting Elk Grove H.S. alum Scott Boras involved, something could happen at the sports complex for baseball.

"His state high school tournament has become a success, and he might be amendable to discussing the subject," Cabral suggested.

Annually, Boras' organization puts on a 32-team tournament in locations in both southern and northern California. Elk Grove High School has hosted the Northern California portion of the event but games have been played at McAuliffe Fields in Sacramento.

Matlen encourages the baseball interests in Elk Grove to bind together much like soccer has to move the city towards including their sport in the proposed complex.

"We can certainly urge the city, but I think it would take a collaborative effort from the Elk Grove baseball community to have an impact," he wrote.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Still, No Place For Briggs


NFL camps are scheduled to open later this week and as of now, Lance Briggs may have nowhere to play.

The former Elk Grove star played 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears but the club decided not to re-sign him at the end of last season. Briggs has talked with the 49ers, however, nothing has happened there.

With Navorro Bowman healthy, San Francisco will move forward with Bowman and Michael Wilhoite as their starting inside linebackers, according to team sources. It was hoped Briggs might help there.

Larson Hoping To Break Sophomore Slump

Kyle Larson is looking for a breakthrough finish for the first time in 2015, though he had a great chance two Saturdays ago in Kentucky. Rain washed out qualifying for the July 11th Quaker State 400, but Larson had the fastest lap time in practice and thus started on the pole.

Larson never led a lap but was near the top in the early going. Then a cut developed on a tire and that cost him some valuable time in the pits. 

He finished in 35th place.

“It’s been really disappointing the way I’ve been running, and a lot of it has been tough luck, but there have been things that were my fault or the team’s fault,” Larson said of his Chip Ganassi Racing team under crew chief Chris Heroy. “We’ve just got to clean up our races and find some more speed in my race car and try and be better.”

In an interview with the Boston Herald last week, Larson admitted his sophomore season on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series has been less than stellar. He’s had just one top-five finish and five in the top ten in 17 starts thus far.

“It’s been a really bad season so far,” said Larson, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2014. “We’ve only got a few good finishes, where last year we had a lot of good finishes up to this point and a lot more top 10s and stuff like that.”

Larson was fastest in opening practice for the 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday. He turned a fast lap of 133.708 mph. In qualifying later that day he was 17th.

 “I think every driver wants to make an impact in racing at any division they run on the way up,” Larson told the Boston Herald, “It’s been nice to accomplish what I have so far at a young age and being fairly new to stock car racing. I think I definitely learned a lot and gained experienced as I got on, and I learned to make better decisions and that kind of helped.”

In Sunday’s race, Larson finished in 31st place. He’s now 21st in the Sprint Cup standings, 317 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.

Levin Update

While the golf world was watching the Open Championship at St. Andrew’s Royal and Ancient in Scotland, local golfer Spencer Levin and the rest of the PGA Tour were competing in the Barbasol Championships in Opelika, Alabama.

Much the like week before at the John Deere Classic in Illinois, Levin had a strong opening two rounds.  Midway through the Barbasol, he was five-under-par and tied for 15th place.
On Saturday, he mustered a one-under-par 70 for a three round score of six-under-par and was seven strokes behind the leaders.

Then Sunday he shot an even-par 71 to finish in a tie for 36th place, 13 strokes behind runaway winner Scott Piercy. His performance moved him up five places in the FedEx Cup standings to 105th place.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Larson, Levin Set For Big Weekend


Kyle Larson is looking for a breakthrough finish for the first time in 2015, though he had a great chance last Saturday in Kentucky. Rain washed out qualifying for the July 11th Quaker State 400, but Larson had the fastest lap time in practice and thus started on the pole.


Larson never led a lap but was near the top in the early going. Then a cut developed on a tire and that cost him some valuable time in the pits. 


He finished in 35th place.


