Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three days of class at the Syngenta Business Institute

One of the perks of being a superintendent is all the opportunities for travel, golf, and education.  In the past six years, I'm been lucky enough (and supported by SGCC's membership) to attend the Golf Industry Show at locations around the country.  I've played some phenomenal golf courses, I traveled to Ireland, I've gone to Farmlinks, and most recently to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the Syngenta Business Institute.  Yes, I'm a little spoiled.

The Syngenta Business Institute is held at the Gralyn International Conference Center in Winston-Salem, NC. The facility is amazing in its history, architecture, sheer size, and the staff treated us like family. As you could imagine, they also fed us pretty well.

This last trip was unlike any previous event I've been able to attend.  Most other educational offerings center around agronomy, chemicals, cultural practices, and basically growing turf.  The problem with this, is 80% of this job is dealing with people.  Growing turf is the easy part.  Working with a crew, club managers, a membership, the public, sales associates, the media, and regulation entities is the part of my job that keeps reminding me that I have a lot to learn.

Three professors from Wake Forest University Schools of Business and another from The Ohio State University taught an energetic group of 26 superintendents principles of financial mangement, leadership, motivation, negotiation, and closing the generational gap.  There was so much information, and homework before and after the event, that I haven't even finished going through the material.  I have so much to share with the other managers at the club and if it ever rains, I will put together a summary for our leaders at SGCC.

If you are a superintendent, then you owe it to yourself and your course to apply for this event for all the positives that come with it.  Besides all the education, I had the opportunity to learn from 25 other superintendents.  Before, between, and after classes, I picked up many ideas from experienced and knowledgable peers.  As usual, the networking is the most beneficial portion of the trip. 

Thank you to Syngenta for hosting this phenomenal program.  Stockton GCC, our staff, and I will benefit from this education immediately.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

TAKE ACTION!!! Save Sharp Park

I am asking for your help today.  Sharp Park Golf Club in Pacifica, CA is a historically significant golf course that entertains 55,000 rounds a year.  The golfers make up all walks of life, colors, and collars.  Average round price is about $35 for a resident, which is very cheap in the San Francisco Bay.

Last Tuesday, the SF Board of Supervisors voted to turn the park over to the National Park Service which is not interested in maintaining the golf course and will seek other uses for the land.  This would be a terrible blow to golf in California.

The main issue is the residency of two endangered species, the San Francisco gartersnake and the red legged frog.  Neither of these creatures could have survived in this environment prior to the construction of the golf course.  The golf course seperated the salty marsh from the ocean creating a fresh water sanctuary for the San Francisco Garter Snake and California Red-legged Frog.

I encourage to read this amazing article written by Bo Links and Richard Harris in the Golf Club Atlas: MacKenzie's Sharp Park Under Siege. This article discusses the historical significance of Alister MacKenzie's creation, the course's contribution to golf, and the environmental impact it has had.  You can also visit the Save Sharp Park website for much more information on the property.

After last Tuesday's vote, it is up to the mayor of San Francisco to veto the ordinance within the next ten days.  The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and many of the local superintendent chapters in California have been busy with an email campaign all week trying to save this golf gem.  I am asking for your help.  There is great power in numbers and a grassroots campaign can stop this mistake before it happens.

Click on the link below to send an email directly to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.  All you need to do is fill in some contact info and hit send.  One minute of your time to have your voice heard and keep one of golf's treasures active and available.  ACT NOW!!!!   GCSAA ACTION ALERT
Monday, December 12, 2011

Out with the old and in with the new

Some projects remain on the to-do list for years before we get a chance to get 'er done.  The 16th fairway has a sunken drain line that has been a problem for golfers, mowers, and my to-do list for a solid six years. The depression crosses the fairway at the 250 yd marker, a good spot to conclude a fantastic drive. This low spot is the location of an old concrete drain line that is slowly deteriorating.  We patched small portions over the last few years and topdressed to improve lies, but it kept caving in.  The bigger problem was the area this pipe used to drain would flood during rain events.                                                                                    Eventually, we will replace the entire pipe from 15 tee to the left rough of #6.  We started with the fairway during our first closed Monday in a number of months.  I like our members, but I love closed Mondays.

