Friday, August 18, 2017

HFCC Hosts Three of the Top Croquet Players in the Country.

  This past Wednesday and Thursday were busy days for the HFCC maintenance department as we prepared the croquet facility for three of the top croquet players in the country.  Jeff Soo, winner of 17 national titles faced off against Sherif Abdelwahab, 7 time national golf croquet champion, while Damon Bidencope, USCA Vice President and holder of 7 national titles provided commentary throughout the match.  This event was a great showing of HFCC's growing influence in the sport of croquet as it drew over 350 spectators.

Sherif, Damon, and Jeff

Sherif starts the second match
   After the match, I talked to the players to get their thoughts on our lawns.  All three commented on how good the surface was and that they were some of the best conditions they had played on.  A lot of time and effort was put in by the maintenance staff to make this exhibition match a success.  Here are pictures of the preparations for the event:

The HFCC staff put up bleachers on Wednesday.

The lawn was double cut in the morning.

Following the mowing, the lawn was rolled.

Josh uses a paint transfer wheel to paint the lines on the lawn.

The gap between the ball and hoops must be precisely measured and is less than the width of a dime.

Shot boards being installed on the edges of the lawn to keep balls inside the court.

Ready to go!

Josh, Chris, and myself after getting the lawn ready.

The clean-up.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer Greens Aerification

July is by far our busiest time of the year and that leaves us little opportunity to do the agronomic programs necessary to keep our greens in top shape.  However, this week we were finally able to take the opportunity to aerate the greens.  With all the wet weather, the greens were beginning to seal off at the surface and water could not penetrate the surface and decomposition gases could not escape from the root zone.

To aerate the greens we used our SISIS Aer-Aid aerifiers.  This is a specialized aerifier manufactured in England that can not only punch holes in the soil but also inject air into the root zone.  Every other tine on the machine is hollow and connected to a high capacity air compressor.  When the tine is injected into the soil, air is forced out of two ports on either side of the tine.  The air injection is huge bonus over standard solid tine aerification in that the oxygen that is injected displaces the harmful decomposition gases in addition to stimulating root growth.

This type of aerification does a great job at reducing compaction, improving root growth, and at providing gaseous exchange but it does little to reduce thatch.  However, the impact to the greens is minimal and the greens are playable immediately after aerification. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Highlands Falls Yacht Club

Okay, this has absolutely nothing to do with the golf course per say, but it is another example of how we utilize the course for member enjoyment and its just plain cool!  The Highlands Falls Yacht Club has formed and will meet every Monday from 9 am to 10:30 am at the lake between #8 and #9.  Anyone that wants to participate or that is interested in operating remote controlled boats is welcome and encouraged to come by.  The group is growing and is already the LARGEST Yacht Club in Highlands!

Here are some pics from this weeks gathering.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bug Spray Disease

  We are in the busiest part of our season and several of our greens in addition to the croquet lawn have come down with a bad case of "Bug Spray Disease".  Once this disease occurs there is very little we can do to help the turf, it may live or it may die but only time will tell.  There is no cure other than prevention!
"Bug Spray Disease" is easily identified by the footprints. 

A large "diseased" area on the croquet lawn.

  All kidding aside, "Bug Spray Disease" is caused when you apply bug repellents and sunscreen to your legs when standing on turf.  It is especially damaging on low mowed turf such as the greens and the croquet lawn.  The alcohol and propellants in the sprays in addition to products containing DEET, are very damaging to the turf and injury is caused immediately.  Depending on the conditions and the amount of over spray, the turf may recover in 1-4 weeks.  In extreme cases though, the turf will die and the area will have to be seeded or sodded.

The DEET in many bug sprays is known to cause damage to turf.
The 19th green.

Close-up of the croquet lawn.

  Please be aware that bug sprays and sunscreen sprays are very damaging to the turf.  The simple solution to this "disease" is prevention and to spray these products in the parking lot, on the cart path, or any other non-turf surface where the over spray will not contact the grass.  Please help us care for your course and tell a friend about the dreaded "Bug Spray Disease".

Monday, July 3, 2017

Pot of Gold?

Maybe not a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, but it is Highlands Falls!  Despite a lot of rain, we were fortunate to finish a Highlands Falls July 4th tradition, the painting of the American Flag!  And with a small break in the weather, this wonderful rainbow appeared.  Have a great July 4th!
Nothing says summer like July 4th at HFCC!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Little Pest Causes Big Problems

In the past 10 years I have watched our budget for insect control more than quadruple.  This has been primarily due to the Annual Bluegrass Weevil or ABW.  As the name suggests, this particular weevil attacks annual bluegrass and bentgrass by inserting eggs into the turf and then larvae feed on the plant.  While a fully mature plant in the rough may survive, turf mowed at green, tee, and fairway height will not.  ABW is one of the most destructive pests in the golf industry and it is believed that it was introduced to the area from a shipment of sod from up north where it has been a problem for many years.

The adult ABW is very small making scouting difficult.
Treatment for ABW is expensive and timing is critical.  Every year at HFCC we treat a greater area of turf for ABW.  This includes fairways and tees, along with portions of the rough.  Research has shown that ABW prefers turf mowed at fairway and tee heights over the even lower heights of the greens.  However, as we have found this weekend, ABW likes green heights also.  While we have known this was a possibility, we never had any problems on greens until now.  Now that we know our greens are susceptible to ABW, we will add that to our treatment list and to the budget.

ABW larvae after treatment.  Note how small ABW larvae are.

Discoloring of the turf caused by ABW.  Left untreated the turf will die.
Fortunately, the damage caused to our greens has been minimal because it was caught early. Treatments will be made throughout the year to keep ABW under control.  As for the slight damage caused, a little fertilizer and TLC will get the greens in excellent condition in very short order.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

HFCC Equipment Manager, Aaron Brown is Finalist for Prestigious Award

I'm proud to announce that Highlands Falls Equipment Manger Aaron Brown is one of three finalist for TurfNet's Equipment Manager of the Year Award.  This is a national award given to the top turf equipment technician in the country.   Please click the following link to read about Aarons's nomination.

Aaron Brown in action sharpening mower reels.