Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recapping 2009

With January right around the corner I thought it would be great to post a few pictures from some of our projects from this last year as well as some information on how the Maintenance operations fared in our economicly challenged year.

2009 was a very challenging year maintenance wise for Riverlands. We were challenged from the get go with producing an acceptable product for our members with less funds. This was nothing new to our side of the business as the majority of courses across the nation was taking budget cuts also. So with the help of my Greens Chairman we decided to tighten our belts and plan to take care of the most important parts of our course before anything else. Our greens got first dibs on all funds needed to keep them healthy the whole year while the rest of the course was going to get what was left over. If I had to rate the performance of my department, given the circumstances, I would give it a solid "B". We did the most with what we had on hand, took extra good care of our equipment, while still being able to produce a well maintained course throughout the year.

The biggest improvements on our course were done without taking anything from our budget though. Thanks to a few members donations we were able to rebuild several bunkers on the course as well as dig out a crucial section of our ponds that irrigate the course.

The biggest improvement of 2009 in my opinion was the improved health of our greens, tees and fairways due to the purchase of a used aerifyer. For those that do not know, our aerifyer was put to rest about three years ago due to the high cost per year of keeping it running. during this time we have begged, borrowed and rented equipment to get these needed cultural practices accomplished. Due to this we did not do the needed aerifying as much as required. We got a real steal on the price of an aerifyer due to a local company that builds one of the best units selling out their company to one of the three big industry companies for millions. It so happened they had their own personal demo unit with a small tractor, that was not included with the deal to the big boys, that they sold to us for the low price of $17,000 which was the cost of an aerifyer unit alone from the other companies. While not budgeted for, it was a dire need and a too-good-to-be-true savings that we could not pass up. Thankfully the club hosted a capital improvement weekend that actually paid for this unit. .

By having our own unit we were able to also choose our dates to aerifye our greens to fit between tournament scheduling with no hassles. The unit allow us to aerifye our greens four times this last year with us pulling cores twice. Where the unit has shown the most benefit though was on our tees. I set a schedule for tees that was the Tuesday following an aerification or about every 6-8 weeks. In my opinion our tees in 2009 were the best since I started in 1995. I had not heard one complaint towards our tees being too hard to put a tee in and have been healthier and recovered faster then anytime before. This new aerifyer in my opinion will benefit us for a long time

The next biggest improvement of 2009 has to be the rebuilding of a few sand bunkers. I really wanted to make a bold change at Riverlands in the way we designed and built our future bunkers. It all started with Hole number 7 in which we made a few minor changes to the old bunker in return we received a better designed and playable bunker. The goal was not to change the hole just make it a little better. I feel that we achieved that with a cost of around $400, see for yourself
The next bunker we wanted to redesign was on hole #6 where we had an old straight style bunker on the right of the green that had several problems like large pine roots growing in the bottom, drainage issues and just being bland. Once again our goal was not to just improve the original bunker but to build a more challenging golfing area. With the help of my greens chairman we came up with a new design that would not only meet our requirements but cost less to maintain and build the the original bunker. Again I feel that we met our goals and for under $300,

The big question now was how do we out do ourselves with the next bunker project? Again the team of my Greens Chairman and myself put our heads together and decided that hole #2 was in dire need of renovating it's two bunkers. Being it was a par three we felt that it really needed something that would not only look fantastic but challenge any golfer that hit a ball into them. Grant really gave me leeway to use my imagination on this hole as long as I kept the project in the given budget. My goal was to keep the same square footage of bunker space as they already had but spreading it out with mounds that would present a new challenge. These bunkers did cost more then the previous but the board had given me about $2000 to work with between both bunkers. I wanted to use all of the room on each side of the green as possible for my design. You will just have to decide if I was able to achieve my goals yourself but the cost was kept to around $1500.

Our next determined bunker renovation was #3 fairway bunker. We chose this bunker because it was in need of serious attention. It had stopped draining and was really small for it's position on the hole and did not offer a really good recovery shot. This ended up being the easiest and cheapest redo so far. A simple redesign to make it longer and around 100' of drainage pipe did the trick.
This ended up being the end of our renovation/redesign work for the year but we were still able to go into a few other bunkers and change out drainage lines and add new sand to them.

I would state at this point that without certain donations of many of loads of sand we would of been regulated to just a couple of renovation or improvements to our bunkers. It excites me to think about the next bunker projects we are starting to plan for this year. A few holes we would like to address is #8, #12 & #15 with #12 being our biggest change to date possibly. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.