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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

11 Red Tee on Greywalls

We were forced to close the front red tee on hole 11 Greywalls because the ground around and under the tee is caving in.  The Red tee was constructed on top of a stump burial pile; after 10 years the decomposition of those stumps below is causing hazardous and very unstable caving ground below.  
Our plan is to rebuild a new red tee on stable ground to the East of the current tee then leveling the old tee location with a dozer.  The new tee location will actually be a much better location to hit drives out onto the fairway.  
A look down at the red tee.  Several areas on this hill side are caving in.  

A close up picture of the tee bank caving in with holes.  

This picture is even better evidence of the ground stability issue.... The tee does have 4 irrigation heads around it but the back right head is no longer at the surface.  The head fell into one of the sink holes.  

A close up of the tee shows a very lumpy formation.  This tee is no longer flat enough to position yourself for a tee shot.  

Another image of the sinking tee. 

This will be the view down the fairway from the new red tee location.  Instead of looking into the steep hill on the right the tee will position an opening shot down the flatter left side between the bunkers.  

We hope to start this project by mid season (after some of our bigger outings are over) and finish it up by the fall.  
This time next year a new red tee should be available to play from on hole number 11 on Greywalls.  

Keep in mind our grounds crew is designed to maintain the Turfgrass playing condition on the MGC property.  It is not assembled for construction projects; so any extra project like this can not be tackled at the drop of a hat.  In an effort to save several thousands of dollars we will complete this project in house but it will take us time to allocate the labor of our grounds team.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Stump removal

Our good member Mark Sellers brought us a CAT 279D from FABCO with a stump grinding head this spring.  This unit was greatly appreciated by the crew as it allowed us to remove 30+ stumps on both courses.  The majority of the work was on the Heritage course; because we had to remove 10 very large Maple trees along Grove Street this winter.  These Maple trees were dead or in extreme decline and became a hazard.  This Skid-steer proved to be a huge time saver for us and was easier on our backs; when compared to our small manual grinder.  As expected the Maple stumps proved to be very dense and a challenge to grind- when compared to the Hemlock and Birch stumps we removed in other locations.  
CAT 279D with a Stimp Grinder attachment 

A ground down oak stump on Greywalls

A ground down Maple stump on Greywalls 

We did some late winter tree removal on Greywalls hole #15.  We removed the declined Hemlock to the back left of the green (that was hanging over the green) and the smaller Oak and Maple on the right side.  
The right side of 15 green struggled because it did not get enough morning sun.  We will start with those two trees but might remove the other Oak if turf density does not improve by the end of the season.  Removing those two trees opened up the right side of the hole for those right handed players with a Slice or left handed players with draw.... A big improvement to all.
Before removal
After tree/stump removal 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

1/14 green edges on Greywalls

The original green surfaces were identified last week on the dome greens of number 1 and 14 on Greywalls.  
The greens were constructed using a 16" root zone of sand; which was mined deep within the boundaries of the current 11th fairway.  
This modified 'California' green construction style allows us to identify the original perimeter because the sand on the green differs in color and texture from the soil found outside the green well.  

We identify this edge by running an aerifier around the perimeter and looking at the cores.  It really becomes apparent after the cores begin to dry.  The sand is lighter and a bit coarser in texture than the surrounding soil.  

You can see in this picture the cores to the left are a bit darker than the cores to the right -and this was taken immediately after aerifying the edge before they dried.

A close picture of the cores

Number 1 green with the cores around it.  

Number 14 green immediately after perimeter aerification.  

The rear view on the Jacobsen GA24 aerifier with quad tine blocks

#14 post core cleanup
Before cleaning up the cores I go around the perimeter and mark the original edge with blue turf paint.

#14 green
If you zoom in you can see the edge marked in blue paint.  This edge migrated down the slope several feet in some locations over the last 10 years.  Mower creep easily happens on these two green surfaces as gravity assists mower slide down the slope.  The movement happens a 1/8"-1/4" at a time; which adds up over 10 years of daily mowing.  

#14 green left side; again zoom in to see the blue line.  
Mower creep on these two dome greens has an increased effect on the game over creep on other green surfaces.  The shorter turf on the edges speeds up ball roll; which makes the green play a bit more difficult.  

#1 green right side
Blue line again indicates the mow line change.  

#1 green left side

Every green edge, approach edge and fairway edge was remarked this spring before mowing the Greywalls course.  
Changes to the edges occur over time on every mowed surface.  It is better to see the mow edges move out than in because those are easier to adjust.  When mow lines move in (like what was allowed on the Heritage course) much more work, time and money is invested in moving them back out.  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Heritage Irrigation

The old Heritage Irrigation was put back together and pressurized this week.  
It takes me about 2 days to reassemble all of the pump parts the control parts and charge the hydraulic control system.... Then the fun begins as we fill the lines and get it charged to 100 psi.  
It takes 3 long days in the fall to winterize the system properly.  We reap the benefit in the spring when it is time to charge it back up.  
This year we had zero broken heads during start-up!.... I guess there has to be a first for everything.  
We did have an issue with the jockey pump intake.  A broken pipe joint fitting had to be repaired at the machine shop and a torn foot valve had to be made/replaced.  After those two repairs were complete the system was charged in a few hours and ready for another season.  
The control system charge pump, pressure tank and all of its wonderful fittings.  

