Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Years' Resolutions

It's that time of year when a lot of us ponder ways to improve ourselves. Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking about ways to make the Luck Golf Course have a competitive advantage. It is no secret that the number of golfers is not growing, so we have to make our venue more enticing to the golfer. Over the past 3 years, we have had the opportunity to improve the playing conditions considerably through the generous contributions to our Donation Fund. With the rebuilding of 4 greens, installing over a half mile of drainage, and the removal of several hundred trees, the course now has a new and different look and feel.

Many years ago, I heard a motivational speaker address an audience of golf course superintendents. She had a quote that has stayed with me and helps keep me centered when life, family, and work needs attention. "Elephants don't bite, mosquitoes do." In essence, it's the little things that matter. With that in mind, I have scratched out several details that I would like to see improved upon this upcoming season. This holds true not only on the course but in our course business operations as well. The list, in no particular order:

1. Season long bunker maintenance schedule. With a reduced budget and a large project to finish, bunkers were definitely ignored.
2. Improved regular greens maintenance program. This will include cup changing, verticutting, topdressing, and rolling.
3. Details in edging of trees and cart paths. This includes line trimming and the use of round up.
4. Mowing patterns.Over the course of the season, edges of the greens, tees, and fairways will tend to wander.
5. Improve our customer service with speed and efficiency. This will include social and electronic media.
6. Launching several new marketing campaigns to include a wider customer participation rate.
7. Continue to establish and implement a long term plan for continued financial success.

With that, I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 19, 2014


The tree cutting project continues on like syrup in January, slow but sure. All of the marked trees between holes 4 & 5 have been removed and the brush burnt. The only thing remaining is the removal of the logs to be used/sold for firewood.
Of course there will be cleanup in the spring of small branches and debris. The areas where the burn piles were will be cleaned up and seeded as well. The first glimpse of the benefits of this project are seen here at the approach to the 4th green. With the removal of all the trees inside the cart path on the left as well as thinning several between the path and the 5th tee, this will allow not only the improve the shade/wetness issue in this area but an enhanced playability of the hole from the players standpoint.
The next area of work are the trees between holes 4 & 6. All the marked trees except for 15 have been removed. Brush piles are currently being burnt. The thinning of the trees will make the errant shots easier to recover to the proper hole for advancement.
With the holidays on us, work will resume sometime after the first of the new year. There are still plenty of trees to go but I'm confident we will be done before spring. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Trees vs Forest

Work is slowly continuing on removal of trees. We are almost done with the removal of close to 100 trees in the area between holes 4 and 5. All the brush is burnt so far but we need to still remove logs for firewood sale or use. These pictures show the thinning of the herd of trees. I am looking foreword to seeing the enhanced improvements not only to the turf quality but the playability. There are still plenty of trees here as the golfers will be able to experience the trees as the forest will disappear.
The next area we will attack will be the area between holes 4 and 6. With the forecast calling for mild temperatures, we are anticipating some more progress.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thoughts from the Floor

Now that winter is really here, it is time to start the winter maintenance schedule. Even though the wood cutting crew is off for Thanksgiving Week(aka deer hunting), my work load is focused on servicing the 50 golf cars we lease. It turns into an assembly line of work which isn't necessarily a bad thing as I get to do some thinking as I lie on the floor dropping the oil into a pan. Each car gets washed, inspected for any damage and worn parts, new filter and oil, fuel stabilizer added, inspect and adjust the belts and battery, and finally air up the tires and driven to the Lion's Shelter for storage. I repeat this in groups of 5 as this is all the space the shop allows.
The other thing that I am doing is assessing the quality of each of our cars. Our lease is up at the end of 2015 and we may want to consider purchasing some.This would reduce the number of cars we need to lease and help in our cash flow as we service our customer.                                                               The good thing about assembly line work, it allows me to think about the upcoming year. There are more than a few areas that I would like to improve not only the quality of playing surfaces but the presentation too. Yes, ultimately it comes down what we can afford to spend. But that is the opportunity I enjoy to work on. The areas the come to mind while I lay on the floor(no I'm not sleeping/dreaming) include stepping up the greens maintenance with topdressing and verticutting, applying some timely fairway products to improve the infiltration and appearance, and some more detail work on bunkers and cart paths.

Everyone, have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014


The trees are finally coming down. The tree crew started on Monday near the 5th green and began removing the red marked trees. The process is to cut the tree down, cut it in 8' lengths for firewood, stack it to be removed later, and then stack the tops for burning.

