February 7, 2022

January/February Grounds Update

The temperatures haven't been very kind this winter, but thank goodness we have some deep snow cover out on the golf course. My assistant superintendent, Tran Zerface has decided to move on from the club to work at a professional soccer field in Nashville, TN. We thank him for all of his help over the past two seasons and wish him luck in his new adventure! Obie and I spent most of January working on our 2007 Toro fairway mowers, our 2009 Toro rough mower, and sharpening cutting unit reels. Our fairway mowers got a full service this winter. That includes changing: oil and filter, fuel filters, hydraulic fluid and filters, air filters, a leaking transmission seal, 10 hydraulic hoses, rear axle bushings, and many bushings in the cutting unit lift arms. This full service will hopefully ensure that the mower stays out on the course this summer instead of in the shop being worked on. Both machines had most of the same work done to them. We also put a sharp cutting edge on all of the reels using our Bernhard reel grinding machines.
Bushings being replaced in fairway mower reel lift arms
Fairway mower lift arms removed and being serviced
We also serviced our 2009 Toro rough mower last month. This machine got a similar service as the fairway mowers. On this machine, we also replaced all of the grass discharge chutes under the mower decks for a cleaner cut in the rough. These machines get used heavily every season and large cottonwood roots and branches don't treat the machines real nice.
New grass discharge chute installed on rought mower, old bent up chute on the ground
New blades installed with new discharge chutes
Lastly, we serviced our Bernhard reel grinders in January. We were due to replace the grinding stone and bearing assembly on the machine. This stone sharpens all of our cutting units multiple times throughout the year. In total, we have 24 reels to sharpen throughout the year. Some units, like our greens mowers, get sharpened every other week during the golf season. These grinders provide a razor blade sharp cut so that we can be as precise as possible when it comes to cutting our turfgrass. The cleaner the cut on the golf course, the healthier the turf is to provide the best playing surfaces possible.
Looking down the mainshaft where the stone sits on the reel grinder
Old stone removed, machine needs a good cleaning!
New fork assembly installed. The new grinding stone will sit in between the fork assembly
New grinding stone installed on machine, ready to sharpen reels!
Grinding a fairway mower reel. This usually takes less than 5 minutes on this machine.
Sharpening the bedknife on the fairway mower reel. The grass is cut between the contact of the reel and bedknife.
A completely sharpened fairway mower bedknife and reel put together, ready to cut grass!

December 16, 2021

Grounds Crew Winter Update

Time to ramp up the blog again as my weekly newsletter post has ended for the year. Our turf is mostly covered throughout the golf course, equipment is coming in the warm shop for service, and preparations for the 2022 golf season have begun. In early November right after the course closed, we were able to rent a boom for three days to limb up trees around the property. Most of the limbing occured on 4,6,9,13, and 14. We hauled many loads and created new golf shots out on the course. We removed a few ash trees that were either in the wrong location, had many broken limbs, or were growing into another healthy tree. We do have a few more to remove that we will wrap up this winter or in the spring. Tran and I also spent a few days in December limbing trees between holes 1 and 2.
During the same time, Gowan Construction completed a repair on the bank on the left side of #3 tee box. This bank has been a concern for a few years after the past two spring floods. We were about a foot away from losing the entire front part of the tee box. Gowan came in and removed the topsoil from the area, pushed up all of the slipped soil from down below to the top of the bank and packed it in a few directions. They then put the topsoil back down over top. We will be working with a few agencies this spring about what types of plants to put in this area to hopefully create a more sturdy bank.
Our new mechanic, Obie, has gotten a good start on equipment this month. He has serviced our small utility gators, Bobcat tractor, Kubota skid steer and tractor, our large utility gators, and our newer Toro large area rough mower. Most of these require us to change the oil and filter, hydraulic oil and filter, air filters, fuel filters, spark plugs, and fuel/water separators. Obie also goes through the entire machine checking for loose or broken parts and bearings, worn belts, and tightening any loose lug nuts or bolts. He inspects brake pads or drums, hydraulic hoses, and cleans out any radiators. All of these services help keep our equipment running longer and in the shop less during the golf season. Our new smaller utility Toro carts should be arriving in January or February. Tran and I have been busy in the maintenance shop cleaning and organizing from a long golf season that we just wrapped up. We are always trying to find ways to organize our tools, grounds equipment tools, and equipment parts in a better way with the size of our shop. For example, our chainsaws have been sitting on a bench taking up unnecessary space, so we used some old 2x4's and a few brackets and got them off of a bench and on the wall. We also have spent some time refinishing the floors in our breakroom and bathroom. The old stick on tiles had seen their better days, so we pulled those up and completed an epoxy garage-type flooring in these rooms.
We have also started to refinish many of our course accessories. We will sand, stain, paint, and poly all of our course accessories so that they last another golf season. Lastly, I went out for a walk earlier this week to check the status of our snow cover and our turfgrass. I was pleased that on most greens, we have 3-4" of snow cover, and most importantly, no ice. Some greens have drifts of 1-2 feet, and there are very few areas of bare turf. Hopefully we receive a few more snow falls here before the real cold sets in so that all of our turf is covered and insulated for the winter months ahead. I also spent some time trimming the bushes along holes 4 and 12.
Stay warm and enjoy the holidays!

