Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Irrigation issues...

 We continue to have irrigation issues with our Toro 855 sprinkler heads.  Over the past year or so, I have been seeing a lot of washout in the bunkers that are close to our sprinkler heads.  Before we start blaming the issues on the head itself, we need to identify other possible issues.  About 14 years ago, I replaced all the green side sprinkler heads with the Toro 855's.  Over many years the turf has grown up from our topdressing programs which in turn makes the head sink.  Our plan this fall and the 2021 spring is to go around to all 90 sprinkler heads and raise them up to grade.  We will also raise the quick coupler as well.  This process will allow for better uniform coverage on the turf.  If this does not help with our bunker washout, we will then look at the head.  Is the o ring worn out?  Which way is the water being shed when the sprinkler turns off.  

Not only are we having wash outs, the bottom rock screen is clogging up with material.  I have gone around every year to all the fairway and rough sprinkler heads and checked the bottom rock screen.  It usually takes me about 2-3 days to check all the heads.  I last did it this past May, we are now having problems again.  The problem is course wide but it really is only affecting our block stations and not as much around the greens (which is good I guess.)  I have spoken with many people regarding this issue and they have steered me in a few directions.  This winter I will try and get a diver in to check the bottom of our wet well to see if we have gravel/sand sitting at the bottom.  Also we will check to make sure we have a great seal from the surround earth around the wet well stake.  We will also check the wye strainer in the pump station.  Another possible source of the material is our ageing system.  Our main line is from 1972 and the laterals were installed in the late 80's.  There is a lot of abandoned pipe still in the ground hooked up to the current system.  Who knows how much metal pipe is in the ground.  Could the material be coming from the old cast iron pipe flaking off?  I have our Toro rep coming out to the course next week to help me diagnosed the problem  I do not think this will be a easy remedy to find out what is causing the issue.  Only time will tell...

washed out bunker face at #14 green
edged sprinkler head on the fairway

the carnage from the edge sprinkler heads

Toro 855 rock screen plugged with material


Friday, October 23, 2020


We finally have some cold weather coming in after a long, grueling summer.  My small crew and I were able to keep Arrowhead in great shape despite the little rain we received.  We only had two large rain events all summer.  One took place on May 25th (1.12") and September 6 (1.17") which was a rain/snow mix.  The course held up to the hottest year on record, but we had some stressed turf where our irrigation coverage is not great.  When you a have 48 year old, 90 foot spaced sprinklers system with daily winds every night and morning, not all the turf is covered. We were able to hold it all together with rollers bases in the fairways and rough and dragging hose around green and tee complexes. 

We did a lot of great practices this year which helped our turf and the course playability.  1. We finally were able to edge all the bunkers on the course.  All 68 of them.  We have very large bunkers, that total close to 4 acres.  2. Our greens clean up pass was getting very stressed from our Triplex units.  Even though we only mow the clean up 4 day a week, the hot summer was showing it signs.  Rick, our Senior Assistant Superintendent made the call to only walk mow greens clean ups.  With our small crew, I was a little nervous that we would not be able to get it done, but someway we got it done.  The greens looked so much happier and healthier after.  This practice will continue on in 2021.  3. Both of our rough unit now have canopies on them.  The needed shade for our team members was a hot topic for me as both machines stay out all day mowing, no matter what.  Because of the increase in height of the machine, we limbed up all the interior tress on the course.  Not only did it help the mowers, it also allowed better irrigation coverage to those areas.  Water was know able to hit more turf instead of being knocked down from the low laying branches.

In September, we aerifed all the tees and approaches again.  We did the practice in the Spring, but we had to get back on schedule on when we aerify.  We normally aerify greens and fairways in the spring and tees and approaches in the Fall.  Last Fall, we unfortunately did not aerify tees and approaches due to lack of staff.  I noticed a big difference in health the more we aerify. Maybe we should do it more??

Our last project of the year, was our most fun.  It has been in the making for a long.  Just needed the money and the time.  Last week, we renovated lower #13 tee complex.  There were so many things wrong with it, I am not sure where to start.  It was not aligned to the green and it more humps in it than a whale.  The center hump was 12" above grade.  This was by far the worst tee box on property.  We are were ashamed by it.  After about 20 yards of topsoil and 5 yards of 80/20 mix and 1400 square feet of sod, we know have a proud 500 square foot tee box. 



