Friday, December 6, 2013

Number 7 Water Feature is Back!!!!

As all of you golfers and homeowners that live on or near hole #7 know the water feature on this hole was drained.  The cause was a fissure in the limestone that opened up to an underground stream.  I am sorry that it took so long to get the water feature back, but it was a precarious process,  We had to wait until the area quit leaking water to determine what the problem was.
The Problem Hole is 2 feet wide
After we found the problem we called in some experts on the subject for advice on fixing the problem. ( I personally have never dealt with a problem such as this before.)  So we spoke with the geology experts who were very helpful and very enthusiastic about their profession.  Their recommendation was to expose the hole and fill with a material called Bentonite.  Bentonite is a clay byproduct of mining and it is devoid of water.  When it comes in contact with water it swells to about 3-5 times its size and creates a clay barrier layer or expands to clog holes whichever is needed.
The pond was as low as it was going to get and we were in the middle of the dry season (late October).  We Brought in an Excavator to search to find the problem.  The more we dug the wetter the hole got.  We were running two 2 inch trash pumps to keep the water out and we could barely keep up with the water coming out of the fissure I took 3 attempts with the excavator to clean up the hole.  At this point we were getting out of the dry season and having to schedule around weather events, but we finally got close enough to the fissure to attempt to plug it with the Bentonite.
link to a video of the underground stream in action

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tree Removal

This is the time of year that we take care of bigger projects that we can't accomplish during the growing season.  One of those projects are Tree removal.  Before I go any further let me say this,"I do not enjoy cutting down trees.  I do not look for reasons to remove trees that I don't like.  Tree removal creates a lot of work for me and my staff.".  That being said there are reasons that we have to remove trees and they are as follows; The tree poses a threat to a person or a structure., There is a shade Issue that cannot be cured by limbing up the tree., The inability to grow quality turfgrass due to shade issues., The tree blocks a sight line that can create a dangerous position for golfers.  We have 4 holes that we are currently working on tree removal. #'s 9, 10, 12, and 16.  All of the work that we did on #9 was to better open up the hazard (Pond) in the dogleg of the hole.  We also have had a very hard time in the past growing grass on the pond bank due to the heavy canopies that were present.  I hope to have those areas grown in next year instead of bare ground.  The removal of the trees along the pond on #9 also allows the golfer to have a better view of the green from further back in the fairway.  This ensures that there are no golfers on the green when a golfer hits in to #9 green.
We are currently working on Hole #10.  We have removed 4 large Cedar trees.  the first was closest to the tees on the right side of the cart path and overhung the path.  I did not want to remove this tree but it had a lateral crack or split through the limb over the path and was getting ready to come down naturally.
The before picture from #10
  As we cut the tree down we discovered that the tree was rotten throughout the trunk.  The three trees that we removed were on the right side of the hole from 150-100 yards out.  The reason that they were removed was the inability to grow grass in the area.
  The heavy cedars were creating the most of the shade problem in the area.  There are still about 5 Oaks in the area and one Hackberry.  There are still obstacles that you need to avoid as a golfer on that side of the hole.  Hopefully next year there will also be rough there to hit from.

The after picture from #10

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Aerification

Not to sound hokey but "It's that time of year again".  Aerification.  We have completed the aerification of the greens and they have recovered for 2 weeks now and they are looking great.  I went on vacation for one week and they have almost healed completely.  I am terrifically thrilled at their progress this season.  We have had some great weather since poking holes, 80's in the day and 60's at night.  I have created another "flip book video" from my trail camera to observe the process on #4 for the last 2 weeks.  I was hoping to get a better comparison of aerified greens to healed greens, but that didn't translate as well as I had hoped.  most of the physical processes were recorded and are subtitled in the video.  some of the processed were missed such as fertilization and watering.  But, please remember that a lot of hard work goes into this process.
Here's the "Flip Book"

