May 13, 2018

Grounds Update and Irrigation System Upgrade

The nice weather has finally arrived and the grounds crew has been busy out on the golf course. I have had about half of my staff working the past few weeks and we are getting into the swing of things. With school wrapping up at UND, most of the grounds staff will be started within the week. We have a long list of tasks to complete to get the golf course in tip top shape, but we will get there very soon!

A few weeks ago we had 47 stumps ground on the course and they have been leveled and seeded. Some of the larger ones may be sodded as we have more staff on hand. The greens have been consistently mowed at least every other day, and rolled on the other days. We have been able to mow tees, collars, and approaches. The fairways have gotten a few haircuts and with the moisture and heat that we've received, you can watch the rough grow. As more staff starts filling in this week, we will be on a more routine mowing, rolling, and bunker raking schedule. We will also begin the long process of pushing sand around in all of the bunkers and edging every single one of them.

As most of you noticed, we had some action going on at the irrigation pump station last week. We had VFDs installed on our pump motors. A variable frequency drive regulates the speed of the pump motor. The VFDs start our pump motors up slower and only runs the motor at the speed that it needs to supply 100 psi to our irrigation lines underground. These VFDs will save our irrigation lines from water hammering and will lengthen the life of our pumps and motors. It is also an energy saving device as we are only using the amount of power that we need vs. wasting energy when our pumps used to start up at full speed all of the time.

These are the VFDs that now run our pump motors

We removed the old butterfly valves that controlled the flow of our water and now will be able to allow more flow through our pipes. I should be able to water one or two more zones at a time during a water cycle.

We may still have some irrigation breaks this summer as our lines underground are 30+ years old and overtime, PVC becomes brittle. Although, installing these VFDs will reduce that number of breaks that we have been seeing the last few years and save us some money.

We verticut and slit seeded number 1 and 2 greens last week. We will be lightly topdressing them once a week as we go forward. I have already seen progress in both greens, and I believe we will continue to see these greens improve. We are busy working with Todd Daniels of ProTurf Systems on a plan for our greens and other various areas of the golf course this season. We plan on core aerating the greens on May 24th.

We've got an exciting and busy summer ahead of us!

April 18, 2018

Is anyone anxious to start golfing??

The temperatures are rising, Cole Creek is flowing, and the grass is showing through all of the snow at the GFCC. As of today, most of the greens are about 75% melted and they appear to have come through the winter in good shape. I plan on meeting with Todd with ProTurf Systems next week sometime, so I will have a report and our plan going forward for the care of our greens.

We have been busy out on the course taking ropes down, helping water move down towards the creek and continuing with our tree removal and trimming. We have removed the line of ash trees on the left of #13 fairway that were a few feet away from the cottonwood row. This will allow for better golf shots, less time mowing and string trimming, and hopefully help the health of the turf in this area. More than 50% of these ash trees were declining in health as they were growing directly into the cottonwood trees.

We removed about 8 other trees around #4, #12, and #14 this past week. All of this tree removal will require stump grinding, which will take place in a few weeks here when the ground dries up more. 

It's hard to set an exact opening date at this point, but the extended forecast has excellent snow melting temperatures in it and we aren't far away from the golf season. The course will take a few days to soak in all of the water once the snow is gone and then we will be ready for play. I will keep everybody posted on our progress and I hope that everyone is excited for a great season at the GFCC!

April 2, 2018

Trees and more winter

It appears that winter has decided to stick around a little bit longer, but that hasn't kept us from getting some work done around the golf course. We have removed snow fence from the greens and have continued to limb up and remove some trees around the course.

We finished cleaning up the ash trees that we cut down on the left side of #4. This will help the turf thrive in this area as it has always been very thin from all of the shade. It also will be much easier for our rough mowers to mow in this area. We also limbed up the cottonwoods as high as our pole saw will allow us. 

On #11, we limbed up and removed a few trees on the left side at the dogleg. This area was way too crowded with trees. Many were showing signs of it as half of them were starting to die.

Another area that we have spent quite a bit of time trimming trees at is on the right side of #9 along the cart path. There were a few large ash trees hanging over the cart path and fairway that needed to be limbed up. One of them had a large split in it that was an accident waiting to happen. This trimming should help golfers from the tee box see where their ball lands if they hit off to the right.

