Monday, June 27, 2011

Tools of the Trade

#18 green

I am thrilled at how the greens and the golf course for that matter are looking right now and I hope everyone who plays the course is happy with it also.

Helping us in getting the golf course in this condition are three of my favorite "Tools of the Trade" that many of you may have seen us out on the golf course using.

My favorite tool, and one I think every golf course superintendent should own and use, is the Spectrum Technologies TDR 300 moisture meter.  I first saw this tool being used last year when I volunteered at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, GA for the 2010 PGA Tour Championship.  The moisture meter measures the Volumetric Water Content in the soil in a percentage form allowing for a definitive value to be measured.  There are many different ways to test the moisture level in the soil such as with a knife or a soil probe but both of these methods leaves the determination what is wet or dry to the discretion of the individual.  The TDR 300 gives a value that can not be questioned.  We have found that our greens perform best when the volumetric water content is between 30-35%.  It is surprising how the green surface can look fine but right under the surface drought and stress conditions are possible.  If you can purchase a TDR 300 you will not be sorry.

Another favorite tool is the Check Signature, Inc.  prism gauge.  It is important to know what the greens are actually being cut at compared to what they are set at by Steve Bloom, my mechanic.  Steve will set our greens mowers using an AccuGauge at 0.160" but with the aggressive nature and the use of grooved front rollers and groomers the prism gauge shows that we are actually cutting the greens at 0.100".  Without the prism gauge I can not tell exactly what height of cut the greens are being maintained at and too low is just as bad as too high.

My favorite environmental tool that we have at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay is ourWatchDog 2900ET Weather Station which provides us with on-site weather information which is relayed wirelessly to the computer in the golf course maintenance building.  It is better to have an on-site weather station so we can determine what is happening on our golf course and not relying on a weather station miles away.  The best feature of the weather station is the evapotranspiration rates which it records for the day.  The evapotranspiration rate is the amount of moisture lost by the plant during the day to evaporation, respiration, and transpiration.  Using this value I can conserve water by only applying enough water back to the golf course through the irrigation system to return the plant to a predetermined percentage.  That means that I may only need to apply 5 minutes of water instead of 8 or 10 thus saving water and electricity and reducing the opportunities for diseases to affect the turfgrass.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What a Week

Well, it has been a week since we completed the aerification of the greens at Harrison Bay and what a week it has been. 

Last Wednesday, my wife, Melissa, and I escaped for a few days to New York City.  We were able to enjoy a great New York Yankees game which included 5 home runs by the Yankees and 2 by the Texas Rangers and a great throw to home plate by the centerfielder for an out.  We saw an amazing Broadway musical called Wicked, ate at Don Shula's Steakhouse, saw the city at night 69 stories high at Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, and spend numerous hours sight seeing all over the city.  It was great to get away and reconnect with my beautiful wife.  I forget sometimes how blessed I am and it is why I always try to tell young people getting in the industry to take time and enjoy their life outside of work.  Jobs come and go,it's what you have outside of the job that really matters.

The greens have made a great recovery from the aerification process and are back to their old selves.  My crew did a great job while I was gone rolling and retopdressing the greens.  We were able to vertical mow and double cut the greens to remove the excess leaf tissue we had generated from the fertilizer applied to speed up the healing process and were able to heal in the holes and return them to a high quality putting surface in just under a week's time.

Some of you may have noticed that the 13th green and #14 tees have been showing signs of drought lately.  We have been experiencing a loss of communication from the computer in the golf course maintenance building and the controller in the field lately which resulted in the irrigation not consistently running at night as scheduled.  Our Toro irrigation field rep came to the course and discovered that with the age of the system and the excessive amount of trees blocking the signal from the maintenance building to the controller location that only around 40% of the signal strength was reaching the controller and sometimes not all of the command was being received, thus the watering cycle would not operate properly.  In order to improve the power of the controller to receive the signal from the computer in the maintenance building we installed some directional antennas on the irrigation controllers for #13 and #14 which will boost the ability of these controllers to pick up the signal being sent out and will hopefully eliminate any missed irrigation cycles on these holes from now on.
Willie Hamby installing the new directional antenna

A quick update on the bald eagles...I was able to watch both juvenile eagles and one of the adult eagles this morning fishing for breakfast at the irrigation lake.  Well, I don't know if you would call it fishing.  The adult caught the fish and the juveniles came and took it from the adult and flew off. Just like a kid. Both of the juvenile eagles seem to be doing well and they are both as large as the adult eagles. I have not been successful in taking any good photos of the juvenile eagles since they blend so well with the trees and they tend to stay back in the tree tops most of the time.   

