Monday, September 19, 2016


I hope that everyone has had a great summer at Hawks, this season has had its challenges for us.  Overall, I feel we have had the course in really nice shape when the weather has been on our side.  This year it seemed like every time the course was in great shape we had another major rain event to deal with.  The numerous rain events kept me on my toes this season. there was no less than 6 major rain events that my staff spent countless hours getting the course back in shape. Our staff is a seasoned, dedicated group of individuals that rarely complain even under the toughest timelines and countless hard and long hours to prepare the golf to the standards we have. 

The test Better Billy Bunker, BBB, we installed this spring preformed as expected this season.  With each rain event the bunker took whatever mother nature dealt it.  I honestly feel there was no better year for us to see how the bunker renovation will perform for us.  The photo shows the performance of the bunker after the 7.5 inches of rain we had this summer.  I think we all agree that the project will be very exciting for us.  I  meet with our contractor last week to go over the scope of the project and a pre construction site visit.  We plan on starting the project no later than the second week in October. The sand from all bunkers will be removed, drainage repaired and new sand that we have in the green bunker on 5 will be installed.  All the greens bunkers will have the Better Billy Bunker system installed. We are looking at removing a few bunkers as well;  the first bunker on the right of 2, the bunker on the left side by the woods on 5, and the small fairway bunker on hole 1.  During the construction each bunker will have the ridges and humps removed.  We will be working on a number of holes at the same time during the construction to increase productivity.  Once we start installing the BBB system in the greens bunkers we may either have a temporary green in play or close the hole entirely.  It will be very important to not walk in the bunkers once we start the BBB installation this will cause major delays in the curing process.  I also plan on having back nine starts once we start construction on the front 9.  During the construction process I will give daily updates on Twitter @hawksnr  on our progress. I will also update my blog regularly. 

We will continue to work on our organic matter reduction on the golf course weekly until the end of October.   I will be core aerating all the greens using a 1/4 inch tine on the 26th and 27th.  I will also topdress the greens weekly until November.  The tees will be core aerate at least 1 more time this fall and the approaches will be aerified as well.  This process is very important for the health and playability of the playing surfaces. In October we will move into taking care of the plant and soil for winter survival and playability of the golf course into next year.  Our focus will not be rolling and mowing daily and near tournament green speeds.  I will also start to raise the heights of our putting greens very slowly in October.  There is so much to do and so little time once we get into the shorter days in October.  

If you have any questions regarding the construction process please feel free to contact me directly.  


Friday, May 13, 2016

Update 5/13/16

I hope that everyone has enjoyed a few rounds of golf this spring.  The weather has not been the best, chilly with many rain events.

  We have come to a decision on our bunker renovation.  I would like to follow up our letter to the members and discuss in greater detail the upcoming project involving the bunkers on our golf course. The bunkers have reached a point that something has to be done to achieve better playability and improved maintenance.  We have been looking at many options over the last few months to solve these problems.  I am sure everyone is well aware of the fact that even after  light rainfall events our bunkers hold water. 

 This is problem is even worse after major rain events, some of the steep faced bunkers wash out.  These problems have been getting worse in the last 2 years.  Playability is an issue, this is directly related to the current condition of the bunkers.  As washouts happen,  silt from the subsoil along with finer soil plug up the drainage system and contaminates the sand within the bunker.  We looked at several options over the winter to solve this problem.  Our final and best option will be to remove all existing sand, replace and repair the drainage system and install a very advanced drainage matrix system into the green side bunkers, Called the Better Billy Bunker.  We will not be installing this system into the fairway bunkers, but will replace all the sand and repair the drainage as needed. Along with this renovation plan, we will be removing some of the humps in the floors of the bunkers to create a more consistent uniform bunkers.  I have chosen a sand for the project but we will be testing the performance of the sand and bunker system throughout the summer.  On May 27th, we will have our chosen contractor Golf Creations complete a Billy bunker installation in the right green
side bunker in front of 5 green.  This process will take 2 days  to complete.  The first day we will remove all sand and install the first part of the bunker system.  In this process; pea stone will be installed in the entire bunker and sprayed with a proprietary polymer that will need to cure for 24 hours before the sand is installed.  It will be very important during this curing process that no one will enter the bunker.  Once the sand is installed the bunker will be put into play.  The main reason we have chosen this bunker is that; it holds water, washes out after rain events, needs major edging work, and the bunker right next to it performs the same way.  We will be able to evaluate the performance of the sand and the Billy Bunker this summer to make sure we have made the correct decision on the chosen sand and also how the system works.  I feel very confident that the system will work and the end results will be well received.  We have also made commitments for the contractor to start the Front nine renovations at the end of September.  The work on the front nine will be done by mid November and ready for next spring.  We have yet to finalize a start date to complete the work on the back nine.  I will keep you updated on the progress and installation of the bunker system 

