Thursday, April 28, 2011

Devastating Storms in the South

On Monday, April 25th, Mr. James Spann, meteorologist for Birmingham's ABC 33/40 spoke to a gathering of the East Tennessee Golf Course Superintendents Association at Black Creek Club in Chattanooga.  Mr. Spann has spoken to our group several times before and every time he gives us great advice and knowledge concerning weather patterns and how to decipher the weather information available to us.  Mr. Spann told us that morning that Wednesday in the Chattanooga area could be of "historic proportion" and once again he was absolutely correct. 

The devastation in this area is immense and unbelievable. I have been through many storms in my life but this outbreak of weather has to be the most intense that I can remember.   In our area 67 people have been confirmed dead and in the south the number is currently at 269.  Over 190,000 people in the south are without power making everyday living impossible. Entire neighborhoods and communities have been wiped off the map and it will take a long time to recover. Tornadoes in the area have been classified from EF1 up to EF4 with wind speeds up to 190 miles per hour.

By the grace of God, our golf course was barely touched with only 17 trees down and a good bit of leaf debris.  The debris covering the golf course consisted of metal roofing and roof materials, insulation and we picked up mail, business cards, receipts, and other papers from Fort Payne, Alabama, along with the back of a library book from North Sand Mountain Elementary School.  Both of these locations are over 66 miles away from our golf course.

Coverage of the storm damage and the aftermath can be found at these local news station websites

Please keep our area and all those which have been affected by this outbreak of tornadoes across the south in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Great photos of the Bear Trace Bald Eagles

Mr. Bret Douglas, a member of the Riverwalk Bird Club of Chattanooga, was kind enough to share some photos he took of the bald eagles earlier this week while playing a round of golf.  The photos are some of the best I have seen and I look forward to other photos that Mr. Douglas can take of the eagles.  All of Mr. Douglas's photos can be viewed at

We have been able to see two eaglets moving around at the edge of the nest hopping up and down and being fed.  The eaglets are covered in feathers and are growing their wing feathers so it shouldn't be long before they try to leave he nest.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Edging Greens

Keeping a border or edge between the putting green surface and the surrounding turfgrass can be a difficult task sometimes.  I have used many different techniques throughout my career and have found the one that works best for me is to use the Atom walk behind edger.  The process of edging the greens serves many purposes with the most important and beneficial one being keeping the two different species (Champion ultradwarf on the putting surface and 419 bermudagrass on the surrounds) separate so that they do not contaminate the areas where they are not intended to be grown.  Another benefit is the edging provides a distinct and clear line for the mower operators to know where the cleanup lap should be cut.  

Green surface prior to edging

Mike Williams edging the green

Derek Beachler blowing off the debris

Green surface after edging
This process will take a couple of hours with two people but one person can easily do the job by themselves.  The green is left with a good clean separation from the surrounds helping to eliminate possible cross contamination and giving the mower operators a defined edge.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Speaking on The Environmental Benefits of Golf Courses

It is always a pleasure for me to speak to groups or classes about the environmental benefits that can be achieved on golf courses.  Last Wednesday I had the privilege of speaking to the Hamilton Place Rotary Club.  Mr. Robin Boyer, the PGA golf professional at The Bear Trace invited me to speak to this group of community professionals.  The title of the talk was "The Environmental Benefits of Golf Courses" in which I tried to convey the changes that we have implemented at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay to lessen out impact on the environment and improve the habitat for the wildlife on the golf course.  Thanks to Mr. Robin Boyer and President Alan Johnstone for allowing me to speak to the group.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kudos to my maintenance staff

 Far too often the golf course superintendent gets the credit for the hard work and ingenuity of his or her maintenance staff.  I am very fortunate to have a great golf course maintenance staff as was demonstrated the other day when a 100+ foot tall Willow Oak tree fell across the fairway on the 13th hole.  We were notified by the clubhouse that the tree had fallen at around 12:30 and within 30 minutes the crew had mobilized on the site, removed the tree, cleared the fairway and we were back in business.

During the winter I watched a video on Turfnet about keeping putting green cups from getting discolored by dye used when applying chemicals and fertilizers to greens by a liquid application.  I showed the video clip to two of my crew members and asked them to come up with a solution for us which would prevent our cup liners and target rings from becoming stained with chemical dye and having to be replace so often.  It was discovered that a Toro 780 part circle irrigation cap was the perfect fit to cover a putting green cup.  They used some old flagsticks and cut the bottom of the flagstick off so they could use the bottom ferrel to hold the irrigation cap at the proper height and for it not to move around.  A little epoxy on the top of the flagstick section and we had our putting green protectors. 

Putting green cup before spray application

Putting green cup protector

Protector in position

Putting green cup following application
No staining and the liners don't have to be replaced as often
 Another suggestion from my crew was to use the sand we removed from the sand bunkers this winter during our bunker renovation project to topdress the fairways.  Mitch has been spreading the sand for several days and there is still a lot of sand left to spread.  Good use of the sand and we can hold to the adage "Reduce..Reuse...Recycle"

One of the many piles of sand removed from the bunkers
Sand being spread on the fairways

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Next Generation

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
I was pleasantly surprised the other day as I drove out of my maintenance building parking lot onto the golf course to see three newly hatched Killdeer chicks scampering around; rather quickly I might add.  I watched them for a little while and was able to get a few good photos.  It got me thinking about the other "babies" that we have had the pleasure of seeing grow up on the golf course and I wanted to share some of the photos that I have with you.
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

Procyon lotor

White tail deer
Odocoileus virginianus
Unfortunately I have not been able to convince any of my maintenance staff members to climb the pine tree and take pictures of the Bald Eagle babies but maybe if the eagles come back again in the following years we can look at getting an eagle cam set up.  Only time will tell.