Monday, October 16, 2017

The Foundation Beneath

  As most people know, a key to success is to have a sound foundation and on a golf course that starts with the soil.  Without at least decent soil, turfgrass cannot be regularly maintained to typical golf course standards.  Even with decent soil, most courses do not benefit from uniform soil throughout the property either because of construction disturbance or just through nature.
The different colors in this field are all different soil types.
  Highlands Falls has a smorgasbord of different soil types.  While most of our soils are conducive to growing decent turf, some cannot even be classified as soil as they are mostly rock.  Such is the case on a few areas on the 6th fairway where we recently replaced several areas of dead turf.
Granite with a small amount of soil is very representative of the soil substructure on several holes at HFCC.
  These areas could be classified as concrete quicker than they could be classified as soil.  They do not drain, roots cannot penetrate, and the areas are as hard as a rock.  Short of digging up the fairway and hauling in at least a foot of decent soil there has not been much we could do other than re-sod the areas after the turf died.

  We have decided to try a technique that an arborist once showed me to improve the rooting of trees and that is to drill into the soil and fill the holes with compost and sand.  The filled holes hold moisture and provide a good medium for turf to grow.  Additionally, during the winter, the moisture holding holes will freeze and thaw and fracture the adjoining soil allowing the turf to penetrate the bad soil.

4" holes are drilled into the soil on the 6th fairway.

The holes are approximately 6" - 8" deep.

Each hole is filled with compost and sand.
  While we do not yet know long term if this process will work, I feel it will have a positive affect as it is just another way of aerating the soil, and we do know that aerating the soil works!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Employee Day

  With a difficult but very successful season nearly behind us, it became apparent that the maintenance staff needed a little break from the hard work needed to keep the course in top notch condition.  This past Thursday, we quickly came in and set the course up for play and immediately headed to Lake Glenville for a day of boating, food, and relaxation.  The goal was to bring us closer together as a team and to recognize everyone's hard work on behalf of the members.

The staff at the pavilion.

Fun on the lake.
  We set up at the pavilion at Andrews park on Lake Glenville and had a huge cookout.  After the food, some of us headed out to the boats for joy rides, tubing, and fishing.  Several others stayed at the pavilion and played corn hole.  Overall, it was a relaxing and fun day that everyone enjoyed.


Two bald eagles on the shores of Lake Glenville
  On behalf of all the maintenance staff, I want to thank all the members of HFCC for giving us this opportunity.  It won't soon be forgot.

Monday, September 25, 2017

"Australian" Bunker Raking

It has been a full season now with the bunkers being raked in the "Australian method".  This method consists of a smooth and firm 2-3 foot edge inside the bunker with the floor being raked regularly.  It has a lot of advantages over raking the entire bunker including play-ability and maintenance costs.
A 2-3 foot ring of smooth sand rings the inside of the bunker.
On the play-ability side, it nearly eliminates the fried egg lies on the high sides of the bunkers.  Since the high sides are left firm and smooth, the ball more often than not rolls down to the floor of the bunker.  This has allowed players to have a better shot out of the bunker and it speeds up play.

On the maintenance side, less people are needed to maintain the bunkers throughout the season. This has allowed us to reallocate that labor to other areas of the golf course. The method also maintains the visual appearance of the high faced bunkers while also making it easier to physically maintain.
Balls roll down the high side of the bunker face.
The "Australian method" for raking bunkers has been one of those changes to our maintenance regimen that has been a win-win for golfers and the bottom line.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Irma Clean-up

Our hearts and prayers are for all the people who have been affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. While we have received some significant damage to the golf course, nobody was hurt and our damage will be relatively easy to clean-up.  We spent the better part of Tuesday, helping the HOA remove trees on the roads in Highlands Falls while also clearing paths on many member's driveways so that they could get in and out of their homes.
Falls Drive West along #19.

Falls Drive West.

