Wednesday, January 27, 2021


Above: There you have it!  This is the new pond bank on #10.  Sod will be installed right over the soil and textile fabric shown in the photo.  We should be getting another load of sod in 10-14 days.  The next 4 photos give you an idea of how we filled the textile "bag" with soil, using shovels and water to settle the material and shape it to the desired grade.  From this point on, this pond bank will no longer erode and deteriorate.  I hope this allows you to see the possibilities for the rest of the golf course and the many areas were water comes into play.  This is a major challenge to maintain at Highlands CC and this is the solution.  Finding solutions is the rewarding part! 

At the croquet lawn, footers are being dug that will support the surrounding rock walls.  The goal is to pour footers with concrete this week.

This afternoon, I visited the superintendent at Mountaintop GC to look at their bunker project.  They are renovating the front nine bunkers on their golf course, using a product called Bunker Solutions This is something I've considered but am leaning toward an alternative product for a number of reasons.  I will be talking more about that in the coming weeks when our project really gets going.  This project started last fall and the work is being done by Green-Tee Golf, the same folks working here at Highlands CC.  Once the Mountaintop projects conclude, there will be 20 additional workers coming to HCC to knock out the remainder of the croquet, bunker and drainage work. 

Bunker Solutions is a product, very similar to outdoor carpet that was a little more prevalent years ago.  The difference, is the fact that it is bright white in color as you see above.  The general idea is that the carpet fibers lock in the sand on steep flashes of bunker faces rather than the individual sand grains tumbling to the base of the slope.  The good news at Highlands CC, is that Ross is known for grass bunker faces and flat bottom bunkers.  In our case, this would be overkill because of that fact.  However, it does do a wonderful job of protecting the sand from becoming contaminated with the subsoil or pea gravel used around drain lines.

Above, the staff uses flat bottom shovels to shape the floor of the bunker prior to drainage being installed.


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Today in History...

Tuesday Update

 A large White Pine (was 65 years old) was removed from behind the condos using an oversized crane.  You can see by the first photo, a section of the tree is hanging above the building.  No new skylight windows were created during this process. 

The following photos below, highlight the work done today on #10 with representatives from SOX erosion control, out of Boca Raton, FL.  Let the first photo serve as a before picture of this project.  Note the excessive erosion along the pond banks.  This is a major problem on many of our water features because of the extreme amount of rainfall we receive.  In the past, we relied on stacking boulders in eroded areas which really doesn't help the situation other than cover it up.  I was introduced to a new product and we are their first ever customer experiment in a "direct to golf" program to eliminates the middleman.  They are on site to train my staff for 2 days and we will become certified installers.  From this point on, we will have access to purchase their materials and do the work in-house, on our own time.  Major improvements are coming to our pond and stream banks.  Buckle up!   

Below, a stake system is used to support the material used to shape the new pond bank.  I am not going to get into too many specifics here, because tomorrow, when you see the end result, it will all make sense.  My words simply don't do this much justice.  For every 100 feet of fabric, 80 plus stakes are used.

Below, the fabric is pulled tight and fastened to the wooden stakes.

The knot system used here is really intricate.  All the knots are tied in such a way that as pressure and weight increase as this fabric is filled with soil, the knots cinch tighter.  Again, all this will make sense to you tomorrow afternoon.  Stay tuned!

Finally, the day ended with the 2" water line at the croquet lawn slipping out from a coupling and soaking everything down again.  Yes, this was the same place, same water line as last Friday.  Take two!

Rain Totals

 After last night's rain, the total for the last 2 days equates to 2.3".  The monthly total is 5.25"  While it might sound like a lot, this is considered severe drought for Highlands!  Well, I might be exaggerating but when you consider the average January rainfall is 9-10", I feel pretty good about it.  

The hope at the croquet lawn is to start digging footers for the rock walls.  We have our creek bank stabilization folks, out of Boca Raton, FL, on site today and I'll be posting a lot of photos later this afternoon about that process. 


Monday, January 25, 2021


It's during rain events that allows us to see how effective our drainage patterns are.  We received about 3/4" of rainfall today and we noticed there are 3 minor areas that need to be modified to get surface water sloped down to specific drainage basins.  This was achieved relatively easily by removing the sod and modifying surface grade and then replacing the sod. This is one step closer to enhancing the drainage on #9 fairway.

Letter in the Mail

 If you click on each photo, it should enlarge to a readable image.  I'm proud of Matthew and Darren and the way they used their talents to help this couple in need last summer.

