March 8, 2002
“It’s going to be a beautiful place when we’re finished.”
Kyle Serman, who chairs the Delaware Technical and Community College’s Applied Agriculture Department at the Owens Campus in Georgetown, talked to me recently about the College’s new Golf/Turf Maintenance Lab.
The high-tech-sounding title partially obscures the fact that Serman is overseeing the construction of two golf holes on the Owens campus.
They are actually a critical part of the College’s new program in Turf Management Technologies.
The new degree concentration in Applied Agriculture Technology starts with an emphasis on golf course turf, and will expand to train students interested in other athletic turf management. The new program’s students will join those seeking similar degrees in horticulture, production agriculture, and poultry science.
When I last wrote about the project about 18 months ago, Serman was about to finish the basic design and begin obtaining the necessary permits for the construction of three golf holes on the site, all par 3s.
Tight budget constraints caused the project to shrink by one hole for the time being. Serman remains upbeat about the prospect of completing the entire project. “I’m sure we’ll be able to finish all three holes eventually. For now we’re moving ahead with the first two,” he said.
One hole will run from 164 to 170 yards in length. The tee box for the other hole will be set at 150 yards from the center of the green.
“We have one green basically complete. We’ll be laying bent grass sod on one green by the first of next week, and we should finish up with the tee areas by the first half of the next week. Both holes should be fully completed and grown in by October,” Serman explained.
Prior to starting any construction, however, the college needed to obtain an approved Sediment and Stormwater Plan for the “lab” area from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “Getting the permit was a real learning experience for the students and the college,” Serman said.
Ken Christenbury of the DC Group in Milton made a substantial contribution to the permit process. “They were a big help to the students. They helped finalize the drawings and worked with the students and staff in getting the plans approved. We received the approval from DNREC in October of last year,” Serman said.
Larry DeWitt of Golf Con also provided on-site assistance. “Larry helped us with the construction of the stormwater pond, and did the initial shaping of the greens,” Serman explained. In addition, Serman also appreciated the Tunnell Properties donation of a one-acre, 20 mil pvc liner for the pond: “We’d gone back and forth about how to do the pond bottom, and their donation took care of that.”
Serman expects the new holes will see extensive play when they open. That’s part of the laboratory process. “Besides building the holes, the students will learn how to keep the turf in good playing shape while in use. It will be the same experience that they’ll have when they work on golf courses.”
Serman was also proud of the help provided by other Ag program students. “They’d come by between classes and work right alongside the Turf students, hauling stone, laying drainage pipe, and putting down sod. It’s been great to see that kind of cooperation.”
The first graduates in the new program should complete their studies this spring, and will use their new knowledge and skills immediately. They include Shane Bowden, who works at Wood Creek Golf Club; Mark Coty, the superintendent at Baywood Greens; Roger Cox, an employee of Green Hill Yacht & Country Club near Salisbury, Maryland; Scott Haman, who works at the Woodland course near Seaford; and Steve Thompson, who helps keep the turf in shape for the Baltimore Ravens football team.
“It’s going along pretty well right now,” Serman said. Based on the progress made thus far, the staff and students at the college should feel proud.