Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Welcome to the World HB7 and HB8

Elliott and Eloise have had to endure a lot since she laid her eggs on February 17th and 20th of this year.  Through the bitter cold and snow to the warm days when it just didn't seem like it would ever quit raining, they were both there to protect and care for their eggs with the hope of a successful hatch.

The hatching process began on Thursday of this past week when HB7 began breaking out of its shell trying to be the first of the two to see the light of day.  The hatching process was exciting to watch as it gave us all an insight into the world of a bald eaglet and what effort it takes to come into the world.

After about 33 hours of working to break out of the egg HB7 officially made its entrance into our world at 8:34 PM this Friday evening, March 27, 2015.

Not to be out done by big brother/sister, HB8 started its entry into the world shortly after that on Saturday morning.  It took HB8 over 45 hours to come out of its shell but when it did it was ready for the world.

We are beyond thrilled and blessed to have two new residents of The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.  Each year that we get to watch Elliott and Eloise raise their young just puts a special emphasis on what we are here for as a golf course, not only to provide recreation for golfers but also to provide suitable and sustainable habitat for wildlife.

We are thankful, grateful, and blessed that Elliott and Eloise have chosen our golf course as their home. Providing the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project has been both rewarding and educational but we can not do it without the support of our viewers and sponsors.  We have to give a tremendous amount of thanks to our supporters such as USGA, Jacobsen, The Friends of Harrison Bay State Park, and our many viewers who have been so generous in supporting the project both financially and emotionally.

We welcome all to join us at www.harrisonbayeaglecam.org and enjoy the growth of HB7 and HB8

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ahhh Spring My Old Friend How I Have Missed You

Well, we have finally emerged from the dreary overcast, sometimes snowy, days of winter into our favorite time of the year...SPRING.   Elliott and Eloise's eggs are set to hatch next week, hopefully giving us two more residents of the course, and the golf course itself is coming alive once again.  Spring has to be the best time of the year for us as we get to look ahead at all the exciting times to come and the golfers come back to the course ready to enjoy our hard work.  The greens are always the first part of the course to come out of dormancy and they went from 0 to 60 in about 48 hours over the weekend.

  Over the past two days we have begun the process of removing the "winter coat" from the greens by verticutting them.  Vertical mowing of the greens is done with blades which are set vertically, thus the name, and it lifts the old grass from the greens surface and exposes the new grass shoots to the sun.  We do this very lightly at first just deep enough to scratch the surface, no where close to what we do in the summer when the grass is actively growing.  This process will help stimulate new growth and help get the greens going after their long winter nap.

After the greens have been verticut we come behind it and mow the greens in two directions along the same line to remove all the grass that has been stood up by the verticutters.  Again we are not going deep right now or trying to remove a lot of material, we are just trying to get them off and running.

It won't take long for the greens to get in tip top condition.  Just some sunlight, proper fertility and water, and continued dedicated maintenance by your crack golf course maintenance staff and we will be set for another outstanding season.  We are all looking forward to an exciting and fun season this year and hope you will come visit the course and enjoy it as much as we do.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Golf Industry Show 2015 in San Antonio

This past week Mitch and I had the honor and pleasure of attending the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio, Texas.  GIS includes both the annual national conference of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association, among others. This year was very special as we accepted the 2015 GCSAA President's Award for Environmental Stewardship from GCSAA President Keith Ihms during the Opening Ceremony.  This is the highest member honor given out by GCSAA and we could not be more proud.

Besides being able to address the attendees of the Opening Ceremony after accepting our President's Award I also had the pleasure of presenting to my fellow golf course superintendents on Tuesday morning.  My presentation on our Electric Equipment Initiative and how successful the project has been was very well received and we got lots of positive feedback and questions regarding our results.  Hope some will go back and really research the benefits of using electric equipment on their golf courses.

