Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Wonderland 2014

Like most of the south we got hit by a bitter arctic blast and got close to two inches of snow on Tuesday afternoon.  To say the roads were treacherous would be an understatement and it was very difficult for many people to get home.  Our friends in the more southern states who are not properly equipped for this weather are really feeling the brunt of this storm.  But all in all it was nice to see some snow since we have had all these cold temps anyway.

Here are some shots that I took from around the course this morning.

#10 green with the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam nest tree in the background

Looking across #14 green out into the Bay which was frozen for about 100 yds out

Glamour shot of our tee markers with the native area on #15 in the background

I love the way the broomsedge contrasts against the white snow.

I hope none of our Mallard Duck friends decide to land on the pond anytime soon because it is frozen although it looks like it is thawed in some areas.

The snow has been beautiful but I am ready to mow some green grass. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

GCSAA/Golf Digest 2013 Environmental Leaders in Golf Award

For years we have been working to limit or reduce our use of natural resources and how our golf course maintenance practices impact the environment and the wildlife that call our golf course "home".  We manage our golf course with an environmental mindset because that is how we feel it should be done and it works great for us.  We have been blessed over the years, and this year especially, with a great amount of recognition for our efforts and we are very grateful.

I am proud to announce that The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay has been selected as the 2013 National and Overall GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Award winner.  To receive the phone call from Mr. Mark Johnson of GCSAA informing me of the selection was exciting and humbling.  I am very proud of the work and passion the staff at Harrison Bay has put forth to garner us this recognition and I thank GCSAA and Golf Digest, along with the supporting sponsors Syngenta and RainBird, for making this award possible and for selecting our course.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Winter course improvements

Some people think the golf course maintenance department staff take the winter months off since there isn't any mowing to be done but that is far from the truth.  In most all cases the winter months are our time to renovate and refurbish the golf course so we can spend the majority of our time during the growing months maintaining the turfgrass.

Our irrigation renovation project of installing part circle irrigation heads around the greens is rolling along on schedule.  Willie, Jonathen, and Eric have been working hard and have completed the renovation work on nine holes so far.  This project will be most beneficial to the greens as we will be able to apply the correct amount of water needed to the putting surface without overwatering the surrounds which is a benefit that our golfers will enjoy.  The environment is going to benefit from this upgrade in that we will not be using as much water to maintain our greens.

Reducing the amount of water we use on the golf course is important but we also need to protect the water supply that surrounds the golf course and where we get our irrigation water from.  Surrounding all the waterways on our golf course we have created vegetative buffer strips which help to filter chemical, fertilizer, and soil residue from entering the water.  During the winter months when TVA drops the water level in the lake is a great time for us to do work on these areas which might have gotten overgrown through the years.

Most areas can be done with hand tools or a bush hog on a tractor but then there are areas like #3 green and #5 tee slopes which pose a safety issue of working on these steep slopes that we have to call out the "big guns" for.  We rented a BrushCat from Bobcat of Chattanooga which allowed us to remove the overgrowth of trees and shrubs in these areas.

This is a shot of the bank on #3 green before Mitch began the renovation work.  As you can see the overgrowth is blocking not only a great view but also much needed air movement on this green, especially since it sits in a hole and has restricted air movement anyway.

It took Mitch only a few hours to safely and efficiently clear the lake bank off.  A project of this size would have taken us weeks to clear by hand and we would have had a tremendous amount of plant debris to remove.  The BrushCat allowed us to remove the material safely and cut it up into mulch which will serve as a barrier for any water movement down the hill protecting the water supply.

With just a little hand work to remove some trees that were too large for the BrushCat to handle we now have the air movement we need for this green restored along with the view of the lake which will be very nice in the summer when TVA brings the lake level back up to summer pool.

I am very thankful for my crew who take on the responsibility of maintaining the golf course with such passion and dedication.  I tend to get the credit for the condition of the course or the environmental projects that we do but it is truly the guys in the trenches and on the equipment that make Harrison Bay what it is.  They are the ones who deserve the credit.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Harrison Bay State Park Raptor Center Coming Soon

Harrison Bay Raptor Program Center

If you follow our blog then you know of our love for wildlife and birds, especially our two favorite feathered friends and stars of the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project, Elliott and Eloise.  Well a new and exciting program is in the ground stages at the Harrison Bay State Park.

The Friends of Harrison Bay State Park have just announced the creation of the Harrison Bay Raptor Program.  The Raptor Program, which is headed up by Ranger Matthew Vawter, will begin with the construction of an enclosure to house native birds of prey which have been injured too severely to survive or be released into the wild.  The Raptor Center will be located at the front entrance of the park to greet our visitors and wave a fond "farewell" as they leave.  

This will be a fantastic program to allow the birds a second chance at life and allow us to view them up close. Fundraising is underway to secure the funding needed to begin construction of the aviary in the spring. For more information on the project and how you can be a supporter of the project please visit