Saturday, February 18, 2017

Limbing Up Trees and Dressing Up the Walkpaths

We are fortunate at Harrison Bay to have an active group of golfers who love to walk our golf course.  These golfers make up a significant part of our yearly membership and our yearly rounds.  Through the years as we have increased our native grass acreage to eliminate daily maintenance expenses and increase the nesting and movement areas on the course for the wildlife we have unintentionally constricted the travel path for some of our walkers.  This winter we decided to dress up the walkways through the native grass areas to make it easier to travel and more attractive.

This winter has been about some of the smaller projects we can do to the course to improve it and one of those easy but very beneficial projects is to limb up the trees in the playing areas of the course.  Limbing up trees will provide better shot options for golfers, will allow more sunlight to reach the turfgrass so it can be healthier, and will give the golf course a better appearance overall.

To make the limbing up process easier we created a secure platform which we placed on the front end loader tractor which allowed us to reach farther up the tree to do a better job.  Trying to hold up an extended pole saw will tire the operator out quickly so this technique makes it safer and more productive.  With safety in mind the saw operator is secured to the tractor with a safety harness so he can not fall out.  This process has really sped up the limbing project and we are through the front nine in only a couple of weeks.

The big question was what do we do with all the limbs that we will generate and how do we use them to benefit the course.  We decided that we wanted to chip up the limbs and use them as mulch on the walk paths as I have seen done at some other golf courses.  Willie did some research and found this great little chipper WoodMaxx DC-1260 chipper.  It will easily chip up a limb up to 4" and is very economically priced compared to some of the chippers we were looking at to rent.  Now we have a chipper to help clean up the course when needed.

A simple plywood box was built on the back of one of our Toro Workman MDEs and we chip the limbs directly into the box.  Being small in size like the DC-1260 is makes it very easy to maneuver around and easy to use.  Once the box is full we take the chips to a nearby walkway and spread them across the path.

Using the wood chips on the walk ways will hopefully make the native grass areas more attractive and will give our walking golfers a nicer path to walk.  In the past following rainstorms some of the areas along the walking paths have had standing water or have been extremely muddy which is less than desirable to walk through or pull your pull cart through.  We hope this will eliminate these issues.

The wood chips through the native areas are a nice addition to our golf course and will help our walking guests have a better round.  That being said these areas are for WALKERS ONLY. NO golf carts should ever be taken into native grass areas or driven down the wood chip walk paths.  Please allow me to repeat this.  THE WOOD CHIP PATHS ARE FOR WALKERS ONLY.  GOLF CARTS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE THEM!!!!  Please help the course by doing your part and obeying the cart rules that are in place at Harrison Bay or at your own course if you can't come join us.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Front Entrance Facelift--Part 1

As the old saying goes "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."  For a few years now the sign at our front entrance has not represented the quality of golf course we are trying to produce for our guests.  The paint on the old sign was faded, the sign dirty, and the posts rotted through and only being held up on one side by steel support beams and long bolts. So this year we decided to give the sign and the entrance area a facelift.  Hopefully it will provided the first impression we are looking for.

We removed the overgrown plants and the years of old mulch from around the sign.  The sign was removed and taken to the maintenance building for a good cleaning and a tree that overhung the sign was cut down and cleaned up.  After we removed the steel supports that had been holding the left side of the sign up we had to pour new footers for the cinderblook columns that were to be constructed.

Two new 8 foot tall cinderblock columns were constructed which were then wrapped using Airstone from Lowes.  The Airstone was a great product to use as it is lightweight, can easily be cut to fit with a hacksaw or a radial arm saw outfitted with a masonry blade, and is easily attached to the block wall with an exterior adhesive.  The varying colors, textures, and thickness of the Airstone gave us the ability to contrast the stone work and give the columns some character and interest.

After a nice bath and a new coat of paint the sign looks brand new.  The sign project turned out better than I thought it would.  The remaining steps in the project, which will be happening over the next couple of weeks, will be to add some new plants, level the area up and lay new sod, and install some much needed uplighting on the sign which will help our guests locate the course easier on dark early mornings.

As all projects at Harrison Bay are a team effort the success of this project fell squarely on the shoulders of Willie Hamby (left) and Bill Greene (right).  Neither of them are block masons or stone masons so there was a lot of measuring and remeasuring to make sure everything would fit perfectly, and it did.  It always amazes me how many different hidden talents agronomy staff members possess.  It takes more than just the ability to grow and mow grass to succeed on a golf course and I am very thankful our staff always rises up, goes above and beyond, and continues to improve Harrison Bay.