Friday, December 27, 2013

Quiet Season except for........

This is the time for reflections of 2013 and the planning for 2014. The good, bad and ugly are always lists I put in my mind to seperate the activites from the past season and try to improve upon all of them when the planning for the next years' agenda. Well, one such bad activity took place on the day of the Luck Village Holiday Gathering at the Clubhouse. I had been monitoring the clubhouse since we closed on the 1st of November, but did not check the upstairs as frequently. Somehow the heat switch was in the off position and the temperatures dropped to a point when freezing occurs. You can start seeing the picture now. Not only did one faucet break in the upstairs bar, but as we were cleaning up that mess, a faucet in the kitchen did the same. We were able to correct the heat situation and clean up the mess before the party started. Needless to say, lessons were learned, and to prevent further problems, some added technology will be installed to assure this doesn't happen again. Insurance will be covering this disturbance of the Quiet Season.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Project Recap

The main goal of this project was to remove any standing water in fairways that appeared after rains or after the spring melt. We identified six fairways that needed attention. Holes included in this discussion were 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, & 14. After much planning and discussions, it was agreed to take on the project ourselves. After acquiring the right equipment, the actual project began October 22 with some preliminary digging. This was necessary to identify existing tiles that could be used in the project. All the materials were then ordered and actual trenching began November 4. We started by the tree on Hole 14 and added laterals and mainlines all the way up to the green. We ended up installing 1185' of drain tile. The totals included 20' of 6" pipe, 345' of 4" solid pipe, 140' of 4" slotted pipe, and 680' of 3" slotted pipe. It was great to see that on Saturday November 16, the course received about .5" of rain and that on Monday, there were no puddles!

From there, we headed over to Hole 6. We had previously installed 350' of slotted and solid 4"pipe from the holding area at the dogleg on the left side and brought the tile back toward the tee. Included was also a short lateral at the beginning of the fairway. We trenched two lines, from the rock area on the left(which will be replaced with a steel grate) to the pond by the green. We ran another line from this area along the left side of the fairway and extended 3 laterals into the rough to dry up this wet area. Totals on this hole were 150' of 4" solid pipe and 835' of 4" slotted pipe.

With the weather closing in, I decided to head over to Hole 4 instead of finishing Hole 7. We had previously trenched in 110' of 4" solid pipe from the pond up to the fairway. I was hoping to finish this area but didn't think we had the time. We were able to tie in some existing tiles on Hole 4 and added 90' of 4"slotted tile in the area in front of the green. On Thursday November 21, we were able to trench in 25' in the 9th fairway to dry up the wet spot in front of the green.

So, the final tally looks like this:
20' of 6" pipe
495' of 4" solid pipe
1200' of 4" slotted pipe
680' of 3" slotted pipe

That is a grand total of 2395' installed in just under 3 weeks. There will be much clean up in the spring and we will complete the project with an additional 340' on Hole 7 and then have some decisions on Hole 2. There are 2 possible scenarios to get the wet area at the beginning of the fairway drained. One way is to dig a deep hole and back fill it with all the rock we uncovered and let the water seep into a porous layer. The other idea is to bring in soil and raise the area to surface drain and perhaps add a foreword tee. These ideas will be discussed with the Golf Commission.. Wok on Hole 7 will begin in spring as soon as able. We have the rental equipment on site so we can get started as weather permits. It should only take a few days to install the tile.

That's a wrap for this year. Hoping to finish as quickly as possible in the spring.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Finished Holes 4 & 6

The weather held as we were able to complete the upper portion of hole 6. We were able to trench from the rock catch basin area up to the pond by the green. The rock catch area will be replaced with a standard catch basin with steel inlet grate. This will catch any runoff from the pond after a rain event or in the spring with the snow melt.
Next we trenched up the left side of the fairway and added 3 lateral drains to intercept any water that has plagued that area. It was wet when we worked the area and is a bit messy but the water began draining away.
We finished this area on Wednesday morning and with the weather forecast called for snow and cold, we went over to the low area in front of the green. I was able to clean out some of the existing drains that were coming out of the green and bunker. We installed about 100' of new tile in the fairway to take care of the wet spot. With the spoils from this area, we dumped them in the area between holes 4 & 5 where the washout from the drain lines are. We will seed and blanket this area in the spring.
On Thursday, the weather hadn't moved in so we got out and trenched about 25' in the low area in front of the 9th green. Just as we finished, the cold wind picked up and we proceeded to clean up the equipment and store everything for winter.
I will recap the project tomorrow and set up the schedule for completion in the spring.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Great Week

Weather was outstanding this week as we completed Hole 14. We have a little gravel to install up near the green and will complete on Monday. Next spring, the plan is to come back and top all trenches with 2" of sand. This will help in filtering debris to allow the water to continually drain. The trenches will grow over in time but strategically placed drain basins will always allow water to flow in. There will be much cleanup in the spring when it dries. The snow and melt off will allow the trenches to settle and some soil to work into the canopy. Any larger piles will need to be picked up before mowing begins.

