Welcome to my blog!
It is my intention to give the readers a better understanding of what we do to maintain The Farms Country Club's 18 hole championship golf course and grounds.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ice Dam Or Dam Ice? Removing Ice From Maintenance Facility Roof

The ice is about a foot thick on the gutters of the maintenance facility. In an effort to reduce ice damming, we are trying to clear the gutters and cut channels for melting snow to flow off uninhibited. No easy task. Even with the use of the steam cleaner and calcium chloride.
Heavy snow is expected again Tuesday through Thursday and again on Saturday!

Chris Berry Works From Bucket While Andy Fenn Maneuvers The Loader
Chris Applying The Calcium Chloride
Shoveling The Calcium
Clearing Down-Spouts
Channels Cut Through Ice So Water Can Flow To Gutter
Getting There After 5 Hours!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last Night's Storm Dumps Another 15 Inches! Snowfall Records Broken!

Last night's storm helped break the record for most snow in any month EVER! We also broke the New Haven County all-time record for most snow on the ground at one time. I love snow but enough is enough. Light snow expected both Friday and Saturday with a possible Nor'easter again on Tuesday. Where will we put it? The parking lots are getting smaller and smaller!

#4 Tee
Snow Now Reaching Top of Fence at Pool!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Storms Just Keep Coming! Staff Repairs Sander

Three inches of snow so far this morning and it's not over yet! We are expecting another six to twelve inches of snow and sleet to accumulate between Wednesday night and Thursday.

The sander's engine mount base needed to be repaired this morning because it has rusted away from the frame. Head equipment manager, Ed Smeriglio, solicited some help from Chris Berry, our resident certified welder, to quickly fix the problem.

Angle Iron Tacked In Place Before Welding Completed

Chris Berry Uses MIG Welder To Weld The Support Bracket

Close-Up of Welding

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winter Storm Damage 1-18-11

Heavy snow and freezing rain has caused tree damage on the course. It is nothing to be alarmed about. The white pine damage on the front nine is actually normal for us. We actually budget for this type of cleanup every year. The white pines that seperate the front nine fairways on holes two through seven were planted 40+ years ago because the club could not afford to plant acceptable golf course trees at that time. Eastern White Pines were a compromise that afforded the club a way to segregate the holes at a limited cost. Every winter we experience damage. We continually try to rectify the issue by replanting with desirable hardwoods when finacially feasable.

Picture of Hole #7 From Early Sixties
Birch Tree damage Between # 7 Tee & #3 Green
Eastern White Pines Behind #3 Green
White Pines Between Holes #6 & #7

Turf vs. Cold, Snow & Ice

Here is the re-print of my CTGolfer.com Blog entry:

Let’s talk about winter. Not unlike the summer of 2010, this winter is certainly shaping up to be one of a kind. The average snowfall for Connecticut ranges from thirty to fifty inches depending upon your location in the state. Most of our state has already reached or surpassed those numbers with sixty days of winter remaining.

How does winter weather effect golf course turf? You may be surprised to find out that there are both positive and potentially negative effects dependent upon the type of precipitation, temperature and longevity of snow and or ice cover.

The best precipitation for turf is powdery snow. A thick blanket of snow provides an insulating, protective blanket that protects turfgrass from dramatically fluctuating temperatures. Superintendents welcome this because it reduces the chance of damage from dramatic freeze / thaw cycles. When exposed turf thaws in winter, it will begin to break dormancy and root systems will start to absorb moisture. Cell walls get thinner and become more susceptible to damage from a sharp drop in temperature. If temperatures drop dramatically, these swollen cells can be damaged and turf loss can occur. This type of damage is most likely to occur in late winter when freezing and thawing is most common. A nice blanket of snow will limit the dramatic swing in temperature.

A powdery blanket of snow will protect fine turf from winter desiccation. Desiccation is the drying up of turf when exposed to winter winds while not being able to extract moisture from frozen ground. The wind removes moisture from the turf and it is unable to replenish itself because the water is frozen in the soil profile. If turf is exposed to these conditions for extended periods of time, it will die. Superintendents don’t solely rely on snow for protection. Specialized covers or heavy sand topdressing may be installed or applied at the end of the season to protect the turf from desiccation. While these maintenance practices aid in protection, there is no substitute for a blanket of snow.

