Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 Mowing Season is Done

As another mowing season comes to a close at Harrison Bay we have to look back to what all has been accomplished this year and look forward to the enhancements and improvements scheduled for the winter months ahead.  Your agronomy staff has been working hard this year to bring you the best playing conditions possible so if you see them out on the course, let them know you appreciate your efforts.

Last winter brought us some unexpected and unneeded very cold temperatures and snow cover.  Extended cold temperatures and shade are not the best friend to 419 bermudagrass which we have on our fairways and roughs.  As a result we had close to 3 acres of turf which had to be replaced or resodded. These areas have come in nicely and are ready for this winter to come.  If you have noticed we learned from last winter and have raised our height of cut on the fairways a bit more than normal and have moved some of the fairway cuts in on a couple of holes.

One of the biggest improvements we made to the course over the past year was the installation of new irrigation heads around many of the greens.  These heads have allowed us to only water the greens surface instead of using full circle technology which watered the green and the surrounds.  This has cut our watering time and has reduced the amount of water we use to water our greens by over 1 million gallons of water this year alone.  We have 6 more holes to go and this project will be in the books.  I bet Willie and Jonathan will be happy about that.

One change we made to the course this year (some liked it and some did not) was to change the way we mow the fairways and tees.  Instead of striping the fairways which we have done for several years we decided to mow the fairways and tees in the "classic cut" manor which means we mow up and back on one side of the area.  This was a drastic change but the final result was exactly what we wanted.  Not only did it give us a different and unique look, it saved us a considerable amount of time and fuel.  This season, by making this one simple change, we eliminated over 312 man hours spent on mowing fairways.  This reduction in mowing saved over 811 gallons of diesel fuel and eliminated the creation of over 18,000 pounds of carbon emissions.

In an effort to correct the many years of neglect and soft handedness we have given to our greens, this summer we got really aggressive with our aerification and verticutting of the greens.  There was a great deal of debate and concern over the process but in the end it turned out to be one of the best things we have done for our greens in quite a long time and as many of you have been telling us, they are the best they have been in many years.  Sometimes you have to break several eggs to make a really good omelet.

To repair some of the areas on the greens which were damaged from the winter we had to use our nursery, which is what it was made for.  After we used what we needed we went back and sprigged it and grew it in.  It was a good bit of work but having a source of sod on site and having the area double as a short game practice area is the perfect solution.

This year in an effort to help the pollinator population on the golf course we created two areas designated to the growing and cultivation of native wildflowers.  Working with Syngenta through their Operation Pollinator project we selected two areas, one beside #1 tee complex and one between #10 green and #11 tee complex, to create these areas.  The project has been a great success and we see these areas teaming with bees and butterflies.  We will continue to improve our planting processes over the winter to hopefully have these areas even more plentiful with wildflowers and pollinators.

As we look ahead to next season we have many improvements in mind.  We will be adding the DryJect process to our aerification in August. We hope using this process will provide better subsurface drainage and root growth and will reduce the disruption to the putting surface so we can get the greens back to their desired quality sooner.  This winter we will finish our greens irrigation renovation, add surface drainage to #10 fairway, selectively reduce shade around the course, renovate the native planting bed between #1 tee and the driving range, and renovate the remaining fairway bunkers.

It is going to be a long winter and a lot of hard work.  We will do our best to not interfere with your round but please remember that all the work we are doing is simply to make your course better.