Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Add-on wood burning stove update

Our first Laclede Gas bill is in for the mid-November/mid-December period. We've saved around $ 600 from the past few years average to this years bill for the same period. Wood burner was only operational from around December 3rd.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wood burning add-on furnace for maintenance building

With over 1,000 trees covering the playing area of our golf course and a few hundred more around the perimeter of the driving range, there will be an abundance of wood from trees that are removed each season. With this supply of wood, it only makes sense to utilize this resource for a potential heat source and not to send it off property and pay for the dumpster.

We have a large Dayton heater with dual forced air blowers which uses natural gas to heat the equipment garage area of our maintenance building. We also have a smaller forced air gas heater for our small office, break room, restroom and chemical storage area. The main mechanic shop area has a smaller single fan gas heater as well.

We purchased a 115,000 BTU add-on wood burning furnace to heat our main shop area.

Link to the company where we purchased the unit with specifications.


Picture of unit in place in the shop.

We placed the add-on heating unit in a central location of the equipment storage area along the back wall. We ran 2 flexible 8" heat ducts to a couple of different sections of the building to assist in moving the heat to where it is needed. We are able to keep the area in the 55-60 degree range which is fine for our shop area. We have about $ 1,800 in the unit and the duct work. The unit will pay for itself this winter and we should see some additional savings of $1-2,000 this season. Our heat bill runs approximately $4.5-5,000 a season for the entire maintenance facility.

The picture below shows the 8" flexible duct pipe that we ran through the rafters to help distribute the heat to other sections of the building.

We placed a 6 mil piece of plastic across the entire shop area to reduce the amount of area that we want to heat on a regular basis. The area in the back does retain some temperature so it is warmer than the outside and does reduce wear and tear of our batteries on the equipment that is stored in this section of the shop. We can also pull the liner back to allow eat to enter this area when the crew is forced inside due to extreme weather conditions. The equipment that we use in the winter is stored in the back as well which will reduce heat loss when we open doors to go out and complete our work for the day.

Plastic liner(background) between the heated area and reduced heat section of the shop.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Final cleanup of this past year's tree removal

There were a couple of large trees that fell this season and a few others were removed on the course which did not leaf out from last winter. Some were placed in our dump area, hauled away in our dumpster or were stored in our maintenance yard to split during the winter. The past 5-8 working days, the staff have been sawing, moving and splitting this wood to cleanup the area in preparation for this seasons TMP. Some of this wood will be utilized in our wood burning furnace which will allow us to reduce the expense of natural gas which is used to heat the main garage area of our maintenance facility. I will post pictures tomorrow of our new heat source. After purchasing the furnace and duct work to distribute the forced air heat, we hope to realize a savings of $ 1-2,000 this season. In future seasons, we expect to save about 60-80% of our annual $ 4.5-5,000 natural gas bill. We have a small gas forced air heater for our break room/office area and another gas heater which supplies heat to our main equipment repair room.

Russell and Tom moving some wood to our splitting area.
Asst. Skip and Jason splitting wood. The remaing logs for splitting are in the right foreground.The newly split wood is in a pile in the foreground and the 4 rows in the middle to left side of the picture. Ash, maple, locust and some oak pieces make up this area. Our oak section is in the background against fence.

Dormant Fertilzer on greens

For those of you who have played the last week or two, you might have noticed some white specks of product on our putting greens. Its a greens grade fertilizer with IBDU slow release fertilizer technology. It is one of the standard products used to put greens to bed in the winter. The release mechanism for this fertilizer is water which is abundant in the late fall and winter in our part of the country. As our greens freeze and thaw during the winter, this material will breakdown and will migrate into the thatch/mat layer of our greens. Some material could move into our soil layer which is 3-5" below the green surface and will be held by the soil. As the soil temperatures begin to increase in late winter and early spring, the material will become available to the plant. Our turf will green up quicker from this late season application and will assist the plants in recovery from our early season aeration program we utilize in March.