The brush pile is already burning and we will try to keep up with the cutters. We also have our brush pile by 9 tee to burn. The cutters will work through Thursday. They should be able to remove the 96 trees from 5 green back to the tee. Remember, most of these trees are small in nature and effecting the growth of others in addition to any shade issues, play ability concerns, or for tree health. If the weather holds, we may be able to start the area between holes 4 & 6. Next week is deer hunting so no cutting. Work will resume again the first week of December.
90 people reached

Monday, November 10, 2014

Two More Things

Late last week while we were able to get around, the staff completed 2 more items. The first was to take the trencher and do some "root pruning" along the right side of the 5th hole. The root encroachment takes away the ability of the turf to take in proper nutrients and water. By severing the roots, this will allow the turf a chance to adapt in this environment. There is still a major shade issue that will be addressed in the near future.
The second area was to clean up the blue trap rock to the left of the 7th fairway above the 14th green. We removed the rock and added a catch basin. This will allow any surface water to enter freely and the ability to mow over this area without hindrance

At it Again

Now that the season is officially over, I can get caught up on a few blogs that need to be sent out. Before the snow began falling, the staff was once again able to install some more drainage. We were able to complete the area on top of 15 fairway adjacent to the foreword tee. As we were installing the system, it was evident of the several different layers that were holding the water in the upper profile. With the drain tile added, we are now able to divert a lot of surface water from this area away from the 14th fairway.
The other area we were able to complete was the 9th fairway. Last year, we only were able to add a catch basin the very lowest part of the fairway. This year, we continued across the fairway to the other side, At that area, we installed another catch basin and then proceeded to install a tile up toward the tee and also a tile around the left and behind of the green. This will enable to catch a lot of surface water before it gets to the fairway.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

WOW It Happens

On Wednesday evening, a storm blew through Luck and unfortunately, we lost some trees. My last count was 43. We are still assessing the tree damage as there may be a few more that need to come down. Clean up began on Thursday and we were able to once again get some "Senior Muscle" to help. We rented a wood chipper and have begun the brush removal. There is still some scattered branches that will be eventually removed. The mess delayed mowing for the weekend so the fairways and roughs will be a tad long. The good news is that no playing surfaces were hit. By this time next week, we should be all done cleaning up and beginning to prepare for the onslaught of winter.

Unfortunately, this old pine by 12 green will have to go.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Boy, it's been awhile since I last posted. A lot of things have happened since early July which are good, bad, ugly.

The good is that the drainage project is just about wrapped up. The picture the area between 4 and 5 where we tied the tiles from 6 and 4 together and ended them out at a drain basin. The washout area was filled in and reseeded so next year we will be able to mow this area. We took out 4 trees here to complete the process. This is a sign of things to come as we will embark on a tree removal program late this fall.
The bad was this bear that kept visiting our dumpster in July. He was pretty much a nuisance by scattering the garbage bags below the dumpster and feeding to his hearts content. We finally called the DNR to move the animal and after a few nights of using their bait without success, we switched to Van Meters' brats and hot dogs and within a few hours, we got him. He was moved to an undisclosed location(near the Minnesota border) and everyone is happy.
The ugly just occurred this week.Whenever power equipment is used to maintain fine turf, the inevitable is bound to happen. Hydraulic hoses will eventually fail and sometimes not noticed right away. There is some damage on greens 4, 6, and 14. How much? Hard to tell yet. Some of it may grow out, other areas may we have to plug in new sod. Not a fun chore but it happens and we will take care of it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Final Push

Once again, "Senior Muscle" to the rescue! On Thursday of this past week, my staff and the dozen or so volunteers laid 900 yards of sod of bluegrass sod in all of the areas outside of the fairways. Sod was delivered the day before and by 9:30 the next morning is was all down.
Last week I mentioned we moved sod from 15 fairway to all the drainage areas in all the other fairways. We then had to remove sod from 10 to fill in the low areas on 15.
We are still a few pallets short of completing the project. The plan is to get it completed this week. There are a few minor blemishes to correct on the fairways and connecting 2 tile lines together between 4 and 5. With that done, discussions are already underway for what's next.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting Closer

Work on fairways 4,6, and 7 is complete. The staff is working on fairway 14. They are nearing completion with just the area near the green to complete. This should be done by Friday. The next phase of the project is to buy sod for all the disturbed areas in the rough. I am looking at somewhere near 10 pallets which is 800 yds. We will sod the drain lines in the rough as well as the fill in areas on 4 and 6. The collection areas on 6 and 14 will also be sodded.

