3-19-17

Hopefully this past week is the end of the winter weather.  The golf course looks great and once things dry out a bit we will be ready to go golfing.  The clubhouse will be open later in the upcoming week.  The parking lot needs to dry out some before we open the doors to customers.
I have continued to work on refurbishing the aluminum cups and working on equipment.  I finished sharpening one of the fairway units and making repairs to the rollers.  Several bearings were replaced and some other small details completed.  Equipment maintenance is a constant process.  Proper maintenance programs will focus on preventative maintenance and not just corrective.
There has been a lot of painting completed in the clubhouse.  This process consists of touch up painting to keep everything fresh and new in appearance.  Obviously we have a beautiful clubhouse and my goal is to always keep it that way.
A lot of the part time staff have completed their paperwork and all other necessary steps are being covered in preparation of opening.  There will be new staff training in the clubhouse this upcoming week.  A few new faces will be in the clubhouse along with the majority of past staff.  I am excited to get things rolling!

3-12-17

We have moved on from sunshine and warm weather to a final touch of winter.  The golf season will be here before long and patience will be the best medicine.  I am just excited for the golf season as everyone else.  Spring is always an exciting time but there is always the threat of Mother Nature zapping us with some winter reminders.
I attended the South Dakota GCSAA annual turf conference, in South Dakota, this past week.  There was some excellent speakers available to share some of the latest information.  The main focus was wetting agents, aerification, and managing bentgrass in severe conditions.
It was a great opportunity to freshen up on some education and do some networking with a bunch of fellow golf course professionals.  Sometimes sharing personal experiences with fellow comrades is the best type of education available.
I started working on refurbishing our aluminum cups to the original form.  The golf course has 45 aluminum cups that are roughly 20+ years old.  There is a lot of paint accumulated over the years and it all needs to be removed to get a clean fresh paint established.
There has also been a lot of work done preparing all the computer documents and paperwork for the start of the season.  All types of fees and payments are tracked by paper copy and on a Google Drive.  This allows me to keep a precise updated list available at the front desk or on any web based device.
This also includes updating gift certificates, punch cards, tri fold advertising fliers, and tournament mailings.  All of these have been updated or are in the process of going to print.
Also, clubhouse inventory is starting to arrive.  Our liquor license started on March 10, so there will be beverages in the clubhouse early this coming week.  I will also be opening the clubhouse in the near future for limited hours.
This coming week I will be finishing the reel sharpening process.  I have three fairway units and two tee units left to sharpen the bed knives.  The bed knife is mounted on the bottom of the frame.  The reel spins against the bed knife to complete the cutting process.  These two parts need to remain in proper cutting condition to make a clean cut.
If the mower does not perform a clean cut, it results in more of a tearing process.  This leaves the turf in a stressful state and can open the door to disease pressure.  It also makes for an unhealthy turf exerting a lot of energy to repair the stressed area.  No matter what kind of turf you are mowing, a sharp blade performs best.

3-5-17

We have entered the month of March and the opening of the golf season, historically speaking, will happen sooner than later.  The warm weekend temperatures have removed the majority of the snow cover and all the moisture is soaking into the ground.  This is all positive for the health of the course.  Overall, the course looks great right now.
I spent the past week working on quite a few amenity items for the course.  First, our tee markers are 17 years old and have accumulated a lot of paint over the years.  I used a cleaner product, to soak the markers over 24 hours, and was able to remove all the old paint.  This process left the tee markers back in the original recycled ABS plastic form.
Next, the tee markers were lightly sanded and rinsed.  Lastly, a light coat of spray paint finished the process of returning the tee markers to original form.  They look great and I have also moved on with this cleaning process to aluminum cups, flag sticks, and driving range tee markers.  It is time consuming but the result is amazing.
The flagsticks will all be cleaned with this product in order to give the fiberglass shafts a cleaner appearance.  I replaced 15 ferrules on our flagsticks to let them set in the cup properly.  The ferrules, bottom piece of the stick, are what hold the flag in the cup tightly.  We have 45 flagsticks for the golf course.
I have updated all of the job description titles for the golf course.  these include clubhouse part time, maintenance part time, and grounds part time, along with my description.  The maintenance part time and grounds part time differ only in the fact that grounds part time is almost exclusively a mowing position.
I spent a lot of time working on clubhouse documents.  All of our forms, certificates, rain checks, Safety Data Sheets, safety training programs, etc. have been updated and are ready for the season.  There is a paper copy and an electronic copy of all records in the clubhouse.
The ordering process also began for all of our clubhouse inventory, in preparation of opening.  Coke products, cleaning supplies, snacks, have all arrived and been sorted.  The upcoming week I will be preparing alcohol orders for the start of our liquor license March 11.
It has been a very busy week and also an exciting one.  The start of the season is getting very close and that always brings a fire underneath of my seat.  I cannot wait for each golf season to begin, and I love love love seeing the faces at the golf course.