Practice green with fertilizer

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter and education

We attempt to stay informed about turfgrass, equipment and or management issues on a regular basis throughout the year. Below are a list of some of ways we try to stay informed:

  • Trade publications
  • Web boards which turf professionals post questions and answers to many issues of the day.
  • Discussions with vendors and or technical sales representatives who come by our facility from time to time.
  • Monthly outings during the golf season held at various types of clubs throughout our area in which assistants Mike, Skip and I attend on a rotating basis. There are opportunities before, during and after the round to discuss ideas and thoughts with the other members of our foursome and or the superintendent at the facility we played. Last season, we attended events at Old Warson CC, Crystal Springs Quarry, Crown Point, and Spencer T. Olin. I also went to Lake Forest Country Club for an equipment demo and St. Louis Country Club with our Master Plan architect. Assistant Mike went to Spencer T. Olin and the Falls Golf Club and did interviews with Superintendents to write profile articles for our local supt. association publication. I also attend the USGA Women's Amateur at Old Warson CC and the USGA Team Championship at St. Albans CC. You always want to support a local supt and their staff's who are hosting the event but you never know when you might see something at the facility that would be something you would like to put in place at your own facility.
  • Phone calls to other superintendents in our area regarding products or procedures that they have found successful or that have been failures.
  • Demos of equipment which we use for a few days to stay informed regarding the newest technology and help us to make the best decisions regarding future equipment purchasing.
  • Attendance at local, regional and national conferences and trade shows.

Winter is the time of year that allows us a chance to do the most research, reading, and attending events to improve our knowledge and keep updated on the most recent trends in the industry.

Below are a couple of links regarding a couple of local/regional turf conferences we attended in the last couple of weeks.

The Missouri Turf and Ornamental Council(MVTA) which I was a member of and a past president of a few years ago had presentations on December 8th in which assistants Mike, Skip and I attended in St. Charles. Good presentations from Phd's representing University of Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming, and SIUC. I also slid into a couple of the ornamental presentations to gain some additional knowledge in the horticulture part of our job. Below is a link to the brochure for the event.


I made a quick whirlwind trip to Kansas City yesterday(16th) to attend one day of the Heartland Green Industry Expo which is sponsored by the Heart of America Golf Course Supt Association and the Green Industry Council in Kansas City. Disease management on zoysia was a key topic from Asst. Prof. of pathology Megan Keenely from KSU. One of our brightest and best superintendents in the country, Mr David Stone from the Honors Club in Chatanooga made a two hour presentation regarding zoysia management. Interesting information and a fine gentleman. Through his discussion yesterday and trials data from North Carolina State University, we will be testing Fusilade II in our bermuda eradication program this next year. It is a less expensive product than the Acclaim that we have been using and shows excellent results. I understand we had some turf damage with the original Fusilade a few years ago but that was caused by an error in application rate by a contractor that provided the service. We will trial a couple of places to insure that it is safe before we proceed full scale with the product.

There was also great information provided by the USGA in their afternoon presentation. Topics of discussion included equipment testing,(which I will blog about in the future) hole placement and location, and year in review from Ty McClellan who is the Mid-Continent regional agronomist and visited our course last June. Some good tips on hole location which from time to time has created an issue for probably every greens keeper in the world. A link to the brochure for the event below.


In February, I will be attending the GCSAA(Golf Course Superintendent's of America Association) annual conference and show. Great opportunity to gain some additional knowledge and check out the trade show floor which has between 250-300k square feet of exhibition space.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Irrigation Blow Out

Our irrigation system was blown out yesterday. We rent a large compressor which is rated at 750 cubic feet per minute which is the volume of air the machine is able to push through the system. We set the pressure to around 50 psi which reduces the amount of stress on our irrigation system. Our water pressure during the year is kept at 130 psi. Air pressure set too high could damage heads and pipe.

