1-11-2020

Good Morning,
The past three years I have worked way too many hours on these repairs.  Troubleshooting is the most time consuming part of the repair process.  Over the last two weeks I have explored options to eliminate the electrical issues with our irrigation system.  There have been conversations with the contractor as well as the sales branch in Kansas City.
During these conversations we have all agreed the piping, valves, and irrigation heads are all in working order.  The main issue is electrical.  The system is 20 years old whether it be decoder issues, tubing issues, splicing issues, or lightning, these components can fail after that length of time.  All of these issues are time consuming to diagnose and repair and create situations where the system will not work until the repairs are completed.
Rainbird will be sending me a cost estimate for materials to replace our decoders with the IC System.  The IC System will continue to function even if there is an electrical issue or lightning strike.  It consists of a unit at every valve location, lightning protection, and a new interface in the office.  This option will give us the opportunity to have some very good discussions moving forward with the system.
The new daily fee bag tags have been ordered.  These tags will be used for daily fees and cart rentals paid.  Tags will be attached to the roof bar and remain visible to golf course staff.  The color will change on a daily basis and each tag is numbered.  The customer name, date, and fees paid will be written in Sharpie.  This will allow us to easily track daily customers.
Season pass bag tags have also been ordered.  These tags will have a picture of the golf course on one side with the year and name also written in Sharpie.  These tags will be attached to the golf bag and remain visible to golf course staff.  Both of these new systems will make it easier to monitor our golfers and stop all individuals not having the proper credentials following check in at the clubhouse.
Spencer Municipal Golf Course board members have developed a “Membership Drive” for the golf course.  This event will be held on March 28.  I have attached the flyer below.  If golf board members see any corrections or information that needs to be included please let me know.
Street Division staff was also on site to help with a couple of projects.  The light poles surrounding the clubhouse were repaired and are back doing what they are supposed to be doing.  They also addressed the new tile area around #16 green.  Some of the material was leveled but most of it was frozen and unable to be moved.  This project will be completed in the Spring.
Please get in touch with me if you have questions, comments, or concerns.

12-29-19

Good Morning,
The golf simulator will continue to be available upon request.  I have been splitting my work schedule between the clubhouse and the maintenance facility on a daily basis.  I have been able to complete some of the scheduled maintenance on equipment as well as be available for the simulator rental and gift certificates in the clubhouse.  This upcoming month I expect to have the simulator used on a more frequent basis.
Rainfall during the winter months always turns into an uncomfortable situation.  It can lead to a lot of standing water freezing in low areas around the golf course.  We have experienced damage in a lot of these areas the past few off seasons.  It appears that everything has soaked into the ground decent and will be a positive amount of precipitation.  It’s always something that worries me.
I have done some research into our irrigation system problems.  The biggest issues have been electrical over the past three years.  Our type of system has surge protectors tied into the electrical connections.  These protectors are spaced every 300 yards throughout the course.  There are quite a few that have blown from issues this past fall.  These need to be replaced and additional surge protectors should be added into the wiring plan on a more frequent basis.  This will help limit damage to a controlled area when there is a power surge.
We can never control the damage caused by lightning when it strikes on the golf course.  The above normal number of thunderstorms have increased the probability of this becoming a reality.  It is the same irrigation system at the Country Club and the same type of problems they have dealt with for several years as well.
The pumphouse issues have mainly been due to outdated computer software and “bad luck.”  I don’t want to ever guarantee the worst is behind us because I can’t predict what could possibly happen in the future.  I plan to continue discussions with the irrigation contractor and develop a more concrete plan for the irrigation system needs.
I think we can all agree that something needs to be done to limit the number of hours that are spent “trouble shooting,” doing repairs, and having the system not working period.  I will keep you posted as more conversations are had as we move forward.
The daily fee tags as well as season pass bag tags have not been ordered yet.  I am going to wait until after the next golf board meeting to have approval on all areas of the tags.  The main discussion is to pay an advertiser or not to cover the costs of the daily fee tags?  We will be ordering 10,000 tags at a cost of roughly $800.  These tags will last close to three years and should definitely show an increase in missed revenue.
My initial thought is to only have the Spencer Municipal Golf Course name on the tags.  I think for under $300 per year as an expense is an extremely minimal amount of money to spend to reduce the amount of non paying customers.  I don’t feel like advertising is necessary to cover the cost of these tags.  I would recommend we only have our name and pertinent golf information on the tags.  This is only my opinion and it will be a golf board decision at the next meeting.
I am not sure what my work schedule will be this coming week.  I have taken off some family sick leave at the end of last week and will most likely need some more this coming week.  I don’t want to discuss it in detail but would appreciate your prayers for my family right now.