2-26-17

The beautiful weather, for the majority of the week, allowed me to accomplish a lot of outdoor activity.  A big project has been the golf guide development.  I was able to measure the start of the fairway through the middle of the green on each hole along with green depths.  These yardages will be used by Direct Fairways for the golf guides.
I sent the golf tip information out, for feedback, earlier this week.  I have updated the changes and will send this attachment, to Direct Fairways, early this next week.  Below is the updated version for your viewing pleasure:

Spencer Municipal Golf Course playing tips for golf guide:

#1.  Leisurely Stroll.  The opening hole is a short par four slightly up hill.  A tee shot leaving a lofted iron from the green, in the left center of the fairway, will allow your approach shot to expose the pin.  The green slopes slightly from right to left.  Front pin placements can be very difficult if you end up long and to the right of the hole.

#2.  Oak Trail.  This par five is straight away off the tee, then dog legs to the right down the fairway.  The best tee position is to keep your ball down the left side of the fairway next to the oak trees.  Longer hitters can try and carry the fairway bunkers.  After the tee shot, placement of your second shot down the right side of the fairway is key. It will allow your approach shot to eliminate the greenside bunker and open up a very narrow green sloping from left to right.  Try to keep your ball on the right side of the hole for an aggressive birdie putt.

#3.  White Birch.  A relatively short par four that is wide open with two bunkers protecting both sides of the green.  Place your tee shot down the middle to right side of the fairway.  This angle leaves little trouble with the sand traps and allows a perfect view of the pin. The green gently slopes from back to front.

#4. Double Trouble.  The longest par three, on the course, is often described as the toughest hole in NW Iowa.  It is a deep two tiered green protected by a large sand trap directly in front.  This hole always plays longer than you think, so grab an extra club.  The ominous green can be very challenging from the tee box. If you want to play it safe hit your tee shot to the landing area left of the green.

#5.  Bullseye.  This par five is straight away to a small green protected by a sand trap on the left, a gently flowing stream behind the green, and an alluring pond along the front and right side.  Place your tee shot down the left side of the fairway to set up your second shot into the landing area short of the pond.  The proper lay up will allow for an easy shot into a green that slopes slightly from back to front.

#6.  Autumn Blaze.   A straight par four with a deep green protected by a sand trap on the right side.  The perfect tee shot is in the left center of the fairway.  Approaching the green from this angle will give you the best chance of getting close to the pin.  However, the approach shot can be deceiving and requires a little more club than you anticipate.  

#7.  Shady Maple.  A long par four traveling straight north can play very long based on the wind direction.  Play your tee shot down the right center of the fairway to open up the green as much as possible.  The green is shadowed by two large maple trees on the back left corner and a small bunker front left.  This green never allows as much break on the putt as your eyes want you to believe.

#8.  The Trap.  A very large green that seems a shorter distance away than the yardage book reads.  Two sand traps hover on the left side which normally causes the golfer to go to the right.  Take a little extra club and be confidant in your swing to the middle of the green.

#9.  Whispering Pine. The last hole, on the outward nine, is a short distance but can still create trouble with a wayward tee shot.  Playing from the tee to the range of a short iron will allow you to attack the pin and eliminate the two sand traps protecting both sides of the green.  Approach shots landing on the right side are going to roll toward the middle of the green.  Choose your target and take dead aim.

