Twitter Updates 2.2: FeedWitter

Monday, February 13, 2017

February Update

After some technical issues our blog is now back up and functional.  

The 2016 season came to a close with all important tasks being completed.  Our timing flowed around weather events as we stayed glued to reports and predictions.  

Pictures and Explanations tell the stories below.....

UW once again utilized our 11th fairway on the Heritage course as their Northern most winter fungal test site.  The data learned from these trials/tests/evaluations is critical for golf courses around the world that manage turf in seasonal locations.  We are very proud of our relationship with UW and are a happy host location.  

Our own snowmold fungicide applications to our primary playing surfaces (Greens/Approaches/Tees/Fairways) were completed properly but we faced many challenges.  
The lack of heavy late season frost caused the trees to hold their leaves late.  Most leaves began to fall right when it was time for us to start making our applications.  Leaf Blowers had to stay right ahead of the spray rig to provide a clean surface for the spray application.  
Wind and rains also created many unsprayable days.  Being patient is a key aspect of winter preparation.  When weather condition do not allow you to complete one task, you simple refer to your list of essential processes and complete another job.  
We applied several different combinations of products to our Fairways this year.  I am looking forward to seeing the results in the spring.  

Pictured above is Heavy sand topdressing to the 14th green and approach on our Greywalls course.  This sand is essential for winter crown protection on our low cut turf.  We also burry the tees with sand.  
These sand applications are made after the turf surfaces have been sprayed with preventative fungicides.  

Heavy sand topdressing on the 13th green of the Heritage course.  

Close up view of number 9 green Greywalls two months after the sand was spread.  A winter melt down created open turf conditions on the high peaks.  Note the sand insulating the low cut turf from low/harsh winter temperatures.  You can also see the black milorganite fertilizer; which is applied on top of the sand.  The black color of this product melts off snow and ice quickly in the spring during high sun days.  Solar radiant heat is amazing and we use it to our advantage.   

Pictured here is the large compressor used to blow out the Greywalls irrigation pipes.  Irrigation winterization is an essential part of our late fall tasks.  If not completed properly pipes and heads will rupture and break as the frost dives low into the soil profile.  The damage would cost the club 10's of thousands of dollars plus waste spring hours as we would have to make repairs.  Our spring hours should be dedicated to grooming turf for the season. 
As the compressor fills the lines with air we turn on the heads and open valves; starting at the air source and working out.  It takes us 2 days and around 120 gallons of diesel fuel to blow-out Greywalls with a 750cfm compressor.  It takes 3 days and around 115 gallons of diesel to blow-out the Heritage with a 375cfm compressor.  
As soon as water turns to mist we move on to the next head down the line.  The importance of this task can not be overlooked.  It is impossible to aggressively manage turf for today's playing requirement during the hot summer months without a supplemental water supply. 

Taking advantage of late fall days to complete some tree and Forest Management is essential.  There is never enough time during the active golf season to focus on this aspect of property management.  
The forested area next to 13 tee on Greywalls was cleaned up.  Several trees fell in this area during late season high wind events. 

The young Hemlock grove behind 2 green Greywalls was thinned out.  This green struggles more than any hole on the property from surrounding tree growth.  The next phase to remedy the turf decline on this green is to remove several large hemlocks front right of the green.  These trees have grown to a height that blocks the very important morning sun. 

Work continues on the front 9 bathroom location on Greywalls between the black tee on 4 and 7 fairway.  Concrete was poured this fall and the block work was completed.  

Members and staff working together to complete the bathrooms.  

The block work was completed two days before it started to snow.  

We took advantage of a January warm up.  A tractor with a snowblower was used to clear the main path out to the new front 9 bathroom location. 10 days of above freezing daytime temperatures allowed our builder to get the frame work completed.  We will have the finish work, plumbing hook ups and exterior landscape to complete in the spring.  

The floor of the halfway shack was removed because it was damaged from a leaking refrigerator.  The plan is to do some reorganizing of this space in the spring.  

The new red tee pad on 11 Greywalls was constructed.  Pictured here is the crew removing the native sod left of the original tee.  The original red tee was constructed on a stump pile causing it to cave in after years of stump decomposition.  

