December 14, 2012

4 Months To Get Everything Fixed

I generally consider the period from December 1 - April 1 our annual 4 month "vacation" away from the golf course.... and into the confines of the shop.  With the soil frozen already a foot deep out on the course, and at least a decent blanket of snow on the ground, Andy and I have begun our annual pilgrimage into the heart and soul of each piece of equipment in our fleet.

While most golf courses would employ at least a part time, if not a full time mechanic, we unfortunately do  not have one here due to budget constraints.  With that, Andy and I do our best during the golf season to keep the equipment serviced, fixed, running, and sharp, but there is really only such much we can get done since the turf on the golf course is our primary focus during the summer months.  During the winter months however, we dig deep into each piece of equipment to try and make sure that it is as best prepared as possible for the coming summer.

We start with the basics on each piece:  engine oil and filter change, suspension, steering, and driveline lubrication, clean or change air filters, clean or change spark plugs, change fuel filters, change hydraulic filters, check hydraulic hoses and replace damaged ones, and check and top off any other fluids (transmission, differential, hydraulics, radiator, etc.)

Next we start a more detailed diagnosis of each piece by:  fixing any leaks, tightening bolts, repairing or replacing tires, checking or changing belts, replacing burned out headlights, tightening cables, etc, etc, etc.

Lastly, at least on the mowing equipment, we dive into the reel cutting units.  All cutting reels and associated rollers utilize ball bearings in all of their rotating parts.  These bearings take a serious beating over the course of a few growing seasons.  To put it into perspective (based on some rudimentary numbers that I just crunched) a reel on one of our fairway mowers will make 290,400,000 revolutions during a single growing season.  The bearings inside the reel housing take the full force of each one of those revolutions.  After a few years and a couple of billion rotations, the tight tolerances of the small balls inside of the bearings start to wear down and develop a little bit of play. It doesn't take much wear to produce a few tenths of thousandths of an inch of play, which will produce unacceptable variations in cut quality when we are talking about mowing grass at about 1/10" on a putting green.  Every reel and roller will have all of their bearings checked, bad ones will be replaced, and then the reel and bedknife will be sharpened, setup, and reinstalled on the mower ready to start cutting grass first thing next spring.

Our first project was fixing the side chute for our material handler.  This piece
is 12 years old, and the steel hinge that holds on the swinging arm literally
broke right down the seam this fall and the entire thing fell off!

Next, the rear rake attachment on the sandpro (bunker rake).  Years of raking
bunkers and pushing piles of sand had bent the connection point to the machine.
I do enjoy welding and fabrication projects, so this one was right up my alley.

While we were working on the sandpro, we replaced the
worn down steel tines on the rake attachment.  This picture
is a pretty good illustration of how much sand can wear
down a piece of steel over just a few years.

Andy has all of the fairway mower reels loaded up and ready to go outside for
a thorough pressure wash.  Last winter we replaced all of the bearings in the
rear rollers, this winter we will be replacing front roller bearings, and most likely
next winter we will be putting on new cutting reels and replacing their bearings.

We've made a pretty good dent in the equipment repair process thus far actually.  My goal is to be done with all the equipment by the middle of January, at which point we will converting to a woodworking shop for the next month and half to restain tee markers and yardage stakes, and then start building our new course accessories for next summer.

December 10, 2012

Snow! Melt. Snow! Melt. Snow! Melt. Snow!

This has been the pattern for about the last 2 months.  We received our first good snow on October 4th this fall.  That of course melted, which I expected it to.  We then received another good snow on November 3rd, about 4 or 5 inches.  I halfway expected that one to stick around for the winter, but of course it melted about a week later also.  Finally, we received another 2" on Thanksgiving, and I was sure that it would stick with us for the rest of the winter.  But low and behold, the first week of December brought RAIN of all things to North Dakota, and that of course melted the snow.

Now another 2" of snow over the weekend, and of course behind it comes the 30mph north winds and the bitter cold.  Certainly a little snow is better than none at all, such a small amount accompanied by such strong wind still blows a lot of areas bare out on the course.  The snowfence is helping keep some of the snow on the greens, but there are still a lot of areas on the course that are uncovered right now.  Temperatures that barely grazed 0 yesterday, and then dipped to -9 last night are surely are starting to take a toll on some of the Poa in the exposed areas out there.

