Saturday, February 21, 2015

Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Season Officially Begins

We have all been waiting patiently, well not always so patiently, for Eloise to lay her first egg of the 2015 season and on Wednesday evening she did so at 5:04 PM.

Even through the snow and ice on Friday night Eloise did what any good mother would do and protected her egg/baby from the frigid temperatures.  Although it was in the upper teens, probably lower in the top of the tree, she kept the egg at around 100 degrees underneath her.  Safe and sound.

On Saturday night at 6:26 PM Eloise laid her second egg of the season to everyone's delight. Here is a link to a video by one of our great moderators Suzie-O of the second egg being laid.

Eloise Lays Second Egg of 2015 Season HBEC

We will have to wait 35-38 days until the eggs hatch but that is the fun part, the anticipation.

I have to say a special THANK YOU to everyone who stepped up during our fundraiser campaign and raised more than the $5,000.00 we needed to continue the project through the year.  We continue each year to try and make this the best educational and entertaining project we can and it is only through our generous donors that this can be possible.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter Projects--Drainage Installed on #9 Cartpath

Yet another winter project we undertook was to correct the drainage issue we have on #9 cartpath near the large oak.  We began by extending the existing subsurface drain line that we installed in the fairway years ago and ran it to the cart path. We placed drainage pipe in the trench and covered it with gravel leaving about 2 inches from the top of the asphalt.  This two inches was later covered with a layer of sand and compacted.

On several other of our holes in which we have added drainage near the cartpaths we have been able to use channel drains and cross ties to direct and collect the surface water and to protect the area from further damage.  The area on #9 does not allow for this type of process so we had to look for something different.  We chose to use a NDS Grass Paver system instead.  Here Mitch is using a portable cut off saw to cut the plastic grass paver grid into three 16" sections.

Once cut the pavers were laid over the sand base which had been spread and packed over the gravel drainage basin.  We then used a hand tamp to press the grass pavers into the sand.
Once the pavers were set we laid sod over the pavers and stepped them down into the grid openings.

After we got done sodding and cleaning up the area I drove my Carry All across the area and was surprised that the grass area did not sink or get pressed down at all.  Time will tell but I think this will be a very viable option to installing channel drains and cross ties on the course and will help keep a cleaner look to the cartpaths.  Sometimes you have to be willing to try different things and products and see how they work.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

USGA Recognition at the Annual Meeting

This past weekend I was honored to be the guest of the United States Golf Association at their annual meeting in New York City.  I was asked to attend the meeting as a "Champion of the Game" for our environmental sustainability efforts at Harrison Bay.  Although I was there as the superintendent of Harrison Bay, with GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans and GCSAA President Keith Ihms in attendance I was representing every golf course that strives to maintain a balance between the desires of the golfers and the needs of the environment.

Mike Nixon, USGA President Tom O'Toole, Paul Carter
I have had many dealings with the great people at USGA over the years through articles, webcasts, and the primary funding of our Harrison Bay Eagle Cam but it was truly a highlight of my career to be recognized by USGA President Tom O'Toole for the work that we love to do anyway.  I was also honored that our Director of Golf Mike Nixon took time to travel to New York City and join in the recognition and the festivities.

 The best part of the trip was that my wife Melissa was able to join me.  Due to work schedules she is not able to attend the other industry functions that I attend and it was great to be able to introduce her to many of the great friends I have in the golf course industry.

Of course one can't go to New York City without doing a little sightseeing and even though the wind was howling Melissa and I were able to enjoy visiting the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Rockefeller Center, the new World Trade Center, and the memorial where the old World Trade Center building stood, along with catching The Lion King on Broadway at night.

I cannot thank everyone at USGA enough for their incredible hospitality and generosity.  It was truly and honor to have our golf course recognized by them.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter Projects---Drainage Area on #7

For many golfers the phrase "Cart Path Only" is almost as bad as the word "Aerification" but like aerification confining golf carts to the cart paths from time to time is a necessary evil.  Routinely during the winter months we restrict carts to the path on #5, 7 and 10 to protect the turfgrass from damage due to wear and tear.  On hole #7 it is not necessarily the fairway that causes us to be "on the path" but rather the area between the cart path and the fairway.

In order to try and eliminate this issue for our guests and allow them to drive out to #7 fairway we decided we would pipe and raise the swale between the cartpath and the fairway.  We began by laying 7 100' lengths of NDS flat pipe on the ground and secured them to the ground.  The idea is that this will provide a channel for the water to drain to the lake quicker or act as a holding area for water until it can drain out.

The pipe was then covered with a layer of gravel about 6 inches deep and floated out to the edge.  This will also act as a holding area and help to move the water out of this area much like we have in the bottom of our bunkers.

The next step was to bring in a soil/sand blend and was spread and packed over the gravel and floated up to be flush with the existing turfgrass.

After the soil blend was spread and packed we added a layer of some waste sand that we had removed from our bunkers many years ago (reduce/reuse/recycle).  This made the area easier to work with and will hopefully make the area drain even better.  All in all the area between the cartpath and the fairway was raised up about 12 inches.

Once the area was prepped we laid sod on top of it.  We are often asked what we do in the winter when there is no grass to mow.  Well it is projects like this and others, proceeding and to come, that help to improve the golf course for the summer months when we are doing everything we can to keep up the the turfgrass. Hopefully this course improvement will have great benefits in allowing us to not have to restrict carts to the path on #7 after a rain or during the winter, making our guests happier and a more enjoyable round.

Thanks to Mitch, Bill, and Billy for their hard work and great ideas on blending the soil/sand and getting this project done even in the cold weather.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Projects--Greens Irrigation Renovation Project Finished

For the past three winters Willie and his crew have been renovating the irrigation system around our greens to add part circle heads which will only water the putting surface.  This has been a long project in the making but will help, and has already helped, us to reduce our use of water and electricity while at the same time providing a better playing surface for our golfers.

Willie and Jonathan, with help this year from Barry, have worked tirelessly in all kinds of weather to add new control wire, pipe, and Rainbird irrigation heads to the greens loop. So why have we gone to all this trouble?  When the golf course was constructed full circle irrigation heads were placed around every green.  These heads, as the name implies, make a complete 360 degree rotation watering both the greens and the surrounds.  With the new heads we are able to adjust where the water is applied and we can water only the greens without watering the surrounds at the same time.

Installing these new part circle heads will help the playing conditions of the course, especially play around the greens, but will also help us continue to reduce our use of water. In the past in order to get 0.2" of water on our greens which might be needed to water in fertilizer or a fungicide we would have to run the full circle irrigation heads for 5-7 minutes watering both the green and the surrounds.  Many times the surrounds did not need any additional moisture and that would make them soft and difficult to play through or maintain.  With the new part circle heads we can place the same amount of water on the greens in 2 minutes with no unwanted irrigation on the surrounds.  Having these new heads in place will reduce our water use on the greens by over 1 million gallons of water annually and will reduce our use of electricity to operate our pumps as well.

I am very proud of the dedication and hard work Willie and Jonathan, and Barry this year, have shown to this project and to continuing to improve the golf course.  We are very lucky to have crew members who go out of their way everyday to take ownership of the golf course and give it all they have.

As I have said this has been a long project and a lot of hard work has gone into it.  We will be sodding the trench lines over the next week and then adjusting the sod as it settles.  If you are playing, please do not step on the sod or play off of it until spring arrives and it starts to green up. These areas should be played as Ground Under Repair until further notice.