12-22-19

Good Morning,
This past week I was able to go through two of our fairway units.  Both machines have been serviced previously and now the minor repairs have been completed.  There is still one fairway mower that will be addressed in the future as well as the remaining equipment fleet.
I completed the majority of the 2020/21 golf course budget.  This new budget does not show much of an increase.  The final line items will be established by finance and presented in the month of January.  I’m really reaching out to have the stars align for  a quality season weather wise.
Lastly I spent time working in the clubhouse.  There has been minimal use of the golf simulator for the month of December.  Last year was very slow in December and picked up a little bit in January.  Right now I only plan to open the clubhouse for golf simulator reservations or for a private event.
This coming week I will be working in the clubhouse starting to thoroughly clean.  I will also have the building open during the day time hours.  The clubhouse will be closed on Tuesday afternoon, Christmas Day, and Friday the 26th.
Enjoy the beautiful weather and I wish you all a very wonderful Holiday season!!

12-15-19

Good Morning,
This past week I have focused on a few new procedures for the 2020 golf season.  The daily fee tags, season pass bag tags, and our “membership” drive in March of 2020.  I will be ordering the daily fee tags this coming week.  I also have a meeting scheduled to order the season pass bag tags.  And finally I will confirm the March date for the event at the clubhouse.
Below is the list of 2020 rates and a review of the new procedures:
Below is a picture of the daily fee proof:
Finally, I was able to attend the Iowa Golf Association awards banquet in Norwalk, Iowa on Friday evening.  This event recognized lots of people in the golf industry as well as golfers for their 2019 accomplishments.  Ryan Lux, former superintendent at SGCC, was recognized as the 18 hole superintendent of the year.  It was a great event and a lot of well deserved recipients of awards.
This upcoming week I will be working on the 2020/21 golf course budget proposal.  I will also complete the ordering process for the new “tag” system and complete the event details on March 28.  The remainder of my time will be spent in the clubhouse or maintenance facility.
Please contact me with any comments or questions.  Enjoy the remainder of your day today.

12-8-19

Good Morning,
This past week I have been working on some marketing ideas as well as some time in the clubhouse.  I will be working in the clubhouse and maintenance facility during the day.  The clubhouse will not be open unless there are reservations for the golf simulator or an event is planned.  There have been very minimal patrons during the daytime hours.  We have to eliminate expenses for labor if the facility is not being used.
On Monday I spoke at the IGCSA winter seminar covering the 2017 water quality project done by the City of Spencer.  The group in attendance was extremely interested in the topic and had a lot of great questions.  It was a great seminar!

New for the 2020 golf season will be a required sign in at the clubhouse prior to golfing.  It has become a growing problem with individuals not checking in and sometimes not even paying daily fees.  We are trying a new approach to help us monitor payment by our customers on a daily basis without hiring additional staff to patrol the golf course.

You will be issued a bag tag when you purchase your season pass.  This bag tag must be visible on your bag at all times so staff can recognize you have paid your balance in full.  Also, daily fee tags will be issued for green fees, punch cards, and cart rentals. This tag will be visible on your cart or golf bag after you have checked in to play.  The color of the tag will vary on a daily basis.  

This process will allow the staff and other golfers to help ensure everyone has paid and checked in each day.  SMGC asks for your help in monitoring this situation. The other option will be to increase fees.  

I have talked to a company that makes wrist bracelets that will be issued upon payment of your daily fees.  These bracelets are from comtix.com and run about three cents a piece.  The date will be written on the bracelet and it will be required to go on the cart or visible on the bag.  The bracelet color will change on a daily basis.  This same system is being used at a golf course in Arkansas and they have seen a tremendous turn around in missed revenue.


There will be a preseason kick off party in the clubhouse sometime in late February.  This event will give everyone a chance to pay their fees and sign up for some door prizes.  We look forward to seeing each of you in 2020 for another great year of golf!

12-1-19

Good Morning,
This past week brought the end of the 2019 golf season along with a lot of heavy wet snow.  It was very difficult trying to move the wet snow across the soft parking lot at the clubhouse.  I stopped moving the “slush” after a couple hours.  It was making a bigger mess instead of clearing the parking area.  Once the ground freezes it will no longer be an issue trying to keep the parking lot cleared for patrons.
Before the snow hit, I was able to spray the greens with a snow mold fungicide.  This treatment is done to prevent this fungus from appearing in the spring.  Once the temperatures start to rise, in the spring, the ground will heat up underneath the snow.  This creates an ideal environment for a fungus to develop which leaves gray or pink blotches on the greens.  It is very unsightly and usually takes a fair amount of time to recover.  The fungicide will help prevent this from happening.
I was also able to remove 14 of the 16 tree stumps around the golf course.  Justin Nolta, from the Country Club, helped me with this process.  These areas still need to be cleaned up, fill material added, and finally sod laid to complete the process.  This will be completed in 2020.
Justin and I have continued to have a great working relationship between the two golf courses in town.  This is a great situation being able to help each other out during a time of need.  Both golf courses benefit from this relationship and it makes our jobs a lot easier having another guy to lean on once in a while.  I plan to help Justin with any tree removal he has planned this off season.
Tomorrow I will be speaking at the Winter Seminar in Templeton, Iowa.  This event is through the Iowa Golf Course Superintendents Association.  My presentation deals with the 2017 water quality project completed by the city in the fall of 2017.  I have attached the slide show for those of you who might be interested.
The upcoming week will begin the process of sharpening reels and bedknives.  I hope to have this maintenance procedure completed prior to Christmas.  Hopefully everything goes smoothly.

