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

September 26, 2016

Autumn Season

Fall is officially here and we know this not only because September 22nd has past, but mostly because the leaves are changing colors, and dropping like crazy on the golf course. The grounds crew has been very busy and will continue to be until we close the course up for the season. We completed fall aeration on greens and tees and I am very pleased with how well everything has healed up.

With limited staff, we have been trying to keep up with daily set up as best as we can. Some areas of the course may not get mowed until later in the morning or afternoon only because we are short with fall staff. On that note, with cooler temperatures and less daily sunlight, the growth of the turfgrass has started to slow down. We are mowing less due to this as well.

About 75% of the leaves on #3 have already fallen, but many other trees on the course are just starting to change colors

During this time of the year, bunkers can be a lot more work than usual. They tend to fill up with leaves and we aren't able to go out and rake them while full of leaves. We will continue to do our best to send out a few employees when possible to blow the leaves out of the bunkers, mulch the leaves with a rough mower and then complete a full bunker raking.

The list is very long for the grounds crew for the rest of the fall. Besides daily set up, greens, rough, fairway and tee mowing, we have a lot of course accessories to take down and critical snow mold preventative spray applications to complete. We have to blow out the irrigation system towards the end of October, pull the fountain, river and pond pumps in and continue to mulch up all of the leaves that are falling and will continue to fall thru the next month. Also, every piece of equipment needs to be pressure washed before it gets too cold so that each piece can come in to the shop for winter maintenance. We hope to begin a driving range dress up project and finish limbing up some pines throughout the golf course.

It is very important to send the turfgrass into winter on a healthy note so it can survive our harsh winters in Grand Forks. We will continue our fall fertilization program and complete our snow mold preventative applications towards the end of October.

In my opinion, this is the best time of the year to come out and play our picturesque golf course, so come enjoy our last month of golf at GFCC!

August 18, 2016

Summer is winding down, but the grass is still growing

It's that time of year already where the majority of the grounds crew is heading back to school. Some of the staff will stay on part time, but I will be doing some more part time hiring for the fall. We will continue to do our best at keeping our golf course in tip top shape on a daily basis. Some things may not be done as often, such as string trimming and bunker raking, but these things will still get done throughout the fall. 

We completed a light topdressing and spike on the greens August 5th. These light topdressings help the overall health of the turfgrass. The other benefits include a smooth roll, increased firmness, and thatch reduction. We do have our fall aeration on greens scheduled for August 30th. 

This past week we removed a few large dead trees on the course and rented a stump grinder for a day. We ground 10 stumps, filled the holes in with soil and laid sod on these spots.

We have been very fortunate not to have to run our irrigation system nearly as much this season as we have in the past. Our pond has stayed full for the past month without any pumping. We have already received just under 15" of rain this season. It has come at good times, as we haven't had to pump much water off of the course.

We have a few small projects planned for the fall that I hope to complete. This will all depend on the amount of staff that I have and timing. The course is in great condition so come on out to enjoy the last few months of golf!