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.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#14 Comfort Station Renovation

As many of you know, last winter the golf course maintenance crew at Brier Creek renovated the comfort station on hole #5.  Unfortunately we ran out of time to tackle the one on #14. 

This winter, our crew began the process of updating and renovating the #14 comfort station to match what we had done the previous winter on #5. I am happy to say that all work has been completed and the comfort station is updated and looks the same as the one on #5. 

As always, please let us know if there are areas of the club that you feel need some attention!  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Storm Sewer Repair

Just after Christmas the golf course maintenance staff at Brier Creek noticed a sinkhole developing directly to the left of the cart path on hole #16 by the green walk on.  Upon closer look, although the hole on the surface was only about 18" across, the hole beneath the soil was enormous.  We immediately contacted Toll Brothers Land Development to obtain site plans for the area to try to determine the cause.  After reviewing the plans, we realized that there was a 36" storm sewer pipe that ran along the boundary between homeowner and golf course property.  This pipe ultimately drained out into the pond on hole #16.

Initial hole observed by our staff
A closer look into the hole

Our next step was to contact a construction company that specialized in utility installation and repair.  SunCon construction was brought in to begin exploring the cause of the sinkhole.  Based on the as-builts for the area that showed the pipe, we estimated that the top of the pipe was 14' deep in the ground.  This meant that in order to make the needed repairs, the trench/hole would need to be over 17' deep.  In late January we began the process of making the repair.  

As you can see from the map above as well as the picture, due to the depth and location of this repair, it was in a very tight area to get equipment moved in and to then have a place to work.  Because of this, for the duration of the repair the back nine needed to stay closed.  As the picture below shows, there was no other place to pile the soil from the hole than on the cart path.  It would have been impossible to effectively route golf carts around the work area as well as it would have been very dangerous.

Once we dug down to the pipe directly beneath where the sinkhole had developed, we did notice that the top of the pipe was completely crushed.  This is shown in the picture above.  We thought that we had at least discovered the only damage to the pipe. We were wrong!
When the crew cut out the section of damaged pipe and cleaned out the mud that was completely filling the pipe, they noticed that the top of the pipe was crushed as far as they could see heading back up the pipe toward #17 tee.  The top of the pipe was literally creased along the top.  This would certainly lead to failure down the road if not fixed.  
This is what the top of the pipe looked like further up from where the sinkhole was.
The project just got a lot larger.  We determined that the pipe was damaged along the top for another 20'! Due to the depth of the hole that we would be digging it was essential that we bring in trench boxes to stabilize the sides of the trench protecting the workers in the bottom from the sides collapsing on them. The trench boxes as well as all of the equipment used to make the repair had to be brought down the cart path for #17.

In all, three trench boxes were brought in due to the depth and length of the area that was being repaired.  After excavating back to where there was no more damage to the pipe, we ended up replacing 32' of pipe that was 17' deep in the ground!

SunCon's crew did a very good job while working in some pretty tough conditions.  During this project we received two ice/snow storms and a couple of all day drizzle rain events.  Their crew kept the trash pump running to remove the water and continued to fix the damaged pipe.

The picture to the left shows the new pipe that was replaced on the right side, while the pipe on the left is damaged along the top.  The smaller black pipe running perpendicular to the plastic storm pipe is a 10" ductile iron sanitary sewer line that just happened to be in the way.  It is my belief that the crew installing the sanitary sewer line damaged the plastic storm sewer underneath it and never tried to patch or fix what they had crushed.

The repairs were all completed during the second week of February and the back nine was reopened.  While the pipe is fixed and the sink hole is gone, we still have a fair amount of work left to do in order to be completely wrapped up.  There was landscaping and grass that was damaged in order to make the repair.  We will need to consult with the affected homeowners and make sure that it all gets put back the way it is supposed to.  The bigger issue that needs attention is the cart path.  Because of all the heavy equipment traffic up and down the cart path for #17, the damage was extensive.  The asphalt does great for holding the traffic of a golf cart, even my maintenance equipment, however the weight of the machinery used for this project was too much.

We are hoping to have the cart path repaired very soon.  I will continue to update and provide information when I can.