December 7, 2020

Grounds Crew Update

We’ve had unseasonably warm weather for most of November and the beginning of December. This has allowed us to get some on course tree trimming and removal done. We have also completed a few small drainage projects on #6 and #11 fairways to help alleviate summer flooding. 


In early November we rented a boom trailer to tackle a few holes that needed some branch removal higher than we could reach from the ground. We spent a lot of time on the cottonwood trees on the left side of #12 and the left side of #14 near the tee boxes on both holes. We were also able to remove many “widow makers” throughout the golf course. These are the branches up in the trees that have broken and lay on top of other branches. I wanted to get as many removed as possible as it can be a safety issue out on the course. 

#14 tree trimming looking towards the tee box

#14 cottonwood tree trimming completed

#12 tree trimming on the left side

"Widow maker" removal along right side of 11 fairway. We spent a full day removing branches like this around the golf course. 

This fall we were also able to remove about 22 trees throughout the golf course. Many of these trees had issues present. Most of these trees had out grown their lifespan and had multiple broken branches, while others have not grow any leaves on them the past few seasons. There were also a handful of trees that were creating shade issues around the course resulting in turfgrass decline. 

We removed two trees on the right side of #16 tee box. One of the pine trees was about 4' from the tee box and the only Ash tree in this row was starting to rot at the base of the tree. Removing these two trees will help the overall health of this tee box. 

This is a picture of an Ash tree that we cut down behind #4 green. It is approximately 14"x20" and almost completely rotted in the center of it. 


We were fortunate to have great weather to get a lot of this work completed, and all that remains is the stumps to remove in the spring. Besides tree work, we were able to complete a few drainage projects on 6 and 11 fairways. We graciously received about ten truck loads of immaculate top soil this past summer from a few of our generous members. We used a lot of this top soil to build new red tee boxes on #4 and #9. We also used much of this soil to help level a lot of our "potholes" on 6 and 11 fairways. We did our best to level some of these areas out and funnel them to a few new drainage holes before the ground froze up. We will need to do some finish work in the spring once the snow melts and the ground thaws, but this should help alleviate some of our summer flooding issues. This is a temporary fix and our Master Plan with Norby Golf Design will be the best option for us to completely fix these flooding issues. 


Tran and I have also started to work on some of our equipment fleet. Every piece will come into the warm side of the shop and get a thorough look over. We will change fluids and filters, replace any broken parts, and sharpen all of the blades in preparation for next season. It is a nice change of pace for us to recharge our minds, take in some educational opportunities, and turn some wrenches instead of worry about our turf playing surfaces for a few months. 

Come on out for a walk around the golf course while it is still this nice out in December! Just remember to please keep off of the greens completely and the fairways as much as possible! 

March 31, 2020

Grounds Department gearing up for Spring

I figured the members of the Grand Forks Country Club could use something to read about other than the Coronavirus, so I’ll provide a quick update from the GFCC Grounds Department. 

February and March have been busy months in the shop. Our rough mowers have gotten the most work during this time. We typically mow the rough at the country club four days during the week, for at least 8 hours each of those days. With that being said, they go through a lot of rough terrain mowing and get a hard workout. Every part gets inspected from bearings to bushings to hydraulic fluid and filters to engine parts. 

Our 2009 Toro wide area rough mower was long over-due for a mower deck overhaul. The decks had begun to rust, the belt pulleys and the shafts had begun to wear, bushings and bearings in all moveable parts were worn out and our quality of cut just wasn’t where it needed to be. 

This is a photo of our Toro wide area rough mower as we began the process of rebuilding the mower decks. As you can see, the paint is chipped and faded and there is a lot of rust present.

Here are the two wing decks completely stripped of parts. 
This is the middle deck taken off of the mower and in the process of parts removal. 

We did most of the work in the shop at the golf course, but some of the work was outsourced. We had Grand Forks Welding help us rebuild and weld the belt pulley shafts, AJ’s Sandblasting did the prep work to the decks, and Pro-Tec Powder Coating put on a fresh Toro Red color to finish off the decks. We were able to salvage some parts for the decks, but had to replace a large portion of worn out pieces. 

Freshly powder coated decks

Decks being rebuilt

Here the decks are nearly completed. We have also added LED lights for early morning mowing. 