Air compressor
Once the machine is started and begins pushing air through the system, drain lines are opened to our lakes until air blows out through the pipe. Once the drains are closed, the staff turn on heads using our irrigation control boxes which are located on about every other hole. Each box controls one specific set of heads. Directly above the red wires are small toggle switches which are turned on until air begins to come out of the head.
Irrigation Controller

Irrigation head evacuating water.
In the final picture below, Lady Bug is challenging the head to a dual. Once air comes out of the head, the head is turned off and the next head is then activated.

Head blowing air and Lady having some fun

Monday, November 30, 2009

Guide for selecting and planting trees from USGA

Last week, I posted information regarding our Tree Management Program (TMP) at Glen Echo CC. I just received in the mail the bi-monthly USGA Green Section Record which has a nice article regarding the selection and placement of trees on a golf course. The link for the article follows:


National golf industry magazine takes notice of blog

Our golf course maintenance blog has recently received notice in a national golf industry publication. Check out the story in the link below.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Tree Maintenance Program

Recently the Greens Committee asked me to review the Club’s Tree Maintenance Program. Just as a “refresher”, a TMP is designed to promote tree health and vigor, and ensure that their value will continue to grow. An effective maintenance program includes regular inspections and necessary follow-up care of mulching, fertilizing, and pruning and detecting problems and correcting them before they become damaging or fatal.

An essential part of a TMP is to identify trees that have insect and disease problems and develop a treatment plan. Further, a TMP identifies tree hazards where there is a risk of damage to persons or property. A treatment plan might include pruning, cabling and bracing, routine care and sometimes even removal.

During the early fall before the leaves changed color, I began to evaluate our TMP at Glen Echo. At the last Greens Committee Meeting, I made a power point presentation where I identified trees that were dead, diseased and dying, or were so structurally weak that they presented a risk hazard to our members, guests or our property. The Green Committee has authorized the removal of the dead and diseased trees. A majority of this work will be completed by our staff as course conditions allow us remove the tree. There are some trees that are located near roadways and power lines which might require outside contractors. We will grind all smaller limbs on property and utilize the mulch in our ornamental bed program. Larger logs will be placed in our holding area. Species that will burn in fireplaces will be saved for future use. Other species will be stored in the back of the driving range area. Some logs will be removed from property and hauled away. The tree pictured above is probably the largest tree on property that we intend to remove this year. It is located on the left of the cart path on hole #7 in the area between 5 tee and the main road. Please be assured that our Greens Committee is committed to the development of a tree replacement program. Of course, a new tree shouldn’t be planted just to infill a spot where a tree has been lost. It will take good planning to ensure that we choose the right species of tree, its placement doesn’t affect the beautiful vistas on our course and it will reach maturity without affecting adjacent trees. The choices we make today should be enjoyed for years to come at Glen Echo.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Update on Collar Nursery

Well, the cool wet weather of October did not help the seeding of our collar nursery. Rains washing away part of our seed and caused rutting in different areas of the seedbed. We've kept the green covered and have had some additional germination and growth. The nursery is sloped from from right to left as you can see which creates some moisture issues. Wet to the bottom and dry towards the top which has affected the germination of the higher end.
We continue to fertilize and push the growth to this nursery. Normally, we would have rolled and mowed a few times by now but with the slow growth we have experienced, we hope to roll the nursery in the next couple of weeks which will help to press the plants into the surface and will begin to smooth the surface. Some light topdressing will also help in this process as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Late fall rough fertilization

Its getting late in the season but still plenty of time for some fall fertilization. We are slightly later in our application this season than I would like but the rains over the last few weeks has forced us to change our plans somewhat. Its also difficult to place fertilizer on the ground when you are blowing leaves which could move the fertilizer away from the intended areas where it should stay. I would like to put some fertilizer down in September but I do not want to encourage and strengthen our bermuda grass that is in our rough. As you are aware, we are treating our bermuda in our close rough with our herbicide treatment. As we are able to remove the bermuda from some rough areas, we will then begin to fertilize a partial amount in late summer/early fall and then the rest in late fall. The early fall application does assist the cool season turf from summer damage. Its not the optimum time to apply but it does give the damaged areas a chance to recover before winter.