With five staff members, we sodcut a clearing, trenched out the old pipe, leveled and graded, installed new gravel and pipe, backfilled, and got our sod back down in about 6 hours.  This was quick work for a 130 foot stretch of 10 inch concrete drain converted to 6 inch PVC perforated pipe.  The trencher made quick work of the brittle concrete and we had the whole line ready for hand cleaning in 25 minutes.

Before we installed the pea gravel and pipe, we sent in our specially trained dog to check for the proper grading.  Actually, she was looking for white grubs, she loves those things.

Once our pipe was in the ground and backfilled, Dante and Manuel put the sod puzzle back together.  This portion of fairway is going to being smooth and uniform so your 250 yard drive will not end up in ground under repair.  The drain line is now operational and will be for years to come.  And six years after I wrote it down, there is an empty slot on our to-do list.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fall Color

For some reason, this year has provided the best show of color in northern California that I've seen in the nine years I've lived here.  The golf course was full of red and yellow trees which turned into a carpet of brightly colored leaves on our grounds.  On the 12 hole, during a windy day, the bunkers were filled all the way up within a couple of hours.  The green was spotless that morning and unplayable in the afternoon.

In our parking lot, the red maples put on a show for four solid weeks.  The acer rubrum 'October Glory' trees turned a bright red that stood out from the 13th fairway, provided a backdrop for the 9th green, and stirred up many questions from members.  This is a great tree for adding color and grows well in Stockton so don't hesitate to plant one of your own if you are so inclined.

Adding some much needed color to the golf course is a priority of the ongoing Tree Program.  The young pin oaks near the 5th green were a deep red and maroon, the honey locusts turned bright yellow, and the plums added a nice contrast with the ever-present dark purple.  Deciduous trees are sometimes frowned upon by golfers because of the mess in the top picture.  This one day event is worth the price to see the changing color wheel along the fairways.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's drainage time

Installing new drainage on a golf course that is partially below sea level is limited to few options.  If the grade is right, we can attach to an existing sump pump or tie into one of the lines that connect our lakes.  If all else fails, we dig a giant hole, fill with crushed rock, top with landscape fabric and some sand.  This type of drain will handle some wet spots and light rains, but will do little to remove water from a major winter storm.  Anything more than an inch is probably considered 'major' when we only average 16 inches per year. This place can get wet in a hurry.

This past weekend we recorded about .35" of rain and the course was CART PATH ONLY for one day.  Today we are back open and checking out our new drain lines to see what else needs to be done.  Over the last three weeks, we have installed over 300 linear feet of drains.  175 feet of this was installed on October 31st on the driving range.  We've been forced to close the range during wet periods in the winter and hope to stay open year round with some new drainage.

We went with a french drain since this is out of play and the gravel will not be visible from the tee or from the 18th fairway.  Towards the trees in the background, we have some more wet areas to attend to.  Next Monday, we will fire up the trencher and add some new lines to the ones you see here.  Our outlet is positioned at the lowest point of the range, so we can drain everything to one central point.  The water then heads to the sump pump at the back of the range and is pumped to the pond on #2.

When we installed this drain, we cut through three old drain lines.  We found a large, 10" concrete drain line that was filled will soil.  We found another clay drain tile that was heavily deteriorated.  The last one was corrugated plastic, the same material we are using and a modern marvel compared to the other pipes we encountered.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monster Day

I'm falling behind with some of these posts, but Craig keeps snapping pictures to remind me that we have plenty to share.  On October 30th, the club hosted it's annual Monster Day to punish participants with a brutal course setup.  A member of ours, Dr. Weldon Hess, has assisted with torturing the field for the last three years and for the second year in a row, I skipped town during the event to visit GCSAA and avoid the backlash from unsuspecting participants.  This is the only day that Bert is encouraged to place the pins in the toughest location he can find, legal or not.  Every year we come up with some new ideas of tee locations, course routing, and unusual obstacles.

New additions to this year's tournament included a flop shot over our 'Big Break Wall' on the par 3 11th hole.

