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.  

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