We really need to get that one good burying snow here soon....

That "feels like" temp of -23 is a brutal combination of cold
and wind on the exposed turf on the golf course.

Just a little over an inch of snow on 16 green provided a decent amount
of protection keeping the turf canopy closer to 11 degrees. 

November 30, 2012

Suspension Bridge Completion

We wrapped up putting the new deck on the suspension bridge this week.  What a process.  Andy and I spent a total of 7 days working in what were not always some pleasant conditions.  Sub-zero temperatures, crawling up underneath spots where usually only trolls go, dangling out 25 feet up over a frozen river channel on a thin piece of steel, and hanging upside down with power tools, at times made for a pretty interesting project.  We learned a lot about bridge construction to say the least.

Andy rockin' the air guitar with the
last old plank that was removed.

With the vegetation dead for the season, you get a good view of the
scarp that is forming on the south side of the coulee bank as it
continues to slide off into the bottom.  I am moderately concerned
for the bridge tower pilings on that side in the coming years....

With the constant threat of flooding, we decided to bolt down the two ends
of the bridge to the concrete pilings by the towers.  We drilled and inserted
4, 16" long concrete anchors into each side in an effort to keep the bridge from
floating and damaging itself in during a flood.

Andy out on a beam grinding off old bolt heads.

I personally get my kicks from our 16" beam saw.  Each plank had to be custom
cut to fit since each bridge section was a slightly different length.  The saw really
came in handy at the end as we had to rip the last few planks lengthwise
to get them to fit right.

Getting started with the new decking.

Finished product.

The inaugural crossing with one of our new gators.

After spending over a week working on the bridge, I have to say how glad I am that the board approved the replacement of the wooden decking this fall.  With the amount of rot, warping, and broken/rusted off bolts in the old surface, the bridge was a disaster waiting to happen.  Not to mention the visual appearance which in and of itself made the bridge scary to drive across.  The new planks are SOLID, well anchored to the bridge frame, and most importantly, pressure treated for a lifetime guarantee against rot.

Next spring we will likely look into replacing a few of the very badly bent steel hangers (the vertical rods coming down from the suspension cable that actually support the bridge) and then cleaning up and painting the rest of them.  We will also be installing a new cable railing system out of some thicker and stronger cable than what had been used in the past.

While it was certainly a very fun project, I think I can safely say that Andy and I are ready to head into the shop and work on projects where there is a heater for the next 4 months....

November 26, 2012

Just Enough Of A Blanket

We received just enough snow over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to put a thin blanket out on the golf course.  I would say on average there is about about 2", although it was pretty low density snow and the strong winds that we had Thanksgiving night (gusts over 50mph) moved it around quite a bit.

This was just in time as we are now getting close to December, meaning we are going to start getting some pretty low temperatures heading our way.  This morning we experienced the first blast of truly cold air, dropping the mercury just a touch below 0 for the first time this season.  With so much Poa Annua on the course, it is vital to have some sort of insulation on the ground to protect these delicate plants from such cold temperatures.  Poa is a very weak plant, and will literally freeze to death if exposed to too many cold nights for too long of a period.  We experienced this badly last fall, enduring the entire month of December with no snowcover and multiple nights dipping down into the teens below 0....lots of dead grass in the spring.

For illustrative purposes, I went out this morning with my soil thermometer to take some temperatures on the surface of 16 green, underneath about 2" of snow.

A tropical -1 this morning, at least the sun was shining....

Underneath 2" of snow, a much more reasonable 22 degrees.

This is a pretty dramatic difference.  Imagine if you had to spend the night outside.  A 22 degree night would be much easier to survive than a night that dipped below 0.

A little more snow would definitely help the situation that much more, but at this point we definitely in much better shape than we were last year at this time...

