Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14, 2014

A sad goodbye…

The other day I received news that our former mechanic, Faro Lanuza passed away on August 8, 2014 after a brief illness. Faro was the best mechanic I had ever worked with, and a very special person who I and the staff will always remember warmly.

Years ago, before he retired, I wrote the following article about Faro for the club bulletin board and newsletter.  I’d like to share it once more.

Faro Lanuza is our mechanic and shop supervisor. Anymore, repairing equipment is no longer tightening bolts and changing oil – although there are times for that need, equipment technology has advanced the trade into electronics, computers, and hydraulics, that require skills and knowledge far beyond knowing wrenches.

Faro was born in the Philippines of Spanish parents who emigrated there from Spain.  He attended and graduated high school in Iriga City, and then moved to Manila where he worked his way through college employed at an electronics manufacturing plant. He first attended Mapua Institute of Technology, and transferred to Feati University, graduating with a degree each in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.

After graduation Faro was recruited by many manufacturing companies to work for them, and over time, held many positions in these competing companies as plant supervisor, production supervisor, head of engineering and production, head of manufacturing design, etc. During these years, he also began his own engineering/electrical/ mechanical design consultant company, and later moved to Saudi Arabia to run a container manufacturing plant.

In 1986 Faro took time off from his career to visit relatives in the United States, and after touring the country, decided to stay here, settling in West Virginia, and starting a home improvement/ home construction company. On a job in Brigantine, he met his future wife, and after marriage settled in Galloway Township. During this period, at the urging of a friend, Faro appeared as a performer in the Broadway production of “Oklahoma”. In 2001 he became a United States citizen, disbanded his construction company and began a construction equipment repair business in Galloway.

Wanting to do something new, he came to Greate Bay in 2002, where he has used every bit of his knowledge and experience to help us do our best. Faro, who we nicknamed “Einstein”, can fix anything! And if he doesn’t like how something is made or works, he fabricates his own designs and parts to make them better. We could not do the things we do without Faro – he is special, and is arguably the most important person on our staff!

Faro lives in Galloway Township with his wife Prudence ( nurse at the Atlantic City Medical Center), and his teenage son. Faro is very active in many church organizations, sings for his church, plays piano, organ, violin, and harmonica, and is known to sing karaoke now and then!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29, 2014

We want to ask you to not use any type of bug repellent while standing on any turf, whether it is a green, tee, fairway, or rough.

Most aerosols, including bug repellent sprays, contain unnamed ingredients that are not safe for turf – besides DEET, one popular brand also contains ethanol/ alcohol 50-60%, propane 1-5%, isobutane 1-5%, butane 1-5%, N-N-diethyl-meta-toluamide 25-25%, and water 3-7%.  I am no chemist, nor do I pretend to be, but these extra ingredients, except for the little bit of water, are what “burns” the turf, and in some cases, thins or kills it.

On a cool, overcast day, the ingredients might do very little damage, but on a hot sunny day, the damage can be quite extensive.

The accompanying picture is of the 7th green. Someone used the repellent on Sunday and we found this Monday morning. Sunday was sunny, dry, and hot, and as you can tell by the amount of over spray and the area involved, quite a lot of repellent was used. I am concerned about how this area will “come back”, or more to the point, how much turf we might lose and the length of time it will take the surviving turf to recover.

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16, 2014

Francis, Irene, Mary, and Ellen are back to work after spending a cold, but relaxing, winter being spoiled at home. This year the girls will concentrate their duties on thinning out the brambles in the natural area that borders holes 8, 9, and 10. Our intention has been, and still is, to keep this area natural without the use of pesticides as part of our efforts to provide wildlife habitat under the guidelines of the Audubon Sanctuary program. Over the years the area has become over grown.

We ask that you not tease or bother the girls, and especially, do not feed them, as it is a falsehood that they can eat anything. There are many plants and human foods that are poisonous to them. Before putting them in any area, I survey it for poisonous plants first, and I have found areas they cannot go. Please don’t throw beer cans in their area thinking that they will eat it, because they won’t! Its interesting how many appear in their fenced area.

The best way to enjoy the goats is to simply watch them; they are very interesting animals – they will rise up on their hind legs and push down brush so they can easily eat it, play with each other, chew up thorns, make little dirt beds and take naps, etc. If you do want to pet one or meet them, give me a call or find me and I will do my best to introduce you to them. They are very friendly, and each one has an individual personality, just like dogs.

If your ball should land in the pen, please take a drop. We can replace your ball later. If the pen affects your shot, treat it as a temporary movable obstruction and take relief in line of sight, but not nearer to the hole.

Just an interesting note...Francis weighed 45 lbs when she began work here and now tops 160 lbs! I can hardly believe I once lifted her into the truck...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6, 2014

The drill and fill machine close up.

 We finished up the drill and fill today. It is a time consuming and labor intensive project.

Two machines, fitted with10” drills, drill into the green, bringing up the native soil. Sand is then poured into the hole. The sand must be carried by the staff from the truck to the machines, bucket by bucket to keep the hoppers filled. For the 18 greens, we used approximately 90 tons of sand, which translates to somewhere over 9,500 buckets filled, carried to the machines, and tipped into the hoppers. It takes a lot of work. And its non stop.

After the green is drilled and filled, it is rolled and then cleaned up with our core harvester. As soon as it is cleaned, we graden the green to a 3/8th depth, and once again, the core harvester cleans the green. The green is then dragged, or matted, blown off, and dragged one last time. From start to finish, an average sized green takes two hours to complete.