It's a greasy job that takes lots of muscle but with good help any job goes smooth.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 Golf season begins

A lot has happened in the last month here at MGC.....
April started like a January with 43" of snow at the course in the first dozen days.  That is not what we wanted; especially after an early March melt.  Our small crew has been busy with snow removal, finishing the revival of course supplies and finalizing equipment preparation.  April 9-10 I spent 15 hours in a plow truck; the following weekend it was 79 degrees and we were getting the Driving Range open....the weather in the UP is always entertaining.
Our focus every spring is to get the primary playing surfaces ready for play as soon as possible so people can get out and walk.  As the rest of the snow melts we finish cleanup in other locations and get directional stakes/ropes out in preparation for golf cart traffic.  Each year is different as snow pack/frost/winter damage/spring rains all play a part in opening dates.  
Rest assured the proper preparation is complete ahead of time and your crew works very hard to get the golfing season started; as soon as Mother Nature allows.  

All signs are hauled off the course every fall and touched up as needed.  New signs are made to replace damaged one or when a new message is needed.  
Hauling all of the course supplies in for winter Maintenance and then hauling them back out to the grounds is time consuming but essential work.  

The Greywalls Hole signs received a complete facelift this winter and now look as good as day one.  

A new chemical storage room was constructed under the shop lean-to we built last fall.  I am very pleased with this addition; it will greatly increase our organization and efficiency.  The room is wired with LED lights, insulated, heated, has an exhaust fan and has a sealed concrete floor under the plastic shelving.  

The old Heritage tee box benches
The restored Heritage benches.... A fantastic project that turned out better than I even imagined.  

During the April snowstorms all of the club leased golf carts were serviced for the season and are ready to go.  
We also cleaned out the rafters in cart barn D.  Years of accumulated clubs and boxes made it a hazard.  Everything was removed from the rafters and lofts were built in them to secure the items properly. 

Some of the greens look spotted this spring from pink Snowmold.  Most of the damage is minor and will recover once warmer temperatures arrive.  The heavy rains that fell last fall after our fungicide applications reduced the effectiveness of our products.  
A close up picture of a Snowmold spot.  

The Clubhouse putting green and the Driving Range opened up on the 16th of April.  
Still lots of snow piles and no turf growth but the mats allow us to open the range early.  UP golfers are a hardy bunch and like to get warmed up and dialed in for the season.  

After blowing off the green surfaces we run a set of brush reels over them.  The brush reels clean up more debris and pick up larger sand particles left from our heavy fall sand topdressing.  
We mow the greens first with our 'sand' reels for the first several mowings.  We also roll the greens several times to smooth them out and firm them up.  
(We solid tine the greens after we close in the fall; that practice along with winter freeze/thaw cycles loosens the surface)

First brush reel on Greywalls
First cut on Greywalls.  It is important to carfully inspect and watch the mowers during the first few greens.  We make sure the mower is working properly after a long winter in storage.  

A birds eye view of 18 Greywalls from the first tee shows how well the greens and Approaches came out this spring.  The fairways were damaged but will recover quickly.  

Our pump station switches and LCD touch screen.  
The Greywalls irrigation system was charged last week.  It is important to charge it slowly and bleed the air out as water fills the lines.  Another very successful irrigation blow out was completed last fall as no leaks were found and the lines are holding pressure.  

The Heritage course officially opened Friday April 22nd.  The weather was 33 degrees with a stiff North wind off the lake making it feel like 18 degrees.... Not the best opening day weather but none the less some golfers came out to play.  

Snow drift locations like this behind 13 green Heritage make it difficult to allow carts right away.  The ground remains frozen under these piles making slimy wet ground that easily ruts and damages the turf.  These areas are identified and roped or staked off.  

A main seal engine oil leak on our Greywalls Apprach mower was identified while running it the first time.  A time consuming job but better to pull the engine and repair it now than during the crazy season; when the machine is in high demand.  We also found a bad secondary clutch on our spraypro and an engine compression issues on the Heritage sand pro..... The shop is a busy place.  

Enjoy the Spring golf season everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Turf report 3/21/2016

The big melt two weeks ago exposed a lot of turf to view and inspect.  The St. Patrick's day storm last week covered our turf once again; but the turf on both courses seem to be doing very well this winter.   The crew is still very optimistic about an early spring and good turf conditions.  
The following pictures will show just how important fall fungicide sprays are in the Queen City of the North near the shores of Lake Superior.  

