Friday, February 16, 2018

2018 Golf Industry Show

Each year I am fortunate enough to attend the Golf Industry Show (GIS) which this year was held in San Antonio Texas.  The GIS is an annual conference that brings together golf course superintendents, owners, architects, and suppliers from all over the world. The conference features several days of educational seminars followed by the annual trade show.  I was able to take advantage of several educational opportunities along with a productive stroll through the trade show.

Of the educational opportunities, my favorite was "Bee the Change: Getting Started with Beekeeping on the Golf Course".  This was a great class that provided an overview of honey bee biology, colony life, basic entomology, golf course considerations, improving foraging area, and overall hive management.  Judging by the attendance, there are a lot of golf courses other than ourselves that are working hard to make a major impact on improving the environment for pollinators.

Discussing the location of bee hives on the golf course.
The trade show floor is the place where companies can show off their latest creations and hopefully announce major deals.  With our G&G chairman, John Eastman present, we announced our own major deal with Hunter Golf and Simmons Irrigation.  Early this spring, we will be replacing our old irrigation computer and controllers with Hunter's new Pilot system.  Our old controllers are no longer supported and parts are getting more difficult to source.  Hunter's new system is the most robust and efficient system in the industry today and will serve HFCC for many years to come.

Kevin Johnson of Hunter Golf announces that HFCC will be the latest course to install Hunter's Pilot irrigation system.
I would like to thank all the members of HFCC for allowing me to continue to pursue my professional development by attending the annual Golf Industry Show.  The amount of information that I learn through the education, networking with my peers, and attending the trade show is immeasurable.  I have consistently been able to bring back useful information that has benefited the Club in both savings and efficiency, not to mention the agronomic knowledge that benefits the course.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Tree Work and Stump Removal

  One of the main projects for this winter has been tree removal and trimming back underbrush and rhododendrons.  While I have detailed the trimming and removal in past posts, I have not adequately detailed the scope of the project that we have undertaken.

  Over the years a significant amount of trees have encroached on the playing area.  Some of these trees started out as volunteers and some have been there for years.  However, the nature of the tree removal has been to remove trees that are either decayed and dying or because they inhibit turf growth due to excessive shade.  By the time we are done, we will have removed about 100 large trees, primarily on the front nine.

Some of the tree removal has required the service of professional arborists.
  Felling 100 large trees is in itself a major project for our staff, but the work doesn't stop once the trees are down.  After the trees are down, they are cut up and the branches sent through the chipper.  If it is a hardwood, we cut the wood and split it into firewood where we use it to heat the maintenance facility.  If it is a softwood then we chip what we can and the rest is hauled off to the dump.

Split firewood for heating the maintenance building and material being readied to be hauled away.
  Once the tree is removed we are left with the stump.  If the stump is off in the woods, then we cut it flush and leave it.  If it is within the turf, then we remove the stump.  Generally, a large hole needs to be dug to get the stump loose so that it can be removed.  The resulting hole is filled in with dirt and sod is installed.  The stump is then hauled away to the dump.  Some of the larger stumps can take nearly a day to remove.  Leaving the stump is not an option (even if we grind it down) as the decaying wood makes growing grass difficult and eventually causes a hole to form.

Roots being pruned from a large oak stump.

A large hole needs to be dug to remove the stump.
  This has been a major undertaking for our staff but one that will reap benefits far into the future.  Those that have seen our work have been excited about what they see.

Early Delivery for the Upcoming Season

  Getting the course ready for the upcoming season does not just include working on the course, but also planning for some of the smaller details that tend to get taken for granted.  One of those small details is ball washers.
Par Aide Deluxe Ball Washer (HFCC's will be brown)
  Lee Howell from Corbin Turf just delivered all new ball washers for the course.  Our old washers were just to a point where fixing and repainting them no longer made fiscal sense.  However, we did get our monies worth as the old washers were on the course for approximately 30 years!  Since we had such good experience with the previous washers, we chose to get the same brand and style again.

