Ready to Roll

Although looking outside today isn’t really giving off warm and fuzzy feelings for golf. The 2014 golf season at Pheasant Run will be beginning on Friday. The opening had originally been scheduled for Thursday, but weather certainly threw a wrench in that plan;

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While plans for mowing greens for the first time we to be executed yesterday or perhaps today. Our mode of transportation yesterday looked more like this;

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With the season officially beginning I’d like to wish all the members and guests all the best for this new season. May your drives be long, approach shots be accurate and putts drop. And let’s not forget to repair our ball marks, rake traps and replace our divots.

Andrew Hardy

Superintendent

IPM Public Meeting

Today marked our third Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Public Meeting. These meetings are mandated by law in the province of Ontario through the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticide Ban of 2009. The IPM program entails passing an IPM exam, maintaining continuing education credits, weekly pest scouting and the production of an Annual IPM report. Below is the 2013 Annual Report for Pheasant Run Golf Club;

Pheasant Run GC 2013 Annual Report 12-10-2013(2)

Each year we have hosted this meeting before the golf season starts. An advertisement is placed in the newspaper and we hand deliver notices for the meeting to each homeowner living within 100 meters of our property line. Hosting the meeting early allows us to essentially “get the meeting out-of-the-way” so that we can focus on the golf season and most importantly, the golf course itself. For our 2011 meeting, we had 12 guests. For the 2012 meeting, we had one guest. And today we had zero guests:

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And yes the information still had to be presented, even to an empty room (outside of a few staff who signed the attendance sheet!!)

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The long and the short of these meetings are that they are not going away anytime soon. It is a small price to pay to still have the tools we need to do our jobs. I just wanted to spread the word that interest in the IPM Public Meeting has not increased. And that we in the golf industry should be happy that they haven’t. It shows not only that the public isn’t interested, but, that we are doing what we can to be stewards of the land who are using Best Management Practices.

As for the golf course? Things are slowly melting and progressing. Dates when we will open are still up in the air. But hopefully a week of nice weather this week will provide a much clearer picture.

Andrew Hardy

Superintendent

 

 

 

A Tradition Unlike Any Other???

It’s almost unimaginable sitting in my office this morning that the Masters starts two weeks from today. For us in Southern Ontario, golf’s first major tournament of the year typically can be used as a gauge for the start of our season. It is with some sadness that unless something with the weather doesn’t change drastically and quickly. This years Masters will most likely be viewed with snow on the ground.

We have spent some time this week attempting to get to some of the heavier snow-covered greens to clear some snow off of them. The mission has been fruitless, marred with endless digging out of equipment. We did manage to get to 8 Midlands green yesterday and I was surprised at the amount of snow still on the ground.

Below you can see the depth of the top layer we blew off with a smaller blower;

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This picture shows the next layer down. This thick ice layer is from January’s ice storm. Luckily we have a 4 inch layer of snow underneath that ice layer and that layer has been there since right after the ice storm;

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I took this picture in January after the ice storm. That layering has remained unchanged through the winter;

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The actual blowing was the easy part. Though the operator was a little chilly when he finished;

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Below are a couple of pictures of the golf course itself. We have a way to go still;

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Looking down Highlands 2 fairway;

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It’s hard to believe that 2 years ago we were open for play for a week by this time. Predictions are difficult at this point in time, but I would say we will be at least a week to ten days behind the typical opening date. So take the time and enjoy the Masters. I’m almost disappointed that I turned down tickets for it this year!!! Here’s to the better (and warmer) weather in the coming days.

Andrew Hardy

Superintendent

 

State of the Union

Well it has been quite the winter in Ontario. We have seen more snow and cold weather than most of us can remember in many years. While the operation at Pheasant Run does slow down for many of these winter weeks. The slow times are filled in with preparations and changes that will take place for the 2014 golf season.

As many of my industry brethren are in a battle already this spring. It appears in areas that have been checked at Pheasant Run that our ice cover is not what many others are facing across the province. Beginning next week (weather permitting) we will begin the process of clearing snow off the greens. We will be approaching the date of efficacy for our snow mold applications. In layman’s terms, we need to get the snow off so we don’t get hit with disease.

Many steps have been enlisted to hopefully avoid any setbacks to turf for this season. Granted the “issues” that occurred on our greens in mid-July were for the most part unavoidable. 5 days of above 33C days and a 35mm rain event on July 19th basically boiled our turf. But we need to point a finger at someone and I have accepted whatever blame there is to pass out.

We have ordered a new fertility product for our greens for this season. Many golf clubs in more trying weather areas than us (Mid Atlantic and St. Louis) have had wonderful success with this product. It’s not cheap ($12,000 takes us to the end of July) and it shows we are committed to improving. The fungicide plans have been tweaked but we are still close to $15,000 just to manage for summer diseases (and we hardly spray!!). Green sites have been cleared of trees to open them up to MORNING sun. The sun between 6am and 11am is the most important sun to allow turf to restore its carbohydrate reserves.

What we can’t control is still our greatest challenge. Mother Nature will ultimately call the shots again this season. We will do what we can to manipulate her but in the end you can’t control the uncontrollable.

As always I am open to constructive feedback and questions. But please consider that between myself, Craig Evans and Alex McDonald (our new Assistant Superintendent) we have 65+ years of turf experience. We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, we are just looking to keep it on the road.

Andrew Hardy
Superintendent

PS- I found this last night. Perhaps some food for thought for all!

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Respect and Repentance

A year ago a more cynical and bitter me would have started this post taking a shot at those who have taken the same liberties on me. But, in a year of growth both personally and professionally I’m going to refrain from that practice. Not only is it horrible for business, but, it really solves nothing and it won’t make you feel better either.