November 19, 2012

17 Suspension Bridge Renovation

We began the process today of completely taking apart the suspension bridge on 17.  My main goal here is at the very least to replace all the old rotten wood planks.  However, since the entire deck of the bridge is going to be off and all the steel frame and rails will be exposed, I am hoping to get some more serious welding repairs done in areas where the steel has cracked, stressed, or was previously repaired.  Lastly, we will be stringing new steel cables for guardrails, and if we get really ambitious, possibly even grinding off some of the rust on the cable supports and towers and putting on some fresh paint.

I have heard rumors that this is the only suspension bridge in the state of North Dakota.  I cannot verify this, but there certainly can't be very many.  Also, I am really unsure of the exact age of the bridge.  I will assume that the bridge was built when the golf course opened in 1964, as I am not aware of any other bridges that have ever crossed Cole Creek on hole 17.  However, if anyone has other information on the bridge, I would love to hear about it.

With that, I am also going to assume that the wood planks are original, making them close to 50 years old.  I also cannot verify that, but based on the condition of the rusted off and broken steel bolts that were holding some of the planks on, it wouldn't surprise me.

We all know that the condition of the bridge has struggled greatly in the last few years with the constant flooding, but once Andy and I actually started taking the thing apart, it became even more apparent that the decking on the bridge was primed for a serious disaster in short time.  I am glad we are getting this project tackled now and not waiting any longer.

After the spring flood of 2011.  Obviously our bridge has seen some rough times...
Bolts and planks starting to come off on their own.
There was some serious rot on some of the planks.  A couple
of them I was able to pound right through the wood with
a hammer, and one had rotted so bad on the end it was
barely connected to the steel cross brace underneath.

Andy and I started demolition of the old wood planks today.  We were expecting a tough fight, and we sure got it.  Not only were almost all of the nuts rusted and siezed to the bolts, but any nut that we were able to break loose ended up seizing onto the old rusted threads and broke the bolt off.  We finally settled on taking the plan we hoped we wouldn't have to take; getting out the generator and angle grinders and cutting the heads off of each bolt....about 225 of them.

Andy cutting off bolt heads.  We then used hammers and punches
to pound the bolt out through the bottom of the bridge.
After cutting off the first few bolts, we began to find some disturbing patterns.  Some bolts, once the grinder wheel touched them, would start spinning with the cutoff wheel.  I remember my jaw dropping as I stopped the grinder, grabbed the bolt head, and just pulled it out of the bridge.  At some point, I don't even want to guess how long ago, the bolt had rusted off inside the wood and was connected to nothing.  My estimate is that about 25%-30% of the bolts holding the bridge planks on had rusted off and were easily pulled out by hand.

On the left is a newer bolt that must have been replaced recently.  Beside
it are examples of the old rusted off bolts that we simply pulled out by hand.
By the end of our first day of work we managed to get all the old bolts out of the bridge, and have started taking off and removing the planks.  It is actually going much quicker than I had anticipated, but we still have a long way to go.  We picked a great time of year to get started on this since the ground under the bridge and in the coulee channel is now frozen, making it very easy working under the bridge as opposed to what it would be like in the mud during the spring or summer.  Hopefully the weather stays halfway decent in the coming week and we should be able to get it back together pretty quick.
Getting down to the skeleton.

The stack of new wood awaiting us once we finish demolition.

November 13, 2012

Bring Your Daughter To Work Day

Monday was officially "bring your daughter to work day" due to a closing of preschool and lack of the ability to find a babysitter for the day.  Fortunately, we had some fresh snow on the golf course that day and with the temps outside barely reaching 20 degrees, it seemed like a good day to get some office work done and start cleaning up the shop.

Needless to say, Allie was thrilled to join me for the day at work.  I'm sure she will have very fond memories some day of tagging along with her Dad to work at the golf course.  She already gets to take evening golf cart rides around the course with me in the summer, I actually think she is pretty close to knowing how to program an irrigation satellite at this point.  She might as well come play at the course in the winter too.  Besides, isn't it every 4 year old girl's dream to hang out in a dirty shop full of power tools, heavy equipment, and a bunch of greasy parts?

The day began by setting up a "coloring bench" on my archery
target block in the office while I sent some emails.

Then she wanted to go play out in the shop, so I found
her the dust pan and a brush.  After close to an hour of
vigorous brooming, she had managed to clean up
about a 10' x 10' area of the shop floor....

