Monday, February 25, 2013

Drainagae Ditches

  One of the more mundane but extremely important jobs we do in the winter is cleaning the ditches throughout the course.  The many ditches throughout the course are the first segment of what is a very extensive drainage system.

Removing the river rock from a ditch.
  Every hole on the course has at least one ditch and most have several.  Over time, debris builds up slowly filling the ditches.  If we did not clean them they would fill up and excess water would travel across the greens, tees, and fairways, thus making the course unplayable.

  Each year we manually remove all the river rock from the ditches and then excavate all the debris that has built up.  The material is mostly decayed plant material, so we can and do use it as a type of compost. 

Rock ditch after being cleaned out.
  While extremely important as part of our drainage infrastructure, there is no doubt that the ditches look so much better once they are cleaned.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tree Thinning on #5

Sometimes the best intentions have undesirable results.  Such is the case of the blue spruce trees planted to the right of the approach at #5 green.  I am sure that someone thought blue spruce would make the hole look more interesting, but over time they have created several problems.  As a result, the G&G committee has decided to remove some of the trees.
A view of the 5th green at about 100 yds out with trees removed.
For the most part, blue spruce are a poor choice for the Highlands area. These trees are not native to the Highlands plateau and while they may grow, they get increasingly disfigured and unsightly as they mature in age.  The trees on #5 are definitely near the end of their useful life and will need to be completely removed in the future.  However, at this time, we are only removing some of the trees.
HFCC maintenance crew thinning the blue spruce on #5
As the trees have become larger, several of them where closing in on the approach to the 5th green.  I can assure you that this was never the intention of Joe Lee, our course architect, as Mr. Lee thought greens should have open shots to them.  We have removed the three trees that were crowding the approach and I am certain you will like the new look.

Lastly, the trees have made maintenance of the area difficult.  The shade caused by the trees has made it hard to grow quality grass and as a result, the turf is thin.  The removal of several of these trees is going to permit more light to reach the turf and allow it to improve.

Friday, February 15, 2013

2013 GIS

Last week I attended the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in San Diego CA.  The GIS is an annual conference that brings together golf course superintendents, owners, architects, and suppliers from all over the world. The conference features several days of educational seminars followed by the annual trade show.  I was able to take advantage of both the trade show and the educational opportunities.   The following is a brief synopsis of my week at the conference.

Seminar - Managing Turfgrass Root Systems in The Southern and Transition Climatic Zones
  This seminar provided techniques for using both environmental factors and cultural practices to develop and maintain a healthy root system.  Additionally, we discussed the importance of soil temperature, fertilization, cultivation, irrigation, mowing, plant growth regulators, wetting agents, biostimulants, and how all these work together to produce a healthy plant.

Root systems seminar

Seminar - Weed Control for Cool Season Golf Courses
  While I have an extensive knowledge of the use of herbicides for the control of weeds, there are several new products on the market that I was not aware of.  By reviewing the newest data and available research, I was able to understand the functionality of several new pesticides that we will soon be using at HFCC.

Dr. Frank Rossi disussing turfgrass issues

Seminar - Hazardous Duty - Bunker Maintenance
  Since we are in the process of renovating several bunkers on the course, this course proved to be of exceptional value.  We reviewed the numerous factors in selecting the proper type of sand for use in the bunker.  Additionally, we discussed several methods for bunker construction including the "Better Billy Bunkers".  This is the method of construction we will be using to construct the renovated bunkers at HFCC.  I will discuss this method in more detail in a future post.

Seminar - Phosphorous and Potassium - Agronomic and Environmental Benefits and Consequences
  With many states now regulating the use of phosphorous as a fertilizer, this was especially beneficial for us.  By discussing both current and past research we learned how to recognize some of the environmental implications of over applications of phosphorous.  At this point North Carolina does not regulate phosphorous, but it has been discussed in the legislature.

While walking the trade show floor, I met with the representatives of Billy Bunkers.  They were able to show me why their method of bunker construction would benefit HFCC.  Additionally, I met with Rick Franke, owner of Fore Front Construction.  His company will be doing the final part of our bunker construction.  FFC is no stranger to Highlands Falls as they have done most of our renovation work for the past 13 years and they do a great job.

View of the Jacobsen booth.  Jacobsen is HFCC's primary equipment supplier.

Finally the best part of the show was the interaction 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 me the opportunity to participate in the GIS and for understanding the value in it. 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.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easy Updates

In an effort to make information on the golf course easier for you to receive, I have added a feature to the blog that will automatically send you an email when I write an update.  On the right side of the blog add your email to the box and every update of the blog will be emailed to you.  You won't have to remember the website anymore.  I think this will make it easier for you to follow the activities of the golf course maintenance department, especially during the off-season. 

In addition to the email update, there are links to both my email and Dwight Bradley's - Greens & Grounds Chairman.  Should you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact either one of us.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wall Collapse

I like the saying "when it rains, it pours", and that couldn't have been more true than when I was attending the Golf Industry Show last week.  While I was in sunny San Diego, it both snowed and rained in Highlands.  With the ground already saturated from previous rains, the latest round of rain proved to be too much for one of the retaining walls on hole #15.

View of #14 green

1.5' of dirt on #14 green
 As you can see from the pictures, we have a major project on our hands.  It looks as though one boulder slid out and the rest followed.  Once that happened water came off the cart path and down the slope pushing between a foot and a foot and a half of dirt onto the 14th green.  Additionally, the cart path collapsed and irrigation pipes where destroyed. 

Cart path on #15 tee

At this time, our staff has cleaned up all the dirt off the green.  We have also positioned sand bags on whats left of the cart path to divert water around the collapse.  I have also had a few contractors look at what it will take to repair and how much it will cost.

View of the wall collapse
While this is a bit of a setback, there are no worries that this won't be repaired before we open. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013


While I am not at the Club this weekend, I thought you might like to see all the snow that has fallen today.  At this time we have at least 5 inches and its still snowing.  These are pictures from my house just outside Highlands.  Also, remember you can go to this web page to check the current weather conditions at HFCC.  While the weather station measures precipitation in the form of rain, it will not tell you if it is snowing.
5 inches in just a few hours
While some of us may not like the snow, my dog Woobi loves it!