During the past two months, we have also put a lot of work into our triplex greens and tee box mowers, our debris blower, and our greens roller. Our triplex mowers got fully serviced with fluid and filter changes, as well as reel sharpening. Two of our three triplex mowers had light kits attached to the mowers, so we added an LED light kit to the third triplex. Our debris blower received a full service and carburetor replacement. On our greens roller, we had to replace a few broken bearings, a transmission seal, and we replaced the 13 year old engine. 

LED lights installed on our triplex mower

Lastly, we completed a few other small projects in the shop this winter to make life “a little bit easier” when it comes to maintaining the golf course. For about $25, we added an LED light bar to our sprayer as we complete many applications in the dark, early mornings. This will make mixing and spraying easier for us. All of the tee markers and yardage markers have been repainted and varnished and the rest of the course accessories are ready for the season. 

LED light bar installed on our sprayer

In other news...

The mighty Red River is rising quickly this season, and we are spending the week preparing for the fight and clean up. Four of our irrigation satellite boxes have been removed, and we waiting to see if our pump station needs to be disassembled. I am optimistic for a quick rise and descend of the river, meaning our clean-up will be minimal compared to last year and we will have more turf survive the elements. 

I look forward to seeing everyone out on the golf course swinging clubs soon!

Remember, this will be here before you know it!

February 12, 2020

Winter Grounds Update

Is anyone getting anxious to swing some clubs?? With an early October snow storm and record fall flood, it seems like we haven’t been able to enjoy our wonderful golf course at the Grand Forks Country Club in a long time. I am trying to be as optimistic as I can with the upcoming spring thaw situation. I have my fingers crossed that the rest of February can cooperate and we don’t receive too much moisture in March. 

What in the world does the superintendent do all winter?? 

Well, we have been very busy in the shop this winter preparing all of the equipment for the upcoming golf season. We have 38 pieces of equipment to maintain all year round. This does not include multiple string trimmers and gas powered water pumps that also need attention each year. All of these pieces of equipment are extremely important to the success of our golf course and are used heavily during the golf season by many employees. 

This our our 10' cut rough mower that is currently in the shop for full service. The brakes have been inspected, tires rotated, fluids and filters changed, castor wheel bearings replaced, and machine fully cleaned.
All of our winter equipment preparation begins the day the golf season ends. Every piece of equipment is pressure washed, brought into the heated side of our shop to fully dry and then every movable part gets greased. This prevents parts like bearings and seals from freezing from the pressure washing process and then cracking or breaking if frozen. Each individual piece is then parked in the cold side of the shop and rotated into the warm shop for a full service throughout the winter. 

We change the oil and filters, hydraulic oil and filters, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters, remove and clean the radiators, inspect brake parts, replace any worn or broken parts, and touch up paint where needed. 

The above two photos are from the rear axle of our other 10' cut rough mower. We found a broken bearing and leaking seal in the rear axle that needed to be replaced before more damage occurred in the axle.

We have 23 reels and bedknives that complete all of the cutting on our low mowed turfgrass. Each reel comes off of the mower and needs to be inspected and sharpened on our reel grinding machines. 

Here is a photo of our fairway mower reels. Each one is taken apart for inspection and sharpening. 

I have been extremely fortunate during my time at the GFCC for the commitment of replacing old equipment on a financially responsible time frame. There gets to be a time where the parts and work that a machine needs gets to be more expensive than what the machine is worth. Although it is still typically less expensive to fix equipment rather than to purchase new, some of these pieces of equipment are broken down in the shop more often than running out on the golf course. I believe we have done an excellent job replacing those few pieces of equipment that fall into that category. 

Other than equipment maintenance, we are busy in the shop rebuilding, painting, and staining course accessories. Last winter we were able to build new tee markers for the golf course. By building our own tee markers, we saved roughly $3,000 and only spent $300 with the tee marker design that we chose. Anything that we are able to build in-house usually saves us large amounts of money. 

In addition to maintenance, I typically get to attend a few turfgrass educational opportunities in the area. These opportunities are excellent for keeping a fresh mind for maintaining a golf course, new ideas to improve course conditions, and networking with other turfgrass professionals all over our tri-state region. One other exciting opportunity that I get to be a part of this winter is the Master Planning process for the Grand Forks Country Club provided by Herfort Norby Architects. With a plan in place, the future of the GFCC is very exciting. Stay tuned for updates!

Lastly, he may only be 6 weeks old, but I see this guy on a greens mower in the future!

Meet Everet Cannon