Monday, December 11, 2017

Historical Look at Water Use

The season has come to a close and I now have time to organize/evaluate some of the data I collect during the golf season.  Data collection is needed in order to measure success, improvements and progress so I take it seriously.  The longer data is collected the more reliable it becomes to tell the story of your Management.  

The first set of data I evaluated this off season was water use at the club from our two pump-stations.  It is from these two water sources that we draw water to irrigate the two courses and wash our equipment.  
Mother Nature obviously plays a big part in seasonal water use but I like our historical trend as water use has been following a steady decline.  

Years of hard work with our irrigation programs along with fine tuning our individual head run times has dramatically reduced our water use.  We have identified locations on every irrigated green, tee, fairway, approach and rough that tend to hold water or tend to dry out and have adjusted preset run times accordingly.  
Many areas on both courses are now only irrigated to water in applications of wetting agents/PGR’s/fertilizer then are turned off the rest of the time.  Other areas have limited traffic (like par 3 surrounds) and have been found to require zero supplemental water from an irrigation system.  The irrigation heads are there but they are no longer needed regularly.  We leave the heads in place in case we enter a drought or an application needs to be watered in.  

Hundreds of full circle heads have been replaced with Part circle heads on the Greywalls course.  This not only reduced water use but also helped the playability of certain areas on the course because less water is now entering natural/native areas.  

We have completed a two phase improvement in the Heritage course pump-station over the last 10 years.  The first phase was a controller update and the second phase was a pump replacement. We now have more control over water pumping as 60 year old technology was replaced with present day technology.  Two pumps are now doing what three pumps did before the upgrade; the new main pump is no longer butterfly valve controlled but is now VFD controlled saving electricity while making it easy on the old pipes.  

Strategic use of wetting agents is probably the next most important aspect of water use reduction here at the Marquette Golf Club.  We apply these products with our sprayers on the greens, tees and approaches on both courses and we apply them through our irrigation system (utilizing an injector) on the Greywalls course.  Wetting agents work in several different ways to control localized dry spots.  Most allow water to penetrate and hold in hydrophobic soil conditions and eliminates the need to over irrigate.  

We still have areas of improvement that we can work on as we continue to strive towards more efficient water use.  The next big area of reduction is on the Heritage course.  A complete irrigation head evaluation needs to take place in order to identify all full circle heads that can be replaced with part circle heads; then an investment in those heads needs to be budgeted and planned.  

Saving water is saving money because the less we pump the less electricity we use and the more money we save..... and who does not like to save money!

2017 Season wrap-up

Update on the grounds end. 

We just went through the most difficult winterization I’ve ever had the pleasure of guiding.  The season ended with a flip of a switch as Snow, Midwest hurricanes and freezing temperatures made it a very interesting finish. 

Many challenges were overcome and I am glad to say all of the absolutely critical fieldwork was completed before the freezing temperatures and snow arrived for good.  

-Storm damage was cleaned up in all critical areas but most of it was just cut up or left and will be removed in the spring. 

-After closing for the season all greens were solid tine aerified to open channels for winter surface drainage.

-All fine turf surfaces (greens, apps, tees, fairways) were treated preventatively for snowmold.  We followed a blower crew with our sprayers as they cleared leaves and goose droppings. 

-Both Irrigation systems and components were winterized.  It was very cold while blowing out the Greywalls system.  An additional day of work was needed to finish up the process.

-Equipment was detail cleaned and winterized. The plow truck was repaired and prepared for a season of snow removal.  Both shops were organized and equipment in need of winter overhaul work has been lined up in the shop for easy access.  

-Greens and approaches were covered with sand for winter crown protection and they were all roped off.  Snow fence is up in our strategic locations. 

-Milorganite was applied to all putting surfaces to help spring ice/snow melt and green-up. 

-All course supplies were hauled in and off the course for winter maintenance. 

Mission accomplished!

We are set up for a successful spring of 2018…… as long as mother nature is kind to us the next 4 months. 

A Tree crushed the new bathroom on 3/4/7 of Greywalls during the 50-70 mph wind event we experienced that I like to call the Superior hurricane.  The tree has been removed and we put a tarp on the roof to prevent any further damage to the interior. 