New 11 red tee pad after Sod was removed and sand was hauled in to level the site.  

New tee pad for 11 red.  The new location is on secure ground and has a better look down the fairway than the original tee.  
The original 11 red tee.  Note the holes opening up around the tee surface.  The tee is a lumpy mess and very unsafe.  The Sod will be removed and placed on the new pad in the spring.  

Irrigation lines were re-routed over to the new pad.  A mini excavator was used to trench the line in.  Snow put a hold on this project completion until spring.  

The rails on the 15 Greywalls bridge needed to be replaced after a beverage cart smashed one side off this season.  We learned the wood was getting soft so a total rail replacement was necessary.  

All course accessories get attention during the winter months.  Tee markers, bells and 150 poles always get a fresh coat of paint, wood products get restrained or resealed, signs get touched up and new signs are created as needed.  

Lots of hours are spent in the old plow truck.  Clearing snow from all of our driveways and lots for complete access takes 4-5 hours every time it snows.  

Break downs don't end in the winter months.  Here a Hydraulic line blew on the plow truck. This is a quick and easy fix, as long as the plow dealer is open and I can get the correct part.  

Snowshoeing is my mode of transportation in the winter months.  Checking the turf is essential to be able to predict trouble areas we might face after the snow melts.  Knowing is half the battle so we can properly prepare ourselves for recovery efforts if needed.  
Snowshoeing also allows me to monitor winter traffic.  I must make sure no one is entering our roped off greens or making paths over our tee surfaces.  
An exposed 9th green on Greywalls still looks fantastic with heavy sand topdressing in place to protect the plant crowns.  

Exposed high Fairway peaks has turf with tip burn from cold winds.  This turf will recover rapidly after a spring mowing followed by warm weather.  

Hundreds of hours are spent grinding reels and replacing all worn out bearings and seals.  This is currently the most critical component of proper turf health for the 2017 season.  A razor sharp mower is essential for management of all grass at all heights of cut; but is especially critical for managing high verdure turfgrass systems at very low heights of cut with high traffic.  

Our new Toro 5410 fairway mower was delivered this winter.  This mower has proven to be the right fairway mower for our property.  Not only does the 5410 climb our difficult terrrain better than any other machine it has had a lower cost of ownership.  Our 10 year old 5410 is still performing like day 1 and we have not had any expenditures outside of regularly scheduled maintenance.   
We also purchased a second pull behind pro force turbine blower.  The man hours saved along with quality and speed of operation is astonishing.  Having two of these will allows us to use one on each course during fall leaf cleanup or double them up while vertical mowing large areas of turf.  These turbine blowers are a must have for modern turf management.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fall course update

Fall is in the air and many might think things are slowing down in the shop at Northern golf courses; the opposite is actually happening.
Now is when we prepare the golf courses for a successful 2017 season.  What we do now makes or breaks next golf season in our tundra climate.  When the snow flies we don't get a second chance.  
Seasonal staff is gone and back to school so many tasks are left to myself and the limited numbers of employees we still have.  
We must continue to mow the turf in addition to finding time to complete these extra tasks.
-Aerification grns/tees/fwys/Approaches and wear areas
-Vertical mowing/thatch reduction 
-Fall fertilization of turf
-Mowing down all native/natural areas with rotary mowers and weedeater/brushmowers 
-Leaf blowing and clean-up (daily)
-Weed control
-Irrigation system Winterization 
-Equipment detail cleaning and Winterization plus organize equipment for winter repair work and reel grinding
-Haul all course supplies off the course and store/organize for winter revitalization
-Preventative Snowmold fungicide applications to all Grns/tees/fairway/Approaches  
-Heavy sand topdressing greens/tees/Approaches
-Stakes/rope off greens 
-End of season projects.... Everything we can squeeze in before the snow flies
On agenda this year is the front 9 bathroom on Greywalls, a new red tee on 11 Greywalls, pumphouse roof repair, well house interior repair, 1/2-way shack renovation to replace floor and reorganize.  
-On top of field work the 2017 Budget needs to be completed and products needed for next season must be organized to take advantage of early order discounts.  

Winterizing a golf course properly is no easy task.

