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.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Course Update! Greens are Closed for Winter!

I had hoped we would be able to get the greens open again but that will not happen. Luckily, we expect the weather to warm up enough Sunday through Wednesday to get our winter topdressing applied on greens. The ground is frozen right now and several greens still have snow cover. We will have temporary greens available. Carts are NOT available anymore. The following pictures were taken this morning... Saturday, December 1st.

#1 Fairway
#4 Green
Hole #5
#11 green

Saturday, November 17, 2012

We Saw a Barred Owl!

While supposedly common, this was our first sighting of a Barred Owl. It was sitting on a stump along the edge of #12 fairway. Just inside the wood line. Pretty cool!

For more information check out these web-sites...



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nor'Easter One Week After Hurricane Sandy

We worked as long as we could today. Snow started to fly and we had to call it soon after!

Mowing rough and snow starting
Still blowing rough
Half of staff still trying to pick up leaf piles
We are actually topressing important areas like #3 approach
We had to call it "quits"

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I Made a New Friend Today... Chase!

Nine year old Chase just happened to pass me on the course and I invited him to go for a ride with me. I can't be sure who enjoyed it more, he or I. Chase definitely has skills as a driver. I see a future golf course maintenance worker. I appreciate his family trusting me and I was thrilled they let me take  him for a short ride. After our initial ride , I gave him a radio for him to contact me during his dinner. He informed me that Mac & Cheese was his favorite. Chef Jay Quinlan made a special plate. Chase pointed out that GM Sean also made an amazing ice cream Sunday for him too.

Chase and I then had the opportunity to show off his skills after his family brunch!

Chase shows everyone about divot filling on #10 Tee
Chase also learned about where and where not to drive on the course. He actually questioned my next move, positioning him for the next picture. He knew I was asking him to park somewhere he shouldn't.

Yes I had him pose for this picture! He fought me on it because I had explained earlier this is not where to drive!
I find it amazing I can teach a nine year old so quickly. I promised he wouldn't get in trouble because I helped him park there to make a point!
I was thrilled to meet such an extraordinary young man.
Anytime you want, you come visit me Chase!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quinnipiac Women's Golf Team Win's Quinnipiac Classic!

The Quinnipiac women's golf team won the Quinnipiac Classic with an inspirational, come from behind victory, here at The Farms Country Club on October twenty-third.

I invited team captain, Kayla Ketcheson, to write a guest blog entry for me. So here you go:

It’s been said, “it’s not how you start, but how you finish”; and I could not think of a more appropriate phrase to describe the Quinnipiac women’s golf team’s fall season. The 2012-2013 roster has added five new girls that make a team filled with talent, focus, and moreover laughter and positivity. Over the previous two and a half months, the girls have formed a sisterhood that has supported each other through seven playing events. Having the last day of playing competition at the Farms seemed only fitting. The Farms was responsible for helping put on an extremely successful and well-received Quinnipiac Classic. We could not have asked for better course conditions or weather to finish our fall season.
Going into the second round shortly behind first place, we had not an ounce of fear or worry—but excitement. In the weeks leading up to the tournament, our coaching staff and Paul had given us years of course knowledge. Confident, we made up the necessary strokes on the second day using our course management and knowledge of the greens. No words can adequately describe the satisfaction we felt with our play, as we knew we had won without seeing the numbers tallied. The moment was monumental for the program and for the entire team. I am extremely enthusiastic about following the Quinnipiac women’s golf team even after I graduate this May, as they continue to set the bar higher each year.

(from left to right) Kerry Brown-Asst. Coach, Angelica Muscatelli, Jessica Rotell, Jen Forlenza, Taylor Lambrou, Krissy Unger-Medalist, Kayla Ketcheson-Captain, Hanna Russell, Jenn Whaley, Erin Morton, Alexa Gentile, John O'Connor-Head Coach
Head Coach John O'Connor poses with Medalist Krissy Unger

For more information on the tournament including scores, pictures and video just click the following link:  QUINNIPIAC CLASSIC VICTORY!  

