Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sunlight, Growth, and Patience...My Three Requests

With over 20 inches of rainfall in 2015 so far and close to 10 inches of that coming in April alone, the golf course is greening up at a slower pace than normal.  Areas which have been completely saturated over the winter months with little to no sunlight to dry them out are coated in a combined layer of algae and thatch/clippings which have floated up in all the rain.  As you can see in the picture to the right where there are breaks or cracks in the algae as it dries, there is green grass under there we just have to work to get it to the sun.

We have been fortunate this week that the algae/thatch layer has begun to dry out in sections.  In an effort to remove the material from the fairways we began vertical mowing these areas to bust up the layer and then used our turbine blowers to blow it into the roughs.  The vertical mowers, or verticutters as they are called, have blades which are positioned vertically and cut or slice into the surface, lifting and breaking up this layer.

Hopefully the sun will continue to shine and the soil temps will climb which should generate the growth in the turfgrass that we all want to see.  We will have some areas which will have to be sodded or seeded so we will have to ask for your patience as we work through these areas.  Patience is the key word here, both on the part of the golfer and for us as well, as we want to provide our guests with the best possible playing conditions just like they want to play on the best possible playing surfaces.

One practice we will be doing over the next few weeks will be to solid tine the tee boxes and the approaches.  This cultural practice will help to allow water to penetrate into the soil and will also allow for sunlight and air to reach the soil surface and the root system.  Just like aerification of the greens this is a vital process in the success of our golf course.

The tines we will be using for this process will be 3/4" solid tines which will be set to penetrate around 2.5" into the soil.  Following the venting process these areas will be mowed or rolled and should not affect your ball roll or play in any way but will pay off in dividends as the grass starts to grow.

We have also begun the process of leveling the irrigation lines around the holes which were renovated this winter.  Adding sand to the trench lines will help smooth out the area and will eliminate any disruption to your ball roll.  It will take a few topdressings to completely eliminate any evidence of the trench lines but they will be gone before you know it.

As I stated before, please be patient as we work to repair the golf course from the damage caused by the four wettest months I can remember in my career.  By the end of the summer this will all seem like a bad dream.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Punching Holes, Spreading Fertilizer,and Growing Up

It has been a wet spring so far at Harrison Bay this year but there is still work that we have to get done to get the course ready for when the sun does come out and the grass starts growing.  I have been assured that the sun will eventually come out and the rain will eventually stop.  Still keeping a look out for Noah though.  This week we performed our spring aerification to the greens which will help jump them out of their winter dormancy and provide them with the new juvenile growth they will need to get through the summer. We are very pleased with how the greens came out of the winter this year due in most part to a different chemical and fertilizer program that we used which kept the greens healthier during their winter nap.

As always I was very proud of our golf course maintenance staff for their dedicated work on Monday to get the greens completely topdressed, aerified, drug, rolled and blown off all the while dealing with a constant and aggravating light to moderate rain.  It is definitely not textbook by any means to aerify in a rain event but when you are only closed for a couple days you make sure you get it done.  We will continue to roll and add light amounts of topdressing to the greens over the remainder of this week to get the greens back in top notch form.

With the course being closed on Monday it was a perfect time to get our season long pre emerge and fertilizer spread on the course.  Based on our success over the past several years we continue to use Harrell's PolyON controlled release fertilizer on our course.  This year we chose to try a different pre emerge product from FMC called Echelon.  Changing the chemistry or product we use from time to time helps to reduce or eliminate the chance of weeds becoming resistant to the herbicides we use.  Thanks to Rusty who drives the spreader truck for Harrell's for doing a great job without any damage to the course even though it was rather wet out there.

We have also spent a good amount of time this spring watching HB7 and HB8 grow from little eaglets into the fish, turtle, and coot vacuums that they have become.  These two are really keeping Elliott busy keeping the pantry full and are really getting a personality that all our viewers love to watch.
Even HB7 at his/her young age already has an idea of where the furniture should go.  At this stage, two weeks old, they are beginning to get their pin feathers, moving out of the nest bowl to explore their new world, can focus on their parents without looking at a blur, and, of course, they are beginning to grow those hilarious "clown feet" that we all love so much.

