Saturday, April 14, 2018

No Vacancy

What do snakes, spiders, ants, mice, and wasps have in common?  Unfortunately, all of these creatures seem to think that an irrigation controller makes a wonderful house.
With the front cover removed, you can see how this might be an appealing abode for some.

While it may be a great place for them to try and put down roots, they all have the potential to damage these computers.  Therefore, there are a number of deterrents people use to keep them pest free. 

With all of the wires entering the controllers from below, sealing the conduits with spray foam, or stuffing steel wool may discourage rodents and reptiles.  For the insects, we use something different--cow insecticide tags.

Since these are designed to be worn by cows, they are far from some heavy duty super killer.  But left in the enclosed controller, they are enough to keep us critter free.
The tag is hung with a zip tie, and we are good to go.
Installing these strips in our 29 irrigation controllers is a quick and inexpensive way to protect them from damage.  We hope all prospective occupants will quickly consider them to be a "Keep Out" sign.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Stay thirsty my friends

With all of the "beautiful spring weather" we've been experiencing lately, the newest amenity on the golf course couldn't come at a better time.  Okay, with 26 days of below average temperatures in March, and a slow start to April, you're definitely not seeing anything close to this when you look out the window:

However, we are fairly confident that there will eventually be four seasons in 2018, and at some point the temperature will rise.  This year, we have installed three new cooler chests on the golf course, which will be stocked with bottled water.  They are located at #2/12 tee, #8/15, and #14 tee.

The way this year has started, chests filled with hot cocoa might have been more appropriate, but whenever the mercury finally does head north, we will be ready for you.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Goodbye, miserable March!

After a warm, but very wet February, March came in like a lion, and left like a Tyrannosaurus Rex--with more snow forecast for the beginning of April.  The term "nor'easter" was heard way too often, and we cut more grass in February than March.

As you can see below, we had 26 "red days" in March, which indicate below average daily high temperatures.  Combine that with the many days we were closed due to snow cover, along with another month of above average precipitation, and you end up with not a whole lot of good golfing weather.

While we are used to weather anomalies leading to a few days of unusually hot or cold weather, having entire months flip flop is pretty bizarre.  A remote sensor in #9 fairway shows that soil temperatures were higher throughout most of February than in March.

Is all of this weather chaos a big deal?  Well, a good bit of weed, disease, and insect activity can be correlated to soil temperatures, and growing degree days (basically, heat accumulation).  During the first 28 days of March, our growing degree count was closer to January than February.

When we accumulate more growing degree days in February than in March it has the potential to throw some of these pest prediction models out of whack.  Fortunately, in addition to growing degree days, we use multiple other sources of information to help us know what to expect and when. 

Some are predicting that the way things will even out this year, is with a nice long, hot, dry summer.  Oh joy!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Safety is no accident!

We have certainly had our share of snow and downright nasty weather throughout February and March.  When there are days that we can't get on the golf course, crew safety training is one important item we can still address.  McCord Golf Services has a great series of instructional videos that focus specifically on safety for golf course grounds employees.
Employees take part in training specifically focused on golf course safety.

When you stop and think about it, there are plenty of hazards (besides bunkers) on the golf course.  What may immediately come to mind when you think about this, are sharp, spinning mower blades.  And yes, while they definitely are one hazard, there are a number of other potentially dangerous things we must be aware of every day.

How about slippery surfaces?  In the winter, snow and ice can make the footing treacherous, while during the summer, we need to tread lightly when the turf is dew covered in early morning.  Almost everyone who has cut greens for any period of time, has slipped while making a turn at the end of the pass.

Lifting heavy objects is also something that must be done on a regular basis when working at a golf course.  We receive many products on pallets that are used on the course, including fertilizer, seed, and bagged topdressing sand.  In order to avoid injury, employees must use proper lifting technique, and know when it is a two person job.
Snow is a "twofer," as it's a heavy object which must be lifted while standing on a slippery surface!

