Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring Bunker Update

As we transition out of the cold winter weather into the longer days and warmer temperatures of Spring, the golf course maintenance staff is working hard to get the golf course prepped and ready to go for the season.  Much of the preparations were started over the winter however.

Some of the most frequent comments that we receive are concerning the bunkers.  Over time and through the course of regular maintenance, thunderstorms and golfer play, the sand gets moved around and often becomes thin in places.  When this happens the liners that are used in the bunkers to help protect the sand from the clay soils beneath, will show through and be exposed.  To make things worse, if the operator running the mechanical bunker rake does not see these areas, the liner will get snagged and torn.  When this happens the liner will be showing through the sand but will also allow sand to get beneath the liner and raise it up causing further snagging by the machine.

Picture sent to me by a member this weekend illustrating the challenges of the liners!

Throughout the course of the winter, as weather allowed, our crew went through almost every bunker on the golf course checking sand depths, adding or moving sand around as needed, and repairing liners that were damaged.  As I have posted in the past, repairing the liners is a difficult task as much of the sand has to be pulled back, the damaged liner cut out, and new liner glued and stapled back into place.

The pictures above are from a post last spring illustrating the process of repairing the liners.  To date our crew has been through and repaired liners in every bunker on the course with the exception of #10 greenside and #11 greenside bunkers.  We are currently waiting for a new roll of the liner material to be delivered.  Once that product arrives we will finish the remaining few bunkers.  Additionally, we still have holes #12-18 to add sand in some areas to and the bunkers will be fully ready for the upcoming season.
As the season progresses, we will continue to monitor and address areas where sand has become thin and liner may be exposed.  This is especially true after thunderstorms where the sand gets completely washed out off the faces of the bunkers.  When this happens our first goal is to get the bunker playable again.  Often however, the sand does not get replaced back on the faces and throughout the bunker evenly.  We then have to go back out and inspect and adjust depths to ensure that liners don't get torn and exposed.
We appreciate your patience as you come across our crew in the bunkers.  As always I ask that if you do happen to come across a liner that is exposed, please let the golf shop know or send me a quick email letting me know where and we will get it repaired as soon as we can.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Some Long Needed Bridge Adjustments

Over the last few seasons I have heard more and more concerns about the entrance and exit transitions on the bridge from #2 to #3.  Over time, the cart path where it meets the bridge, has settled creating a rough ride in a golf cart. The exit was particularly bad as the bridge stayed put while the path settled leaving quite a drop off.

Over the summer, knowing that this was a large project and would likely cause the path to be closed to traffic for a few days, we tacked some boards on the end to lessen the drop.  We knew at the time that we would need to make a more permanent repair over the winter when we would be able to close the front nine for a day or two.

The first step in making this transition smoother was to saw cut across the concrete to prepare an area to be removed.  Rather than take out the entire slab of concrete we went back about 24".  This gave us enough room to make a nice smooth grade up to the level of the bridge decking.

 The next step is to jackhammer out the section of concrete abutting the bridge.  This section of concrete was nearly 8" deep!  This would have been far too much concrete to remove and  was really not needed, so ultimately we only took out 4"-5".  This gave us enough depth to make sure that the concrete stayed intact but sped the project up by not needing to remove excess amounts of concrete.  Additionally, leaving some of the existing base of concrete, we felt, would give us more stability for the new concrete being poured.

The jackhammer was the most arduous part of the process and is a tremendously exhausting tool.  I have a newfound respect for those that work with concrete and run jackhammers on a regular basis!

Once we had excavated enough of the old concrete that we were comfortable we had it deep enough we built the forms on either side to contain the new concrete.  We also took this opportunity to replace some of the worn decking boards at either end of the bridge.

After everything was formed and we were ready for concrete, we were forced to call it a day when a heavy line of rain moved into the area.

The rain from Monday continued off and on all day Tuesday, forcing us to delay pouring the new concrete until Wednesday.  We did not need enough concrete to warrant a truck load so we decided to mix and pour the concrete by hand.  In all it worked out to be about (16) 80lb bags of concrete per side of the bridge.

