Monday, July 30, 2012

Grizzly on #18 Green

One of my goals has been to take pictures of wildlife while they are on the golf course.  I like to capturing a picture of the animal while highlighting the golf course.  I have always wanted to take a picture of a bear on one of our greens at Greywolf.  I have seen plenty of bears on the golf course, but never had the DSLR with me or the bear has never crossed one of our greens.

Tuesday July 17th I was able to check the “bear on a green picture” goal off my goals list.  The best part is the bear was a Grizzly on our 18th Green.   The Grizzly that we captured was first seen on the 6th green by a staff member about to mow the green.   The Grizzly then moved across the 8th green, through our parking lot, and onto the eighteenth hole.  The Grizzly was a mid-size bear and we estimated it to be about two years old.  The pictures in the slide show below are not great as it is challenging to get the camera settings correct, while you are hold bear bangers, diving a Gator, and trying to ensure guests and staff are safe.  To show you how fast a Grizzly can move I calculated it traveled an estimate .8 Km in about eight minutes through some challenging terrain.   From there the Grizzly moved across the eighteenth green where we used bear bangers to keep it moving and scare it off the golf course.  I wish everyone kept his pace of play.  

Grizzly on #18 Green at Greywolf

Bear Print in topdressing sand

Something you do not see on tee sheet every morning

Monday, April 23, 2012

Its A Guy Thing

One of the unique experiences about working at Greywolf and Panorama is that I get to run a Snow Cat in the winter.  I must admit it is not for the extra pay cheque.  The reason I do it could be chalked up to what I call a “guy thing.”  I get to crank the radio up while I drive a unique and large piece of equipment in a setting that is majestic.  It is peaceful when you are 15km from civilization surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery.  It is an experience that I would not have at most other golf courses.
Occasionally we even use the Snow Cat to assist us with snow removal on the golf course (click the link to see us clearing a green with the Snow Cat).

Removing Snow off of Nursery - April 20, 2012
On Friday we returned the Snow Cat to Mountain Operations after clearing our sod nursery of snow.  The following video was shot during the 2011/12 Nordic grooming season.  Hope it highlights why I do the job! 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Eight Weeks of Snow Removal

There has been one mission for the past eight and half weeks - snow removal.   It has been a long, slow frustrating process.  The snow removal process has involved the use of a skid steer, tractor, Snow Cat, and Toro Polar Trac snow blower.

Snow #9 Greens Surrounds April 2, 2012
There has been three goals with our snow removal program.  The first goal was to gain access to all of our greens by clearing paths to them.  This allows us to clear snow on the greens, gain access to our Green Jacket tarps system, as well as vent under the tarping system.

This year clearing paths was accomplished using a skid steer as well as our John Deere tractor.  These two pieces of equipment required snow chains on all four wheels. The skid steer is the primary vehicle for snow removal.  Because the cart paths are hard packed from Nordic skiing and venting operations, a bucket rather than a snow blower was used.  Our 55 HP John Deere tractor is used to clear paths on steep hills as the skid steer has problems with traction in these areas.  The process is slow and frustrating.  This is because chains break, machinery gets stuck regularly, and the large volume of snow impedes progress.  At times we have been digging through over four feet of snow and therefore, only able to clear 400 to 500 yards of path in one day.

Challenges with Traction #18 Cart Path April 2, 2012

Clearing Path to 13 Green March 26, 2012

Challenges with Tire Chains - March 26, 2012

Clearing the snow off the eight greens not protected by our Green Jacket Tarp system, was the second goal of our snow removal program.  The concern with these greens was the ice layer that formed in December and January.  We have been monitoring these greens throughout the winter and in late February some of our sample plugs caused us some concern.  Therefore we started clearing greens the first week in March.  Clearing snow on our greens has been accomplished through the use of Honda snow blowers and a Toro Polar Trac Snow Blower.  Some greens have been cleared four times since the process started in early March.  The following video link to Youtube highlights snow removal on Cliffhanger (#6) and Mooseback (#16) (sorry cannot embed clip due to music copyrights).

Initial Clearing of #9 Green with Toro Polar Trac - March 22, 2012 
Large amounts and continued snowfall in March necessitated the use of our Snow Cat on the fourth green (see video below).   First the Snow Cat was used to remove all but 6” to 12” of snow.  Then the Polar Trac was then used complete the clearing operations on four.

Clearing snow with Snow Cat - #4 Green - March 22, 2012
 The final goal of our snow removal program was to clear snow off slopes where large volumes of runoff form on green surfaces.  Greens such as number two and three are two examples of this scenario.  For these large areas our Snow Cat has been used to remove snow.  This is because it can move large volumes of snow over long distances in a short period of time.

Clearing snow around #3 Green - April 5, 2012
Yesterday was the final day of major snow clearing operations (I hope).  There are still tees and small areas of cart paths to clear but the majority of work is done.  There is still plenty of snow on the golf course, but Mother Nature will have to assist us in these areas.
I would like to thank Oakcreek Golf and Turf and Ryan Schultz for loaning us a Polar Trac snow blower.   They recognized our struggles with snow this year and stepped into help – Thanks.   