Ice cover on turf, especially greens, is UNDESIRABLE! When a layer of ice forms on the immediate surface of a green it can cause problems. There is no immediate threat, but a long lasting layer allows toxic gases like Carbon Dioxide to build up. If levels of toxic gases are not able to escape for several weeks the turfgrass will die. Poa Annua, Annual Bluegrass, is more susceptible to this type of damage than Creeping Bentgrass. Unfortunately many courses have high percentages of Poa Annua on their greens.

How does a toxic gas like Carbon Dioxide get there? Without getting too technical, it is the byproduct of cell respiration. Turfgrass under the ice layer is alive. Its cells are still utilizing stored food to survive even though the rate is much reduced in its dormant state. The conversion of food to energy releases several byproducts including toxins like Carbon Dioxide.

How can we save turf from toxic gas build up? There is no easy, sure-proof way to achieve this. Superintendents have tried everything from snow blowing to dark colored sands to aerification and removal of ice layers. Sometimes these practices work and sometimes they cause more harm than good. Many times, the mechanical damage caused by the physical removal of snow and ice is far worse than the speculated, unknown damage beneath the layer. Sometimes hoping for the best and preparedness is the proper course of action.

Being prepared for winter turf damage of any type is always key. At my course, The Farms Country Club, we always take core samples from suspect areas on greens when the ground starts to thaw. These samples are brought into the maintenance center where they can be warmed. By simulating growing conditions, we are able to determine the extent of the damage and take the preparatory steps for repairs. Being prepared includes having a solid plan and having the necessary materials and labor on hand to accomplish our goals as early as possible. It is imperative to overseed, sod, fertilize and topdress as early as possible to give us the best chance of a speedy recovery. Repaired areas don’t have long to establish because the heart of the playing season is not far off. Juvenile turf will soon be subjected to the stress of summer weather and needs to be healthy to survive.

Besides the solid agronomic plan, communication to golfers is critical to success. Superintendents must keep people informed of the situation and the process of its rectification. It is imperative that players understand the severity of the damage, how it will be fixed and the sacrifices they may need to endure to get playing conditions back to normal. Early season restrictions may be in the form of temporary greens, roped sections of greens, higher heights of cut, etc. No one wants to endure these playing conditions, but early season sacrifices will give players the best chance at good greens during the peak of the playing season. Courses that don’t take the necessary steps to fix damaged areas will chase poor turf conditions the entire season.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for powdery snow the rest of the way!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Plane Crashes Three Tenths of a Mile From Clubhouse!

Plane Crash Pic by Brad Horrigan (N.H. Register)
For those of you who didn't catch the news last night, a small plane crashed three tenths of a mile away from the clubhouse. Thankfully, both the pilot and his lone occupant were unharmed in the crash. The pilot, age 25, and his father (age 53), reportedly had engine trouble and made an emergency landing in the field adjacent to Gilbert Lassen's home on Boulder Road (Cheshire Road) in Cheshire, CT.

Check out the complete story on WTNH Channel 8 News

Google Earth View Of Site Location

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Storm Benedict Dumps Over 20 Inches of Snow!

We are through the worst of it. Storm Benedict dumped over twenty inches of snow on us today. We have been plowing, blowing and shoveling since very early this morning in an effort to keep up. The staff is still going strong! We will soon be heading out to dig out our own homes. We will tidy up the remaining mess tomorrow.

View From Front Doors Toward #10 Tee
Ed Plowing Parking Lot in Front of Clubhouse

Chris Berry & The Snow Blower

Nick & Ryan Shoveling The Back Stairs & More!

Front of Clubhouse

Sun Trying To Come Out After Storm
Bridge to Practice Tee
Front Entrance
Hole #7

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Heavy Snow Expected Again!

We've already experienced a couple of good sized storms this winter and we're expecting another one to start tonight and last through the day tomorrow. The forecast is predicting over one foot of snow from this typical Nor'easter.

Snow cover is actually good for the turf because it provides a protective insulation blanket from the dramatically fluctuating temperatures and harsh winter winds.

The pictures below were sent to me by Toby Brimberg. The shots were snapped as he was cross country skiing around the course last weekend.

Thanks Mr. Brimberg!

Stairs to #8 Men's Tee
Bunker On The Right Side of #8 Green
View of #9 Green From South Side of #9 Pond
#9 Pond