Tuesday, January 29, 2013

#6 Drainage Project

We are well under way with the drainage project on hole #6.  With the help of Micheal Smith of Syphon Systems we are quickly learning how to properly install the Turf Drain system.  If the weather holds, I expect the project to take no longer than three weeks to finish.
Putting together channel drains
It takes a lot of resources to install this type of drain system
Trenching #6 fairway
Digging a hole for a channel drain
Sod removal

New Weather Station

After years of trying to get our old weather station to work properly, we have bit the bullet and purchased a new one.  Not only was the new one far less expensive than the old one, but it also has far more capabilities.  And one of the capabilities will be of special interest to nearly every member of HFCC.

HFCC golf course maintenance weather station
From this point on you will only have to log onto this web page http://www.weatherlink.com/user/clubhfcc/ to see the current weather conditions at HFCC.  There will also be a link on the new HFCC website once it is finished.  In addition to temperature, you can see wind speed, humidity, rain totals, and much more.

Soil Sampling

As we fine tune our agronomic program for the golf course, we need to know what type of fertilizer we are going to apply.  We could guess, but that can get very expensive, especially when we order by the ton.  How we decide what fertilizer we are going to use is by having a soil test done.

Taking a soil sample on the 5th fairway.
A soil test is a very useful tool for every golf course superintendent.  Without getting into soil chemistry and physics, a soil might have an abundance of nutrients but not be in a form that is available to the plant.  By having the soil analyzed, we are able to determine what nutrients and how much we need to apply to the course.  Once we know this, we can order a custom fertilizer that has exactly what we need and nothing we do not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lime Application

Last week rain, this week freezing temperatures.  With highs in the 20's, drainage work is not getting done this week as the ground is too frozen to trench.  However, the frozen ground did provide us with an excellent opportunity to apply lime to the course.  With the ground frozen, the truck applying the lime could simply drive over wet areas without causing any ruts.

Applying lime on hole #1
Lime is primarily a soil amendment or conditioner and not a fertilizer, as is commonly thought. Lime performs several important functions in the turf.  First and most commonly known is that it corrects soil ph.  Second is that it furnishes important plant nutrients—calcium and magnesium.  Calcium acts as a regulator and aids in bringing about the desirable range of availability of many plant nutrients.  Lime also reduces the solubility and toxicity of certain elements in the soil such as aluminum, manganese, and iron. This toxicity has the ability to reduce plant growth under acid conditions.

We applied what is called pulverized high calcium lime.  Using this type of lime has a couple benefits on the course.  Being pulverized to the consistency of sand, the lime spreads easily and easily penetrates the turf canopy.  Additionally it is not caustic like hydrated lime, which can damage equipment.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Tee Markers

There will be a slightly different look from the tees this year.  The G & G committee decided it was time to replace our old tee markers with new ones that would better reflect the image of HFCC.  While the old markers served us well, after about 12 years, they were getting hard to maintain as the aluminum face plates often broke.  After a lot of discussion and ideas, the committee chose to use an in-house design (sand blasted river rock) that I presented to them during the last G&G meeting.

Sand blasting the new markers.
The new markers fit in with natural surroundings while also being simple and elegant.  Best of all, they are unique to HFCC!  My staff is making the markers during the times that we cannot work outside.  We have a special "printer" that produces a rubber cover that we put over the rock.  This protects the portion of the rock that does not get sand blasted. These are custom markers that if purchased from a vendor would have cost over $9000.  Our investment which includes buying the equipment along with labor is less than $4000.

New markers after blasting and being prepared for painting.
Painting the markers.
The finished tee marker next to an old marker.
The markers are very quick, easy, and inexpensive to make.  This is especially helpful should one break or get lost.  In addition to the markers, we can make our own permanent markers for fairways or tees, and make our own signs out of granite. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rain, rain, rain, rain....................

Everyday this week we have had moderate to heavy rain, ALL day!  Needless to say, we are not working outside this week.  However, the heavy rain has actually become an opportunity for our upcoming drainage project on hole #6.

By taking pictures during the rain, we can accurately map,  position, and install drainage material.
Since the ground is completely saturated, all of the water from the rain is running on the surface.  This has provided us with the opportunity to map all of the low areas and the exact location and direction the water runs across the fairway.  I spent the better half of today putting out flags and painting the boundaries of the flowing water.  Additionally, Josh and I took pictures of every hole on the course during the rain so that we can use them to map future drainage projects.

Water coming off #6 green and onto the approach.
So long as the weather allows, we plan on starting to install the drains on #6 the week of January 28th.  Dennis Hurley of Turfdrain is sending one of his most experienced contractors during the first week to educate us on how to properly position and install the Turfdrain products.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Course Update

Happy New Year to all! We have been back in action for a week now and have wasted no time in working on our winter projects. First, we have received our drainage plan from Turf Drain and I must say it is very thorough. I have ordered the materials for the work we will be doing for the remainder of this winter. While we wait for the material, we have been working on other projects.

New Case 460 trencher being serviced at HFCC
The new drainage plan call for us to dig trenches to a depth of four feet where we can. Our old trencher (actually a tractor attachment) could only dig to a depth of two feet and at that depth it struggled. As a result, we had to purchase a new trencher (actually a nice used one). This was paid for not from the capital or operating funds, but from the sale of some of our older equipment. Because we were able to act quickly, we got a trencher that should have cost at least $15,000 for only $6500. In the world of equipment, that's one heck of a bargain! At this time, our staff is cleaning and servicing the machine to get it ready for the drainage projects.

We have also begun a few bunker renovations. We are starting on hole number three as the fabric liners that separate the gravel (for drainage) from the sand has ripped and gravel has migrated into the bunker sand. We are using the old sand from the bunkers to topdress wet areas throughout the course.

Utility vehicle getting new brakes and annual service
Other non glamorous projects going on right now include, dead tree removal, brush cleanup, and cleaning landscape beds.  When it has been raining, we have been servicing equipment, doing building maintenance, and splitting firewood.