June 19, 2018

Cruising into Summer

It’s hard to believe that it is already past the middle of June and we are well into our busy tournament season. The grounds crew pushed hard the last few weeks to edge our 49 bunkers, get the entire course string trimmed, get all of the flowers planted around the property, as well as keeping up with all of the mowing and greens maintenance practices. I am very proud of the work they have done and now we will continue to keep the course in tip top shape.

It is a large task to keep all of our bunkers in excellent playing condition. After edging each one, we spend at least one day a week pushing the sand up from the bottom edge to the top edge of each bunker. Irrigation and heavy rainfall usually pulls the sand down to the bottom. We will also add new sand to some of the bunkers that need it the most.

We decided to replace the aged flower pots in front of the clubhouse main entrance and pro shop door a few weeks ago. These pots will be out all season and we hope to place the larger ones inside during the off season to display some winter foliage.

The board, finance committee, and golf and greens committee approved a few new pieces of equipment for the grounds crew this past month. We have purchased a used greens mower that will allow us to verticut the greens on an every other week schedule. Although, there are many other uses for this greens mower. We now have an extra set of cutting units if we get into a situation where our other reels are dull.  If we have a mower broken down, we now have a backup machine. Also, we have the option to double cut greens or send out another mower to get ahead of early morning play.

Our new hydraulic greens mower

The other piece of equipment that we purchased was a new aerator. This is a walk behind machine which will be much more efficient and “gentle” on our greens. This machine replaces our tractor mounted aerator. It typically took 10+ hours to aerate all of our greens and with our new Procore, it should take between 5-7 hours. This machine will allow us to core aerate or needle tine aerate our greens and tee boxes.

Our new Procore aerator

We would not be able to purchase these pieces of equipment without the support of our membership, so thank you to all of you!

We will begin needle tine aerating our greens on Tuesday, June 26. Behind aerating, we will very lightly topdress the greens with an 80/20 Dakota peat sand mixture. We will then roll and water the greens behind that process. Needle tine venting allows oxygen and water down to the roots of the turfgrass plant and helps reduce localized dry spot. Lightly topdressing the greens will also help firm up our greens and produce a smoother, quicker ball roll. We will continue this process every other week throughout the season.

We have started our every other week spray application on greens, collars, approaches, and tees and also included a 1st cut around fairways this week. 

The grounds crew will continue to be busy on a daily basis mowing the entire property, maintaining the bunkers, trimming up trees, and much, much more to keep our magnificent North Dakota golf course looking as sharp as can be!

May 13, 2018

Grounds Update and Irrigation System Upgrade

The nice weather has finally arrived and the grounds crew has been busy out on the golf course. I have had about half of my staff working the past few weeks and we are getting into the swing of things. With school wrapping up at UND, most of the grounds staff will be started within the week. We have a long list of tasks to complete to get the golf course in tip top shape, but we will get there very soon!

A few weeks ago we had 47 stumps ground on the course and they have been leveled and seeded. Some of the larger ones may be sodded as we have more staff on hand. The greens have been consistently mowed at least every other day, and rolled on the other days. We have been able to mow tees, collars, and approaches. The fairways have gotten a few haircuts and with the moisture and heat that we've received, you can watch the rough grow. As more staff starts filling in this week, we will be on a more routine mowing, rolling, and bunker raking schedule. We will also begin the long process of pushing sand around in all of the bunkers and edging every single one of them.

As most of you noticed, we had some action going on at the irrigation pump station last week. We had VFDs installed on our pump motors. A variable frequency drive regulates the speed of the pump motor. The VFDs start our pump motors up slower and only runs the motor at the speed that it needs to supply 100 psi to our irrigation lines underground. These VFDs will save our irrigation lines from water hammering and will lengthen the life of our pumps and motors. It is also an energy saving device as we are only using the amount of power that we need vs. wasting energy when our pumps used to start up at full speed all of the time.

These are the VFDs that now run our pump motors

We removed the old butterfly valves that controlled the flow of our water and now will be able to allow more flow through our pipes. I should be able to water one or two more zones at a time during a water cycle.

We may still have some irrigation breaks this summer as our lines underground are 30+ years old and overtime, PVC becomes brittle. Although, installing these VFDs will reduce that number of breaks that we have been seeing the last few years and save us some money.

We verticut and slit seeded number 1 and 2 greens last week. We will be lightly topdressing them once a week as we go forward. I have already seen progress in both greens, and I believe we will continue to see these greens improve. We are busy working with Todd Daniels of ProTurf Systems on a plan for our greens and other various areas of the golf course this season. We plan on core aerating the greens on May 24th.

We've got an exciting and busy summer ahead of us!