I hope that you can see the progress as well as I can.  Again this is still a new process of documenting these types of events, and I learn something new about it every time I try. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

!!! UPDATE !!! Range Tee Changes

If you read my post a few months ago about our Driving Range Area there were a lot of restrictions.  Well, hopefully we have relieved most of the restrictions.  We added a 10 foot tall net to the middle of the range tee.  This net will provide plenty of security to the golfers practicing their short game on the left side of the tee while golfers practice hitting drivers and other metals on the right side.  Here is a quick look at the installation process
This was my first time on a time lapse scenario.  I hope to get better with this form of documentation.  To make it easier for some of you to understand some of the processes that we go through.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What's happening with our ponds?

I have been getting the same question about our ponds all summer, so I figured I'd answer it in a public forum for anyone else who might be interested but may not see me to ask the question. 
What is going on with the ponds at the entrance?
Of the three ponds visible from the entrance drive, #'s 12, 13 and 18, one of them looks good.  Two of them look bad.  #12 has blown up with Algae like it had in 2011 and previous years.  #13 looks fine.  #18 is about 3.5' low right now. 
Starting with #12.  I refer to this as a pond, but it is more accurately described as a water retention area.  It was not designed to hold fish, feed livestock, or go swimming or canoeing in.  It was designed to make you afraid of hitting a golf ball into it.  The guys who built the pond while well intentioned were probably not aquatic experts and did not see the nightmare that they were creating.  This pond is 4 ' deep with a rock bottom (it cannot be dug any deeper).  When you have a pond that shallow light penetrates to the floor of the pond and creates an environment where algae can grow.  This is the same problem that this pond has had for a long time.  We found a solution last season with the Tilapia.  Unfortunately, I thought that a wait and see approach would be better on the pond this season to see how bad the problem came back.  It came back with a vengeance.  I was too late getting the Tilapia out and now we are resulting to chemical control methods.  If you are using chemical control methods why don't you spray it all out?  Great question!  Because when we kill aquatic weeds they sink and decompose under the surface of the water.  When Algae decomposes it uses oxygen.  Guess who else uses oxygen in the water....Fish.  There is not a lot of oxygen to be had in a 4' deep pond if we expend all of the oxygen on a plant burn off we will be left with floating stinking fish, and maybe if we're lucky get our picture on the front page of the newspaper.  So, we are progressively spraying out the algae around the banks about 1/8 of the surface area at a time.
#13 Pond.  It looks great!  This pond is 13 feet deep and has good deep banks the water is clear you can see strait to the bottom on a sunny day from on top of the rock wall.  I am not recommending that you go out on the rock wall, we frown upon that. 
#18 Pond.  This pond has been up and down all year.  right now it is down 3.5'.  The reason that it is so low is that our water line has been interrupted temporarily.  As you probably know we receive effluent water from General Mills across the river and have been for the last 4 years.  This year General Mills had a construction project that sat right on top of the pipeline that feeds #18 pond on their side of the river.  The pipeline was not built with the idea of supporting a structure in mind when it was originally built.  They had to dig up the pipeline.  Stabilize the ground with rock.  Install a new pipeline and finish off the grade with stable material.  This project was estimated to take 3-4 weeks.  With the conditions becoming extremely dry I estimate that the timeline will be closer to 3 weeks than 4.  This project was started somewhere around the 20th of August.  So, we are about two weeks into the project.  I know that the pond looks low right now, but I have seen it much lower before.  We are not at a critical level yet.  But if we do reach that point I'm sure that out partners at General Mills will find a way to temporarily relieve the issue if needed.
That's my over-worded answer to an simple five word question.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rainy Day Jobs

We have had a substantial amount of rainfall this year.  Although it hasn't always been a washout when it has rained it usually gives us some time to work on small projects.  recently on a rainy day we were looking at our Tee Markers.  We loose a couple every year typically near water ways from what we suspect are angry golfers who toss them in the water.  We were making some new ones and started thinking how we could make them better.  We decided to try to make them resemble an arrowhead more than they currently do.  Here is a picture of the prototype.

