Friday, July 29, 2011

Driving Range Tee Aerification

Today was a great day to work around the clubhouse and the driving range since we had the Notre Dame High School  Irish Classic golf tournament out enjoying the golf course.  We were able to use our Toro 648 Aerifier to core aerify the teeing surfaces.  The cores were allowed to dry and were then drug with a heavy steel drag mat to break them up and then blown off with the 1145 blower. 

You may wonder what has happened to all the plant materials along the right side of the clubhouse.  The clubhouse will be cleaned and restained later this summer and we were requested by the Facilities Department to clear the plants away from the building so the workers could get to the building to work.  We will be replanting after they are done.  Please be patient with our renovation project.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 27, 2011

The summer heat is definately here in Chattanooga.  As one local meteorologist said "It is air you can wear."  99 degrees with 70% humidity.  Thank God for Champion ultradwarf bermudagrass is all I can say.

For those who follow our blog but are not in the golf course industry I want to introduce you to a great website calledTurfNet.  This website has loads of valuable information for golf course superintendents but can also provide information for people in other turf and landscape related industries.  One of the best parts of TurfNet is the comidic videos which are produce by Mr. Randy Wilson.  Almost all of his videos are poking fun at the golf course industry and some of the things golf course superintendents have to put up with. Mr. Wilson's latest contibution is a video about the upcoming 93rd PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.  I thoroughly enjoyed it but maybe that is because I know exacly where he is coming from. Bent vs. bermudagrass in the south.

If you get the time check out some of Randy's other videos.  They are hilarious.

Mr. Casey Neal brought by some of his students from the Chattanooga State Community College Landscape and Turfgrass Management Program today for a field trip.  This has become an annual event and it is nice to see the next batch of turfgrass and landscape professionals coming along.

We have some new additions to The Bear Trace that I wanted to show off to you.

 This family likes to stay out near #13 green.  The little ones stumble alot when the try to run but they sure are nice to look at.

This osprey is building a nest near #4 green overlooking a channel on the river.  Flies over every morning.  Guess he or she wants to get some publicity like the bald eagles have.

I had someone ask about what Ms. Diane and Ms. Angie were looking at in this picture of them monitoring the bluebird nesting box.  They are using a Ridgid hand held inspection camera to look into the nesting box without disturbing the birds or the nest.  The inspection camera has a 3 foot flexible wand and has a lighted tip so that you can see into the box.  Using this tool allows the monitors to look into the box, monitor activity, and never have to open the nesting box which could potentially harm the babies.  The other good thing about using the inspeciton camera is that you don't get surprised by snakes or wasps who are not supposed to be in there but sometimes are.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Nest Watch

I wanted to pass along some information about a great organization and website that anyone interested in keeping track of bird activity on their golf course, school campus, business, or in their backyard might want to take a look at.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology  has put together a great program called Nest Watch.  Nest Watch is a program for entering and tracking the success of birding that can be monitored and compared to other areas of the world.  The website is loaded with information regarding birds and thier habits and habitats. The website has easy to follow instructions on setting up your nesting sites and once they are set up entering the information is even easier.  Using the information entered for your location you can easily track the number of eggs laid, number of chicks hatched, and the ultimate goal, the number of birds fledged. 

The website gives valuable information about how to properly monitor nesting sites, links to Nest Cams, and also allows you to track nesting sites of other species by clicking on the Interactive Nest Watch Maps

Diane Johnstone and Angie Medley monitoring a nestbox
I am very lucky to have a group of volunteers from the Friends of Harrison Bay State Park who have for years given of their time to monitor our 44 blue bird nesting boxes on our golf course.  Without the support of these great volunteers, our successful nesting project at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay would not be possible.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Verticutting tees and greens surrounds

The other project we recently completed was the verticutting process of the tees.  We used our Sisis scarifier to perform the task and Derek did a great job of completing the process in just a couple of days.  Verticutting the tees accomplished the same benefit as when we verticut our greens which is to remove old leaves and stems providing new growth points for new leaves to flourish.   

After the tees are verticut and the debris is allowed to dry they are blown off using the front end blower.

The tees are then mowed with the tee mower to smooth out the tee surface and remove additional plant material

Tee surface following mowing.
The next step is to apply sand topdressing to the surface of the tees.  We are using sand which we removed from the bunkers this winter so that we do not have to purchase any sand.  The sand is applied rather heavily, allowed to dry and then brushed into the surface.  The topdressing will provide a more level surface on the tee box, improve the drainage of the tees, and will provide easier insertion of tees into the soil.

