Monday, November 17, 2014

Making Our Bridges Safer

One of the most common issues we hear about lately is that the bridges on the golf course are slippery for walkers when they are damp.  We have a total of seven bridges on the golf course and all but one are almost entirely in the shade. Because the bridges don't get a lot of sunlight they will often remain wet well into the day.

All of the bridges are constructed with marine grade treated lumber so the moisture does not affect their structural integrity.  What does happen when the bridges remain damp, however, is that they will develop a film of algae on them.  This algae can be slippery and will also allow dirt a debris to accumulate on the bridge as well.  All of this can lead to a potentially slippery surface, especially in golf shoes.

In researching a solution to the problem I looked into several different materials and methods for creating a non-slip surface on the bridges. One popular material is a 3M product called PEM matting.  This is a product that is commonly used in pool bathroom and locker facilities.  The PEM matting seemed to be the most common material, however the courses that I visited that had their bridges equipped with this material the matting looked faded and frayed on the edges after several years.

Another material that was available was a paint with textured grip mixed in. These products would have worked but I would have needed ideal weather conditions to ensure they would adhere and turn out the way they are supposed to.  We would also struggle to keep cart traffic off the bridges while the paint dried.

The product that I decided on turned out to be the simplest method available.  We decided to go wit a 6"x24" tread sticker that fit perfectly on the 8" decking boards of our bridges.  With close to 600' of bridges, we had to order 850 of these treads.  The material is a rubber sticker with a heavy grit "sandpaper" texture on it.  The adhesive is very strong and should have no trouble sticking to the bridges.

The first step in the process was to pressure wash the entire bridge.  This removed all of the algae and dirt that had accumulated on the bridge surface.  The bridges looked almost new again after pressure washing!  This will certainly become a process that we do more frequently, not just for aesthetics but the freshly pressure washed bridges had noticeably more traction than before.

After pressure washing, we had to let the bridge completely dry before we could affix the treads. For most of the bridges we were able to snap a chalk line to use as a guide because the bridges are straight.  Having that guide line sped the process up considerably.

To date we have about half of the bridges completed (#4, #14 and #16).  We will complete the remaining bridges as the weather allows.  The forecast this week is for wet, followed by extremely cold conditions. We will complete #6,  #9 and #12 as soon as we can.

The tread stickers are very practical as well, if one becomes damaged we can simply replace it with a new one rather than having to patch it back together or replace a long stretch of matting.

I have already heard very positive feedback on how well the treads improve traction!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall Annual Color

As the weather turns colder and the leaves begin to turn and fall, we know that it is time to pull the summer annual flowers that we planted and replace them with fall pansies and violas.  The frost kills the summer flowers but the cold weather has less of an effect on fall annuals such as pansies, violas and ornamental cabbage.

This fall, we decided to go with all violas to replant the beds at the FAC, traffic circle and golf cottage.  Violas tend to stand more upright once we get into winter and not get flattened out by the freezing temperatures like pansies do.  In addition, violas are less prone to being eaten and trampled by neighborhood deer.

We still cover the flowers with black plastic netting to keep the deer away from them.  We want to ensure that the flowers don't get eaten when the deer start foraging late in the winter.

Next year we are excited to add significantly more color and annuals to the front of the brand new clubhouse!  It should be a great addition to the facilities here at Hasentree!

Ladies Member Guest

Last Friday The Hasentree Club hosted our Fall Ladies Member Guest. The weather was fantastic.  We had the largest field we have had to date to make the event even better!

We added potted mums to the forward tees this year to denote the tee position for the ladies event!

You couldn't have asked for a prettier fall day in North Carolina!  Temperatures warmed up into the low 70's and there wasn't a cloud int eh sky!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bentgrass Greens in the Hot, Humid Southeast!

Summer officially arrived 11 days ago and with it came the temperatures we have become accustom to in Central North Carolina.  90 Degrees or more are almost a daily occurrence and the humidity is often the cause of afternoon thunderstorms.  The summer temperatures are great for outdoor activities and vacations, however they can cause serious issues with bentgrass greens on golf courses.