#10.  The Waterfall.  The opening hole, on the inward nine, is a very challenging par four measuring as long as 400 yards.  There is a stream rolling down the left side with OB a little further east.  The right side is protected by mature trees which all adds to the prevailing south winds.  Any tee shot in the fairway is a favorable stroke setting up an approach shot to a green guarded by a pond on the left and sand trap covering the right.  The center of the green is a great target.

#11.  Starboard.  A dog leg left with OB and fairway bunkers along the left side.  The right side gives way to a large pond that definitely comes into play off your drive.  A tee shot down the left middle of the fairway will set up the most favorable approach shot with a shorter iron.  The back to front sloping green is wide open with a sand trap short left.  

#12.  Beauty and The Beast.  Our shortest par three looks so beautiful from the tee yet can leave you scratching your head once you finish the hole.  The direct carry over the pond always plays longer than expected.  The challenge also lies with a small stream running down the left side, as well as OB, a small pond behind the green, and greenside bunker to the left.  This green has a lot of slope on the right to left and off the right front.  Keeping your ball below the hole is a success and allows an aggressive birdie putt.

#13.  Green Mile.  This is the longest par four on the course and generally plays into the wind with OB along the left side.  Keeping your tee shot down the right side of the fairway will cut down on the yardage and also take the sand trap on the right side of the green out of play.  The deep green has a lot of slope from back to the front and is very narrow.  Keeping your ball below the hole gives you the best chance at making birdie.

#14.  The Tower.  A par five that dog legs to the left around two fairway bunkers with OB down the left side and behind the green.  Take aim at the tower in the far distance for a tee shot down the middle of the fairway.  This position sets up an easy second shot to the landing area just short of a small green protected by bunkers on both sides.  This green has a little more slope from the back than you originally think and it’s easy to let your downhill putt get away from you.

#15.  Precision.  A big dog leg to the left with OB along the entire left side of the hole will require some thought before hitting your tee shot.  The fairway bunkers can be carried off the tee but the narrow fairway ends quickly and can leave you in the trees.  A tee shot in the middle of the fairway sets up perfectly to eliminate the front left greenside bunker on your approach shot.  The green slopes to the front and often tricks you into allowing for too much break on your putt.

#16.  The Drum.  The final par three has one of the older greens protected by two large sand traps on each side and OB to the left.  This green requires a very high tee shot to help your ball hold otherwise it will release and carry to the backside.  It plays to the listed yardage and a shot in the middle of the green is perfect.

#17.  Longest Yard.  A dog leg left par five plays as the longest hole on the course with OB along the houses.  The left side of the hole features two fairway bunkers to ensure tee shots are played down the center of the fairway.  Your next play is to the right side of the landing area which eliminates the trouble of both greenside bunkers.  The green is only 20 yards deep and requires a high approach shot to get close to the pin.

#18.  The View.  The finishing hole is a short par four protected by OB and several large Poplar trees down the left side.  A tee shot down the middle, leaving a short iron from the green, is perfect and eliminates dealing with the greenside bunkers on your second shot.  A high approach shot, into this large green, will enable you to attack the pin and finish the round with a birdie.

The golf course was in absolutely great condition prior to this blizzard.  The frost was eliminated to a depth of 15-18 inches on all the greens.  There was minimal standing water on the course which eliminates a lot of worry.  The grass is healthy on greens, tees, and fairways.  Once the snow is gone, again, it will speed up the opening process.
I was able to spray greens, Monday evening, with a fungicide to prevent the dreaded “snow mold” fungus.  This disease appears once the snow starts disappearing during warmer temperatures.  The warm weather will heat the snow and create the perfect growing conditions for “snow mold”.
It appears as gray, tan, or pink lesions on the bentgrass and recovery is very time consuming.  There were some small areas where this fungus appeared as the last of the ice and snow disappeared.  This application will eliminate any further threat of this fungus.
Trees were also on the work schedule during the nice weather.  I was able to water some of the trees we transplanted last fall.  They all appear to be doing very well.  Time will tell once the spring bloom begins.  I also removed a lot of branches and sticks from the course.
Lastly, I worked in the clubhouse cleaning and arranging everything in preparation for opening day.  Organizing pro shop items, stocking supplies, and ordering items were also on the list.  Once the snow is gone we will be ready to play some golf.
I traveled to Sioux Falls to attend a turfgrass seminar on foliar fertilizers and the contents of granular fertilizers.  It was a good meeting that helped refresh some of the chemistry, biology, etc, of foliar fertilizers.  The granular aspect was interesting to see other organic alternatives for the filler portion of granular fertilizer.  Overall, it was a positive experience.