The finished product turned out great and is a much needed improvement to the bridge and cart path.  The transition is barely noticeable as you drive the cart path now.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Brier Creek Goes Pink for Breast Cancer

Back in October, Brier Creek Country Club hosted our annual Play-4-Pink event.  This event has been hosted for many years at Brier Creek and has raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research.

Below are some of the pictures of the event:

New flags for this year's event!

Our flag distributor, The Golf Flag Company, here in Raleigh brought me a sample of the pink Brier Creek flag.  We immediately knew that they would be a great addition to an already great event.

Flags, sticks, cups and tee markers are all ready to go out the morning of the event.

The participants have a great time "personalizing" their golf carts with anything and everything pink.  It is one of the most exciting events we do all year at the club.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Some Enhancements

My crew has been busy knocking out some lingering projects over the past few weeks.

The final cooler house that needed to be rebuilt and placed on a brick base was at the driving range. We set that new cooler house two weeks ago. Now, all the structures are the same and will last for a long time. 

We also were busy at the tennis facility. We added some plant material and cleaned up the area by the back pool entrance and the lower courts. This area was heavily trafficked by carts and foot. We removed to white stone and added landscaping. The final product looks great and is a big improvement. 

Shed Completion

Two weeks ago we put the final touches on the equipment storage shed at the driving range. With the addition of some landscaping and some stonework by the door, we finished!

The finished product is in keeping with the structures on the golf course and is similar in color scheme to the clubhouse and golf shop. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spring Golf Course Update

Spring Has Finally Arrived at Brier Creek

Winter weather has finally let go and spring has arrived.  We even had some 90 degree days last week to really get the bermudagrass green and growing.  The golf course has responded and is just about fully green now.

While the winter weather was tough, we were still very busy and accomplished quite a bit!  Below I will recap what has been done and where we are currently with the course conditions.

Storm Sewer Failure/Repair and Subsequent Swale Renovation-
Quite possible the largest repair that I have ever had to make on a golf course occurred this winter on hole #16.  As I have detailed in previous blog posts, just after Christmas we noticed a sinkhole that had developed next to the cart path at the walk-on to the green on #16.  After further investigation it was discovered that the cause of the hole was a failure in the storm sewer pipe 14.5' beneath the ground.

After digging up and making the initial repair, it was discovered that the pipe was damaged further back up the pipe.  We ended up replacing 32' of 36" storm pipe.  It was a very large project involving large excavators and trench boxes due to the depth of the pipe and tight confines of the area.

Unfortunately, while making the repairs to the pipe the cart path on hole #17 was significantly damaged due to all the heavy machinery on the asphalt.  The asphalt cart paths are great for golf cart traffic, however they are not engineered to handle large machines and excavation equipment.

While we made the repair to the pipe, we also adjusted the flow of the wetland adjacent to the cart path. This was done to limit the flow into the repaired pipe to only what comes from the streets and home lots above the cart path.  When this was done, we began to have water flowing constantly through the swale between the cart path and the green on #16.  This is the way the water was originally designed to flow, and now that the area had been grassed the result was not desirable.

The ultimate "fix" to this issue was to create a rock swale that would mimic a creek bed.  The swale was deepened by about 18" and lined with gravel and rock.  We then re-sodded the hillside going down to the swale.  The rock creek bed is working exactly how it was designed and has been thoroughly tested with several large storms in the past few weeks.  Below is a before and after look at the swale as well as a video of the creek bed in action after 1.25" of rain fell in a 45 minute span.



We still plan to add some more native grasses and other wetland type plants to the edges of the creek bed.  This should be accomplished in the next two weeks.

The final repair associated with the sewer pipe repair will be the repaving of the cart path from the repair site all the way up #17 to the road crossing to #18.  We are working with our contractor currently to determine the best method in which to perform the paving and then finally to get it scheduled.  There may be some disruption to play when the paving occurs.  We will be sure to communicate that in advance and do everything we can to limit the disruption.  I thank everyone in advance for their patience while we complete that final step.

Comfort Station and Shed Construction-
Last winter our crew renovated the comfort station on hole #5 giving it an updated and much nicer look.  This winter the same renovations were made to the comfort station on #14.  The renovations look great and we are happy that both facilities are updated and improved.