 We think that they are a more accurate representation of the actual object.  The markers are made of composite deck board that are cut in to the shape of an arrowhead.  then we use an angle grinder to sharpen the edges.  Then we use a stationary grinding stone to add some character to the beveled edges.  The final color will probably end up being a natural grey stone color, not black.  Lastly we took some string line and soaked it in a can of wood stain and used it for the serving string that would connect the arrowhead to the shaft of the arrow.  We have not completely decided how we will distinguish the markers from one another.  But we are leaning towards a dot of color on the side about 1.5" in diameter located on the cart path side of the marker. 
Please remember that a lot of hard work goes into most of the materials that we have out on the course.  So, please treat it kindly.  Don't hit them with clubs, don't throw them in various locations and Please don't take them home with you.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Driving Range Tee

I wanted to take a minute today and discuss some driving range etiquette with you today.  First a couple of things about our range that you might not know.  There is a hole behind the range that people play on and that is the reason for the range net that we put up last year.  From the center of the range tee it is only 185 yards to the near range net (left side) and about 220 yards to the far side net (right side).  Our range has to be irons only when we are on the front half of the tee because the yardage is so short to the net.  Also, the range is a living breathing organism and has to be maintained.  That means that we have to mow the target area of the range once a week.  Since our rough mower does not have a protective cabin on it we have to close the range tee on Friday mornings to mow without endangering our employees.  We have range tee dividers setup every day for your daily practice area.  We move them daily to ensure that there is adequate good turf to hit from.

As I stated earlier our range has to be irons only to protect the golfers playing on #8.  The landing area for the tee shot on #8 is at the short side of the range net (left side).  If you are one of those young strong semi-pro golfers that can carry the range net at 185 yards with a 4 iron please aim to the deep side of the range when we are "irons only".  I get a lot of comments that sound something like, "Well, I can't hit my driver 185 yards."  I am sorry but our policy currently has to be a blanket policy that covers every person at the range.  Unfortunately I cannot sit there all day watching for who hits the ball too far with their driver.  "Irons Only" means irons only, hybrids are not irons.  Hopefully we will have a resolve in the near future that will allow us to have a Drivers allowed section at all times.  But, until then we will split time 50/50.
Oh, don't be the guy who says lets see if we can hit it over the net.  If you clear the net and hit a golfer you are the responsible party.  We have instructed you on how you are to conduct yourself at the range.  If you decide not to then you open yourself up to very bad possibilities.  A golf ball has killed a person on more than one occasion.

Please keep in mind that several people throughout the day will probably use the same hitting area that you are using.  When you hit every range ball that you have 6 inches away from the last one and take a big "beaver tail" (divot) on each swing you don't leave very much area for the next guy to practice.
This is a example of a very poor divot pattern.
In the above picture the golfer only hit about 15 balls but he ruined 25% of the hitting area for the next person.
Below is a example of the way to pattern divots.
The person who made this pattern hit about 35 balls, but they only used about 1/16th of the daily hitting area.  I'm not saying that everyone needs to make range divot marks like Tiger Woods.  I would just like for you to be considerate of the patrons who are coming after you.  

As I stated earlier we mow the range target area on Friday mornings If we don't mow it the grass will not allow us to pick up the range balls.  I like our guy that mows the range and I don't want him to get hurt.  He wears a soft plastic Bee Keepers Hard Hat at all times as a safety precaution.  I'm sorry if Friday morning is when you were playing golf but you can still chip and putt before your round at are practice facility.

