Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ethan's Eigh Month Internship Experience

I first met Tyler McCool after I started at Mississippi State in fall of 2011 when he was assigned to be my “Turf Buddy”, an idea proposed by legendary professor Dr. Barry Stewart that paired new students with upperclassmen to help introduce them to the turfgrass management world. I met Stephen Miles while working the 2013 USGA Mid-Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham, and later met Jeremy Stevens at the 2013 Mississippi Turfgrass Association social event in Starkville. As faith would have it I ended up working under all of them during the summer and fall of 2015 while on my eight month internship at The Preserve Golf Club. 


I interviewed with Stephen during the MTA Internship Interview Extravaganza during November of 2014. A few weeks later a phone call by Stephen let me know I was a wanted man. Getting the chance to work at The Preserve put me in an elite group of MSU greats that include Alex Marshall, Keair Edwards, and The Preserve’s own Tyler McCool. Living in the Biloxi area for eight months was also a big selling point on my internship decision. I moved to the coast on May 16th and began work on May 18th.
My Preserve experience got off to a rocky start when I forgot my Social Security card to use as a form of identification to go with my pre-hire paperwork, and also, due to a still unknown injury to my big toe, I was barely able to walk. The week progressively got better as the swelling in my toe steadily decreased. The first few weeks at The Preserve was a lot of grunt work: walk mowing greens, raking bunkers, flymowing, buffalo blowing, and I’m pretty sure I pushed a fertilizer spreader about 800 miles. As the summer went on I had the opportunity to operate more and more equipment: tractors, triplex, fairway mowers, etc. I found a strong interest in mowing the step-cut and back lawn once or twice a week ;however, the older model triplex did not come with a cup holder, so I had to make one with cardboard and duct tape. By the end of the summer I had operated every piece of golf course maintenance equipment.

For a short time my internship settled into an uninteresting weekly routine of mowing, spraying greens, and topdressing. Around the second week of September we began preparing for a busy couple of weeks in October with the coming of Golfweek writers, a golf course photographer, and the Deep South Turf Expo golf outing. I was assigned to help re-sod a struggling tee-box known to hold water and have shade issues when I suggested the idea of just renovating it entirely. A small discussion by the people in charge later and we began ripping up the old sod. I got to experience firsthand all the steps to tee-box renovation, which was a great experience for me. In addition to this project, I had the opportunity to do things like collect soil samples for testing, aerification, fertilization, pesticide application, and irrigation repair. There were also days where I was left in charge to make the schedule and run the crew, which was a good management experience. I also became the last Preserve intern to ever be tortured via Nemacure application. In addition, I got hands-on experience working with the Precision Air system under our greens.

Working at The Preserve was a hard but fun learning experience. I believe having fun at work is the main component to work satisfaction, even if having fun is just joking about the idiotic things your coworkers do or say. I can honestly say that the crew members at The Preserve are the absolute best crew I have ever worked with. Not only was I able to learn under the direction of Tyler, Jeremy, and Stephen, but I learned valuable lessons from easygoing spray tech and set-up expert Keith, hole digging and sod laying specialist Enano, the top rated hoseman in the nation Pipi, and even more from the rest of the crew.   
Now that my internship is over I will return to Starkville to work on my Master's degree in Turf Management. I look forward to keeping in touch with my former coworkers, and I want to thank Stephen, Jeremy, and Tyler for giving me the opportunity to complete my internship at The Preserve.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Written by Ethan Flournoy



Monday, July 13, 2015

Ethan Flounory; from Slocomb, Alabama; is currently doing an eight month internship here at The Preserve Golf Club. Before majoring in Agronomy at Mississippi State University he began his golf course maintenance career at Highland Oaks in Dothan, Alabama. While attending MSU Ethan has worked at the MSU Turf Research Farm in Starkville, MS and The Country Club of Birmingham in Birmingham, AL. Ethan plans to receive his bachelors degree in Agronomy with an emphasis in Golf and Sports Turf Management in December after the completion of his internship. He plans to begin working toward his masters degree in Turf Grass Physiology in January 2016. We look forward to working with and helping Ethan grow his turfgrass knowledge while he is here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The L.A.W.S. of Nature and Spring Updates, 2015

This has been the first spring in which we are breaking in our new greens and bunkers!  The greens have performed wonderfully!  Their performance has improved steadily from week to week with the return of good growing conditions.   The warm weather has allowed our staff to regularly groom, manicure and grow our new Tifeagle greens to achieve a more dense and smooth surface that a fully mature ultradwarf putting green provides. For the first time in our nearly 10 year history I can honestly say our golf course is thriving in most all aspects of conditioning and playability. In order for bermudagrass to provide consistent championship quality playing conditions to our members and guests, we must manage under four basic L.A.W.S. of nature. These L.A.W.S. govern that we must have:

Light in high abundance and quality.
Air in an adequate supply in the soil and an abundance of movement along the surface.
Water of high quality and in the right quantity. 
Soil of high quality that supplies the right amounts of water, air and drainage. 

We have focused on improving these basic elements with our renovation projects over the last year and are now beginning to see the results. 

This spring you've probably noticed a few areas of poor coverage that we normally do not have around the course. These areas can be attributed to one or a combination of a few things listed below:

- New sod from last year's renovation that was not fully established going into the winter;

- Pre-emergent burn from a non-uniform application;

- Traffic from construction/cart traffic;

- Shade.

All of these areas are filling in now that summer is rapidly approaching. One of the most sensitive areas on the course is the severely shaded areas in 9 approach and along the left side of the hole. This area does not have adequate light and water from the competition of the large oak trees while the approach tends to stay wet due to low light during the winter. These factors add up to an area that is constantly under stress year round. So please do your part to help our team keep our goal of 100% turf coverage and keep your cart out of the sensitive areas. This saves our club a considerable amount of time and money by reducing the odds of needing to purchase sod for this area in the future. 

One last trend that has happened three times since we reopened is golfers taking divots out of our greens. 

This is very poor etiquette and is very concerning. We want to do everything we can to protect our beautiful greens so please do not hit your ball from these areas out of frustration. If your ball does come to rest on a green requiring a wedge shot to another hole please simply take a drop. If you see anyone doing this or notice it done on a green as you play please report it to our pro shop immediately. 

Thanks and I hope to see you on the course soon!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Winter 2015

We have continued working hard on the course during the off season.  During this time of year bermudagrass growth has slowed significantly so we can spend time on special projects that improve the playability of our facility over the long term in a meaningfull way.  This winter we have:

  • Installed a new paver path behind 14 tee box and new pads at all of our cooler locations.

  • Installed drainage to historically wet approaches on hole 8, 11, and 18.

    • Click here for photos of project on 18 approach.
    • Click here for photos of project on 11 approach.
  • Added new shrubs for separation from 1 tee and the driving range.
  • Planted native grasses in new berms from our recent renovation project
  • Began a green pigment program on our fairways and tees.