Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Verticutting Greens At The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay

The weather has been just about perfect in Chattanooga over the past few weeks and our greens are off and running for the summer.  We started our verticutting practices this morning and it was very successful.  Verticutting or vertical mowing is a process used to remove old or "fat" leaf blades from the turfgrass surface to create room for new leafs to form, to reduce grain, and to improve the firmness of greens.  This is a great process to improve the health and well being of the greens surface.  There are about as many ways to verticut greens as there are superintendents in the world but verticutting in circles has worked best for me in the past.  Personally, I think we spend enough time attacking the turfgrass in straight lines so I feel I can be more productive by mowing in a circular pattern and thus hitting the leaf blades at different and strange angles.

The process begins by verticutting two to three cleanup laps around the inside perimeter of the green and then moving to the inside of the green to mow in circles throughout the green.  The debris left on the greens is then blown off and the greens are mowed at about 0.020 higher than our normal mowing heights.  The greens are then fertilized with an application of granular fertilizer 19-0-17 from Harrell's and then watered in immediately for 5-8 minutes.  We are able to remove a great deal of material from the greens and the next day we will send out our cutting units at their normal cutting heights with the brushes on and will really clean up and slick up the greens.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Renovation of Native Planting Bed

Just finished up the renovation work on our native landscape bed along the teeing area of hole #1.  The planting bed is comprised of plants native to our area and is funded by The Iris Fund.  We originally built this bed in the winter of 2008 to improve the aesthetics of our first hole, to provide nesting and food sources for birds and insects, and to promote the benefit of using native plants in landscape plantings to our guests.  I invite you to view: Bear Trace at Harrison Bay Native Planting Bed Presentation to get a better understanding of how we have improved the golf course through the use of native plants.  We only had a few small areas in the planting bed which needed to be filled in so the project was not as intense as the first time. 

Mitch Sivley amending the soil for new plants
Our renovation project started out with the need to improve the soil structure of the planting bed to help the plants better root and survive.  We purchased some landscape/topsoil mix and tilled it into the areas.  Our plants were purchased from a local nursery to ensure climatic compatibility.  Our native planting bed has been a great success since it was established and has brought a great amount of attention to the use of native plants so we only had a few small areas to renovate. We added two more 'Forest Pansy' Red Bud trees to fill in a void near the driving range, Black Eyed Susan, Sage Salvia, Emerald Blue Phlox and Emerald Pink Phlox. We finished the project by adding a coating of brown mulch made from recylced wooden pallet products.  This mulch is great for the environment because it is made from by products of the wooden pallet manufacturing industry.  Old pallets or scraps from the creation of new pallets are chipped and then painted twice.  The pallets are kiln dried during the creation process which makes the wood last for a long time, we have been able to get over four years from a coating of mulch.  The process also reduces the need to burn the by products or add them to landfills and also eliminates the need to cut down any trees for mulch.  It's a "Win Win" for everyone.

The Iris Fund is a great program which gives citizens of Tennessee an opportunity to support Tennessee State Parks through the purchase of a specialty license plate featuring the Tennessee irisis.  Money gathered from the sale of these specialty license plates allow State Parks to improve their parks and the environment through landscape projects to establish/re-establish native trees, shrubs, and flowers, to establish/re-establish wildlife habitat, to control erosion and stabilize stream banks, or to remove unnecessary areas which are being highly maintained and establish these areas in native grasses, thus providing wildlife habitat and reducing the need for funds to be spent on these areas for fuel, manpower, chemicals, and water.

I encourage anyone interested in supporting the Tennessee State Parks to consider purchasing an Iris Fund specialty license plate.  The funds will be put to use at a State Park near you to better your experience and improve our environment. 

To all of those who have purchased Iris Fund license plates in the past---Thank You!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Topdressing Cocktail

From time to time we have small areas on our greens that thin out or get scalped.  I have been trying to figure out a way to heal these areas in at a more rapid pace and at the same time disguise or camouflage them.  We have applied liquid fertilizers to these areas and have also used turf paint but these attempts just did not fix the problem and heal the grass in.  Well, I'm glad to say that I think we have come up with a simple fix that so far seems to be working great and I wanted to pass it along to anyone else that might have similar issues on their greens.  We came up with a blend using Emerald Profile Porous Ceramic Product, Nature Safe 8-3-5 fertilizer, and our green topdressing sand.  The "ratio" that we have been using is about a Bobcat scoop of the green topdressing sand, four 50 pound bags of Emerald Profile and one 50 pound bag of Nature Safe 8-3-5.  The mixture is blended in a pile and then loaded in the back of a utility vehicle. We are using the Profile to absorb any moisture from the algae that is almost always present in these weak areas and we use the Nature Safe as a completely safe fertilizer source that has no chance of burning the turf.  Granted we really don't know the exact rate of Nitrogen is being applied to these areas but we are sure they are healing in fast and once the mixture is worked into the turf and watered in you can't tell what we have done.  Areas that have been topdressed on Monday are 90 to 100% healed in by the end of the week. 
Topdressing blend

Blend after being worked into the greens surface but before watering in

On a personal note, I want to introduce the latest member of the Carter household.
Hannah's Beagle puppy
Bailey Blue

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Environmental Outreach and Education

I'm happy to announce the completion of our new "environmental education center" which is located in the clubhouse.  Education and outreach about environmental activities taking place on the golf course as well as how others can incorporate environmental stewardship activities into their lives and their businesses is a cornerstone of being environmentally conscious.  I hope the board will encourage others to seek out ways of being more environmentally conscious.

On the board we have tried to promote our environmental stewardship activities and display our Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award we received from The State of Tennessee and list our certifications with Audubon International and The Groundwater Foundation.  We have "take home" printouts which will be changed out from month to month to provide people with information about how they can be environmentally aware.  This month we started with a couple of Fact Sheets from Audubon International about The Business Value of Environmental Stewardship and Golf and the Environment.  Our Blogger address and our Facebook address are listed on the board so interested parties can follow our activities and easily contact us if they would like.  The best feature of the board is the PixiModo digital photo frame which runs photos of wildlife, golf course photos, and people involved in environmental activities on the golf course on a continuous loop.  The movement of the photos helps to draw peoples attention and hopefully peak their interest about the information found on the board.  I am really pleased with how the board turned out and I hope it will serve its purpose and encourage and educate people to be more environmentally conscious and to realize that the golf course can be a wonderful habitat for wildlife.

I have had several inquires into the well being of the eagles since the tornadoes rolled through our area.  The eagles are alive and doing well.  We have been able to see two eaglets in the nest.  One is already jumping up on the edge of the nest and flapping his or her wings.  It shouldn't be long before he or she is hopping from tree to tree learning how to fly.