Hopefully the rain will soon go away and we can start having several days or weeks of good growing and playing weather.  Soon the air will be filled with the sound of new eagles flying overhead and the sound of golfers enjoying the course we work so hard to provide.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Welcome to the World HB7 and HB8

Elliott and Eloise have had to endure a lot since she laid her eggs on February 17th and 20th of this year.  Through the bitter cold and snow to the warm days when it just didn't seem like it would ever quit raining, they were both there to protect and care for their eggs with the hope of a successful hatch.

The hatching process began on Thursday of this past week when HB7 began breaking out of its shell trying to be the first of the two to see the light of day.  The hatching process was exciting to watch as it gave us all an insight into the world of a bald eaglet and what effort it takes to come into the world.

After about 33 hours of working to break out of the egg HB7 officially made its entrance into our world at 8:34 PM this Friday evening, March 27, 2015.

Not to be out done by big brother/sister, HB8 started its entry into the world shortly after that on Saturday morning.  It took HB8 over 45 hours to come out of its shell but when it did it was ready for the world.

We are beyond thrilled and blessed to have two new residents of The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.  Each year that we get to watch Elliott and Eloise raise their young just puts a special emphasis on what we are here for as a golf course, not only to provide recreation for golfers but also to provide suitable and sustainable habitat for wildlife.

We are thankful, grateful, and blessed that Elliott and Eloise have chosen our golf course as their home. Providing the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project has been both rewarding and educational but we can not do it without the support of our viewers and sponsors.  We have to give a tremendous amount of thanks to our supporters such as USGA, Jacobsen, The Friends of Harrison Bay State Park, and our many viewers who have been so generous in supporting the project both financially and emotionally.

We welcome all to join us at and enjoy the growth of HB7 and HB8

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ahhh Spring My Old Friend How I Have Missed You

Well, we have finally emerged from the dreary overcast, sometimes snowy, days of winter into our favorite time of the year...SPRING.   Elliott and Eloise's eggs are set to hatch next week, hopefully giving us two more residents of the course, and the golf course itself is coming alive once again.  Spring has to be the best time of the year for us as we get to look ahead at all the exciting times to come and the golfers come back to the course ready to enjoy our hard work.  The greens are always the first part of the course to come out of dormancy and they went from 0 to 60 in about 48 hours over the weekend.

  Over the past two days we have begun the process of removing the "winter coat" from the greens by verticutting them.  Vertical mowing of the greens is done with blades which are set vertically, thus the name, and it lifts the old grass from the greens surface and exposes the new grass shoots to the sun.  We do this very lightly at first just deep enough to scratch the surface, no where close to what we do in the summer when the grass is actively growing.  This process will help stimulate new growth and help get the greens going after their long winter nap.

After the greens have been verticut we come behind it and mow the greens in two directions along the same line to remove all the grass that has been stood up by the verticutters.  Again we are not going deep right now or trying to remove a lot of material, we are just trying to get them off and running.

It won't take long for the greens to get in tip top condition.  Just some sunlight, proper fertility and water, and continued dedicated maintenance by your crack golf course maintenance staff and we will be set for another outstanding season.  We are all looking forward to an exciting and fun season this year and hope you will come visit the course and enjoy it as much as we do.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Golf Industry Show 2015 in San Antonio

This past week Mitch and I had the honor and pleasure of attending the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio, Texas.  GIS includes both the annual national conference of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and the National Golf Course Owners Association, among others. This year was very special as we accepted the 2015 GCSAA President's Award for Environmental Stewardship from GCSAA President Keith Ihms during the Opening Ceremony.  This is the highest member honor given out by GCSAA and we could not be more proud.

Besides being able to address the attendees of the Opening Ceremony after accepting our President's Award I also had the pleasure of presenting to my fellow golf course superintendents on Tuesday morning.  My presentation on our Electric Equipment Initiative and how successful the project has been was very well received and we got lots of positive feedback and questions regarding our results.  Hope some will go back and really research the benefits of using electric equipment on their golf courses.

The Golf Industry Show provides many opportunities to meet new people and reconnect with old friends and this year was no exception.  I had the opportunity on Wednesday to promote our environmental projects on GCSAA TV with fellow environmental award winner Gary Ingram from California in a segment hosted by the one and only Brad Klein of Golfweek Magazine.  This was followed by another interview and then another one and finally the day concluded with a fun interview with John Maginnes on SiriusXM PGATOUR radio daily afternoon talk show.  It is always great to talk with the SiriusXM guys as they completely understand that without the work and dedication of the golf course maintenance staffs no golf would ever get played.