The repairs to the bathroom will most likely be completed in the spring as winter weather has set in for good.  

I received a call from the BLP last week.  They are now offering us a seasonal shut off for our pumpstaion power supplies.  No charge to shut it off and only $25 to turn it back on in the spring.  This should save us around $3800 this winter in demand charges that we had to pay in the past. 

I have placed most of the chemical and fertilizer orders already for the 2018 season to take advantage of free shipping and discount prices included in Early Order Programs.  

The rest of our chemical/fert. Supply needs are out to bid with all of our different vendors.  Once those quotes come back I can finalize the 2018 Agronomic Plan.  Savings as much as I can for the club is always the goal. 

We had a site visit with a logger this fall.  We need to aggressively manage the trees in many locations on the golf courses.  This work needs to be planned out well ahead of time so it can be completed over the winter months to reduce disruption during the playing months.  


Friday, July 21, 2017

Insect pests

We have been battling ants for over a dozen years on both courses (especially on the Greywalls tees and greens).  Ant mounds damage our green and tee mowers as the sand dulls the blades plus is smoothers the turf.  We have to knock down the mounds before mowing; which adds time and maintenance to our course prep. Control effort last only a few weeks before they recolonize the area.  Ants are a frustrating pest and are getting worse every year. 

We have had minimal grub activity in our area.... but that is about to change as our pest scouting has identified many European Chafer beetles. 
Theses beetles are here laying their eggs; which will hatch into grubs that will feed on our turf roots.  The grubs harm the turf but skunks and raccoons do even more damage as they dig up the turf to eat the grubs. 

Looks like additional control measures are in our future here at the Marquette Golf Club.... scouting will always be a part of our preventative IPM program.  

European Chafer crawling on our turf. 

Japanese Beetles have also been identified in large numbers the last few weeks.  The grubs of these beetles are not as large as European Chafer grubs but cause just as much damage.  We have identified potential problem areas and we will be treating the land in those areas soon.  

While grubs feed on thatch and turf roots it is skunks and raccoons that do the most of the damage as they feed on the grubs below.  
Pictured below is activity already scouted on the Heritage course.  It is evident that these new pests will have to be managed from this year forward on all maintained surfaces.  Budget increases will have to take place to make room for this added management of our surfaces.  


The landfill stopped its trailer pickup recycle program a few years back but that did not slow down our efforts at the club.  
We purchased a trailer from the landfill for our cardboard (fiber) recycling and we transformed another old trailer into a glass/plastic/metal (rigid) trailer.  I personally haul the trailers to the landfill every time they get full; takes time but it is a satisfying feeling knowing these are going to be recycled into other products. 

During the busy times we recycle a 1000 lbs. of cardboard and 1000 lbs. of rigids a month here at the club.  

Unloading our cardboard trailer inside the recycling facility.  

Unloading our rigid trailer inside the recycling facility.  

The Landfill recently sponsored a tire collection night in the city.  We took full advantage and we recycled 20 old turf equipment tires.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New 11 Red Tee

We removed all of the sod from the nursery green on the Heritage course about a month ago and used it to sod the new 11 red tee pad.  The extra sod was used to re-grass the right side red tee on 18 Heritage.  
After a month of growth the new tee on 11 and the fresh turf on 18 should be ready for play very soon.  

Two man crew guiding our old sod cutter for straight cuts and a consistent depth.

We hauled the sod to location with my flat trailer and my work truck.  One trip is better than multiple hauls with smaller utility vehicles.  
Let the art of turf care begin.  It always looks like a lot of sod until you get it all in place and realize you need one more roll... and you go back for one more 8 foot roll to finish the job.  
It is delicate work to make sure the sod stays together, the seams are tight and the ground stays level as you create the new teeing surface.  

The Heritage nursery will be cut out even more and made larger.  After cutting the perimeters we will sand cap it and seed it soon so it can be utilized next season.  

New red tee on 11 after 3 weeks of growth.  The tee looks good as it firms up and starts to become playable. 

A behind view of the tee looking down the fairway.  

