Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

We will all be on vacation during the holiday week so this will be my last update until next year!  Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!

Finishing up #8 Fairway

Despite continued rain, we have been steadily making progress on #8 fairway.  As you may remember, the fairway and rough about 100 yds out from the green was unlevel and did not drain well.  We have remedied this problem by lifting all of the turf , adding soil, and grading the entire area.
Adding soil to fill in low areas.
Grading and smoothing the surface.
With a project of this scope, we often unearth other problems that we must fix at the same time.  Such is the case here as the lake bank was in desperate need of repair.  The combination of gravity, wet soil, and equipment have caused the bank to slide into the lake.  This is normal as there is nothing to hold the bank in place like a rock wall.  To fix the problem, we have reshaped the bank and put new sod down.  At some point in the future, we will have to do this again or install a more permanent solution like a rock wall.

Shaping the lake bank.

Second Buffalo Blower Finished!

Our second Buffalo blower is now finished.  Both received new engines and controllers, along with a new paint job.  A new blower costs around $12,000.  The cost to refurbish these blowers was about $4000 for both, including labor.  Because of this project, I am happy to report that we have been able to save the club approximately $20,000 in new equipment costs!
Blowers 1 & 2 ready to go.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Master Drainage Plan

Sometimes great opportunities happen by chance.  Such was the case 2 weeks ago when I got an unscheduled visit by one of the turf industries foremost drainage experts, Dennis Hurley of Turf Drainage Company.  While we have been successful with our drainage projects to date, this was an opportunity to see if there was a better way of draining the course.
Drainage pump - allows you to drain up hill

Without getting into soil physics, my meeting with Dennis convinced me that there is a better way to drain the golf course.  After consulting with Dwight Bradley G&G chairman, we hired Dennis to do a master drainage plan for the entire golf course.  Dennis came out this Wednesday and we have spent the last 3 days mapping the course for future drainage.

Dennis (in green) evaluating #11 fwy
We will have a master drainage plan the first week of January.  At this point we will decide where we will  start with Turf Drainage's system.  One of the systems advantages over traditional drainage is that we can drain water up hill.  This is especially helpful on our course were we frequently hit rock. 

Since drainage was one of the major projects for the current 5-year plan, this was an ideal time and opportunity to evaluate our drainage program.  I will post future updates when we begin to install the new drains.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rebuilding the 2nd Buffalo Blower

We have two Buffalo blowers here at HFCC that are used extensively throughout the season.  As you saw in a previous post, we have already rebuilt one of them and are now in the process of rebuilding the 2nd one.
New engine being fitted to the blower

These blowers are turbine blowers and produce a lot of power.  They are very similar to a jet engine.  In addition to their power, they are very versatile in that they are easily towed and the nozzle can be directed in any direction.  This saves us a lot of time because with a traditional blower you have to back up half the time since you cannot change the direction of the air.  Needless to say, going forward is much quicker than going backwards.
Modified blower frame before painting

We use the blowers to blow leaves, clean cart paths, blow clippings, and even to distribute sand after topdressing.  With both blowers rebuilt to like new condition, we can expect many more years of service.

Tree Removal Around the Putting Green

During the season, the G&G committee elected to remove two trees from around the putting green.  One was blocking sunlight and affecting the health of the putting green.  The other tree was dying and by seasons end had died.

This week we felled both trees.  The dead tree has been completely removed while the other is still on the ground.  We will finish removing this tree when we cannot work on drainage projects.
Dead tree with electrical boxes in the upper left

The dead tree was between the putting green and Falls Drive East.  Many of you have asked me to landscape this area and hide the  two electrical boxes that are next to the road.  With the tree now gone, we can now landscape the area without damaging any plant material we put in.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Much Needed Storage

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  Such was the case this Monday and Tuesday when we received all day rain making it impossible to do the grading work that we are doing on #8.  The rainy days provided us with the opportunity to do some in-house cleaning and organizing.
Installing industrial shelving