Monday, June 1, 2020

Major Irrigation repairs

Having an "expired" irrigation system has it issues.  Our main line is original to the course opening in 1972.  That's 48 years old, with 48 years worth of irrigation repairs.  For the past two seasons, I have been watching water come out of the main line valve at the turn around at 4 green.  I had been there in 2014 repairing a leak.  I did not want to go back because I knew it was a going to be a BIG hole.  After we charged up the irrigation system in March, the leak showed it instantly.  We found a week in early April when we could start the project but it had to be completed by April 27th because we would be aerifying the greens then. 

Roxborough Park helped us with the dig as our backhoe hydraulic pump died when we started the project.  It took us a little while to get through the concrete and down to the pipe.  The pipe was about 6 feet deep running under the corrugated metal pipe that moves water from 5 tee pond to 4 green pond.  What we found was two glued 90's off of the 4 inch pipe that connected into a gate valve and then ran into a 4 inch tee that had a 90 on it that reduced down to a 3 inch pipe.  We removed everything we found back to original blue pipe.  The pipes did not line up so we used 11.25 degree fitting to make it work.  It took us 3 days to complete the job including the back fill.  After is was all finished it was over 6 feet deep and over 20 feet long.  If I ever go back to this spot, it will be too soon.

One week later, we had another main line leak, but this time it was near 10 green in the tall native grass.  We had it dug out in a few hours and had it repaired the same day.  With old PVC pipe, sometimes we get burn holes in the pipe.  The pictures is a perfect example of a pin hole leak.  After we got it isolated, we drilled out the hole and bolted on a saddle with a 2 inch plug.  I like these kind of fixes.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Early warm up

We had quite the February when it came to snow.  We were able to open up for golf on January 30th and we closed back down on February 3rd due to snow.  We received very little snow/moisture in December and January and by the end of the month, any snow we did have hanging around was gone.  We were very busy on the open days, over 100 players each day.  We received over 12 inches of snow on February 3rd and I was very excited about it.  We needed the moisture but importantly, the turf needed to be covered up to prevent anymore desiccation from our daily dry wind.

We received over 60 inches of snow in the month and it made our job a little bit more difficult.  Not only did we have a hard time getting access to the course, we also found it difficult just to get into our shop.  It became a huge obstacle with our daily wind, that brought our daily snow drifts.  The picture below is the entrance to our shop.  The drift was over 6 feet tall and over 120 yards long.  We would have to hike in over the drift to get to our shop, fire up the skid loader and it would take about 2 hours to scoop and dump our way through. The problem was once we left for the day, the wind would pick up at night and dump this much snow again the next day.

We started to see a warm up in the weather starting around February 27th.  With the warming and the record amount of snow, I knew we would melt fast and have a bunch of "free water."  I have experienced this in the past and I was ready for it.  Starting on Saturday, I started to snow blow greens in preparation for the melt.  With the warm days and cold nights, I did not want the melted snow to freeze.  It was a mad dash for 4 days but we as a team were able to clear the snow and drifts off the greens.  By Thursday, March 5th all greens were clear.  Time for them to breath.  

Our first golf tournament is 14 days away!!
 10 Green
 16 Green
 8 Green on Tuesday
8 Green on Thursday

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The winter struggles

We were blessed with early snow this year in October and November.  It really helped with the moisture content in the soil profile.  Unfortunately, since then the snow has been non existent.  The snow we had on the course has either blown away, drifted and crusted up or melted in.  To combat the winter dryness, we have started water the greens.  Greens are our top priority, so we we will start watering them first until we feel comfortable with the moisture levels and then we will start watering tees. 

We used our TDS 300 to measure the water percentage in the greens soil profile to get base number.  We did this in early November.  10 and 14 greens were between 24-28%.  They are now both close to 18-22%.  With the warm weather we have been getting (mid 50's during the day; high 20's/low 30's at night) the greens are beginning to soften up. 

