Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Burning Off Native Areas on the Golf Course

I know that we will have several questions come up about "what happened to the native areas on #1 and #9?"  These areas were burnt off today in a controlled burn process which will rejuvenate these areas with new native grasses, especially the broomsedge which is the plant species we want the most.

This is the area on #1 tee before we began the burn process.

We began the process by spraying a pass around the entire area to be burnt with water using our greens sprayer.

Once the surrounding turfgrass was soaked with water we began the burn at the back end of the area to be burnt.  We used backpack blowers to control the fire and let it burn slowly back into the wind.  This was a slow process but is vitally necessary for a safe and controlled burn process.

Here is a good shot of how the fire is controlled by burning it "back" into itself and controlling how far it can proceed outside of the burn area.

Once the back fire break was established we set the fire on the far side of the area and allowed the wind to do its job.  Once the fire met up with the fire break we had created on the back side there was no more fuel and it simply went out.

This is the area on #1 following the burn process.  It took about an hour to complete and we will continue to renovate this area over the next week or two as we prepare this area for a wild flower bed as part of Syngenta Turf's Operation Pollinator (but that is for another post).

This is a before photo of the area on #9 tee complex which we also burnt off today.  This area will not be planted in wild flowers but I wanted to see how long it took to come back and how well the broomsedge repopulated this area.

This is the area on #9 after burning.  In only a few weeks this area will be green again and full of new native grasses.  At least that is the plan.

The last thing we did before we left the area for the day was to make absolutely sure all of the fire was out, so we ran the irrigation system for about 10 minutes to soak any lingering embers in the area that might have wanted to catch the area on fire again.

This was a dirty, smoky job and I have to give special thanks to Mitch and Willie for doing the majority of the work. Also I want to thank Harrison Bay State Ranger Grant Sherrod for facilitating the burn.

Just a word of precaution if you are going to do a controlled burn.  Make sure you have permission from the Air Control Board in your area.  Make sure the weather conditions are right for a burn and make sure you have adequate help and an adequate water supply to keep the fire under control.  After all it is a "Controlled Burn"

Friday, March 21, 2014

Coco Mat Dragging Made Easy

As with many golf course superintendents we all have certain products and tools that we think are the greatest.  One of the best products on the market, in my humble opinion, is the CocoMat topdressing drag mat.  This mat does a superior job of brushing in topdressing sand but it has one major drawback...it weighs a ton.  I know the weight serves a purpose but it can make it almost impossible to use, or at the least, less desirable.

For several weeks we have been trying to come up with a way to use our CocoMat without running the risk of someone getting an hernia from lifting it.  I think we came up with a good alternative.

We have a Toro SandPro that we no longer use which will serve perfectly for this purpose.  We replaced the normal knobby tires with "slicks" so there would be no tread to damage the greens surface and removed the spring tine rakes that were on it.

Next we built a frame system out of 3" PVC pipe that we had at the golf course maintenance facility, to which the CocoMat was then secured to using 1/2" bolts and eyebolts.

The CocoMat frame was then secured to the SandPro by chains.  It took some time to adjust them and find the right point to place them to get the desired lift for transport and slack for dragging, but we got there.

Drag mat lifted up for transport

Plenty of clearance above the ground for transport

Here is a video of our mechanic, Steve Bloom, trying out the new drag mat.

Changing the tires out to "slicks" will allow us to turn on the greens surface without the fear of damaging it.  Putting the CocoMat on the SandPro will also allow us to quickly transport the mat from green to green and will virtually eliminate the possibility of an employee hurting themselves by lifting the CocoMat to either place it on the green for dragging or lifting it back into the cart when they are done with the green.  Being able to keep the mat on the green during dragging, and not have to take the mat off of the green, will help eliminate the berm of sand that accumulates around the surrounds of the greens when sand is drug from on the green to off the green.  This will help eliminate the "dam" that is sometimes seen on many putting greens which restricts surface water from exiting the front of the green.

This was truly a team effort and that is why I love the guys that work on the golf course maintenance staff at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Elliott and Eloise Welcome Two New Eaglets

I hope everyone has been keeping up with the activities of the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project over the past several months in anticipation of the hatch date.  Well, it is my pleasure to announce that Elliott and Eloise welcomed two new eaglets to the Bear Trace family this past weekend.

Here is a photo of HB5 who was introduced to the world early on Saturday morning.  HB6 followed 24 hours later and was introduced early on Sunday morning.

Thanks to the generous funding by the USGA and The Friends of Harrison Bay State Park, along with our many other donors, we were able to purchase a pan/tilt/zoom camera this year.  Using the PTZ camera we were able to zoom in and watch as HB6 attempted to make its way into the world.

To say that these two little creatures are cute or adorable would be a complete understatement.  It is hard to believe that they will one day be one of the fiercest raptors in the sky, but for now they are just cute, little, fuzzy bobbleheads that are getting attention from viewers all over the world.

We are completely honored and blessed that this pair of majestic birds has chosen our golf course to raise their family and we hope to continue, and improve, the project for many years to come.  We have about 8 weeks to watch them grow before they fledge, and time will fly by.

Please tell your friends, and even your enemies, to come join us in watching Elliott and Eloise teach HB5 and HB6 how to be great American Bald Eagles.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring has sprung

After a long difficult winter the golf course is beginning to come to life as the temperatures begin to climb. This past winter has been the toughest since we have had our Champion greens but they look very good coming out of dormancy.  It has especially been good to see the golfers return to the course in large numbers.  This week we scalped down the greens to get the "winter coat" off of them and get them ready for summer.
#10 green after mowing

Willie and Jonathen installing new sod on the irrigation
trench lines
Our major winter project was to install part circle irrigation heads on several of the greens and Willie, Jonathen, and Eric did a great job with this project.  We were able to get ten holes completed this year, which with the weather issues that we had, I am very pleased with.  The final step to this project will be to sod over the trench lines that were created during the process.  We have gotten several of the holes done this week and will continue next week to finish it up.

Newly sodded trench lines which will blend in quickly

This upcoming week, the week of March 10th, should be a very exciting week for us at the course as we are hoping to welcome two new members to the Bear Trace family.  Eloise and Elliott have been tremendous parents this winter keeping their two eggs safe and warm in the bitter cold and snow.  Eloise sat on the two eggs throughout the winter snow storm keeping them from harm.  They are a great pair and we hope and pray the hatching process is successful.  March 11 will mark 35 days since the first egg was laid which is the normal gestation period for American Bald Eagle.  If you have not been watching we hope you will tune into www.harrisonbayeaglecam.org this week to watch the excitement.

Spring has sprung and there will be many more exciting changes and improvements to the golf course this year.  We hope all of you will come out and join us and enjoy our great course and all our hard work.