Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Course Update

Welcome Back!

The 2018 golf season has officially opened at Blackstone and I wanted to update you on a few items you may have noticed when you come out to play. 

  • We have pretty much wrapped all of the burning we will be doing to the native areas this spring.  The dry weather was very beneficial.  Burning is extremely important in protecting plant species in these areas because it allows the plants to reproduce properly and helps to control unwanted weeds and vegetation.  The new plants will begin to regrow as soon as the soil temperatures increase.  Burning native areas is also very beneficial to wildlife populations.  As the new plants emerge and grow to seed, many species of  birds, butterflies, and bees will flock to these areas.  Burning is a very healthy necessity to maintaining these areas for a healthier environment for all.
  • Greens have had a second mowing, and will begin to green up with rising soil temperatures.  Mowing on a regular basis will soon be a thing of the norm, but in the mean time, they should play fairly nicely.   
  • We were very thankful and fortunate to purchase a few new pieces of equipment this year.  Our 2005 fairway, tees/approach mowers were all gaining in hours and getting very tired.  You will see these new machines out on the course, and will hopefully help us to continue to provide the best conditions possible to you.
 Wishing you all the best in 2018!  See you soon.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Blackstone Honey Coming Soon!

Having some free time this winter, I thought it would be fun to chore to bring Honey Bees to Blackstone.  The frames of these boxes were purchased, stained and assembled in our shop, and will provide a home to roughly 6 lbs of bees including 2 queens.  The bees are mail ordered, and should be ready to pick up some time in mid April.

Each box contains 10 combs.  The bees will begin filling them out with honey, and then seal them off with wax.  It is very important that the bottom box be left with honey so the bees have a chance to overwinter.  Being my first year of beekeeping, I have a lot to learn, but I look forward to taking on the challenge and hope to have Blackstone Honey for sale in the clubhouse very soon.  Please let me know if you have any questions. Below is a list of interesting facts I found by just doing a brief google search about honey bees.  It comes from mattheroftrust.org.

  1. Honey bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
  2. One bee has to fly about 90,000 miles – three times around the globe – to make one pound of honey.
  3. The average bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
  4. A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
  5. A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.
  6. The bee’s brain is oval in shape and about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has a remarkable capacity to learn and remember things. For example, it is able to make complex calculations on distance travelled and foraging efficiency.
  7. Honey bees communicate with one another by dancing.
  8. A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honey bees and one queen. Worker honey bees are female, live for about 6 weeks and do all the work.
  9. The queen bee can live up to 5 years and is the only bee that lays eggs. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, and lays up to 2500 eggs per day.
  10. Larger than the worker bees, the male honey bees (also called drones), have no stinger and do no work. All they do is mate.
  11. Honey has always been highly regarded as a medicine. It is thought to help with everything from sore throats and digestive disorders to skin problems and hay fever.
  12. Honey has antiseptic properties and was historically used as a dressing for wounds and a first aid treatment for burns and cuts.
  13. The natural fruit sugars in honey – fructose and glucose – are quickly digested by the body. This is why sportsmen and athletes use honey to give them a natural energy boost.
  14. Honey bees have been producing honey in the same way for 150 million years.
  15. The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
  16. Honey lasts an incredibly long time. An explorer who found a 2000 year old jar of honey in an Egyptian tomb said it tasted delicious!
  17. The bees’ buzz is the sound made by their wings which beat 11,400 times per minute.
  18. When a bee finds a good source of nectar it flies back to the hive and shows its friends where the nectar source is by doing a dance which positions the flower in relation to the sun and hive. This is known as the ‘waggle dance.’
  19. Honey’s ability to attract and retain moisture means that it has long been used as a beauty treatment. It was part of Cleopatra’s daily beauty ritual.
  20. Honey is incredibly healthy and includes enzymes, vitamins, minerals. It’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.
Read more: original article Golden Green

Course Update 8/2

As August is now upon us, it has given us a little time to catch our breath.  July was a crazy month, as the rains were relentless.  16 of the 31 day's we received measurable rainfall, and sometimes 2-3 inches at a time.  The bunker work took a load of man hours, and it felt like we could never get caught up on the mowing.  As the crew pushed on and the rains had finally quit,  it left us scrambling to try and catch up on the detail work.  New wet areas have formed on the golf course, and we are trying to investigate and repair them as quickly as possible.   With the cooler drier day's ahead, the course has made through these stressful times very well, and should finally be playing fast and firm again.

Here are a few pictures after the storms...

If you have been to Blackstone recently, I am sure you have noticed a few areas that are wetter that most, and have caused the turf to heave or bubble up.  This is number 3, which I feel was the worst of the locations, and we finally got some time to investigate it a little further. 
   What started out as a little investigation turned in to a large project.  The existing drainage was improperly installed and clogged, causing the water to back up and ooze out of the ground.  Being that it was clogged, the water didn't have a place to go, so it just remained saturated, even a week after it had rained.  Monday we dug up the old drainage and replaced it with larger drainage, clean gravel, and added a catch basin, to allow large amounts of water to move much quicker through the area.  We will monitor the performance of our work, and more work may have to be done to this area.