Back into the office for more coloring.  This time at the big desk, I got
moved over to the side of my own desk and had to sit in the guest chair.

After lunch and a movie, she wanted to go help Andy in the shop again.  Andy
wisely set her up "cleaning" an already cleaned cart with a squirt bottle of water
and some rags.  Another 1/2 hour burned....

November 1, 2012

A Busy October

Wow, the days are getting short.  The sun isn't coming up until close to 8:00am and it seems that the rays are getting awfully low already on the drive home from work.  The scary part is, we will continue to lose daylight for almost another 2 months....

The last remaining staff on the maintenance department has been extremely busy the last few weeks trying to get as many things done as possible before the ground freezes up and snow starts flying.  Here is a run down of everything that we were able to get done in the month of October:

  • Rebuilt 17 tee and extended the blue tee box
  • Rebuilt 15 tee, added new black teebox, and build an 80' retaining wall/cart parking area
  • Rebuilt 2 tee, moving it to the left about 6 feet
  • Rebuilt 8 tee, extended it about 15 feet longer and closer to the hole.
  • Build an additional alternate tee box for hole 8
  • Fixed the 20 year old mainline irrigation leak by 8 tee
  • Poured 170 linear feet (about 60,000 lbs) on concrete cartpath from 7 green to 8 tee
  • Rebuilt 3 tee, moving it away form the encroaching creek bank
  • Tore out degraded asphalt path from 2 green to 3 tee
  • Added new cart turnaround by 3 tee (Still need to find a sponsor for concrete here....)
  • Rebuilt the bunker by 8 green, moving it about 10 feet closer to the green and out of the pine trees
  • Reshaped the bunker left of 16 green
  • Poured 150 liner feet (about 55,000 lbs) of concrete cartpath along 14 tee
Also, the following maintenance tasks were completed:
  • The entire golf course, including some rough areas, were fertilized with about 6,500 lbs of fertilizer
  • Leaves were blown and mulched across the entire 200 acres
  • All of the course accessories have been taken down and brought back to the shop
  • The water was blown out of the irrigation system
  • The internal electronics in the irrigation controllers were removed and brought into the shop
  • All 30 acres of highly maintained turf were sprayed preventatively for snowmold diseases
  • The river pump was removed and stored in the shop
  • Greens, tees, and fairways were mowed a time or two per week, or however much the slowly growing turf needed to be
Amazingly, all of this was accomplished with a total staff of only 4 people:  Myself, Andy, Jeff, and Mike.  A few of the college staff from the summer were able to come in one or two afternoons a week for a few hours to help with some leaf cleanup. 

Although the cool weather would lead one to believe that we are into a "slow" time of year at the golf course, this couldn't be further from the truth.  My maintenance staff has worked their tails off for the last month making some much needed upgrades to the course, trying to keep the leaves cleanup up and the turf mowed so the golfers can keep playing, but also trying to get all of our necessary items taken care of to ensure the course is prepared to endure a long winter and to make sure we can hit the ground running first thing in the spring.

Andy placing sand on the new teebox for hole 3

Blowing fairways clean in front of our snowmold application
A test plot in one of the fairways to evaluate our snowmold fungicide effectiveness

New cartpath from 2 green to 3 tee

New concrete path along the retaining wall on 14 tee

Reshaping the horribly old and out of play bunker by 8 green

We still have a lot left to get done in the remaining week or two before the ground starts to freeze up:
  • Greens and tees will be sprayed one last time for extra protections against snowmold
  • Greens and collars will be heavily topdressed with sand to protect against an open winter
  • Snow fence will be going up on the back of the greens
  • The entire west and north side of the golf course will be roped off, and signs put up in order to keep the snowmobiles from trashing the golf course over the winter
  • The flags, cups, and tee markers still need picked up and brought back to the shop
  • All of our equipment needs to be thoroughly pressure washed so we can work on it over the winter

I think that's it....hardly a slow time of year indeed.

October 25, 2012

Let 'Er Blow!