                14 Green Heritage
I have received many question about the aerification of 14 green on the Heritage course.  We have been using small diameter tines early season and/or solid tining greens after we close so the membership has forgotten what a typical greens aerification process involves.  
It comes as no surprise that 14 green Heritage is the wettest green on both courses.  Its location is low and it holds water.  We installed an approach drain system several years ago and that has worked wonderfully; our sand topdressing program has also had very positive results.  The excessive rains the last two consecutive falls has me reaching for more solutions on this water soaked location.  
What we did on 14 green was solid tine the surface to a 4" depth using 3/4" tines, we then buried the green in sand.  After the sand had time to dry we worked it around the with our Groom-it drag brush followed by a turbine blower.  Our goal was to create 3/4" columns of sand to help get water off the surface quicker.  

3/4" solid tine holes and one layer of sand

Sand layer number 2

Final sand layer before working it into the holes

Post drag/blow- holes all filled with sand
We will attempt to complete this process on 14 green every fall.  

A lot of fall aerification on two golf courses for one machine.  The Procore has been working overtime.  

Excessive rains again this fall has made less than ideal playing conditions.  The courses are indeed green but the ball roll has not been what we strive for.  

Mother Nature has been pruning on her own this fall.  Several high wind days had us cleaning up the mess.  

Pink Snow mold has already started to appear.  Pre-Snowmold applications are made to the greens to keep them free and clear before the final spray.
A patch of Poa annua on the greens getting attacked by pink Snowmold while the Bentgrass is healthy

Proof in the picture
Our growth regulating Paclobutrazol applications still hard at work on our Greywalls fairways.  Poa on the edge of a 4 fairway in the rough (in an over spray area) totally suppressed while the KBG and fescue around it is allowed to grow.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What every golfer needs to know

A lack of proper golf course care and etiquette is becoming a serious issue.  This display of respect for the course and fellow golfers is one aspect of the game that attracted me to a career in the industry.  
The decline in etiquette and course care has me searching for reason why... The only answer I can come up with is a lack of education on the subject.... These folks that complete or don't complete these acts do not even realize they are acting in a disrepectful manner.  

Knowledge is Power 
I will highlight a list of course care/golf etiquette rules that if followed by everyone....creates a better course for all golfers (plus a happy Grounds crew)

Fill the Void
Some Courses fill divots with sand and some request that you replace your sod- Marquette Golf Club is a 'replace your divot' facility.  We live in a climate where divot survival rate is high so I favor replacing divots... Either way one must 'fill the void' or Mother Nature will with a plant which is out of place.
When divots are not replace the grounds crew has to spend unnessesary hours on the task.... So please replace your divots

Walk properly on the green.

Metal spikes are a thing of the past but I must say these new aggressive so call 'soft spikes' make me wish we had metal spikes back.  The twisting and dragging we see on our putting surfaces is upsetting.  These issues increase after we receive heavy rains making conditions softer than we maintain for.  
Walk with care on the putting greens

Repair ballmarks properly
This one is simple... If you hit a shot onto a green in the air chances are good you left some sort of mark on the surface... Look for it and repair it properly with the proper tool.  These unrepaired ball marks affect the true/smooth ball roll we strive for everyday.  

Leave the green alone..

No matter how hard you smash the green with your putter after missing a putt I promise you it will not take a stroke off your total score.
This kind of temper is not needed and usually affects every other golfer that is playing behind you.  So if your goal is making enemies you have succeeded other wise calm down, smile and have fun.... The game is suppose to be fun.  

If you hit into a sand bunker you must always Enter/exit the bunker from the low side and rake your tracks smooth as you exit.  
Climbing up a high side loosens the bunker banks that we try not to rake so they stay firm.  If your ball is up there... by all means walk up and hit it but if it's not... Stay low.  

Lay the flagstick down gently- the top prisms used for range finders are very expensive and letting a flagstick slam to the ground can knock a prism loose and out.  

My biggest pet peeve is destructive behavior while operating a 'golf cart'.  I'll never understand the need for speed while driving carts especially on our busy days when all your doing is driving fast to go sit and wait.  95% of the time the tires are on turf and not asphalt so one must remember that fact.  Driving fast and furious damages turf and destroys the cart path ends where the turf/soil/asphalt meet.  Crazy driving is also very dangerous and can cause personal injury especially on the Greywalls course.  
Drive slow and with caution plus remember 2 carts per foursome... Zero exceptions.  

