Friday, January 31, 2014

16th in Maryland, 877th in the World

The title means we have just been confirmed that we have attained Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary status for the golf course. I really want to thank my staff Mike Otstot, Zach Anderson, Ben Baker and Geofferey Gibson for putting in great effort with this project. Here is a little recap of what we had to accomplish in order to full fill the requirements.

1. Environmental Planning, The concrete foundation that we will base all of our programs wants and needs before we move forward for the staff, golfers and wildlife.

2.Wildlife and Habitat Management, Will make us understand the wildlife that we have on the golf course, increasing the naturalized areas and creating a wildlife inventory. 

3.Integrated Pest management, The goal here is to reduce our inputs in to the environment through Cultural Practices, Pest Monitoring and Management and Maintenance Facility and Pesticide Safety.

4.Water Conservation,  This also would include the amount of water that we use to irrigate with and that our system is running efficiently with proper distribution and no leaks. It has always been my number one concern that we do not abuse the water that is given to us.

5.Water Quality Management, Water has become an ever so increasing commodity. It is extremely important that we have preventative and management controls in protecting our water sources. Some example that we currently employ are no-input zones or buffer zones near our water bodies, these help minimize run-off, potential drift and erosion with quarterly testing for nitrates and phosphates in the water. This area really dives deeper into the management of our ponds as well.

6.Outreach and Education, Once completed with the previous steps its now time to let the public and golfers know how we are doing and what steps we are taking to manage our environmental impact. We do this by education, displays of wildlife, kid activities and more.

As you can see there are a lot of steps to take and for us the most cumbersome was the Wildlife and Habitat Management section. Once this was complete the rest fell in line with what we were already doing. We go through these rigorous programs to improve the environment on the golf course but for me personally it is the message that I would like for every one to hear, that we do care and we just proved it.

Now for some project updates, the bunker work is picking up today for the first time in a couple of weeks. The weather for the next week and a half does not look very good but we are hopeful to have #9 prepped with gravel in the next couple of days. So far we have still have a lot of snow on the ground and we shifted to complete some work at the shop. We are improving our wash pad area and adding a water line to fill our mix tank. By permanently having a water source that is piped we can fill faster and not have to worry about a hose laying in the way. Our trees for screening the fence on 18 have arrived and those are planned to go in next week. We have just been given the green light to proceed with our second phase of the storm damage tree plantings, 19 to be exact. Our start date for this is mid February weather permitting.

water line trench

Delivered Leyland Cypress trees

Friday, January 24, 2014

Water quality testing and Ground Water

Yesterday we learned that we have successfully completed our Wildlife and Habitat Management and our Water Conservation segments for the Audubon Certification with our Chemical Use and Reduction and Safety as well as our Water Quality pending. Once those are complete this leaves us with our last segment titled Education and Outreach

Our water quality testing involved a kit that we purchased to help us with this requirement. We took samples of water entering the golf course property to leaving the golf course property and it was quite interesting what we found. From at first glance you could easily tell how good the water was leaving the property compared to entering and from our test for example our nitrate and phosphate levels were much lower leaving the golf course, two important nutrient factors that Maryland is trying to reduce going into the Chesapeake Bay.  We feel very good about that and will continue to do our part for the environment.

Testing kit

The cup on the far right is the incoming water from the
homes, while the cup on the far left is the water leaving
the property. 

Will you look at that! Water on the far left is much cleaner
leaving the golf course. 

Another note of news today is we have been certified in the Ground Water Guardian Program. This is a similar program like the Audubon program for golf courses but its main focus is protecting and conserving the ground water. We received a plaque to show off in the club house and a sign to mount out side. For more information please go to 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mix tank build

Through out the season we apply light amounts of nutrient packages to the turf grass to help with recovery and stress. This can be a long process each time that we schedule this. For example when we apply a nutrient package to the fairways it requires us to make (5) 300 gallon fairway tanks, each one must have the correct added materials to make up that package to cover over 30 acres. On average it can take us about 20-30 minutes to fill up with a total of 4-5 hours to actually apply the nutrient package. You can see there is a good portion of our time being spent mixing, roughly less than 2 hours combined.  If we can minimize the amount of time it takes us to mix these together we could potentially see a savings in fuel cost and most importantly move on to the next task for that day very quickly. How do we improve this situation? The answer is we build a mix tank to hold the required gallons to spray the fairways in one tank, remember it takes us 5 tanks at 300 gallons for a total of 1500 gallons. The short of it is we will only mix one time and each time the fairway sprayer needs to be filled up, they will back up to fill from the large mix tank and then off to the next appropriate hole.