The Golf Industry Show provides many opportunities to meet new people and reconnect with old friends and this year was no exception.  I had the opportunity on Wednesday to promote our environmental projects on GCSAA TV with fellow environmental award winner Gary Ingram from California in a segment hosted by the one and only Brad Klein of Golfweek Magazine.  This was followed by another interview and then another one and finally the day concluded with a fun interview with John Maginnes on SiriusXM PGATOUR radio daily afternoon talk show.  It is always great to talk with the SiriusXM guys as they completely understand that without the work and dedication of the golf course maintenance staffs no golf would ever get played.

In many ways this had to be the busiest GIS ever with presentations and speeches each day but we still had time to meet with many people to talk about the future of environmental sustainability in the golf course industry.  We were able to meet with the great folks from Golf Environment Organization and discuss the exciting changes in their certification program.  We met with Ms. Teresa Wade of Experience Green to discuss the success of her Sustainability in Golf program.  At the Environmental Institute for Golf reception we got to speak with many like minded persons in the golf course industry and got to catch up with two of my mentors, David Phipps, GCSAA Northwest Field Rep. and Anthony Williams of Stone Mountain Golf Club.  These are only a few of the meetings and contacts and I would like to thank everyone for their time and interest.

It wasn't all work though and Mitch and I had time to relax and take in many of the sights offered in San Antonio.  We did make it up to see the Alamo, unfortunately it was night and the mission was closed.  The Towers of the America's was quite a sight to see especially at night lit up with the GCSAA emblem and the San Antonio Riverwalk was extremely nice even though the unseasonably cool weather kept most from walking along it.  We had a great time at the Jacobsen rodeo on Tuesday night where we got to get up close and personal with some authentic Texas longhorns and then watch a live rodeo.

Once again our supervisors in Nashville showed their continuing support for us by joining us at the event.  Mitch and I have to thank Mr. Nixon for taking time out of his busy schedule to always show his support for us.  It was nice to be able to spend some time with GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans and GCSAA President Keith Ihms over the past few months both at the USGA Annual Meeting and the GIS.  From my standpoint the golf course industry is in good hands and is primed for future success.

Again, Mitch and I have to thank everyone at GCSAA for their generous hospitality and recognition this past week.  It was a once in a lifetime experience that we will not soon forget.  To everyone behind the scenes at GCSAA and GIS THANK YOU.  If you are a superintendent that has not attended the GIS make it a career goal to do so.  You will not regret it and your course will get so much out of it.

Hope everyone who attended returned home safely and did not have to wait in the airports too long.  Til next year in San Diego.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Season Officially Begins

We have all been waiting patiently, well not always so patiently, for Eloise to lay her first egg of the 2015 season and on Wednesday evening she did so at 5:04 PM.

Even through the snow and ice on Friday night Eloise did what any good mother would do and protected her egg/baby from the frigid temperatures.  Although it was in the upper teens, probably lower in the top of the tree, she kept the egg at around 100 degrees underneath her.  Safe and sound.

On Saturday night at 6:26 PM Eloise laid her second egg of the season to everyone's delight. Here is a link to a video by one of our great moderators Suzie-O of the second egg being laid.

Eloise Lays Second Egg of 2015 Season HBEC

We will have to wait 35-38 days until the eggs hatch but that is the fun part, the anticipation.

I have to say a special THANK YOU to everyone who stepped up during our fundraiser campaign and raised more than the $5,000.00 we needed to continue the project through the year.  We continue each year to try and make this the best educational and entertaining project we can and it is only through our generous donors that this can be possible.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter Projects--Drainage Installed on #9 Cartpath

Yet another winter project we undertook was to correct the drainage issue we have on #9 cartpath near the large oak.  We began by extending the existing subsurface drain line that we installed in the fairway years ago and ran it to the cart path. We placed drainage pipe in the trench and covered it with gravel leaving about 2 inches from the top of the asphalt.  This two inches was later covered with a layer of sand and compacted.

On several other of our holes in which we have added drainage near the cartpaths we have been able to use channel drains and cross ties to direct and collect the surface water and to protect the area from further damage.  The area on #9 does not allow for this type of process so we had to look for something different.  We chose to use a NDS Grass Paver system instead.  Here Mitch is using a portable cut off saw to cut the plastic grass paver grid into three 16" sections.