Following these proper golf etiquette rules will help everyone enjoy the game even more; so please be a friend.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Fairway fertilizer changes

With the purchase of a 300 gallon sprayer I was able to make a switch to a much more pin point accurate fertilization plan on the fairways.  I can now get away from having to apply granular products every time we fertilize.  Three reason I wanted to get away from granular for every application are:
1) The lowest rate I could go with and not get a speckled appearance was .4#N/M
2) Granular fertilizer always gets thrown in places you don't want it no mater how carful you are.  
3) Granular fertilizers cause a flush of growth for a week or two after application creating a need for extra mowing.  

Spraying at a rate of 0.9gpm I can cover 7.7 Acres with one tank.  Five tanks covers my fairways and Approaches.  I can spray these areas in one day now; where as before it would take me 3 days with the old smaller sprayer.  

Another benefit of spraying is my ability to add the growth regulator Paclobutrazol to the tank.  This product provides vertical growth regulation and suppresses poa annua growth more than the other grasses.  Our low mow bluegrass and fine fescue plants now have a competitive advantage over poa.   I am also adding Ferrous Sulfate to the tank for a quicker green up and as another poa irritant.  

Foam blops marking my lines to prevent overlaps or misses in my application.  

The spray line from the approach tank is already obvious from the morning spray.  

Here is a good picture of a spray line on 14 fairway.  The instant green from foliar fertilization is always amazing to me.  This is after only a few short hours.  
The products used to spray fairways are:
Urea (46-0-0)
Ferrous Sulfate
Blade Fe (15-0-0)
Tide Paclo
Total cost to spray all fairways is $1500

Total cost to use a granular product on fairways is $1600

A more accurate application with the benefit of a growth regulator for basically the same price.  
Two applications in and I am very pleased with the results so far this season.  

Grooming Greywalls

Greywalls course grooming:
After the first few years of play on Greywalls we began to establish a 'groom' list.  
This list is prioritized in the following order and outlines locations that:
1) effect pace of play and cause unwanded golfer frustration or has a high potential of golfer injury (hidden rocks)
2) have excessive weed/sapling growth and can not be sprayed with herbicides because of the extreme terrain.  
3) aesthetically need to be cleaned for visual appearance or has a site line issue.  

These areas typically are located on the perimeters just outside the turf areas that get maintain daily to weekly.  Over the years our list has evolved and grown.  

Some of our clients would like to see the course mowed wall to wall others would like more hazardous conditions everywhere; we are left with the task of creating that balance between the two ideas.  
I would like to share pictures outlining our thoughts on grooming Greywalls  

This is the tree location to the left of 1 green.  This area was extremely thick with fescue and was a hot spot for ball hunting. A groom every 4-6 weeks has been very helpful.  
On the other side of 1 green we removed 8-12 trees and extended the maintained rough line about 15 yards.  
Other areas on 1 that we groom are along the rocks that boarder the fairway.  These areas get extra thick because of excess water and fertilizer from fairway maintenance.  Weed growth on the rocks will become overpowering if left alone.  

The right side of 2 is a very popular location for all of the slices coming off the tee.  Mowing this area every 4-6 weeks at a height of 4" with an old rotary mower has really helped pace of play.  Before we started grooming this area a ball entering this jungle zone was next to impossible to find; yet everyone wanted to spend 5+ minutes doing so.  Now a ball hit in here can be identified easily and hit back into play.

The left side of 2 is another ball hotspot and it was slowly being taken over by broadleaf weeds making ball location difficult.  We decided to mow this area down this year so we could treat it with a herbicide.  
The rock dome before 2 green is groomed for safety and aesthetics.  Many miss hit balls end up here and it is nice to see how near the rock is to your ball.  

We groom this area on 3 short of the approach for pace of play.  Excessive growth of many different plants makes it very thick in here yet people want to find their ball and spent a good amount of time looking.  Now it is an easier task.  
By 3 green we groom this thick area back left to help pace of play we also pushed the weekly maintained mow line 8-10 yards back on the right side of the green to fully open that ball collection area.  