Most holes had pin locations on slopes such as the worst of the worst, the false front of #8 green.  There is a maximum number of strokes on this hole to keep things moving along.

#3 featured 3 pins with one large hole, one small hole, and one standard hole.  Players were instructed to choose their pin before playing to the up-hill green.  However, I heard that many groups decided, "we'll go for the big hole" instead of choosing a flag; left, right, or center.  Go figure.  I'd take the big hole too.

 We have a lot of fun with this tournament and this year, a couple of our own guys, Bert Ryan and Charlie Cariati, played in the event.  They heard a lot of playful complaints towards the brutal setup, but it was all in good fun.  If you sign up for Monster Day, you know what's in store.

A Post on Cart Traffic Exit Posts

For traffic control, we've tried our fair share of options.  We've roped off all the approaches.  We've pulled those ropes and tried signs.  Some people did not like the signs because they were too close to the ground so we elevated them on green stakes.  We then pulled those signs due to more complaints and since then, we've had very little traffic control anywhere on the course.

My attitude towards this problem is...... or maybe was, "They aren't going to follow it anyways, so we might as well keep it clean."  I hate ropes and stakes mucking up the golf course.  Do you ever see a golf calendar with a shot of a beautifully manicured green complex surrounded by plastic stake, rope, signs, and other traffic control garbage?

To combat the compaction near the greens we started to aerify more, fertilize more, and use wetting agents.  This micro-management worked well, but we still have our trouble spots.

With the encouragement and direction of the Green Committee and Senior Men Board of Directors, I made some cheap exit posts and placed them in the fairway just before the approach.  I really didn't think people would pay any mind to these things, but it was worth a try at little expense, time, or effort.  To my surprise, most people are observing the slight restriction.

Traffic control is similar to insect control on the golf course.  The goal is not to eradicate all possibility of cart traffic, because that would require way too much rope and cause problems with aesthetics.  Eradicating all insect activity would require way too much pesticide and hurt populations of beneficial organisms. So just like we handle insects we are trying to limit traffic to the damage threshold.  As long as all the golfers are not driving up to the edge of the green, the turf will be fine and I will not go crazy.  85% of our members are trying to follow the new exit posts, that is pretty good control. 

Thank you to those of you who are trying to keep this course in good shape.  Those who choose to ingnore our traffic control are not reading this website and hopefully will not complain that I compared them to nuisance insects.
Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bunker renovation greenside #1

I'll be the first to admit to this problem: our bunkers are bad.  The sand is contaminated with silt and other fines creating a hard pan in most of the hazards.  Others have small rocks or pea gravel and many are not graded properly to keep balls away from the edges.  Finally, and most importantly, most bunkers do not have drainage and you'll never have a good bunker without it.  We want good bunkers, but bad bunkers make sense to me (they are hazards after all) and we have bigger fish to fry with limited funds, staff, and time. However, there is a plan in place.

The Green Committee recently created a priority list of bunkers which need work. We will attempt to renovate some of the worst bunkers, in-house, one at a time. It is not the best way to renovate bunkers, leading to inconsistency, but it is a viable option at this time.

To start with, we are renovating the green side bunker on #1 for the following reasons:

  • The bunker has existing drainage that works-- so less time and money
  •  This is the only bunker for this green complex, one and done.
  •  The bunker is void of sand, pretty much hard pan.
  •  Pea gravel from original drain lines has contaminated what little sand there is
    •  Not good for your clubs
    •  Not good for the green mowers
The next targets are both bunkers on #9, right side of #13, and the front left bunker on #7. It was pretty easy to agree on these few, but there are many more that need work.

Here are a couple of pics of the project:

 Charlie is digging away the odd lobe which is too severe and out of place

We spent about 4 hours hand grading and removing the old material from the bunker

New shape and clean drain lines.