April 18, 2018

Is anyone anxious to start golfing??

The temperatures are rising, Cole Creek is flowing, and the grass is showing through all of the snow at the GFCC. As of today, most of the greens are about 75% melted and they appear to have come through the winter in good shape. I plan on meeting with Todd with ProTurf Systems next week sometime, so I will have a report and our plan going forward for the care of our greens.

We have been busy out on the course taking ropes down, helping water move down towards the creek and continuing with our tree removal and trimming. We have removed the line of ash trees on the left of #13 fairway that were a few feet away from the cottonwood row. This will allow for better golf shots, less time mowing and string trimming, and hopefully help the health of the turf in this area. More than 50% of these ash trees were declining in health as they were growing directly into the cottonwood trees.

We removed about 8 other trees around #4, #12, and #14 this past week. All of this tree removal will require stump grinding, which will take place in a few weeks here when the ground dries up more. 

It's hard to set an exact opening date at this point, but the extended forecast has excellent snow melting temperatures in it and we aren't far away from the golf season. The course will take a few days to soak in all of the water once the snow is gone and then we will be ready for play. I will keep everybody posted on our progress and I hope that everyone is excited for a great season at the GFCC!

April 2, 2018

Trees and more winter

It appears that winter has decided to stick around a little bit longer, but that hasn't kept us from getting some work done around the golf course. We have removed snow fence from the greens and have continued to limb up and remove some trees around the course.

We finished cleaning up the ash trees that we cut down on the left side of #4. This will help the turf thrive in this area as it has always been very thin from all of the shade. It also will be much easier for our rough mowers to mow in this area. We also limbed up the cottonwoods as high as our pole saw will allow us. 

On #11, we limbed up and removed a few trees on the left side at the dogleg. This area was way too crowded with trees. Many were showing signs of it as half of them were starting to die.

Another area that we have spent quite a bit of time trimming trees at is on the right side of #9 along the cart path. There were a few large ash trees hanging over the cart path and fairway that needed to be limbed up. One of them had a large split in it that was an accident waiting to happen. This trimming should help golfers from the tee box see where their ball lands if they hit off to the right.

We will continue to work on our tree trimming list along the golf course as the season goes on. We are just about finished up with sanding, branding, painting, and staining all of our course accessories and we are getting anxious to get out on the golf course on a daily basis. I see 50’s in the near forecast, so we aren’t far away!

March 5, 2018

Winter Update

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog, so I decided I would take a crack at it again and update everyone about what is going on with the GFCC Maintenance Staff. I will try my best to do more frequent, short blogs to keep everyone aware of what is going on throughout the season.

Meet the GFCC Mechanic:

In late August, I hired Derian Byfuglien as our course mechanic. Derian is from Roseau, MN and has his four-year degree from UND in Business Management. Derian comes from a background of large equipment operation and maintenance from his family owned business back is Roseau. He has spent many hours in our shop learning and working on every piece of equipment that we own. Derian will be a huge benefit to me and the club, as this will allow me to spend more hours on the golf course during the golf season. The mechanic position is also a very important position because we have well over 30 pieces of equipment that need daily attention and tune ups.

We have been quite busy in the shop since the golf season came to an end. We have sharpened all 23 reel blades that we have with our new reel and bedknife grinders. These pieces of equipment replaced our 27-year-old grinders that were not very accurate and were inefficient for our operation. As a result, this will help keep our turf healthier, as dull mower blades tear the turf plant causing issues such as disease.

Our new Reel Grinder
Our new Bedknife Grinder
We have changed oil, filters, hydraulic fluid, fuel filters and any broken parts that were necessary to replace on our equipment. Besides the new reel and bedknife grinders that we purchased in the fall, we also replaced a few other pieces of equipment. We traded one of our 1997 large utility vehicles for a new one, we traded our oldest rough mower for a new rough mower, and replaced the range picker cart with a much better utility vehicle. None of this would be possible without our great membership, so thank you to everyone for supporting your club! I am grateful that we are able to replace a few of our very dated equipment pieces about every five years.

Our new Range Picker Cart
Finally, Derian and I have spent a few of the 30 degree days that we have had this winter cutting down and trimming trees around the course. The greens committee went out in October to look at trees around the course that have overgrown over the years, are playability issues or are visually unappealing and marked them with an X. This number was about 30-40 trees, so it will take some time to remove them. We will continue this large task to make our golf course great.

Left side of 4 Ash trees removed

I am pleased with the amount of snow cover that we have on our greens so far, this winter. The greens haven’t had much ice buildup and they are insulated pretty well. Keep an eye out for updates in the very near future about the conditions of our greens coming out of winter and our plans for the upcoming season.