Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Thank you for all the years - Good-bye

This will be my final post to the golf maintenance blog of Lewiston Golf and Country Club, because I have been presented with an opportunity that I feel is the right move in my career now and one I just can't turn down.  I will be going to work for The Toro Company as an irrigation trainer.  Teaching classes in person and on-line using Toro irrigation.

I first want to say thank you to all the members and golfers at Lewiston Country Club that allowed me to take care of their golf course for the last 6 years.  The support I have received from day 1 was amazing, and I enjoyed everyday on the golf course.  When I made this decision I remember standing on 4 tee box with BJ and thinking two things to myself - 1) all of the hard work that we put into this course to get it where it is today, all the irrigation improvements we made, the irrigation repairs we had late in the evening, pulling pump motors on Saturday afternoon, and all the joy and fulfillment it gave me.  I truly enjoyed my time here, the smiles on members faces as they putted on the greens, and the "compliments" our staff receieved for the outstanding playing conditions.  2)  I will never have that same reward and feeling again as a superintendent as I change to do something different in the turf industry.

Hole #4
Irrigation project
Bj wondering when we can get going

Secondly I want to thank all the readers of this blog.  3 years ago when I made the decision to start this as a way to communicate what was happening on the golf course to my membership, I never expected it to become this big.  All the followers from across the world that tell me the first thing they do each morning is to read the blog and see what is new at LGCC.  I appreciate all of you that took time to send me emails or leave comments, it really made it rewarding to see how many people actually read it and enjoyed the information that was shared. 

As far as the future, I never expected to be typing anything like this.  But after having a child of my own it has truly shown me that the life of a superintendent is very difficult.  The alarm clock at 3AM, meaning to bed at 8:30, the evenings, holidays, weekends, and no summer vacations really take a tole on your family life.  My dad always took me fishing in the summer, camping with the family, and summer vacations, I want to do the same thing with my family and give that to my son too.  The life of a golf course superintendent is a very difficult one.

I feel I have worked very hard in my life to get to this point, I am very marketable and valuable to a company right now, and it is a change I need to make for my family.  I will truly miss the agronomic side, the tournament preparation, and reacting to mother nature everyday.  Thank you very much to all my staff and members over the years.

Moving forward we have the opportunity to live in any city in the U.S. that we want as long as it is near a big airport, because I will do some traveling with teaching seminars.  We hope to be moved by the end of the summer to get the kids in school and be all settled by mid-August.  I will still have a presence on-line giving seminars if you care to watch any, and I know LGCC will be in great hands with the individual we have hired.

Thank you and good bye for now readers, members, golfers, and followers.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Irrigation Project update

Here is an updated shot of the irrigation project on #14 we completed this spring.  The left and right sides of the hole did not have irrigation in the past, and now 8 weeks after installing 34 new heads we are almost fully grown in.

Left hand side by tee cartpath before and current

Left side fairway before and current

Before and current

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tournament Time

This weekend we are hosting one of our larger events of the year, the LT Classic.  Here are a few shots prepping the course this morning.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Course Update

I apologize for the long gap in postings, like any golf course in the spring, it has been extremely busy here. There are several things going on around the golf course that I wanted to update you guys on.

Projects and seeding:
The irrigation projects that we worked on this winter and spring are all completed.  The previous thin areas of turf have been seeded and things are really growing in well.
New irrigation on the perimeter of hole #14

Seeded area

Early germination from seeding
These areas are being maintained like a grow-in situation with extra watering cycles and fertility.  Please avoid them with cart traffic as we try to establish turf as fast possible.  With favorable weather right now I would anticipate having them fairly well filled in by mid-June.
#5 tee walkway pavestone project
Irrigation system:
It has been the spring of irrigation breaks once we started using the system.  Our irrigation pipe in the ground is 43 yeas old, and the water hammer as water moves through the pipe puts stress on the system.  Many of our breaks are bell fittings and the inside joint of tees.  Always something to repair and improve on an older high maintenance irrigation system.

#16 green

2 irrigation breaks on #1 - 25 yards apart
Without an assistant:
This spring has been busier than normal because my assistant had the opportunity to go to a great golf course this spring, and I have had a tough time finding a candidate that would fit in our system.  That has led me to do the assistants work with chemical applications and irrigation work, and then do my duties as a superintendent.