A local red fox was kind enough to check the depth the night after installing the sand. 
We cleaned up the pea gravel and dirty sand and repacked this hole.  Luckily, the fox left it alone after the first excursion.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 GCSAA Chapter Delegates Conference

This past weekend I had the privilege of joining nearly 100 golf course superintendents from across the country at the annual Chapter Delegates Conference.  As a first time delegate, representing the Sierra Nevada Golf Course Superintendent Association, I traveled to Kansas City and boarded a bus to head to Lawrence, KS, home of GCSAA’s headquarters.  This my second visit to the headquarters, the first being a Leadership Symposium in 2008.  The facility is an impressive place with an equally impressive staff that is dedicated to serving the needs of member superintendents and the golf industry as a whole.

Here are a couple of pics of the antique maintenance equipment displayed on the first floor.

Saturday is a full day of meetings, evaluating the state of the Association through presentations, breakout sessions, and open forums.  Delegates are invited to share their questions and experiences with staff members, board of directors, and most importantly, fellow superintendents.

My favorite part of all of this is meeting other superintendents.  I easily made 30 new contacts during the two day conference and acquired contact information from every single attendee.  This is a group of well educated, professional, and devoted managers that drive this industry and produce the conditions that benefit you, the golfer.  I am still impressed by the professionalism of the men and women that make up this industry. 

While Bill Murray as Carl Spackler is a great character in a hilarious movie, he does a poor job in personifying the people who are real superintendents.  Notice how we all are wearing suits, not stained shirts and floppy hats.  Like the machines pictured above, we’ve come a long way.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Small project, big difference

I hesitate to post this one because the renovation is not quite complete.  The exterior of the restroom adjacent to the 7th tee box has improved drastically over the last two years.  I couldn't find a photo of the original, I take enough pictures of ugly stuff, so I must have skipped that one.

The remodel was completed at the same time as the snack shack, which really improved first impressions when entering the property.  Here is a link to that post, snack shack facelift.  The landscape was renovated later that year and has matured very well.

Craig Heitman, our Assistant Superintendent, has joined our team full of ideas.  My favorites are the low cost, simple projects that can be completed quickly as a side job.  During aerification and overseeding, we don't have staff and time to commit to a large project so the smaller jobs not only fit our budget, but fit our timeline utilizing one or two afternoons with a couple of experienced staff members.

As we've done a few times before, we removed the railroad ties that border the planter and replaced with some stackable Basalite bricks.  We will add some new plants to the landscape in the near future, combining the order with trees to continue work on the Tree Program.

The staff made quick work of this one during tournaments that prevented much work on the golf course.  The landscape will be finished up a little later this month to put this project to rest and move on to the next.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cart Path Edging

Our detail work has taken a back seat to the rest of our fall maintenance practices.  Trees are not weedeated as well as usual, planter beds contain a few weeds, shoe spike brushes need cleaning or replacement, and the cart paths need a hair cut.  Now that all the heavy lifting is done, we are turning focus to the detail work that gives a course that 'manicured' look that we've been lacking for the past few weeks.

In the photo above is Izzo acting as the pilot car for Bert on the Toro sand rake.  This old unit has been converted into a cart path edger with a small hydraulic arm and a plow disc called "Edge-It."  I don't know if these are still in production, but it does a wonderful job.  Ours had been worked over pretty hard and needing some welding repairs to keep going.  The last time we edged all the paths was back in August when the unit cracked under the pressure.

To make this a quicker job using less people, Bert has used some ingenuity to make the edging process a one man show.  He has fashioned an old rake handle to be a scraper and runs that adjacent to the edging disk.  Behind him, a Lesco blower removes the debris from the path.  It isn't turned on in this particular photo because we don't want the debris in the fairway and will pick it up off the path.  When he turns the corner, he will blow the spoils into the rough to be picked up by our sweeper.

The whole process takes three or four afternoons following the usual morning assignments.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Risk and Reward

The tenth hole has gone through its fair share of changes over the years, and it's time for another one.  So far, we've grown in a lake buffer zone, transitioned to an all-bermuda fairway, removed a few trees, and planted a few more.  Now the contour of fairway/rough will change slightly to make the hole a little more interesting.