The process of putting the course to bed for the winter officially kicked off today with our blowout of the irrigation system.  Compressed air is pumped through the pipes of the golf course with a massive 900 cfm compressor.  And of course, since I am a numbers guy, I estimate that we blew water out of close to 13 miles of irrigation pipe through our 650 individual sprinklers.

Looks like winter is close.  The trees are all bare and air
is blowing through the irrigation lines.
 Next week sometime, depending on the weather, we will be spraying all of our snow mold protecting fungicides on the turf to protect the course from this very damaging disease.  Last year, even with our complete lack of winter, we managed to sneak out 73 days of snowcover.  Our disease pressure was pretty low.  However, if we get a typical, or even a long winter, and see snowcover start in them middle of November, and last all the way through early April, that would put us at 135 days of snowcover, which is well into the "extreme" category of snomold potential.  Here is a little refresher picture I took in the spring of 2011 when I got here after we experienced about 125 days of snowcover to remind us how bad snowmold can be if not protected against....

snowmold on 16 tee (try not to look at the floodwater in the
background, let's not even think about that yet....)
 For you regular readers of the blog, you may remeber a few of my posts referencing a product called Civitas.  We are spraying Civitas with a combination of a few other fungicides on all 30 acres of the high maintenance turf (greens, tees, and fairways) on the course this fall.  Not only does Civitas help other products act more effectively combating snowmold, but since it is a mineral oil based product it also acts as an anti-dessicant.  After the extremely dry and open fall and early winter we had last year, I am hoping this product will help give us a little bit of extra protection in case the same thing happens again this year.

Furthermore, we will also be topdressing the greens in a heavy layer of sand, probably sometime next week or the week after.  This will act as a blanket, helping to insulate the turf, as well as protect it from the drying winter winds, again, in case we have a dry and open start to the winter. 

Lastly, the snowfence will be going up on the greens again to try and help hold snow on the high backs of them.  Snow of course is also a great insulator, helping to protect the turf from cold temperatures and drying winds....

Another refresher pic from this spring.  After we endured all of Oct, Nov,
and Dec with only .25" of moisture, and no snowcover until the last day
of Dec, this is how much Poa died.  Let's be honest:  if we had to choose
between the two evils, we'd definitely take a little snowmold over this.
We can spray and protect the course from snowmold, and we can TRY to protect the turf from drought and exposure, but in the end of the day we really need some cooperation from mother nature.  We are off to a much better start this go around as we have received close to 3" of much needed moisture in the month of October.  That already puts us a few steps ahead of where we were at last year at this time.  But a few more cards still need to fall into place in the next few months in order for us to have effectively "put the course to bed"

Basically we try to protect the turf in case we don't get any snow, and we also try to protect the turf in case we get some snow....what a ridiculous business turfgrass management is in the northern plains.

October 18, 2012

Rainout....A Double Edged Sword

Well, unfortunately the last two days have been almost an complete rain out on the course, meaning we haven't been able to get much work done on all of our projects.  On the upside however, we are getting some much needed moisture that will seriously help the health of our turf going into winter.  I feel pretty confident this year with all the moisture we have received now in October, that assuming we get a nice blanket of snow on the ground at somepoint in November we should be set up for a good start next spring (assuming we only get enough snow to cover the ground with, not enough to cause a flood.....fingers crossed.)

While we have been stuck at a standstill the last few days on our projects, the last 2 weeks have been pretty nice and we were able to get a lot done. 

If you haven't been able to get out on the course recently, here is a little update:

  • 17 tee has been rough shaped
  • 15 tee has been rough shaped and a small retaining wall added as a cart parking area
  • 8 tee has been rough shaped, irrigation reconfigured, the OLD irrigation leak has finally been fixed, and the pad for the alternate tee box on the other side of the cartpath has been built
  • The concrete cartpath from 7 green to 8 tee has been poured
  • The bunker right of 8 green has been torn apart in order to place the sand on the teebox for 8.  The bunker is getting rebuilt significantly closer to the green to try and bring it more into play.
  • The cartpath along the retaining wall on 14 tee has been regraded.  We will be pouring concrete there next week sometime when it dries out a little bit.