February 1, 2021

Mid-winter golf course and equipment update

Tran and I have been busy in the shop this winter preparing all of our equipment for this upcoming golf season. We have roughly 35 pieces of equipment to go through during this time. Each piece gets looked over thoroughly so that we minimize equipment break downs during the golf season. We will change all fluids, filters, grease every movable part and replace any broken or worn out parts. If we can catch worn out parts now before they start to wear out more or wreck other parts, we are time and money ahead. 


This winter we spent an extra amount of time going through our flood fighting machine. This is the Yamaha Rhino that we acquired last season. This UTV has tracks that allow us to drive on fairway and rough turfgrass without tearing it up. It has a snow pushing blade out front that pushes all of the left behind silt from the river floods. Even though tracks are built for snow, water, and mud, they still take a beating from these adventures and require a lot of maintenance. We took each of the four tracks apart in the shop and replaced all 46 wheel bearings. All 46 wheels are essential to the movement of the actual track. We then tensioned each track properly. I have a lot of confidence that this machine will not need to be used this upcoming spring, but we are ready.

One of the four tracks removed from the machine.

Here is a track with just one wheel remaining.

This picture shows the bearings inside each of the 46 wheels.

Finished product of a maintained Yamaha Rhino Flood Fighting Machine.

The maintenance on our fairway, greens, tees, and rough mowers has mostly been normal compared to most winters. Last winter we tore down the decks on our large area rough mower to the bare metal. That procedure proved to be effective as the decks still function and look as great as they did last spring after we put it all back together. We pulled out all of the radiators on these machines and had them pressure washed and pressure tested to make sure they are performing at their best for next season. We changed all of the hydraulic fluids and filters and put a sharp edge on all of the cutting units. 

Lastec rough mower radiator before cleaning.

Same radiator after steam cleaned, resoldered, and painted.

Here is the radiator put back into our Lastec rough mower. These machines run much better when they can breathe. 


We will spend most of February refurbishing all of our tee markers and range accessories. We will also be designing and building new garbage cans for the golf course. 

New range ball holders

I have been able to walk the course at least one day a week for the past month or so and am pleased with the weather that we’ve had so far this winter. The greens only have 4-6” of snow on most of them, with a few having some 12" drifts, but we have only had about one week of frigid below zero temperatures. There also isn’t any ice accumulation on the greens, which is also a positive note. The NWS just came out with the first flood forecast for this spring and it looks great. With very dry conditions this fall and so far little snow this winter, the chances for major flooding is well below 50%. We will continue to monitor the forecast and hope for a year off of any spring flooding.

12 Green fully covered with snow with larger drifts in back from the snowfence

13 Green covered with about 4" of snow

December 7, 2020

Grounds Crew Update

We’ve had unseasonably warm weather for most of November and the beginning of December. This has allowed us to get some on course tree trimming and removal done. We have also completed a few small drainage projects on #6 and #11 fairways to help alleviate summer flooding. 


