December 19, 2014

Winter Turf Update

Its that time of year again to start analyzing how mother nature is treating our golf course in the off season.  We've had a mixed bag of winter weather in my time here at GFCC, but this winter is turning out a lot like the winter of 2011-12.  We've had a very dry fall in September and October that is transitioning right into a dry winter as well.

For those of you who have followed this blog for the last few years, you know that this is a double edged sword.  Obviously, a dry winter means our likelihood of experiencing a significant flood next spring is dramatically reduced.  Conversely, a thick blanket of snow is the number one protection the turf needs in order to survive the winter.

We ended November with about an inch or two of snow on the ground.  Not much, but it was just enough of a blanket to keep the turf insulated during the first big cold snap we had at the end of the month.  Unfortunately, December has brought us just enough warm days to melt that little bit of snow, and then has deposited a small film of freezing rain and fog.  Fortunately, the temperatures in December haven't been too cold yet, but the exposed greens that now have a thin layer of ice and frozen sand on them is certainly less than ideal

There wasn't much snow at the end of November, but it was just enough.

Unfortunately the December thaw left a lot of puddles of ice in areas that didn't
completely melt off.  The following days of freezing rain didn't help the situation.
We still have a lot of winter left to go, but at some point we need a window of warmer, sunny days in order to go out and try to melt or shovel off the remaining areas of ice. After that, a good dumping of snow would be great.

December 10, 2014

Shop Season

Collin and I have officially switched gears from turf maintenance, to equipment maintenance.  We realistically spend 8 months of the year (April-November) ensuring the turf on the golf course is healthy, properly maintained, and in overall good shape.  We then spend the other 4 months of the year (December-March) putting some serious maintenance and repair into our equipment fleet.

Our entire line of equipment includes about 90 individual pieces that total in value of just about a million dollars.  Everything from a $50,000 fairway mower to a $200 string trimmer will spend time in the shop this winter receiving all its routine maintenance as well as a thorough check over that usually reveals a variety of broken or worn our parts that require attention.

It is important to realize that most of these machines live a life much more difficult than your typical automobile or home lawn mower.  In order to receive maximum hydraulic flow to operate the cutting reels, a fairway mower for example will run at full engine RPM for about 5 hours a day mowing fairways.  All told, in an entire season, one of our fairways mowers essentially mows a strip of grass 8' wide and 1,600 miles long at a speed of 5 mph, with the engine and hydraulic pump running at full throttle the entire time.  That's a lot of wear and tear.

Our two fairways mower are now 7 years old with about 3,000 hours on them.
Every winter we put them first on the repair list as they starting to have
more and more parts in need of replacement.

Each of the ten cutting units goes on the work bench and is completely
disassembled.  All bearings are checked, replaced if needed, and
reassembled in preparation for grinding.

Bad bearing left, good bearing right.  Overall about 30 of the 100 total bearings
 in all the cutting units ended up being worn out enough that we replaced them.

Lastly, the reel and bedknife receive a razor
sharp edge, and are reinstalled on the mower.

We are just wrapping up all of the general maintenance and repairs to the fairways mowers and the bearing replacement and sharpening on their ten cutting units.  Between Collin and I we put about 110 total work hours into just these two pieces to ensure they are ready for next season.  We only have 3 1/2 more months to get the other 88 pieces of equipment done now....