During our planning phase of the Tree Program, John Harbottle met with a few members of the Green Committee and club staff on a hole-by-hole tour.  The tenth tee offered a "classic risk vs. reward opportunity," which we were not taking full advantage of.  In the distant left of the photo, you can see the green and left and right bunkers.  When we first met, the green was not visible due to some small trees that were growing near the lake.  Golfers were encouraged to hit the ball out to the middle of the fairway and then over to the green.  Pretty boring.

Today, you still have that option, but the better line is straight for the green, right along the water's edge.  To encourage the risky shot, we've removed the trees that used to block the view of the green, we expanded the fairway on the left, and now we are bringing in the rough on the right side.

For now, the fairway will shrink by 15 yards near the 150 yard marker.  We've also planted 3 cork oak trees to penalize the safe shots that go a little too far to the right.  These changes are intended to make this hole more interesting and thought provoking.  Think twice next time you take aim at the palm tree and shoot for safety.  It's not as safe as it used to be.
Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall maintenance photos

This is the first time we've aerfied all of the green surrounds.  This helps with compaction issues and gives the seed a little soil to bind to.  We also can smooth out some wavy turf that's been folded over from frequent mowing in the same direction.  This is most commonly seen just outside the green collar where the mower can only go parallel with the green's border.

Dante just finished mowing greens and has a lot of clippings to show for it. This was our first cut with the walk mowers, 7 days after aerification. We jumped back on the growth regulators to improve density, slow down top growth, and lighten Dante's work load.

Bert is seeding the approaches with Izzo keeping a watchful eye.  We slit seeded the tees and approaches in two directions and then broadcast more seed to be brushed into the canopy.

Seven days after seeding, we already have some corn rows popping up.  We are now about two weeks post-seeding and we will cut the tees at 3/4 inch with a rotary mower.  More growth regulator will thicken up the new seedlings and we are well on our way to a solid stand of ryegrass for the the winter season.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What a drag

Now that we are finished with greens, tees, approaches, and most green surrounds, our aerification efforts are now focused on fairways.  As we have done in the past few years, we will pull cores using our Wiedenmann Terra Spike XF.  We have some 10 inch tines on the machine, but we can only get a depth between 5-6 inches before the tractor bogs down.

After the cores are pulled and allowed to dry just a bit, we hit them with our new drag mat, Par Aide's Core Buster.  So far, I like this one better than our usual metal drag mats.  It is better, in my opinion, for a number of reasons.  It is plastic and much lighter to load and unload.  The individual cells are larger so plugs do not get stuck to the mat.  The cells are deeper so plugs bounce up and down many times before exiting the ride.  Finally, it looks like it will hold up much longer and when it does need repair, you can replace one square instead of the whole thing. 

After a few passes with the drag mat, we hit the fairway with a tractor mounted blower and move on to the next one.  We'd prefer to pick up all the plugs and topdress with some sand to improve drainage and fairway firmness.  This year, we will skip the sanding to save on funds with hopes to get back to it in the future.  The sand would be great, but pulling out the plugs is the major benefit of the practice, producing drain channels for the winter rains that are coming up in the rear view mirror.  I miss summer already.
Thursday, September 22, 2011

8 days of healing

The greens are healing up very nicely.  Very few holes remain and after yesterday's application of wetting agent, fertilizer, and growth regulator, the density will improve quickly.  We cut the greens this morning with our walk mowers and the speed and roll is doubled from yesterday.  That's not saying much because we were probably a 4 on the stimp meter and now closer to an 8.  I haven't actually stimped the greens, but that's my estimate.

This is what #6 looks like this morning:

Compared to the photos I posted yesterday, this is a major improvement and a steady progression to full health.  Besides some height adjustments and reducing irrigation on the greens, we are done here and can focus on the others tasks at hand.  Tees and approaches have all been aerified and seeding will finish today.  Green surround aerification is 2/3 complete along with seeding.  Fairway aerification has been moved to next week while we finish all the seeding.  

Member response towards all of this work has been very positive although everyone is anxious to get back into good playing conditions.  The greens are very close and the rest of the course will follow shortly.  Once the seed in the high traffic areas germinates and establishes some roots, we can take advantage of our wonderful fall weather and get the course firm and fast.