“It’s been really disappointing the way I’ve been running, and a lot of it has been tough luck, but there have been things that were my fault or the team’s fault,” Larson said of his Chip Ganassi Racing team under crew chief Chris Heroy. “We’ve just got to clean up our races and find some more speed in my race car and try and be better.”
Kyle Larson,  hoping for a good showing Sunday

 at Quaker State 400



In an interview with the Boston Herald last week, Larson admitted his sophomore season on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series has been less than stellar. He’s had just one top-five finish and five in the top ten in 17 starts thus far.


“It’s been a really bad season so far,” said Larson, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2014. “We’ve only got a few good finishes, where last year we had a lot of good finishes up to this point and a lot more top 10s and stuff like that.”


Larson was fastest in opening practice for the 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday. He turned a fast lap of 133.708 mph.


 “I think every driver wants to make an impact in racing at any division they run on the way up,” Larson told the Boston Herald, “It’s been nice to accomplish what I have so far at a young age and being fairly new to stock car racing. I think I definitely learned a lot and gained experienced as I got on, and I learned to make better decisions and that kind of helped.”


Last season at New Hampshire, Larson finished in second place in the Sprint Cup Race and was third in the Nationwide race.


Levin Update


While most of the golfing world is watching the Open Championship at St. Andrew’s Royal and Ancient in Scotland, local golfer Spencer Levin and the rest of the PGA Tour are competing in the Barbasol Championships in Opelika, Alabama.


Much the like week before at the John Deere Classic in Illinois, Levin has had a strong opening two rounds.  Midway through the Barbasol, he is five-under-par and tied for 15th place. Levin is three strokes behind tournament leader Emiliano Grillo.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Minor League Baseball In EG? Maybe.

Could the City of Elk Grove become the home to a minor league baseball franchise?

That question is now being kicked around with the City's recent plans and discussions about a new sports complex on 100 acres at Grantline and Waterman Roads on the southeast side of town.

The soccer community has jumped on board pushing the city to devote much of the parcel to a planned 12-field layout complete with a multi-purpose building and parking. (See previous story here and also in the EG Citizen)

The question is what to do with the southern portion of the parcel of land. Initial city plans call for a stadium that designers are calling "multi-use." Thus, the idea of using it for baseball has come up.

The City's Cal Ripken Youth leagues use Rau and Morse Parks along with a few other scattered fields at facilities operated by Cosumnes CSD. The town's Babe Ruth League uses Jones, Bartholomew, Case and Notolli Parks.

The high schools have their own fields for baseball, but ask any coach or player and this city lacks for a true baseball park. We're talking more than a playing surface, but bleachers for several hundred fans, quality snack bar and restroom facilities and a clubhouse for players.

The City now has open ears (and some financial resources) to at least seriously consider such a ballpark. But, the question is could a regular tenant, one that would bring revenue to basically pay for such a ballpark, be enticed to Elk Grove?

In a search for answers, I phoned the offices of the Advanced-A California League. Initially, I spoke with Matt Blaney, the league's director of operations (a story with Blaney is coming in the Citizen soon). He mentioned a big interest in the possibility of placing a club in Elk Grove. The Cal League needs to re-locate one of its ten teams and so news Elk Grove may build a ballpark perked his interest.
The Advanced-A California League
has ten franchises in the state.

On Tuesday, the president of the California League, Charlie Blaney phoned me. He, too, wanted to know more about what Elk Grove might be doing.

Blaney says the city of Rancho Cucamonga has done something like what Elk Grove is currently discussing.

"They've built baseball and soccer fields with a baseball stadium as the main anchor, but the way these things are successfully done and sold to the community is the multi-purpose aspect of it," he explained. "If you need your company picnic, your fun run, you car show, your gem show, your wedding reception, then you have your 70 (professional) baseball dates, your high school and American Legion games and so on to use it on a year-round basis."

"If you can use it 200 days out of 365 days then you'll have the return on investment to justify the initial expenditure, whoever pays for that. It's then a community hub, a centerpiece. That's how it's successful."

Now, as far as placing a California League team in Elk Grove, that could be an issue, he pointed out.

"Where I would say it is a possibility, I wouldn't say it is a probability," Blaney said. "A lot of hurdles would need to be overcome before this could happen."