We have two ways to apply additional water to the course without firing up our irrigation system.  We have a 500 gallon water tank hooked up to a tractor and we use our trash pumps hooked up to portable roller bases.  We have to wait till the temperature gets warm enough in the morning to start the process.  We normally can get out onto the course after 10 am and we stop watering around 2 pm.  We stop at 2 pm because we want all the water we applied to be absorbed into the profile before the temperature drops to freezing temperatures.  Frozen water on the surface of the green can cause ice damage and possible could kill the plant.

 #18 pond. Had to chop out 5 inches of ice to find water
 #18 Green.  Looking good
 Rick tank watering #6 green

    #6 Green. Top 2 inches thawed

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Staying busy in the winter

We have been closed to golf since November 20th, a total of 42 days running with no sign of opening up.  I had a feeling we would open up after the new year but we received 8 inches of new snow on December 28th.  We have been clearing the snow off the greens to avoid any ice accumulation.  With the warmer days and cold nights, you have to keep and eye on all your turf. The sun or warmer temperatures will melt the snow on the greens causing free water.  Unfortunately, with the ground frozen, the green will not absorb the water into the profile causing it to sit on the surface.  Ice can than form at night when the temperature drop.   Ice and closely manicured turf do not mix well as the crown of the plant can been damaged.  Ice damage can occur within a few days and it will take weeks or months to recover in the spring/summer. 

As the course sits dormant, we stay busy in the shop.  We have started our yearly service to all the vehicles.  We have been researching clutches for our EZGO's.  Most of our utility carts are over 14 years old and they have been slowing down over time.  Two clutches are needed for each cart and the total for both are close to $700.00.  We we have 6 carts that need new clutches.  We will repair the worst ones first and over time we will replace the remaining ones. 

We continue to repair the "new" equipment that we received from our sister course that closed down.  Much of their equipment was in disarray.  The equipment that we will be using a lot this up coming year is on the top of the priority list.  This includes: Toro Workman, 3500 Sidewinder, 1250 Toro sprayer and the F-250 pick up with the snow plow. 

I have started to fabricate our new mixing station for our fertilizer applications.  I was able to find two  250 gallon totes from one of our sister courses in Parker and I found a used Jacuzzi pump/motor in the scrap yard.  I can now fill my sprayer with a 150 water in less that 2 minutes!  I will be going out to purchase a new 1hp motor that I will fabricate to a propeller that will agitate the product in the tank.   I prefer to melt down my greenhouse grade fertilizer for my Nitrogen and Potassium input.  I have been using 5 gallon buckets for the past few years and my back is getting a little tired of lifting them.  This process will be easier and faster for all my fertilizer applications.  In the video, I have the transfer pump working.  The agitation motor has not been installed yet. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Start of winter

Winter has come in a little early for us.  We normally receive our first snow fall around Halloween which it did this year.  (Thankfully I was with my family in Mexico at the time!) It will melt away in a few days and we will reopen the course for golf.  We have been receiving off and on snow storms since.  I think we were open only 12 days in November for golf due to snow.  This is very uncommon for us at this time of the year.  We were scheduled to blow out the irrigation system on Monday and Tuesday, November 25th and 26th.  It was forecast that a huge storm was to roll in that afternoon.  My team and I hustled all day long to blowout the system out ahead of the storm.  We finished that night around 6:30 pm in the dark, with head lamps on and frozen fingers.  We received over 20 inches that night and into the next day which made the course impassable. The 26th was a bust.  After several day of plowing snow and snow blowing cart paths, were finally able to get the compressor off the property. 

We have received several days in the 50's since with high winds that have stripped the snow off certain areas exposing the turf.  I decided to borrow a 185 compressor to recheck all of our work from the week prior.  So far, no water has been found in the pipes but we still need to recheck a few holes.  A big "Thank You" goes out to my team for sticking around in the dark snowy weather to get this crucial job finished. I always say, "Putting the course to bed correctly insures an easier spring when you wake up from your winter sleep." 

 Looking at 18 green and the Practice green
 It took a little while for our skid to warm up!

 Rechecking our work after the storm
The wind stripped the snow away at the beginning of 15 fairway allowing me to find the QC so I could tap into our mainline