We put down about 75% of our rough turf requirements in the fall in which part of the material is quick release. The quick release portion is of the fertilizer will be used to provide just a very slight growth in the leaves of the plants but will mostly be used by the plant in storage and root growth before winter arrives. The remaining material is slow release which will be available to the turf next spring as it comes out of winter dormancy and begins to grow. The stored materials as well as the slow release material will provide energy throughout the spring. At the beginning of summer in June,
we will then apply a smaller amount of fertilizer for the summer months to help the turf to fight off and suppress disease and to strengthen the plants for the stress of summer.

Below you can see assistant Mike applying our fertilizer in our main rough with our Lely spreader. Some areas around greens, tees, and narrow fairway areas require walk spreading which we have completed over the last week or two.

Link to a nice article on late season fall fertilization from now retired Dr. Paul Rieke from Michigan State University.


Tulip Time

The guys are installing some tulips in the main entrance to the clubhouse and in the pro shop area. Pictures below include Asst. Skip and Russell using drill augers and Nick is placing the bulbs in the ground and covering them up. I will leave the colors a secret until they pop out next spring.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The making of leaf compost

With the large amount of leaves we have at the facility, it would only be logical for us to make something of value out of a couple of these piles of leaves. We had an opening in our storage bin area and decided to make some leaf compost for our ornamental beds.

The picture below is a pile of leaves that were dumped by our vacuum sweeper. In total, we placed about 3-4 piles of leaves in the bin.
The picture below shows the soil which is placed on the leaf material to help in breaking down the leaves to the final compost product. We also placed some of our flower bed material to add to the pile as well. Most composting is done without soil but I felt the soil would help to improve the nutrient holding capability of the compost once it is broken down.
Below is bag of fertilizer that we added to the compost to help heat up the material and break it down further. This is a greens grade style fertilizer that we would not normally use in this type of application but it was damaged in a flood that hit the facility during the summer.
Here is another view of the pile with sweet potato vine laying over the top of the leaves.
An interesting link to some frequently asked questions mowing of lawns, composting and mulch from Extension specialist Chris Starbuck from the University of Missouri.
We will pile up some leaves in our dump area which could utilized in the future as well.

More leaf work

Sometimes the large area blowers cannot get into the tight areas where leaves accumulate. The pictures below show the staff blowing the leaves away from wall along Lucas & Hunt road. Once the leaves are blown away from the wall, the tractor vacuum comes along and scoops them up.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Leaves, leaves and more leaves

During the fall, we attempt to do leaf removal work on a regular basis. The last two weeks of October which included well over 8-10" of rain prevented us from doing any leaf removal work because of the soft and wet conditions. We were able to do about 4 hours of work on October 29th before the deluge started again. This past week, we have been working non-stop to blow, grind and pick up the leaves that dropped during the wet spell and continue to chase leaves that continue to fall. We use our two large area rough mowers and our green surround mowers to grind up the leaves. There are two blower units that clear the fairways and rough or place the leaves in windrows for the mowers and sweeper to pick up leaves. We also use our large vacuum sweeper to pickup leaves as well.

Below is a picture of our sweeper as I was dumping our leaves in the back area of the range. The machine will grind up the leaves and blow them in the back of the unit. They dump into a compressed pile of leaves. We picked up multiple loads of leaves over the past two days which you can see in the next picture.

The remaining leaves on property are ground up by our mowing units and will become apart of the soil. The ground leaves will decompose in the top layer of the soil and will improve the overall health of the turf.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Irrigation repair in 10 fairway

A week ago Saturday, we had a major irrigation leak at the start of #10 fairway. The blow out created a hole about 3' deep and about 4' square in our fairway as you can see by the picture below.

