Stow Acres Turf

Golf Course Maintenance News & Live Updates from @stowacresturf


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It has finally become routine…

It is finally that time of year again where maintenance is becoming routine.  We have reached a point in our maintenance schedule that has allowed us to get caught up with many areas on the two courses.  While you will definitely see some projects that are ongoing; both courses have reached a maintenance level.  This is all thanks to the extreme effort that our staff has put in over the last two months!

Over the next few weeks as the temperatures become consistently warm, you will notice staff members syringing the greens with hoses.  Yes, we do have sprinklers and yes, we do water at night.  These hoses allow us to carefully monitor the moisture level and surface temperature level.  We are not actually watering the greens, but simply cooling the surface atmosphere right above the plant.  This practice, although labor intensive, ensures firmer, faster greens and less disease pressure.  Please watch this short USGA video on hose watering:

While playing the North Course, you will also notice the construction of a new tee box on hole 7.  This project began with us identifying a cluster of trees that needed to be removed for better air circulation.  This project is under construction and should be completed by sometime next week.

We also plan to start extensive work on the sand traps.  This will begin with filling in some misplaced bunkers and modifying some existing ones to become more playable.  As always, thanks for your continued support!  See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Mix Tank, Part II

After using the mix tank for a couple weeks, we added a few new features to make it more usable.  To facilitate faster filling, we plumbed the irrigation water from the South Course directly into the tank.  Filling the entire 275 gallon tank with the irrigation line takes under 5 minutes.  To help screen out any of the debris that makes it through the irrigation lines, we installed a fine mesh strainer screen.  There’s also a quick disconnect in line, in case we ever have to move the tank for some reason.  In the event that the irrigation is not pressurized, a 3/4″ female hose thread swivel connector was installed to allow the hose from the well water to be hooked up to the fill line.

For ease of rinsing containers and the mix tank itself, we also installed a 6′ hose with quick connect and a nozzle to the fill line.  Valves allow one or both to be operated at the same time.

-Justin Parker, Equipment Manager


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Spring Fertilization on our Electronically Controlled Spreader

The weather this week has provided an excellent opportunity to complete our tee and fairway granular fertlization.  Fairways are being fertlized today and tomorrow, with tees having been completed on Monday.

Given the large area of treatable turf we have here at Stow Acres, this process is completed using a PTO spreader mounted on our New Holland TC33D turf tractor.  As always, we do things a bit differently here at Stow.  Rather than use a pulley and rope, or lever setup to open the hopper and start spreading the fertlizer, we’re using a 12V linear actuator and controller to operate the gate.  This allows us to control the rate exactly and make minute adjustments as the fertilizer is applied.  It also ensures that the gate is opened at the exact same speed each time, providing a controlled gradiant of applied product at the beginning and end of each pass.  The controller allows for three different positions: Position 1 is for the gate closed, and Positions 2 and 3 are reserved for two different application rates.

Keep an eye on the tees and fairways in the next week, they’ll be greening up in no time!

-Justin Parker, Equipment Manager


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Sprayer Pre-Mix Tank

One of the most important cultural practices here at Stow Acres Country Club is spraying our greens, tees and fairways.  On average, we spray twice each week.  We have two dedicated sprayers, one 175 gallon Spraytek DS175 for greens and tees, and a 300 gallon Toro Multipro 5700 for fairways.  Given the volume of the tanks, and the precision with which the sprays are mixed, it can take upwards of an hour to fully load the sprayer.  Each spray is typically 2-3 loads, which requires 2-3 hours or more of mixing and loading the spray.  This season, we decided to change the process up a little.

We built a Pre-Mix Tank to facilitate mixing the spray while the spray technician is in the field treating the turf.  The first step in the process was selecting a tank.  We used a 275 gallon bulk fertilizer tank.  275 gallons of water, at 8.35 lbs per gallon, weighs 2300 lbs.  With this in mind, we built a pressure treated stand of the same design as a hot tub deck.  The stand also includes an area to stand on while loading the mix.

The tank was then modified to fit our design.  We cut in a bulkhead with straining screen.  The mix tank is powered by a 3/4 hp sump pump that drives a sprayer fill valve, in line strainer screen with bypass, and agitation nozzles to keep the products adequately mixed prior to loading.  The tank is filled from our 120 psi South Course irrigation.  An inline strainer screen filters the water before entering the tank.  A custom aluminum fill hose frame was built and hinged to the tank.  To facilitate the arm swinging without binding the fill hoses, we installed swing joints at both pivot points (upper and lower fill hoses).   A platform was mounted to the tank cage with a cutout for the calibrated mixing cup.

Once we started using the mix tank, the time spent by the spray technician at the shop between loads has decreased from an hour or more, to only 5 minutes.

For more information on the mix tank, feel free to comment on this post, or contact me at JParker@StowAcres.com.