The rules that we have are for safety purposes.  We are not trying to hamper your game, drive your patronage elsewhere or aggravate you in general.  We are simply making a policy that covers everyone's best interests.  Hopefully we can devise a plan that will make our range more functional to all of our golfers in the future. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Home Lawn Care

The heat is here and those of you with Bermuda yards are probably loving life with all of the rain that we have received this year.  The temperatures have been pretty average so it's been a pretty decent year for Bermuda so far.  During these summer months you want to make sure to fertilize your yard with about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 ft2.  The analysis of the fertilizer should be something close to a 25-0-7 (N-P-K). An easy calibrating method would be to look at the number on the bag as a percentage of a lb/Acre.  If you have a 1 Acre yard you need 4 bags of 25-0-0 to get 1 lb of Nitrogen.  Really all you Bermuda people need right now is N, our soils in this area are naturally rich in P.  I like to put out 1 lb of fertility per month when the Bermuda is actively growing with August be the last application.  
If you really love your Bermuda you will aerify it NOW.  Aerifying you yard helps with water infiltration and gas exchange in the soil.  
For you Fescue people.  Now is usually the time that your yard is hating life and you are usually praying that your yard will make it through the next month.  Which is the same mindset that I have most of the time in the summer about my greens.  Some of the things that you can do to make it easier on your Fescue are: Watch out how much water you are using.  When it's hot out too much water is worse than too little water.  Try to only irrigate in the early morning.  As the day goes on and the temperatures rise the moisture level needs to be low, not non-existant but low.  If you are seeing some greying of the plant that is wilt.  It means you need a little more water in that area.  If you see any yellowing that is wet wilt.  It means that that area is getting too much water and in all likelihood is about to die.  There are some specialty fertilizers that you can buy at the lawn care stores to help your Fescue through the summer.  Also, make sure your cutting it at 3.5-4" tall the taller it is the more drought resistant it will be.  
I hope that these are some helpful summer stress tips.

Pond Management

We have made great strides in cleaning up our water features on the course in the last year or two.  Last year our ponds and retention areas were the best that I have ever seen them look.  This year we have only 1 pond that has been giving us a headache, #12.  I was very optimistic that our management strategies from last year would carry over into this year, but that was not the case.  The algae blooms started coming out in late June because the temperatures have been so (I want to say mild but the correct terminology would be average) average.  In a hotter year i.e. 2012 the blooms would have started in April or May.  
Last year we used Red belly Tilapia as out control method for Algae on #11, 12, 13 and 18.  It worked great so we are doing the same this season, only on #12.  Here is a picture of what they look like.
 We purchased 30 lbs of fish for the pond.  They were delivered in a mobile aquarium.  It was essentially a very large ice chest with a hose running from the cooler to an oxygen tank similar to a helium tank that you might see at a party supply store.  Seen below.
Adding the fish to the pond is a very manual operation.  Scoop them out with a net, load them in a laundry bucket and dump them in the pond.  Seen below.
This pond is actually more of a retention area.  It's only about 4 feet deep and has a rock floor under the sludge on the bottom.  (We found this out when we were installing Wood Duck houses in the area.  It's hard to drive a post into rock!)  The pond being large and shallow means that it is easier for light to penetrate to the floor of the pond where algae blooms with light sources.  When we sprayed chemicals in the past to control the algae it did kill the algae.  But, as it decomposed and sank it was converted to a food source(fertilizer for the blooming algae, so it actually magnified the problem.  
It seems like the fish are the best method of control that we have found yet, and it reduces our chemical usage. 
There is a downside to this method of control.  The fish die.  They are warm water fish.  when we get a massive cold rain in November they will start floating, and there will be a lot more than 30 lbs worth.  I think that the trade off of smelly fish for 1 week is worth the clean ponds for the summer.
Please remember that we do not want any fishing in the ponds on the golf course.  there is effluent water in every pond on the course and are not meant for swimming or fishing.

Friday, June 28, 2013

What a difference a year makes

Well, Summer's here again and the temperatures are starting to heat up.  Yesterday was our hottest temp so far this year at 94 degrees.  I know it sounds hot.  Just remember where we were one year ago.  We were just starting the heat wave of 2013, we were getting ready to see temperatures we had never experienced before in this region (19 degrees warmer than yesterday) and we were in the 6th week of a drought.

