Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tee aeration and mowing

Our cool season tees being deep tine aerified on Thursday 3-27-09. The cool season signifies that the turf is at its full strength during the cooler seasons of the year. Varieties include bluegrass, poa, rye and bentgrass. The tees that were included in this work were on holes #1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 11, and 17. Russ is operating the equipment and Harry is checking out the plug drag which is on the back of the unit. We are going about 3-4" in depth and pulled a core like the greens. We will do a solid tine aerification on these tees in the next month or so at a 4-6" depth. The zoysia tees will be aerified when they are more actively growing in May, June and July.

The picture above demonstrates the plug drag in action. The tee is aerified and as the machine moves across the tee, the plugs are pulled along behind the machine by the attached drag. Once the tee is completed, the plugs aer scooped up with shovels at the end of the tee and are hauled away. We placed most of this material in ruts and washouts in various areas of the course.

The tees were then sanded with about 1/3 as much sand as we placed on the greens. We utilized the brush mechanism on the back of the topdresser which allowed us to place a narrow band of sand on the tee surface. The spinning type mechanism would have thrown the sand off of the tees which are more narrow in width. We are attempting to get sand onto and into the tees
for the following reasons:

  • Keep the surface of tee slightly drier which helps with playability, mowing and potential disease reduction.
  • Reduce earthworm castings.(Earthworms do not like the abrasive nature of the sand we use. They will moved to a more friendly site)
  • Easier to place tee into the ground in and sandy soil then just soil.

Tees need to have sand added to them on a regular basis to assist in the overall health of the turf. Once they were sanded, a metal drag was pulled onto them by a cart which helped to break up some of the remaining plugs and move the sand down into the profile of the turf. The tees were mowed and then fertilized with a 1/2" of Nitrogen in which 75% was of a poly coated material that will last about 8 weeks. Additional amounts of fertilizer will be applied every month to help with turf health and recovery from play.

Skip on the rough mower Thursday out ahead of the spray rig which was being operated by Mike. The rough is beginning to grow and I wanted to clean the close in areas up for a pre-emergent and weed killer spray which Mike was putting out in the rough. The pre-emergent will help prevent crabgrass and goosegrass and the weed killer will kill broad leaf weeds such as knotweed, dandelions and other less desirable species.

Greenhouse Completion and Babies Growing

Well, I'm typing this very early on Sunday morning. Winter has descended upon STL again. I looked at my alarm this morning and it was flashing so when I looked outside and saw the heavy snow, I just wanted to make sure that all was well with my newly planted 5500 baby plants growing in our greenhouse. Here is a rundown of how our plants and greenhouse are coming along.

Plants are placed in either 1801's on the left(18 individual 3" pots) or 606's (6 plants per section with 6 sections per tray-36 plants per tray)

That is a 450 tray on the left of Red Salvia.(450 red salvia plants in one tray) I normally do not grow material from this size but I was late in the process this season of ordering in our material. The price is less to purchase large quantities of material but of course you have a bit more growing to do with smaller sized plants. Those plants are rather difficult to get out of their holder without damaging them so I took a punch from Harry and pushed the plants out of their holder. You would then simply form a hole with your finger and press the plants into place. They would be lightly watered and would be put on pallets in the shop for a few days until our house was completed.

Above are some of the early plants which were potted and freshly watered.

A few days after our plants came in, here they are lined up on pallets on our shop floor waiting for the completion of the greenhouse. You can see our work station to the left. Table which is where we planted the material. Bales of potting material and boxes of trays and containers.

A view from the doorway of the greenhouse where you can see the three rows of plant material growing. Our tables are pretty full as you can see. We have 3 more plant varieties coming in which are going to be utilized for some of our planting urns. We have some large quantities of some standard annuals such as celosia, impatiens, blue and red salvia, ageratum and melapodium in which some will be utilized on property but will be available for sale. Sweet potatoe vines of both colors, shrimp plant, mexican petunia, angle wing begonia, pentas, large copper plant, sun coleus, mexican heather, angelonia, persian shield, silver shield plectranthus, supertunia, calibrachoa, and bacopa which should look great on property this season and will be available for sale.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Greens Aeration

Our greens were aerfied with the Verti-drain deep tined aerifier. We used a 1/2" coring tine(pulled plug of soil and sand out of the green) set to a depth of 6" which is about 2-3" deeper than a normal walking aerator is able to pull a core. This depth insured that we were able to get down into the soil layer of the greens which varies from 3-5" deep from green to green.

Russ is operating the aerifier with our large Kubota Tractor. We operate in the lowest gear at the slowest speed so we can get closer spacing between holes. We are in the area of a 3" spacing between holes.

The rear view of the operation.

The completed practice green covered in sand, soil and cores.