Great Job Girls! We at The Farms Country Club couldn't be prouder of you!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Tests Our Team

While we experienced a considerable amount of debris and a few Conifers (Pine Trees) which were uprooted, we have already made the course safe for play. We only had .75 inches of rain and I expect the course to re-open tomorrow. We will still need some morning clean-up time to make the course playable.
I will send a mass-email by 9AM Tuesday to let you know the exact opening time and how we will open the course (front nine first etc.).
The good news is that there was no damage to trees that have an integral role from an architectural or aesthetic standpoint. We did all the tree work we could "in-house" and spent the rest of the day working in concert with an outside company to reduce outside service costs. Our ultimate goal was player safety while keeping repair costs at a minimum and shortening our re-opening time.
I suspect, after my final daily assessment, we will open the front nine first tomorrow.
I am very proud of the maintenance staff and their hard work both in preparation and repair after the storm.
I would also like to thank Sean and Chef Jay Quinlan for feeding the boys today!!!
Here are a few pictures from today.
Staff working in dark to give us acces to course!
#3 tee  before

Close-up of #3 tee pines
3 Pines removed on #3 after severe damage
Uprooted spruce tree between #1 & #18
Maintenance staff taking care of removal of spruce between #1 & #18
Spruce uprooted in parking lot

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tee Aerification Update and More!

I thought that tee aerification would be completed by day's end. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate because the sand didn't dry fast enough. This is a very minor setback and will not effect play. We did mow all the tees today and we anticipate a considerable amount of rain tomorrow. Tomorrow's rain will wash-in / compact the topdressing sand into the holes. It is imperative to fill the holes completely. We will be able to achieve our agronomic goals with a light topdressing next week. This practice will not effect playability in the slightest!

We have been working on overseeding two damaged fairway areas. The two areas include the fairway in front of #14 green and the beginning of #17 fairway. The problem is completely attributable to excessive thatch caused by a reduction in aerification. The governing committees have recognised this situation and have addressed it in the 2012 / 2013 budget. In the mean time, we have taken aggressive steps to fix the 1/2 acre of fairway damage (there are 27 acres of fairways).
We have aerified, seeded and topdressed these areas twice. The following pictures show the second aerification and overseeding we performed today. The first oveseeding was successful enough to reduce the damaged areas to less than 1/4 acre. We have accomplished all fairway repairs within budget!

Aerified holes in fairway before seeding
Topressing after seeding
Dragging sand & seed into aerification holes

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aerifying Tees!

We will have completed aerifying the tees by Thursday, September 27th. Thursday is just about fine tuning the majority of the work accomplished on Tuesday and Wednesday. The weather did not co-operate completely but enough for us to accomplish our agronomic goals while reducing member inconvenience.

Alan Aerifying Tees With 5/8th's Tines on 1.5" spacing
4" depth of plugs
#7 Black Tee Aerified Before Cleanup Takes Place
Chris and Ryan Pick up Cores on Hole #8
Andy Makes The First Pass of Three in The Topdressing Process
When the aerification process is completeted, we will have covered five acres of tees. We will have used at least 75 tons of sand. We had a couple of issues to overcome. #1 was some slight rain which slightly slowed our maintenance procedure.
#2 was the company we normally use for topdressing sand. I won't stoop to the level of their poor business practices by continuing to explain.
We will now be using another company's approved topdressing product N.E.S.S..
The sand specifications are being confirmed by an independent outside company. Hummel & Co., Inc. (the most respected independent company in the industry).
I would like to thank N.E.S.S. for stepping in and helping us finish the job in my alloted timeframe.
Representative, Ed Downing, is helping us finish the job, at a moments notice, with a supperior product! Thank You Ed!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012 Men's Fall Member Member is in the Books!

Congratulations to the winners! Dennis Damato and Hugh Kurtz!!!
Hugh Kurtz & Dennis Damato

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lupus Benefit 5K Run! Just Awesome!

Lupus? I really didn't know much until this event. I have learned a lot! I'm all in!

You can find all about this worthy cause at...
Today was awesome!
Our maintenance staff will feel so good when they see this!
They will be proud of what they accomplished this week in preparation. They are awesome!!!
How about the clubhouse staff... U kiddin me...  We mowin it and setting it up but not one of us beatin SCOTT (in the run)!!!
Here are a few pics of such a great day... a million more comin tomorrow
The Runners Are Pumped!!!

Here We Go!
Look at all the love donated on the board behind President Joe Benvenuto and  Assistant Pro Jeff Beale!

Yep... Just Another Harte Bringing It! Ur mom kick ur but every day!!!

Farms Staff kickin butt out there!!! It's all about family!

This Is Cool! I kept messing up on pics because they run faster than my carts!!!

Everyone a Winner For All The Right Reasons!!!
What A Great Day!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Wildlife and Coyotes damaging #5 Green

I actually wanted to write about this earlier but the subject of green's aerification had to take precedence for obvious reasons.
The maintenance staff and I have the opportunity to start our day, basically, on a wildlife preserve. Most players never get to see what we see every morning, every evening and every day. Deer, foxes, coyotes, hawks, eagles, muskrats, bobcats (I still say I saw a mountain lion), every kind of bird from bluebirds to cedar waxwings, etc.  The list is much longer.
I love the mornings and hearing the staff talk on the radio about the family of turkeys on #7, or the fawn they just saw on #2, or the mating snapping turtles in #6 pond...again, the list goes on.