My assistant, Jon, and I put our carpentry skills to work again in order to build a storage shed at the driving range.  This shed will be used to house the teaching aides needed by our golf pros and teaching academy instructors to be better able to serve the membership.The shed was constructed to match the style of the cooler houses and comfort stations on the golf course.  The shed is finished and we plan to landscape the surrounds this coming Monday.

Champion Greens Update-
This winter was a very good test for the winter hardiness of the Champion greens that were installed in 2012.  We made it through the winter with no issues on the greens.  The crew covered the greens many times this winter to protect them from the cold temperatures (several single digit lows!).  The soil temperature beneath the covers never got below 31 degrees!  The covers worked perfectly!

We are working to get the greens growing uniformly as I type this.  We have begun topdressing weekly to keep the surface smooth and keep the turf upright.  We continue to learn small tips and tricks in how to better manage the Champion bermudagrass.  We will be incorporating these practices to continually improve the greens.

Currently, the greens are a touch on the slow side (running 10'-10.5' on the Stimpmeter).  We are working on improving that speed by grooming daily with the mowers.  We will begin double cutting frequently in the coming weeks and rolling on the alternate days. We will adjust mowing heights and grooming depths as needed to get the speeds up to where everyone would like to see them.  As the weather gets warmer, we will also be able to incorporate some practices to regulate the growth to further improve the ball roll!

Juan giving #18 a roll before the Member-Member!

The Maintenance Department Gets some New Equipment-
Most of the mowing equipment at Brier Creek is leased.  We do this so that we avoid some of the costly repairs and possible failures that could damage turf as the equipment ages.  This spring brought in two new fairway mowers, two triplex mowers and three new utility vehicles.  

Over the winter we expanded our Toll Brothers preferred vendor list to include The Toro Company as well as Jacobsen turf equipment.  For the past few years we have been exclusively John Deere.  Now that we have the option to use all three major turf equipment suppliers, we are better able to pick the very best piece of equipment to fit our needs here at Brier Creek.

I am very excited to further our relationship with John Deere by leasing two new John Deere 7700 fairway mowers.  We also purchased two new John Deere Pro Gators and a TX Turf Gator.

The new fairway mowers have a heavier cutting unit that will improve the quality of cut on the fairways.  They are a larger diameter and have a greater weight to hug the turf better while mowing.  This will give us a cleaner, smoother playing surface.

In addition to the new John Deere equipment, we are beyond excited to welcome The Toro Company back with the addition of the two new Toro 3300 TriFlex triplex mowers.  These mowers are used to mow tees and approaches at Brier Creek.  These are state of the art machines and we are extremely happy to have them!

New mowing equipment is like Christmas morning for a golf course maintenance crew!  

New Fairway Lines-
Spring always gives us the opportunity to alter and adjust the mowing lines of the fairways.  Each spring we consult with the golf shop staff to make the adjustments that the membership has asked about and makes the most sense from a playability standpoint.

This year, in addition to adding some subtle movement along many fairway edges to better conform to the contours and slope, we also brought the fairway edges in considerably at #13.  We narrowed the approach to make it just a bit more difficult to drive that green with your tee shot.

Several years ago, we added a closely mowed area behind #6 and that was very well received.  Since then, we have been asked about adding a close cut apron behind #15.  We mowed that area in last week.  As you can see from the picture below, it is a little scalped at the moment, however it will green up very quickly as we continue to mow it.

I hope everyone is having a great spring season and I look forward to seeing everyone on the golf course.  Please check back for further updates on course conditions, greens updates and cart path re-paving on #17.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Storage Shed

If you have been around the driving range over the past few weeks, you have no doubt seen a new structure between the parking lot and the range tee.  This winter, the maintenance crew was tasked with constructing a storage shed at the driving range.  This shed will be used to store teaching equipment for the golf pros, fitting carts and other items to help serve the membership better.  The pro shop staff will no longer have to transport all of their gear from the cart barn every time they have a lesson, club fitting, etc.

The construction will mimic the design of the water cooler stand and the comfort stations on the golf course.  When the building is completed, we will add some landscaping and have the structure blend in as if it has always been there.

Below are a few pictures from the construction process.

To date, we are about halfway done.  The roof was completed this past week and the siding and door will go on next week.  After that, all that remains is caulking the seams and painting the exterior.