Intros, Updates, and Looking Ahead

Spring has sprung at East Lake! We are working "fill steam ahead" towards warmer temperatures and summer schedules. With this being my first blog post I wanted to take a moment to reintroduce myself as the new moderator of the East Lake Agronomy Blog.

I @JasonLTharp have been at East Lake a little over a year now. A more indepth bio is available in a previous post here. One interesting fact: My first golf course job was at The Governor's Club  in Brentwood, Tn, Shaune's new post as Superintendent. It is a small world after all! @govclubsuper is his new twitter handle BTW. Follow both of us for a constant feed of interesting happenings at our courses!
Over the course of the coming years I am looking forward to the challenge of letting all of you in behind the curtain of our Agronomy Department. My highest goal is to consistantly add valuble information and commentary to the conversation of current golf course maintenance.

Once massive project we recelty completed was the replacement of the subsurface vault which encloses our Chipping Green Subair system. The walls of the vault had become comprimised, allowing the weight from above to begin collapsing.

You can see here the old vault with all of the connections removed, ready to be pulled out. 

I don't want to even imagine doing this without heavy machinery......

The new vault is an improved model from Subair, but required extensive rerouting of external connections. Here you see the new vault being alined with the old damper (which directs air flow into either vacuum or pressure mode). 

In all, this project required 121.5 man hours from out team, needless to say we are glad it is done! Special thanks goes out to Howard @hhornetech and Chris our mechanics, and Lopez our irrigation tech! Great job guys! 


Over the course of the last two weeks we have lightly verticut everything from tees to collars and approaches. After a few tests, we set the verticutters to -.100 and went at it! Each area was treated as it's own, determining the number of cuts (between 1 and 4) according to turf type, organic accumulation, and canopy density. We changed direction after every cut and followed it with a thorough blow and double cut with a John Deere SL220 with an out-front brush. We are very excited with the result. The shallow verticutting into buckets removed tremendous amounts of organic deposits, and left a firm dense canopy that is ready for play!

Looking Ahead
Spring has sprung!

Fairways and greens have greened up! We are ecstatic with the condition of our greens coming out of winter, they are dense and strong! It is shaping up to be a fantastic year at East Lake Golf Club!


"Thanks For The Memories"

This will be my last blog post as Assistant Superintendent at East Lake Golf Club; I have just been offered (and accepted) the Golf Course Superintendent position at in Brentwood, Tennessee.

March 4, 2004 was the first time I set foot on the hallowed grounds of East Lake as a fresh faced intern from Australia, and coincidentally my last day as an Assistant with East Lake will be March 4, 2015!

I honestly can't single out a particular moment that was the highlight of my time here, there has been too many, but seeing the transformation of the course for the Tour Championship is at the top. The reason I say that is due to the team work that is required to achieve the lofty goals of hosting a PGA tour event annually. The team at East Lake year after year all rally around each other and seem to raise the bar each year, and they do it with a smile on their face.

As for personal achievements, the one thing I am most proud of is this blog. I designed, created and wrote for this blog since December 2012. So far we have had 26,565 views world wide. My goal for designing the blog was to help fellow turf care professionals in the industry and to inform the members of East Lake why we do what we do. It has never been a platform to brag from or to say the way we manage turf is the only way. It was to say, this works for us, it may work for you. In addition to the blog, I created the East Agronomy twitter feed with over 1,200 followers. I wanted to thank everyone who has supported the blog and followed us on twitter, your kind comments has been greatly appreciated.

While embarking on the next chapter of my career, I take with me many great memories and new friendships forged along the way.

I would like to thank all of the crew members of East Lake, they are the unsung heroes of this club and without them East Lake would not be what it is today without their hard work and dedication.

 Last but not least, I want to thank Ralph Kepple CGCS, for mentoring, guiding, grooming and supporting me for the next step in my career.

My time here at East Lake Golf Club has been well spent.  I will honestly say that, "I left East Lake Golf Club a much better human being, and more confident in my abilities to manage my own course."  I wish the club and the agronomy department the best in their future endeavors.  I know the golf course is in very capable hands.

Shaune Achurch.

Assistant In Training Experiences

I would like to thank Ralph, Shaune, and Jason for allowing me to be the Assistant in Training (AIT) here at East Lake Golf Club. Unfortunately, my time here has come to an end as I am being deployed to Kuwait with my Army Reserve Unit. I am proud of my time and accomplishments during my tenure here. Over these past nine months, the management team has been tremendous in educating, mentoring, and preparing me to succeed at my next course when I return.