Last season allowed me to see the people who matter the most in our operation. Interestingly enough, some of those people who matter are those who took said liberties. But in the end we all must succumb to the old adage that the “customer” is always right.

I received what should have been exciting and career changing news this past December. Something that I have poured my heart and soul into for 7 years had come to fruition. One of my career goals had been achieved, and yet I felt empty and somewhat guilty.

The news was announced last Tuesday that myself and Pheasant Run had been named the overall winner in the International category for the Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards (ELGA) for 2013.

http://www.gcsaa.org/Newsroom/News-Releases/2014/January/GCSAA/Golf-Digest-announce-2013-Environmental-Leaders-in-Golf-Awards.aspx

We also got some mention in Golf Digest as well;

http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-tours-news/blogs/local-knowledge/2014/01/bear-trace-at-harrison-bay-wins-2013-environmental-leaders-i.html

So why would winning one of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s (GCSAA) major awards bring on these feelings? While I had thought that I had let go the 3 bad weeks that defined my 2013. I apparently had not.

In one week I will walk on stage in front of my peers and accept this award. I will represent the Pheasant Run community, my family and the Evans family. In the time it’s taken me to articulate and put these words down in way they make sense. The excitement and prestige of this honor has really started to sink in.

When dealing with the weather and the elements that it can produce Superintendents tend to shoulder blame. It would be akin to me blaming the guy that snow plows my road (which has been a lot this winter) for snowing in the end of my driveway. Some things are out of your hands, just soldier on and fix them.

I am proud to represent Pheasant Run and everyone from members, staff and the Evans family. The transformation of Pheasant Run from a maintained from fenceline-to-fenceline parkland golf course has been evolving for all of my 9 years working here. Many changes have been subtle, and some less subtle. But at the end of it all, we are producing a more sustainable environment.

Areas have been taken out of play which reduces water use, fertilizer and pesticide use. The edges of the ponds were allowed to naturalize, which has created a natural filtration system. Our water usage has reduced by 30% in the last two years. We are choosing products that have less environmental impact. Our lighting systems have been upgraded to the most modern and energy-efficient available. When possible, we buy locally. This was a process far deeper than a few “Environmentally Sensitive Area” signs and I could go on-and-on.

I am proud what we have accomplished and the changes and environmental impacts don’t end with our graduation out of the ELGA program. As a member, staff member or person with an interest in golf don’t be shy to spread the good word. The first golf course in Ontario to win this award and 3rd in Canada. That’s pretty exciting and something the Pheasant Run community at large should take pride in.

I would like to thank everyone out there in the golf community who have continued to support me and Pheasant Run. You all know who you are and you all have a piece of this award.

Yours respectfully,
Andrew Hardy
Golf Course Superintendent

Seeking an Assistant Superintendent

First of all, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. This is my first post of 2014 and I do hope everyone is enjoying this very “typical” winter we are having thus far.

This morning I posted a job seeking an Assistant Superintendent on the Ontario Golf Superintendents Association (OGSA) website. So I wanted to reach some of my audience via this blog to put the word out about the opening.

I am not looking for a candidate who knows everything, but I am looking for someone who is willing to learn. Some IPM, irrigation and spraying experience would be considered an asset. And some supervisory experience would be nice, but not necessary.

The position is posted until February 17th, 2014. But I will accept resumes until the position is filled. This job is open to those already working in the industry and those who have recently (or about to) complete their turf education.

Resumes can be sent to andrew@pheasantrungolf.com. For those who know someone looking to “take the next step” please spread the word. This is going to be a year round salaried position and only those selected for interviews will be contacted.

Thank you for reading and all the best.

Andrew Hardy
Superintendent

Looking ahead to 2014

With 2013 truly coming to a close for us in the Pheasant Run Turf Department on Friday. Thoughts and preparations  have already shifted to the 2014 golf season. Most years there tends to be some turnover in staff, and 2014 will be no exception. With some students moving on to their chosen career path and some of my semi-retired staff officially retiring for good. There will be some openings on our team for next season.

So what do we have to offer? Well besides your wage we do offer golfing privileges, uniforms, safety personal protective equipment, training in all areas of course maintenance and a great working environment. The stigma has long been that we only cut grass. Well the fact is that cutting grass is a very small part in the overall operation. There will be no shortage in the variety of tasks available in any given work day.

While we do work hard, we still have a lot of fun getting the work done;

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Cutting greens, tees and fairways with a variety of precision mowing equipment;

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Mowing rough;

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Teamwork during greens aeration;

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Pulling together during times when mother nature calls the shots (which happens more than you’d think or I’d like);

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Sod work and course beatification;

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Hand-watering during high stress periods;

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There are not a lot of summer jobs where you get to watch the sun rise almost everyday;

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And even on cloudy days, the scenery isn’t hard to take;

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And you get to appreciate what the finished product on this large canvas can look like;

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And the changing seasons;

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So if a summer job (for university students) or a seasonal position are of interest to you. Work days will consist of 4, 9 hour days (5am-2:30pm) and one weekend day shift (5am-10am). Please feel free to contact me at Andrew@pheasantrungolf.com  or forward me a resume. I look forward to hearing from you and will begin conducting interviews in early February.

There will also be one position open for someone who has studied or is studying Turfgrass Management as well. The Assistant Superintendent position will be posted through many avenues early in the New Year. This position will offer year round work and an opportunity to learn and grow in a very busy golf course environment. Please stay posted to this blog as the position will also be posted on here.

While this is likely one of my final posts for 2013. Here’s to a very Happy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

Andrew Hardy

Superintendent