The most frequent question I get when I tell people I'm an Assistant Superintendent is "what do you do all winter?" So with winter SLOWLY coming to an end, I thought I would write a post to inform you on a typical off season.
After putting the course to bed with final snow mold apps, leaf clean-up, irrigation system winterized, and putting the covers on, last season was shut down a few weeks early with a 7'' snow storm on November 13th. With near record snow amounts this season, the crew has been very busy keeping the club house parking lot and shop lot plowed. This usually takes 2-3 hours with one employee in the truck/plow and another in the skid-steer with bucket or plow. This year we used our tractor with a pto snow blower numerous times to move snow away from our curb lines to make room for more snow. The lot and side walks are always salted and sanded when icy conditions arrive. One of us is always on call for the weekend activities and dinners should snow be in the forecast.
New to the course this year is the cross country ski and snowshoe trail and what a great first season. The ski trial is groomed with a Tidd Tech groomer and pulled with a Polaris efi 500. We were able to host a Mound-Westonka Invitational Nordic race in December, Midwest Skijoring Club race in February and this weekend we will host a Sled Dog race. I have received only great reviews on the track conditions and design.
When the crew is not out playing in the snow we have plenty of work to keep us busy in the shop. Every piece of equipment is carefully inspected and most likely will receive a minimum of an oil change, spark plugs, air filters, hydrolic oil and grease. But a lot of equiptment needs more attention and shop Mechanic Josh Hawley always finds a way to fix it. Josh is usually the busiest person in the shop during the winter. Josh has his hands full with engine tune-ups, bearing, wiring, and the most time consuming is sharping and reel grinding. With around 50 reels from greens, tees, fairway, perimeter and rough mowers it is a tedious job. All this work pays off in the summer keeping breakdowns at a minimal.
It seems like someone is always painting something in the shop. With ball washers, tee markers, tee caddies, benches, 150 markers, cooler stands, cups, cup cutters, and outdoor chairs it feels like its endless. Some of the course accessories are not painted every year but are still thoroughly checked.
The "off" season also gives us a chance to attend education conferences, seminars, trade shows and turfgrass forums. Its always nice to get a refresher course and even more interesting to see new university research. I also enjoy networking with guys from school and old co-workers and catch up on life and industry news . This time of year gives me time to pull out my old trade magazines to catch up on articles I may have missed or deserve another read. I always enjoy reading other turfgrass blogs to see what difficulties, innovation, trial and errors of other superintendents. While working in the shop the crew is always bouncing ideas off each other to come up with new ideas on how to improve the course/crew for the upcoming season. In a few weeks the full time seasonal staff will return and the 2011 season will be in full swing. It couldn't come sooner.