The left side of 4 is a very difficult area to groom, loose rock and extreme slope makes it a challenge.  I am exploring the option of a wide areas boomless nozzle for the old spray rig.  With the right set up I might be able to spray this area with a herbicide for weed control.  
For now We do what we can here with hand cutting to keep weed growth under control. 
The center fairway rock is groomed for safety and aesthetics.  
Many areas like behind 4 green are groomed to expose irrigation valves and controls.  
The right side of 4 fairway is groomed along the edge to expose the irrigation heads and to help balls release out and roll onto shorter cut turf.  

We groom along the rock edges on 5 so balls do not get lost as often in these thick location.  
Grooming the turf in these areas also helps golfers see the rock below or behind a poorly struck ball.  

The rocks on 6 are groomed for aesthetics and weed control.  We wish we had more time to focus on this hole.

The center fairway rock on 7 is groomed for safety and aesthetics and pace of play.  If left unchecked the turf around it would gobble up golf balls.  
We extended the weekly mow line on the left side of 7 green.  This area was very long and thick; which because a pace of play issue.  We did the same to the right side and pushed the hazard stakes back 5-6' along the green.  

We groom around the rock edges along 8 for safety and aesthetics.  
Behind 8 green is groomed for weed control.  If we can get these weeds cut down before they go to seed we can greatly reduce their numbers the following year.  

The rocks on the fairway line are groomed for aesthetics and a visual aide for tee shots.  
All bunker banks are groomed every 4-6 weeks to minimize balls from hanging up on them.  
9 green surround is groomed for aesthetics and safety.  Many balls get chipped out of here and it is nice to see rock location around your resting ball. 

The left side of 10 is groomed along the rock for pace of play.  
The left of 10 green and around 18 black tee is groomed for pace of play and weed control.  Many long hitter pull their balls into this areas and it was causing pace issues.  Now golf balls can be easily identified and hacked out.  I must note again these large areas are cut at 4" every 4-6 weeks so it is no walk in the park getting the ball out; we just want to eliminate the need to hunt for a ball for 5 minutes and never find it. 

11 tee area is groomed for weed control.  This entire area is a topic of another blog post outlining its issues with stumps buried below.  
The amphitheater bank behind 11 green is groomed for pace of play and weed control.  Lots of balls go long into this hill behind the green.    
The collection area below and to the left of 11 green is groomed along the edge for pace of play.  If a ball misses left with a right to left ball flight it would usually find its way into the fescue edge which was excessively thick.  

The natural patch between 12/13 is groomed with our rotary grooming mower.  This area obviously created a pace of play issue with balls off 12 and 13 tees.  

The valley on 14 and area between 14/16 is marked lateral hazard but is groomed 1-2 times a year for weed and sapling control.  

The front hill on 15 and the rocks are groomed for weed control.  Pace of Play and Safety is also a factor along the rock areas.  

The area off 16 tee is groomed as a site line issue.  When the natural area is left to grow to its full potential height the fairway can not be seen from the tee surface.  By just cutting the area to 4" a sliver of the fairway can be seen on the tee; which gives mental ease to a first time player.  

The area by 17 tee is now being groomed with our old rotary for several reasons.  The weeds were out of control here and a single spring herbicide application would not control them all.  Mowing will allow turf to re-establish after spraying.  The second reason is we need to slide traffic coming off 18 tee over before the path edge there gets worn down to the fairway.  

This middle right area on 18 is now being groomed at the request of our lady members.  It was pointed out that many of them hit into this very thick edge off of their tee and it was causing pace of play issues on many league nights.  
This location is Further proof that member Feedback has a positive effect on course playability.  
Hill left of 18 green pre-mow
Hill left of 18 green post mow
Grooming This areas is all about weed control.  There is a very high population of spotted Knapweed growing here.  Mowing it down before it goes to seed is key for keeping this noctious weed under control on the golf course.  

We do mow the entire course (natural areas) down starting in mid-September.  This complete mowing takes care of many sapling growth areas and keeps the grass under control and alive.  
These are low maintenance areas because we do not maintain them all on a weekly basis but they are not 'no' maintenance areas.  A balance must be reached because our number 1 overall priority on the grounds department is managing the playing surface for the game of golf.