Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Is In the Rearview Mirror

As 2011 comes to an end and I look back at a very successful year at Harrison Bay I have to say I am very pleased with all that we have accomplished this year.  It has been a little over a year since I started this blog and it has been fun to show you what is going on at the golf course.  Our golf course maintenance staff has made several improvements to the golf course this year including the renovation of the front nine greenside bunkers, providing better putting surfaces with the addition of John Deere Walking Greens Mowers to our fleet, irrigation renovation to some of the greens, beginning the renovation process of the native grass areas on the course, and improving and expanding our environmental stewardship activites.  My crew is very dedicated to the golf course and I have to express my pride in thier work.

2012 looks to be another exciting year at Harrison Bay.  Our Eagle Cam Project should be up and running soon, the renovation project of the back nine greenside bunkers is in full swing, we will continue renovating the irrigation around some of the greens, renovation of the native grass areas will take place during the summer, and we are going to add some mallard duck nesting tubes to our environmental conservation program in the next few months.  All in all 2012 should be an exciting and busy time at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.  We hope everyone enjoys the improvements that we are making to the golf course and if you have any questions or comments about what we are trying to accomplish here just let us know.  Hope to see everyone at the Trace in 2012.  Happy New Year!!!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sample Video of the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam

We are just days away from going live with the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam, just a few additions to the setup and we will be up and running.  The eagles returned to the nest yesterday morning and took up to cleaning and straightening the nest like they had never been gone.  I took the video below with my regular camera but it can give everyone an idea of what is to come when we go live.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project

Photo by Bret Rogers
For close to a year now I have been dreaming and working toward placing a camera in the tree above our bald eagle nest.  The camera will allow us to view the activities in the nest and will provide us with a view that not many people have the privilege to see.  I feel honored and blessed that the eagles have trusted our golf course as a suitable place to raise their family and we are taking every step necessary not to disturb them during the process of this project.

The project started by visiting some other bald eagle cams on the web and wondering why we couldn't do that.  It has taken almost a year worth of research and planning but we are oh so close.  The project is funded by the Friends of Harrison Bay State Park, the United States Golf Association Green Section, and the East and Middle Tennessee Golf Course Superintendents Associations.  I am extremely grateful and thankful for the support from these organizations and am so excited about getting this project off the ground. 
Photo of first juvenile eagle last year

Dave Leff of Horizon Electronics has worked tirelessly to research and recommend the best camera setup for the project.  We have decided to place two stationary cameras at different angles in the tree which will provided us with 24 hour viewing of activities in and around the nest.

Live web streaming of the eagles nest will be visible at our website and on the blog  Give us a little time to get things up and running.  We hope to have the streaming video available by mid December so we can all enjoy the building of the nest, the laying and hatching of the eggs, and the fledging of the baby eagles.  As time goes on and we hopefully gain valuable footage and information about the eagles we will post information on Twitter and Facebook.

As you can imagine this project is very involved and I can not thank the volunteers that have given their time, expertise and financial support to get this project off the ground.

The goal of this project is to continue to show interested individuals that golf courses are good for the environment and if maintained and managed properly can be an environmental asset.  We hope you like the project and ask for your prayers and support for its success.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bunker renovation continues

Two down and 15 to go.  That is the status of our 2011 sand bunker renovation project of the back nine bunkers.  We started with the fairway and greenside bunker on #10 and also the two leftside greenside bunkers on #11. 
Watering of the sand once it is installed in the bunker is the key to getting it initially packed.  The better it is packed the first time the better and longer it will perform properly. Bill has already wet and packed this bunker twice with the sand pro.

Bill is using a roller squeege to help pack the sand on the steep face of this bunker behind #11 green. 
Sometimes you just have to do things the hard way.  Unfortunately, in order not to damage the floor of the bunkers or the existing drain tiles the crew is having to remove the sand from the bunkers by hand.  Slow process but they are doing a great job at it. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

TurfNet article on painting greens

I had the pleasure just the other day to speak with Mr. John Reitman of about the process and advantages of painting greens instead of overseeding them.  Below is a link to his article on

Using turfgrass colorants instead of overseeding greens is a great way to eliminate the costs associated with seed, fertilizer, fungicides, and daily mowing.  It is what I call "instant green".

I am really lucky to have some great employees on my staff who take a high level of pride in the golf course.  I have to give credit to Willie Hamby who is in charge of painting the greens and does a great job at it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What can you see on a morning ride

Fall weather is definitely moving into Harrison Bay.  Crisp mornings are now a thing of the norm and the wildlife are more active than they have been in the past few months.  It is real treat to see all the activity on the course early in the morning so I thought I would share what I see on a normal morning ride around the golf course.   Our bald eagles are back and making additions to the nest.  Hopefully we will have some more eaglets arriving this spring as well.

The deer population is growing every year and they are so great to see running around the golf course.  One guest ask an employee the other day if they were trained pets since they did not seem to be nervous when the golfers came near.

Love seems to be in the air all around the golf course as these two bucks were not at all concerned about me but rather fixated on a herd of does.  I guess our population will continue to grow.

I topped the hill on #16 to be greeted by a flock of 27 wild turkey. Our feeding program has really paid off as the turkey have been hanging around the golf course all year.  Give it a few more weeks and the toms will start strutting their stuff trying to impress the ladies.

Although we were extremely busy this summer the golf course has held up very well and we are ready for our normal heavy traffic during the fall golfing season.  Keeping the golf course clear of leaves is an ongoing battle that we will fight for the next couple of months.  I apologize in advance if the noise from the blowers disturb any of your rounds.  Only a few projects planned for this winter including the bunkers on the back nine, some irrigation renovations, and lowering of runoff areas around the greens which restrict the surface water from exiting the greens. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bunker Renovation has begun

Bunker renovation on the back nine bunkers began this morning.  We are scheduled to renovate all the greenside bunkers along with several fairway bunkers this year using the same Sand Mat bunker liner product we used last year on the front.  Hopefully all will go as planned and we will complete this project by early February.  Please play any bunker that does not have new PACKED sand in it as Ground Under Repair.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nationwide Tour Qualifier

Yesterday we hosted an open qualifier round for the 2011 Nationwide Tour Children's Hospital Classic which is being held at Black Creek Golf Club this week.  The weather was perfect with a slight autumn chill in the air in the morning and then turning into a beautiful day in the afternoon.   My staff did a great job in getting the golf course prepared for the outing and we received numerous compliments from the players saying that it was one of the nicer courses they had played on all year.  Two years ago Webb Simpson qualified for the tournament at Harrison Bay so it will be interesting to see where some of these guys wind up in a few years.

Putting green being mowed early in the morning.  Light towers were put up so the players with early tee times could see to warm up on the putting green and driving range.
Misty morning on the Tennessee River looking over #4 green.

Tennessee Golf Association Tournament Director David Olinger enjoying the day and some down time.

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.