At the same time we will be doing a sod shuffle on hole 15. We have been removing the sod from the depressions if the fairway and will be filling them in with soil and then remove the sod along the fairway in the "bubble" at the bottom of the hill and put in the level areas. In the" bubble", we will lay new bluegrass sod. If we are short of fairway sod, we can remove from another "bubble" area on hole 10 and then replace it with bluegrass.

For this sod attack, I will be reaching out to the "Senior Muscle" to assist us. If all plans go well, we should be sodding next week Wednesday and then clean up details on Thursday, right before the 4th of July Weekend. Next blog post, I will include some before and after shots. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

It's Working

All of the work that the "Senior Muscle" has provided over the past several weeks is working. I have pictures in my camera but have not downloaded them yet. They show that the seed has germinated and is filling in very nicely in all the scars on the fairways. The sodding in the fairways will begin this week. Depending upon how much rain we continue to receive, will dictate where we can start. My original plan/goal was to be done by the Wings Tournament, but that will not happen. My next goal will be done by the Men's Member Guest Tournament. There are a lot of moving parts to coordinate this project when Mother Nature does what she wants. Trying to coordinate soil, sod, and  a golf course dry enough to do the work has been difficult at best. Throw in the rains and warm temperatures, that now has the turf growing  extremely well so mowing becomes a priority. Add in that the our equipment has had many issues, management and administrative duties have increased, and that we are running at a much lower maintenance budget, patience is the key for completion of this project.

The old saying "Slow and steady wins the race" is our motto here. We will complete this project and do it well. The good news is that the new drain system "It's working".

Pictures added today. Everyday things look better!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Another Step

Work continues on the drainage project. The staff was able to finish up the clean up on Hole 7 Friday, just in time for the holiday weekend. Our next "Retired Muscle" help will in the seeding of all damaged areas that were disturbed during the installation process. This next week, our staff will begin to prepare for sod in all the rough areas. Catch basins will be set to grade and fairway sod will begin to be laid on the trenches where needed. I am hoping to wrap up the whole project in 2 weeks and begin to focus our efforts on maintaining the golf course to the highest standards that we have set. Once again, thanks to the benefactors and volunteers to help make this project possible. Pictures will be posted soon.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

At it Again

Yeserday, another volunteer crew showed up to help in the clean up of the drainage project. We had 14 dedicated members and my staff of 5 worked hole 14 with cleaning the old spoils, raking leaves, adjusting the gravel and then topping the trenches off with sand. At the same time, we had a small crew hand seeding any of the disturbed areas on holes 4 and 6. After hole 14 was done, the crew headed over to hole 7 to clean up those new trenches. Our staff was able to trench and install the 385' across the fairway and up to the wet spot on the left on Monday. We would have had it all done except that the rains came about 2 hours too early. Anyway, the crew was able to top the trenches with sand. Later, my staff went out and picked up some of the spoils piles. We will get that finished by the weekend.

Next week, ther is a High School Regional match on Tuesday. Starting Wednesday, I will have additional help to be able to stay with the project. Sodding in the fairways is the first priority and then we will take care of all the disturbed areas. Once again, thanks to all my "retired muscle".

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Little Muscle

It is amazing what can be accomplished with a little muscle. On Wednesday, 12 volunteers and 5 staff members began the tedious task of cleaning the fairways from last years drainage installation. We were able to clean up all debris and backfill the drain tiles with sand We completed holes 4, 6, and 7. There are a few catch basins yet to set to grade and all the spoil piles to be leveled out. The next phase on those holes is to prep for sod on all the run tiles and the damage areas. Some of the tile lines will be left open to collect water quickly. Once all the fairways are preped, we will sod those areas with sod from our fairway nursery in the range and from the sunken area on fairway 15. We will finish up the project by sodding all the rough areas.

Next Wednesday we will have the volunteers again help us with clean up of Hole 14 and 9. A little break in the weather and we may be able to trench in the last bit of tile on hole 7. Again, thanks to our "retired" muscle for their efforts.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Greening up nicely

Typical spring week we just endured. A couple of nice days and the rest were rainy. Good news, badnews. The good news is the rain really got the damaged turf from winter to recover. The bad news is that the rain hindered our attempt to clean up the drainage project. We have a volunteer day to help in our resteration efforts on Wednesday of this week. If all goes well, we will have turned a big corner in finishing the project. I am still planning on trenching hole 7 yet, but we shall see how the weather cooperates.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Bit of Rain

As you can imagine, we are a bit wet. With over 5" of rain this past week, the playing conditions are a soft. I'm being generous with that description. Overall though, we fared pretty well. All the new drainage is working and the existing tiles are doing what they are suppose to. The pond on 17 has encroached onto the fairway. I think the tile going over to pond 11 must be plugged. I will keep an eye on it and take corrective actions when problem shows itself.