2-19-17

What a beautiful week!  These WARM temperatures bring a lot of spring fever to people but they are a very scary situation.  I was even lucky enough to ride my bicycle to work on Thursday and Friday.  I can honestly tell you that has never happened in February.
Turfgrass follows the pattern of Mother Nature 365 days out of the year.  The grass feels these really warm temperatures and thinks it’s time to start off the spring days.  The turfgrass starts to “wake up” from the cold winter months, then the temperature can drop drastically and wreak all kind of havoc.  Ugh.
The golf course looks great right now.  Most of the ice is gone from the greens and remainder of the course.  The top 1-2 inches of the ground is thawed but the frost is very solid below that depth.  This creates a very sponge like upper surface that has no give to it when traffic is present.  Too much traffic can cause huge issues with the turf in this state.
It is always everyone’s hope that the golf season starts as soon as possible.  People have been asking me all week when we will open.  My response is, “please be patient and it will be here when the course is ready for play.”  The threat of turf damage or loss cannot outweigh the ability to allow golfers.  When it does it is definitely not an intelligent decision to open.
I met with a newly developed company, here in Spencer, in regards to some aerial recordings of the golf course.  These can be used for advertisement, on our webpage, or other marketing opportunities.  I am in the early stages of discussion but I will keep you all up to date on the plan to utilize their drone capabilities.
I have also been working with Direct Fairways, out of Tempe, AZ, to develop a yardage book for our facility. I discussed this with the golf board in early February.  I signed a one year contract so I could make sure everything works satisfactorily moving into the future.  The book will contain photos and information for each hole as well as showcase our clubhouse.  The company will contact local businesses for advertising.
IGL has a new partner in their facility called Golf Ball Country.  I met the owner and also toured their facility.  It is located in the new IGL building NW of Spencer.  They specialize in used golf balls, overstock gloves, overstock new golf balls, head covers, etc.  There was a very nice article in the Saturday Daily Reporter featuring this business.
There is a great opportunity for SMGC to sell their used golf balls in the clubhouse and make a lot more revenue than dealing with strictly new golf balls.  I will still sell our jar balls but these near mint condition used balls will be sold in 1 to 2 dozen containers.  I am also exploring the option of selling them some of my used range ball inventory.
Lastly, I completed three online courses through FEMA.  These online classes will help prepare the golf course, police, fire, as well as the rest of the city, for any type of natural disaster.  The classes were very informative and helped open my mind to the need for thorough chain of command and unity of command during any event.

