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Turf News - February 2023

17 FEB 2023

I wanted to talk a bit about our club course hardware this month. Our winter months are filled with lots to do and one of those tasks is a refurbish of our course hardware. After our crew and I have spent over 300 hours cleaning and repairing rakes, ball washers, tee blocks, hazard stakes, etc. so far since closing I have to ask "is some of this even needed?". So, lets start with ball washers. Many courses have begun to outright remove these from the property. That may be a bit drastic but can a ball washer be available every second or third hole rather than every hole? Does it need to be on the first hole when your ball is not even dirty yet. My answer to feedback about ball washers has been if you need one at the tee, how did your ball look when you putted out on the last green when you had an opportunity to mark and clean it? Sometimes I actually think that they are used primarily by those that just did some pond digging and need to clean up their haul! 

Lets get onto rakes! With the return of rakes post covid (for now) comes the feedback of lack of rakes and the shaft fiberglass degradation. We have gone through all 500 rakes and repaired or thrown away any that are unsafe or unsuitable for use. New black grips, covered handles and also removal of any unrepairable heads are all complete. With the reduction of our bunkering comes the reduction of rakes. We plan to place these rakes in the areas (and only the areas) that are access zones to the bunker. We are making every effort to eliminate any steep face access into or out of the bunker. I am hoping that if the rake is placed at the suitable access point, the player will use that area. It's been frustrating seeing our new (and old) bunkers abused by traffic where it should not be. To be honest, I can't believe that scaling a steep faced sand slope is all that comfortable or for that matter raking out footprints that were created. Our goal is for those faces to firm up and have the ball roll to the base, but every time a player scales it, it sets the process back. So now that rakes have returned lets use them the right way (2 hands and with care) and put them back where they were picked up from!

Signage. Yikes!! We have 145 signs on the courses... Yes 145!! That includes tee signs, direction signs, steep hill signs, stop signs, drop zone and many, many more. We have the granite ordered for the last 2 Sidewinder signs that are to be placed in concrete and installed. The tee signs were all placed in concrete for Sidewinder and Rattler after the wood barn beams deteriorated that they were placed in prior. These granite signs are custom made and cost 1500$...crazy! Any of our on course signs, we do clean up and replace the stickers as needed. Another expense!! I look at the signs that are not really needed, like on course directional (where 15 SW tee is and halfway house sign that’s in front of the half way house). We will be removing the ones that are not needed. This will be a reduction in a bit of maintenance but also removal of clutter. We are constantly cleaning bird droppings and trimming grass around bases and even straightening posts when they are hit. Once again, just trying to keep things a bit more simple.

Let's move on to yardage markers. We have our traditional tee signs, monuments on all tees and in fairways for 100, 150, 200, plus monuments in cart paths giving you the 100, 150 and 200 yardages. We also have all fairway and par 3 heads tagged with to-the-middle yardages, 150 yard posts with laser prisms embedded and even have pins with reflective tape to assist with laser rangefinders. And last but not least are the tee yardages on the scorecard. All of this signage comes with labour….bi weekly edging, blowing, cleaning, and relevelling. 

Every year I challenge myself to find efficiencies in my operation. This is not to save on budget but making efforts placing dollars where they really should be placed….in our playing surfaces!!


Bill McAllister, Golf Course Superintendent