Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Winter Newsletter 2/17/16

Winter Maintenance 

Winter is finally here and it took its time getting here this year. We are in full winter maintenance mode both on the course and at the shop. We have completed some projects and others are ongoing. Our projects have included resodding the bank in front of #14 green, and greenside bunkers on both #15 and #16. Drainage was improved on #8, hazardous trees are being removed, the size and frequency of drain covers are being reduced, a new irrigation pump has been installed, course accessories are being refurbished and shop improvements have begun.

The banks on #14, #15, and #16 were resodded before winter to allow the sod time to produce roots and become established before winter arrived. These banks had begun to deteriorate due to mole damage, traffic from years of maintenance, and sand build up from topdressing and bunker play. Once the old sod was removed any excess sand was removed and the severity of the slope was softened. A more stress tolerant grass was installed, turf-type tall fescue, to provide a healthier, more pleasing and playable stand of turf. 
#15 bunker bank with new sod

Drainage is an ongoing capital project. We have made a few improvements so far. A line on #8 fairway was installed connecting two drainage basins to an outlet pipe allowing the existing drainage to work effectively; this will help the approach area and greenside bunker to properly drain and dry after rain. A more visually noticeable drainage issue we are addressing is the reduction of drain grates in the fairway. Many grates are 12" to 24" in diameter.  We have reduced the larger grates to either 6" or 8" diameter covers and some grates we were able to remove completely. This will be an ongoing project as we move forward.  The front 9 fairways and approaches have been completed. 

Center of the tree rotting. This tree was removed from back left of #13 green.
Preventative tree care is also taking place. Many trees throughout the course that have died or have low hanging limbs have been successfully pruned. We have cleared shrubs and undergrowth in dense areas to improve air movement and provide a less competitive area for the existing trees to survive. Unhealthy, rotting, dying or dead trees have been removed as well. These trees pose significant threat to members, workers, turf, irrigation lines, and drainage. It is best to identify these problematic trees and remove them in a safe manner before any damage can be done.  

We are expanding some tees to increase area for more tee placements. Currently we are working on #16. This will allow us to use the tee for a longer period of time throughout the year as we can move the tee markers to more locations and spread out traffic. Along with expanding the tee, we will be improving the drainage between the tees as this area was problematic after rains and stayed saturated for extended periods of time. 

#16 tee stripped of sod. Drainage will be installed to the left of the tee.

New Pumps
and Pump Station
 A very exciting improvement that we have been working on is the instillation of four new irrigation pumps. They have been installed in the pump house, and we are painting and improving the pump house itself. The old pumps were almost 20 years old and beginning to become a liability. There were leaks starting to appear and their longevity was a constant concern. Due to the importance of the pumps and the amount of time it takes to build and install them, it was not something we could wait to replace. If they were to go out during the summer months, we would not be able to supply the majority of the course with water. The new pumps will efficiently provide reliable irrigation for decades to come. 

Our irrigation pumps are the heart of our irrigation system and our irrigation system is the vascular system of our golf course. It is rarely seen physically by golfers but the pumps are constantly improving our golf course anytime that irrigation is being used. Without the pumps working tirelessly behind the scenes we would not be able to maintain the course in championship condition.  Improvements such as new irrigation pumps, drainage, and erosion control may not improve the course immediately, however, these improvements to the course's infrastructure prevent large scale damage being caused to the course. It is easier to do preventative erosion control than it is to rebuild a bank that has collapsed. Installing drainage will allow carts off paths sooner after a rain, prevent areas from becoming saturated and weakening the turf during periods of stress, as well as improve the playability of the course. As mentioned before, the new pumps power our irrigation system which supplies life to the plant during dry spells. All of these improvements do not stand out or make immediate impacts on the course, but without them, the course will not be able to be maintained at a championship level.

We have also been busy in the shop area as well. The mechanics will go through and perform maintenance on all equipment. This includes changing the oil and filters in all carts and mowers, grinding of reels and bed knives on our reel mowers, inspecting all fuel and hydraulic lines and ensuring that everything is ready to go when spring arrives. We will be getting a new fleet of mowers because much of our older equipment is requiring more and more maintenance every year to produce the final product that we desire. With changes in technology, it just makes sense to upgrade the equipment.

A project that we work on every winter and is key to providing a Victoria National experience is refurbishing of course accessories. Tee markers and yardage plaques have been washed and will be receiving a fresh coat of paint. Benches have been sanded and are being varnished and bunker rakes will be gone through with new handles and rake heads being applied as needed. A greenhouse has been constructed to help with the growth of ornamental plants that are used around the clubhouse along with some vegetables and spices used at the main grill. We have improved the staff locker room by installing full size lockers so that jackets and work clothing can be hung up appropriately and allowed to dry.

Greenhouse constructed near
Maintenance Facility 

We look forward to continuously improving the course, the shop and Victoria National overall. Please feel free to stop by the maintenance facility at any time to tour our shop and see what we have going on. Have a great winter and see every one on the course in the spring.


Kyle Callahan
Golf Course Superintendent

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