Friday, January 9, 2015

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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

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

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.