Friday, September 23, 2011

The TOUR Championship

Just getting back in town from volunteering for The TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club.  Congratulations to Ralph Keeple, CGCS, his assistants Adam Wilhite and Kyle Johnson, and the entire agronomy staff on having the golf course in immaculate conditions, as they always do.  This is the second opportunity I have had to volunteer at East Lake and each year I come away from the course educated and amazed.

The greens at East Lake are the best greens that I have ever set foot on.  To say that they are great would not do them justice.  The best way that I can describe how smooth the greens are would be to tell you to take a piece of paper and lay it flat and that would be getting close.

 I started out Wednesday by helping to clean the tee complexes of leaf and grass clipping debris as well as broken tees and anything else that needed to be done following the mowing of the tees. 

Use of the infamous "thumpometer" to determine the firmness of the greens.  The greens which felt very firm under foot were said to be "rather soft" according to the man taking the readings.

The afternoon shift was a case of absolute organized chaos.  With an outdoor Darius Rucker, former lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish, concert getting started near #6 green the maintenance crew started their evening work on #5.  Greens were rolled, fairways and intermediates mowed, leaves and debris blown off, fairway divots cleared and filled in, ballmarks repaired and topdressed, and bunkers cleaned out and rolled to pack the sand were among just a few of the jobs that were being carried out.

Trio of John Deere fairway mowers mowing the fairways in half. 

BJ and Dustin of Modern Turf, suppliers of Mini-Verde, the turfgrass which is on the greens at East Lake helping to fill fairway divots.

Bunker faces were heavily watered and then rolled with a squeege roller to firm the sand on the banks so the ball would not "plug" in the sand and would roll back down into the bottom of the bunker.
Equipment train moving from the front nine to the back nine during the afternoon.  4 fairway mowers, 2 rollers, a triplex, tractor, and a multitude of utility vehicles formed the convoy that got a police escort down the main road because of the activity around the clubhouse and 18th green prohibited normal movement to the back nine.

Golf Channel commentator and former PGA golfer Frank Nobilo out on the greens in the afternoon rolling some balls around so that he can discuss how they are playing the next day on air.

Thursday morning started with a slight bit of rain which meant that we didn't have to hand water fairways, which is what I did last year.  My assignment for the morning was to hand rake the sand bunkers.  The level of attention to detail carries over all aspects of the course set up including the bunkers.
A good friend of mine Tim Boles (in the hat) proudly standing near one of his bunkers.

Details, details, details.  That's what it is all about at East Lake.  The bunkers are raked in a specific pattern with a specified amount of pressure on the rake handle.  If not done correctly you were "asked" to go back and redo them.  Luckily, Shannon and I did not have to go back and rerake any of the ones we did.

East Lake clubhouse

Mr. Vijay Singh helping a golfer with his swing on Wednesday during the Tour clinic.

Seating area around #18 green where attention to detail continues.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mark Carrier and his crew came by the course this week to paint the exterior of the clubhouse and the cart storage area. They did a great job and the new lighter color gives the clubhouse a better natural wood appearance.

The weather has been fantastic this week with cool mornings and slightly overcast days.  The wildlife appear to love it to as they have been very active this week and it is great to see. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dakota Turf Tender Demo Day

Nate Brewinsky of Dakota Equipment brought by thier Dakota Turf Tender 440 material handler this morning for a demonstration. Amazing piece of equipment that I am very interested in. I have used the Dakota Turf Tender 410 to topdress my greens for years and love it so I wanted to see the 440 in action. We will be able to use the 440 to effeciently and productively topdress tees and fairways, haul sand out to the 410 when topdressing greens to speed up the process, and, what I am most interested in the machine for, will be able to haul sand to our rebuilt bunkers. Having the 440 will save us a ton of time and manpower, not to mention our backs when we need to add sand to the bunkers. I was most surprised by the amount of sand that the 440 held and how quickly it dispensed the sand into the bunker using the 13 foot long conveyer. I loved the sheild at the end of the conveyer which made it very easy to disperse the sand over the floor of the bunker without piling it up and having to shovel all the sand out. Great piece of equipment that will do wonders to continue to improve the golf course.

Nate also demonstrated the fairway topdressing feature of the 440 Turf Tender on our 18th fairway.  The hopper on the 440 holds approxiamately 5 times the volume of our 410 so he was able to topdress the entire fairway, about 2.5 acres, with one hopper full of sand.  Very smooth spread and absolutely not tracking or wheel ruts due to the floatation tires and the flexible axle.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wood Duck box on #14 is supposed to be near
the water, not in it
We went from one record setting month to a record setting day.  As I mentioned in my last post we set a record in the month of August for being the driest month on record in Chattanooga.  Well, as fate would have it, we set a record on Monday for the most rainfall in Chattanooga in a 24 hour period.  Thanks to our good friend Tropical Storm Lee we received a total of 11.29 inches of rain over a 48 hour period with 8.92" of that coming on Monday alone.  I guess the next time I pray for rain I should be a little more specific about the amount.

The golf course really needed the rainfall but I don't think we needed it all at one time.  We lost a few trees which Mitch and Kevin took care of this morning.  It still amazes me that a 100+ foot tall tree can have a root ball this small, but I guess that is why it is on the ground and not still standing tall.  We have a lot of debris down around the course and will take the next few days cleaning this up once we can get our carts and blowers out onto the turfgrass without doing any damage to it.

#4 Greenside Bunker with Sand Mat Liner installed
Rains like this really go to prove that using the proper material in our bunkers can save us a ton of time and money in the long run.  The bunkers on the front nine that have were repaired last year and have the Sand Mat product in them held up great.  All we had to do was blow them out, rake them, and they are back ready for play.  I can't say the same for the ones one the back that we have yet to conquer but hopefully we will be able to get to them this winter.  One improvement at a time and we will continue to build a championship quality golf course.

#6 Greenside Bunker with Sand Mat Liner installed

#10 Greenside Bunker without Sand Mat Liner

I did realize something yesterday as I was cleaning up my office and clearing off my desk that I wondered if any other superintendents have realized.  I wound up with a very large stack of turfgrass industry magazines in a pile which I have accumulated over the summer.  Although each of the publications are very well written and have a ton of useful information in them as I found several of them still in their plastic mailing envelopes I realized that I read these magazines online before the printed copy even gets to my desk.  What a waste of paper and resources.  I feel kind of ashamed and am planning on calling all of the companies and telling them to eliminate my printed copy, but still send the electronic one. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Record Month of August

August 2011 will go down as the driest month on record at Harrison Bay.  We received a record low of 0.02"of rain and had 29 days of above 90 degree temperatures with 102 degrees being our highest recorded temp.  The golf course is surviving and holding up well under the environmental and golfing pressures, mostly due to the hard work of our staff.  Willie has put in some long hours applying wetting agents and extra water to dry areas around the golf course.  We have replaced or repaired 19 heads that were malfunctioning and Mitch and Kevin repaired a severe leak at the front entrance.  The greens are recovering from aerification but the heat is slowing the process down some.  Hopefully September will not be as bad although the forecast for this weekend calls for highs of 97 and 98. 

Stay tuned for some exciting news about the Harrison Bay Bald Eagles.