11-24-19

Good Morning,
This past week I set the grinding machines up in preparation to start sharpening reels and bedknives.  All the reels have been taken apart and any bearing replacement was completed.  The reel grinding machine is set with an exact measurement from the grinding stone all the way across each blade on the reel.  I manually run the stone across each reel until a brand new sharp edge is established.
The bedknives are what the reels spin against to cut the turfgrass.  These brackets are set on a separate grinding machine and the measurement must be exact all the way across the bedknife.  I manually run the stone back and forth across until a new edge is established on the bedknife.  This bracket is then attached to the reel, adjustments are made, and a perfect cut is established.
The reels are ground during the off season.  The bedknives are periodically sharpened during the season to maintain a quality cut.  The reels are checked on a daily basis to ensure they are cutting at a high performance level.  This establishes a more healthy turfgrass during mowing operations.  Improper cutting adjustments or poor quality of cut result in poor mowing and stress to the turfgrass because it is basically ripped instead of cut.
Retrofit Companies, Inc. was on site to conduct a lighting survey at the golf course and the other departments within the City.  They will use the data to decide whether we will see a significant cost saving switching to LED lighting.  The maintenance shed will definitely need to see some changes as will the clubhouse.  I will keep you posted.
I have also created a slideshow presentation which I will be presenting at the Iowa Golf Course Superintendents Association Winter Seminar December 2, in Carroll.  This presentation will share the 2017 water quality project that was completed at the golf course.  I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be a speaker at this event and I think the project will be of benefit to many other golf courses.  Let me know if you would like me to share the slideshow with you?
I also attended a telephone conference call with Tyler Technologies to discuss new software for our day to day operations.  This would be a change in the Point of Sales system we currently use for paying customers.  It would make paying online much easier and also lessen the time spent recording daily receipts at City Hall.  It is in the early stages but sounds very promising.
I was able to get out on the golf course and continue with our tree pruning project for 2019.  I finished quite a bit of the golf course.  I will be working with Justin, from the Country Club, this upcoming week to remove the 16 tree stumps we have on the grounds.  This will conclude the tree work that was planned prior to the season ending.
A couple other tasks that were completed this past week:
     -The tile area on #16 was addressed where some of the trench was still open.
       Fill material was pushed into the trench and will be left to settle over winter.
     -I completed some irrigation repairs in a few of the valve boxes.
     -Lightning damage on the heating/cooling system in the clubhouse was
      was addressed with the insurance adjuster.
We anticipate a lot of golfers to enjoy one of the last days of nice weather.  The outside golf course will be closed at the end of the day for the 2019 season.  I will be spraying greens with a fungicide to prevent snow mold damage when the spring weather arrives.
Please contact me with comments or questions.   Enjoy the sunshine today.

11-17-19

Good Morning,
This past week concluded the majority of outside projects planned for 2019.  The weather still looks nice for the next few days and that will allow me to finish a couple other small items prior to the frozen tundra arriving.
Projects that were completed this fall include:
  -removal of the dead trees on the course
  -cutting stumps down to ground level
  -tree pruning
  -algae control in both ponds
  -aerification of the greens
  -sod repair on fairways
  -fertilization of greens, tees, and fairways
  -tile addition on #16
  -tile repair Waterway Park
  -irrigation blowout
  -winterize the pumphouse
  -change oil and filters in all equipment
Projects I will continue to work on early this week include:
  -back filling the tile area on #16
  -marking stumps for removal
  -measure landscape areas for 2020 plans
  -continue to research a tagging system for 2020 daily fees
I would like to thank the part time staff inside the clubhouse and outside on the grounds for all their work and dedication.  Inside staff are all working at the golf course as a part time second job.  They do a great job meeting the needs of our golf clientele.  I’m thankful for each one of them every day.
The outside staff worked tirelessly trying to constantly get caught up with daily maintenance fighting the rain and other poor weather.  Irrigation issues, equipment problems, and crazy work schedules made it especially difficult.  They worked very hard with a lot of pride in the golf course.  There work is never ending and often goes unnoticed by the public.
It has been a very challenging year.  I look forward to the off season preparation and implementing some of the discussed changes for the 2020 golf season.  I hope the weather cooperates for golfers, farmers, and others.  The clubhouse will be open this off season for events and the golf simulator.  Hopefully the public will utilize our beautiful clubhouse.
Enjoy the remainder of the weekend.  Please contact me with any comments. questions, or concerns so they can be addressed in a timely manner.

