Proper Golf

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Going the distance

Mike Stranz, Stonehouse VA

If you want to be in "the biz" get used to spending huge hours behind the wheel. Sure, transportation has changed since A.W. Tillinghast drove a zillion miles around the country, but there is no way anyone can financially survive from only working at courses in their neighborhood. That means you gotta rack up the miles, car, truck or plane.

Today's travel recap:
  1. 5:07-5:30: Drive to Nutley, 14 miles (change to van)
  2. 5:40-6:49: Drive to Skillman, 43 miles
  3. 4:30-6:00: Drive to Passaic, 46 miles
  4. 6:00-6:10: Drive to Nutley, 3 miles (change back to car)
  5. 6:30-7:00: Drive home, 14 miles
totals - 4 hours, 120 miles

Of the 3 projects we currently have going, Skillman is the 2nd furthest/closest. Sometimes I can cut out a few steps when I drive my own car to the site myself.

Make sure you are comfortable in your car. Ipod chargers, satellite radio, extra clothes, tire pumps, jumper cables, time travel devices, radar detectors, and of course my golf sticks are always near by cause I practically live in my car. Yesterday after working 9 hours, driving the van for another 3:30 at this point, it took me 2 hours to go the last 14 miles home.... The only thing you can do is GET USED TO IT, and if you like the work enough, you will.

Friday, October 15, 2010


A bulldozer is just a big rake. It does better when its pushing. Push, push, push, track it in, even compaction is everything, back blade your way out.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Construction tips

Last time I gave tips for those entering the golf course construction business was 10 days after I joined the industry myself... 7 months later its time for some more. This time the focus will be on operating machines.

  • The best way to get speed up the learning process of digging (backhoe or trackhoe) is to use multiple machines with different control patterns. This teaches you the importance of proper technique, along with making you more versatile.
Coring out a Donald Ross original.

  • Keeping the bottom of your trenches flat and the sides clean can seriously cut down on excess labor. What makes operators efficient is that they can accomplish bigger tasks with minimal help.
When there is this much ground water in your trench, clean walls are a must. Note the plywood to minimize turf damage.

  • Take a little extra time setting up your machine before you just dive and disturb the ground. Set the machine up properly so you can work as fast as possible, with spoil piles, disturbed areas and loading/movement patterns are all attainable by the least amount of movement.
  • If you find yourself in a new or uncomfortable situation where you are not familiar with how to go about operating your machine safely, it is important to step back and think through how to approach your job. Working near water, in extreme weather, on an un-compacted pile, or unstable material, can cause machines to move, slip and just react differently. Before you go putting the blade or bucket in the ground, you need to make sure you are not putting yourself or the equipment in danger. As a new operator I will get off the machine, and call my boss on the phone if I cant figure out the best way to do it on my own. You cant work if you the operator or your machine is broken, 5 minutes of thinking is well worth $$$$ of repairs by dr's and mechanics.
Removing sand from bunkers can be done with a machine as long as the edges are cleaned out by hand ahead of time.

  • Save every cubic inch of topsoil you can.
  • If your machine is not working properly make sure somebody in charge knows. Cover your ass. Everyone understands machines break.
  • The only way to get better is spending time in the seat running the machines, making mistakes, and asking questions.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Bandon Trails

Slightly lacking on the posts recently. Some potentially life changing news arrives back from China tomorrow and I'm slightly distracted.