Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Research at Blackhawk

If you were out on the course last Thursday or on Friday morning, you may have noticed some PVC pipe sticking out of the ground on holes 3 and 7.

This was done to collect data relating to Japanese Beetles, in collaboration with the UW-Madison and University of Purdue Entomology departments. The experiment will be repeated once later this year.

The UW-Madison Entomology department has also been collecting pollen from the honey bees. The goal is to analyze the makeup of the pollen. They will be looking at the composition of the pollen and at the different sources of pollen during different times of the year.
Each "bead" in the bag is a conglomoration of pollen that falls off the leg of the bee as it goes into the hive. Some people believe pollen gathered by bees has special restorative properties. While it is ounce for ounce relatively nutritious the evidence of any special properties is dubious at best. I had a little taste of it one day while the pollen trap was being emptied. It tasted like tutti frutti bubble gum and had a chalky consistency. At  around $4.50 per ounce I don't plan on adding it to my daily diet.

Filling comb with honey

I hope you agree it is worthwhile to partner with the UW-Madison. Participating in research projects helps to keep Blackhawk on the cutting edge of the newest science and that's always a plus.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

If you follow The Divot newsletter you are aware that work has already begun in preparation for the new pump station here at Blackhawk. The following videos will hopefully give an idea of the scope of the project, and I will provide a brief explanation after each one.

Disassembling all of the components went very well. Even though 99% of the bolts(hundreds, if not thousands) hadn't been touched since the system was installed they almost all came apart easily. There were a few stubborn ones but our impact wrench was able to break them all free. We used a combination of floor jacks and an engine hoist to secure pieces as we took them apart. Again, considering the age of the components this part of the process went extremely well. We were left with quite the mess once we were done.

We carried out the pieces we could but many of them were just too heavy or awkward to lift. The machine we used (a telehandler) was great because of how precise you could be with it. Many of the components we lifted out had less than an inch of clearance. Being able to lift the bobcat in and out was priceless. Without it the guys doing the concrete removal might still be down there now.

All of the old components

The concrete work went very well even though it was bitterly cold out. Thankfully we were able to get the inside of the pump house warm enough for the concrete to cure. We were also fortunate that there was no ice and just a dusting of snow because getting the concrete truck down to the pump house could have been treacherous.

Now that the interior is ready, there is only one major step left and we will be ready for the installation. Due to the size of the new system the hole in the roof will have to be enlarged and the roof properly braced. That should be done in the next week or two.After that we will have to wait patiently while the system continues to be built. We are still 6-10 weeks out from actually getting to use it but both Chad and I are getting excited for when that day comes.

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Busy Spring

It's always hard to spend time making a blog update with so much going on with the course. With the recent stretch of rainy weather all of us at the shop have had a chance to get caught up with various odds and ends inside. It also gives me this opportunity to say a little about all that has been going on outside.

Fairway aerification was successfully completed on April 23rd and 24th. Everything went perfectly for us. The weather was ideal leading into Sunday night and continued into Monday, allowing the cores to perfectly dry before we ground them up. The rain that followed  later in the week was also perfect for washing in any remaining soil. The almost unrelenting rain we have been getting since isn't great for playing but it won't negatively impact the fairways in the long run.

We have been mowing the greens, tees, fairways and rough as needed. It has been a really good spring for root growth on most of the greens. Many times when I take a plug out while setting cups it looks like something out of a textbook. It's too early to tell what kind of summer we will have but we should be going in strong.

Dr. Williamson and Dr. Hogg have been out multiple times to monitor the bee hives on 3. The first few trips they supplied the bees with a simple mix of sugar and water to ensure they had a supply of food. On the most recent trip they also brought a frame with honey for each hive. They were very encouraged with the hive progress as the bees had already begun forming  some comb.

The bees aren't the only new wildlife at Blackhawk. Late one morning I spotted what I believe is a great horned owl on the ground at the back of the range.

I also snapped this picture of of a butterfly off the right side of 12 green.

My Google searching leads me to believe it is a Spicebush Swallowtail. The Blue Bird house on the back side of the bathrooms on 6 also has a resident pair of Blue Birds. It's amazing to see the variety of birds that call Blackhawk home.

We have already had a few of our older part-timers come in to help as needed. A lot of what we are able to get done is thanks to their help. In the coming weeks we will also see our summer roster filled out. We are happy to have a few people returning from last year and hope to have the new crew members trained before June.

If you have already had a chance to play this year I hope you enjoyed your time. If you haven't played yet now is a perfect time to enjoy a round; if you are anything like me it's the best time of year for golf as the trees don't have many leaves and my errant shots go a bit further. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you out and about on the course.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Honeybees at Blackhawk Country Club

The value and perception of golf courses can be enhanced by promoting their beneficial impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. Golf course managers can provide safe havens for a wide range of wildlife through careful planning and partnerships. They can also play a critical role in leading the initiative to promote and protect many wildlife species. The growing development of housing and commercial space, coupled with the high demands of agriculture, results in the loss or degradation of many natural spaces. Fortunately, golf courses are an excellent resource that can offer important places of refuge for wildlife.

Likely the most important organisms in our ecosystem are the pollinators, especially insect pollinators. They are critically important to the health and well-being of our environment. Nearly a third of the food that we eat has been made possible by pollinators. Insects are also crucial to the habitat and ecosystems that many other wildlife species depend on. Butterflies, flies, beetles and moths are important pollinators but bees (including honey bees) are the most industrious of all. A single bee can visit hundreds of thousands of flowers over its lifetime as it collects nectar and pollen.
Bees are a key indicator of the health and quality of an environment, unfortunately research suggests that their welfare is poor and continues to decline. Golf courses have an excellent opportunity to help redirect this trend by promoting and enhancing the ecosystem. Some relatively simple ways that golf courses can play an important role is by creating pollinator refuges, promoting pollinators and establishing honey bee hives. These simple endeavors offer an excellent opportunity to promote the tremendous positive benefits that golf courses provide to the environment. As for managing honey bee hives on golf courses, not only is it beneficial to the environment, but the honey harvested from the honey bees demonstrates the value of a locally produced, sustainable product. The honey harvested can be used in the clubhouse for food preparation providing a direct benefit to the members of the golf course.

Working with Drs. Chris Williamson and David Hogg from UW-Madison, we decided the naturalized prairie on 3 would be ideal for the honey bee hives. While honey bees can be very defensive of their hives, they are not aggressive while out foraging. The location chosen will be far enough from any regularly trafficked area that the bees should not feel threatened.

As we work on this project in the months to come we look forward to sharing what we learn and hopefully some honey.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Snow Melt, Rain and Frozen Soil

The recent Wisconsin weather has left a lot of water in the low lying areas of the course. At this point the only difference from a large summer storm is the frozen soil prevents any water from draining. This has allowed the water to pool more than normal. It's too early to predict what, if any, impact it will have in the spring. For now it has made for some interesting pictures.

3 Fairway to the green, it's worth noting the flag you see is in the fairway, not in the green

Between 3G and 4T's
Both front bunkers on 3 are submerged

There is enough water to form a small river from 3, across the front of 4 tee, towards the water on 6 and 7
6 Fairway
7 Fairway

Last but not least we finally got rid of the sand on 5 green. For now.