We have begun the spring cleanup of branches and debris and will finish the leaves when they dry. Plan is to begin mowing on a regular basis next week on greens, tees, and fairways. The roughs and perimeters will be mowed as necessary.

The course is ready to play, are you? 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Greening Up

With over an inch of rain yesterday, the course has a better shade of green this morning in the sunlight. During the rain yesterday, I ventured out to bring a few tee sign to install but was more curious to see the drainage in action. For the most part it was doing exactly as planned. The clean up will be necessary to make sure the water finds it's closest drain. As we dry out next week, we will get some clean up efforts not only from staff and volunteers, but from the high school students looking to log their community service hours. We still need about 2 days to finish the last of the trenching on fairway 7. Pictures will be included later.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

This time of year, the transition from winter to spring, shows us alot of  different sights as the golf course is coming to life. On a recent walkabout, here are a few things I was looking at.

The Good
This is the low area on #9 fairway where water has collected. We installed the drainage very late last fall. I'm happy to report that it is working nicely. It appears all other drain lines are working for the most part but clean up and catch basin installations will take place when dry.

The Bad
 Take another look at this photo. You see a nice green area and a brown area. Well, the green area is the 9th green and approach out in front. I sprayed for snowmold last fall and the results are wonderful. The bad part is that I must have forgot to spray the 9th fairway when I sprayed the others as you can see the damage showing. Upon closer examination, the turf is only effected on the leaf tissue so that means that as the turf begins to grow, the damage will be mowed off. This picture shows the importance of applying preventative applications in the fall.

The Ugly
Take a look outside. Enough said! The 10 inches of new snow isn't helping in opening the course. The forecast is all 60's and 70's the next week so there is a good chance we will be seeing golfers playing the course. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hold on a bit

Last week's warm weather did produce a lot of snow melt, but not enough to open the course. I was able to observe our new drainage working nicely and noticed an area to the right of the 14th green that could use a little more tile. Overall, the turf is in good shape. The greens that are clear of snow look clean of winter damage. The fairways have a little superficial damage but overall will have any playing problems.

The weather pattern looks bleak for opening this week when daytime temps will struggle to hit 40. By Easter Sunday though, the cold weather will be replaced by seasonal temps and I expect to open then. Stay in touch. Notices will be posted on our website and Facebook page when we will be opening.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Almost Ready

Didn't realize how long since my last post. It's not from napping or some tropical vacation but a " I'll get to it tomorrow" thinking. My priorities have changed these past 2  months as I have been involved in the financial management crisis that arose over the winter. But fear not, the course will open as soon as the snow melts.

The majority of the equipment is ready to go except for the Toro Fairway mower. I will be servicing that next. The snow still lingers here at a depth of about 8" everywhere. Some bare areas are starting to show. With temps this week hitting 60, the snow should disappear quickly. I have read reports of courses opening up in the Twin Cities so it won't be long before we will be able to do the same. I am anxiously awaiting the actual melt on the holes where we installed the drainage. It is good to observe the actual drainage but also the need to add if neccessary to the system to make it even better. There is still 375 feet to install before final cleanup, so any additions to the actual areas will not hinder completion.

I will try to add additional posts on a timely manner so until the next post, prepare for the golf season.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fresh Paint

As the snow piles get bigger and the temps have been freezing, I have taken the opportunity to stay inside and do some organizational management. What that really means is cleaning and painting and rearranging the shop. I had a good time last year really organizing the shop for my sanity but didn't get any paint on the walls. While heating the shop, mostly with wood, soot is everywhere. I moved everything away from the walls and cleaned and primed them before putting the paint on. I had been using a dark brown for all the benches and wanted to add a little pizzaz to the shop, so I used the same color on the wall up to 48". To enhance the bright walls, I cut in a middle stripe with a beige and then a bright white to the ceiling.

Next year I will tackle the ceiling as it too needs paint. Before we do that, I will get Xcel Energy with their Focus on Energy Proram in to redo the lights not only in the shop but at the clubhouse too. The anticipated savings in 1 year will more than cover the expenses in changing the equipment out. Stay warm.