Last year we were so busy with the drought and the fairways and the tees were in such poor shape that we did not aerify either one of them.  Shortly after the heat wave we got a massive amount of rain for a few days.  the fairways and tees turned out to be great through the end of the season.  Well we have had an ample amount of rainfall this season (no droughts here), and the temperatures have been moderate.  So we have gotten to perform some cultural practices that we couldn't do last year.  We have completed the fairway aerification plan and we are in the process of wrapping up the tee box aerification plan.

Our tee box aerification plan is almost identical to our fairway aerification plan with the exception of the machine that we use to pull plugs and the hole size.

Our tee plan we use 5/8" tines on a 2.5" spacing.  Fortunately, our tees for the most part were constructed with a sand cap.  This means that when we pull the plugs and let them dry for a few minutes, when we hit them with a metal drag mat the sand breaks off of the plant and works back in to the surface.  This leaves only the leftover plant material to deal with.  we simply take a turbine blower and push the leftover vegetation into the roughs.  A little bit of water and were done.  Below is a short video of Spencer running the aerifier on #16 Tees.

Our Fairway plan is slightly different, same process (core, drag, blow).  We use an old fairway aerifier that we pull with a tractor.  the holes are 1" on a 6" spacing.  The soils in our fairways are clay.  so they have to have some moisture in them to be able to break up with a drag mat.  We have to wait until the day after a rain event so that the clay is not rock hard when it comes out of the ground.  After they are out of the ground we drag them and blow off the vegetation.  I kind of like our old fairway aerifier in our heavy clay soils.  the way it works the tine goes in the soil at about a 10 degree angle and it comes out at the reverse 10 degree angle,  so it has to fracture the areas around it due to its movement below the surface.  So the effected area in the soil would be closer to 2.5".

I know that everyone hates the dreaded "A" word.  but it really does make us have a better playing surface in the long run, and who knows, maybe one day we will get to backfill the holes in the fairways with sand.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Great Project

I hope many of you notice the projects that we take on to try to enhance the wildlife here at the golf course.  We are not the only golf course that takes on these projects.  In all honesty, I see a lot of projects that other courses or organizations are doing and try to duplicate projects that are on our scale.  Items like: Purple Martin Houses, Wood Duck Houses, Bluebird Houses, Suet Cages, Mallard Hen Nesting Huts, Bat Houses are some of the small projects that we have taken on here
There has been a very neat project going on for a while now at another course in East Tennessee, Harrison Bay.  Superintendent Paul Carter has a Bald Eagle nesting program.  The program is to show the nesting patterns of the Bald Eagle.  That on its own sounds like a great program.  The Program is to SHOW the nesting patterns.  So, Naturally they installed a webcam at the nest and have a live feed on u-stream the link is provided below for anyone who is interested in viewing the nest.  Oh Yea, they just hatched two baby eagles.
Click here to view the Bald Eagle Cam at Harrison Bay
I wish that we could take on some projects such as this one but unfortunately we are not there yet.  But at least there are people out there that are trying to do great things such as this.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Home Lawn Care

It's definitely turning into Spring.  If you have tried to go to the local Home Depot or Lowe's on the weekend that's proof enough for me.

I decided to try and start putting a couple of home lawn tips on here at important times of the year.  Right now is an important time of year for your home lawn Bermuda or Fescue.

For those of you with a Bermuda yard.  The grass is trying to break dormancy right now.  The main factors that drive this are soil temperature and daylight hours.  with the soil temperatures getting up The weed seeds in the soil will want to germinate.  So its a good Idea to go ahead and get that pre-emergent herbicide out to control the weeds.  The best place to find these products is at your local Co-Op or lawn and garden stores.  Nothing against the big box stores but you can get better products at the specialty stores.

