Sunday, October 25, 2015

Course Improvements--#15 Fairway Bunker

Sometimes designers place details on a golf course by what might look good on a piece of paper or maybe to add some character to the golf course but in reality these details are not necessary and more often than not are costly and time consuming to maintain.  This was the case for our fairway bunker on #15.  A very large, long bunker which even the modest golfer could easily carry.  Although pleasing to the eye from the tee it took a lot of manpower to maintain and took close to 4 loads of sand to keep in playing condition.

So last month we decided to reduce our expenses and time spent maintaining an area on the course which no one used and had become an eyesore by filling in the first 75% of the bunker and sodding this area.  Willie and Mitch spent a few days hauling soil generated from last years septic line expansion to the area.  The soil was then spread out and packed.

Once the soil was packed and ready we brought in a truckload of sod to cover the area.  The lip of the new bunker area was stacked with sod three layers high to create the edge of the bunker best. Willie did a very nice job of shaping the new bunker and floating all the dirt out to make sure water did not flow into the bunker but was diverted around it so we won't experience any bad washouts.

A steady drizzle of rain was no challenge for our staff as they just kept on one piece of sod after the other until the entire area was covered and cut in.  Nice to have such a dedicated crew that nothing gets in their way.

Once the sod was down it was rolled with a 1.25 ton roller several times in several directions to ensure good soil contact and to eliminate any ruts or creases.  New sand was added to the bunker and was then watered, packed, and raked.

This is the new view of the fairway bunker from the teeing area when we were finished.

I am confident by the end of the growing season next year you won't even be able to tell that the old bunker ever existed.

This is a shot of the area looking back toward the teeing area.

So we have taken an area on the course which was not in play for 99.9% of our golfers and was a tremendous drag on our manpower and budget to keep maintained and have, in my opinion, dramatically improved it for both the golfer and the agronomy staff.

Sometimes what looks good on paper or looks good to the eye just doesn't make sense and I think we have made a drastic improvement to the course with this simple change.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Graden Groundhog Demostration

In the last blogpost Graden Contour Sand Injection demonstration we showed one of the many tools that are available to the golf course industry to help maintain greens properly and help to provide conditions that golfers demand. Although the Graden CSI did a wonderful job in removing the unwanted organic matter in the top inch of the greens there was a great amount of material to clean up.  Sometimes that is the biggest issue with doing cultural up the mess that we create.

Another machine that was demoed was the Graden Groundhog material removal machine.  This machine is a self contained debris cleaning machine.  It has brushes and paddles inside which sweep the generated material into a hopper which can then be raised and dumped into a waiting vehicle or piled up on the side of the green to be picked up later.

Above is a video of the Groundhog clearing the material generated from the Graden CSI.

Once the material is cleared from the greens surface it can then be easily lifted above a vehicle to take the material away from the greens area.

Here is the area of the putting green after the groundhog has been over it.  Very little material left on the surface which will only require a little blowing.  The Groundhog during the demo had the brushes set just a touch too low and pulled some of the sand out of the grooves but since it is adjustable I believe I could set it to leave some more of the sand on the surface to help with leaving a smoother, less disrupted surface.

Here is the area after it was cleaned up and blown off.  The amount of material removed by the Groundhog was impressive and the fact that it would have taken agronomy staff members so much longer to pick up the debris is even more important.  This small demonstration area was nice to do but I know if we had to do all the course it would go much faster and be less back breaking on the crew if one had a machine such as this to help.  Again thanks to Michael Crawford of Redemix Turf Products for the demonstration.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Graden Contour Sand Injection demonstration

On September 22 we did a demo of the Graden Contour Sand Injection verticutting machine on the upper portion of the putting green.  We had a lot of comments and questions about this area because of the unique white lines of sand that the CSI created in the putting surface and because many had never seen this process done before.  I wanted to wait a few weeks before doing this blogpost so we could see how it all turned out and how it recovered before making any conclusions on the process and its benefits, if any.

Here is a video of the Graden CSI in action.  From a superintendent standpoint I was very impressed with the amount of material the machine removed and how it completely filled the created groove with sand immediately behind the blades.  From a golfer standpoint, attested by some of our golfers who came over to watch the demo, I was impressed by how smooth and puttable the surface was directly following the application.  Because the grooves are completely, and immediately, filled with sand there is little to any detectable effect on ball roll.

The special auger of the machine which moves all the debris generated by the machine to the sides of the passes made for a very clean operation.  Using a backpack blower to move the material to the side would probably be helpful but all in all it is a very clean and easy process.

With the grooves filled with sand once you move the generated debris away you can easily see that the grooves are filled all the way to the top and thus you don't have any depressions or grooves that will affect ball roll and will help to shorten the recovery time and the amount of complaints we heard from golfers who putted across the demo area.

Our demo was done using 2 mm blades and we went to a depth of just over 3/4".  I did like how easy the depth was able to be changed and how the amount of sand placed into the grooves could be changed with just the turn of a lever.  With the ability to use 1mm, 2mm, or 3mm blades the machine gives many different cultural practice options to best fit the time of year, the amount of material one wishes to remove, and the amount of disruption to the surface needed or allowed.

The demo area that we used was about 1,100 sq ft and from this area we removed enough material to fill one of our Toro Workman MDEs one and a half times.  Considering that according to Graden literature we were affecting 15-20% of the putting surface, a yearly total value suggested by USGA, it was very impressive that we could remove that much material and not affect the putting surface anymore than we did.  We used the Graden Groundhog to remove the debris from the surface which was also very impressive but we will show that on a later post.

Here is the area on the putting green on the day of the demo, September 22.  It has been blown off and rolled.  Very puttable and the biggest thing that one could see was the stark white lines of the sand.  Picture at the top of this post is also from demo day.

This is a shot of the demo area on October 2. Just to make it clear, we did nothing special or extra to this area.  We did not place any additional fertilizer or water to the area to improve or facilitate recovery as we would during an aerification period.  I wanted to see under the "worst" of conditions how long would it take to recover and how would it look.

Here is the area on October 16 and it is virtually completely healed in.  The lines you see are completely covered with turfgrass and the extra oxygen, water, and nutrients being allowed to enter the root system are what is causing the darker green lines to be visible.

The demo of the Graden CSI machine was very impressive and the benefits of the machine are very evident.  Not only did we remove a lot of organic matter from the top of the putting surface but we were able to incorporate over 1,100 pounds of sand into this area.  I have noticed how much firmer this area is compared to the area just to the side which was not done.  I would like to thank Mike Crawford of Redexim Turf Products for setting up this demo.  Hope we will be able to purchase a few of these machines to help make the greens along the Tennessee Golf Trail even better.