July 14, 2000
The Rookery Golf Course will open to the public on July 30, 2000. That’s a couple weeks later than the owners had in mind, but the usual snafus put a crimp in their plans. More paving, more patching, more plumbing, and more planting remains to be done.
Chris Adkins, the amiable co-owner and golf course superintendent, recently discussed the last several steps needed to prepare the new layout for the delayed debut.
When I first caught up to him, Adkins was punching numbers on a radio transmitter, turning on and off the irrigation sprinklers surrounding the greens. As the fountain-like streams of water rose and fell gracefully around the course, it was nice to see how much character Adkins and his partner Pete Oakley put into the landscape of the formerly dead-flat Sussex County farm fields.
The birds certainly like the changes. Dozens of barn swallows and killdeer darted a few feet above the fairways in the late afternoon.
Adkins grew in most of the turf from seed, beginning early this spring. At some spots, however, they were forced to place sod where the seed just wouldn’t take. As the interview continued, Adkins walked behind a spreader filled with starter fertilizer on several greens. “We’re fertilizing right now to promote root growth, and top dressing each green with sand once a week. That’s a faster schedule than we would keep to once it opens up,” he said.
“We also had to sod most of the second and 4th greens, and sod some patches in a few others,” Adkins explained. “The grass still needs to fill in better on several of the greens. Some pin placements won’t change too much for a while, to give the greens a chance to fully grow in.”
Butch Holtzclaw spent the morning placing the yardage markers on the sprinkler heads. Adkins said the markers show the yardage to the middle of the greens, beginning from 250 yards out.
“For this year, we’ll also put yardage stakes by the cart paths, at 200, 150, and 100 yards,” Adkins said. “By next season we’ll make a decision about moving them to different locations, and whether they’ll be stakes or some kind of plantings.”
The crew recently installed a new bunker to the left side of the third hole, a short par 4. “It should make some of the long hitters think a little more about trying to drive the green,” Adkins grinned.
Right now the cart path is a muddy track of crusher run rock 4 inches thick. Adkins said, “After the first season we’ll address any drainage problems that show up and then get them paved over.”
Adkins also showed me the new tee at the 14th hole, a par 3 about 180 yards that runs along Route 1. “We put it to the right side of the other tee boxes to add an additional safety feature for the road.”
I tried a 4 iron from the new tee box and landed the ball on the front of the green. With the prevailing wind and the slight uprise, I’d say it plays about a half-club longer than the yardage would indicate.
I also tried a 7 iron from the “church pew” bunkers on the 605-yard par 5 10th hole, about 150 yards from the green. These little beauties could be called “Oakmont with a twist.” Unlike their famous counterparts at the Pittsburgh U.S. Open course, the Rookery’s pews run parallel across the fairways, instead of perpendicular and to the left of the fairway.
At least when they are firm and a little damp, you can still reach the green.
After seeing those two shots, Adkins took me over to the tee for the 15th hole, the island green par 3. Adkins smiled when I hit a Fat Boy 4 iron into the water, but I can’t say I was pleased to make one of the first contributions to the water gods on the new course.
Entrance work, paving, installing the service trailer, and “a lot of clean-up” remain in the next two weeks. The pro shop/restaurant building will open in a few months.
Adkins said they will most likely start with discounted greens fees for the pioneers curious to play a brand-new course.
The Rookery will look a little rough when it opens. Nevertheless, Cape Region golfers should welcome the new addition to public golf in the area.
(This is the seventh in a continuing series of columns on the design and construction of The Rookery, originally known as The Greens at Broadview.
Shawnee Country Club held their Ladies Memorial Tournament on July 6. Top finishers in the net bracket were Jacque Sipple (69), Carolyn Ivins (70), Ann Reed (70), Marge Steiner (71), and Barbara Keck (71). Linda Irwin’s 84 won the gross category, followed by Peg Bundek’s 86.
Don’t forget to send in your entries in this year’s golf knowledge contest. The contest ends July 20. If you lost your copy of the June 30 edition of The Cape Gazette, you can still find the questions here on the Web at the June 30 column. Good luck!