The greens at The Hasentree Club are creeping bentgrass, agrostis stolonifera.  More specifically, the bentgrass is a variety called Penn A-4.  Bentgrass is what is known as a cool season turf, meaning that it grows best in temperatures of 65-80 degrees.  The A-4 that we have at Hasentree is adapted to higher temperatures than many other varieties but still requires many cultural practices in order to keep it healthy and thriving.  

During the summer months the maintenance staff at Hasentree will spend countless hours "watching" greens in the afternoons during these hot days.  Our assistants spend their afternoons looping the golf course looking for any signs of stress or wilt (wilting turfgrass shows up as purple in color).  If the temperatures are extremely high we will often mist the greens down to use the evaporative cooling of the water to lower the temperature on the surface.  

"Watching" greens is the final cultural practice to keep greens alive through the summer heat.  There is much more that is done before the heat of the day to help reduce the possibility of wilt.  Our crew inspects each green every morning and takes moisture readings on a digital soil moisture meter as well as pulling cores to get a visual image of what is happening to the roots.  The assistants will pay close attention to areas that are chronically the first ones to show summer stress.

There are numerous additional practices that must take place before the heat sets in, and often during heat spells, in order to help ensure our greens survival as well.  For example, below is a snapshot of what our crew did this week before the long 4th of July weekend.

Monday June 30

Our crew took advantage of the golf course being closed to use solid tines and aerify the greens.  The solid tines do not pull a core but rather open holes and channels in the surface. Air movement and the ability of the roots to breath is the single most important thing we can do to help the plants.  These channels allow water and oxygen to more efficiently move into the rootzone.  The channels will also allow carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide to be released from the soil.  These gases, if left in the soil, would prove toxic to turfgrass roots.

Once the greens were aerified, we roll the green in order to smooth out the tufting that occurs with the solid tines.  Most of the time, a golfer wouldn't even recognize that this had been done after the roll.  Since we were closed, we then applied gypsum or calcium sulfate.  The gypsum will bind chemically to the salts that accumulate in the soil during the summer months.  The salts will become toxic as well to the roots if left alone.  

We applied the gypsum knowing that we were going to "flush" the greens that night.  "Flushing" is the act of applying a significant amount of water to the green in an attempt to fill the sand cavity that the greens are built in.  Once there is enough water to fill the entire depth of the greens cavity, it creates enough pressure to allow the water to drain quickly out the bottom of the green through the drainage pipe.  Once this happens it literally "flushes" and as it drains rapidly out of the green it also pulls the salts and other detrimental contaminants out with it.  Additionally this "flush" evens up the water throughout the rootzone and allows for more even moisture.

Tuesday July 1

We begin the flush very early in the morning and it still takes until around 8:00am to finish all 22 greens.  We are able to get the front nine greens done well before this time in order to stay ahead of play for the day.  Once the flush is complete we allow the greens to drain and then roll them to smooth out any softness that may still be there.

Later in the day, we went out and applied 0-0-25, potassium.  Potassium is an essential nutrient in the plant to strengthen cell walls and help the plant against the heat.  Potassium is also very mobile in the soil and whatever potassium was left in the soil was "flushed" out of the green along with the all of the detrimental materials.

Wednesday July 2

This morning our assistants applied a product called "Turfscreen" to the greens along with some preventative fungicide.  The Turfscreen is a pigment that also has the same products approved by the FDA for use in sunscreen for people, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide!  The turfscreen does exactly what sunscreen does for people, it protects the leaf blades from the suns UVA and UVB rays by reflecting them.  In studies that we  performed two years ago, we noticed a noticeable reduction in the surface temperature of the green when using this product.

Turf Screen - Enhanced Solar Protection

As you can see, a lot of careful attention and hard work goes into keeping the greens at The Hasentree Club in good condition and healthy.  As mentioned above, this is just a quick snapshot of what we do.  A lot of work throughout the year goes into maintaining bentgrass greens throughout the summer.  From fall and spring core aerifications to a strong fertility program to help build roots, everything that is done is well thought out and has a purpose.