Saturday, April 7, 2012

C Math Has Left the Building

On Friday I had to say farewell, good luck, and good bye to a colleague and good friend.  It was a sad day for me because it was Assistant Superintendent Colin Matheson’s last day at Greywolf. 

I have had the pleasure of working with Colin for nine years.  Colin and I started working together at the Golden Golf and Country Club in 2003.  At that time Colin was not in the turfgrass profession.  He was studying engineering at the University of Calgary.  Like myself and many others, Colin soon found that working outside and on a golf course was a passion.
Sprayer Calibration with Luzzane
One of my fondest memories about Colin was when he discussed dropping out of university and enrolling in Fairview Colleges Turfgrass program.  When he discussed changing the direction of his post secondary education with his parents, his mother phoned me to discuss what the career of a turfgrass professional entailed.  She wanted to know if there was work in the winter, if there were opportunities for a long term career, and wanted to ensure this was not some short term endeavor so Colin could play more golf.  I thought it showed great family support that Colin’s parents would inquire and follow up on a change in careers.   Colin went on to attend Fairview College and graduated at the top of his class with Distinction.

When I left Golden in 2007, I quickly approached Colin about working at Greywolf.  He started at Greywolf that spring as irrigation foreman.  In 2008, Colin earned the position of Assistant Superintendent because of his education, professionalism, and passion for the business.

Modelling Ladies Visors During Frost Delay
During the last five years at Greywolf, Colin has supported myself and worked tirelessly for Greywolf.   In the spring of 2009 and 2010 when Greywolf suffered devastating loses due to ice damage, Colin worked  relentlessly to get the course back into condition for our guests.   He could always be counted on to work the long (and cold) hours prepping the course for winter.  Colin understands that turf and weather do not know the calendar or a clock.  He is dedicated to his profession.

The time has come for change and Colin has moved onto the Olympic View Golf Course in Victoria BC as Assistant Superintendent.

Greywolf will miss Colin.  I will miss Colin.  I will miss him as a colleague and as friend.  I wish him all the  best.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thanks and Respect

Clearing Greens of Slush
“Respect is earned not given" is one of the oldest management sayings.

After nine years with the Greywolf Golf Course, Chad Thomlinson has decided to leave for another opportunity.  He will be taking over as General Manger and Director of Golf at the Highwood Golf Club, in High River Alberta.  Chad spent nine years at Greywolf, one as Associate Professional and five as Head Professional.  In 2009, Chad earned the position of Director of Golf.

Delivering Sod to #8

Chad’s met the challenges that Greywolf presents head on.  He did this while supporting his team of managers, supervisors, and staff.  He fostered an environment where staff shared ideas, celebrated success, and resolved problems as a team.  There was no job that Chad would not do, whether it was working on the grease trap or constructing a float for a parade.  He worked with and alongside the staff.   I personally will not forget the support Chad gave me when there were challenges with our greens in 2009.  He earned my respect then and continued to earn it every day we worked together.

Managers Winter Meeting & Product Testing

I wish Chad, Lori, Ruby and Mable all the best in their new endeavor.

Thanks Chad. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Year in Social Media

It has been a little over a year since I started this blog.  In that year I have become a social media convert.   I was thinking of this fact as I was sending tweets from a social media seminar at the 2012 Canadian International Turfgrass Conference in Calgary.

I first started this blog after seeing a colleague’s blog (Tim Foley at the Kimberly Golf Club).  I thought starting a blog would be a good way to begin a conversation about what goes on behind the scenes in our turfcare department.  It would inform members and guests about our maintenance practices.   I could clearly see the utility of writing a blog.

After one year the end results are favourable (In my opinion, and blogs are usually about opinions).  This blog is cheap and easy way to communicate with Greywolf’s guests.   I would encourage all superintendents to start a blog, especially if you are at a club with a membership.  You can incorporate pictures, video, web links, and voice clips into your blog.  It is instantaneous, timely, and free depending on your blogging platform.  If you are writing a newsletter you are essentially blogging anyway, so why not go digital. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Experiment in Ice Removal

Sorry for the length and delay of this post.  It has been a busy time at the golf course.  Yes, we do get busy in winter!  There are only three of us on staff through the winter and there is a lot to do.  While writing this I also discovered there is need for a few other blog posts relating to why we aerate late in the season, why ice build up on greens is worrisome, and what keeps the Turfcare Department busy in the winter.  But in order to shorten an already long blog post, I will try to get around to these topics in the New Year.

Ice formation on the surface of greens is never good and my collective experience with ice at Greywolf has not been positive.  As I reported previously, we have a thin layer of ice that has formed on our untarped greens (8 of our 19 greens).  The ice layer formed as the result of two rain events in late November and early December.  The ice varies between 3mm and 6mm in thickness.  Although not very thick, I believed ice covers most of the surfaces on our untarped greens.  I believed this because after each rain event we went out and dug snow pits on the greens in order to examine the turf.  We also pulled out a few turf samples to measure the thickness of the ice (See my last two posts).

On December 7th we undertook an experiment to see if we could clear the ice from the surface of the 10th green. The goal was to clear the ice and not cause any damage to the turf.  Another goal was to see if our sampling program was correct in predicting the amount of ice coverage on the untarped greens.    
Assistant Superintendent Colin Matheson starting snow removal

Snow Removal on 10