In early November we rented a boom trailer to tackle a few holes that needed some branch removal higher than we could reach from the ground. We spent a lot of time on the cottonwood trees on the left side of #12 and the left side of #14 near the tee boxes on both holes. We were also able to remove many “widow makers” throughout the golf course. These are the branches up in the trees that have broken and lay on top of other branches. I wanted to get as many removed as possible as it can be a safety issue out on the course. 

#14 tree trimming looking towards the tee box

#14 cottonwood tree trimming completed

#12 tree trimming on the left side

"Widow maker" removal along right side of 11 fairway. We spent a full day removing branches like this around the golf course. 

This fall we were also able to remove about 22 trees throughout the golf course. Many of these trees had issues present. Most of these trees had out grown their lifespan and had multiple broken branches, while others have not grow any leaves on them the past few seasons. There were also a handful of trees that were creating shade issues around the course resulting in turfgrass decline. 

We removed two trees on the right side of #16 tee box. One of the pine trees was about 4' from the tee box and the only Ash tree in this row was starting to rot at the base of the tree. Removing these two trees will help the overall health of this tee box. 

This is a picture of an Ash tree that we cut down behind #4 green. It is approximately 14"x20" and almost completely rotted in the center of it. 


We were fortunate to have great weather to get a lot of this work completed, and all that remains is the stumps to remove in the spring. Besides tree work, we were able to complete a few drainage projects on 6 and 11 fairways. We graciously received about ten truck loads of immaculate top soil this past summer from a few of our generous members. We used a lot of this top soil to build new red tee boxes on #4 and #9. We also used much of this soil to help level a lot of our "potholes" on 6 and 11 fairways. We did our best to level some of these areas out and funnel them to a few new drainage holes before the ground froze up. We will need to do some finish work in the spring once the snow melts and the ground thaws, but this should help alleviate some of our summer flooding issues. This is a temporary fix and our Master Plan with Norby Golf Design will be the best option for us to completely fix these flooding issues. 


Tran and I have also started to work on some of our equipment fleet. Every piece will come into the warm side of the shop and get a thorough look over. We will change fluids and filters, replace any broken parts, and sharpen all of the blades in preparation for next season. It is a nice change of pace for us to recharge our minds, take in some educational opportunities, and turn some wrenches instead of worry about our turf playing surfaces for a few months. 

Come on out for a walk around the golf course while it is still this nice out in December! Just remember to please keep off of the greens completely and the fairways as much as possible! 

March 31, 2020

Grounds Department gearing up for Spring

I figured the members of the Grand Forks Country Club could use something to read about other than the Coronavirus, so I’ll provide a quick update from the GFCC Grounds Department. 

February and March have been busy months in the shop. Our rough mowers have gotten the most work during this time. We typically mow the rough at the country club four days during the week, for at least 8 hours each of those days. With that being said, they go through a lot of rough terrain mowing and get a hard workout. Every part gets inspected from bearings to bushings to hydraulic fluid and filters to engine parts. 

Our 2009 Toro wide area rough mower was long over-due for a mower deck overhaul. The decks had begun to rust, the belt pulleys and the shafts had begun to wear, bushings and bearings in all moveable parts were worn out and our quality of cut just wasn’t where it needed to be. 

This is a photo of our Toro wide area rough mower as we began the process of rebuilding the mower decks. As you can see, the paint is chipped and faded and there is a lot of rust present.

Here are the two wing decks completely stripped of parts. 
This is the middle deck taken off of the mower and in the process of parts removal. 

We did most of the work in the shop at the golf course, but some of the work was outsourced. We had Grand Forks Welding help us rebuild and weld the belt pulley shafts, AJ’s Sandblasting did the prep work to the decks, and Pro-Tec Powder Coating put on a fresh Toro Red color to finish off the decks. We were able to salvage some parts for the decks, but had to replace a large portion of worn out pieces. 

Freshly powder coated decks

Decks being rebuilt

Here the decks are nearly completed. We have also added LED lights for early morning mowing. 

During the past two months, we have also put a lot of work into our triplex greens and tee box mowers, our debris blower, and our greens roller. Our triplex mowers got fully serviced with fluid and filter changes, as well as reel sharpening. Two of our three triplex mowers had light kits attached to the mowers, so we added an LED light kit to the third triplex. Our debris blower received a full service and carburetor replacement. On our greens roller, we had to replace a few broken bearings, a transmission seal, and we replaced the 13 year old engine. 

