Friday, April 24, 2015

Operation Pollinator

Operation Pollinator, an international biodiversity program, is aimed at increasing the number of pollinating insects on a property by creating habitat favored by native insects. This program was developed by Syngenta and provides golf course managers the tools and information to successfully establish and manage attractive wildflower plots on their property. This program was developed out of the necessity to increase pollinator habitat. The honey bee population in the US has decreased over the last several decades due to habitat loss and the varroa mite. With almost one-third of the global food supply depending on pollinators, it is imperative that habitat is established and preserved.

With the guidance of Syngenta, we have been able to build on our environmental stewardship by creating roughly 35,000 square feet of pollinator habitat. On April 23, four pollinator plots were seeded on the golf course consisting of two wildflower mixes. Once established, these areas will be able to provide beauty and pollinator habitat to our property.

Established Operation Pollinator Plot

Seeded area between holes 13 and 14

Seeded area behind #1 green

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Digital Job Board Installation

Last week, the golf course maintenance staff installed a digital job board in the break room. A 50" Panasonic television was mounted to the wall and an Asus M115U Google Chromebox computer was installed. The computer is a mere 5" x 5" x 2" and is concealed behind the television. The computer runs off of Google Chrome, a basic web-based operating system. This computer must be connected to the internet at all times in order to operate. With this set-up, we can access programs like Google Earth, weather and radar, Google Docs and Sheets (Word and Excel), access online training videos, and plug in USB flash drives. We will use this extensively to inform, direct, and train our staff in order to be more efficient.

The application in which this set-up will be used most frequently is a digital job board. Using Google Sheets allows multiple users to edit the document from multiple devices in real-time. With the Google Sheets document opened on the television, we can modify job assignments from virtually anywhere. This will be extremely efficient when we need to make changes in the field, as a manager can edit tasks with a smart phone on the golf course. In addition to Google Sheets, we have installed Google Revolve that can cycle through browser tabs on the computer at user-defined intervals. This application can be used to cycle through multiple pages such as job assignments, staff schedule, and radar.

The digital job board will help make our staff more efficient and is another great tool to educate and train staff members. Installing the job board was very simple and inexpensive. The cost of the Asus computer with a wireless keyboard and mouse was under $200. This set-up can be implemented very easily at any facility.

Asus M115U Google Chromebox

Google Earth allows us to have an interactive map of our facility.

Google Sheets allows us to host an online spreadsheet that can
be updated in real-time from anywhere with internet access.

Ability to utilize web-based training videos.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Soggy Spring Green-up

As I sit here observing the snow melt, I am anxious to be able to get out on the golf course and begin prepping for the beginning of the much anticipated golf season. The golf course maintenance staff is ready to begin mowing grass and conditioning the course. The spring, however, brings many challenges to our maintenance staff. After sitting dormant all winter, the golf course requires a lot of work to prepare it for the golf season. Our staff will work diligently to complete the many tasks at hand but please keep in mind the many challenges that we face during the spring:

Wet Conditions
As a result of rain, melting snow and a thawing soil profile, the ground is extremely soft and saturated. Besides making it difficult to perform many tasks, these conditions can be detrimental to turf health and quality. Turfgrass roots can be sheared off under extremely wet conditions, and rutting and foot printing can cause serious problems that typically last well into the season.

Winter weather can be very harsh to the bunkers on the golf course. The washouts are typically the worst in the Spring and take a lot of time and effort to repair. This can be a big challenge as the small staff size during this season is also focusing on other important duties.

Course Cleanup
Over the winter, the wind, rain, snow, and ice bring down a lot of debris on the golf course. It is essential that the debris is cleaned up prior to the start of mowing.

Stump Removal
Many dead Ash trees were removed over the Winter and the stumps will be removed, filled and seeded.

Cultural Practices
Spring is a great time to complete many different cultural practices including core aeration, solid tine aeration, vertical mowing, and sand topdressing. These practices are crucial to the health of the turf and help prepare the playing surfaces for the upcoming season.

Once many of the main tasks are completed on the course, landscape beds are cleaned up, edged and mulched. This is also a great time of year to divide ornamental grasses and perennials.

Coming off of a long Winter, we are all hoping for a great golf season. Please know that our maintenance staff will be working extremely hard to get the golf course prepped. Your patience is greatly appreciated during the Spring as we work towards providing outstanding playing conditions. We hope that 2015 brings great weather, healthy turf, and more time to play golf.