Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rounds 4 Research - An Auction for Golfers

Highlands Falls Country Club is once again a sponsor for Rounds 4 Research.  The club has continually supported this worth while program by donating a foursome in support of continued turfgrass research while also helping to secure golf's future.  The premise is simple, clubs donate a round of golf and the public bids on those rounds.  The money raised is then used to support research and programs that help build the game of golf.


Please visit https://www.biddingforgood.com/auction/auctionhome.action?vhost=eifg to bid and see a list of all the courses throughout the country that you have an opportunity bid on and hopefully win.  This is a great opportunity to get with some friends and play at a facility that you may not otherwise get to play.

As of this writing, Highlands Falls is in the top 10 in North Carolina which includes 121 different courses.  A sample of some of the other courses that are available to bid on include:

  • Pinehurst No. 2
  • Sage Valley
  • Secession Golf Club
  • East Lake Golf Club
  • Shoal Creek

If you have any questions on Rounds 4 Research, here is the some additional info:

Monday, May 1, 2017

May1st, Opening Day.....and 2 Inches of Rain!

With the best of intentions for a grand opening of the 2017 golf season, Mother Nature thought otherwise.  With 2 inches of rain and counting, opening day has been a bust or a "wash".  We have spent most of the day cutting up trees that have fallen, picking up debris, and cleaning off catch basins.  At least the 15th hole has been awesome to look at!
15th Hole
Another view of the 15th.
New drainage on #9 getting a workout.

Dam and pump house.

The fun job of cleaning out catch basins.

Monday, April 24, 2017

More Bees for HFCC

While we are very busy preparing the course for the upcoming season, we have been equally busy preparing the apiary for its newest tenants.  This past weekend I picked up 4 new "Nucs" or nucleus hives from Blue Ridge Honey Company in Lakemont Georgia.  The "Nucs" consist of 5 frames of brood, a queen bee, and a lot of bees!  I installed all the "Nucs" into their permanent home off the 14th fairway on Saturday.
The white boxes are "Nucs" which contain 5 frames of bees.

Our first hive with a new hive next to it.
During the winter, our staff put together 3 new Langstroth hives which brings our total to 5 hives. While last year was a successful year with the bees, we did loose 1 hive at the end of the season due to an ineffective queen.  I am told that this is common and one of the main reasons that a hive fails. Now that we know what to look for, we can correct this before we have a failure in the future.
Danny Jones from Syngenta getting an up close look at our bees.

Cleaning old frames and preparing them for the new hives.
The bees have had a positive effect on the course and with our environmental outreach.  Additionally, the small amount of honey that we did produce last year was exceptional. With a little luck and a good season, we hope to have honey for sale by late summer.

Monday, March 27, 2017

#9 Fairway Drainage

As we continue to repair "bird baths" and level areas throughout the fairways we have hit a bit of a snag on #9 fairway.  While our original intent was to simply level several areas of the fairway, it quickly became apparent that a more thorough project was necessary.  The leveling would have corrected the surface drainage but it would have done little to correct the saturated soils.  Since the area that we are working on is the main exit point of the fairway we have decided to go all in with a large drainage project.

Fixing a "bird bath"

Areas to be leveled.
Our goal now is to install TurfDrain and to position several catch basins to collect surface water.  In order to do this we have to excavate several hundred feet at a depth of 4 feet.  We will then add the appropriate pipe and basins and then fill the entire trench with sand.  The sand will then be compacted after which we will install sod.

Removing sod for drain lines.

