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Monday, May 11, 2015

Spring Irrigation start up

Spring is always an interesting time on a Northern golf course; a solid month of proper winterization the previous fall must now be reversed to get up and running for the current season.  Everything that you worked so hard for the previous fall shows its benefits now and with a little help from Mother Nature this time can be very rewarding.  
One thing is for sure; there is never a dull moment when waking up a golf course and all of its so many moving parts.  Emerging turf conditions, equipment start up (and failures), employee hiring and training, irrigation pressurization and audits and repairs, cultural controls to the turf, staff meetings, product deliveries and applications, etc. this list could go on and on.  
Our largest piece of equipment is our irrigation system.  Proper winterization in the fall is absolutely critical.  If this process is not done right it will cost thousands of dollars to repair and take countless hours to fix; those valuable hours should be dedicated to other spring tasks.  
This past winter was very kind to us.  The early snow insulated the ground eliminating frost problems.  The soil was warmer in the spring and there were no distributive frost heaves to break irrigation pipes or heads.  

We pressurized the Greywalls irrigation system in only 6 hours.  The only problem we ran into was a mouse nest on our VFD which over heated the unit.  After a few hours of cleanup the problem was solved.  
Mouse nest in the electrical control panel 

Conduit used by the mice to travel from the electrical control panel to the sealed VFD cabinet.  

Mouse nest on the VFD causing it to overheat.  It did not smell good but an hour later the problem was solved.  I will be aggressively managing the winter mouse population in the pump house next winter.  

Quick couplers are used to bleed off air when pressurizing an irrigation system properly on the spring. 

A transducer malfunction delayed us a day in the start up of the Heritage irrigation system.  A phone conversation with a pump house repair technician gave me the answer.  I was able to re-wire and bypass the wet well level transducer and get the controls working again.  

Dry spring conditions put a hurt on the poa annua but had no effect on the deeper rooted Bentgrass growing on the Heritage putting surfaces.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

100% open

Greywalls Opened up on Sunday May 3rd making MGC 100% operational; which is two weeks earlier than the last two years.  Both golf courses are in the best condition they have ever been during early May.  The Crew is very excited to have such fine turf to work on this early in the season.  

Opening Day Turf on Greywalls
A dry Spring provided a great surface for opening day.  

Soil temperature change in four days on number 8 Fairway Greywalls.  The environmental conditions are right for active turf growth on our fescue/KBG fairways.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Greywalls vs. Heritage spring opening

I want to take a moment to address a question that always gets asked multiple times in the spring as the golf courses emerge from the snow pack.  
Why is the Heritage open and Greywalls still closed?
The first difference is terrain.  Greywalls sits higher and gets more snow.  The extreme valleys fill in with more snow and it takes longer to melts off.  
The second difference is turf type.  The Heritage course fairways are predominately poa annua; which will start taking in water and growing when soil temps are in the low 40's.  The Greywalls course fairways are fine fescue and bluegrass and those turf type do not start taking in water and growing until the soil temperatures reach 51-52 degrees.  
The pictures below prove my point..

Number 8 fairways Greywalls has not broken dormancy and has not started to grow out of superficial snowmold damage because the soil temp is still 49 degrees.  
As you can see we have began solid tine aerification; which accelerates a rise in soil temperature when air temperatures rise.  

Number 13 fairway Greywalls has soil temps of 52 plus and as you can see it has greened up and is growing out of the superficial snowmold.  

The Greywalls front 9 always holds snow longer and takes more time to begin growing.  

We have a unique situation in that our golf club has two courses.  One happens to be ready for play before the other in the spring.  I know everyone is excited and ready to play but have patience; continue to enjoy the fantastic spring conditions on the Heritage course while the Greywalls course emerges from winter.  

A combination of solid tining the front 9 fairways and warm weather this weekend will have the Greywalls course ready for cart traffic next week.  

Your grounds staff is seasoned and well educated.  We know what we are doing and we work very hard to get the golf courses open as early as possible.  Six short days ago we had cross country skiers on the golf course and we now have it to a point that it will open within a week.  I call that a miracle!  

Snow still on number 7 Greywalls.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Heritage is open

The Driving Range and the Heritage course is now open for play.  With a good week of weather we were able to open the course only one week after our last 12" snow storm - A new record for us!  The weather was great and the crew worked their butts off!  
We are still walking only but after the rest of the snow melts, the frost leaves the ground in those areas and it firms up carts will be allowed. We will also have our directional ropes back up by then to eliminate cart tire damage.  

15 Heritage on Opening Day 4/18/2015

7 Heritage on Opening Day 4/18/2015

Driving Range on its Opening Day 4/14/2015

Clubhouse roof

I am glad to say the small flat roof at the rear of the clubhouse was finally replaced.  The old one was torn off and a new pitch was added to shed water and snow properly.  The under eve was boxed in, insulation was added and a new 8 mil one piece rubber roof was put on.  We will also insulate internally between joist beams for added heat retention inside.  
This will save countless hours in the winter as we will no longer have to shovel it off after every snow event and it will no longer leak.  
A quick/quality job by our contractor.  I am very pleased with the outcome.  

Bridge project

The finishing touches on The #4 Greywalls Bridge is getting wrapped up this week.  Your crew was hard at work removing the old rotten wood; which was a daunting task because the wood was very soft and had thousands of nails in it.  
The main beams (three large tree logs) were still good in good shape so we kept them in place but just added two new support jacks under the center beam.  
For the next layer of side by side support we reused the main 2x8 boards from the old clubhouse deck; which saved use a couple hundred dollars.  
The treated 2x4 nailers, treated thick decking boards and treated 4x4 rails were purchased new.  
Just another check off the list for the MGC grounds staff.  
Removal of the old wood.

Halfway there on the demo

The new treated lumber boards

2x8's in place with treated 2x4 nailers getting installed

Friday, April 17, 2015

Opening for walking

As soon as number 7 green thaws out and the frost leaves the soil on it we can open The Heritage course for walking.  Other areas holding snow can be played around.  
Carts will be allowed as soon as all the snow melts, the surface dries a bit more and we get a chance to get our ropes out.  
We have the driving range and the putting greens open as The season is fast approaching!
Snow on 8 approach 

Drift of snow by 7 green keeping it frozen.  We have been out shoveling off the soft surface snow everyday this week to help the thaw along.  

Getting close!