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Monday, December 28, 2015

Winter update

I took one last look at the golf courses early Saturday morning before the latest snow arrived; which looks like it might actually stick around this time.
I was looking for areas covered in ice on the greens.  The Heritage Greens were all ice free, two greens on Greywalls had minor ice covered areas on them.  Long durational sealing ice cover is deadly after a few months on the Heritage greens because of the higher Poa population.  The Bentgrass on the Greywalls greens can tolerate ice cover a month or two longer.  
4 green Heritage- snow and ice free

Seven green Heritage- snow and ice free

Close up of 4 green- the longer blades are Bentgrass as the Poa is mostly covered in our heavy protective sand topdressing.  

Heavy Sand topdressing still protecting the green surfaces even after all of the late fall/winter rains.  

Ice on 11 green Greywalls 
The last of the runoff from the green bank was trying to leave the surface but froze up before it could.  The good news is Most of the ice is white and not solid black; which is the most damaging.  

More ice on the back of 11 green, still mostly white ice.  

Ice on 5 green Greywalls.  Another couple of hours of above freezing temperatures and this water would have been gone.  The ice is again almost all white with air pockets on it.  

Two+ months of rain, snow, melting snow, more rain all with temperatures above freezing has me a little concerned about the fate of our protective fungicides.  Our above average temperatures never got warm enough for our plants to break dormancy so I am not concerned about the longevity of our systemic fungicides; the contact fungicides we applied are a different story. Contacts would last all winter if snow followed soon after the application, but as we all know that did not happen.  Many inches of rain removed the products from the leaf surfaces one drop at a time.  We had no ability to reapply so we will hope for an early spring to reduce the potential of snowmold damage.  I believe the heavy sand topdressing we applied after the fungicide application protected most of the contact fungicides on the plant leaves from getting washed off with rain.  The sand was applied on the greens, tees and approaches so the fairways will not gain that benefit.  

Snowmold already starting on 18 fairway of Greywalls.  Snowmold on the fairways looks ugly in the spring but usually does not kill the entire plant and recovery is rapid after vertical mowing followed by warm temperatures.  

High winds have brought down many trees on both courses already.  We will be busy in the spring cutting lumber and grinding stumps.  
Here is a hemlock down on 14 Greywalls

Another Hemlock down on 18 Greywalls 




Year end projects

The back nine bathroom building has been constructed.  The plan is to finish the interior and exterior this off season to have it fully operational before we open in the Spring.  We will then focus on completing the front 9 bathroom.  
The rear view 
The front view

We also built a lean-To at the Greywalls shop.  The cover was needed for a proper sprayer mix-load pad and a proper chemical storage room.  The area will also provide an area to clean equipment under a roof.  This will be a big addition for our operation as it further increases our efficiency.   
Lean-to
Work in progress.  I will be able to continue working on this space over the winter months.  
The front wall of the storage area up and secured.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cart barn work

We added a couple of lofts for storage and repaired the lighting in cart barn B.  This cart barn is now used by the grounds and the Proshop for storage.  
Loft going up

Lights now work 

Bathroom progress

The weather this November and the start of December has allowed us to continue on with our bathroom project.  Working this late in the season with these types of projects is an added bonus!
Septic tank at the front 9 location (between holes 4 and 7).

Septic tank and drain field at the back 9 location (between 13 and 15)

Drain field finished at the front 9 location.  

Plumbing in and concrete prep work complete at the back 9 location.  

Concrete being poured at the back 9 location.  

Trenching for the water lines to the bathroom on the back 9

Water line pipe installation 

Trenching and installing water lines to the front 9 location

Block work complete at the back 9 location.  

Our friends at Catapillar brought in a D3 dozer for us to use at the front 9 location.  Some site work was needed to remove a few knobs and to fill in a valley between the location and the septic tank. 

Case tires

The tires on our Case 580 loader finally split to a point where they would no longer hold air.  Even tubes would get punctured in the cracks.  I use the loader to move snow piles in the winter so new tire had to be purchased now.  
Cracks in the side walls
More cracks
New tires on the Case. The traction is already improved. 

Winterization

The Winterization process on both golf courses was a big success.  The weather cooperated wonderfully and everything was completed.  It is now up to Mother Nature to be kind to us over the next 4 months.  

All greens-tees-approaches-fairways were treated with a fungicide to eliminate severe snowmold damage.  This is actually a picture of our new sprayer delivery in November; which will start to be used next season.  Having this new 300 gallon sprayer will allow us to reduce our application window.  We are going to start PGR and foliar fertilizer applications on the Greywalls fairways next year using our old 175 gallon sprayer along with this new rig.  

The blower crew out making sure every leaf is off the surface in front of me as I spray the protective fungicides. 

Both irrigation systems were winterized Using large compressors to blow all of the water out of the irrigation lines.  
The process takes 3 days on the Heritage, 2 days on Greywalls and a couple hundred gallons of Diesel fuel.  