LED lights installed on our triplex mower

Lastly, we completed a few other small projects in the shop this winter to make life “a little bit easier” when it comes to maintaining the golf course. For about $25, we added an LED light bar to our sprayer as we complete many applications in the dark, early mornings. This will make mixing and spraying easier for us. All of the tee markers and yardage markers have been repainted and varnished and the rest of the course accessories are ready for the season. 

LED light bar installed on our sprayer

In other news...

The mighty Red River is rising quickly this season, and we are spending the week preparing for the fight and clean up. Four of our irrigation satellite boxes have been removed, and we waiting to see if our pump station needs to be disassembled. I am optimistic for a quick rise and descend of the river, meaning our clean-up will be minimal compared to last year and we will have more turf survive the elements. 

I look forward to seeing everyone out on the golf course swinging clubs soon!

Remember, this will be here before you know it!

February 12, 2020

Winter Grounds Update

Is anyone getting anxious to swing some clubs?? With an early October snow storm and record fall flood, it seems like we haven’t been able to enjoy our wonderful golf course at the Grand Forks Country Club in a long time. I am trying to be as optimistic as I can with the upcoming spring thaw situation. I have my fingers crossed that the rest of February can cooperate and we don’t receive too much moisture in March. 

What in the world does the superintendent do all winter?? 

Well, we have been very busy in the shop this winter preparing all of the equipment for the upcoming golf season. We have 38 pieces of equipment to maintain all year round. This does not include multiple string trimmers and gas powered water pumps that also need attention each year. All of these pieces of equipment are extremely important to the success of our golf course and are used heavily during the golf season by many employees. 

This our our 10' cut rough mower that is currently in the shop for full service. The brakes have been inspected, tires rotated, fluids and filters changed, castor wheel bearings replaced, and machine fully cleaned.
All of our winter equipment preparation begins the day the golf season ends. Every piece of equipment is pressure washed, brought into the heated side of our shop to fully dry and then every movable part gets greased. This prevents parts like bearings and seals from freezing from the pressure washing process and then cracking or breaking if frozen. Each individual piece is then parked in the cold side of the shop and rotated into the warm shop for a full service throughout the winter. 

We change the oil and filters, hydraulic oil and filters, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters, remove and clean the radiators, inspect brake parts, replace any worn or broken parts, and touch up paint where needed. 

The above two photos are from the rear axle of our other 10' cut rough mower. We found a broken bearing and leaking seal in the rear axle that needed to be replaced before more damage occurred in the axle.

We have 23 reels and bedknives that complete all of the cutting on our low mowed turfgrass. Each reel comes off of the mower and needs to be inspected and sharpened on our reel grinding machines. 

Here is a photo of our fairway mower reels. Each one is taken apart for inspection and sharpening. 

I have been extremely fortunate during my time at the GFCC for the commitment of replacing old equipment on a financially responsible time frame. There gets to be a time where the parts and work that a machine needs gets to be more expensive than what the machine is worth. Although it is still typically less expensive to fix equipment rather than to purchase new, some of these pieces of equipment are broken down in the shop more often than running out on the golf course. I believe we have done an excellent job replacing those few pieces of equipment that fall into that category. 

Other than equipment maintenance, we are busy in the shop rebuilding, painting, and staining course accessories. Last winter we were able to build new tee markers for the golf course. By building our own tee markers, we saved roughly $3,000 and only spent $300 with the tee marker design that we chose. Anything that we are able to build in-house usually saves us large amounts of money. 

In addition to maintenance, I typically get to attend a few turfgrass educational opportunities in the area. These opportunities are excellent for keeping a fresh mind for maintaining a golf course, new ideas to improve course conditions, and networking with other turfgrass professionals all over our tri-state region. One other exciting opportunity that I get to be a part of this winter is the Master Planning process for the Grand Forks Country Club provided by Herfort Norby Architects. With a plan in place, the future of the GFCC is very exciting. Stay tuned for updates!

Lastly, he may only be 6 weeks old, but I see this guy on a greens mower in the future!

Meet Everet Cannon