Harry(our mechanic) and Assistant Skip operating the core harvester. The small plows direct the cores and sand into the shoot which lifts and shoots the material into the bed of the 3 wheeled truckster. Depending upon the size of the green, the bed of the cart usually fills completely and it is then dumped in an out of the way area on the property to help speed up the operation.

Assistant Skip is spreading the material out in the back of the cushman as it comes out of the machine.

This is the view from behind the core harvesting operation.

Here is the view after the harvesting operation was completed. My camera case is about 4" long so you can see that we are around 3" between rows and about 2" between each tine.

I did not get a picture of our topdressing work in which Assistant Mike was performing the work for the day. This was completed using our standard topdresser. We decided to use the spinners design which throws sand out a few feet on either side of the machine. This helps with reducing traffic on the soft greens. A normal green would take 4-5 passes of the machine to get enough sand on the green. He would usually have to refill his hopper before covering the complete green surface. We used approximately 40 tons of sand material on our greens. Just before the sanding operation, we placed a micro-nutrient product onto the greens with a broadcast spreader at the rate of 25#'s per thousand square feet. It is important for this material to get into the profile of the green where it provides assistance to the turf as it grows.

When the topdressing is complete, we then blow the sand back and forth across the green to fill the holes as full as possible. There are a couple of greens that need some supplemental hole filling in the next few days. We try to fill the holes with sand so that we can incorporate a larger particle sized sand into the subsurface of the green to assist in oxygen exchange, root growth and drainage.

The sand material that was used routinely in St. Louis for years was a fine sand which would make for some pretty smooth greens but was less than desirable in the above mentioned areas. I have a great picture below which will show what we are attempting to do in our green profile.

Once the sand was blown into as many holes as possible, we would then bring a drag brush out and would go circles around the green help in dispering more sand. Once that process was completed, we would then mow the green without baskets because the green mower would pick up more sand than grass. This could negatively affect the operation of the mowing unit and could lead to potential scalping because of the weight of the sand. The operator would need a mask and definetly would need protective eye wear.

This view is looking down into a normal sized golf hole without the hole cup being in place.
You can see the sand layer going down into the profile about 3-4". Below the sand layer is a transitional line between the lighter colored sand and the darker soil layer. Within that soil layer, there are veins of sand which going down into that profile all the way to the bottom of the hole. This is our goal during the aeration process. We are attempting to place as much sandy material into that area as possible. The deepest veins are ususally completed with the verti-drain and our solid tine operation

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tee Renovation

A great deal progress has been made this past week with our tee renovation work.

Our laser level contractor was able to come out on Monday afternoon till and laser both tees on #10 and the 7th blue tee in a couple of hours.
Before his work began, the guys had to remove the sod from 7 tee and do some additional work in preparation for the leveling operation.
As you can see, the sod was removed and laid off to the side of the tee. Tom is cleaning some edges and Jason is using our lightweight tiller to break up the surface. Lady is doing her usual job of supervision.

Jason continuing to till and Tom clearing out an edge for the sod.

Yes, Jason is still tilling. A small unit and three shots taken pretty close to one another. We formed a straight line down the right side of the tee to help staff with tee placement and we cut out a couple of more yards of turf to give a far right tee placement. We will have to prune a couple of limbs off of the oak in the right foreground.

Tom is clearing out the entrance to the tee. He is trying to soften the entrance to make it easier to enter the tee and help the sod survive the foot traffic. There is a large amount of water that comes from the yard behind the tee which runs down the walk path creating ruts and washes our mulch down the hill. We need to install a drain before the tee opens to help reduce the amount of water that is on the surface causing this damage.

The guys located a quick coupler which had been overgrown with zoysia/bermuda in the foreground which we can hook up a hose to help with any localized dry areas on the tee. The sprinkler head in the background is used to water the tee below but is not level. The staff dug up the head and leveled it. This should help provide better coverage on the tee and help reduce the amount of water that had been landing on the rear section of the 7th white tee.

Schaeffer Meyer personnel using a tractor roto-tiller to loosen the top surface of the tee before leveling.

Another view of the tilling unit at work.

The picture above shows the laser leveling operation in action. The right side of the picture is the tri-pod holding the two plane leveling unit. Jerry Meyer sets the percentage slope from side to side and forward to backward. This is usually set at about 1%. For example; A 1% fall in a 100' tee would be 1'. This tee is only 25' square so the slope is only 2.5". Normally tees are leveled front to back and usually away from the walk on and off area so members are not walking through the area where the tee is draining. This tee was set to drain to the left and sloped slightly from back to front. Golf course architecture suggests that tees built on a downhill slope should be built with a slight downhill grade.