I had originally interned at East Lake Golf Club, so when I received the call from Shaune Achurch asking if I would like to come back as the AIT, I jumped at the chance. Having been an intern here before I knew what to expect, but more importantly, what would be expected out of me. Looking back, I know I made the best choice both professionally and personally.

My role grew considerably from intern to AIT. New to East Lake this summer, we incorporated a PM crew. I was in charge of managing and tasking out their jobs for each day. Along with that, I also managed the crew on the weekends. I was also able to have a more active role managing small projects.

My biggest responsibility as an AIT here was my involvement with the fertilizer and pesticide applications. This is the area I felt I grew the most. Whether calibrating, spraying, or managing chemical inventory, it has been a great learning experience. Moisture management was another major part of my job, as I had the task of managing our greens’ moisture levels during the TOUR Championship. Although sometimes stressful and labor intensive, I took pride in seeing the quality of our greens during the tournament.

The Tour Championship played a big role in my decision to return to East Lake. To witness firsthand the amount of time and work that is actually put into the course was amazing.To watch the course blossom and peak in the weeks leading to the tournament speaks volumes on how well Ralph, management, and the crew truly know how to prepare the course for this great event.

I am truly proud of my time here at East Lake. I can honestly say that it was a joy to come into work each day. The staff was always present to help and prepare me for my next step professionally. I am already looking forward to coming back during the Tour Championship as a volunteer, knowing that Ralph and this staff will continue to show the true beauty of East Lake.



James Galvin

Please see below for James interview and photo of his last day.

James last day with East Lake


Greens, Pine Straw And Covers

Well its seems like the run of warmer weather is over for now. Thus far we have been somewhat lucky, only covering the greens at East Lake one time prior to this week.

With temperatures falling within our set protocols, we decided to cover the greens Tuesday morning, and add pine straw to certain greens or areas of the green that have significant amounts of shade.

As was the case last year when courses were faced with the polar vortex, many course that have ultradwarf greens utilized pine straw to add extra insulation on the surface. In our case we found that greens that were covered in pine straw stayed 4-7 degrees warmer than those greens with no pine straw. This year we covered all of number 4 green and the small practice green due to large shade volume throughout the day. Greens receining partial pine straw coverage were 2, 3, 5, 9, 11, 15 and 18.
In total we used approximately 300 bales of pine straw and 114.8 man hours to complete this process.

Around The Lake

I hope that everyone is enjoying some down time in these cooler months and  enjoying the holiday season. The team at East Lake has enjoyed some less intensive work weeks since tournament has passed, however in the pursuit of perfection we are already building towards a great start of the new year and 2015 golf season.

As for many in the industry this time of year with reduced rounds is perfect for completing some projects that maybe unattainable to complete during the busier months for golf. As a department we have tackled many of our projects we were not able to complete prior to The Tour Championship.

Months prior to the Tour Championship we noticed a small sink hole on the dam wall on the par 3 2nd. As in most cases what we believed would be a quick fix turned out to be a major undertaking.
After about a day and 16 man hrs later we found that some drainage pipe had become unhinged causing a major washout below turf level. The problem we encountered was that the pipe was below lake level, so to fix the drainage pipe we had to drain 95% of the lake. This was another issue itself, after a few years and several storms a considerable amount of silt had been deposited in the lake. Enough to cover the emergency drain line in around 6 ft of silt. So in order to drain the lake we rented a 4 inch pump to drain the lake. The lake depth is suppose to be around 12 ft, as you can see in the photo below in parts of the lake there is approximately 10-11 feet of silt. As you may guess the removal of the silt has been placed high on our capitol project list!

Half way there

You will notice the hoses in the weir in this photo. This was the
only way to drain the lake because the emergency drain was engulfed
by silt.

Hard to believe the amount of silt present

The culprit

In other news we recently held our annual East Lake Agronomy bowling day. This was a fantastic day to let our crew know how much they mean to us and to thank them for their tireless efforts they put in day in and day out. We must take a moment to thank Jason Whitecliff from Syngenta for sponsoring the day for us.
We also celebrated thanksgiving lunch with a pot luck dinner. Lets just say everybody was moving a little slower after lunch. Please see below for photos.

Jimmy, Deshontay and Chris

The boys looking grimm after the scores

Hector pumped up after a strike

Enrique may have eaten to much pizza!

The boss, Ralph Kepple showing some form
Some of the food from thanksgiving lunch

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