We are actually further than mid-way through winter, for the record!
Our department has been cranking out projects and normal routine maintenance. Some of these will have a noticeable impact upon first seeing them, some of them will go unnoticed. It’s the sum of all the effort that make up our goal of constant progress and improvements. That effort and vision maintains almost at “in-season pace” throughout the winter months.
Several years ago, the Greens Committee evaluated the on-course bathrooms. Yes they functioned, but they lacked the same level of expectations that the rest of the property upheld. I decided this was the year to upgrade them, and I volunteered to complete the renovations with our department’s staff. Why? Because we have the skill-set, we have creative/quality control of the end product, and we can save serious money. I didn’t bid-out the project, but I estimate we will save close to $30,000 doing the work in-house. That’s serious money, and they don’t look like amateurs built them, I can guarantee that!
This is what we started with. Again, they functioned, but they were dark, unwelcoming, and we could do better.
I started the first bathroom on #7 in late September. A lot of planning, measuring, ordering, fabricating, adjusting, and blazing the first trail took place at a careful pace. After that, the process was much smoother and efficient.
Now if you’ve ever done any home improvement construction, then you know walls, floors, and drains all need to be square and consistent, or your work load and frustration increases exponentially. There has been plenty of both involved in this project, but we like to think of those road bumps as character builders. Speaking of character building, one of our Assistants, Brad Holt, recently purchased a “fixer upper” home last Fall. Getting Brad involved with learning remodeling skills was perfect timing, as not only is he having fun, but learning life skills to improve his own abode.
Plumbing, electrical, and fabrication aspects were mostly handled by our Assistant Mechanic, Evan Walsh. Modifying how the urinals were hung, toilet connections, running new electrical wire, installing motion detector light switches, fabricating the sink hanging brackets from scratch, all took Evan’s creativity and endless skill set.
Adding a bit of local flair and creativity, all of the wood details of the bathrooms were used from trees that were removed from the property. Seven years ago, the large American Elm that was above the fairway bunkers on #10 was cut down after falling to Dutch Elm Disease. We dried the wood in the dumpsite, eventually milling into large slabs to be used as the sink counter tops. Two years ago, we removed the Cedar trees that blocked the original vista from 15 to 16 green, and again, that wood was dried and milled into wall shelving for this project. This was my personal favorite aspect of the renovation. Overwhelming at first, but now that it’s been navigated and completed, well worth the time and effort.
This project was very consuming (and we still have the bathrooms on #14 to complete!), mainly because it’s been hard to work, without other interruptions, on it, but also because we’re taking our time and doing things right. Snow removals, tree removals, golf course accessory refurbishing, shop improvements, budgeting, planning, 2018 purchasing, educational events, club house projects, etc., all make it difficult to work on it consistently. However, working on #7 has been effective, given its close proximity to the Turfgrass Facility, as endless trips have been made back and forth, even in sub-zero, nasty, dark days. The day we received 12+” of snow, I didn’t take Brad’s recommendation to leave the project during the snow, as I was finishing up sealing the grout work on the walls and floors. Being lost in your work usually pays off, but on that day, it cost me getting stuck at the 7th tee (pictured below), the truck getting stuck trying to pull me through, and the tractor to come out and pull all of us out, which then cost me donuts for the staff…..
Turfgrass Facility Upgrades
Every year, we look to upgrade our working environment. “Shops” are often dirty places, given the welding, metal cutting, reel and blade grinding, painting, sanding, refurbishing, and diesel engines being tested. Our facility is outdated in many regards, especially in regards to its size, but every year we look to make improvements that will promote a safe, organized, clean, and efficient work environment for our staff. This translates to how we take care of our equipment, as well as how we take care of the property. The expectations are equal. This year, we purchased a commercial paint sprayer and gave our walls and ceiling a fresh coat. It might sound like an easy task but cleaning the walls, ceilings, scraping peeling paint, moving everything out of the way, all the while, keeping it a functioning facility, is a serious challenge. Our Assistants, Mark and Brian, handled this task over several weeks.
Look at that ceiling!
The next step of the project will be to convert all of the fluorescent lighting in the buildings to LED. Not only will that investment brighten up our facility, making it easier and safer for our Mechanics, Jim and Evan, to complete their work, but it will save us thousands of dollars in energy usage in the future.
Speaking of converting fluorescent lighting to LED, Evan and I have been working through all of the lights in the clubhouse. The banquet rooms were completed in 2017. Over the past month we’ve been working on converting all of the ceiling and locker accent lights in the locker rooms. We’ll then convert every ceiling light in all clubhouse hallways. Over 350 lights will be converted. Completing this project, without hiring contractors, will save us thousands of dollars, and our energy consumption in the clubhouse will drop considerably.
With taking Evan away from normal equipment maintenance over the past few months, it’s left our lead Mechanic, Jim Pollock to basically complete maintenance on over 100 pieces of equipment on his own. And we’re not talking about just changing oil! Rebuilding hundreds of bearings, grinding every cutting reel, tearing down one of our sprayers to replace a leaking engine seal, replacing electrical components, faulty wiring, wore out bushings, housings, clutches, hydraulic hoses, the list goes on and on. The Winter season for golf course mechanics is crucial to prepare the capital for the upcoming season, and there’s no one better at it than Jim (in his 32nd year at Midland and still not a fan of the camera)!
We have much more to accomplish over the next 6-8 weeks before the “golf season” begins. We’ll be ready (hopefully the bathrooms will be too).