A view down number 1 Heritage from behind the tee.  
The Greens-Tees-Approaches all looked fantastic.  Our 4 to 6 active ingredient (a.i.) fungicide sprays in these areas survived the fall rains and still performed against Snowmold fungus all winter long.  
The fairways are a different story, the heavy fall rains after fungicide applications had a dramatic effect of their performance.  We use a reduced rate two a.i. spray on the fairways and they simply did not last all winter after the rains.  A large outbreak of Pink Snowmold was the end result.  On a positive note the fall sprays took out the first growth of this fungus so most of the Snowmold growth happened within the last month.  The turf looks worst right at the snowmelt edges because the fungus is most active in these areas.  Once the snow melts, temps rise and the surface drys the fungus will stop growing.  The fungus growth is on the surface so a quick spring drag will expose the plant crowns and the fairways will recover.  

This is a great picture of the spray line on number 9 fairway Heritage.  The 4 a.i. spray on the left performed very well even after all that fall rain.  The reduced rate 2 a.i. spray on the fairway did not last all winter.  Note the tire tracks leaving the area on the left; enough fungicide was on the tires to make two fungus free lines for about 10 feet.  

Very active Pink Snowmold on number 4 fairway on the Heritage course.  

Here is a picture of 18 fairway.  You can see the green steps in the rough from boom overspray as the fairway was treated.  Snowmold-no Snowmold 
A reduced rate 4 a.i. Spray was used on 15-16-17-18 fairways on the Heritage course as a test.  Those 4 fairways typically have more winter fungal growth so they are always a good test location.  The exposed portions of those fairways looked very good last week. 
The reason we only use a 2 a.i. spray on the fairways is simply cost; we do not have the monetary funding within our budget to treat large areas like fairways with more products at the max rates.  The survival rate of grass maintained at 1/2"-5/8" is also greater than grass maintained at 1/8" like our greens.  

16 green Heritage looked absolutely beautiful and flawless after the big melt.  

4 fairway Heritage with Fungal growth.  The putting surface in the back ground looks wonderful.  

12 green Heritage looking Snowmold free

This is a picture of 11 fairway Heritage.  The University of Wisconsin conducts Snowmold fungicide research at this location. They love fungus down there and we never seem to disappoint.  We are UW's Northern test location; the information learned through their research is critical for turf everywhere in Northern climates.  We are very proud of our relationship with the turf team at UW.  

9 Green/Approach on Greywalls.  
A similar situation can be found on the Greywalls course.  Exposed Greens-Tees-Approaches looked Snowmold free yet the fairways had pink Snowmold growth. As can be expected the predominantly fine fescue/Bluegrass fairways on the Greywalls course does not have as much Snowmold as the Heritage course.  The grasses planted on Greywalls are more naturally resistant to Snowmold than the old mix on the Heritage fairway; which has a very high poa annua population.   

Pictured above is the approach/fairway line on number 10 Greywalls.  
The Approach (to the left) is Snowmold free, the fairway (to the right) has Snowmold growth, the untreated rough (to the bottom) is completely covered in Snowmold.  
Pictures do say a thousand words.

17 green Greywalls looks fantastic!!  This green along with 16 and 11 on Greywalls have historically been more susceptible to Snowmold; Adjustments were made from past experience and an added granular fungicide was made to those greens after our spray.  Viewing this green free of fungus is a positive sign that our adjustment are working.  
As stated before Snowmold growth on greens is usually detrimental because the turf is maintained at 1/8" leaving the crown/growing point more vulnerable.  
A focus is always concentrated on the green because of their importance to the great game of golf.  
Close up view of Pink Snowmold on 13 fairway Greywalls. Note the growth started on two poa annua plants (as seen in the middle of the fungal growth) and spread out from there.  A fine example of why we planted, manage and encourage fine fescue and bluegrass.  

Exposed area on the Greywalls putting green suffering from winter desiccation from the cold wind.  With rain and warm weather this area should recover.  These areas are seen everywhere the wind blows the snow off the turf exposing it to temperature extremes.  They usually take an extra week or two to recover once temperatures rise.  

6 green Greywalls 
Again the turf looks dynamite.  You can see some winter desiccation on the front of this green where the snow depth was minimal.  

Our most desiccated area on Greywalls is the peaks of 1 fairway and the back tees on 8.  The 3 back tees on 8 traditionally lag behind the other tees a good 3 weeks (after the initial spring green up).  

Hole 5 on Greywalls
This fairway (like most on the front 9) has a much higher poa annua population growing on it.  The micro climates and soil on the front 9 favors a wetter growing condition; which is favorable to poa annua growth- because the poa population is higher we see more Snowmold at those locations.  

It is hard to tell what the entire course will look like after all of the snow has melted, but the view we received two weeks ago give us a promising outlook.  

We will be teeing it at MGC soon!