In addition to protecting our backs, ears, and digits, we have to make sure our eyes are protected as well.  Grinding, weed wacking, edging bunkers, aerifying, and wood chipping, all produce flying debris.
A wood chipper can be a dangerous piece of equipment, requiring hearing and eye protection.

While the slithering snakes below aren't really much of a threat, their mere presence can be hazardous as they always surprise you.  This will often lead to increased heart rate, slipping, and tripping!
It's never good when the irrigation control wires start moving.

Given all of the potential danger, along with rough work hours, and having to brave Mother Nature daily, one might ask why anybody would choose this type of work.  We like to think that ongoing safety training minimizes the risk of injury.  Besides, the payback we receive is priceless:

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Just when you think you've seen it all...

...There's a school bus on the golf course.  Yes, you definitely won't see this every day--or pretty much any day, for that matter.

Steve Kavney caught the bus positioned in a perilous predicament.

That's correct, whether it was human or machine, somebody's navigation system seems to need recalibrating.  As the saying goes, "You can't get there from here."

One of our employees made the statement, that at least once per year when working on the golf course, you'll see something pretty darned bizarre.  Over the years, we have had our share of unusual sightings on the course, including a plane land on #4 fairway, and a (thankfully unoccupied) car found submerged in the lake next to #6 tee.

Perhaps Bugs had it right, and they should have made the left turn at Albuquerque.

While there was some turf damage in front of #9 Palmer tee, with the bus surrounded by water on three sides, things could have been much worse.  Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and all will have a good tale to tell after this.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Litmus Test

Many people think of south Jersey as nothing but flat farmland.  However, thanks in large part to the property's prior use as a quarry, Laurel Creek has 60' of elevation change.  Additionally, during construction of the course, 1.3 million cubic yards of soil was moved.  So, with plenty of mounds and slopes to contend with, when looking at a new piece of equipment, we often give it the "billy goat" test.
The view looking down from #16.
That's right, in order to make the grade, you have to be able to climb the grade.  In this case, that's the hill between #16 and 17.

Recently, we were considering the acquisition of a new mower, which will primarily be used in the Fescue, so what better place to take it for a spin than on this challenging slope.  The theory is, if it can handle this hill, the rest of the course won't be  a problem.
A different perspective as you look up to #16 from down below.

We're happy to report that while many machines have failed this test (sorry, no pictures), the Ventrac mower passed with flying colors.  This piece of equipment will be a great addition to our inventory, and help provide better conditions in the 40 acres of naturalized areas throughout the golf course.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Quick collar coring

We made a single aerification pass on the collars last week, using the small, 3/8" tines.  With our regular greens aerification still a couple of months away, you might be wondering why this was necessary.

There are a few reasons this additional process will be helpful this year.  We can start with the same benefits we see when aerifying any area of the course:  increased pore space in the root zone, decreased compaction, thatch reduction, improved water infiltration, and increased efficacy of plant protectants.  Achieving just these objectives is particularly important for the collars, as they have to deal with a lot of wear and tear throughout the year.

In addition to the typical reasons we need to aerify, we are also addressing the problem of "sand dams" which have developed on many of the collars over the years.  Sand dams are areas where topdresssing sand has accumulated, causing the collar elevation to have raised, thus blocking free water runoff from the greens.  Aerifying the collars more frequently than the putting surfaces should prevent the sand dams from growing.

A final reason we are increasing collar aerification is to smooth out the tie-ins from the Master Plan work on the green surrounds.  That is, eliminate any "carpet seams" which are still visible where the new sod met up with the greens.

The guys worked like a well-oiled machine to get this job done quickly.  After aerifying, we made one pass with the core harvester, then blew off the rest.  We finished with a quick roll of the collars to smooth things out.

As to the timing of this, we still have cool conditions, but are starting to see some growth in the greens.  Rain (and snow) was in the forecast, which helped with the final cleanup.  This was definitely a good way to make a positive impact on conditions, without impacting playability.