For those of you with Fescue, or cool season grasses at home.  Now is a crucial time of the year.  Now is the time to Aerify and Fertilize your yard.  Just like we aerify our greens around daylight savings time every year, your fescue will love you during the summer if you do this.  If you want justification for aerification please look at my last post.  Your fescue is going to be preforming at its peak here for the next 2 months.  Now is the time to fertilize while the stresses on the plant are low and the efficiency of the plant is high.  You will also need to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawns too so that weeds are kept to a minimum.  If you have any bare spots in the yard that you want to cover now is also a great time to sod fescue.  A lot of people like to seed along with aerification, but I prefer to seed in the fall and sod in the spring.

I hope some of the information is useful to you.  I will try to post more information related to the home lawn as the season continues.

Good Growing!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring Aerification

We have just completed one of the toughest jobs of the year, Spring Aerification.  Normally its a job that most people don't see outside of course staff.  I decided to take a few videos to show some of the processes that we use.  This year I decided that we needed to aerify the greens twice.  We didn't really get a true aerification last fall.  Yes, we "poked holes", but we only used 1/4" tines and we did not add any sand as I didn't want to be too abrasive to the greens in their frail state last fall.  This spring we are using 5/8" tines on a 2 " spacing, and we are aerifying them in two directions.  The whole goal in this process is to create Macro pores.  Macro pores are porous spaces in the soil that allow for gas exchange, water movement and root growth.  As the season goes on the macro pores get compacted or occupied by roots or dead roots and they become micro pores.
The first two videos shows how early we get started during this process.  It is not uncommon to start the process at 4:00 AM.  We had to design a light kit for our equipment so that we can start early.


The next video is the process of aerifying the green in the daylight.  This video shows the back breaking labor that the staff goes through to remove the debris.

This video shows the process of applying the sand to the surface of the green.  This is a highly specific job.  Too little and the surface will not be smooth.  Too much and the grass may never see the light of day again.  


There are a few steps that I did not show Fertilizing, Dragging, Watering and Rolling.  3 of the 4 are really not worth seeing.  Unfortunately I was doing most of the dragging of the sand and it was hard to make a video of myself.

Hopefully this helps explain why we do this process every spring and fall and the hard work that goes into it.  I know that the playing conditions are not great for a couple of weeks after the process.  But just remember that Tom Watson shot his personal best low round on freshly aerified greens.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Water Weed Control

I hope that you have noticed throughout the year, as you were playing golf, the conditions of the ponds.  In years past the ponds have been horrendous.  This year they have been much better.  We have suffered through a couple different aquatic weeds: algae, primrose, coontail, duckweed.  The algae was the thick green mat that used to completely cover the surface of #'s 11, 12, and 3/4 of #18 ponds. 
Primrose is a vascular surface plant that grows from the shore line and produces a yellow flower.  You can seen in the picture to the right the red stem and broad leaf.
Coontail is a vascular subsurface weed.  You can see in the picture to the right the very tops of the plant protruding from the water.

Duckweed (pictured left) is a vascular floating weed, lime green in color and about the size of a sharpie point.  This picture is not from our course but is an accurate representation of the plant.
Our biggest problem has been the algae(pictured left).  We seem to have beaten the algae this year.  We have tried all kinds of things in the past to kill it with no real success.  We tried copper sulfates, pond dyes, herbicides (which I do not like spraying into ponds), fountains, sonic pulse emitters,and organic products.  None of them were successful.  Than last year I started reading up on Tilapia.  They are not built to live in our climate, but they are built to eat algae.  I was not sure on the legality of using these fish to clean up our ponds because in all likely hood they will die off in the cold weather.  So I contacted a regional company "Aqua Services"  and spoke with Troy Goldsby.  He has been using Tilapia for a few years now maintaining ponds to acceptable levels.  I pulled the trigger on it this spring and bought abunch of them, I think 30-40lbs of them. 
This is what our pond on #18 used to look like.
This is what our Pond on #18 Looked Like at peak season this season.