Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fairway Aeration, Perseverance, Dirty Jobs, Defections and Don't Turn Off the Fans!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Tuesday, June 5, 2012 and much has happened since my last entry so let's get everyone caught up. The Member-Member ended in dramatic fashion as Steven Sherck birdied the final hole to secure a one stroke victory by the defending champions. The twosome of Sherck and Kevin Link navigated their way around a very challenging set-up over the 3-day holiday weekend in a total of thirteen (-13) under par...in the words of Head Golf Professional Jeffrey Peck, "Well played gentlemen"!

The following day (5/29) the course was closed for aeration.  The crew and I began our very auspicious plans of aerating the greens and fairways simultaneously (did I mention we were also using the new Aera-Vator on all the fairways ahead of the fairway core aerator…(Tim Allen voice, “Orh orh orh”)). 

The Aera-Vator prepares the way for the Toro 880 Fairway Aerator!

It rained on three different occasions with the last shower somewhere around 4:30 pm being too much to tolerate as we all nearly drowned (tic).  We called it a day and reconvened Wednesday morning (5/30) with only 6 putting surfaces remaining but only 5 fairways completed!  The bearings in the gear box of the fairway aerator went out just as the last shower brought operations to a halt the day before and we were unable to start on fairways right away with the 880 "behind the wall" and we were getting lapped.  With the unit back online around 1:00 pm we began to gain ground on the fairways before another mechanical failure (this time multiple roto-linkages, most likely a side effect of the gear box trouble from the day before) forced the unit “behind the wall” again as the sun was setting and only 4 more holes completed.  Two full days of aeration and only half the fairways complete…I was not a happy camper!

I made several phone calls Wednesday evening and was very fortunate my good friend Scott Kennon (superintendent, Myers Park Country Club) was willing to loan us their fairway aerator Thursday morning (5/31).  I quickly traveled across town to haul it back to our place and started using it immediately while my equipment manager was trying to determine if the roto-links we needed for our unit were available.  Unfortunately, we learned the total number of parts required to repair our machine properly were not readily available and at that time a decision had to be made (continue all day with only MPCC’s unit, which meant not finishing fairways until Friday or locate a second machine elsewhere).  Unable to procure a second machine in the time required and unwilling to push aeration into Friday we decided to go “old school” and use the rough aerator (ground-driven, tow-behind model) on some of the fairways.  Hey, ground-driven, tow-behind aerators were all we had for years in this industry!  We determined the best course of action was to use the rough aerator on only those fairways that grow the most vigorously in order to recover more quickly.  Also, in order to ensure similar results with the old unit in comparison to the newer models we decided to overlap the passes and double up our hole production.

In the end we were able to complete all the fairways on Thursday (5/31) with holes 10, 13, 14 and 17 being aerated with the “old school” machine; holes 6, 11, 12, 15 and 18 being aerated with MPCC’s unit and holes 1-5, 7-9 and 16 being aerated with our fairway aerator…whew!  Three days and the staff really came together to complete the job!  Days two and three were late ones with most of us getting out the gate around 9:00 pm but everyone pitched in to complete the task (even your's truly) so our fairways can be even better.  Yesterday saw a little lime and fertilizer going on the fairways and with the rain things should be back to perfect real soon!

Superintendent Matthew Wharton does his impersonation of Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel's Series "Dirty Jobs"

In other news I wanted to share some information with you regarding the maintenance staff.  We have encountered several developments all in the past two plus weeks.  First, two of the Moldovan seasonal staff absconded.  They called out sick as the other four came to work one day and when the four returned to their apartment after work the two others were gone along with all their personal belongings.  This is a very unfortunate incident and a risk we take when deciding to employ these young men from Eastern Europe.  I encountered one defection from a young man two years ago after only one month and earlier this year four lads working at Myers Park Country Club (they participate in the same program) departed less than one week on the job!  These young men come to us via Hidden Creek Contractors, Inc. in Bakersville, NC and I have been in contact with them daily as they are working diligently to bring us two suitable replacements.

Also our summer intern from Oklahoma, Larry Pigeon has unfortunately resigned his position after only two weeks citing health related issues due to diabetes.  This was most unfortunate and disappointing to learn.  The silver lining in all this news is Sean Hatch from Central Piedmont Community College’s Turfgrass Management Program is serving a summer internship. 

Sean Hatch
Sean started at Carolina back on May 24th and has shown great enthusiasm and desire thus far and we are happy to have Sean be a part of our team!  Next week Jeremy Smith (a soon to be graduate of Butler High School) will join our team for the remainder of the summer as he prepares to enroll this fall in the same turf program as Sean at CPCC.

Finally, as the warm temperatures were prevalent at the end of last month it became necessary to operate the fans which service several putting greens.  These fans are instrumental agronomic tools which are vital to the health and survival of the putting surfaces and they are not to be turned off by anyone unauthorized to do so.  As a friendly public service reminder below are a couple of pictures which demonstrate the importance of the fans.

This is the 8th green in late July 2010 (prior to fan acquisition)

This is the 8th green just 3 weeks after the fan was installed

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this manner!  Until next time…

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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