November 29, 2013

Irrigation Pond Fixes

Now that the ground is frozen and our friends at Florians Excavating have a few spare moments, we finally were able to tackle the leaking pond overflow culvert.  I discovered back in the middle of the summer that the 15" steel pipe that acts as the high level overflow to the pond, had rusted out somewhere below the water level and was leaking approximately 50 GPM, or 72,000 gallons per day, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 11,000,000 gallons over the course of the summer.  That was all water that we had to pay to pump back into the pond to keep it full.  Needless to say, it was a big deal to get this taken care of.  The old steel culvert was dug back about 5' into the pond bank, smashed, buried in 5,000 lbs of concrete, and then covered back up in dirt.  A new culvert was then dug in about 100' to the north.

Nothing is quite as exciting as that moment when a 25 year old piece of junk
(pain in my rear end) gets torn out of the ground to get replaced!

The new culvert is set entirely above the normal water level, meaning it can
never "leak."  Also, we set the new overflow level about 5" higher than
the old culvert, meaning our pond is capable of holding an extra 335,000
gallons now.

Good time of the year to tear things up....

The new overflow empties out into Cole Creek about 100' further north
of the old pipe, and is piped much closer to the actual creek bank, so
hopefully the bank failure will not continue so rapidly there.

When we finished installing the new overflow pipe, we then turned our attention to the other side of the irrigation pond by 14 fairway.  Back in the beginning of November I removed the old steel culvert that had heaved out of the ground there, with the intention of replacing it with a more functional culvert.  We were able to install a new 8" culvert underneath 14 fairway that will allow us to pump water out of the lakes north of the property without having to actually pump the water into our irrigation pond first.  When the lake level begins to drop as the summer progresses, we will have the ability to close that pipe, and fill our irrigation pond via the river pump or a pump on 14 fairway.

Furthermore, while we had the area torn up, we also installed a 4" pipe and some electrical conduit.  Next spring we should be able to buy a small electric pump that can be installed on the north side of 14 fairway, and pump water from the lake to our irrigation pond through the 4" pipe.  If all goes well, we should never have to use a gas pump or blue hoses on 14 fairway ever again....

Removing the old steel culvert that had heaved up in 14 fairway.

Installation of the new 8" pipe

Lots of new utilities installed under 14 fairway.

Like a lot of the projects we do on the golf course, this one will never be seen or directly affect anyone playing golf, but the impacts that it will have on the way we manage the golf course will be huge.  One of the biggest challenges we have had the last few summers has been trying to keep our irrigation pond full.  Not only will these two projects eliminate countless headaches for me and my staff and allow us to focus on more important aspects of the course, but the cost savings (mostly in fuel costs for the gas pumps, as well as more limited electrical power to run the river pump) should add up to a decent amount next summer as well.  And lastly, after we regrade and reseed the area in the middle of 14 fairway next spring, we should finally be able to have some nice turf there next year!

November 7, 2013

Drainage Upgrades

For those of you who played the course any this year a day or two after one of our big spring or fall rainstorms, you can surely understand the need for more drainage on our course.  While it would be nice to add drainage to the entire course, there are really only a few spots we need to concentrate our efforts in order to make a big difference

A bunker pond after a June rainstorm

Way too much water, and difficult to get rid of

Almost the entire right rough on 6 about 150 yard to the green
and in was standing water during June.

Bunkers in particular are a major concern.  Since they are completely shaped out of clay underneath the sand, they are essentially just a giant bathtub after a rain.  Even after a moderate rainfall, we have to pump out usually about 30 of our 45 bunkers, a huge waste of man hours, plus the fact that repeated pumping starts to destroy the integrity of the bunker.  As of this fall, we have installed drainage (perforated pipe covered with gravel, and then covered with a synthetic liner material to keep the rock separate from the sand above) in 14 bunkers.  We took the opportunity this week to actually continue those drains to daylight somewhere so that they are finally functional.

Secondly, holes 6 and 11 were in desperate need of some additional drainage.  There was some drainage installed on hole 6 back in the early 90s I believe, but after having located and dug up a few of those pipes, the old perforated pipe was either mostly or completely filled with soil, rendering them ineffective.  We started in the worst area, front left of 6 green, by adding a 12" sump basin in the lowest point, and then trenching a 3" drain line about 160' across 6 fairway to the sump basin in the right rough, which then empties into the drainage canal that parallels hole 2.

Hole 11 received some help as well in the trench it shares with holes 12.  After shooting a ton of grade points, I determined that the trench doesn't and can't even actually drain its self.  The farm ditch on the other side of 12 cartpath is actually higher than the lowest point in the trench.  We installed a 12" sump in the lowest point of the trench, which happened to be in the rough about ten feet right of 11 fairway.  We then added french drains (perforated pipe covered with pea gravel, and then sand all the way to the surface) in both directions of the trench.  We will still have to pump the trench out after a large rain, but the sump basin should make that process much easier, and the french drains will help dry out the rest of the trench, especially in 11 fairway where it has always been wet and devoid of any real turf cover.

Going to work on hole 6

French drain line going up the trench in 11 fairway

Bunker drain on 11

After 2 straight days running the trencher, my arms feel like jello...

Also, we have been harvesting the huge pile of old, flooded bunker sand that is piled up in the native area behind 6 tee, and using to fill in some of the really bad settled trenches in other areas of the golf course.  That has been one of my huge complaints about this course since I have been here, you can hardly drive a cart through the rough on some holes without bouncing your golf clubs off the cart.  By filling the trenches with sand, the drains can still function underneath, and the grass should easily grow back and fill the areas in this coming spring with the help of a little additional seeding.
Andy filling in old drainage lines in the right rough on 6

November 3, 2013

Geologic Problems

Of all the issues I try to mitigate as a golf course superintendent, geologic problems are always the hardest to remedy, and usually happen when they are least expected.  The Red River is very young, it formed only 9,500 years ago when Lake Agassiz drained, meaning that coupled with the constant flooding, the river valley is very prone to dramatic changes.

Apparently something shifted pretty dramatically down on the river bank recently.  Just last week we used the large compressor used to blow the water out of the irrigation system to blow the water out of our 6" water transfer line as well.  During the process, it looked like Old Faithful was going off there was so much air and water blowing out of the ground down on the river bank.

It appears that at some point in October, with all of the rain we had, the river bank took a severe slip back behind our maintenance facility.  The river pump transfer line pulled apart in two areas, once in an above ground section, and once again in an area where the pipe was buried about 3' deep.

We took the opportunity to dig up all of the broken pipe with the line out of use for the rest of the season.  We will repair the line as far back as it is broken, and leave the rest of the line disconnected and will just run it all above ground next summer.

We dug up about 120' of the line.

The first break separated the pipe about an inch

The fitting on the right, a gasketed coupler called a "knock on" fitting, used
to overlap the pipe on the left by about 6".  So here, the pipe moved about
10".  Kind of scary how much the ground is moving down by the river....

A scarp face is beginning to form where the bank is literally breaking
off and falling into the river.

Amazingly, this huge cottonwood is still standing, however
it is starting to press against our pipe.

This situation has future disaster written all over it.  Hence the reason the
entire line is coming out and getting moved next spring.