We were able to trench from the catch basin on 14 up and to the right of the green and clean up before dark. If not too rainy over the weekend, we will install the tile and rock and then head over to hole 6 or 7.
Hope for good weather so we can continue on.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Willing and Able

Over the past 2 days, we were able to trench, install, and rock, 550' of drain tile on hole 14. We had previously installed and repaired about 100' in the right rough as it exits in the lower area before it goes under the 15th fairway and off the course. The crew trenched in some new lines at the dogleg by the tree to catch the wet areas.
Yesterday we moved up the fairway and began installing drainage from about the 150 yd marker in a herringbone fashion. We are abe to use alot of the existing main drain lines. We got an additional mainline in and 5 laterals installed at 25' intervals.

Today's plan is to install another 250' of laterals and that will get us up to the catch basin. That would then leave us with only 140' to install from the catch basin upto and right of the green. That should not take a full day. After that, weather will get wet this weekend and we will look to find the driest areas on holes 4, 6, or 7. Let's keep our fingers crossed so we can complete more areas.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The weather is turning favorable to continue on with the project. A week after the snow, it is finally clear to trench. We will work on hole 14 today. I post some pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

On Hold

The weather is playing tricks with our scheduled project. Good news is that the ground is not frozen, yet. Bad news is that the snow has covered all the trench line markings. I am going out later today and plow off some areas to see if we can continue. A little help from Mother Nature to melt the snow would be nice. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Work on Hole 6

We were able to get 350' of drain tile installed yesterday on the left side of Hole 6. What this has accomplished is that we can now drain the holding pond at the dogleg back toward the tee area where it goes off into the woods. We will also be able to dry up the area at the beginning of the fairway that seams to hold water even on the sloped area.

This picture shows part of the area that will be drying up the beginning of the 6th fairway. Also note the green trailer that we will be using to help install the pea gravel into the trench.

Now that winter has arrived, we will continue to install tile as weather permits. There are some drier areas that we can continue on and will push onward and upward until the ground is too frozen to trench.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Here We Go

We are back after it again. Finally, after much planning and discussion, along with puting the course to bed, the drainage project has finally started. I actually began last week with some exporatory digging finding existing tile lines to use and opening up areas that needed work. We are using a trencher on loan from Pat McCabe and yesterday tied in some drain tiles on 14. This will help in collecying and transporting the collected water and moving it over to 15 and off the course. We then began hole 7 by trenching from the pond to the fairway to a catch area and then will start at this point with the rental equipment. We then began trenching on Hole 6 by the trees on the left at the dogleg. The intention here is to drain the low area back toward the tee. We got about 100' and the chain fell fell off. After a 2 hour wrestling match, we were able to put the chain back in place. We got a good start to the project. and will update today with pictures.

Friday, October 11, 2013

New Project

It has been awile since I have posted. The completion of the greens project was agreat benefit to the Luck golfers. I thouroughly enjoyed the project even on the days where it seemed to be an impossible venture. So now what's next? Well, we are just finishing up our aerification this week. All greens and fairways are done with the tees to be done as time permits. We chase leaves everyday and should be done by early November, when all the leaves are done falling.

The big project will be starting next week when we begin to add drainage to fairways 2,4,6,7,& 14. We will be removing some old drainage and installing some new. We have a trencher and materials onsite and will begin as weather permits. I plan to rent a specialized trencher and trailer to help with the install. Once again, a big thanks to Dennis Frandsen and Chuck Torrance for the donation to make this project possible. I will update and show pictitures as we progress.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We Made It

After several months of a lot of effort and work, the 4 new greens along with the practice green, are now being maintained like the others. With the excemption of green 7, it is hard to find any seams or irregularities on the surfaces. Green 7 will need a bit more time to fill in completely, but we are coming into the best growing conditions of the year. This green has also come the furthest since the beginging of the year. Just in case you can't remember, pictures dont lie.
I have a recent photo to show but the computer gremlins are not allowing me to post them. But if you are reading this, most likely you are playing the course so you know first hand what the conditions are. There will be some more continual maintenance activities going on but for the most part, the greens have finally made it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Now it is August