Drill and Fill is different from standard aeration. This process is done to create sand channels in the greens and help change the soil profile deeper into the green than what a standard aeration can. The sand creates pore space, aids in drainage, helps keep the green firmer, and helps reduce compaction. Since this process does not necessarily remove thatch, we follow with the graden, which does. 

Filling the machines.
Graden on left and clean up on the right.
The final drag.

After the drag, and ready to heal!

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014

Although the snow seems to create much more popular news stories than does the rain, coupled together the amount of precipitation is beginning to add up. Last week alone, including the snow on the 25th and this weekends rain on the 29th and 30th, we received  3” and change. Since December, we have received 4” of precipitation above the normal for this quarter period. The wet weather pattern that began last spring of 2013 is continuing. Not that a drought would be the answer, but a drying period would be welcome.

The third green, 10am Saturday morning, March 29, 2014

 These storms, both rain and snow, have altered many of our spring plans. Although we were able to aerate the tees, it took us another two weeks to topdress them, sneaking it in a few tees at a time between storms. Fairway aeration was originally scheduled for March 11th and 12th, rescheduled for March 25th and 26th , and now has been rescheduled a third time to April 2nd and 3rd.  Spreading the organic Ocean-gro product has similarly been rescheduled a number of times. Those are but a few examples. I am confident though that we will catch up, as we always seem to find a way.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014

I am not going to complain about this years winter or yesterday's is what it is and I cant change it.

I have been asked if this winter is good or bad and the answer is yes and no.

Yes because:
-         We received plenty of moisture
-          There was a lot of “frost heave” to break up and naturally aerate the top few inches of the soil profile 
-         Without much winter play, the turf did not get a lot of wear and tear
-         The snow cover insulated the turf from winds and desiccation
-         Most likely, the record cold temperatures reduced fungi and insect populations. Although this affects both the bad and good guys, it would seem that they will be in a more manageable balance come spring.

No because:
-         We didn’t have many golf days
-         The turf may take a bit longer to green up this spring because of the low soil temperatures
-         There remains a chance that with cool, wet weather, snow mold may become a problem in the next few weeks
-         We will be a few weeks behind schedule when the weather does “break”, and will need to adjust to the late start

We need to remember that grasses have been around for millions of years and have survived pretty much everything that can happen. We will make it through this too.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2, 2013

Last Tuesday, October 26, we were visited by entomologists Dr. Albrecht Koppenhofer and his post doctoral research associate, Olga Kostromytska, from Rutgers University. The purpose of the visit was to collect adult annual bluegrass weevils (ABW)  to be used in a study to determine the degree of insecticidal resistance to products that are traditionally used to control their populations.

The annual bluegrass weevil, which feeds primarily on poa annua, is the most destructive insect that we battle with throughout the year. In the spring the adults emerge from their overwintering sites ( from under debris, leaves, dropped pine needles, etc) and migrate across the rough to greens, tee, and fairways where they lay their first generation eggs inside the sheath of its preferred host,  short cut poa annua. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the plant before tunneling out and entering the soil to pupate. This egg laying, feeding and tunneling in the poa plant kills the plant. In the soil they cause no damage, but become adults that will repeat this process. Over the year, up until October, there are multiple overlapping generations, before the adults head back to tree lines to overwinter. 

For each stage of its life cycle, a different insecticide must be used – a contact for the roaming adults, a systemic type for feeding larvae, and a soluble contact that can be watered into the soil to affect the pupae. That is complicated enough, yet what makes control even more difficult is that these weevils have been evolving to be resistant to many of these insecticides to the point that the products offer little if any control. In the end, the weevils are becoming harder to control and populations are growing, and damage is increasing. At courses with a long history of ABW, resistance is a serious problem. At the same time, the annual bluegrass weevil, which once was a threat mostly only to New England, is now evolving to thrive in the warmer temperatures of the Mid - Atlantic States and south.

At Greate Bay, we began seeing damage just four years ago. I suspect there is a degree of insecticide resistance because each year it has become harder and harder to control the ABW populations here. This year was especially tough. Two years ago we only needed to treat a few areas on the course, and were able to decrease the adult population enough so that subsequent applications were not necessary. Last year though, we needed to treat the entire course and then on certain fairways and most greens we had to follow up again with as many as three subsequent treatments. As late as early October, we were still noticing light damage on the greens, collars, and on some fairways. This sustaining population of ABW might be an indication that the insecticides we use are decreasing in efficacy, due to resistance

Dr. Koppenhofer had contacted the NJ Superintendent’s Association looking for courses that would allow him and his team to collect weevils for a study to determine resistance population levels throughout NJ and surrounding areas. Within a week after volunteering Greate Bay as a collection site, we had set up a date for his visit.

Sampling was simple. The researchers dug out small, 6-8” diameter pieces of sod, about an inch deep, in suspected overwintering sites along the tree lines of hole #7. The sod was placed in five gallon buckets of warm water and a paper towel was laid on the water as a raft for the weevils to hang onto as they floated up wards through the water. The weevils were then collected from the paper towel rafts and put in containers for their trip back to Rutgers. In all, they were hoping to collect at least 1,500 adults, which they did.

Our weevils, along with the ones from other courses taking part in Dr. Koppenhofer’s study, will be tested with various insecticides normally used to control them, and the degree of resistance, if any, will be determined. From this study, alternative treatments and/ or insecticide rotations may be recommended to decrease resistance so that in the future, we will be able to better control the ABW. 

Dr. Koppenhofer collecting weevils on #7

Annual Bluegrass Weevil