Great Blue Heron
Ardea herodias
The wildlife have been abundant at Harrison Bay lately. Deer, raccoons, turkey, bald eagles, osprey, and this great blue heron are just some of the creatures that call The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay home. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Greens Aerification--Bear Trace

What a wonderful couple of days for greens aerification.  The weather was perfect, highs of 91 on Monday and 90 on Tuesday with no rain, low humidity and a slight gentle breeze all day long.  The golf course maintenance staff performed their duties flawlessly and the equipment ran great.  I don't think I could have ask for more.

Our first step in aerification is to circle verticut the greens at a depth of 1/16" below 0.000". 

The greens are then topdressed using our Dakota 410 Turf Tender spin dresser applying 0.5 cubic yards of topdressing sand per 1000 sq. ft.

Greens are aerified using our Toro ProCore 648 aerifier equipped with mini tine heads and using a full 60  0.300 Toro Titan Max side eject coring tines.  The depth of the aerification is set at 3"  with 3" forward spacing used.  This set up will allow us to punch over 100 holes per square foot and affect close to 5% of the greens surface which will by the end of the year put us in the suggested 15-20 percent of greens surface area the USGA suggests to affect per year. 

The cores are allowed to dry for several hours during which time we apply Verde-Cal 0-0-19 at 5# of product per 1000 sq ft.  Once the cores are dry the greens are drug using a Greens Groomer  brush drag.

The topdressing sand and the sand from the cores are drug back into the green and the leaf tissue from the green is blown off with blowers.

The greens are then rolled, cups changed, fertilized with Harrell's Tru-Prill 19-0-17 granular fertilizer at a rate of 0.25# Nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. and watered in.

As George Peppard said when he played Col. John "Hannibal" Smith on "The A-Team" ---    
"I love it when a plan comes together"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Once again this year Odwalla Juice Company is donating $100,000.00 to State Parks around the United States to plant FREE native trees in the State Parks. Each tree planted online equals $1 our state will receive to plant real trees in Tennessee State Parks. Last year more than $2,700 for trees was raised at six Tennessee State Parks allowing the following to be planted: Big Ridge (35 trees), Davy Crockett Birthplace (8 trees), Harrison Bay (3 trees), Henry Horton (24 trees), Norris Dam (14 trees), and T.O. Fuller (10 trees).

Last year's campaign was a great success for the Tennessee State Parks and if you would like to help (which I hope you will)  please click the link below and plant your tree in Tennessee.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Irrigation Renovation work on #5 green

New half heads running on #5 green
The most common complaint that I hear about our golf course during the summer months is how wet the green surrounds are.  The amount of water we need to apply to our greens during the heat of the summer causes us to overwater our surrounds due to the improper irrigation design.  The irrigation heads around the greens are fairway heads which are not located in the proper location.  #5 green was the worst of the greens with a couple of the heads being close to 25 feet away from the greens edge.  As we watered the greens at night we were flooding the surrounds around the green making is difficult to walk through these areas, making it almost impossible to play golf, and restricting our ability to maintain the approaches and surrounds on this green.

Rainbird 751 half head in operation

In an effort to correct this problem we moved the heads to the proper position around the greens and installed Rainbird 751 series irrigation rotors for the inside of the green and Rainbird Eagle 900 series irrigation rotors for the perimeter of the green.  The use of the half heads will allow us to apply water only to the green surface using one set of heads and another set of heads to water only the greens surrounds.  The surrounds will no longer be flooded and we will be able to reduce our water input but not overapplying water to the surrounds. Hopefully we will be able to continue improving the golf course over this summer and improving the irrigation on some other greens which also have similar issues.