All in all I am very well pleased with the process and the result.  Next we are going to try and do this process to some of the green surround and see how that works.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Native Grass Area Renovation

We have begun the process of renovating our native grass areas on the golf course.  Mitch has spent the past few days spraying a non-selective herbicide on the existing native areas on the golf course that we are planning on renovating.  The process will require us to spray these areas several times over the next year to remove the existing ground cover.  So these areas will not be very visually appealing for a while but we are hoping they will be well worth it once they are seeded and grown in. 

We have decided on three different blends of seed for the differing areas on the golf course and to achieve the look we are desiring.  For areas in front of tee boxes and where golf balls are very likely to go arrant we are looking at establishing a blend of low growing, around 12-18"  fescue and low growing wildflowers.  These areas will be sparse in order to allow golfers to more easily find their golf balls and play on.  Areas to the side of tee boxes and along fairways will be grown a little taller with a light mixture of little bluestem and broomsedge and wild flowers.  The areas behind greens and tees where no one really should be anyway will be planted in a heavier mixture of little bluestem and broomsedge.  The overall process will take about three years to complete and get the full appearance that we are looking for.  Please be patient with us.  I really think you will like the final product.

Here are a couple of examples of golf courses that have the look that we are trying to achieve.  The renovation of our native grass areas will continue to improve the appearance of the golf course and will also help to reduce operating costs.  We will renovate close to 40 acres into warm season native grass areas and native wildflowers.  By allowing these areas to return to their natural state over the past few years we have reduced our operating cost compared to having these areas in a high management status considerably.  Using formulas provided by Audubon International we have calculated our savings per acre to be $104.87 for machinery, $145.83 for labor, and $112.00 for fuel.  Calculate that for 40 acres and the total savings to our golf course for the year is $14,508.00.  Saving money, improving the environment, and improving the overall appearance of the golf course is something we really like.

Audubon International has a great fact sheet on The Benefits of Taller Grasses on Golf Courses.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Turfgrass Growth Regulation

My apologies for not having a new post in a while.  It is not because we have nothing to share, just that we have been very busy, both on the golf course and off.  Hope to catch everyone up on the happenings at Harrison Bay in the next few days.

"What's with all the white dots?" seems to be a running question the last couple of days.  No, we are not trying to make it more difficult to find your golf balls on the golf course.  The "white dots" are simply foam used to mark the edges of our chemical application pass.  The foam is inexpensive, compared to liquid dye marker, and will evaporate quickly as the day gets hotter.  We finished applying our second application of  Legacy, a turfgrass growth regulator, to the fairways today. Growth regulators, such as Legacy, control the amount of topical growth a plant produces which will reduce the amount of grass that is removed at each mowing.  The current application will regulate the turf growth for about 4 weeks on the fairways.  I guess I should explain better that the product doesn't really regulate growth of the plant it simply redirects the growth of the plant.  The turfgrass plant is going to grow a certain amount per day given the proper growing conditions.  What we are able to accomplish with the use of growth regulators is control the direction that the turfgrass grows.  Instead of producing topical growth which makes the plant longer on the surface the turfgrass plant is "tricked" into growing more laterally and to generate more root growth, both beneficial to the plant and to the golf course superintendent.  Another benefit of using plant growth regulators is the increased greening color that we will receive over the next few weeks.  We will be able to reduce our mowing frequency on our fairway to twice per week if needed without sacrificing any quality thus saving fuel and reducing compaction on the fairways.

Willie applying Legacy to #15 fairway
  We have used growth regulators on the greens and fairways for several years and this year with the amount of play our golf course has been receiving it is difficult to get back out and blow the clippings left by the rough mowers in a timely manner.  We have received several complaints about the noise the tractors and blowers make on the golf course and I am sorry but it has been a necessary evil.  We started today to apply Legacy to our roughs as a manner of reducing the clipping yield in that area of the golf course.  It is our hope that the use of Legacy in the roughs will eliminate the need to send blowers out to clean up the clippings left by the rough mowers.  It should also produce a tighter, healthier turfgrass plant in the rough so your ball will set up better and you will be able to enjoy your round more.