Stow Acres Turf

Golf Course Maintenance News & Live Updates from @stowacresturf

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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

-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


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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Aerator Trailer

One of the most tedious tasks involved in aerating is actually transporting the aerator.  With a transport speed equivalent to a casual walk, travelling from green to green can be painstaking.  For fairway spot aeration, 90% of the time required for the job is often spent transporting.

Assistant Superintendent Kevin Bracken came to us this winter with the idea to build a custom trailer for our Toro Procore 648 aerator.  Since the manufacturers haven’t ever tackled this project, we hit the drawing board.

We started with a 1500 lb capacity trailer from harbor freight.  The tires were too tall and too narrow for this application, as they increased the approach angle, and would leave ruts in the turf.  We switched them out for shorter, 2x wider tires, which were rated for 2000+ lbs.

From there, to help accomodate the weight of the aerator, we switched the 3 leaf 1500 lb springs for longer 4 leaf 2000 lb springs.

Since the aerator has such a short ground clearance and wheel base, the breakover angle of the machine needed to be factored into the angle of the tailgate ramp.  To accomodate this, we stretched the tailgate 12″.

The deck and tailgate were covered in 3/4″ plywood, and we fabricated tie bars and mounts to hold the tailgate up during transit.

To quickly and effectively secure the aerator during transit, we used spring loaded rigging hooks, 3/8″ chain, and d-rings.

For storage, a trailer jack was added.

The aerator fit very well on the trailer, and was balanced with approximately 50 lbs of tongue weight.  It will be pulled with our newly fabricated material hauler, which we’ll showcase in the next post from The Shop.

-Justin Parker, Equipment Manager

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Custom Landscape Trailer

One of our projects in the shop this winter was to build a custom landscape trailer that would hold everything the crew might need when trimming bunker edges, greens surrounds, trees, railroad ties, etc.  The base for this project was a 4’x5′ trailer purchased from Harbor Freight.  From here, we started the process of tailoring the trailer to our specific needs.

First, we switched out the tires/wheels to net a lower center of gravity and lessen the angle of the tailgate ramp.  Next, we extended the tailgate by 24″ to further lessen the angle of the tailgate ramp:

From there, we covered the deck in 3/4″ plywood and began building mounts for the assorted tools and equipment that the trailer would service.  The backpack blowers were mounted with bars through the cavity between the blower and carriage:

The string trimmers were mounted to upright posts and clipped in with carabiners to ensure they would not fall off of the trailer.  As an added safety measure, we installed fail-safe wire in the event that the carabiner or plastic on the string trimmer broke:

Alongside the string trimmer, we mounted a 5 lb spool of string along with a trimmer line cutter:

For the hand tools, we used the plasma cutter to cut holes in flat stock, which was then mounted to upright bars (along with mounts for the backpack blower chutes):







All of the welds were cleaned up and smoothed out, and the bare metal was painted to match:

The last addition will be two gas cans mounted on the tongue (mix and regular gas):





If you see the crew using this trailer out on the course, feel free to drop in and take a look at it!

-Justin Parker, Equipment Manager

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An Update from the Shop

Winters are a welcomed change of pace for the shop here at Stow Acres Country Club.  We put quite a bit of time into preparing and planning for the upcoming season,  to produce a progressively higher quality product for the customer. 

Every winter we service approximately 50 reels from the greens, tee, and fairway mowers.  Each reel is evaluated, broken down, rebuilt, sharpened, and has a new bedknife fitted to it.  This process ensures that we start out the season in the best possible position as far as quality of cut and reel reliability are concerned.  Sharpening the reels is an intensive process that grinds the blades down to a precision level of .0005″.  For some perspective, that’s 10 times smaller than the width of a human hair.  It’s incredibly important that the reel be straight, as it’s the passing motion between the reel and bedknife that cuts the grass at a consistent height.  Any minute difference in the distance between the reel and bedknife can lead to an unclean cut, torn, or completely uncut leaf blade.  The less clean a cut is made on the blade, the more that plant is prone to disease and environmental stresses.  For the golfer, uncut or unevenly cut grass (particularly on a green) equates to unpredictable ball roll, and a generally unsightly appearance.  This being said, quality of cut is of extreme importance here at Stow Acres Country Club, it’s a win-win for the golfers and staff alike. Here is a short video of the grinding process (audio is included, so we advise turning your speakers to a low setting at first):

We spend a considerable portion of the winter season researching methods, tools, and equipment.  One project in particular we’ve been working on is a landscaping trailer that will carry rotary mowers, trimmers, blowers, and various hand tools.  In the past, it would take multiple carts/trailers to accomplish the same task, sometimes with many trips back and forth to the maintenance barn for another tool.  Our expectation is an increased quality in the hand manicured areas such as bunker surrounds, tee complexes, pond edges, etc.

From a shop perspective, the 2011 season is going to be characterized by quality of cut and improved efficiency.  Coming into our 4th season as a core management team, our ship has never sailed any smoother.

-Justin Parker, Equipment Manager