The heat of summer has come and gone (for now) and this recent cool stretch has made my life a lot easier. The one week of uncomfortable weather set the new greens back a bit. What happens is the high humidity will make the thatch layer swell or as I term it “puff” and the result is the mowers will scalp the canopy and leave unsightly marks. If corrective action is not taken immediately then the damaged areas will soon die. I was able to see the scalp marks right away and for the next few days skipped mowing and just rolled the greens. I raised the height of cut about .040” and began alternating mowing and rolling. After about a week, the weather cooled, and we were out of the danger zone. No turf was loss, but the progression towards matching the other greens was sent backwards. A couple of topdressings later, the new greens are now once again very near the quality of the existing greens.

As for the “Dog Days of Summer”, the staff has caught up on mowing and completed several projects. We did finally finish burning the pile of brush on the Ravenholt property and now can look foreword to burning our new pile on golf course property. So far this year, the equipment and the irrigation have been holding up fairly well, but the various pump motors we have seem to be failing. The sump pump on hole 2 went out this spring but since we got it repaired, the rains have stopped. Over the last few weeks, the fountain on 9 pond died and is presently being repaired. Then, the fountain on pond 7 stopped working and I am working on getting that repaired as well. I did have the pond on 7 sprayed and should be cleaning up shortly.

Other then the above mentioned items, daily routines are nice and comforting. It makes the transition into the next season easy. Until next month………..

Thursday, July 4, 2013


The 2 pictures below show remarkable progress on #7 green. Continued regular topdressings and rolling have smoothed out the surface and aerifying and overseeding has helped tremendously to fill in the voids. We will be going out this week and put forth the last of the sod plugs in any remaining bare spots. We only have a limited amount of plugs but we will use it all up. The 4th green has responded nicely to a change in mowers and additional supplemental nutrional products. The other greens, 15, 12, and the practice green, will be back online with the regular greens by the Member Guest on July 15. It sure has been a painstaking slow progress to complete the grow in and I thank you all on your patience. The timetable to get greens 4 & 7 online with the others will of course be, weather dependent. Have a happy 4th!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

New Greens Update

It has been awhile since I've had time to update the conditions of the 5 new greens. We have been actually treating the practice putting green like a new one since it has been in various states of rehabilitation over the last 3 years. I am pleased with some of the progress and have disappointments with others. First the good news. We were able to aerify those greens last week but not topdress. We will do so on Monday. Once the greens smooth out, our intention is to get green 15 and the practice green into the same mowing and maintenance schedule as the existing greens. Green 12 has mad a lot of progress recently and with any reasonably sound agronomic practices, that one should also be joining the ranks of the other greens. Now for the disappointments. Green 4 has shown signs of stress and weak growth. I plan to begin to reverse the grow in and actually raise the heighth of cut back up to an acceptable level for optimum growth. There will be additional sodding and plugging to once again get the turf to fill in and then start to condition the grass for lower mowing. As for green 7, overall appearance is good but still not healthy enough for lower mowing yet. It is also difficult to roll the green to smooth out the bumps because the root system is not strong enough to hold the turf in place while rolling. In the meantime, we will continue to seed and sod all areas until we run out of sod.

What this means to the golfer is that greens 12, 15, and practice will soon be similar to all the others, while greens 4 and 7 are going to take longer to get to the same place. A cool, dry summer would help considerably to meet these goals but any type of high temperatures and humidity will play a significant role in reducing the chances that all the greens will be the same sooner than later.

As you see, green 4 has some work to do. That picture was taken a month ago and not much improvement. But, I am always up for challenges and this is no excemption.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Rain Again

The forecast seems to be a broken record. Rain is mentioned daily and the amount varies. A year ago after the spring rains stopped, it never rained again until late fall. The water supply(Big Butternut) was dramatically lower and turf conditions off irrigated areas were barren. Today, the mowers are running daily to keep up and the water supply is adequate for this season. The sun will return and the golf course will be ready for your enjoyment.

The new greens were actually set back by the extended wet weather but for the long run are benefiting greatly. With continued rain, the surface looks good but the nutrients that were applied have leached past the root zone and suddenly the color was off. Thinking it was mower or rolling damage, I quickly reduced those activities. After thinking about this, I soon realized that there was a great need to fertilize those greens again. After an ample helping this week, yesterday they looked great again. The real positive gains with the wet weather is that all the sodding and seeding on those greens helps in the establishment.

