Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fertilizing the Golf Course

Many of you were wondering why the course was closed yesterday morning.  We took this time to apply our season long fertilizer and our spring pre emerge herbicide to the golf course.  The fertilizer application is contracted out to Harrell's Fertilizer Company of Sylacauga, Alabama and they use their large spreader truck to apply the product to the golf course.  The large truck can apply the product quicker than my staff can do and at $7.00 per acre it is much more economical to have Harrell's spread the course than our staff.

Spreading the fairways

Spreading the roughs

The application truck is equipped with sensors which control the rate of the product applied based on the speed at which the vehicle is moving.  This technology allows the applicator to precisely control how far the product is thrown from the spreader truck allowing him to spread right up to the edge of most greens.  My crew will come in and hand spread any remaining areas that he was not able to apply to.

The large flotation tires on the spreader truck allow the vehicle to travel around the golf course without damaging any areas on the course or creating any compaction areas.  We were lucky to have the dry weather we have been experiencing this spring so the golf course was nice and firm for the application and there was not sign the truck was on the course when he was finished.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spring is in the Air

I spent most of last week in Orlando, Florida attending the 2011 Golf Industry Show.  The Golf Industry Show is the annual conference and trade show for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of American and other industry entities.  I spent time attending educational seminars, visiting with vendors on the trade show floor, reconnecting with old friends and meeting some new ones, and attended some very nice receptions sponsored by Audubon International, the Environmental Institute for Golf, and Toro.  Although it was nice to get away for a few days it was great to return to Harrison Bay and see golfers on the golf course.  Hopefully winter is behind us and we can look forward to a dry spring. 

The bluebirds have begun staking claim to their nesting boxes.  Mrs. Diane Johnstone will be leading our volunteers again this year to monitor our blue bird houses.  Thanks so much to her and the other volunteers for their time, dedication, and passion for our environment.

We have also started mowing our greens with our new walk mowers.  I am excited about how the greens look and the improved quality of putting surface we will be able to provide for our guests.  It will be a learning experience for everyone to become comfortable with walk mowing for my staff and for the differing heights of cut for myself.  The striping effect on the greens is magnified by the new brushes that we purchased from Mr. Rodney Lingle of Memphis Country Club.  Rodney has been working for the past several years to produce a new and better brush unit for his walking greens mowers and has recently started selling them to fellow superintendents.  The brushes are placed just in front of the mowers cutting reel and are used to lift the leaf blade up just before the reel reaches it to cut it off.  This process gives the green a much better cut and appearance.  I am very excited about what the future holds for our greens and our golf course.

Putting green prior to being mowed.

Putting green after being mowed
I am amazed at the striping effect that we are getting this time of year considering the greens are dormant and painted.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay Receives Recertification from Audubon International and The Groundwater Foundation

The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay was recently honored by becoming recertified as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary through the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses.  To reach certification, course personnel demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in:  Environmental Planning, Wildlife and Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, and Water Quality Management. 

Research provided by Audubon International indicate members have improved or protected the environment in some of the following ways.  Since joining the program, members have reduced water costs by 52%, reduced pesticide costs by 70 %, fertilizer costs by 66%, fuel costs by 44%, electricity costs by 46%, and waste management costs by 51%.  Members have also protected the environment by 89% of members raising the mowing height along shorelines to 3" or higher to slow and filter runoff, 50% of members have reduced irrigated turfgrass by an average of 11 acres from a highly maintained management program allowing these areas to return to a natural state providing nesting and shelter areas for wildlife.

Information about Audubon International can be found at their website:  Audubon International

Our other honor that we recently received was becoming recertified by The Groundwater Foundation through their Groundwater Guardian Green Site program.  This program provides information and education concerning the importance of protecting the groundwater and surface waters surrounding large green spaces such as golf courses, parks, and other highly managed green spaces.  The Groundwater Guardian Green Site program was developed to recognize good stewards of groundwater by encouraging managers or highly-managed green spaces to implement, measure, and document their groundwater-friendly practices.  Our golf course is located on State Park property with 11 of our 18 holes coming in direct contact with open water ways which are actively used by fishermen, boaters, and water foul hunters.  We feel that being involved with The Groundwater Foundation through their Groundwater Guardian Green Site program provides us with more information about how we can protect and enhance the waterways around our golf course for future generations. 

The application process is very simple and does not require as much of a time investment as the Audubon International program certification process does.  Anyone wishing to gain information about this valuable program can do so at:  Groundwater Guardian Green Site Program

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Painting the greens

Willie Hamby and Mitch Sivley recently finished painting the greens on the golf course.  It is fairly late in the year for us to do this project but we tried a different approach and product this year that simply didn't give us the same results that we are accustomed to with the paint so we went back to using the paint.

So why do we paint our greens compared to overseeding or leaving them "dormant brown"?

Well, applying a paint to the greens surface has many advantages both for the golfer and for the turfgrass plant.  For the golfer, the paint provides a more visually appealing area on the golf course and helps to identify the putting green area against all of the dormant winter turfgrass landscape.  The agronomic benefits include increased surface temperature resulting in reduced frost accumulation and earlier spring green up. Painting the greens also eliminates the issues involved with overseeding of the greens...the disruption to the green surface during seeding and establishment, the competition between the overseeded turfgrass and the desired putting surface and not to mention the cost of the seed, fungicides, fertilizer, and manpower needed to produce an acceptable winter putting surface.

#8 Green before painting

Willie Hamby painting the green.  There are many different ways to paint greens.  We use our 300 gallon fairway sprayer and spray the paint on by hand. I like this way because it gives us more control over the application and we can spray right up to the edge of the green without having to worry about overlaps or skips.  It took a total of 12 manhours for Willie to apply the paint to the greens using 50 gallons of Green Lawnger green paint and 12.5 gallons of AquaStripe Black paint.  We use the black paint to darken the paint to help it absorb and retain more heat than simply using the green plus the darker color looks better.

In order not to ruin our existing putting green cups with paint as the green is painted we place an old putting green cup into the top of the cup. 

Green after painting.  The entire green took 19 minutes to paint and the color will last until spring when the grass begins to grow and we start mowing the greens again.