We will continue to work on our tree trimming list along the golf course as the season goes on. We are just about finished up with sanding, branding, painting, and staining all of our course accessories and we are getting anxious to get out on the golf course on a daily basis. I see 50’s in the near forecast, so we aren’t far away!

March 5, 2018

Winter Update

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog, so I decided I would take a crack at it again and update everyone about what is going on with the GFCC Maintenance Staff. I will try my best to do more frequent, short blogs to keep everyone aware of what is going on throughout the season.

Meet the GFCC Mechanic:

In late August, I hired Derian Byfuglien as our course mechanic. Derian is from Roseau, MN and has his four-year degree from UND in Business Management. Derian comes from a background of large equipment operation and maintenance from his family owned business back is Roseau. He has spent many hours in our shop learning and working on every piece of equipment that we own. Derian will be a huge benefit to me and the club, as this will allow me to spend more hours on the golf course during the golf season. The mechanic position is also a very important position because we have well over 30 pieces of equipment that need daily attention and tune ups.

We have been quite busy in the shop since the golf season came to an end. We have sharpened all 23 reel blades that we have with our new reel and bedknife grinders. These pieces of equipment replaced our 27-year-old grinders that were not very accurate and were inefficient for our operation. As a result, this will help keep our turf healthier, as dull mower blades tear the turf plant causing issues such as disease.

Our new Reel Grinder
Our new Bedknife Grinder
We have changed oil, filters, hydraulic fluid, fuel filters and any broken parts that were necessary to replace on our equipment. Besides the new reel and bedknife grinders that we purchased in the fall, we also replaced a few other pieces of equipment. We traded one of our 1997 large utility vehicles for a new one, we traded our oldest rough mower for a new rough mower, and replaced the range picker cart with a much better utility vehicle. None of this would be possible without our great membership, so thank you to everyone for supporting your club! I am grateful that we are able to replace a few of our very dated equipment pieces about every five years.

Our new Range Picker Cart
Finally, Derian and I have spent a few of the 30 degree days that we have had this winter cutting down and trimming trees around the course. The greens committee went out in October to look at trees around the course that have overgrown over the years, are playability issues or are visually unappealing and marked them with an X. This number was about 30-40 trees, so it will take some time to remove them. We will continue this large task to make our golf course great.

Left side of 4 Ash trees removed

I am pleased with the amount of snow cover that we have on our greens so far, this winter. The greens haven’t had much ice buildup and they are insulated pretty well. Keep an eye out for updates in the very near future about the conditions of our greens coming out of winter and our plans for the upcoming season.

June 11, 2017

Irrigation System Update

As many of you have probably heard, our 21 year old irrigation system had some issues just over a week ago. During the night after the Wild Hog tournament, a fuse in the 3 phase transformer that powers the irrigation system and building blew out. I had Nodak Electric at the golf course as soon as I could on Friday. They tried replacing the fuse, but there was too much damage and corrosion (from previous floods) in the transformer that it needed to be replaced. They spent a good portion of that Friday replacing the transformer, only for us to find out later that afternoon that a component in the irrigation system panel had been wrecked from the outage. I got that part ordered ASAP Friday afternoon, but didn't receive it until Tuesday. Once our electrician and I got that part replaced, we started the pumps up, only to find that our larger 40 horse power pump motor had burned out.

We are fortunate enough to have our smaller 20HP pump working, so that I can still run a few irrigation zones at a time. Although, one small 20HP pump is not even close enough to irrigate the entire course in one night.

This was not an ideal time for our pumps to stop working (there isn't an ideal time for it to happen ever), but we were fortunate to get some rain this past week. We also spent many hours using our tractor and water tanks to keep our greens and tees alive. Our fairways have really only received rain water since the day our pumps went out and have shown a few areas of drying up, but these will bounce back with a little time.

We did have some localized dry spots pop up on various greens that steamy Friday when the pump station went down, but most spots have healed up nicely with just a few to go. I assure you that we are doing everything possible to heal the greens up. We have applied a wetting agent to help push water down thru the thatch layer and down to the roots on our greens and tees.

Our 40HP pump motor is currently being rebuilt in Fargo, and should be done sometime mid week. I will get it installed and running as soon as I get it back. This incident shows how important a properly working irrigation system is to a golf course!