The bunkers is not the only projects I have been working on this spring.  We have completed our spring grass and weeds control in the fescue.  There are a few areas that we will be reseeding in the next few weeks.  If it's not fescue in areas we have sprayed this spring. The undesirable grass has been either killed or weakened.  We have some work to do but we are making very good progress since starting the program we currently are on.  

Yesterday, I treated the fescue along the path of 12 and to the right of 15 rough using a growth regulator to hopefully control the growth and thin the stand.  I will be evaluating this over the next few weeks to see if it may be an option in a few other areas.  

The golf course is in very good shape despite the cooler than normal spring and rains.  We have seen a flourish of dandelions in a few areas and are spot treating these. 

We have been topdressing and solid tining the greens on the regular basis this spring.  I will continue to solid tine the greens every 2-3 weeks this season.  This process will help keep with proper water and air exchange in the soil profile. I have also been using an old technique of using a broom mounted in front of our greens mowers. We have 2 of these brooms this year.  The broom stands up turfgrass plant up right before the cutting blades mow the turf.  My observations so far are less grain and a finer surafce. I feel the putting surfaces are very good after brooming.  The amount of clippings in our baskets are at least 1/4 more compared to the mowers without the brooms mounted.  At this point, I am not seeing any negative impacts to the turf.  We will continue to evaluate the brooms and the performance of the putting surfaces going into more stressful periods.   

We are waiting for 2 additional staff members to return from college.  We should be fully staffed by the end of next week.  I hope that you are enjoying the golf course this spring. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Update 3/23/16

Opening day is on hold for the short term, but we will will be making a decision in the next few days.  If the snow stays to the north our plan is to open the course as soon as this weekend.  My best guess is the course will be open at least by Wednesday next week.

Currently, we have most of the staff here working on mowing and cleaning up the golf.  All greens, tees, and fairways have been mowed at least once and are in good condition.  Even with the few warm days most of the playing surfaces are not aggressively growing. I do not see too much growth until the ground temperature stay consistently above 55 degrees.  We are currently around 45 degrees.

Some of our rough edges along the fairways have a high percentage of creeping bentgrass.  Bentgrass is a wonderful grass when cut below a half of an inch at rough height this grass tend to dominate and is very hard to advance the golf ball.  I have looked at this issue in the past and without a complete conversion in these areas the rough grass has not filled in.  This week, realigned our fairway edges and will start mowing some of the areas as part of our fairways.

We have made very good progress with our Fescue over the last few years. I have applied a crabgrass pre-emergent to most of the fescue already this spring.  Our plan will be to treat for broadleaf weeds and undesirable grasses late spring.  I will be looking at the heavy stands of fescue and treat these areas with additional products to help reduce the density.  The University of Wisconsin is working on a fescue management study on holes 13 and 7.  One of their research studies involves "playable fescue"   I plan on implementing some of this research into our programs.

This week, we just started working on preparing the bunkers for play.  Most likely we will not have all the bunkers completed by opening day.  Once we completed this process we will go back and work on edging.

I am looking forward to a great 2016 golf season and look forward to seeing you very soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Update 1/27/16

We have been very busy over the last few months, we have also had a few changes to start 2016.  

Jeff Muller has been my Assistant for the last 4 years and has moved on to Weedman, Our Equipment Manager also has moved on to another opportunity. I have moved my son Matthew into the equipment manager's position.  He has worked for Hawks for a number of years during high school, was enrolled in the Auto Mechanic's apprentice program in his Junior and senior year.  He brings a lot of enthusiasm to the shop. I also moved one of my key employees of 14 years, Armando Arias, to 2nd Assistant position.  He has worked mostly in a seasonal position over the years, I am fortunate to have such a dedicated employee working for Hawks.  I have also hired, Chris Kesler as First Assistant, he has recently graduated from Clarkston College in Minnesota.  He completed internships at Whistling Straights, we are looking forward to his late February start date. 