2-5-17

This past week I have been busy continuing to work on a tree grant for kids through the Iowa DNR.  This grant will also include an educational session to better inform our youth of the many benefits of trees provide to our community.  Tree diversity, proper planting, utility benefits, storm water runoff, and other environmental benefits will be covered.
I am planning on getting a group of middle school students to participate in the planting and educational session of this project.  I have been in discussions with Laura Wagner, with the Iowa DNR, to choose a date that fits both our calendars.  It will most likely fall in the early part of May.
There is still a lot of work to complete on this grant.  It includes a completed site map, i tree design, and application covering all aspects of the proposed planting date.  I am currently waiting for a response from the middle school.  If there is minimal response then I will move up to the high school and pursue one of the athletic teams.  In the end, the golf course will benefit from a diverse addition to our tree inventory and the youth in our community will gain in a rewarding experience.
My off season maintenance program has continued for yet another week.  I was able to service the sprayer and completely go through the unit completing all the necessary repairs.  I need to order new nozzles then calibrate the sprayer and it will be ready for the season.
I will also be applying a snow mold application to the golf course greens in the near future.  The snow mold application is a fungicide application that protects the turf, on the greens, from this fungus that thrives under the snow when temperatures start to rise.  The temperature change in the snow acts as an electric blanket and creates an ideal environment for snow mold.
This fungus shows up in the early spring in pink or grey patches that ultimately kill the turf grass.  There is minimal snow cover on the greens but still a fair amount of ice is present.  Hopefully some of the sunshine and warmer temperatures will help eliminate the majority of the ice and allow me to spray very soon.
Lastly, I spent a lot of time working in the clubhouse ordering inventory for the upcoming season and doing a lot of cleaning.  Our pro shop inventory has been ordered along with new embroidered beanies.  We will have Bridgestone and Titleist golf balls, Foot Joy socks, logo clothing, and the hats for our customers.

1-29-17

This past week really made it feel like winter.  A foot of snow falling after the above normal temperatures gave everyone some excitement.  The up and down weather patterns and temperatures are very dangerous conditions with turfgrass.  There can be a lot of damage sustained once we get closer to spring.  The standing ice can also really be a concern.  It always causes me to lose some sleep each off season.
I serviced the two old Toro fairway units, completed small repairs, and sharpened the reels.  I have posted pictures on several media sites in hope of selling both units this off season.  They both still work great and are in good working condition.  Time will tell.
Another project has been an Iowa DNR Trees for Kids Grant that is due by the end of February.  I have completed the majority of the paperwork.  I am seeking assistance from the local middle school.  Hopefully one of the classes will step up and help us with this educational process.  There will be 25-50 trees planted and mulched mid April if the grant is approved.
I also met with Keith Johnson, local boy scout leader, to make mention of the need for a new shelter by #5 and #14 tee boxes.  The proposition would be for the golf course to pay for materials and the construction and planning process be completed by a possible Eagle Scout project.
Hourly totals for the grounds crew and clubhouse staff are always documented each calendar year.  The 2016 totals on the grounds were 4566.75, clubhouse amounted to 4036.25, and my hours were 2562.50.  Of the grounds total hours, 266.75 were for park maintenance.  These totals were all down slightly from the 2105 calendar year.
I am gaining a lot of ground on the off season equipment maintenance program.  There is a lot of equipment to service, repair, sharpen reels, etc. in preparation for every upcoming season.  Our equipment is maintained at a high level which helps increase the life expectancy of our entire fleet.
I still have service work and sharpening on a handful of units.  Then it is time to start refurbishing all the amenity items.  This includes sanding all tee markers, cleaning flagsticks, painting cups, painting OB and hazard stakes, cleaning and painting benches, and the list goes on and on.
We are pushing through the winter months and getting closer and closer to the golf season.  This could arrive in as little as seven weeks.  Keep your fingers crossed and hope for an early golf season.  Stay focused each day and keep on smilin’!

1-22-17

Warmer weather, melting snow and ice, and frozen ground all add up to a lot of standing water around the golf course.  There is standing water and ice on quite a few greens but hopefully it will be gone soon.  It has been a very strange winter and as always my biggest concern is how the golf course makes it through the winter months.
As I toured the golf course this past week, I was able to document many greens and tees that need to be mowed closer to the original sizes.  As the seasons go on, the tees, greens, and fairways slowly get mowed in closer and closer.  The reason is the staff not getting right up to the edges and potentially scalping the higher cut grass.
Every two or three years it is necessary to mow these areas of the course back to the original perimeters.  This process is usually done in the early spring or late fall.  It will not take very long and the grass will recover and everything will be back to normal.  Every hole has been documented for this spring project.
Another project completed, while touring the course the latter part of the week, was tee sign advertisements.  These advertising signs were originally sold, following construction, to cover the cost of all amenity items per hole.  The advertisement was for the lifetime of the company.  There are currently six tee signs available for advertising sale.  I am tentatively looking at $600 per sign which will also cover the new advertising plaque on the granite tee signs.
I was able to service and complete repairs to the JD trap rake and the Toro out front mower.  Both machines were completely gone through and any small repairs were completed.  Each machine is ready for the start of the 2017 golf season.
Several work hours were also spent in the clubhouse.  The pricing list for all clubhouse items was evaluated and any necessary changes were adjusted.  The main changes were done to keep all the beer and liquor pricing similar.  There was quite a wide array of pricing.  It will make operations smoother and quicker in the future.
Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.  We are less than two months from golf season!

