Sunday, January 29, 2017

When You Need Eyes in the Back of Your Head

Prior to making any spray application on the golf course, the equipment is thoroughly inspected to be sure it is functioning correctly.  This includes checking the rate on the sprayer's controller, as well as a visual inspection of the nozzles' spray pattern.  In addition, as the spray tech is operating the sprayer, they are watching the nozzles--that is, the nozzles they can actually see.

While the nozzles on the left and right booms are easily checked from the operator's seat, the rear, middle boom is not (even if you had eyes in the back of your head).  So, while a sprayer may be performing well when initially tested at the maintenance facility, over the course of spraying out 300 gallons, things can go wrong.  This includes a hose leaking, a broken nozzle body, or a clogged nozzle.  Obviously any of these can cause an area to receive too much, or too little of the product being applied.
An unseen nozzle issue caused a misapplication on #6 fairway.

In order to improve the view of the center boom, we've tried some things in the past, such as installing mirrors, without much success.  This time we went in a different direction, and backed into  the solution:  For $33 on Amazon, we found a nice backup camera and monitor.
The camera was mounted to a bracket on the back of the sprayer.  

If you're wondering what the little yellow flags above the camera are for, it's another proactive step in keeping everyone safe in the workplace.  There was concern that someone might accidentally walk into the camera's mounting bracket when the machine is parked in the building--the flags act like mini safety cones.
The view from the driver's seat.

A close-up of the screen with the three rear nozzles visible.

While there may always be some fires to put out in any operation, we are hopeful that the addition of this camera will be another good step towards fire prevention.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Rarely does a season pass by when we don't find ourselves taking on a new and challenging project.  Most recently, the Clubhouse renovation and expansion means that the irrigation controller located outside the Pro Shop needed to be relocated.

While this may not sound like a big deal, when you consider how many wires merge at this box, getting everything to a new location took some planning.  The wiring includes 32 zone control wires from all over the Clubhouse grounds, a common wire, a 120 volt power supply wire, and a communication cable which comes from the golf course maintenance building.

When it comes time to relocate an irrigation controller, one option is to unbolt the box, frame and pour a pad of concrete at the new location.  Of course, there is another option--carefully dig up the whole thing and move it.

Irrigation wires weren't the only pieces of infrastructure exiting the Clubhouse on the side.  A fiber optic cable which runs to the Cabana and golf course maintenance building, and the 480 volt fan power wires also needed to be moved.

Buster keeps an eye on things as conduit is installed behind the Clubhouse.

Just a few of the wires which will need to be relocated.
With a number of obstacles to cross (such as landscape lighting, irrigation pipes, and drain lines) almost all of the digging was done by hand.  Fortunately, the temperatures have been mild, and the sandy soil around the Clubhouse made for easy trenching.  The team did a great job in getting this project knocked out, so we'll be ready to go when spring comes.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The (Fantasy) Capital Equipment Budget

Thanks to sound long-term planning, we have been able to keep the Club's equipment fleet updated regularly, and take advantage of new, emerging technology in golf course management.

However, we now find that there are a few key pieces of "turf management" equipment which we have yet to acquire.  These would clearly be an invaluable asset to the golf course operation, as the uses are practically limitless.

For example, it's a safe bet that geese aren't going to just paddle away from the Gibbs Biski Amphibious Motorcycle.  You drive in the water, and right back out.

Then there's Bubba's Hovercraft.  You may just think of this as a replacement for a golf cart, but when there's work to be done on the course, and it's too wet (or there's too much snow) to be driving utility vehicles, how do you get on site?  You use a hovercraft, of course.

Lastly, there are times when we need to get from one part of the golf course to another in a hurry.   This could be an irrigation issue, a hydraulic leak, or a medical emergency--there's no time to waste.  How do we do this?  A drone isn't going to get you there.  You need a jetpack!

With Bubba's Jetpack, we can monitor course conditions, keep an eye on pace of play, and make sure team members are accomplishing their tasks.

As you can see, there are plenty of toys...uh, critical pieces of equipment we are lacking--and likely will be for a long time...

Sunday, January 8, 2017


In the winter, we spend a good bit of time pruning, both on the course and off.  Bagworms caused extensive damage throughout our region in 2016, and some of the Arborvitae surrounding the tennis courts got nicked up.
Don uses a 12' ladder and pole pruner to cleanup the hedge.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Cautious with Carts

If it seems that we are more conservative with allowing carts in the winter than in the spring, summer, or fall, it is not your imagination.  This time of year, we definitely must take a more cautious approach with cart traffic than during the rest of the year.  Why is this necessary?  In large part it comes down to three things: moisture, temperature and recovery.

In contrast to other times of the year, evaporation is much less in the winter.  Thus, once soils become wet, they tend to stay that way for a much longer period of time.  Not only do we have less water leaving the soil upward, but often times it is also unable to move down.

When the ground freezes beneath the surface, this lower layer will be the last to thaw.  So as things begin to melt, the water near the surface is unable to percolate through the frozen layer beneath.  This can result in some very soggy conditions on the surface.

The freeze-thaw cycle can also lead to another potential problem for the plant.  When the thawing surface has a bit of give or movement to it, but the frozen roots beneath do not, traffic can cause root shear.
Cart path ends and other "pinch points" can quickly turn to mud with winter cart traffic.

As mentioned above, the other part of the equation is turf recovery (or lack thereof).  Once we see any damage from cart traffic now, we'll likely be looking at it for quite some time--perhaps for months, as the turf isn't actively growing.  The damage may start to snowball as an area that gets traffic and squishes up a bit of mud once, will start to lose its structure and be much more likely to incur further damage next time.

Of course we certainly enjoy seeing some hardy souls on the course during the cold winter months, and will allow cart use whenever possible, as we keep the long-term condition of the golf course in mind.