As with all golf courses, some of the equipment is used only during short periods of the year.  The rest of the time the equipment sits and takes up a LOT of floor space.  In addition to sitting on the ground, it gets in the way and many times accidentally gets bumped, hit, dented, and also damaged.  To alleviate this problem, we purchased some used warehouse shelving to store the equipment out of the way.
Equipment organized and safely stored

 We built specialized pallets to latch the equipment to and make it easier to lift onto the shelves.  With the pallet forks on the front end loader, the equipment is easily brought down or put away.   We now have much more floor space and the equipment is safely stored out of the way.  Storing the equipment this way has been planned for some time but only now did we have the time to follow through with it.  This project is part of a larger plan of improving the maintenance facility to make it safer and more efficient.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Late Fall fertilization

Along with our winter projects, we are busy doing the regular agronomic practices that make the golf course healthy.  One of these projects is fertilizing the entire golf course. 

Over the years, many members have asked me why we fertilize when the grass isn't growing such as in the winter.  The fact is, the types of grass that we have in Highlands do grow throughout the winter.  Research shows that late fall fertilization is one of the best practices we can do to achieve healthy turf.

As soon as we finish with the back nine, the entire golf course will have been fertilized and prepared for winter.

Fairway leveling continues on #8

The fairway leveling on #8 continues!  Despite some lousy weather today the maintenance staff continues to lay sod in an attempt to get all of the disturbed area covered with grass before the weekend.

Grading #8 fairway and rough along the lake.
Original fairway sod being put back down
Hand smoothing the fairway for sod

At first glance this project may seem like a lot of work for little gain.  However its easy to forget just how bad some areas are after the season is over.  The areas on #8 are especially bad.  Besides having poor drainage, these areas are particularly unlevel making it both difficult to ride on but also difficult to maintain.
Believe it or not, there are areas that you see in the pictures that we raised with over a foot of dirt!  So long as the weather holds, we will continue to level the left side of #8 fairway towards the green.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Equipment Renovation Begins

Sometimes during the season we don't always have time to do a complete repair of a piece of equipment or the equipment just gets worn out.  So when the off-season starts, we start to tear down some of our equipment.  With the average age of most of our equipment greater than 8 year old, good maintenance is a must.
HFCC equipment tech, Loren Sterling adjusting new engine for blower
Our goal in maintaining our fleet of equipment is first, to keep it operating properly.  This includes making sure there are no hydraulic leaks, all safety and electrical systems are working, and making sure that everything can be adjusted properly.  Secondly, we want the equipment to be visually appealing.  We make sure that all the equipment is washed regularly so that it easier to maintain and keeps corrosion at bay.

Completely rebuilt blower - New $12,000  Rebuilt $2000
Over time leaks do happen and paint fades and chips away.  When this happens and its fiscally beneficial, we bring the equipment in and totally renovate it.  Sometimes this includes putting a new engine on a machine but it always includes new hydraulic hoses, seals, paint, and whatever else it needs to bring it to as new condition as possible.
This type of maintenance helps our equipment last longer than at most other clubs.  With the cost of golf course maintenance equipment getting higher each year (and I mean higher), it is prudent of us to take care of our equipment and make it last as long as possible.

Smoothing the Fairway on #8

Leveling fairways is part of the new 5 year improvement plan here at HFCC.  We have begun this project at the beginning of #8 fairway.  This area was dotted with many potholes and poor surface drainage making it both difficult to mow and drive a golf cart.
To remedy this problem, we have removed a large portion of the turf by hand.  All of this sod was lifted and stacked to the side of the fairway.  After that we brought in our grading equipment and started to remove the high spots and fill in the low areas.  Additionally, we reshaped the surface so that the natural drainage would work more properly.  When we are done with the shaping, we will put all the old sod back down. 
While this is a major project, it is aimed at improving the drainage and the playability of the course.  When we finish with this area, we are going to do the same type of work on the entire fairway and rough along #8 lake.  There are many low areas that hold water and the surface is VERY unlevel.  In addition to this work, we will install over a 1200' of subsurface drainage.