There are still several areas throughout the golf course similar to this one and we will be working diligently to get each of them repaired in the next few weeks.

It the mean time...  The weather looks beautiful for start August, so please come out and enjoy!


Andy Perry

Friday, June 9, 2017

Course Update:

After such a sloppy wet spring, we opened summer with extremely dry weather.  The low humidity has provided us with the ability to finally dry the course out, and get it to play fast and firm, which is how we want it to play. .  This was the week of hand watering as moisture is lost to the atmosphere at a rapid pace.  We were able to apply a wetting agent on Monday to the greens to help aid in moisture consistency throughout the entire profile.  Tuesday we topdressed greens lightly, which gave us some great green speeds all week long.

If you were here on Wednesday morning, you were probably asking what is that truck doing driving all over the fairways?  This is a fertilizer spreading truck from Harrell's.  It applies fertilizer the the fairways once a year that will provide season long food and color, as well as provide grub control.  The truck uses GPS to spread the product perfectly.  It also has large floatation tires that leave a very little foot print.  It looks like a very hot week ahead, but the course  is in great shape.  Please enjoy, and have a great weekend! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Service Path

If you have been to Blackstone lately, you may have noticed a project taking place on your way to the first tee.  We are adding a paver service path.  This will have a very natural look once established, and will resemble the cross over path that is directly behind the black tee at #15.  This area was becoming unsightly, and will provide Blackstone staff members a path to get to our tasks quickly, and without disturbing golfers on the first tee.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Great day for sand!

Topdressing, and why do we do it?

Wednesday was a perfect day for the Blackstone grounds department to apply a light amount of sand to the greens.  The greens are first mowed, then topdressed, brushed, blown in, and lastly rolled.  With the light wind on Wednesday, and the chance of showers on Thursday morning, our timing was perfect.

This process is preformed every two weeks.  Topdressing is the key to providing our golfers with the best putting surfaces that we can. Why do we topdress? 

- Dilutes thatch layer
- Makes greens firmer
- Smoother, and truer putts
- Fills old voids and ball marks
- Helps control cleat marking
- Brushing stands up grass, which helps remove grain
- Helps aide and preventing some diseases (Anthracnose)

Below are a few pictures of our process.

USGA article on topdressing and putting green quality.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Welcome 2017 - Course Update

Welcome Back to Blackstone!

I started this Blog a few years ago with the intentions of providing updated information regarding the Blackstone Maintenance department and to answer any questions that there may be. I would like to sincerely apologize for my lack of entries to this blog in the last couple of years, and I promise to do a better job of providing you with more up to date information in 2017.

Course update: Most of the winter was spent refurbishing all course accessories, and going through all equipment. With the mild winter and the lack of snow cover, we were also able to prune almost every tree on the golf course, as well as cut down several others as you may have noticed. How do we decide what to cut down? This year was pretty obvious because of the amount of small Ash trees that have died due to Emerald Ash Borer. The adult beetles do little damage only chewing on leaves, but the beetle larvae feed on the inner bark which disrupts the trees ability to transfer food and water throughout. You'll notice when looking at these dead ash trees D shaped holes carved in to the bark. Most of the other trees that were removed were dead, and pose a safety hazard, with the exception of hole 3. These Oak trees that were removed on 3, were removed to provide a better growing environment for that green. Although they were perfectly beautiful healthy trees, the green was placed to close to them. As the trees grew taller each year they continually blocked more and more sunlight causing the green to struggle under wet conditions and in the Fall. You may notice we also lowered the grade on the front of 3 approach to allow for excess water to flow from the green at a quicker pace.

 Hopefully by making these new changes to 3, we can provide you with more consistent playing conditions for the entire year. With a warm February we were able to get a head start on course clean up. Branches and debris were blown in to piles and picked up throughout the entire course. Bunkers have all been pushed up, levels have been checked, and faces of all been tamped. We have begun to add sand to a handful of bunkers that did not have an adequtae amount. We will continue to work on this in the upcoming week as weather permits. It is important to understand that the bunkers will play softer in the beginning of year due to the amount of freeze and that that takes place in the winter, as well as the amount of sand that we have moved around to provide consistent levels. Bunkers that have had sand added to them will also play softer. As we begin to rake them more often, they should begin to firm up and improve.

The mild winter also caused us to have to start greens mowing height out at a higher cut than we generally do. Now that we have been able to get several mows on them, we have now got them to the height that we were at all of last year. Greens will also get faster and firmer, as we get in to more frequent mowing and rolling (as weather permits). All other playing surface have been mowed, and are generally in great shape coming out of winter. I look forward to seeing you all out on the course, and hope that some better weather is on its way!

Andy Perry
GCS- Blackstone Golf Club