Once cut the pavers were laid over the sand base which had been spread and packed over the gravel drainage basin.  We then used a hand tamp to press the grass pavers into the sand.
Once the pavers were set we laid sod over the pavers and stepped them down into the grid openings.

After we got done sodding and cleaning up the area I drove my Carry All across the area and was surprised that the grass area did not sink or get pressed down at all.  Time will tell but I think this will be a very viable option to installing channel drains and cross ties on the course and will help keep a cleaner look to the cartpaths.  Sometimes you have to be willing to try different things and products and see how they work.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

USGA Recognition at the Annual Meeting

This past weekend I was honored to be the guest of the United States Golf Association at their annual meeting in New York City.  I was asked to attend the meeting as a "Champion of the Game" for our environmental sustainability efforts at Harrison Bay.  Although I was there as the superintendent of Harrison Bay, with GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans and GCSAA President Keith Ihms in attendance I was representing every golf course that strives to maintain a balance between the desires of the golfers and the needs of the environment.

Mike Nixon, USGA President Tom O'Toole, Paul Carter
I have had many dealings with the great people at USGA over the years through articles, webcasts, and the primary funding of our Harrison Bay Eagle Cam but it was truly a highlight of my career to be recognized by USGA President Tom O'Toole for the work that we love to do anyway.  I was also honored that our Director of Golf Mike Nixon took time to travel to New York City and join in the recognition and the festivities.

 The best part of the trip was that my wife Melissa was able to join me.  Due to work schedules she is not able to attend the other industry functions that I attend and it was great to be able to introduce her to many of the great friends I have in the golf course industry.

Of course one can't go to New York City without doing a little sightseeing and even though the wind was howling Melissa and I were able to enjoy visiting the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Rockefeller Center, the new World Trade Center, and the memorial where the old World Trade Center building stood, along with catching The Lion King on Broadway at night.

I cannot thank everyone at USGA enough for their incredible hospitality and generosity.  It was truly and honor to have our golf course recognized by them.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter Projects---Drainage Area on #7

For many golfers the phrase "Cart Path Only" is almost as bad as the word "Aerification" but like aerification confining golf carts to the cart paths from time to time is a necessary evil.  Routinely during the winter months we restrict carts to the path on #5, 7 and 10 to protect the turfgrass from damage due to wear and tear.  On hole #7 it is not necessarily the fairway that causes us to be "on the path" but rather the area between the cart path and the fairway.

In order to try and eliminate this issue for our guests and allow them to drive out to #7 fairway we decided we would pipe and raise the swale between the cartpath and the fairway.  We began by laying 7 100' lengths of NDS flat pipe on the ground and secured them to the ground.  The idea is that this will provide a channel for the water to drain to the lake quicker or act as a holding area for water until it can drain out.

The pipe was then covered with a layer of gravel about 6 inches deep and floated out to the edge.  This will also act as a holding area and help to move the water out of this area much like we have in the bottom of our bunkers.

The next step was to bring in a soil/sand blend and was spread and packed over the gravel and floated up to be flush with the existing turfgrass.

After the soil blend was spread and packed we added a layer of some waste sand that we had removed from our bunkers many years ago (reduce/reuse/recycle).  This made the area easier to work with and will hopefully make the area drain even better.  All in all the area between the cartpath and the fairway was raised up about 12 inches.

Once the area was prepped we laid sod on top of it.  We are often asked what we do in the winter when there is no grass to mow.  Well it is projects like this and others, proceeding and to come, that help to improve the golf course for the summer months when we are doing everything we can to keep up the the turfgrass. Hopefully this course improvement will have great benefits in allowing us to not have to restrict carts to the path on #7 after a rain or during the winter, making our guests happier and a more enjoyable round.

Thanks to Mitch, Bill, and Billy for their hard work and great ideas on blending the soil/sand and getting this project done even in the cold weather.