Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter weekend at HFCC

For those of you coming to Highlands for the Easter weekend, the course will be open. However, there are several projects in process throughout the course that I would like you to be aware of:

  • The first and most obvious are the eleven bunkers throughout the course that are in the renovation phase and do not have any sand in them. If the weather holds, they should be finished in about two weeks.
Removing sand from a bunker.
  • Second, while we have completed the drainage project on hole #6, the sod over the trench lines is loose and not fit to play on. You can still play the hole, but please take relief if your ball lands on the sod.
Even with snow, we continued to install drainage on #6.
  • Third, is the enlargement of the red tees on #16 and #17. You can continue to use the tees if you wish but please take care as there is no sod between the cart path and the tees.

  • Finally, you will notice that most of the fairways have been aerified and the plugs are still present (you can thank Mother Nature for that.) However, “if” the weather improves, we will try to clear them away before the weekend.

It has been in the 20's and 30's here all week and as a result, the ground is frozen and we cannot change the cups. Weather permitting we will change the cups before the weekend. The forecast for the weekend is for lows around 40 and highs in the mid 50's.  There is a 30% chance of rain on Saturday and a 50% chance on Sunday.

To everyone visiting Highlands this weekend, I thank you for your patience while we work to improve the course.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Better Billy Bunkers

As I have mentioned in past updates, 11 bunkers on the course are in the process of being renovated.  We will be constructing them using the "Better Billy Bunker" method.  The bunkers selected were chosen for several reasons; the fabric liner had ripped, gravel had migrated into the sand, they had excessive washouts, or they no longer drained properly. 

Sand and gravel cleaned out of the right bunker on #7
The bunkers at HFCC were constructed using the "Billy Bunker" method which was named after Billy Fuller, former Supt. at Augusta National.  This method uses drain pipes and a gravel layer, followed by a geotextile fabric and then sand.  The gravel layer allows the bunker to accommodate an exceptional amount of rain without causing washouts, while the fabric liner keeps the gravel from migrating into the sand.  This method of bunker construction has been the best method for almost 30 years.  However, it has always had one major problem.  If the fabric liner is ever torn, it is nearly impossible to fix properly without renovating the bunker.  This has lead to a new method called the "Better Billy Bunker".
Sand and gravel cleaned out of the fairway bunkers on #6.
With the "Better Billy Bunker" method, the fabric liner is not used and the gravel layer is sprayed with a patented polymer.  The polymer basically glues all the gravel together creating an exceptionally hard cohesive surface, and since the gravel is glued together, it cannot migrate into the sand. Even after the gravel is treated, it still maintains excellent porosity and drainage characteristics.  The sand is then applied directly over the treated gravel layer.  This method promises reduced washouts, elimination of silt contamination, and lower maintenance costs.  If you have any questions about this method, please feel free to visit the Better Billy Bunker website;

Polymer being applied to a bunker.
At this point, we are nearly finished cleaning out the old sand and gravel from the bunkers.  We will soon be putting in new drain lines and then the gravel layer.  Fore Front Construction will then come out and treat the bunkers with the polymer.  After that is finished, we will then fill the bunkers with new sand.  So long as the weather holds, we should have these finished about the third week of April.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rainy Day Projects

To say its been a wet winter would be an understatement.  Even though we cannot always work outside, we have many other projects going on inside the shop to keep us busy.   These smaller, less glamorous projects are necessary for a successful season.

In my last post, I showed a picture of an unidentified project we were working on.  With it raining all day on Monday, we had time to complete it and here it is; a fairway roller.  We built this so that we can smooth areas of the fairways after large undertakings like the drainage project on #6.  Additionally, we can use it to smooth the fairways when they get soft after excessive rain.  Each roller can hold up to 150 gallons of water, giving it sufficient weight to smooth the surface of the turf.

Two of three pieces cut from an old propane tank.
Completed fairway roller.
Completed fairway roller.

Another one of our rainy day projects is repainting and staining all the signs and benches on the course.  All of the wood is cleaned, sanded and then stained.  After staining the signs, the letters and numbers are repainted.