In many ways this had to be the busiest GIS ever with presentations and speeches each day but we still had time to meet with many people to talk about the future of environmental sustainability in the golf course industry.  We were able to meet with the great folks from Golf Environment Organization and discuss the exciting changes in their certification program.  We met with Ms. Teresa Wade of Experience Green to discuss the success of her Sustainability in Golf program.  At the Environmental Institute for Golf reception we got to speak with many like minded persons in the golf course industry and got to catch up with two of my mentors, David Phipps, GCSAA Northwest Field Rep. and Anthony Williams of Stone Mountain Golf Club.  These are only a few of the meetings and contacts and I would like to thank everyone for their time and interest.

It wasn't all work though and Mitch and I had time to relax and take in many of the sights offered in San Antonio.  We did make it up to see the Alamo, unfortunately it was night and the mission was closed.  The Towers of the America's was quite a sight to see especially at night lit up with the GCSAA emblem and the San Antonio Riverwalk was extremely nice even though the unseasonably cool weather kept most from walking along it.  We had a great time at the Jacobsen rodeo on Tuesday night where we got to get up close and personal with some authentic Texas longhorns and then watch a live rodeo.

Once again our supervisors in Nashville showed their continuing support for us by joining us at the event.  Mitch and I have to thank Mr. Nixon for taking time out of his busy schedule to always show his support for us.  It was nice to be able to spend some time with GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans and GCSAA President Keith Ihms over the past few months both at the USGA Annual Meeting and the GIS.  From my standpoint the golf course industry is in good hands and is primed for future success.

Again, Mitch and I have to thank everyone at GCSAA for their generous hospitality and recognition this past week.  It was a once in a lifetime experience that we will not soon forget.  To everyone behind the scenes at GCSAA and GIS THANK YOU.  If you are a superintendent that has not attended the GIS make it a career goal to do so.  You will not regret it and your course will get so much out of it.

Hope everyone who attended returned home safely and did not have to wait in the airports too long.  Til next year in San Diego.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Season Officially Begins

We have all been waiting patiently, well not always so patiently, for Eloise to lay her first egg of the 2015 season and on Wednesday evening she did so at 5:04 PM.

Even through the snow and ice on Friday night Eloise did what any good mother would do and protected her egg/baby from the frigid temperatures.  Although it was in the upper teens, probably lower in the top of the tree, she kept the egg at around 100 degrees underneath her.  Safe and sound.

On Saturday night at 6:26 PM Eloise laid her second egg of the season to everyone's delight. Here is a link to a video by one of our great moderators Suzie-O of the second egg being laid.

Eloise Lays Second Egg of 2015 Season HBEC

We will have to wait 35-38 days until the eggs hatch but that is the fun part, the anticipation.

I have to say a special THANK YOU to everyone who stepped up during our fundraiser campaign and raised more than the $5,000.00 we needed to continue the project through the year.  We continue each year to try and make this the best educational and entertaining project we can and it is only through our generous donors that this can be possible.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter Projects--Drainage Installed on #9 Cartpath

Yet another winter project we undertook was to correct the drainage issue we have on #9 cartpath near the large oak.  We began by extending the existing subsurface drain line that we installed in the fairway years ago and ran it to the cart path. We placed drainage pipe in the trench and covered it with gravel leaving about 2 inches from the top of the asphalt.  This two inches was later covered with a layer of sand and compacted.

On several other of our holes in which we have added drainage near the cartpaths we have been able to use channel drains and cross ties to direct and collect the surface water and to protect the area from further damage.  The area on #9 does not allow for this type of process so we had to look for something different.  We chose to use a NDS Grass Paver system instead.  Here Mitch is using a portable cut off saw to cut the plastic grass paver grid into three 16" sections.

Once cut the pavers were laid over the sand base which had been spread and packed over the gravel drainage basin.  We then used a hand tamp to press the grass pavers into the sand.
Once the pavers were set we laid sod over the pavers and stepped them down into the grid openings.

After we got done sodding and cleaning up the area I drove my Carry All across the area and was surprised that the grass area did not sink or get pressed down at all.  Time will tell but I think this will be a very viable option to installing channel drains and cross ties on the course and will help keep a cleaner look to the cartpaths.  Sometimes you have to be willing to try different things and products and see how they work.