Even with the staff changes we continue to move forward with our winter maintenance. This year we have a few major repairs that are being done..  We remain very busy in the "off season" maintaining the equipment to operate at its peak performance during the golfing season.  We do our best to reduce any potential down time during the season with repairs over the winter.

This week, I was able to walk the golf course getting a pretty good look at the current conditions.  We have just a little ice in a few areas, at this time I do not feel its anything to be concerned about.  The saturated conditions this december and fall warranted a second snow mold treatment on the greens and tees.  We did not retreat the fairways. This week, I do not see any snow mold on the golf course.  I am actually quite surprised but very happy that we are looking pretty good right now.  With the present conditions, We are very close to the point in the season that we should be looking pretty good this spring.  


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

End Of the Golf Season 2015

 All good things must come to an end this year certainly left us all with a lot of good weather to get in many November rounds of golf.  We also were able to continue working outside on many little projects to get a jump start on 2016.  The weather has not been without its challenges for me.  We winterized the golf course irrigation system on a 70 degree day,  normally its so cold by the end of the winterization you can not feel your toes, I will take a 70 degree day over the cold but we had to split up this process because of packed tee sheets.  Everything worked out very well just a different way of thinking through the process.  My other issue this fall has been trying to figure out when to apply our plant protectants for snow mold disease.  The winds this fall have not been in our favor along with the very warm days. We did manage to get everything treated but with the rains nobody is certain we will have the best season long control.  I feel fairly confident in our application but will continue to monitor the turf throughout the winter and may need to reapply if necessary.  Ideally, we would apply our protectants the first or second week in November and not have to worry about things until spring.

On the other hand the weather has been ideal to work on the golf course.  I am sure you have noticed
a nice addition to the back side of the club house with the addition of 5 nice pine trees.  We transplanted the trees from our tree nursery on #4.  12 years ago we planted the pine trees from 6 inch plants.  We still have a few more that we may move onto the course in the future.


We also completed a few small sodding projects this month on 5,9 and 17 greens.  basically, we removed worn out areas, regraded and installed new sod.  #9 we worked on the rough line that was worn out from the many balls that roll back down the slope from the green.  I was able to grade this area a little to help divert balls to not all roll down the same path.

The addition of our new fescue a few years ago left a few irrigation heads that are no longer needed.
 This fall we removed the rest of the sprinkler heads that have been abandoned on the course.  I also added a few irrigation heads to areas that are hard to water properly.  My goal is to reduce to amount of supplemental irrigation water going into the fescue to the best of our ability.  We will continue to adjust the sprinkler heads for better coverage. In the photo is a perfect example of this.  We replaced a full circle sprinkler in the middle of 5 tee with a part circle that will only water the tee.  We had to move the sprinkler with the addition of a few feet of pipe to make this work properly.  There are limitations to this in that the main pipe system is placed in such a way that we will have sometimes to make major changes.  Right now we are working with what we have achieve better results.  These changes are saving a lot of water each year.  Before we converted the rough to fescue we were averaged well over 25 millions of gallons of water for the course.  This year, we used the least amount of water in 15 years just over 15 million gallons.  We did have a very dry end of September and the first part of October which was very unusual for us.  Our yearly total would have been much lower had we had a "normal" fall.

Lastly, you may have noticed the "bunker" on #1 at the start of the fairway has been removed.  Pretty much an eyesore for a few years.  This bunker is not in play serves no real purpose other then visual so we decided to remove the bunker.  I wanted to keep the visual aspect of the feature by steeping the face and creating a nicely formed slope to fit into the hillside.  This area has been seeded to fecue and will serve the same purpose without the look of an unmaintained bunker.

 In a nutshell lots of work has been done to continue to improve, enhance the course. We will continue to work outside as long as possible this fall.  There are a few more items that I would love to complete before the ground freezes.

I hope that you had a great year. I feel overall we had some great conditions on the course. My staff did a tremendous job this year and feel very proud of what we have been able to accomplish on the course. As my 15th season comes to an end here at Hawks its always amazes how time flies by I am already getting excited for 2016 planning and preparations for the spring.  I hope to see you very soon  have a healthy and happy holiday season.

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