Once we dug up the area, the guys had to break concrete from around the tee. The concrete is used as a thrust block which protects the pipes many tees and changes in direction from damage due to the pressure and speed of water that is running through our system. We believe possibly that the weight of the thrust block with the large amounts of rain in October possibly allowed the pipe to pull out of the ductile cast iron tee that you see in the trench.
We replaced the tee and repaired the situation. We will be back filling the hole as the dirt settles and will cover with sod once the hole has completely settled.

From the University of Florida extension service publication CIR1424, there is a good explanation of why thrust blocks are used.

Thrust Blocking
These forces include water under pressure in pipelines exerts thrust forces at tees, elbows, valves, and at any change in pipe size or direction. At times there may be sudden changes in pipeline grade, horizontal alignment of the pipe, or reduction in pipe size. These conditions result in axial thrust and require an anchor or thrust blocks to absorb any axial thrust of the pipeline. Thrust control may also be needed at the end of the pipeline and at in-line control valves. Thrust blocks and anchors must be large enough to withstand the forces that tend to move the pipe. These forces include momentum and pressure as well as forces due to expansion and contraction of pipe.

Tree down during storm

Before the trees began to lose their leaves, I've identified a number of trees which are weak structurally and could possibly pose a hazard to our members, guests and staff. One of the trees was an old white oak at the beginning of #1 fairway. The tree was in pretty serious decline above ground and was showing some weakness at the ground level as well.
Before we had the opportunity to remove this tree, the heavy rain we experienced for 10 days in late October brought the tree to the ground.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Fescue Sod around greens

We just replaced the intermediate zoysia/bermuda rough around greens #7, 11, 12 and 18.
The picture below is the big roll sod that we used to help speed up the process. There are less seams that need to heal and quicker laying and the material which allows staff to do other jobs. Jason is operating the tractor and Jose is pulling the plastic netting off of the sod as it is rolled out. We initially had to strip out the old sod and hand shoveled this material into the back of carts because of the soft conditions and narrow confines where we were working. A few weeks ago we were able remove the old sod using a tractor with box blade and the front loader and dump truck. A little more work this time.

The picture below is the left side of 12 green. We ran out of time to complete the right side. It will be completed in the next few days. The new work tied into the back of the green which was replaced this past spring.
The view below is from the back to the front along the left side of #11 green. We replaced four widths of sod along the green collar. This is next to the area of sod we replaced last spring. We also placed four strips of sod on the right side and back of the green as well. We do have some bermuda on the side hill and bank which we will begin to seed into and also do herbicide treatments to reduce the aggressiveness of the bermuda grass.
You will notice heads exposed with no sod on them next to a couple of the newly sodded areas. We will be digging these heads up in the next few days and raise the top of the head to the level of the new sod.
This is the walk off area of #7 green next to 8 tee box.
Standing in the same spot at the top of the walk off area on #7 but looking to the front of the green. We also replaced sod on the left side of the green as well to tie into the back of the green.
The right side of #18 green looking to the front. This work ties into the turf between #18 and PG sod which was placed last spring.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eastern White Pine

We have a number of Eastern White Pines on our property. Every fall, the White Pine will begin to lose its 2nd year needles. This is a natural occurrence that the trees experience every fall.
I have experienced at other facilities a needle drop during the spring which normally occurs because of some type of environmental stress that effects the growth of the tree and causes the needles to drop early. Disease, insects, and or large swings in temperature or moisture that occur from time to time create this phenomenon.

The needles at the tip of the branch are this years new growth.
For additional information on the Eastern White Pine, check out the link below.

