Thursday, October 30, 2014

Green Start Academy Experience

Earlier this month Bayer Crop Science and John Deere Golf hosted the 9th Annual Green Start Academy in North Carolina. The program has been a annual event since 2005 where the goal of the program is to hep assistant superintendents gain knowledge and build a strong foundation for their careers, as well as support the future of golf courses and the industry itself. The top 50 applicants were chosen from The United States and Canada by a advisory panel of industry experts. I (Shaune Achurch) was fortunate enough to be one of the select few to partake in the opportunity of a life time.

The program kicked off with a welcoming dinner at The Oaks restaurant. I took the opportunity to meet as many attendees, presenters, sponsor and organisers. It was a great way to meet so many new people from different parts of the country and their experiences and challenges they face at their own courses.

The following days were filled with presentations including a tour of the John Deere Turf Facility and Bayer training center. The main focus of The Green Start Academy was leadership training and preparing for the next step in your career to become a superintendent. New to the Green Start Academy this year was a challenge course which included 1 hole of foot golf, breaking a window panel(as seen on the big break challenges) a bunker shot and a nearest to the pin challenge.

Preparing yourself for the next step in your career was a great experience on its own. With presenters like Bob Farren CGCS, Pinehurst Resort, Jeff Corcoran Oak Hill Country Club. These men spoke about a wide variety of subjects including resumes, building relations and separating yourself from other applicants. Their words of wisdom is something all attendees will greatly benefit from.

Between presentations we had several group discussions led by 1 member of the advisory panel that was assigned to each group. The topics included labour usage, budgets and career advancement. This was a great chance to hear what challenges other courses across the country are dealing with and also how to resolve the issues.

I would strongly recommend any assistant superintendents to apply for this amazing opportunity. The lessons I learnt will remain with me for a lifetime.

Also Id like to thank John Deere, Bayer Crop Science, Mr Bob Farren CGCS, Mr Chris Dew, Mr Chris Condon, Mr Bryan Stromme, Mr Jeff Corcoran, Mr Billy Weeks and Ms Carol Rau for their insightful presentations.

Gift package upon arrival

Bob Farren CGCS talking US Open

Monday, October 20, 2014

Intern Posting For 2015

East Lake Golf Club is currently seeking potential interns foe 2015 golf season. Please read the flyer and apply within.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Advance Week Preparations

Hopefully you enjoyed our video on advance week. As you could tell we had some fun, from falls to putting the go pro on a remote controlled car, we enjoyed ourselves.
However it was not all fun and games and plenty of work was carried out on the course from ultra grooming greens multiple times, mowing rough for the last time, touching up mulch and pine straw to plate tamping and smoothing bunker faces.
For those of you not in the turf industry, advance week is the week prior to practice and championship rounds. This was our last week to do the ultra-detailed jobs on the course that we cannot do tournament week.
These jobs included plate tamping bunker faces, making sure bunker depth was at a consistent depth of 2 inches on the face and 3 inches on the bottom pan. As a golf course superintendent the last thing we want to see on national television was a plugged ball on a bunker face.
We also edged all irrigation heads on property as well as hand trimming greens heads with a pair of scissors. Late in advance week we began to mow fairways, tees, collars and approaches on a daily basis in the afternoon for the added benefit of a dry cut.
Other than a few pop up storms, advance week could not have gone smoother.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tour Championship 2014

We hope that everyone had a chance to watch some of The Tour Championship on TV. If I was to describe the week, the only words that come to mind are " ORGANIZED CHAOS" It was a massive few weeks for our agronomy team and without the guys that are in the trenches everyday we would not be able to produce the product that we do.

First of all we were extremely lucky! We dodged alot of rainfall which would've been disastrous to our preparations.

This year we spent alot of time perfecting our bunkers. Advance week we plate tamped all of the bunker faces once we had our sand depths to the appropriate depths. This process alone took approximately 2 days to complete. Once we finished tamping we continued to monitor the moisture in the bunkers so they didn't dry down too much. If needed, we would hand water the bunker to maintain the firmness. This year we decided to smooth the faces with the underside of the accuform rake and only rake the bottom pan of the bunker. Why you may ask? Well its plain and simple, not disrupting the face of the bunker greatly decreases the chance of plugged lies. And not to mention if the ball did enter a bunker it would come to rest in a level part of the bunker. We don't just do this for the professionals, we continue this practice year-round for our members.

If you did catch some of the golf on TV you would've noticed how true the greens were. In many comments made by tour officials, commentators and so forth, they constantly commented on the putting surface. The greens were close to perfect for the week, we had great turf coverage,firmness and playability. This year we focused extremely hard on our cultural practices. Not just the practices but the timing of the practices. We religiously groomed and topdressed on a weekly basis prior to the Championship. We even topdressed the Saturday prior to Monday's practice round. Our protocol tournament week was backtrack mow in the am followed by a roll and a roll only in the pm.

The rough a East Lake was also a talking point. This year the tour allowed us to beef up the rough a little more than years past. We put our final mow on the rough Saturday prior to practice rounds at 2 and 1/4 inches. I know it doesn't seem like a lot, but at that height of rough we put some doubt in the players mind with what type of lie they would have, whether it would be a flyer or a chunky lie.

Fairways were also in great shape. We lowered our cutting heights advance week and mowed daily in the pm shift alternating our mowing direction each time.

Id like to thank our team of volunteers for this years tournament, we had volunteers from far and a wide. We had approximately 50 volunteers a day that gave up their own time to help out our team achieve our goals.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Final Count Down!

