Thursday, September 13, 2012

Congress finally gets something right!

Golfing legend Arnold Palmer became just the sixth athlete to receive the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony in his honor Wednesday in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

"Arnold Palmer was the everyday man's hero," Nicklaus said. "From the modest upbringing, Arnold embodied the hard-working strength of America ... The game has given so much to Arnold Palmer but he has given back so much more."

The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- which Palmer received in 2004 -- are the highest civilian awards in the United States. The Congressional Gold Medal dates back to the American Revolution. Each medal is created by the U.S. Mint individually to honor the individual and achievements for which the medal is awarded.

"I'm particularly proud of anything the House and the Senate agree on," Palmer joked.

Of the more than 200 people who have received the Congressional Gold Medal, the other athletes include: baseball's Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, track and field's Jesse Owens, boxing's Joe Louis and another golf legend, Byron Nelson.

Noting that two of those six were golfers, Palmer said, "I like to think and truly believe golf and golfers promote human values."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chemical Storage and Mix/Load Facilities, What are Your Options?

By Michael D. Vogt, CGCS, CGIA

There are several options that we recommend when building a new facility or renovating an older chemical storage area.

• Have a containment area where the chemicals are stored, a curb of concrete around the base of the room or building. A water tight seal should be incorporated in the concrete placement at all concrete control, expansion and construction joints; the rubberized, PVC or neoprene seals at the concrete joints are known as water stops. After concrete cures a concrete sealer and elastomeric joint filler should be applied.

• Be sure to install a controlled temperature system and adequate ventilation system. Many chemicals need to be protected from freezing as well as extreme high temperatures. We normally recommend storing chemicals in the temperature range of 40°F to 90°F, with low humidity.

• A building away from the main drainage of water and surface water is always recommended. Most all of our plans have the chemical storage and mix and load building separate from any other structure by at least 200 feet, 400 is best.

• The most desirable construction materials for walls are concrete masonry units and placed concrete. These materials are durable and if treated with sealers are resistant to the absorption of chemicals.

• A floor sump system should be considered to retain, reuse or dispose of chemical rinsates and unintended releases in storage areas.

• Dry and liquids should be stored away from each other; most of our plans have two separate rooms to keep these two types away from each other. And within these rooms herbicides, insecticides and fungicides should be segregated as well.

Poorly stored chemicals with no
rhyme or reason

• All shelving should be made of a non-absorbing material, commercial grade kitchen chrome plated round stock steel shelving works best.

We normally design storage and mix and load facilities in the same building. The reasoning is:

• Security; everything that encompasses storage and application of chemicals is under one roof.

• Safety; the chemical concentrate products are in an area that they will be mixed to dilution. Ventilation is already installed, the building designed to be large enough to clean, maintain and store sprayers and chemicals.

• Safety; if an uncontrolled release occurred; the clean-up site is removed from other working areas and buildings. If a fire was to involve the chemical building a separate type of protocol is required from fire fighters.

• The storage of chemicals and filling of equipment to prepare sprays is very controlled, water source is backflow protected, spills are contained, ventilation is good, chemicals are in close proximity, sprayers can calibrated, cleaned, maintained and stored in the chemical building away from all other golf course maintenance functions.

These are some of the latest greatest products out there for chemical storage, and how they ensuring more safety and compliance than ever before

I believe that when superintendents consider the storage and application of chemicals they should try to segregate as much of the process from the rest of the operation as possible. By storing all things related to chemical application in a separate area it’s much safer and the superintendent is in a position to be able to control all of the moving parts of the chemical application process.

The many golf course maintenance facilities I have seen over the years all too often have chemicals, fertilizers, shovels, equipment and coffee makers all stored under the same roof. This is no fault to the superintendent; it was not until recently a maintenance facility was considered a steel “building-in-a-box” with a concrete floor and several rooms in one end of the building. These cheap metal buildings soon began rusting and getting dented by machinery and subsequently after ten years the building was starting to fall apart and busting at the seams with every maintenance item in one big lump under a metal roof. The biggest reason these metal building become popular in the 60s through the 80s is they where a giant step up from the “old barn” and cheap at less than $15 per square foot in many cases.

Considering the fact that most maintenance facilities should last fifty years or more, industrial architecture is being used to plan and program buildings to specifically fit the needs of golf course maintenance rather than a steel building; being configured to make-due for a cheap maintenance facility.

As for products supplied to the superintendent for chemical dispersal; the best single item is the chemical manufactures selling their products in large format packages, like LinksPaks™. This packaging makes it easy to safely store large quantities of product. The empties are easily recycled, and ten gallon quantities are slightly cheaper than small format packages.

Standard operating procedures when it comes to storing chemicals

These are the several of the best management practices when considering common sense storage of turf care chemicals:

• Ideally, store liquids away from dry chemicals, if that’s not possible, store liquids below dry chemicals

• Have some type of containment; even cheap plastic bins can be used to store chemicals on the shelves.

• Make every effort to keep chemical packages dry and in their original containers with a legible label.

• Look for old chemicals and get rid of them! I can’t tell you how many superintendents have old chemicals stashed in the dark corners of the building. Many municipalities have programs to dispose of these products.

Get the old chemicals out of your storage facility

• Get rid of the wood shelves, the wood can become contaminated with chemical overtime; toxic waste.

• Be vigilant and keep chemicals locked when not using the specific storage area.

• Have a ventilation system in chemical storage areas.

• Have an emergency plan in place in case of fire, flood or uncontrolled release of chemicals and be sure to educate all employees on that plan.

• Keep a separate file or a three ring binder of labels that you have or have used in a separate place for reference.

• Keep personal protection devices (PPE) away from chemical storage areas (goggles, safety glasses, respirators, dust masks, gloves, face shields, ear protection, etc.)