The Heritage Nursery cut out to its new size; sand has been hauled out as cap material.  Next step is floating the area out with the sand pro, pre-plant fertilizing the surface and seeding it.  I will use T-1 bentgrass and chewings fescue to seed the surface.  
We also have a goal of creating a second nursery on the Greywalls property. The more nursery space the better; we just need to identify a nice location for nursery #2 on the Greywalls property.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Heritage pumpstation

Out with old (pictured above) and in with the new.  Our 2 old main irrigation pumps from the 50's and 60's on the Heritage course have been replaced with a single pump controlled with a VFD.  
This new pump has many advantages including increased efficiency, higher pumping capacity and most importantly reliability.  
Old pumps and motors being removed 

John from Reinders had to perform many hours of custom fabrication to make this project functional. 

The new set up will be very user friendly 

The discharge pipe is completely customized and installed.  

The New set up is complete and should last many many years.  We are very excited to have a new pump that is dependable to use.  


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Greywalls update

Snow piles and drifts remain on the Greywalls course in the bunkers, along rocks and north facing slopes.  I shoveled off the remaining snow on those putting surfaces last Thursday to allow the frost to finally melt from the soil.  
Number 9 Greywalls

Number 6 Greywalls
60 degree temperatures with rain this weekend will help melt off these snow piles but 38 with rain/snow mix to start the week will slow things down again.  

Friday afternoon we blew off the last remaining greens and we rolled them for the first time.  Rolling is a critical step in spring prep on the Greywalls greens.  A combination of our pre-winter solid tine aerification and winter frost loosens the sand surfaces and they must be rolled 3-4 times before we can start mowing them for the season.   
Our practice putting green has the highest % of poa growing on it.  It was transplanted here from golf shoes and then has started its spread around the course as it seeds.  The discoloration on the poa is from late season paclo applications; this plant growth regulator is now used on greens, fairway, approaches and tees to slow down the spread of poa on our bentgrass greens and our fine fescue/ bluegrass fairways.  

After we finalize cleanup on the Heritage course and get it open for the season my focus will move more towards the Greywalls course.  
The next few weeks as the snow/frost melt and the ground drains and firms we will be getting the Greywalls course cleaned up.  We will also perform some maintenance tasks that can not be accomplished when we are open for play.  
We are faced with a major cleanup on Greywalls due to the wind storm a month ago.  20 plus trees came down and many others had to be removed due to wind damage and hanging branches.  Two weeks of cutting and we now have the trees cut up; the hauling of lumber and chipping branches remain.  
Tree cleanup by number 2 green 
The view of 2 green after tree cleanup.  

We have a May 1st target date for opening the Greywalls course.  

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Heritage course opener

The Driving Range and the putting greens are officially opening today on the Heritage course 4/8/2017.  A quick turn around in one week especially considering the temperature was not high.  Full sun melted or softened the snow enough for us to shovel off and prepare the turf.  

When will the Heritage course open?
15 Red tee still has snow on it, the right side of 15 is still snow covered, 13 green just melted off 3 days ago but snow remains behind it with ground frost making cart traffic impossible plus 7 green still has a snow drift on its right side.  The 60 degree temperatures this weekend should melt it off enough allowing the remaining ground frost to melt out of the soil.  The ground will then drain and have an opportunity to firm up enough to tolerate traffic.  
Signs, ropes and traffic directional stakes will go out this week and the Heritage will be open by next weekend.  

After I shoveled the rest of the Heritage greens off on Thursday the sun melted the frost layer out.  We were then able to run the brush reels on the greens to clean off excess sand.  We followed that with a mow using our sacrificial sand reels at the higher than normal height of cut.  This process really cleans up the putting surfaces and stimulates spring growth when temperatures warm.  

We also mowed the approaches and tees on Friday, just skipping the surfaces still under snow.  

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Exposed Turf

Exposed turf: 
March 7, 2017

March 23, 2017

The early exposed turf is taking a beating from a few late winter temperature drops.  These pictures show how the turf has desiccated a bit and is losing its vibrant green color visible right after snow melt.   
In our case one warm week will change the turf color back to vibrant green.  This type of winter damage is very common in the plains because the cold temperature exposure period is long; ours is usually short lived because we receive adequate snow fall insulating our turf from extreme low temperatures.  

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