The snapping turtle mating ritual goes on for hours! Nobody sees it except our staff!

I have so many pictures of these two in #6 pond on 8-27-12
As beautiful as it is, there are instances that create problems for us. We have a family of coyotes we've been watching daily this year. Our best estimate is that there are five or six pups. They are always around five green and six tee in the pre-dawn hours. They will stay until one of the mowers or carts drive by, then they are spooked for the day. We have truly enjoyed watching them mature all season!

Pup's running away from #5 green because I'm 200 yards away trying to get a picture.

Another picture of the "spooked" pups leaving #5 green. I photoshoped these pictures to make them more viewable. It is still before sunrise so the quality is not great.
The problem now is the coyote family has decided to start digging up the fifth green! I don't know why. The first day was Saturday, August 25th. The damage was minimal. We fixed it easily. This kind of thing happens all the time... animals dig a small hole, deer make rutted footprints, etc. Sunday the 26th was much worse. They went right back to the same spot on #5 green and started digging deeper holes and more of them.

Holes on #5 Sunday, August 26th

This is not small!
Our Assistant Superintendent, Andrew Fenn, had to try and repair this before play got to #5 green. He said Mr. Dimugno's group, one of the fastest playing four-somes, were completely understanding that they had to wait a few minutes for us to finish repairs (thank you).

Sunday's damage was bad. I decided that it would be a green we would aerify first. An environmental change might make the spot undesirable for the coyotes. It didn't work out as good as I had hoped, but it was better.

Andy surveys the damage Tuesday morning after aerifying. It's not as bad, but they still want to dig in the same darn spot!
We made our planned fertilizer and wetting agent applications after topdressing was completed. Our simple physical changes and fertilization techniques seem to have made the coyotes want to find a new place to practice digging. As much as it was an inconvenience and it caused us  more work, it was awesome to be a part of a positive and mutually beneficial environmental change! Can you say symbiosis!
Very Cool!

Friday, August 31, 2012

What to Expect After Green's Aerification

We are all well aware that aerification, overseeding and topdressing of fine turf, especially greens, is the key to their season long, high quality and playability. Not one player or maintenance staff employee likes going through the process. It is grueling. It's the hardest work the maintenance staff will perform and under the most pressure. They've heard a myriad of quotes like "Just when the greens get good they tear them up!" or "this guy put way too much sand down". Superintendents have a million resources to prove the necessity of the practice and how we perform it but it rarely softens the blow.

I would rather focus on what we do to shorten the time period of member inconvenience. One week prior to the "hole punching" we fertilize the greens heavier and cut back on growth regulator applications. Equipment is tested and prepared. The timing of these practices are designed to keep the greens in outstanding condition until the day we begin the aerification and have recuperative potential at a maximum the minute we have started the process.

Next is praying for optimal weather conditions for the allotted three days scheduled on the calendar. If it is too hot or it rains, we must delay the start because we could actually kill grass instead of improving its growing environment. Delays, especially in late August or early September, can negitavely effect subsequent member tournaments or revenue generating outside events. Despite some rain issues the first two days, we were able to get the front nine open on the scheduled third day.

The fourth day was used for another heavy dose of fertilizer and wetting agent. This will speed the recovery rate. The fifth day was a fungicide application which protects the stressed plants.

Our goal is to use every tool possible to speed recovery and playability while maximizing agronomic benefits. In essence we are trying to make the desirable creeping bentgrass germinate, do everything we can to get the greens to heal, then be ready to be back to premium conditions within the two weeks.

What to expect:
Greens this week will be slow and bumpy because the mowers, which are set at .115 of an inch, are mowing through abrasive sand. They dull quickly. We will continue to sharpen them every three days. We will roll the greens almost daily. The key, especially during week one, is performing mowing and rolling in the afternoon. Mowing and rolling in the morning, when the greens are dew covered, just brings up more sand and creates a worse putting surface.

I expect conditions to improve daily. Our goal is to be back to normal conditions by September twelfth, two weeks after completion. Anytime before that is "A Win!"

I wanted to explain one more benefit of aerification. The plugs that are picked up from greens (or tees) are used to repair areas in the rough around the course. A great example is along #18 cart path this spring. The plugs are spread, seeded and fertilized. We then run the knobbed tires of the sand pro over them. This packs the material and helps hold water to improve seed germination.

Plug piles behind #14 tee
Chris fertilizing plugs on the corner of #14
Ryan packs down plugs with sand pro on hole #18