We rented a diesel heated power washer this fall to detail clean our equipment.  This rental proved to be a huge time saver while providing better results.  A process which we will continue to do every fall.  
After the equipment is power washed it is important to grease every zerk to make sure water is not left in these areas over the winter months.  

After spraying the greens/approaches/tees we then topdress them heavily with sand.  This sand layer insulates and protects the plant crowns from low winter temperatures and winter wind.  
Following the heavy sand topdressing is an application of Milorganite.  This black organic fertilizer helps melt the snow and ice on the green surfaces in the spring and jump start our turf.  
Here is a close up picture of our surfaces after the sand and Milorganite has been applied.  Just the tips of the grass is exposed.  

We hosted UW again on our Heritage golf course for a snowmold research study.  We are honored to have them on site researching different fungicides and fungicide combinations.  The data collected helps golf courses everywhere survive the harsh winter months.  




Drains

We continue to discover drains that were lost during construction.  We usually find one or two a year then we mark them and add them to our maps.  Many of these drains were cut down to early allowing soil and seed washed over them.  They were lost because they were not mapped or marked.  We now have the fun job of finding these covers and flushing the lines.  

Hydraulic leaks again

We had two more late season hydraulic leaks this fall. One on Greywalls number 13 and one on Heritage number 15.  These areas were treated like the earlier leak we had on 1 Greywalls. 
These areas will recovery with time next season.  Leaks are always a risk when operating equipment but I have never had 3 in one season. 
Fresh leak on 13 Greywalls.  Peat about to be applied to soak up the excess oil.  
Area after peat was used and removed 
Double aerification on the damaged area
Watering in a heavy sand/seed mix
Cores on 15 Heritage a couple of days after the leak.  
Close up view of the cores before they were removed.  
The addition of this new greensmower will reduce our risk of hydraulic leaks next season

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Natural/Native Area mowing

It is that time of year again when we mow down all of the Native/Natural areas on both golf courses.  We start the bulk of this work after the regular rough growth slows down and we can change the height on other mowers to cut the long areas.  We like to get this done before the leaves start to heavily fall so we can blow most of them into those areas and mulch them up.  
There are many areas that our mowers can not get to because of rock or steep terrain; those areas get managed using hand equipment- labor intensive but effective.  
We were able to purchase a used sidewinder this season to use strictly in the Native/Natural areas.  As these areas mature and age not only do the grasses get thick but the volunteer weed population grows.  After years of observation we developed a list of 'critical' areas that come into play often during a round of golf.  Allowing these 'critical' areas to stay thick and tall creates frustration and slows down play.  Our goal is to groom these locations so balls that enter can be found quickly and be hit back into play.  
A few native flowering weeds is desirable in our Natural/Native areas but when there population begins to choke out the planted fine fescues and bluestem grasses chemical management must take place.  In order to make these applications the area must be groomed first.  You will see more and more of this in the future as we continue our effort of keeping the grasses as the predominant species within these areas.   
Our new/used addition to the fleet pictured above.  We feel this unit will benefit all of our members and guests.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hydraulic leak

We had a large hydraulic leak on number 1 green (Greywalls) this week.  The leak occurred on Monday when we were closed for maintenance.  Your crew was in the process of mowing after vertical mowing of the greens when the leak happened.  A failed bolt on the front reel drive on our old greensmower allowed hot oil to blow out covering the green in one pass.  Our experienced operator noticed the leak after only one pass and got the machine to the nearest native area -as instructed in such a situation.  
Unfortunately a path of oil followed him which will kill off the turf on the green and on the approach in due time.  We were closed until 1 which allowed us to complete cleanup of the pooling oil before we finished topdressing the rest of the greens.  

Today we had a back nine start so we could take cleanup and recovery to the next level on the first green.  

Aerification to remove oiled areas and prepare a seedbed.  

Quarter inch diameter quad tine blocks used on the green and 1/2" tines used on the approach.

Cores shoveled off and hauled away

A picture of the oil leak across the green
Oil even seen at night with the lights
Oil leak on the approach 

Mowing after core cleanup

Seeding the green with bentgrass and fescue and the approach with just fescue

Sand Topdressing the green after seeding damaged areas heavily

Seed and sand mix

Dragging the seed/sand mix into the aerification holes

Rolling the green surface to smooth it out

Watering the sand/seed mixture into the canopy along with an organic fertilizer applied to the surface after rolling.  

The spill area after our labor of love....an effort to eliminate the need for sod.  
The green will have discoloration in the oil spilled areas but we hope to have new seedling growth soon.  

When operating any machinery -especially older equipment- leaks are a reality but we have had 5 leaks on the greens this year alone, this being the largest and most concentrated by far.  
It is time for us to invest in a new greensmower for next season.  Those plans are in the work now.  



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