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’!
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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.

1-1-17

Happy New Year to everyone.  I always get excited this time of year.  We have less than 12 weeks to the possible opening of the golf course.  I love the mid March opening dates.  It really sets the tone for a great golf season.  I have updated the 2017 event schedule on our website.  Previous events have the option to reserve the same date the following year.  We also have open golf during many of these events.
I also completed my continued education training for the aquatic portion of my pesticide license.  The continued education for the turfgrass and ornamental section of my license was completed mid December.  This annual training is necessary to maintain my license to apply these applications to the golf course throughout the season.
Recently, I was able to purchase a large inventory of range balls.  These balls will last us for quite a few years and will also allow me to sell some to other courses.  Each year the range balls are sorted by quality, to make sure we have high quality practice balls.  I completed this process and removed all the non range golf balls.  They were sorted, by quality, and the damaged balls were tossed in the garbage.
Last year, I started selling these used golf balls in the clubhouse.  Almost new golf balls were a pretty big hit.  We sold over 200 of them after starting mid to late season.  This year we will be selling the dollar balls along with $.50 golf balls.  I have almost 600 used balls to sell in the $.50 category.  Hopefully these will also be a hit and bring the golf course additional revenues at no expense.
The Park Department has agreed to transfer a used mower to the golf course.  This mower was going to be traded for a new unit in their department but will now help us better manage our practices.  We have started mowing the park areas, along with Public Works areas, surrounding the golf course property.  This machine will make this process more efficient for us moving forward.
I was able to service this John Deere 1600 WAM this past week.  I changed oils and filters, checked all the hoses, removed some dents, and cleaned everything under the frame.  There were also repairs made to the throttle cable, parking brake, and some other small issues.  I also sharpened the blades and attached them back on the decks.
Overall, it appears to be in decent shape for having 2500 hours accumulated.  There have been no fluids leaking during the time I have had it running.  It should be a great addition for the golf course.  We will have no problem staying on top of mowing duties in the parks, public areas, and the golf course.
Through several course tours I have noticed a lot of standing ice on greens, tees, and fairways.  The driving range is almost completely under ice along with the water ways.  This ice is always a concern when it remains on these areas for a lengthy period of time.  Some has melted but there is still a lot of acres covered with ice.  Hopefully this doesn’t carry over into a spring problem.
It has been a busy week at the golf course.  It feels great to be on the downward slide to the 2017 golf season.  This upcoming week I am going to start sharpening reels and the remainder of rotary mower blades.  There will be 34 reels to sharpen and 115 rotary blades to sharpen.  It’s going to be a sharp week at the golf course!