Monday, March 18, 2019

Sink Hole on #18

When it rains it pours and as of today, we have had 30 plus inches of rain this year.  That rain has highlighted some deficiencies on the course, most notably rusted steel culverts.  While we have replaced most of the steel culverts, there are some that remain such as the one that travels across the fairway on #18.
Sink hole on #18
After our last major rain event, we were welcomed by a large sink hole in the middle of the fairway on #18.  At the surface was what looked to be about a 5 foot hole, but upon further inspection, there was a much larger cavity below the sod.  We immediately closed the hole for safety reasons.  It did not take long to figure out what the problem was, a rusted 18 inch steel culvert.
Digging out the old pipe.

Front of #18 green
Since the pipe was too deep for our staff to safely replace, we solicited bids to have the pipe replaced with double wall plastic pipe.  This pipe will last for well over 50 years.  While the job seems simple enough, there are electrical wires and irrigation pipes that have to be avoided.  Additionally, all subsurface drain lines need to be connected to new pipe.  With good weather, I expect this work to be completed by the end of this week.
New pipe extends all the way to the lake.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Golf Industry Show - San Diego 2019

  Josh and I have just returned from our national conference otherwise known as the Golf Industry Show (GIS).  With a golf course renovation on the horizon and our continued goal to improve the efficiency of our operation, we had several objectives that we hoped to accomplish while at the conference while also networking with various industry professionals.

Myself with my former assistant John Gruneisen.
  Over the years, we have used a record keeping program that helped us track equipment repairs, chemical usage, labor, and the overall budget.  However, with today's technology, it became clear that our old program was no longer efficient and was time consuming.  On the trade show floor we set out to find what we thought would be the best turf management system for our operation.  There were many to choose from but it seemed they were always lacking one component or another.  Then we came upon Turfkeeper.  Turfkeeper is a cloud based system that gives us more efficient control over staff management, task planning, equipment management, inventory control, chemical applications and recording, and budgeting & expense management.  This new tool will greatly reduce the amount of paperwork that we currently do and is step forward in efficiency for our operation.

Turfkeeper turf management system was developed by golf course superintendents.
  Another objective to attending the GIS was to decide on what type of grass we want on greens and fairways.  While it is obvious we want bentgrass, there are many new varieties that are FAR superior to what we currently have.  The new varieties use less water, are resistant to diseases, are more aesthetic, and can accommodate faster green speeds.  We spoke with seed researchers and took classes on using the newer varieties on course renovations.  While we have not decided on a final variety of turf, the discussions and education with other industry professionals has helped us to narrow it down to a few varieties.  This is a decision that we will have to make soon so that the sod farm has time to grow what we will need.

"The Agronomics of Golf Course Renovations"
  I personally spent a day touring the Hunter Industries plant in San Marcos.  Hunter is the manufacturer of Highlands Falls irrigation system and has been a great supporter of our operation for over 20 years.  It was an eye opener to see how the sprinkler heads and controllers we use are made.  The best part was talking with the factory workers and engineers and see the pride they take with manufacturing their products.  This was an opportune time to see the operation as we will be replacing a large number of sprinklers on the course when go through the renovation.

Hunter builds over 10 million pgp sprinkler heads per year.

Sprinkler head manufacturing is almost totally automated.
  Lastly, one of the major objectives to attending the GIS is interacting with my peers.  The amount of knowledge that I gather from simply “talking turf” with the guys is immeasurable. I would like to thank everyone at HFCC for providing Josh and myself the opportunity to participate in the GIS and for understanding the value in continued education. By attending the trade show and participating in the educational seminars, I have consistently been able to bring back useful information that has benefited the Club both in savings and efficiencies, not to mention the agronomic information that improves the course.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Safety First

 I sometimes forget that not every workplace puts safety first for their employees.  The training can be time consuming and supplies can get expensive.  However, the cost for not making safety a priority could be serious injuries or even worse.