Outside the maintenance building.
All of the damage to the golf course was caused by high winds from hurricane Irma.  While the eye did not pass near us, we still received gusts of 50 mph for over an 18 hour period.  This caused a significant amount of limbs and other debris to cover the course, all of which will need to be picked up by hand.  Additionally, a large number of trees have fallen throughout the course, but mainly on the front nine.
Along #1 fairway.

Along #8 fairway.

Potential catastrophe.  This tree knocked the 1000 gal propane tank over at the maintenance facility.
The clean-up will take some time but we will get the course open as soon as possible.  Please be aware that we will be leaving many of the stumps from the fallen trees in place for now.  We will remove these during the off-season.  Piles of limbs and debris will be stationed on several holes in the rough to be chipped into the woods.
Another tree on #8.

Along #5.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Training Day

One of the great joys of my job is taking the time to train a staff member on a new task and operate a new piece of equipment.  This weekend I was fortunate to train not just one staff member but two on two different pieces of equipment and they were all smiles!

On Saturday, Dima Litvinov from the Ukraine, got his first taste of triplex mowing greens.  I sometimes take it for granted the detail needed to operate a mower on a green since I've done it for over 30 years.  However, Dima did an excellent job for his first time out and will only get better with time.

On Sunday, I spent part of the morning training Dedek Suprianto from Indonesia, on the proper technique of mowing the rough on a Jacobsen AR-522.  I was amazed at how quickly he learned how to operate the machine.

By cross training our staff we accomplish two goals.  The first is obvious in that we have more trained staff to perform the necessary tasks on the course.  If someone gets sick, there is someone already trained to fill their shoes.  The second is that we satisfy each employee's need for personal fulfillment by continually expanding their knowledge and giving them opportunities to succeed.

A Little Seed in the Rough

During the past couple of weeks our staff has been overseeding the rough with improved varieties of turfgrass. Overseeding is the planting of grass seed directly into existing turf, without tearing up the turf or the soil. It's an effective way to fill in bare spots, improve the density of turf, and establish improved grass varieties.


Overseeding newer turfgrass varieties into the rough can help it better withstand insects, disease, drought, shady conditions, and heavy traffic. The investment in overseeding pays off by reducing the amount of fertilizer, water, and pesticides required. Additionally, the new varieties of turfgrass offer better playability along with improved aesthetics and plant health. 

Seeding with the Turfco TriWave
The method that we use to overseed is 'slit-seeding' with a mechanical seeder. This is the best method for overseeding established turf. Slit-seeders have verticutting blades that cut through the thatch layer and open up a slit or miniature furrow. While there is some disturbance to the existing turf, it is minimal and the benefits far out weigh the alternative of doing nothing at all. The seeder drops seed into the slit to ensure the seed gets into the soil where it can germinate. More seed-to-soil contact means a higher germination rate and a better stand of new grass.


In the Highlands area, late summer through early fall is the best time to overseed, as soil and atmospheric temperatures are most favorable for optimum seed germination and growth. With adequate moisture, fertilizer and sunlight, the new seedlings will be well established before the cooler fall weather sets in. 

Germination after 1.5 weeks
Germination after 2.5 weeks
Germination after 3 weeks
We appreciate your patience while we work to improve the course and as always, thank you for your continued support. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Rainy Day Work

  I am often asked if we go home on rain days and the answer is almost always no.  The reason is simple, often times we defer small maintenance around the shop,  wait to deep clean equipment, and do noisy work such as chipping brush.  If we have a long stretch of no rain, this type of work can add up.
Rain days mean shop cleaning.

Performing deferred maintenance.

  With several days of rain, we have been focused on doing what we call "house cleaning". We have been catching up on paper work, organizing irrigation parts, cleaning equipment, doing minor repairs to the maintenance building, and using our newest acquisition, a 135hp chipper! Needless to say, even on rain days, we stay busy.
Brush piles up over the course of a season.

Chipping brush is more efficient and economical than hauling it away.