December 10, 1999
Golf courses never stay the same.
Trees keep growing, unless struck by lightning or disease. Greens need special care year-round to keep the tiny turf healthy. Bunkers change shape from constant whacking by frustrated golfers. Irrigation systems are complex and rarely in perfect operating condition.
Golf course superintendents oversee the work needed to maintain golf courses in good condition. Their efforts make golf a fun game that takes place in beautiful surroundings.
Not every course needs to look like Augusta National, but all of them need revisions from time to time. In the Cape Region, the course superintendents crank up their renovation work in late fall and winter. The area’s mild weather since August really helped.
Jim Prucnal is the golf superintendent at Kings Creek Country Club. This fall and winter his crew will place zoysia sod in the areas surrounding over 50 bunkers on the course.
Zoysia is a hardy southern grass that is drought-resistant. Last year Prucnal’s staff sodded about half of the bunker surrounds with zoysia, and he was impressed: “They performed real well this summer.” This winter Prucnal expects to complete the project.
Prucnal also plans to install some additional irrigation improvements near a few greens.
Ed Brown, the golf course superintendent at Rehoboth Beach Country Club, says they are in the final stages of the replacement program the club started in 1992.
The original greens on the course were all built as “push-up” greens, in which primarily native soil was re-graded. Now, Brown said, “All the greens are rebuilt to USGA specifications.”
At least one hole was taken out of use every season. The course built a 19th hole, a fun little par 3 between the clubhouse and Rehoboth Bay, so the players could keep playing 18 holes during the renovation.
This winter they will replace the green and its bunkers at Hole No. 12, a par 5. “It’s the last one,” Brown said. The greenside bunkers will be rebuilt and relocated, and the green itself will be somewhat larger.
Brown is also proud of his other renovation project. The club recently expanded their practice green to over 9500 square feet, in the area formerly used as the tee box for Hole No. 1. The new facility was also re-shaped to add slopes. Brown said, “We tried to simulate the putting conditions on the course. The old practice green was flat.”
At Shawnee Country Club, course superintendent Steve Zeveney is rebuilding the small pond in front of the green on Hole No. 2, a short par 5. He and his crew also plan to replace bunkers on the first, 16th, and 17th holes.
New irrigation installed last year near the greens “really helped the course,” Zeveney said. With the added watering, however, “we exchanged one problem for another, but it’s fixable.” The new bunkers will have drainage systems installed.
Zeveney is also putting the finishing touches on the recent paving of 5 miles of cart path on the course.
The 3rd Hole at Sussex Pines Country Club looks very different now. The course dug out a new pond between the tee box and the green on this already tough par 3. Chris Popoli, the club professional, explained that the staff used the dirt from building the pond to expand the club’s driving range. Popoli said, “They created a much bigger hitting area, and added target greens in the range for iron practice.” The new facility will open in March.
The Cape Region golf course superintendents look forward to seeing the results of their handiwork next spring. It sounds like their renovation plans will be worth the effort.