• Install good lighting in chemical storage areas.

For more information on tips and ideas to incorporate into your chemical storage areas and mix load facilities contact me any time at the button to the right.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Technicians, Assistants and Superintendents, Keep Grinding

By Michael Vogt, CGCS


Experienced Turf Equipment Technician for local golf course

Must possess advanced knowledge of:
• Gasoline engines of all sizes
• Diesel engines of all sizes
• Highly complex hydraulic circuits
• Computer operated switching and controls
• The game of golf
• Recordkeeping
• Safety in the workplace
• Theory and application of reel mower grinding

Under the direction supervision of the golf course superintendent the incumbent will be asked to read the mind of co-workers on a daily basis and respond the all equipment needs no sooner than yesterday. In addition to the requisite skills listed above the successful candidates will be expected to work in 100° plus heat and below freezing temperatures; often laying on the ground, and be able to withstand the ripe aroma of decaying, moist turfgrass clippings. Do to the extremely unique equipment used to maintain a golf course, no training will be available. If this sounds like a position for you, you will be compensated slightly more than an oil monkey at the local quick lube. Also, you must supply your own tools that will often be pilfered by co-workers to perform equipment repairs without your approval or knowledge.

Apply in person at - Slightly Dysfunctional Country Club, Dollar Spot Drive, Grinding Wheel, MN

Should the superintendent know how to grind reels and bedknives? Since turf technicians aren’t hanging out on street corners looking for work, superintendents should have at least a cursory knowledge of reel grinding and sharpening. Perhaps part of, on-the-job assistant superintendent training, a period of time spent with a journeyman turf technician to learn the finer points in reel mower grinding and sharpening would be wise. Perhaps mower sharpening should a prerequisite to becoming the head superintendent. It’s always comforting to know a “Plan B” is in place, if for some reason your equipment technician leaves, gets sick or is on vacation a reel sharpening can take place in his absence.


Not too long ago it was a difficult proposition to grind a reel and bedknife to factory specifications. Some readers may recall names of grinders like Peerless and Ideal in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s these grinders were known as “Hook Grinders” because of the hook that guided the grinding stone along the reel blade, one laborious blade at a time. This process of single reel blade grinding was time consuming and produced average results. The finished results and the accuracy of grinding the units rested in the experience and patience of the individual who was operating the grinder. These technicians often taught themselves how to grind by trial and error or by a superintendent that learned from another superintendent and pass the information along.

Backlapping was the final stage of this process and often needed to be conducted for an hour or more to mate the reel with the bedknife. Fast forward to the late 1970’s, manufacturers of grinders with names like Neary, Foley and Atterton & Ellis raced to the industry with the spin grinder. Now a novice turf technician could produce a great grind in less time and be certain that the reel was close to a true cylinder. Gone were the days of long backlapping procedures to make-up for average grinding results that relied on the experienced touch of an experienced turf technician.

During the rapid expansion of the golf industry of the late 1980’s and 1990’s turf mangers were required to lower the height of cut on turfgrass areas in response to better turf varieties and better overall turf management techniques. Superintendents and the turf technicians were challenged to repair, maintain and keep sharp a new generation of turf equipment that delivered much lower and better quality of cut. Greens that were maintained at a height of cut of 3/16 of an inch in the 1970’s are now maintained at 1/8 of an inch. Not only that, we don’t even use fractions to illustrate what heights of cut we maintain. With lower cuts the nomenclature most often used is a decimal equivalent, 1/8 = .125.

Bedknife Grinding
Most every golf course maintenance shop is equipped with a measuring device known as an ACCU-GAGE®. The ACCU-GAGE® can measure height of cut on reel mowers to the ten thousands of an inch. Terms that were being used to describe distances and spaces are now expressed routinely in thousandths of an inch. The ACCU-GAGE® uses a machine shop type dial indicator to measure the distances between the bottom of the rollers and the top face of the bedknife.

Height of cut conversions

Today’s reel sharpener manufacturers responded with advances in technology, making it possible to return a reel to Original Equipment Manufacturers specifications with the “touch of a button.”

Even though these high tech machines that sharpen reels and bedknives are much less reliant on touch the superintendent and equipment technician must have a thorough understanding of how the relationship between reel and bedknife work to keep turf healthy and maintained at desirable heights of cut.


To subvert the simplicity gained from modern machines to enable technicians to prefect the grinding process efforts confusing the issues rage on. Following, is just a sampling of controversial issues relating to the fine art and science of sharpening mowers:

• Relief grinds on reels,
• Light contact vs. no contact,
• Pinch paper flat – cut paper perpendicular,
• Two pieces of paper, cut one pinch one,
• Back lap or no backlap,
• Light touch-ups of bedknife front face,
• Scissor cut vs. scythe cut,
• Hard back relief on bedknife top face.

There exists many ways to condition reel mowers to perform and accomplish an after-cut appearance the superintendent and most importantly the golfer desires. Each reel mower manufacturer has recommendations to maintain. Only though a clear understanding of the theory of reel mower mechanics can a superintendent and turf technician decide on what’s the best method of grinding and sharpening.


Here’s an excerpt from The Greenkeepers’ Reporter, November-December, 1943

“If you are inexperienced do not attempt sharpening with an emery wheel in times like these. Wait until after the war-as there are no new mowers available now.

…no unskilled man should be given the job sharpening mowers with an emery wheel grinder. Anyone doing this work should have a thorough knowledge of what he’s doing.”

Whether superintendent, assistant, or turf technician, each day you are being judged on the quality of turf you maintain. It is to your advantage to have a working knowledge of grinding and sharpening reel type mowers.

“You have to be patient and keep grinding”

Davis Love III