1-15-17

Another week of winter is in the books and we are inching closer to the start of the 2017 golf season.  There will be no rate changes for any golf related activities.  Some of the refreshment pricing will be changed to try and make the pricing in three different categories instead of about seven different price ranges.
On Thursday, the budget was presented to the mayor and city council members.  There is slight variation in several line items but the bottom line will not change for the upcoming budget.  The golfing public will still be able to enjoy their golfing experience with the same pricing as 2016.  That is always good news for the golf fan.
City department heads spent the day, Wednesday, with a moderator.  We focused on the future plans for the city as well as each department.  Some of the topics dealt with succession planning and priorities in the upcoming years.  It was a very positive day and there was some great conversation.  This will be shared in a future memo from the moderator.
I was not able to complete any further reel sharpening, this past week, but I did complete the service work and repairs to our second JD 1600 WAM.  This unit is new to our inventory and the hours of service was not as great as most of the other equipment will require.
There is a lot of ice still covering the golf course and the forecast is calling for more rainfall and possible ice damage through Tuesday morning.  Obviously there could be damage to power lines and extensive tree damage resulting from these predictions.  That is a major concern at the golf course, as well as the community.
Ice is generally considered non threatening if it covers the turf for a maximum of 90 days.  With the early accumulation of ice, dating back to Christmas, we have a touchy situation when it comes to the health of our turf come springtime.  I have been in this business long enough to know you cannot control Mother Nature, for the most part, but it still presents some worrisome thoughts in my mind.
This coming week will consist of continuing service work to equipment along with reel sharpening.  It always feels good to bring a piece of equipment into the shop, spend a couple days working on it, then return it to cold storage purring like a kitten….until the cold weather slaps you in the face.
In 2017, Estherville will be added to our reciprocating golf program.  This brings the total to approximately nine other courses working together to provide more golfing options, for their clients, at a reduced rate.  This process always works out as a huge positive for the muni.  I want to remind the public, these golfing privileges are for season pass holders only.  Any Spencer resident cannot be a member at another course and receive reciprocating golf at the muni.
That concludes another week at the SMGC.  Please contact me with any comments, questions, or concerns so they can be addressed in a timely manner.  Stay warm, get your clubs cleaned up, and think about the birdies of spring fast approaching!

1-8-17

This past week I completed the service work on both John Deere green mowers.  These machines had the oils and filters changed.  The reels were also sharpened along with the bedknives.  These two units are ready for service.
The reel sharpening process is completed by balancing each reel, on the sharpener, and running the grinding wheel over each blade.  Reels for the greens have 14 blades and it takes about eight rotations to put a brand new edge with the proper bevel on each blade.
Each blade rotates and causes contact against a bedknife which accomplishes the cutting of the grass.  The bedknife and blades are all sharpened to create a sharp edge that will cut grass with the cleanest cut possible.  There is a machine for the reels and one for the bedknives that manually complete the process.
I also finished sharpening all the rotary blades in my inventory.  There is a special grinding machine I use to complete this sharpening process.  Each blade has a new edge added and balanced to achieve the proper mowing technique.  These blades are changed weekly to ensure there is a high quality of cut completed by each machine.
The sharpening process will continue for the next couple of weeks.  It is time consuming but necessary to be completed each off season.  When the mower blade becomes dull it starts to tear the grass instead of using a clean cut.  The poor quality of cut increases the stress on the plant causing it to be more susceptible to disease.
This concludes another week at the golf course.  Please contact me with any comments, questions, or concerns so the can be addressed in a timely manner.  In a little over two months we might be swinging the golf sticks again.