Its hard to believe the tournament is almost upon us, 11 days to be exact.

I think for many of us in the South we have had professional experiences that we may have not expected to see this year. For example the 2013/2014 winter will be one that will be remembered. Whether it be snow, temperatures, winter kill and now the plague of army worms, we have no choice but to keep moving forward.

At East Lake we are extremely proud of our crew. They have been through it all this year from snow removal, covering greens in pinestraw, our 9 day closure where the hours start at sun up and end past sundown. They have stopped for nothing.

This past weekend we hosted the annual East Lake Invitational. All proceeds raised from the event go to The East Lake Foundation. We had celebrities such as Bill Murray, Richard Jenkins, Charles Barkley, George Lopez and many more take part in the event. All in all everybody had a great time and plenty of money was raised for the foundation.

As soon as the event was over we shifted all of our efforts to start fine tuning the course for The Tour Championship.

Currently all of our cutting heights are at tournament standards. A challenge we have faced has been the rough. We grew the rough up to two and a quarter inches and recently knocked it down to two inches. You may be thinking that is crazy! The theory behind that is the PGA Tour Rules Officials believe two inch rough is more difficult than higher height rough simply because at two inches a player may have a rip at a green (and end up in more trouble) instead of chipping out sideways if the rough was higher. Makes sense I guess! The purpose of nipping the rough down just before the event is to reduce leaf tissue on top, thus allowing balls to settle more deeply into the canopy.

Greens, tees and fairways are in great condition at the moment. We have started to dry cut the the fairways and the results have been sound. We have achieved a much cleaner precise cut and have not needed to drag or blow any clippings, allowing us more man hours on other tasks.

The final piece of the build-out (Public viewing platforms) has been completed today which was the grandstands at 1 tee. All we need now is the top 30 players of 2014!

Please continue below for a look at our go pro video for the week. Thank you for viewing our blog and check back in next week for Advance Week Preparations.


Friday, August 15, 2014

The Race To The Finish Line!

The race to the finish is well and truly on! As of today we are 24 days out till the top 30 golfers on the PGA tour converge to the hallowed grounds of East Lake Golf Club. Our agronomy team has been working diligently to make sure the golf course is in pristine condition. We encountered a few bumps in the road with around 5 inches of rain being dumped on us in 2 days. Unfortunately all bunkers washed out and alot of mulch beds washed out also. However the team worked hard and has the course in great shape.


The greens are near perfect at the moment. We have re-introduced using ultradwarf sand for topdressing for the mere fact it is much easier to work into the canopy of the plant. A little different than years past we have been topdressing the greens twice a week, this process follows behind ultra grooming the greens which we have been doing weekly. These two processes have greatly improved the texture of the green and the firmness.

Pine straw Beds

The contractors from Southeast Spreading have done their thing and whipped out around 5700 bales of pine straw on the property. All the beds look very fresh and rejuvenated.


If you've been to East Lake the last week or two you may notice the lakes have alot of algae on them.
To try to combat the issue we decided to restock the lakes with grass carp. The carp have a sweet tooth for algae so hopefully they can help us with that issue.

Please check back in on our blog. As tournament approaches we will add more videos and updates.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tour Preparations / Monday Madness


The countdown is well and truly on until The Tour Championship hits the fairways of East Lake Golf Club. We only 41 days away and time is not stopping for anybody!

The weather trend continues to be in our favor with high skies and plenty of sunshine which has been a blessing since the 9 day closure. We have recorded around 4 inches of rain for the month of July with the added fertility and rainfall the golf course is looking sharp.


Since the course closure for summer maintenance the greens have really progressed well. After all of the cultural practices we performed, the greens have completely healed and are right back on track with our desired cutting height and greens speeds.
So far this week we have backtrack ultra groomed the greens which will be done on a weekly basis in lead up to The Tour Championship. Following the groom we backtracked mowed and topdressed the putting surface.
This week we went back to the ultra dwarf topdressing mix (#60 screen) to be able to topdress more frequently and to more easily work the finer sand into the canopy of the plant. Previously we were using a medium grain mix (#45 screen) while our cultural practices were taking place.


We recently made our final application of turflon / fusilade to fairways in hope of removing as much bermuda contamination as possible. That being said if you have played East Lake in the last few days you may have noticed the fairways were a little off color. This is temporary and the fairways will return to there normal color in a short time.
Also on Monday the fairways were circle cut. This is the third time this month we have performed this process. The variety of zoysia we have is meyer and it tends to get very grainy, the circle cut allows us to attack the grain at many different angles and essentially the fairway gets at least double cut in multiple directions.


One of our goals as a department this year was to make the rough around the course more consistent. To achieve this we have added extra fertility to the roughs and altered some cultural practices. One of the issues we had here was maintaining a consistent stand of rough around the greens(inside rope lines) There were many factors contributing to this problem the main one being traffic from our maintenance practices such as sprayer and topdressier traffic, and the other being from the golfers exiting from the same point of the green. To remedy the issue we started to drop spread extra fertility some 30 feet out from the collars. The drop spread application has made a significant difference and hopefully the green surrounds will be more challenging for the top 30 golfers.


If you have been to East Lake I think its fair to say that Schaffer sports are rocking and rolling along. Construction for the corporate village is near finished as is the corporate suites along 17 fairway. They have also started bleachers for the viewing of the public around 18 green, 17 green and 16 green.

6 bridge installation
Construction around 16 green
Corporate suites along 17 fairway
Bleachers around 18 tee