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.

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.