There are 5 pieces of equipment involved in the laser operation. The laser on the tri-pod which sends out the signal. A receiver that attaches on a pole to the box blade. This receiver has an up and down arrow and a even line which tells the operator sitting on the tractor how close to grade the tee is becoming as he moves around the surface. There is a unit sitting by the operator which allows for manual overriding of the system and an electrical sensor unit that attaches to the tractor's hydraulic system. This unit raises and lowers the box blade based upon the information that Jerry placed in the laser unit. As the tractor continues to go around in circles, the box blade unit will continue to cut and fill until the surface has met the percentages in slope that have been requested.

The leveling box blade in action.

Jerry is beginning to do his work on the 7th tee box.

Mike and Jason running wire to the newly trenched head at the front corner of #10 white tee. The head was originally two foot higher at the front left corner of the tie wall.

Lady is in charge again. Now some might say is that all she does. She can't lay sod so I guess in the end that is all she does when we are stopped at a project. The last few days, she has taken some side trips down to the lakes to chase a few noisy geese. Tom, Jason and Russell laying the zoysia on the new forward #10 blue tee. I'm sorry for not having finished pictures of the laser leveled tee. I thought I had taken some but must have gotten out of sequence with all the work that was taking place.

A view at the new tee in front of the existing #10 blue tee. The sod on the surround of the tee is fescue that is just coming out of dormancy. It is grown out in the O'Fallon, Missouri area which has had more frost and cooler temperatures than Glen Echo at this time of year.

Looking from above the same tee.
We still have some sod to lay on the both the tee surface and the surround to the #10 white tee.
I hope to have pictures of the 7th and 10th white tee in the next few days.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Greenhouse construction

It has been a few days since I have made a post to this blog. Nice weather and some management responsibilities has occupied a large portion of my time.

The middle of this past week the weather turned cold and greenhouse work began again.

Assistant Mike Walerius and Russell Klevorn attaching the poly liner to the structure. The 6 mil poly is attached to the framing by what is called wiggle wire.

The wiggle wire consists of a metal channel and the curved wire that you see inside the channel.
The poly is held in place by the wire. Our greenhouse will have two layers of poly. The poly will be inflated by a small fan that creates an air bubble between the two layers. The air bubble helps to reduce heat loss at night which reduces heating costs and keeps our plants healthy.

Mike and Russell are attaching the liner and Assistant Skip Fierro(driving elevated Daihatsu) is watching their efforts.

Lady is supervising rather calmly today. She is well impressed by the staff's efforts.

Skip, Mike and Russell making the benches where our plant flats will sit. The 2 x 4's are covered with wire which is pictured below. The wire will allow the plants to drain freely. Freely available oxygen, readily available sunlight, and water equal great root growth. That sounds like what I talk about when it comes to our greens. Same concept goes for all healthy plants.

Mike is framing door and fan end of the house. The completed benches are in the background.

The door leading into the greenhouse. The two squares at the top corners of the door will hold Two 20" variable speed fans to help pull air through the greenhouse.
We have 3-36" ventilators which will open automatically based on the temperature in the greenhouse. A 12" ventilator in the very peak of the house is there to provide very limited air flow during the late winter when small decreases in temperature are needed. If the large ventilators came open, there would be too much cold air flow going over our plants. Our fans will operate at two speeds. During less temperate days, a single fan will be set at a low speed. On warmer days once the temperature reaches the next set level, the 3 large ventilators will open allowing additional air supply to enter the house. As the house continues to increase in temperature, the thermostats will sense this and place the fans in high speed. As the temperature begins to modify, the process will work in reverse so the temperature does not get too cold. The two thermostats will work independantly of one another. We would like to keep the greenhouse in the mid-70 range as much as possible to help our plants keep a steady growth pattern.

New babies have arrived at Glen Echo. Well, new baby plants. The flat of plugs on the left are Super Elfin Impatiens. There are 510 plants which we will be growing to their maturity. The flat of impatiens basic cost is $ 21.00, excluding shipping, pots and soil. Wholesale mature plants come in trays of 36 at $ 10-11 a flat.

The plant to the left is an ornamental pepper which is in a tray of 128 plugs. It is probably 3 times the size of the impatien. $ 37.00 for this flat, .29 cents a piece. These plants are grown usually in 3-4" pots by wholesales companies who ask $ 2.20-2.30 a plant.

I think our greenhouse will be a great asset for our operation. Once it is up and running and fully operational, I will alert you in an email blast and you will be more than welcome to come down and visit our growing house.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

GCSAA Conference/Show and Habitat for Humanity

Each year, the GCSAA(Golf Course Superintendent Association of America) has a yearly conference and show. This past February the event was held in New Orleans. The conference involves many educational sessions and a trade show that covers over 6 acres of convention center space. The show has been a great resource for me over the years in expanding my knowledge of turfgrass and the equipment that we use on the course. It also provides an excellent opportunity to network with old friends and exchange ideas about our experiences from the past season and plans for the future.

