Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tee Irrigation Project Review

The tee irrigation project which started in 2011 has been a great success.  Previously, the sprinklers used to water tees were high volume, and spaced 80 feet apart, leading to a lot of unnecessary watering of the Fescue.  These have been replaced by sprinklers which use about 70% less water and are spaced only 40-45 feet apart.  The result is much more precise irrigation capability, and a significant reduction in water use.
Closely spaced, low volume sprinklers, accurately deliver water to the teeing ground.
For example, during an irrigation cycle where the average run time for each sprinkler is 24 minutes, we are using approximately 3,000 gallons less water per set of tees--that's over 50,000 gallons less for the entire course.

In addition to water savings, the new design has greatly reduced the need for hand watering tees, freeing up employees to focus on other areas of the course.

Due to varying micro-climates, there's still some fine tuning to be done with arc adjustments and run times, but the new sprinklers are proving to be a great improvement over the original design.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Groundhog Day?

Here we go again.  First it was the aerial attack of the herons on the greens, followed soon thereafter by a foraging fox digging in the putting surface, and now what?  None other than a dastardly deer has assaulted the greens.


Yes, this is the time of year when deer start scampering about on a regular basis.  But once again we ask of them:  Anywhere but on the greens, please.  Paranoia is setting in as it's beginning to feel as if all of the wonderful woodland creatures have decided to gang up on us.
One thing is for sure, if groundhogs (or gophers) start tunneling in the greens, we're going to have to call in some expert help...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just Another Average Year?

When dealing with the weather on a daily basis, one quickly learns that what is considered "average" actually seems to be the exception rather than the rule.  For example, in looking at rainfall for the six month period of April-September this year, things were hardly typical:
  • April and May total 4.75" 
  • June and July total 23.25" 
  • August and September total 4.95"
How do these numbers compare to average?  The excessive rainfall of June and July was almost 300% of normal.  However, these two months were bookended by April and May at only 65% of average, and August and September at 68% of average precipitation. 

Similar to the peaks and valleys in rainfall, so too the temperatures rarely seem to be average.  Some unseasonably cool days in September were quickly followed by a full week of highs in the 80's in the beginning of October.  How does this affect things?

While temperature swings in the fall may not seem like a big deal, it does once again have an impact on the maintenance operation by forcing us to redirect labor from one activity to another.  And at a time when we have already significantly reduced our staff size from the summertime high, the need for just an extra fairway mowing (which takes 24 man hours) makes a big difference.

Yet, there is no choice but to go with the flow when Mother Nature is calling the shots. This may mean adjusting labor priorities from hand watering one day, to pushing sand and pumping bunkers the next.  The key is not to stress over what we can't control, and try to take it all in stride.

Often times our memories of the weather last as long as remembering what we ate for dinner the night before.  So, a few years from now, we may think back to 2013, and remember it as just an "average" weather year.
Mowing in the rain is not ideal for the turf or equipment operator, but sometimes it has to be done.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Say Hello to Joe

October is a great month for grass growing.  With moderate daytime temperatures, cool nights, and timely rainfall, we can really push the turf, and provide some of the best conditions of the year on the course.  However, somebody forgot to tell Mother Nature that fall is here, and we're now experiencing temperatures well above average--what many are referring to as "Augtober." 

We've also gone two weeks without any rain, leading to some of the driest conditions we've seen all year.  Irrigation systems in this part of the country were designed to supplement rainfall, not replace it.  So during periods of no precipitation, we do a lot of hand watering to makeup for any deficiencies in our sprinkler coverage.

Hand watering may not sound like a difficult job, but when performed properly, it is something of an art form.  And there is nobody better at hand watering than one of our longtime employees, Joe Honnig.  With over 20 years of experience at Laurel Creek, Joe probably knows what spots will dry out first without even checking.  However, he goes out every day equipped with an array of tools to make sure the job gets done efficiently.
The water wagon is ready for action.

What do you need besides a hose when watering?  Well, here is some of the equipment that Joe has on his cart:
  • A traditional soil probe and an electronic moisture meter
  • An electric hose reel so he can quickly wind up the 125' of 1" hose
  • Different nozzles to use for hand watering and syringing turf
  • Quick disconnect adapters for hooking into snap valves and sprinklers
  • A screw gun for quickly disassembling sprinklers
  • A wetting agent injection system that allows him to meter how much wetting agent is applied
One of the more difficult aspects of Joe's job (besides dragging a hose with a 120 psi of water pressure) is the need to work on greens, and try to avoid interfering with play.  If Joe is working on an area, he's definitely there to prevent turf problems.  So, please allow him to finish-up, and if you have the chance, say hello to Joe.
Joe, checking soil moisture.