Hal staining a yardage sign.
Completed signs.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Recap of Week 3/4/13

In the golf business, weather sometimes keeps us from accomplishing what we have planned and as a result we have to go with Plan B.  With the weather slowing our drainage project on #6, we were fortunate to complete many other less glamorous tasks.

Installing drainage on right side of #6 fairway.

As sometimes happens, trees fall on the course and occasionally they fall on a green.  Such was the case this week on #4.  A white pine with no root system fell across the green.  This type of clean up is a tedious job since we must take extra care not to damage the surface any more than what was already caused by the tree.

White pine across #4 green.

Another job that we are inching closer to finishing is the rebuilding of several bunkers on the course.  We have selected approximately 11 bunkers to reconstruct, all of which either drained poorly or washed out severely every time it rained.  The first step of this project was to take all of the sand out of the bunkers.  Not wanting anything to go to waste, we have used the sand to topdress several of the fairways on the course.  Stay tuned for more on this project in future updates.

Sand removed from the fairway bunker on #6.

Finally, I am including a picture of a project that only a few members know about.  We have been working on this when it's raining. How many of you can guess what we are doing?  Email me if you think you know the answer.  My email link is on the right side of the blog.

  Hint:  Its an old propane tank.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Update #15

After much excavating and clean-up, we found the source for the wall collapse to be a very active spring.  The water from the spring built up behind the wall creating extremely heavy soils, making the foundation unstable.  It only took one boulder to slide out of place for the rest to follow.  Since the boulders for the wall were much larger than we could handle with our equipment, we hired Mountain Hardscapes of Highlands to rebuild the wall.  They have a lot of experience building boulder walls and working in tight spaces which made them best suited for this project.
Excavating to the base of the wall.
Installing the drainage system.
Adding fill dirt behind the wall.
It has taken a solid week to rebuild the wall.  In an effort to keep this from happening again, we installed a substantial drainage system behind the wall.  While the wall is back up and fill dirt is in place, the project is only partially complete.  In the coming months, we will still need to install the irrigation and landscaping along with laying new asphalt to the cart path.
View during construction from #14 green.
View from the top of the completed wall.
View from #14 green of the completed wall.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Equipment Refurbishment

  As I have stated in the past, part of what we do in the winter is repairing and refurbishing equipment.  With the cost of golf course equipment regularly exceeding that of a luxury car, making our equipment last as long as possible is very crucial.  I feel that you as members should know what the equipment costs and what we do to protect that investment. 

  The first set of pictures is that of a vertical mower called a SISIS Veemo.  Instead of cutting the turf in a horizontal manner like our regular mowers do, the Veemo cuts vertically with the intention of cutting the roots.  This stimulates the plant to grow and spread providing a nice tight turf stand.   Our Veemo is better than 20 years old and was in desperate need of being refurbished.  With new hydraulic motors, hoses and paint, our investment for refurbishment was less than 4k.  Finished, it works and looks just like a new one.

Before - Veemo being dismantled
Before - Veemo reels being dismantled
After - Veemo reels being put back together
After - The finished Veemo

  Another project we have worked on this winter is the refurbishment of our Gill Pulverizer.  The pulverizer is used for loosening the soil while grading.  We use this piece extensively in the winter when we level fairways.  While not an expensive piece of equipment (about 3k new), it needed refurbishment due to excessive rust, worn teeth and seized bearings. 
Before - Gill Pulverizer
Installing new teeth and bearings.
After - Completed Gill Pulverizer

#6 Drainage Project

  Being very productive is a great way to end the week.  Other than one day, we were able to work outside and complete a large portion of our drainage project on #6 fairway.  Since so many of you have emailed me that you like the pictures of our work, here are some pictures of #6 fairway taken this week.

Trenching drain lines on #6.
Cleaning the spoils from the trenches.
Adding sand into the trench.
View of #6
Notice the excess water.  This water is coming from in the ground and is the primary reason #6 stays so wet.  The new drainage system is designed to greatly reduce this problem.