Friday, January 22, 2021


It wouldn't be an official golf course or club improvement project without having a minor setback or two.  Highlands CC is notorious for random water lines and phone lines routed underground without any recording of as-builts or documentation.  This morning, at 7:30am, we dug through a 2" town water line that even the town water department didn't know existed.  You can see the croquet project was temporarily turned into Lake Highlands.  By the time you read this, the water has already drained away and we are back on track.    

Below: On #12, sod was installed this morning and the difference is spectacular!  This will be a well received improvement on the 12th hole.  Think back to this area and the mess of doghobble and leggy rhododendron that is was.  I am really excited about this!

The plan is to stain the wooden bridge in the background to visually make it disappear.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Thursday Update and Details

Every year, there are so many things that get done around the club that no one questions nor appreciates.  When I say that, especially the word appreciates, I don't mean that in a negative way whatsoever.  Simply put, to meet the expectations that you deserve, there are a lot of details that need addressed year after year.  Some of these are very minor like repairing the golf course trash receptacles.  Others are more time consuming like making a new set of tee markers (a total of 160 individual markers that requires 160 plus linear feet of rhododendron logs) using our very own vast supply of Rhododendron shrubs each year.  It's these details that keep us busy regardless of the weather outside.  Today started off with a little bit of rain, so our attention shifted indoors, where we sanded and refinished all of the teak tabletops from the croquet pavilions.  Once the weather slightly improved after lunch, we shifted our attention back outside, preparing the ground for tomorrow's sod installation.  I chuckle to myself when I'm asked, "what do you guys even do during the winter?"  The truth is, winter can be more stressful than the auto pilot mode during the actual season.

There is an episode of the television show, "The Office," where one of the characters, Dwight, losses his job at Dunder Mifflin and while he was gone, it became apparent of all the details around the office he was handling without any recognition or knowledge from anyone else.  For example, the plants around the office wilted and died because he was the one watering them before he left every evening.  It's a funny episode that always reminds me of the Golf Course Maintenance Department at Highlands CC.  I'm not exaggerating when I say our team has our hands in so many things around this club than anyone realizes!  From all things outside in terms of the golf course and landscaping, helping the COA (Community Owners Association) with projects, managing the entire practice facility operations, club safety, overseeing Fairway Villa maintenance, plowing and salting all club roads and the endless calls from folks needing help with Town of Highlands related questions/ issues.  It is a full plate and more than most would be able to handle but that's the way we like it.  It keeps each day interesting and active!  But I digress... Let's get back to our 2021 projects.     

The stump of the big Oak tree was removed from the ground.  This really cleaned up that corner.  As we study the site, the contractor and I came up with an idea to eliminate the large retaining walls that would be required to keep the lawn at the specified elevation.  Rather than have a 6 foot wall of rock, we will build an 18" sitting wall, then stair step 3' or so back and add a 4' wall.  See my drawing below.  This allows us to have the proper elevation, but it also lets up break up these larger walls with foliage.  The best part is, seating is gained all around the new lawn. 

Above, it was this corner where the large Oak was located.

Above, on #11, more and more soil is being hauled to this fairway from the croquet lawns.  I can't say enough about how well these projects compliment one another.  While I know you might be thinking all these photos look similar day after day, the quantities of material and change in the look of each project is substantial after everyday's work.

Below, this drain inlet is at the original ground elevation.  The soil elevation around the basin is now 18" higher.  Talk about fixing drainage; about 25,000 square feet of #11 fairway will be raised 12"-18" higher than existing grade!  This gives us the opportunity to move surface water off the fairway and into basins or the stream.  

Above, I promise that mountain in #11 fairway is not a new tee!  The pile of soil will be pushed back down the fairway in the direction of the tee.  They haven't been able to cut more sod because the ground has been frozen.  You never want to fill right on top of grass.  The layer of sod must be removed first to avoid any layering issues that could affect the downward movement of water through the profile.

Lastly, some more photos of #12.  I am so excited about this because we will be installing sod tomorrow.  Initially the plan was the lay sod today, but the weather got in the way.  Tune in tomorrow for photos of the finished product.  This will be special!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

#12 continued...

With more debris out of the way, this gives you a better look at #12.  In the photo below, the tree stump in the center of the photo is one that was removed with the excavator and waiting to be hauled away.  There is a lot of fine tuning and detailed work that needs to be done before it's ready for sod.