March 12, 2017

Busy Shop Season

It’s been a busy winter at the GFCC maintenance facility. I was fortunate enough to hire the superintendent from Ray Richard’s Golf Course for a few months to help me prepare all our equipment for the upcoming golf season.

It is every superintendent’s dream to bring in brand new equipment to the fleet every year, but that isn’t always financially possible. Though, we are fortunate to be able to bring in a few new pieces every few years. In the meantime, our current equipment needs to be gone thru with a fine-tooth comb. Both of our fairway mowers received brand new reel stock, bearings and seals in all ten reels. The previous reels lasted ten mowing seasons and it was time to replace. 

We completely disassembled the fairway reels and replaced all necessary parts

Two of our most used pieces of equipment on the golf course are our large area rough mowers. Both mowers run between 30-40 hours per week during the entire golf season. They run at full throttle and on rough terrain most of the time. This results in a lot of wear and tear on parts. We replaced many bearings, bushings, seals and worn down parts on both machines. 

This is a worn out bushing next to a new bushing for some movable parts on the wing decks of our rough mower. We came across many worn out bushings on these machines. A lot of these bushings were on the verge of breaking or already broken. I am hopeful that these fixes now will prevent breakdowns during the busy golf season. 

The radiators were taken out on the fairway and rough mowers to get thoroughly cleaned and to have any leaks welded shut. Every piece of equipment also got all fluids and filters replaced. All our reels have been sharpened and we just need to wrap up some course accessory painting. Not only is it important to prepare the equipment now, but it is equally important to continue daily maintenance on the equipment all summer long.

Radiators were pulled out and cleaned on fairway and rough mowers. The wheel bearings were packed and all fluids and filters were replaced on all equipment.

I was very pleased with the amount of snow cover that we had throughout the winter months. Some of our greens had 2+ feet of snow on them. Before our big melt in February, we had little to no ice out on the course. This is ideal for smaller amounts of dead turfgrass in the spring. I also believe that our early melt will help our flood chances throughout the spring. If we can avoid any large snow and rain events, we should stay clear of the river coming up thru the course.

It does look like some warmer temperatures are coming soon, so if we can avoid any flooding, we can get the course opened at a decent time. I am looking forward to trying out some different cultural practices out on the golf course this season and completing some projects to keep our golf course the best in the area.

My new shop foreman (well, maybe not for a few years) Elowen Cannon

December 13, 2016

Winter Update

It’s hard to believe that the golf season has been over for one month now and we are well into what seems like it could be a cold and snowy winter. We were extremely fortunate to have a seven and a half month long golf season for this part of the country, and I couldn't believe how great the weather was this fall. With that being said, the grounds crew was able to clean up about 98% of the leaves on the course, do a little tree trimming, and start on the driving range tee box renovation.

The fall is definitely my favorite season of the year
This was our second to last Men's Day at about 60 degrees, hardly any clouds in the sky, and no wind

We decided to build a retaining wall between the top driving range tee box and new asphalt parking lot. Along with the new yellow stripes, this retaining wall will provide even more organization for parking golf carts up at the range. We received a generous donation of about 80 yards of topsoil to build up the top range tee so that it will now be more level for hitting from. We also plan to pull in another irrigation line and add a few irrigation heads for better watering coverage. We will complete this part and the grass grow in as soon as we can in the spring.

The retaining wall has been completed and the following picture shows the soil that was spread to level the range tee 

Shop season has begun and we are in full swing of getting all of the equipment ready for next golf season. Every single piece of equipment that we own will come in the shop for an oil and hydraulic fluid change, replacement of broken parts and greasing. We will also sharpen and grind all of the mower blades and reels. Our aged fairway and rough mowers will be getting some serious time in the shop this winter.  We are going to rebuild all ten of our fairway mower reels as they are no longer able to be sharpened from 10 years of use. Both rough mowers see about 30 hours of use per week during the golf season and need some replacement parts in the decks. Beyond that, all of our course accessories will get a fresh coat of paint and polyurethane for next golf season. 

As many of you probably aren’t thrilled about the 20” of snow so far that we have received, I am very relieved by it. It has provided our turf with much insulation to hopefully survive all winter and come into spring healthy. We have already had about a week and a half of zero and below temperatures, and the snow we have received is doing its job by keeping our turf at a safe temperature.

We'd probably rather see a green golf course, but I am happy to see a good covering of snow to protect our turfgrass this winter