Sunday, August 20, 2017

It rained on our parade...

After extolling the wonderful weather last week, we should have known that we were in for some less than perfect conditions for aerifying.  Monday's green aerification went well...for most of the day.  However, just about the time we were going to give the greens a final blowing to redistribute the sand, it started to rain. 

The topdressing sand we use for filling the aerification holes is kiln-dried, which allows it to spread easily, quickly filling the holes.  Once this sand got wet, it was like trying to spread cake frosting across the greens.
Greens aerification started with sunny skies.

Tuesday came, and we aerified the rain.  Once again, both cleanup and working the topdressing sand into the holes were challenging activities.  We absolutely could not have gotten the job done without the great teamwork that took place.  This year, several members of the Pro Shop staff pitched in to help, which made a huge difference in our success.

We are moving on to fairways this week, and that can mean only one thing:  The weather forecast is calling for temperatures well above average.  To this, we say, "Bring it on!"  The team is ready to don their ear plugs and dust masks and tackle this important task!  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wonderful Weather

Often times, it seems like all we do is complain about the weather (especially at this time of year).  So, in an effort to be fair and balanced, let it be known that we are extremely grateful for the great weather we have had the past week.
Looking back down #12 from the green.

When it comes to giving the turf a break, cool nights are equally as valuable to us as cool days.  Any August morning when we need to throw on a light jacket is welcomed, and we were happy to have a few of them this week.

Some folks have already forgotten the six heat waves we experienced before August, and are referring  to this as an "easy" year.  While this may end up being just an "average" year when the books are closed on it, it has had its share of challenges, including way too much rain for many local courses.

The forecast looks like we will have good weather for aerification this week.  Less stress going into this process will hasten recovery and get us set up for some great conditions this fall.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Touting Our Tote Uses

If you read the Repurposed post last month, we discussed a way we had found to reuse the totes which liquid fertilizer comes in.  A quick zip with a reciprocating saw gave us a great container for storing divot mix.

Well, the creative juices were at work again recently, and we found another time-saving use for these totes.

We often need to water plantings around the Clubhouse, and it is impractical to hook up a hose. Once again, a search on Amazon led us to what we were looking for:  A 12 volt, self-priming pump, with 4+ gallon per minute flow.

We now have the ability to take close to 300 gallons of water wherever we need it.  In addition to making the watering easier during the summer, this can also be used as a water supply when we are pressure washing the bridges over the winter.

When not needed, the tote and attached pump slide right out of the utility vehicle.  Who knows what the next use for these totes will be...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

To mow or not to mow...

...that is the question.  While rainfall is often welcome after a long dry period, the unpredictability of summer storms can lead to some tough choices.

For example, between July 22 and 23, the course received just under 2" of rain.  When we arrived on Monday, July 24, the turf was pretty juicy, and not in the ideal condition for us to be cutting fairways.  However, the weather prognosticators were calling for the possibility of additional storms Monday night.  If that occurred we were looking at going five days between fairway mowings.  This would be messy and have the potential for "scalping" the plant.
Slight mechanical damage can be seen on a fairway following a mowing under wet conditions.

While our focus is primarily on turf being cut as low as 0.10", we often see summertime mowing issues in home lawns as well.  Cutting the lawn when it is under drought stress can really set things back.

Of course, cutting when the backyard is saturated isn't a whole lot better.

As it turned out, while the conditions on Monday were less than ideal for mowing fairways, it was the correct decision.  Monday night, the "hit or miss" storms hit us again, depositing an additional inch of rain on the golf course, and leaving us saturated on Tuesday.

Working around the weather is never dull, and can be frustrating.  This weekend, they were predicting a rare summer nor'easter, and had us on the 2"+ line for rainfall.  Instead, we received 0.2" of rain--only 10% of what was forecast...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Irrigation Intake Screen Install

Last year, we began finding items such as plastic bags (and fish) in one of the pump station's intake wet well.  In the fall, we had a diver inspect the intake pipe screen. What he found during that inspection were some gaping holes in the original metal screen.
The original screen wasn't keeping anything out.

This past Monday, we finally had the intake screen replaced on this station, which is located between #5 and 6.  While the serious work was taking place under the water, we had plenty to keep us occupied on the surface.   
The new stainless steel screen is ready to be installed.

The first step was to remove the build up of silt around the intake pipe using a dredge pump. 
Again, there was a tremendous amount of setup required, including the placement of a "turbidity curtain" in the pond, to prevent cloudy water from getting back to the intake screen area, further hampering visibility. 
The dredge pump is being setup.

The pump's discharge hose, deposited the sediment into a geotextile bag.  The bag initially wanted to slide towards the water, so we placed one wheel of a utility cart on the bag to hold it in place. 
The bag filled up quickly, and it soon became clear that the cart was no match for this bag.

To get the screen in place, lift bags were attached, then it was carried out to a point where it could float.

The screen is being floated out to the end of the intake pipe.

Given the hot temperatures, nobody was complaining about having to go for a dip.  An air hose was connected to a small compressor and the lift bags, giving the diver the ability to adjust the level of the screen as he set it in place, and attached it to the intake pipe.

It was a long, hot day, and after 8:00 p.m. when the install was completed.  However, if it lasts for another 25+ years, it was well worth it!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Some perfect weather...

...for breeding turf problems.  Yes, we finished our fourth heat wave of the year last Thursday with oppressive humidity and some showers.  Although we dodged the heavy rain that neighboring areas received, there was still a whole lot of moisture in the air, which made the golf course a great petri dish for turf diseases.

Fortunately, at this time of year, we make preventative plant protectant applications to most areas of the course, and we saw little active disease.  However, one notable exception to this is the Fine Fescue areas.  While the Fescue definitely require more herbicide applications than any other part of the  course, fungicides applications aren't something we'd typically consider.

If we're looking for a way to keep these areas thin and wispy, then some well-placed Dollar Spot disease might not be a bad thing.

Of course, Mother Nature will rarely do exactly what we would like.  So, while a small amount of Dollar Spot may not be so bad, finding Brown Patch plus Dollar Spot in the Fescue isn't ideal, and may make spots a bit too thin.

We often say that there are no two years alike.  If nothing else, we can always count on that, and with its own unique challenges, 2017 is proving to be no different.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Brothers in Turf

Finding reliable summer help is often a challenge for us--the hours are crazy and the work is hard.  That is why we are very grateful for having a solid group of young men this year.  One unique thing about our 2017 team is that we have three brothers working together.

Entering his third season at Laurel Creek, is oldest brother, Joe.  He is a graduate of Ursinus College and now working as a teacher in the Moorestown school district.  Joe was a stand out performer for us two years ago, when he relentlessly pushed a blower during our August aerification.

Youngest brother, Mike, has returned for a second season.  He has completed his freshman year at Virginia Tech. and will be majoring in Engineering.  Like his brothers, Mike is a strong, consistent man on the team.

Middle sibling, Luke, is here for his first season, but has picked things up very quickly, and does an excellent job with the bunkers.  Luke is an Environmental Sciences major at Rutgers, and will be receiving internship credit for his experience on the golf course this summer.

Given their varied career paths, you might wonder if these siblings share any common interests?  Rumor has it, there is at least one thing they have all enjoyed during college:  Rugby!

Whether it is Luke banging out bunkers, Mike laying down some razor-like lines on greens, or Joe terrifically triplexing tees, these guys are a real asset to the Laurel Creek team.

If you happen to see them (or any of the staff members) on the course, please feel free to give them a thumbs-up if you appreciate their efforts.  Honestly, that quick, simple gesture can make someone's day during these dog days of summer!