New retaining wall and cart parking area along 15 tee

Mike, Andy, Jeff, and Tony (and myself):  your GFCC professional
flatwork concrete installation crew.  We DO NOT hire out.  Concrete work
is hard, dirty, and generally not much fun.  We poured 64,000 lbs of concrete
in 2 days....we all hope you enjoy your nice new paths next year!

Putting the finishing touches on.

I've heard that this irrigation leak by the cartpath by 8 tee has been around
for a long time.  Your eyes do not deceive you:  that 6" mainline is really
as kinked as it looks.  A cast iron megalug was the only possible fix.

Tearing up the old asphalt by 14 tee.  Incase you can't tell
that old asphalt was laid directly on top of grass, no gravel
base at all....

Bunker destruction by 8 green.  The new bunker will be approximately
half the size as the old one, but twice as likely to come into play.

October 6, 2012

A Blogger's Wish Shall Be Granted...

I believe it was only about a week ago, when I posted a blog about our continuing drought, how dry September had been, and closed with the statement "October really needs to bring us some serious, soaking, beneficial rains."

It sure is nice to know that someone is listening.  Wednesday and Thursday this week brought our first good low pressure system in over a month.  While the weather station on campus here in Grand Forks recorded .70" of total precip, my rain gauge at the course had closer to 1.50" in it.  Hard to know sometimes with snow stuck on top of the guage exactly how much should have been in there.  Regardless, we definitely needed that good shot of precip.  Although it mostly fell as 4" of extremely wet snow, all the better.  As the snow slowly melted over the next day, the moisture was able to totally soak into the ground as it did.

White stuff coming down pretty heavy on Thursday morning.
A beautiful day for a fall round of golf.
The melting snow helped us make quite a mess on Friday as we were
shaping the new cartpath from 7 green to 8 tee.  The show must go on...

October 3, 2012

Fall Projects: Tee Renovations and Cartpaths

Finally, October has arrived.  The grind of the summer golfing season has finally come to an end.  Once Oct. 1st hits, the "switch" inside my head gets flipped.  For the entire summer, we spent all of our time trying to keep the golf course looking and playing its best.  For most of September, we were working diligently to not only keep the golf course playing well, but also completing all the agronomic practices necessary to ensure that we have a successful 2013 growing season (aeration, topdressing, fertilizing.)  Now that October is here, we are switching gears one last time.  With the very limited staff we have remaining on the grounds crew, our focus is now on tackling and completing the projects necessary to ensure that we are continuing to make improvements to our rapidly aging golf course.

Of course, the first of these projects is the continuation of our tee box renovation process.  Just a quick refresher for everyone, the reason the old tee boxes are being rebuilt is:
  • They are nearing 50 years old.  Bentgrass that grows for that long, without any aeration or topdressing, accumulates a TON of thatch (soft layer of decomposing organic material just below the surface.)  This has created teeing surfaces that are extremely soft and spongy, don't recover from divots very quickly, and don't drain very well.
  • They are very unlevel due to settled out irrigation trenches and years of frost heaving.
  • Some are mis-aimed or improperly aligned, and now are positioned poorly due to tree growth that has encroached into the line of the hole.
  • They need brought into the 21st century.  Times change, and so do terrain features, golfing equipment, and golfer attitudes. 
The new tees are being built out of a sand rootzone (old bunker sand in our case.)  Growing bentgrass on sand will create a firmer and faster draining surface, faster recoving divot capabilities, and the ability to add sand topdressing to continue to level out the surface. 

We started on Monday with the renovation of 17 tee.  We extended the blue tee box about 15 yards further to the front to allow for some of you shorter hitting guys to get your tee shot out there a little further, and thus give you a better chance of getting your second shot over the Cole Creek Grand Canyon.

Removing the old tee surface from 17

New sand cap on the black and blue tees on 17.  Notice how much further
the blue tee extends to the front than the old tee used to.

Next on the list is 15 tee.  This tee also extended about 8 yards further off the front to make this long, tough par 4 a little easier to play from the white tees.  Also, the black tee area went back about 5 yards and was built up into a seperate pad to create better visibility off the front of this long tee box.  Lastly, we will be adding (thanks to an additional member sponsorship) a small cart pulloff area along the length of the tee box along with a small concrete block retaining wall.  This will help get golf carts a little further out of the way of this highly used road that my maintenance staff travels dozens of times a day coming and going from the shop, as well as help eliminate the "dirt curb" where golf carts pull off the path with two tires and park in the grass.