-Justin Parker, Equipment Manager


The Shop gets a Lift!

Having the right tools certainly makes any job go easier and quicker (and often times much safer).  Here in the shop, we’re constantly hoisting machines up, trying to squeeze underneath, or bending down to adjust reels.  To our excitement, a Golf Lift GL9  9000lb turf lift was worked into the budget for this season.  This lift is designed specifically for the turf industry, with a pan that spans two of the lift arms to accomodate three-wheeled equipment.

It was a very tight fit in our shop, with less than 0.25″ to the beam above the top of the lift post.

The lift definitely gives us easier access to the underside of our machines.

It has even provided more storage in the shop overnight with all of the Managers’ utility carts parked in the shop.

-Justin Parker, Equipment Manager


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It’s that time of year again…

I have finally found a free minute to post on here. I know it has been almost a month since I have posted about the golf course, but we have been extremely busy preparing the courses for play. There are currently quite a few projects going on. The turf came through the winter very strong. We had a few areas in question, but now that the turf has started growing, things have started to look a lot better. We have applied our first few applications. Maintenance is starting to become pretty routine. I guess the title of this post could apply to any time of year, and it certainly seems like we say it enough. However, it really does apply to this week.

We will be aerating greens on the North course. I know, the greens have just finally smoothed out from the winter, but aerating greens is very essential to a healthy surface for the entire season. The irrigation system has been audited and we are ready to begin. The front nine of the North will be aerated on Monday and the back nine will be aerated on Tuesday. Tees will be aerated starting a week from tomorrow, and a heavy emphasis will be placed on tee improvement/turf density this year. Bunker projects will also begin soon, and we will be selecting holes that need the most attention first. We are continuing to make improvements to both golf courses. For more information regarding aeration, please refer to this previous post: http://stowacresturf.com/2010/04/30/aeration-over-already/

You can also watch this informational video:

http://www.golfcourseindustry.com/gci-video-aeration.aspx

Thanks for your understanding during this very important cultural practice. See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


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Re-purposing an Old Fairway Sprayer

Last year we purchased a Toro 5400 fairway sprayer, considered by most to be the Cadillac of sprayers. This replaced our very outdated Smithco Spraystar 3000. The vehicle itself was in decent enough shape, with just over 1000 hours on it. The sprayer part of the machine was in dire shape, however. With bent booms, sporadic lift actuators, a temperamental foaming system, and outdated calibration technology, it was time to upgrade to a more efficient sprayer. The Spraystar 3000 sat unused last season.

We manage a large property here at Stow Acres. With such a historic country club, we spend a fair amount of time renovating and renewing features of the course to their intended beauty. Moving material across the course for this task has proven to be labor intensive and troublesome on the equipment. The 90+ years of golf played on some parts of this property has developed a character of undulating turf, which is sometimes tough on the lighter utility vehicles we have, which are constructed with aluminum frames and relatively small cargo beds. The need to move large amounts of dense material such as sand, soil, stone, and cart path material could be filled by the same machine that was built to carry 3000 lbs of water.

We began by stripping the Spraystar of it’s sprayer components. The booms, tank, pump, electronics, computer, foamer, and lines were all removed.

From there, we began to prep for paint. The acrylic windows were removed, all loose rust was sanded smooth, body filler was applied to any dented or mis-shapen area, and primer applied over those spots.

The vehicle was then painted GM Onyx Black with a one step urethane paint. The frame and gondola dump box arrived and were placed on the chassis.

The lift cylinder was installed and plumbed to the lift valve.

Lights were added to the roof, and a hitch constructed for trailering our Toro Procore 648 aerator.

With the lift cylinder in operation, we tested out a load of stone in the bed:

Custom decals finished off the project:

-Justin Parker, Equipment Manager


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Opening Day…

Well, opening day here at Stow Acres was certainly not as sunny as we would have liked it to be.  We even had some snow flurries this morning, changing over to hail, and now almost accumulating 0.25″ of rain in 4 hours.  The South Course was officially open for play today, with hopes of opening the North Course by the weekend.  Both courses are relatively dry for this time of year, but we will remain walking only until further notice.  We were able to get the bunkers raked and the majority of the immediate playing areas blown off and cleaned up.  Cups are cut, tee markers are in place, and the South Course is clean.  Check back soon as I will continue to give an update on opening the North Course.  See you on the course!


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April Fool’s?!

As you can see in the photo, pins are in, and we are ready to open.  There is just one obstacle in the way, and it is the same obstacle that we have been dealing with since Christmas…snow!  Yes, that is right, we received about 3″ of snow today, and the course will be closed for at least a couple more days.  On a positive note, the staff did such a great job cleaning, that as soon as the snow melts, we will be ready to open.  Thanks for your patience, as the crazy weather patterns here in New England just don’t want winter to end.  See you on the course soon!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

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