There are new seedling emerging from the aerifier holes and the bare areas. With constant watching and reseeding, all these areas should fill in. How soon? Not sure. It all depends upon weather, traffic, and various maintenance activities. Rest assured, the maintenance staff is doing everything it can to get these greens in the same conditions as the other existing ones.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Continuing the Grow-in

Everyday, the new greens are improving. The roots continue to develop and lengthen and the damaged areas on top get less and less. As the progress continues, the maintenance activities I previously described will be happening this week, weather permitting. The plan is to aerate the new greens with solid tines on Tuesday. This will help to keep the air exchange working and help the roots grow deeper. At the same time, we will incorporate a good organic fertilizer to feed the soil that will provide a long lasting nutrient source. Then, we apply a good sand topdressing to both fill the holes and smooth the surface followed by a good brushing to raise the leaf blades off the surface to get a better cut. We will continue with weekly topdressing and another aerification in a few weeks. After that, we will wait until the heat of summer passes before doing it again.

The goal of this grow-in is to actually build a new putting surface over tho top of the newly sodded surfaces. I have noticed that after we lowered the cutting height to .200 inches that some minor scalping began to occur. This tells that there too many imperfections to go lower to our normal height of .140 inches. We will continue to add sand to allow the process to work. Sometimes, we have to wait for the turf to do it's thing and not push too quickly because that is when damage occurs and we actually go backwards with progress.

The update to green 7 is that all of the surface has been filled with sod where there once were gaps. All of the surrounds we be sodded this week and it will begin to look like a green. All the sod seems will be hand sanded to help with the lateral growth. We have some additional sod from our nursery that we will installon those couple of spots on greens 4 & 12 and the remainder to be used on greens 7. If we have to, we may purchase some additional sod but will wait and see. We will also seed the areas on 7 when we aerate this week and try to establish more grass in those areas.

Patience is the key at this point in the grow-in. Too much, too fast can be devastating.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy 15th!

It will be a happy 15th on the 16th! We will be opening up the 15th green for play. You will notice the green to putt a bit slower and a tad bumpy, but it has developed enough to handle traffic. Greens 4 and 12 will be open by Memorial Day Weekend and should be able to with stand the traffic. The maintenance procedure on these 4 greens will continue until they reach the consistency of the other greens. So far, we have mowed and rolled a few times, and have top dressed them once. We will continue to mow, roll, verticut regularly along with weekly topdressings and we will also aerify these greens with very small tines to ensure good water infiltration and air exchange. All of these procedures will help smooth out the surfaces. Along the way, we will be lowering the height of cut from .250" to our established height at .140". Lowering too fast will have an adverse effect on the turf and prevent scalping. We will be diligent with our efforts and strive to get these greens in great shape for your golfing enjoyment. Weather will dictate some delays in meeting our goals but patience is golden.

As for green 7, we got hurt by not getting water to it soon enough. On Saturday 4/27, we had snow covering the course. By Tuesday, temps climbed to 85. Wilt was evident on Monday evening and we spent the entire day Tuesday until 7:30pm before we got water to the green. We probably missed having these greens the same as the others by 12 hours. Needless to say, there is more work to prep this green for play. Some areas survived very nicely. There are other areas that look pretty bleak from the cart path but a close look shows green shoots a some new rooting. Some of these areas will survive but there are a few strips that will have to be replaced. We do have some sod from our nursery green that is in excellent shape and will use it all up if need be. If we need to purchase more sod, we will do that.

So enjoy the new greens courtesy of Mr. Frandsen and be patient for #7 to be ready.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Nice weekend with temps touching 80! There are several courses that are open, but we still have snow and wet turf. The good news is that there seems to be just a little damage from the prolonged winter/ice cover to the greens. I will post back later today with pictures and the update to a possible opening. The forecast looks good for today and tomorrow but reality sets in for the rest of the week,. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Getting Close

Hang in there folks. There are numerous accounts of Old Man Winter leaving the area. If this is true, there will be an announcement soon that we will be opening. As of 6 am this morning, there is about a 2-4 inch covering of snow over the entire golf course. There are just a few high spots showing through. The forecast is for temps to soar near 70 the next few days. It will take a few days to melt the snow and then a few more days to dry out. As soon as I am able to drive onto the course to do maintenance, the course will be open! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Patience is the key word for the golf industry. A lot of golfers are chomping at the bit to get going as well as golf course superintendents. The snow will finally melt over the next few days but will leave behind much needed moisture for the soil. Putting traffic on the course now will only disturb the soil profile and increase the stress level of the turf once we get to summer. In addition, rutting from vehicles or even footprints from golfers will last along time and will also cause bumpiness and worn areas quickly. The turf is waking up slowly this year so caution is needed when maintenance activities resume. And for you lawn rangers out there, you too, should use patience when beginning to work on your grass.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Will the golf season ever come? Usually around the playing of the Masters, courses in this part of the world begin to open up. It may be another 10 - 14 days before we open for play. There is still a lot of snow on the ground, especially on the holes in the woods. From what little turf that is uncovered, there are signs of healthy turf in the fairways but a little bit of damage on the greens due to ice. The injured turf is on the poa annua plants where the bent grass looks very good. I don't see any major turf issues yet, but I haven't seen all the grass yet either. With more snow forecasted today, all I can say is.........Yuck!