Old tee surface removed from 15.  The elevated back tee pad was built
from the material carved out to build the cart pulloff and retaining wall
Next on the list is 8 tee, which is going to involve some major reworking:  a new cart pulloff area to park by 7 green as well as a new path closer to the tee on 8 (all will be done in concrete, again, thanks to an additional sponsorship from a member), also a new alternate tee will be added on the other side of the cartpath underneath the cottonwood tree.

After 8 we will be doing 2 tee, which will involve moving the entire tee box to the left about 6 or 7 feet to help take the huge cottonwoods on the right side of the beginning of the hole a little more out of play.  Next, 3 tee will be done, it also will be moved to the right to get it a little further away from the creekbank that is rapidly eroding to the left of the tee.  Concrete cartpath will also be poured from 2 green down to and around 3 tee.  Lastly we will be doing 1 tee, assuming we have time left this fall.  If not then it will be done first thing next spring. 

The last project on our list this fall is pouring concrete cartpath along the retaining wall on 14 tee (again, thanks to another sponsorship from a group of members.)

If you haven't picked up the point here, the ENTIRE list of projects that you just read about is being almost entirely sponsored by some of our generous members.  To those of you who have made a monetary committment to the betterment of your golf club and the continued improvements to your aged but still spectacular golf course, I personally and sincerely thank you. 

Lastly, as always, please be patient with us as we tear up some of the golf course this fall.  This golf course is old and it definitely is at the point in its life where things have to get a little worse before they can get a lot better.  Please excuse our mess.  The skid steer we are using for the tee demolition as well as carving out new cartpaths is a rental that we pay for by the week, so it is probably going to look like there are a lot of things going on at once in order to get as much use out of the rental machine as possible. 

September 29, 2012

A Little Reading Material

Just wanted to share this nice article from the USGA green section record.  Derf Soller is one of my favorite USGA agronomists, I have been regularly attending his seminars since my early days in Montana dating back to 2006. 

September 28, 2012

The Drought Continues....

After catching a good break of rain back in late July and early August, the last month and a half has gone straight back into the dry conditions we experienced the rest of the spring and early summer.  Since August 15th, about the last 6 weeks, we have seen .90" of precipitation, with most of that falling in the last week of August.  In the month of September, with only 3 days to go (that also look totally dry based on the forecast,) we have seen a mere .20" of total precipitation.....basically nothing considering how dry the ground is.

Fortunately, the temperatures during that timeframe have been pretty reasonable, usually at or a little below normal.  Regardless, the lack of natural rainfall has really started to show on the course again.  When we have to completely rely on overhead irrigation to water the course for such a prolonged period of time, its inefficiencies really start to show.  Fortunately we of course have the ability to handwater our greens now, but with an extremely limited staff this time of year it becomes difficult to find the time to do that with all the other tasks still left to keep up with on the course (mainly leaf cleanup!)

Of course, we are pegged right in the middle of the only area of "extreme drought" in the state....

Another downfall to relying on our irrigation system so much this season is the simple monetary cost of using it.  It takes a lot of electrical power to run not only the irrigation pumps, but also the river transfer pump to keep the pond full.  All told we have spent nearly double the amount of money on electricity (about an additional $4,000) to run those pumps this summer compared to last. 

And of course, as the river continues to drop, we have to keep going out and moving the transfer pump out so it stays in the water.....
Almost October, still out muddin' in the river
October really needs to bring us some serious, soaking, beneficial rains.  We had a very similar dry fall last year, and we all saw the consequences of that come springtime with all the dead grass.  As we approach the time of year when I start to think about "putting the course to bed" for the winter, part of that equation is having adequate rootzone moisture throughout the golf course.  Our irrigation system simply cannot provide that nearly as well as Mother Nature can.  Let's hope for some good rains in October, and then a nice blanket of snow by, let's say, November 10th.....