Friday, April 21, 2017

The proof is in the putting...surface that is.

Of the 125 acres we highly maintain at Harrison Bay there are really one three that golfers really care about and those three acres are our putting greens.  No matter what else you have on your course or what you offer, if you have poor putting surfaces you are likely not going to be successful in this business.  Golf course superintendents, in most cases, worry and fret over the greens more than any other part of the golf course and with good reason.  That's why golfers pay "Greens Fees" and not "Tee Fees" or "Fairway Fees".

Last year at Harrison Bay we took a very large hit on our greens and our reputation due to the conditioning of our greens. Look Back at 2016 A severe infestation of nematodes virtually destroyed the root system of our greens turf leaving us with patchy greens, weak turf, disgruntled and dissatisfied golfers, and a lot of recovery work.  At times in life we all take our eyes off the ball and loose concentration about what our main task is.  As a golf course superintendent my main task is healthy, puttable greens that are smooth, true and at a playable speed.

It has been a long year and a herculean effort by our agronomy staff but I am thrilled to say that the greens at Harrison Bay are back to the exceptional standard that we, and our golfers, expect them to be.  The above photo is of the putting green last April and the photo to the left is from this April.  Lots of work, TLC, and attention to detail have been poured into these greens and I want to commend and celebrate the work that our agronomy staff have done.

#2 Green April 2016

#2 Green April 2017

#13 Green April 2016

#13 Green April 2017

The one thing we learned through this experience  is to not look at the most obvious culprit.  When our greens started to fail last year everyone, including soil labs, were claiming we had diseases such as pythium root rot and dysfunction.  Nematodes were not mentioned or considered until we started to look at the greens from a third story view.  Why was the 419 in the collars dying? It's hard to kill 419 but we were doing it.  It turned out the greens had encroached over the years and the areas where the 419 was dying outside of the greens perimeter were actually growing in greens mix, and nematodes like sand based soils better than clay based soils.  Applications of products such as BAYER Golf Nortica and Aqua-Aid Worm Power have protected and revived our root systems so that we have turf roots out the bottom of our cup cutters now.

It has been a long year and I know some swore never to come play our course again due to the condition of the greens but if you have not played the course yet this year I encourage you to give us another look.  The agronomy staff has done a tremendous job getting the greens back in the championship conditions that we strive to deliver every day.  We will continue to work and keep our eye on the ball so that the issues we encountered last year don't happen again.  A sincere thank you to the agronomy staff for their hard work and dedication.  A sincere thank you also to all our loyal golfers who have had only praises for the course this year. It is so much better to hear than some of the comments last year.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Front Entrance Facelift- Part 2

In an earlier post, Front Entrance Facelift Part 1 we detailed the renovation of the rather sad looking sign at the front entrance to the course.  I have been wanting to dress up the front sign for some time and without any major projects on the course this winter it seemed like the perfect time.  Willie and Bill did a fantastic job with the block work and the stone wrapping and this week we were able to put the finishing touches on the project.

Maybe it was the Masters tournament or just because I thought they would look nice but I chose to use azaleas in front of the sign to give it some color when they bloom.  The mulch is made from recycled pallets which are chipped and painted twice.  Since the wood used to make the pallets has been kiln dried they do not degrade as quickly as regular ground mulch and the paint will allow the color to stay for several years.  It does cost a little more up front but not having to remulch areas for 4-5 years makes up for it in the long run.

In addition to the stone work, repainting of the sign, the new plants and mulch we also were able to install a flood light on the sign which will help our early morning golfers and guests find the course easier and makes it look nice.  Special thanks to Volunteer Electric Cooperative and Mr. Wayne Hullander of Ooltewah Electric for helping out with the power and electrical connections.

We were able to install the new sod in front of the planting area today and with that I believe this project is done.  Sometimes what you envision for a project works out and sometimes not but this project turned out better than I thought.  Thanks to all the agronomy team for stepping outside of their comfort zones to take on this challenge and learn new skills.  I think the work was well worth the effort and we hope everyone enjoys the new front entrance.

What will the next project be???