I am a member of Turfnet, which is a golf Industry media information company that provides various services for superintendents including a web board to post questions and answers, used equipment sales, job posting service, video magazines, and web casts of timely turf education. Our group over the years has also raised funds for children's homes, superintendents with serious medical issues, educational expenses paid for some financial troubled individuals and others who have been in need.

A year before our conference in New Orleans, I suggested that our group volunteer for a work day or two with Habitat for Humanity and give back to the city we have enjoyed visiting.

Well, ownership agreed that it was a good idea and I volunteered to get the ball rolling and do some initial research. I contacted Habitat and signed our group up and gathered the information from Habitat's website which explained their requirements. I also did some cheer leading on the webiste to encourage members to volunteer. Turfnet found sponsors to pay costs for the two days of work and also did the administrative work needed from an organizational standpoint. I was our van driver, coordinator for food delivery, and bottled water delivery boy for our two days of work.

Turfnet did some video work at our first day of work and I was given the opportunity to explain the work that took place. We had about 22 people over 2 days work at four different houses doing a number of tasks in the upper 9th ward of the city. Duties included, installing fence, building steps, spreading sand on front yard areas in preparation for sodding, sanding walls on the inside of the house and installing bathroom fixtures and general clean up of work sites.

We had great weather and I was able to meet people from all over the country who volunteered for the work. Our national association including the National Golf Course Builders Association and Club Managers Association also volunteered for a couple of days of work with over 100 people working at their project.

This was a part of our day 2 volunteer group.

I have attached a link from Turfnet which has my interview and more information regarding the work we were able to do in New Orleans. Lets just hope my grass growing skills are better than my interviewing skills.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Greenhouse Construction

Wow, has it been cold the last few days. The crew has begun construction of our greenhouse here at Glen Echo CC. This will be a valuable tool for us to utilize over the years to come in an attempt to reduce costs in our operation and provide the club with very attractive plant material for our landscape beds. Chef Rob also is visualizing how he can potentially utilize the house to grow some unusual varieties of vegetables and sprouts.

A blank wall before we start the construction of the greenhouse. I decided to do a Quonset hut or lean-to style greenhouse for a number of reasons.

The aluminum arch material we are using came from an old greenhouse from the 70's that my father had torn down at one time for a landscape business he started. I know he would be happy that I was able to use this material.

A hard surface for the floor of the greenhouse to help keep it clean.

One less wall which will reduce heating and construction costs.

Electric, water and heat source from the building for easy installation and use.

South and east facing for early morning sun. Would have been best for south and west but you have to take what you get. We did not have another site to chose.

Skip and Russell Klevorn are hammer drilling into the block wall to attach the header board to the wall.

Lady is inspecting the guys work. The drilling into the block wall took a lot of time. The beginning of our arches which will hold the poly material in place. The arches were not quite long enough to give us an 18' wide house like we wanted so the guys came up with an idea to get some metal tubing and slide the arches into the tube where we would bolt the arch to the tube and extend our length. The guys used 3' on the wall side and about 2' on the road side.

We have everyone working on this project. Our mechanic, Harry White is welding brackets on the metal tubes so we can bolt the arches to the treated wood base. The welding was fairly simple for the building side, he basically made them perpendicular to the tubing but on the road side he had to weld each bracket at a different angel because our site was sloping in different directions as we went down the line.

Skip and Russell are attaching the tubing into the header board and then drilling through the tube to keep the aluminum frame in place.

Skip and Russell are attaching the wiggle wire tracks to the end of the greenhouse. This is what is used to hold the plastic in place. The tracks have to be placed along the complete edge of the width and length of the greenhouse. We intend to inflate the main area of the greenhouse with a small fan that constantly blows air and keeps it inflated. This provides a layer of warm air which helps with insulation and heat loss. We have to then put a second set of tracks around the end of the house which will hold a single layer of plastic. We will be installing fans out of one end and a ventilation openings at the other end to help cool the greenhouse during the heat of the day this spring. We installed some 2x4 bracing down the length of the greenhouse to give some strength to the arches.

Mike is beginning to work on framing in the ends which will house the ventilation and Russell and Skip continue to install the tracks to hold the poly in place.

Our guys are doing a great job in the construction of our greenhouse. We have a few more days of work to go but with the warm weather predicted for Thursday/Friday, we will be on the course getting things ready for you to come out and enjoy a round of golf. We will be completing our work next week as our work schedule allows. Plants will be arriving the middle of March so we have a deadline to get it completed.