Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Irrigation pump station upgrade

 One of my biggest challenges on the golf course is with water management.  Our source of raw water comes by of Strontia Springs reservoir and it eventually get pumped to use through network of underground pipes.   Our water is very clean to the point of being potable.  Having such clean water has been great for the turf and all plant life including trees.  The biggest down fall is the hefty price tag of the water.  Our water bill is very expensive for the year which is why I keep a tight eye on it.  2020 was a very hot and dry year and unfortunately I had to buy extra water over my yearly allotment to keep it alive and playable.    

Over the past few years, I have been using magnets on my hose for hand water purposes.  The magnet splits the water molecules making the water "wetter".  I have seen a better turf response to using the magnet compared to straight water.  With the magnet, it energizes the water helping with pressure issues and help with better uniform distribution at the sprinkler head.  With the energized water, you should see a reduction of usage by 10-20%.  

I bit the bullet and installed an 8 inch unit on my pump station.  Now all the water being applied on the course will run through the magnet.  My hope is that we will see a better turf response to the nightly watering, better coverage throughout the golf course while lowering our usage rate which in turn will lower our water costs and electrical costs to pump it.  

I have been keeping records for the past 14 years of water usage on the golf course.  I am excited to see what will turn out in 2021. 


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Finishing up #4 Cart Path Project

If you remember, we had a large irrigation leak under the cart path at #4 green.  Even though we repaired it in April, we never had the chance to finish the project.  We took advantage of some cold weather when the course was closed due to snow to have it poured.  We added roughly 60 linear feet of curb along the ponds edge.  I think it turned out great and I have heard from several Men's club members that they are happy it was finished.  Onto the next project! 


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

2020 Irrigation blow out...

We knew we were going to be blowing out the irrigation system on the 19th and 20th of November.  The few days leading up to the process, we were going to experience some warm weather.  Every day was going to be in the 60's-70's.  It was our last chance to apply water to the course.  We were ready to start watering again after taking the previous week off due to cold weather and some snow.  As I was going around to each satellite and running some heads on some our hot spots, all of a sudden I can across a satellite box that no power. Then I checked another one.  No power.  It turned out, we lost power to 1/3 of the course.  I asked Rick to start checking power at the first satellite box to see if we have a voltage.  Turns out no, so we started back tracking to the breaker at the shop.  It all looked good.  Rick started tracking the power wire and he was able to find a possible location that was causing the issue.  Our rotten luck, it was under our asphalt driveway!  Some quick thinking, I cut the end off an extension cord and wired it into a known good junction point.  Boo ya, we got power back to all the down satellite boxes.  We were able to water for several nights and days prior to blowout.  Not only did resolving the power issue allow us to water but it also allowed us to blow out the irrigation system. 

After we were finished with the blow out, it was time to dig up the potential issue.  Rick had to demo saw thru the asphalt and dig down a ways to find the wires.  He was able to find an 8 inch section of highly corroded wire that crumbled in his fingers.  He was able to get it repaired and we are back up and running.  The power wire was installed in 1988.  We have been running into a few issues with corroded wires throughout the golf course.  

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