Lee Howell of Corbin Turf with Asst. Supt Chris Cowan delivering new ball washers.
  With a desire to have our course accessories blend more into the environment, the Greens & Grounds committee chose to have the washers painted in brown instead of the standard green.  I've had a good look at them and they will look great on the course. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Winter Update 1-22-18

     I hope everyone is doing well.  Just a quick update as to where we are with our projects and operations.  First, we are doing a considerable amount of tree removal and underbrush trimming.  The nature of the tree removal has been to remove trees that are either decayed and dying or because they inhibit turf growth due to excessive shade.  We have spent a considerable amount of time on holes 2-6 trimming and removing plant material because so many trees and rhododendrons had encroached the playing area.  We still have a lot more to do in these areas such as chipping and removing the stumps and hauling them away.
A considerable amount of trees have been removed from the sides of hole #4 as they were encroaching on the playing area.
     In addition to the trimming, I had a contractor come in to remove excessive silt buildup in the lake on #2 and in the lake on #10 near the dam.  That material will be used on the forward tees.  Speaking of the forward tees, we have not progressed much further than from my last report.  The contractor has been busy with the croquet project and has been slowed somewhat by the weather and a steady supply of dirt.  However, I have scheduled for another vendor to supply us with dirt for the tees and our contractor is going to bring in more people to do the tees while also doing the croquet project.
A view from the new gold tee on #5
     When the weather has been too cold for us to work outside, we have been busy painting the inside of the break room, making some minor upgrades to our kitchen, refurbishing equipment, and reconditioning the wood signs and benches.
A major focus of our winter work schedule includes preparing the equipment for the upcoming season.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Safety Training

  Throughout the year, we regularly have training and safety meetings with the staff.  With regular training and communication, we can greatly reduce the number of workplace accidents that happen throughout the year.  Most of the time, we use rainy days to have our meetings.  The staff get together in the break room and watch videos on various topics related to our industry.

The golf course maintenance staff watch safety and training videos.

  Some of the topics include, Chainsaw Safety and Use, Safe Mower Operation, Workplace Safety and Emergency Response, Golf Course Etiquette, Slips, Trips, and Falls, Small Power Equipment, and many more.
One of the online services we use at HFCC for golf course safety training.

  The recent rains, have allowed us to spend a considerable amount time with our staff reviewing a whole host of topics.  While the time invested in this training may not prevent an accident from happening, it is the best avenue for prevention. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Visit to the Quarry

  Working in the mountains, rock is an everyday occurrence that you get used to and sometimes take for granted.  While planning for the croquet expansion, I did not put much thought to the rock that we would need because its everywhere and we had a supplier that I knew could provide the necessary boulders.  However, at the insistence of our rock supplier, I visited the quarry where all of our boulders are coming from.

Sheer wall of granite at The McNealy's Company quarry.

Granite quarry.  Note how small the VERY large bulldozers are.

Drill machine drilling holes for explosives.

  With the rock wall for the croquet expansion reaching 20' at the highest point, just any old rock would not work.  The boulders for the wall need to be relatively flat and very large.  As I found out at the quarry, large flat boulders are actually a mistake in the blasting process and need to be individually picked out of the rubble.  It's a time consuming process that yields the best boulders for our situation.

Each large flat boulder must be individually picked out from the piles of blasted rock.

The new wall for the croquet expansion.

  With about half of the boulder wall now finished, I feel good in that we have selected the best supplier for rock as they are taking the time to give us the best material for our job.  After, viewing the mining operation at the quarry, I won't be taking rock for granted anymore.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Golf Course Update 12-1-17

 So far the weather during the off-season has been very mild and that has helped us focus on our winter projects with little distraction.  The only thing that has slowed our progress has been our staff taking their much needed vacations.

Trimming at #2 White tee.
Chipping the limbs.
  Trimming rhododendrons and tree removal has been a major focus for our staff.  We have completed a thorough trimming of the #2 tee complex and are currently working on the #6 tee complex.  Once we finish at #6, we will be focusing on the #3 and #5 tee complexes.  This trimming is long overdue and will help to open the holes up for play while also improving the turf by allowing for more light.

Widening #9 approach.

A widened #9 approach.
  We have also completed a couple of small but necessary projects.  First, we added additional drainage along the cart path on #2 and also replaced a main drain pipe that had been crushed by a boulder.  The second project was the widening of the approach at the ninth green.  By removing the rough sod and hauling in several loads of dirt, we were able to double the size of the approach. 

Drainage along #2 cart path.

Preparing the catch basin on #2.
  In addition to the course projects, we have been busy with the croquet expansion.  After all of the blasting was completed, our staff spent several days collecting rock for future landscaping projects.  We have also removed some of the sod from the old lawns and used them on the course.  As for the rest of the project, it is going very well.  Boulders and fill dirt are now coming in at a steady pace.  About 25% of the new rock wall is complete.  The footers for the pavilion have been poured and some of the utilities have been installed.  With good weather, I expect the slab for the pavilion to be poured by the end of next week. 

Croquet expansion before starting the rock wall.

The rock wall is currently around 7' tall.  It will be 18' at its tallest point.

Preparation for the footers.

Forms for the pavilion slab (floor).  Several utilities will be installed under the slab.