  I was recently reminded why we put such an emphasis on safety.  As most know, our staff is working on a tree clearing program in anticipation of a golf course renovation.  This is an all staff on board project that has everyone involved with cutting and chipping trees.  Even with the best safety precautions in place, accidents can happen.  While cutting a tree, one of our staff members simply got tired and let his running chainsaw slip down to his side, striking his leg.  Fortunately, he incurred no injury because he was wearing chainsaw chaps.

These safety chaps saved one of our staff members from serious injury.  After any of the chaps gets a tear or rip, they are discarded as their safety ability is diminished.

  Nobody on our staff is permitted to operate a chainsaw without wearing safety chaps, hearing protection, and eye protection.  Additionally, nobody is allowed to operate a saw by themselves, they must always have a partner just in case.  The entire staff is required to watch safety videos on a regular basis.

Fully equipped with safety gear.

  Some workplaces may think this is a little excessive, I personally think its just a starting point and an investment worth while.  Total cost for each employee to be safely trained and equipped for operating a chainsaw; safety training via video - $40, chainsaw chaps - $40, eye protection - $10, hearing protection - $20, gloves - $10, bump cap - $20.  Total cost = $140 per employee.  Total cost for an employee who is safety minded - PRICELESS.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Winter Tree Removal

  As part of our winter work, we plan on removing a large amount of trees throughout the course.  Course architect, Bill Bergin and myself have been studying the course and selecting trees for removal.  While some of the tree work needs to be done now (due to death or decay), other tree removal is in anticipation of a course renovation.
Bill and I mapping which trees are to be removed.
  By doing the tree work now with our staff, we can save the club a considerable amount of money than by waiting for the renovation and having a contractor do it.  Our staff was scheduled to start the tree removal this week, unfortunately rain has delayed our start.  We will begin as soon as the weather clears.

Monday, September 3, 2018

HFCC Installs Irrigation System for Historical Society

  In keeping with Highlands Falls Country Club's commitment to give back to the community, our staff recently finished installing an automated irrigation system for the Highlands Historical Society.  This system will help maintain and protect the health and beauty of the gardens at the historical society. 
  While several staff members had a hand in installing the system, Davis Wilson and Levi Warren deserve recognition as they did most of the installation.  Also a big thank you to Kevin Johnson of Hunter Industries for donating the sprinkler heads, valves, and controller.  This was a fun project and a special one knowing that we played a small part in protecting and highlighting the history of Highlands.
Article from the Highlands Newspaper.

Monday, August 27, 2018

HFCC Honey Harvest

In between battling the elements and preparing the course for play, we made time to harvest honey from our collection of 6 hives.  I have been told that this was not a particularly good honey year due to all the rain this season.  Even so, I am happy with the amount that we collected.  As soon as I have labels, the honey will be for sale in the golf shop.

First, we smoke the bees to calm them down.
Each frame is inspected for honey.  The best are removed for harvesting.
The wax capping must be punctured so that the honey can be released from the comb.
The frame is then put into an extractor where the honey slung out.
The honey goes from the extractor through a filter and into a food grade bucket.
Lastly, the honey is bottled.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A July 4th Tradition at HFCC - The American Flag

The weather on Monday was outstanding and it provided ideal conditions to paint the American flag.  The job went nearly perfect and we again have that beautiful sight on the 17th fairway.  Additionally, I want to thank all the members for sending me pictures of the flag with your drones.  Its truly a stunning sight from the air.  

Assistant Superintendent Josh Cantrell after finishing the flag.

For about 14 years now, the HFCC maintenance staff has been painting the American flag on #17 fairway.  17 was chosen as it provided a perfect position for the flag to be seen from the clubhouse.  The flag measures 100 feet across and takes over 1500 feet of twine to set up.  We use 10 gallons of red, 10 gallons of white, and 5 gallons of blue turf paint in addition to a case of white spray paint.  We also go through a few pairs of old shoes and pants. From start to finish, it takes approximately 4 hours to complete.