Monday, April 1, 2013

That's Better

I went back out to 15 green to pull another sample on Thursday. Had to shoo away 14 deer from my path along hole 16 to get to 15. I went back to the area where I pulled my original plug from and was amazed at the growth in the area. The turf looked really healthy and actually some new roots were developing. I went over about 30 feet and took the new sample. This morning when I arrived in the shop, I was excited to see the plug had greened up nicely from over the weekend. I am feeling more optimistic about the turf conditions on the greens than I was a few weeks ago. That may not be the case around the rest of the course, but for now it's better. Now let's get the snow out of here so we can play some golf!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I have good news and not great news to report. The plugs I pulled from greens 9 & 12 on March 8 have greened up and are growing nicely. The amount of ice cover on the course and the duration it has lasted are not good but it appears we are OK as of now, If the winter lingers a bit longer, that could change. I pulled plugs on greens 15 and 16 on March 22. By Monday the 25th, green 16 was growing out nicely while green 15 looked unimpressive. A few more days of growing and only a little bit of growth. I have concerns here. I am going out to take another sample just to make sure.

This is still winter. A year ago, golfers were playing at this time. What happened to global warming?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Time to Check

March really begins the transition from winter to spring. We start seeing sights and sound everyday of the outdoors waking up. It ranges from the drip of snow melting, to birds singing their spring songs, to more daylight hours, to a warmth of the temperatures. What we are not seeing yet is the turf on the golf course. That is due to the 20+ inches of snow still covering the ground. It will take a while for the snow to melt away, probably into April, before we see the green grass again. But, what we don't see yet is what is taking place under the snow. There is a layer of ice that has formed on top of the turf. It is everywhere, including the greens. Ice first developed back in December when we had a rain event after there was snow on the ground. While it did happen then, it was only in low spots. Keep in mind, turf can survive under ice anywhere from 60 - 120 days. Well, we are at day 90 now, and winter is not over. There has been accumulating ice from some melting days in January and February to where it is now wide spread.

So where does that leave us? Time to check. I will be pulling samples off the course over the next few days and place them in my sunny office window to grow out. I will include some pictures in my next post of what the plugs look like dormant and then update the blog in a week or so to see what happens. Superintendents plan for the worst and hope for the best. If the plugs grow out, that will be nice. If they don't, then I need to plan for the recovery and take appropriate action when the time comes.

I'm hoping for the best. Stay tuned.

Here are some pictures of the sampling process.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Quiet Time

This is the time of year when maintenance practices are done will pay dividends when the golf season is in full swing. Having a year under my belt here in Luck and that helps make decisions easier to do as it relates to turf management. The shop is cleaned and the equipment is being processed one piece at a time. I am currently going through all the greens mowers and diligently inspecting for any potential issues and do the scheduled preventative maintenance. The grinding and the adjustments are made to the cutting units and will be ready to mow when spring comes. The scheduling of equipment next will be the tee mowers, followed by the fairway units. As the snow begins to melt in March, the rough units will be prepped for use. The final winter project will be to inspect, clean, and paint all of the course accessories. With the daylight lengthening everyday, there are some signs of spring coming and the chance to play the new greens is getting closer.

Monday, January 14, 2013


One of the things that superintendents do in the off season is continuing education. I attended the Northern Green Expo last week to listen to various speakers and to kick tires on the show floor. It is also a time to meet with old friends and make new ones. This is the time of year when my batteries are being recharged and I start thinking, discussing, and implementing plans for the upcoming season. The topics that interested me and Luck GC most were Master Planning, Irrigation Analysis, and the USGA Year in Review. The short term take was getting tips for growing in the new greens. The long term ideas is what to do as we move foreword. I would like to get a road map for the direction of the course as it relates to improvements. These improvements are not just golf course plans, but also maintenance equipment, infra structure, clubhouse, and parking lots. A well thought out plan will go a long way in maximizing our opportunity to improve Luck Golf. Less than 90 days until golf begins................!