Superintendents Corner

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How does a loaf of bread save the day? When fixing irrigation it is not uncommon for an isolation valve to leak once it it shut off. That is exactly the problem here, a steady, but minor flow of water remained after the valve was closed. The temporary solution to stop the water, which is essential when solvent welding PVC fitting together, is to fill the pipe up with bread. The bread acts like a temporary dam, giving us enough time to weld the fitting and complete the repair. Once the water is turned back on the bread will dissolve and be sprayed out the irrigation heads.  

T minus 30 days until pool opening. The brand new pumps are in, they replaced the original pumps from from when the pool was constructed in 2001. The main circulation pump had over 45000 hours. Hopefully these new pumps give us that many hours with no problems. In the coming weeks we will begin cleaning the debris out of the pool and washing it for the first time. Once it is fairly clean we will search for small crack and tears in the PVC liner that need to be fixed. Cracks as small as a quarter of an inch can leak thousands of gallons of water a day. Once the pool is filled there are very few options for fixing a tear in the liner making it crucial that we get them all before water is added. The coming weeks will be busy, with pool preparation.

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I get the question all of the time "How do Reel mowers work". So here are some pictures on how a Reel mower operates.  In the top left photo you see the bottom side of a mower reel, in this case it is a Toro Greens mower reel. The reel rides on the front and back roller, this is what determines the height that the grass is cut at. The Reel and the Bedknife in combination do the actual cutting off the grass, much like a scissors. The reel spins at high speeds passing very close to the bedknife but not touching. The bottom photo shows how we set the cut. This is a folded over piece of newspaper. As you can see the front edge is a clean cut and the back edge is pulled apart, known as feathering. The reel spins close enough to cleanly cut the first sheet of paper and feather the other. This is why sand and any other foreign material is so hard on mower reels, it is just like taking sandpaper to the cutting edges of the mower and sanding them away.  Once the gap is too large between the reel and bedknife it will not make a clean cut, then maintenance must be done to reset the reel and make it cut.  In the top left photo it also shows a brush attachment, other attachments can be fitted in this location. This spins with the reels, making contact with the grass and helping stand up the blades so that they can be cut off. The photo on the top right is a close up of how tight we mow the grass. This mower is bench set to .110 inches, roughly the height of two pennies stacked on top of each other. This is a quick overview of how a Reel mower operates, many other factors figure into the setup and actual mowing height of the grass. 
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Always good to get the first fairway mow done. Nothing better then the smell of fresh cut grass.

So what does it take to get the irrigation system up and running don't you just turn a valve and fill it up? The first thing that we have to do is repair all of the bad heads from the end of last season, this year there was seven. The photo shows a typical head and all of the wire associated with it. Every head on our golf course has two wire running to it. So when you dig up a head there can be numerous wires in the hole going to other heads on that pipe. Due to the age and design of our irrigation system we can not isolate very many parts of the golf course, so it is vital to fix all of the irrigation heads before we charge the system. Once the system is full of water when a head needs to be replaced we have drain thousands of gallons of water to make the repair. Once all known problems are fixed we will slowly add water the pipes, over the course of several days.  

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The first mow of the season. It is always nice to get the first cut on the greens, unfortunately it is usually more sand than grass. The picture on the right is a closer view of what is in the bucket of the mower. We will continue to time mowing based on growth, it will not take long and we will be mowing every morning. Until then it will be a balance of cutting grass and picking up sand. The sand is terrible for the mowers, but is vital to the health and playability of the greens.

The first passes with a triplex. What is a triplex, that is the name of the machine that we use to accomplish various task on our greens and tees, most notably mowing. In the picture on the left we are not mowing greens yet, but instead using it to pick up the coarse sand and debris that is on surface of the greens. We do this with a special set of heads known as brush reels. This extra sand is brutal on the mowing reels when we finally mow the greens. The more excess sand we can remove now, the less of a headache it will be later.

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The mowing season will be upon us very soon. Do not forget about getting your mower ready for the job.  Change the oil, blow out the air filter, and sharpen the blade.  A good sharp blade provides a clean cut, making a healthier plant that is less prone to disease.

It is getting late in the winter but we have one more engine that needs work. The engine out of the bunker rake is in need of help. It was using oil and had very low compression on the left side. We will see what it takes to get it back up and running, hopefully nothing major, and not a complete rebuild that we had to do on the workhorse engine as seen in the photo above. Took it out yesterday and runs great.

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Pool repairs have begun. After 20 plus years of service and over 40,000 hours of operation the main circulation pump is in need of parts.

The first roll of the year. Rolling helps to smooth the green out after a long winter and help firm them up in preparation for mowers and golfers.

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Soon our course will look like this!

Be watching for golf cart do's and dont's.

Carts
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