11-10-19

Good Morning,
The irrigation system has been winterized for the 2019 golf season.  I finished blowing out the system Friday evening around 7:30.  Saturday morning I finished the wiring of the new circuit board, completed work in valve boxes, and winterized the pumphouse.  Today and Monday I will finish working on the irrigation issues with the MDI and the main computer.  These issues are covered under our warranty plan.  I simply need to figure out what needs replaced and what is working correctly.
Power surges are not uncommon with golf course irrigation systems.  However, they are a major issue that can wreak havoc on a person.  I plan to have some additional discussion with our irrigation contractor who installed the system during the expansion.  Lightning surge protectors are definitely a necessity when it comes to protecting the system.  Maybe adding more of these to the layout will be helpful.  I will pursue this during the off season and keep you posted.
We still need to remove the intakes and screens in the pumphouse wet well.  These intakes go about ten feet down the wet well and connect to the irrigation pumps.  The water is drawn from the irrigation system through these intakes by the pumps and goes into the field.  The cattail debris will be cleaned from inside the screens and the bottom of the intakes.  They will be stored in the maintenance shop during the off season.
We have removed all the dead trees from the golf course.  I believe we have 17 tree stumps to remove.  It is so disappointing to see how losing these trees affects the visual aspect of the golf course.  It’s part of Nature but is still frustrating to accept.  Pine trees are not native to Iowa and once they reach a certain stage they become very susceptible to pests and disease.  Pine Wilt is a disease that is seen through the entire Midwest.  Attached at the very bottom is a pdf for your reading pleasure.
This coming week the remainder of the tree pruning will be completed, the last couple of tree stumps will be cut off at ground level, tree stumps will be staked for removal this winter, and hopefully the majority of our muskrat population will be eliminated.
Over the past few weeks, the golf board and I have been working on plans for the 2020 golf season.  We will be implementing a tag system that will be issued at check in prior to a round of golf.  We require every individual to check in prior to golf but that does not always happen.  Season pass holders will have a visible bag tag for the season.  Daily fee players will be issued a daily tag for their bag.  This will allow staff to visibly see if somebody has checked in or possibly not even paid.  This is still in the early stages but I look forward to the implementation.
The golf course numbers have declined over the years.  Our golf leagues no longer have waiting lists and operate barely over 50% of the “good old days” numbers.  Our cart storage spaces allow for 178 carts to be stored on site.  We used to have 20 carts on a waiting list.  Today there are 46 open cart storage spaces at the golf course.  Numbers are definitely going down as our population ages.  Attached is a spreadsheet for you to look at the numbers over the past 17 seasons:
Each of you enjoy the remainder of the weekend.  Extra special thanks to all the veterans who allow us to live the life we choose in this great country.  Please contact me with any comments or questions.

11-7-19

Good Morning,
There are more irrigation issues as golf course staff is trying to winterize the system.
I started the irrigation winterization process early in the week.  We brought in an air compressor from the Street Division to blow out the irrigation lines.  The first step to the blowout process is clearing the main lines around the golf course.  The second step is opening each individual station and removing the water from the lateral lines.
I was having a difficult time keeping the psi (pressure) high enough in the lines to open valves.  The main lines were finished by the end of the day on Tuesday with quite a bit of difficulty.  The Street Division prepared another air compressor for us to pick up on Wednesday morning.
The process resumed around 4:30 AM Wednesday morning trying to get a head start prior to the second compressor arrival at 8:30 AM.  I soon noticed there was no power to any of the stations around the golf course.  I checked the amp draw going out into the field and discovered it was at 18 and it should be functioning at 170.  The low amp reading shows a problem either in the field with a grounded wire or with the irrigation controls from the computer room.
Approximately five hours was spent checking wire splices around the golf course separating the field into three sections.  This would determine where the issue is on the course.  Eventually I called Rainbird tech support, which is an insurance system paid for annually.  We went through volt testing and many other tests in the field.  After a couple hours they finally agreed the issue is with the MDI (this is the main power source to all the field decoders which control the irrigation).
A new MDI, separate circuit board, and surge protector will be arriving today around noon.  I will assemble all of these components this afternoon and check the electrical wire path.  We plan to continue the irrigation blowout starting Friday and I will continue through the weekend until it is complete.