That's it for today, as Craig and I are about to join the Thursday Ladies for the annual "Play with the Pro Tournament."  As my first responsibility in this event, I will apologize to the group that draws the Superintendent instead of a near-scratch golfer. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scary, continued

A few days after aerification, we started to see some of the stress caused by the process.  Pictured below is the sixth green, one of 5 greens that had a little damage.  We aerfied all of these on Monday evening and did not finish up and irrigate until 7:00 pm the next day.  This is our standard operating procedure which gets the job done in one closed day. 

These spots dried up and stressed out during all the horrible things we did to the greens.  This is never fun to see, but I expect a few stressed out locations every time we aerify.  Day by day, they improve and rarely do we lose any turf.  These pictures were taken on Saturday, four days after the holes were punched.

Tomorrow I will show you what they look like after a week to heal.  This morning we mowed with the triplex riding mower at a height of .150 and tomorrow we will switch to the walking mowers.  Many of the greens are 90% healed a week after the process, but they are still slow, shaggy, and wet. 

So take a look at the pictures.  What do you think when you see this?  I've had a few comments along the lines of, "Are we going to lose those greens?".  No, we probably won't lose an area the size of a cup.  Turf is much stronger than we give it credit for and can survive much worse than this. 

I tend to look closer, like this last picture and I see a bunch of green grass.  I see the weaker portions are the intermingled blades of poa annua that is better off lost.  I see most of the brown is actually leaf tips that were burned up during the sanding and brooming during a warm day with no water.  When I cut a small plug, I see white roots that are happy to have more oxygen.  Best of all, the next day, I see a dramatic improvement. 

More to come.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Aerification, it's scary sometimes

We started aerifying on Monday after a 75 person tournament.  Assistant Superintendent, Craig Heitman and I started punching around 4:30 pm and finished up eight greens by the time it was getting dark.  The next morning, Sal took over and punched the greens using a headlamp to see his lines.  In the above picture, he is on #8, his fourth green of the day and the sun is just starting to light up the sky.

The darkness is useful in keeping our nerves settled.  When it gets light enough to see what we're really doing to the greens, a little bit of anxiety sets in.  I've gotten used to the result of the aggressive quad tine aerification, but it was Craig's first time.  I saw the look on his face on the tenth green and it said, "Uh oh, did we just ruin the greens?" 

We use the Toro Procore 648 with a ten tine block, 2 rows of 5 each.  The holes are very close together and the surface will be pulled upward, anywhere between a 1/4 inch and 1 inch.  The greens go from being perfectly smooth to looking like a miniature mogul course.  It gets even worse when we start to pick up the plugs and every footprint and tire track becomes a depression.

Here's a look at a green that has been aerified, cleaned, fertilized, and topdressed.  On the left, you can really see all the footprints and tire tracks from the walk blower, fertilizer spreader, seeder, and topdresser.  On the right, it looks much better after being spun with a broom and rolled down by my cart's tires.

Our closed day of aerification is an all day battle just to get finished before dark.  The next few days, the work continues with hand brooming, moving around sand, and lots of rolling.  Sometimes we do all these things at once in a dusty, post-aerification symphony.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New design, compliments of Turfnet

Did you notice the new header and the updated design?  My friends at Turfnet, a website dedicated to golf course maintenance, provided this service free of charge.  I've been a member of Turfnet for all six years I've been superintendent at Stockton Golf and Country Club and I use the resource often as an educational tool.  The work on the blog was a nice bonus and an improvement that was long overdue.  Now if I can just get them to write up a post or two when I'm too busy, I'd really be impressed.
Sunday, September 11, 2011

Aerification Time

Starting tomorrow evening, Monday, September 12th, we will begin our fall aerification.  As usual, we will use smaller tines at closer spacing to pull out more and heal up faster.  The holes will be 3/8 inch in width and we will try to get four inches in depth.  I will be taking plenty of pictures during the next two days to share some of the work with you.

I pulled this core Friday on the first green.  The pencil next to the plug is 4 inches long and we have a couple of roots reaching just beyond that length.  This is not too exciting, but it is an improvement from previous years and definitely good to see in early September with great growing conditions just ahead.