 Quick, easy and most importantly safe.

The large tank will hold the 1500 gallons, the small tank to the left
will hold our Iron that we use on a regular basis. The small device
in front of the large tank mixes the appropriate products
together then shoots them into the large tank. 

This is one of the fairway sprayers that we use, and it only
holds 300 gallons at a time.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 16th Update

Finally some decent weather to continue our project, although it has been very wet and mushy we are not picky and will work with what we have. So far #10 status is the right side bunker is prepped for the spray and we opted to not return to the left green side bunker and the fairway bunker, its just to wet to be productive. So we decided to move to #9 where the ground is higher and a little dryer. Sod work is on going at this point with a truck scheduled for tomorrow to finish #15 and #11 approach/fairway extension, these changes will bring you more eye candy and improve the play-ability of the hole.

#9 left fairway bunker, ready for polymer

#9 left green side bunker

#9 right side bunkers

#10 green right side bunker

#11, cutting out rough for our bentgrass
approach extension.

#11 right side has been cut and ready for removal, 

Outside our shop on 18 the fence is pretty unsightly from the club house and when you are playing the hole,  what we plan to do is prep this area for some fence screening plants such as leyland cypress trees. This will serve a great purpose when we have members enjoying a meal on the patio seeing green rather than a brown fence.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Maryland Fertilizer Law

Recently I have completed my certification to apply fertilizer on a commercial basis. This is a new law that has come out and every business will be required to participate in. Its main goal is protecting the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay by reducing or eliminating water run off containing nitrogen or phosphorous.  The biggest targets are of course golf courses and other large turf grass entities. I can personally say that we are fully aware of the detrimental actions of not following the correct protocols when fertilizer application are taking place. I do believe that we as golf course managers care more about the environment than most people would think. 

The golf course industry is doing their part in eliminating the chances for nitrogen and phosphorous run off, I really do hope that you as home owners will help us as well. By working together we can have a great partnership and goal of improving the water quality of the Chesapeake bay while still having a great looking golf course and home lawn. So if you are interested in more information about the fertilizer law and how you can reduce your inputs at your home please visit

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January 8th Update

All I can say is that "I Survived the Polar Vortex"! With temperatures dropping dramatically with in a 24 hour period we shifted gears and concentrated on working inside. We try and set up our winter work load this way so that we can keep the staff out of the elements when it gets this cold. Some good opportunities that we can do is sanding of the golf course benches. This removes the yearly wear and preps them to be re-oiled for the coming season.  With just a few pallets of sod to lay out they literally became ice blocks, to combat this we would leave them over night in a heated environment and quickly lay them out the next morning before they would freeze again. 

The bunker project is in standby mode, the future weather forecast looks promising to continue later this week. Our last two trees were planted yesterday on #5 screening the home, the frozen ground was a great advantage to limit any ruts from the heavy equipment.

#15 new fairway extension

Staff prepping the benches

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first post of 2014 with many more to follow so that we can educate you on the practices and principals of turf grass management. We always encourage you to follow along and enjoy the pictures of the golf courses road to maturity and improvement. With that being said we are back on the sand train and its moving very well.  Today we have finished #17 and currently on #11 adding sand while the the other team is busy constructing the bunkers on #10. The staff has been busy working in the fairway top dressing, prepping areas for sod repair and we have even started to mulch beds during the frosty part of the morning. As I am typing this we are unloading a sod truck so check back on the completion of that very soon.

Today we closed the greens and moved to temporary cups into the fairway where they will remain until March 1st weather permitting. 

The bare area will be a new fairway extension on #15 in
front of the green complex. 

Same area but looking towards the 15th green, please note
that the new fairway edge will be smoother than what you
see in the photo.

#10 right side bunker almost ready for gravel installation

#10 front green side bunker almost ready for the floor
to be shaped.

#17 Back bunker 

#17 front bunker

#11 right side bunker

#11 right side bunker