Additional Verti-drain Deep tine aerating

There are other areas of our facility that we are utilizing our deep tined aerifier to help relieve compaction other than our greens. The walk off areas of our greens receive a great deal of traffic over the season from equipment and golfers. 4" deep hole will assist in water penetration and will help exchange oxygen into the turf root zone. We will also do a core aeration in the next month or so as weather allows.
We also used the machine to aerify our cool season tees to help them with water penetration over the winter as you can see below.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Collar nursery seeding

A few weeks ago, I posted some initial pictures and information regarding the collar nursery we are preparing in the area of the 16th tee and 2 fairway. Well, we finally got the nursery seeded today. A few weeks late but it should sprout in the next couple of weeks and begin to grow.
A few pictures to explain our process. Asst. Mike is spreading some fertilizer and micro nutrient products on the surface. He then mixed some organic fertilizer with our Cato/Crenshaw bentgrass seed and spread it 2 directions onto the surface of the sand. Did you know there are 7,000,000 seeds per pound? We seeded 6#s of seed on this nursery with over 42,000,000 seeds planted. Six pounds of seed would fit in a large coffee can to give you some sense of the size of this very small seed.
Skip then used our bunker rake machine to help press the seed into the surface of the sand.

This process is called dimpling of the sand which you can see below.
Once this process was complete, the area is covered by a turf blanket which allows for light, water and air to penetrate and will help hold in some heat for the seed to germinate. You will notice over the next 4-6 weeks that the blanket could be off during sunny days and will be placed back on at night to help hold soil temperatures up to keep the green growing for a bit longer this season.
Additional information on Cato/Crenshaw bentgrass can be found in the following link.

Fall greens aeration

Our greens were aerified on Monday, October 12th. We used our Verti-drain deep tined aerifier with a 1/2" solid tine going 7-8" deep and spaced about 3" a part.

The pictures below are of our verti-drain aerifier in operation. We start at the back of the green and go through the front collar and or bentgrass approach. The operator, in this case Russ will then back over the non-aerated section of green and will start another row.

Below is the back view of our aerator with 4 tines per holder and 6 arms.

This view is the aftermath of the aerating process. The pin below gives you an idea of the spacing that the aerator makes in the surface of a green.

Once we aerated, we would then roll the greens to smooth the aerated surface in case the machine would heave the turf. Skip is rolling the green with our vibratory rollers in the picture below.

We then used our spin topdressor to place a complete hopper of sand on each green. During the season, we would put one load of sand on about every 3-4 greens in our frequent and light program. It is necessary a couple of times of year to place heavy amounts of sand on greens to help smooth the surface, fill aeration holes and increase the percentage of sand in the turf profile to help dilute our turf mat. The turf mat or thatch includes the turf surface and an inch or two of the living and dying stems and roots of a plant. Sand being continually layered into this living and dying process will not only help turf conditions on the surface but improve the environment for our microbial population to flourish in the soil. Microbes that are healthy and happy will help to reduce thatch materials and will gather nutrients as they pass through this area. As the microbes digest these materials, the turfgrass root system will absorb the byproducts of the microbes feast and turn it into energy for health and welfare. Too much thatch leads to greens that are spongy during wet conditions, excessively ball mark, and will not be smooth or roll true. The excessive thatch will hold moisture and tie up nutrients and will not allow the water to drain quickly through the profile. Of course, old soil greens with only a few inches of sand help to slow the moisture leaving the turf area as well.
Once the green is topdressed, we would use our drag brush and would go at least 3 different directions(front to back, side to side and 45 degree) on the green to smooth the sand and help move it into the aeration holes. The dragging will also help work the sand around the turf which forces the turf to stand up which would then allow for a tighter mowing of our greens surfaces. Less leaf blades means less friction and better ball roll. Assistant Mike is doing our dragging in the picture below.Once the sand was moved around on the green with the brush, the green is mowed.
Jason is doing the honors below. You can see the cloud of dust and sand out in front of the machine as he moves along the turf surface. We could substitute a second roll for this process but this insures that any turf that has been pulled up in the process from the brushing is cut off.
The greens were then lightly fertilized and watered to help settle the sand and begin to activate the fertilizer.
Even with cooler than normal temperatures, I expect the greens to be back in good condition by next week. The heavy sanding requires that we mow the greens once they have dried late in the morning for the first few days after this process and we should be mowing greens in the morning by this weekend.