Also in this photo, you can see the result of our Trimmit applications to suppress the poa annua and give the bentgrass a competitive advantage.  The poa patch is just right of the pencil and noticeably yellowed and sunken.  Next month, we will put all of the greens on the same Trimmit regime and continue until next spring.  We've done this the past 2 years with great success.

I've heard a few comments, as usual, that we are aerifying the greens when they are in great condition.  I guarantee, there is a direct correlation between the two.  I appreciate your patience while we work to keep the greens playing their best by giving them the attention they need.
Thursday, September 8, 2011

Five Gallons of Good Stuff

We rarely spray anything without a little premix in a five gallon bucket.  Some of the typical additions are iron sulfate, manganese sulfate, zinc sulfate, ammonium sulfate, calcium nitrate, potassium nitrate, mono potassium phosphate, and a product called UFLEXX.  To these, we always add some other ingredients to get the final mix we are looking for.

There are many phenomenal products that are ready to go in a 2.5 gallon jug.  They already contain a good ratio of N-P-K plus additions like amino acids, kelps, and minors like iron, boron, copper, and magnesium.  Of course, all that convenience comes with a price tag that we've decided to avoid a majority of the time.

The trade off is some labor intensive mixing that takes patience and time.  It also tends to ruin clothes and cheap drills.  However, the greens are very happy with what we've been doing.  We have dense turf, little thatch, and a few more inches of roots than before.   

Someday, we might trade in the iron stained drill for a fancy mix tank or even build one in-house.  I would certainly enjoy that luxury and it would make for a good blog post.  Until then, we will continue to shuttle five gallon buckets filled with hot water out of the shop and towards the fertilizer storage area.

Maintenance tip:  If you happen to be working with the same strategy, here is a tip that might help with the process.  The UFLEXX fertilizer is sometimes contaminated with a few prills of Polyon.  These do not break down and will clog a nozzle as soon as they leave the boom.  We now pour all of our granular-turned-liquid products through a tea towel to catch any solids.  Jan, our mechanic, brought in an old one she used for dishes and it has been a very useful time saver. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blog update

It's been much too long since I've updated the blog and here are the reasons (excuses) why posts have been infrequent.

1. There is very little to talk about.

We've been dealing with regular maintenance without much time for projects of any sort.  Also, the turf is growing well in pretty much all locations.  No word is the good word and I haven't had any disease or problems to share.  The good stuff doesn't stand out as much so it's been pretty quiet around here.

2. I lost my photographer.

When Rob left, he took his camera and all of the daily photos he used to snap.  I am getting back into the practice of documenting our work and course conditions, both the good and the bad to share in future posts.  It may sound silly, but posts like this one look bare without a picture to break up the text.

3. Burned out, it happens

Towards the end of August, the long days and constant work starts to wear on an individual.  Two months without an assistant or a spray tech leaves little time to write blogs and the end of the day is better spent forgetting about work than writing about it.  The blog suffers, my lawn suffers, and my hair has a few more sprinkles of gray.  However, a couple of days off, a couple good conversations with other superintendents, and some new staff gets the juices pumping again.

So, no more excuses, it's time to blog it up.  We have the camera in use and plenty to discuss.  Please come back in the next few days to read some new posts that are long overdue.  Upcoming topics include; bunkers: what's wrong and how to fix it, what to do with our shallow lakes, money saving fertilizer strategy, and a new segment that starts with a photo and the question, "what happened there?"

I am also working to combine a Facebook fan page and Twitter to the blog in case you prefer your social media in another form.  More info to come soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cover of the Rolling Stone, almost

Your maintenace staff just received a little attention on the cover of The Golf Course Trades.  Here is a link to the website where you can click your way to the article:  Key to our successAugust 2011 Golf Course Trades

The crew was pretty happy to see themselves on the cover of one of the many turf magazines that litter the breakroom.  They certainly deserve the attention and appreciation for making this course so good, day in and day out.  To all our members, thank you for showing your appreciation as often as you do, in a variety of ways.