Digging a trench to 4 feet deep will provide for excellent drainage.
While this is a much larger project than originally envisioned, it is a long term solution that will pay off for years to come.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Lunch & Goodbye

As a superintendent it is always rewarding to watch your staff work hard and try to achieve the same vision you have for improving the golf course.  For the last several months I have watched our crew cut down trees, dig ditches, chip limbs, replace sod, install and level irrigation heads, renovate equipment, and clean the shop, all with the greatest enthusiasm.  Additionally the staff is always coming up with ways to improve how we do things so that the vision of improving the golf course is realized.
Enjoying lunch together in Highlands
Last week, as a small thank you to the staff, we took an extended break and went into town to sit down and have lunch together.  It turned out to be better than anticipated as we did not talk much about work but more about each other and our various experiences.  With the crew coming from the USA, Mexico, Vietnam, and the Ukraine, we had a lot to share.  While lunch only last about an hour and a half, the experience allowed us to relax and to grow as a team.
Dinh, Fred, & Ba
Last week also marked the departure of two of our Vietnamese international students, Ba & Dinh.  Ba & Dinh will be greatly missed as their enthusiasm, dedication, and willing to learn made them exemplary staff members.  I know I speak for the whole staff in wishing them the best in their future endeavors.
"Peace" from Dinh & Ba



Friday, March 10, 2017

Tractor Renovation Complete

As I had communicated in an earlier post, we were in the process of renovating our 16 year John Deere tractor.  I am happy to report that the tractor is now complete and in like new condition.  This was a fun project that our whole staff can be proud of as everyone worked on some part of the tractor.

JD 5210 before the renovation with cowlings removed.

JD 5210 after sanding and being readied for paint.

JD 5210 after the frame has been painted.

Throughout the renovation process we performed the following;
  • Replaced engine and transmission seals
  • Replaced the steering linkages
  • Replaced the clutch
  • Replaced several hydraulic lines
  • Installed a new dash and gauges
  • Repainted the tractor and applied new decals
  • Added an accessory electrical box
  • Added a comfort fan for the operator
  • Added additional lights
  • Installed new tires and rims
  • Topped it off with a new seat

JD 5210 completed with all new paint, decals, tires, etc.

Upgraded operator's station.

Equipment Manager - Aaron Brown and Mechanic - Eric Bolick after finishing the JD 5210

Improvements include accessory switches for lights, foamer, implements, and comfort fan.

It's important that we take care of the equipment we have and not only keep it in working condition but also maintain a presentable condition.  With this renovation, the tractor will easily last another 16 years.  

Monday, March 6, 2017

Winter Update 3-6-17

So far we have had a mild winter and for the most part that has helped us focus on our winter projects with little distraction.  The only negative has been that we have had to reallocate personnel to mowing greens and fairways.  Needless to say, we do not mow often in January and February at HFCC.   

Trimming rhododendrons throughout the course was not on this years winter project list but it has become a major project on several holes.  What started out as a small trimming project quickly became a big one on hole #14.  We started by trimming a few areas to improve visibility but realized that it would not look right if we did not do the entire area between #14 and #16, so we trimmed.  That led us to trimming around the 15th hole.  Beyond the visual, the trimming will also have the added benefit of improving air flow and reducing shade which will help the turf.  After finishing these holes, we looked at areas throughout the course that needed immediate attention.  These include areas on holes #1, #2, #5, #6, #8, #9, #11, #12, and #17.  


Trimming left of the 1st green.

Trimming behind #16 green.

A view down the 14th fairway after trimming.

Along with trimming, we have added irrigation to a couple of areas on the course.  First, we added landscape irrigation to the beds at the tennis/pool facility.  This area has never had irrigation and as a result the landscaping suffered.  The new irrigation will complement the new landscaping that was planted last year. We have also added several new fairway sprinkler heads to #9 fairway.  Since we removed several trees that were planted too close to the fairway, we are now able to widen the fairway (which we are doing) as the architect had originally intended.  


Prepping for sod.

New irrigation line on #9 fairway.
Another project that we are working on is leveling areas throughout the fairways.  This is a time consuming project as even small areas require us to lift a large are of sod to ensure the area is either level or provides for drainage.
Lifting sod to level the fairway. 

A "bird bath" in a fairway awaiting repair.