November 25, 2014

Irrigation Pump Removal

If there is one piece of equipment that is solely responsible for the well being of the golf course, it is the irrigation pumps.  Housed in the grey steel sided building along 7 fairway, I would be curious how many golfers have ever ventured inside and seen the pumps.  Tucked away out of view and sitting quietly most of the time during the day, they are nonetheless the heart and soul of the golf course.

Inside the building is a 20' deep concrete wet well that takes in water from the irrigation pond.  On top of the vault sits a huge concrete lid that holds the two vertical tubine pumps.  They extend downward into the wet well and suck up water when engaged, forcing it through a 6" mainline out to the sprinklers on the golf course.  Powering the two pumps are a 40HP and 20HP electric motor.  During a hot and dry period in the summer, it is not uncommon for both of the pumps to run constantly from 9pm to 7am in order to properly water the golf course.  All told we can water upwards of 250,000 gallons in a heavy night, and over the course of a season we will use anywhere from 13-20 million gallons of water.

However, it became evident this fall that one of the pumps was starting to experience some mechanical failure.  Not only was the 40HP pump starting to make some loud noises during operation, but we started losing pressure during high flow rates of over 600 GPM, meaning that the pumps were unable to supply the water that our irrigation system was demanding.  Because of this, and the fact that the system was installed in 1995 and has received very little maintenance, we made the decision to remove the entire system this fall in order to have it inspected.  If there is one piece of equipment that we simply cannot have fail during the summer, this is it.

The entire pumpstation: pumps, motors, valves, and piping before disassembly

It took Collin and me an entire day to take everything apart.

Due to the length and weight of the pumps, we had to remove a few
roof panels and have a crane remove them.

These two pieces of steel tubing and impellers are the difference between
a green and vibrant golf course, and a dead one.

Both the pumps and the electric motors that turn them are being taken to a company in Fargo that specializes in rebuilding large water pumps.  The big question is going to be how badly worn are the pumps, and does it make financial sense to rebuild them.  It a lot of instances, rebuild can cost upwards of 60-80% of the cost of replacing with brand new pumps that are more efficient and come with warranty.  We are hoping to have an answer in the next few weeks.

November 7, 2014

End Of The Line

We have reached the official end of golf season, but that doesn't mean the end of work season.  Believe it or not, the last month of the golf season is one of our busiest times on the year.  We act a little bit like animals preparing for hibernation out on the course, trying to squeeze in as much final project work and winterization of the course as we can before the ground freezes and the snow starts to fall.  Winter is hard for me, as I am forced to take my hands off the course for a solid 5-6 months, unable to adjust, tweak, or help the turf stay healthy.  Thus, October and early November are vitally important as it is our last chance to prepare the course to sit idle for a long, dark winter.

Our preparation for winter involves protecting the course from four main threats:  extreme cold, wind, snow mold, and snowmobiles.  All four of these pose a serious threat to the health of the golf course if we fail to provide protection from them.

Fairways, greens, and tees all receive a healthy dose of fungicide to prevent snow
mold, which can be a devastating disease if left unchecked.  Whereas in the summer
we may spray every 2-3 weeks to protect the turf, this application must protect for 5 months.

Our protection from cold temperature and wind is a two part approach.  First, a
thick covering of sand acts as a blanket for the greens, protecting them
from the elements.

Second, snowfence helps hold snow on all of our windswept greens.  Snow
is a great insulator and is our best protection from brutally cold temperatures.

We are trying a new snowfence technique on the practice green and a few tees
this fall by laying limbs from trees that we trimmed along the edges to help catch snow.
With about 13 miles of pipe in the ground, 650 individual sprinklers, and a  replacement
value of well over $1 million, irrigation blowout is a fall task not to be taken lightly.

Lastly, snowmobiles pose a serious hazard to the course by tearing up the grass
under a thin snowpack, and packing snow into ice that can easily kill
the turf.  There are about 100 signs across our property notifying snowmobilers
that they are not welcome.
Lastly, with every extra minute we have this time of year, we are trying to finish some projects on the course.  We finished pouring concrete by 2 tee this week, did a lot of final topsoil grading around all of our projects in preparation for sod next spring, and installed about 1,000' of drainage pipe to connect our new bunker drains to an outlet.

Putting the final touches on the last load of concrete cartpath along #2 tee.

The final product with the new bunker and cartpath by #1 green, once sodded
next spring, I think will be a tremendous improvement.

We were able to add drainage lines to eight new bunkers this fall, meaning that
at this point about half of the bunkers on the course now have sub-drainage.
Add in to all of this that we have to finish cleaning up all the leaves on the course, getting all of our equipment thoroughly cleaned and pressure washed in preparation for winter maintenance, staking off and roping all of the greens, and getting all of the accessories picked up off the course and put in storage, and hopefully you understand why late fall is one of our busiest times of the year.