Poa Annua - hurting from plant growth regulators(PGR's):
You will see on all areas of the golf course that the poa annua is off color and a little tan looking.  All areas have a plant growth regulator applied to them to hurt the poa, slow down the production of seedheads and growth, and allow the desired specie to crowd it out.  During the spring the weather here is very favorable for poa, not as hot, our rainy season, and the production of seedheads allow the poa to establish itself.  In the summer the dry hot weather favors our creeping bentgrass and kentucky bluegrass and we can keep the poa under control with water management and the help of mother nature, but in the spring I really hit the growth regulators hard to keep the poa under control.  The off colored areas are nothing to worry about, they play the same as the greener turf, and just shows us the regulators are doing what we want them to do.
Poa on 9 fairway under a little stress
Lack of rain:
Like I said, normally April and May is our rainy period, but this year we went from March 24 to May 13 without any rain.  It has forced us to rely more on the irrigation system and even do some handwatering early in the season.  Our rain total is about 1/3 of normal for our spring period, and I even heard they have already put watering restrictions in place for homeowners.

Fertilize collars:
You will notice that the collars around the greens look very green in color compared to the green itself and surrounding turf.  That is because I use a drop seed spreader to go out and specifically drop a fertilizer just on the collar.  That collar area is very difficult to manage because it does not get specific nutrients applied to it, it might get over spray from the green or the surrounds but typically not a specific application.  It is also an area in the middle where it gets an excessive amount of traffic.  Greens mowers turn on the collar, approach mowers turn there, many golfers walk around the green or push pull carts around the green.  Many superintendents try different strategies to move this traffic around, but one thing I have found that works for us is to create a healthier stand of turf that will develop a deeper root system and stand up to the traffic.  A couple times a year, mainly in the spring when it is cooler and the plant is developing a root system, I will fertilize just the collar and when I do that you can see a green ring around the green.

Rattlesnakes coming out:
It is that time of the year where we start to see rattlesnakes out on the course.  This year the agronomy staff has seen more than usual.  I believe the mild winter decreased the mortality rate, and the dryer spring has them coming to the irrigated golf course turf to get the moisture on their skin that they need because the native grass is already very dry.

Turf conditioning and tournaments (pig roast):
Through all of these typical spring challenges, the golf course is really in great shape.  We have hosted many tournaments already this year and we have one of our biggest coming up this weekend. We also typically do a pig roast in the ground for this event so that project has been underway this week.
The start of the in-ground pig roast
We also have been prepping everything to have the pool open this weekend.  It has been drained, cleaned, all mechanicals gone through, and all furniture set-up.  Come out and enjoy.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Greens aerification and more

This was a busy week with greens aerification on Monday and Tuesday.  We decided to solid tine the greens instead of pulling a core because we still have very good control of our organic matter content.  We used two machines to double aerify the greens and get more sand into the thatch layer to dilute the organic matter.  This trend seems to be almost as beneficial as pulling a core and removing the thatch.

Since we were not pulling a core and cleaning it up, we topdressed the greens very heavy first.  Then solid tined with very large 1" tines 8" deep with a 5" spacing, followed by shallow 1/2" tines on 1" centers.  This way we got sand and holes both in the surface layer and deeper for root development.  By topdressing first, the mechanical nature of the machine and the vibration helps work the sand into the holes.

Deep solid tining

Small tines very close together

After aerifying we brushed in the sand, double rolled, irrigated, and brushed again.

Here is 3 days after aerification

We also incorporated many projects on the course and renovation work to the inside of the clubhouse during the course closure.  By extending the course closure another 2 days, and utilizing the membership in work days we really got a lot of work done - thank you to all. 

Changing the pea gravel walkway at 5 island tee to pavestones.


We also changed the entryway to #13 tee to be a combination of turf and pavestones with the landscape.

.We also performed many other maintenance tasks on the course, and the members painted all the cart storage buildings - a big task that took many labor hours.  Great job membership.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Course Update

Things are moving into spring very quickly here.  The recent rain has really greened things up and we are starting to maintain the course.  All turf looks healthy coming through winter.  There are some traffic scares from playing and driving on dormant turf, but that will grow out of it soon.  We have been mowing and rolling greens the last month, and last week we mowed tees.  This week we are mowing fairways and approaches for the first time, and will start mowing rough later in the week.
First fairway mowing of the season
Last week we started to pressurize the irrigation system with plans of maybe irrigating this week due to the 75 degree weather, but mother nature helped us out over the weekend with the rain.

Irrigation project #14

We installed and performed most of the work on irrigation addition on hole #14 last week, and we will have that project wrapped up this week.  Originally that hole only had single row irrigation down the middle leaving both edges bare dirt in the heat of the summer.
Before picture
We installed a row down each edge of the native grass and connected to the center line, and now the entire whole will be irrigated.
Trenches left and right with connections going across
Overall we added 2500 ft of pipe, 32 heads, and an additional irrigation controller.

A second irrigation controller being installed and wired up

Pipe following the current grass line, you can see the thin rough from last summer