Monday, June 12, 2017

Little Pest Causes Big Problems

In the past 10 years I have watched our budget for insect control more than quadruple.  This has been primarily due to the Annual Bluegrass Weevil or ABW.  As the name suggests, this particular weevil attacks annual bluegrass and bentgrass by inserting eggs into the turf and then larvae feed on the plant.  While a fully mature plant in the rough may survive, turf mowed at green, tee, and fairway height will not.  ABW is one of the most destructive pests in the golf industry and it is believed that it was introduced to the area from a shipment of sod from up north where it has been a problem for many years.

The adult ABW is very small making scouting difficult.
Treatment for ABW is expensive and timing is critical.  Every year at HFCC we treat a greater area of turf for ABW.  This includes fairways and tees, along with portions of the rough.  Research has shown that ABW prefers turf mowed at fairway and tee heights over the even lower heights of the greens.  However, as we have found this weekend, ABW likes green heights also.  While we have known this was a possibility, we never had any problems on greens until now.  Now that we know our greens are susceptible to ABW, we will add that to our treatment list and to the budget.

ABW larvae after treatment.  Note how small ABW larvae are.

Discoloring of the turf caused by ABW.  Left untreated the turf will die.
Fortunately, the damage caused to our greens has been minimal because it was caught early. Treatments will be made throughout the year to keep ABW under control.  As for the slight damage caused, a little fertilizer and TLC will get the greens in excellent condition in very short order.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

HFCC Equipment Manager, Aaron Brown is Finalist for Prestigious Award

I'm proud to announce that Highlands Falls Equipment Manger Aaron Brown is one of three finalist for TurfNet's Equipment Manager of the Year Award.  This is a national award given to the top turf equipment technician in the country.   Please click the following link to read about Aarons's nomination.

Aaron Brown in action sharpening mower reels.

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 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