January 9, 2004
Even though this week brought a chilly reminder of wintertime, compared to last year the weather’s been far milder.
The relatively balmy conditions have helped Cape Region golf course superintendents keep up with a long list of necessary construction and maintenance projects.
Between November and mid-March the golfers around here tend to find other things to do than walk about on the golf courses. Their absence helps free up the superintendents and their staff for the time-consuming work of preparing the courses for the new season.
Some of this year’s projects are truly impressive.
Bob Collins, C.G.C.S. is the golf course superintendent for Cripple Creek Country Club near Ocean View. He’s overseeing the replacement of the course’s entire irrigation system.
“It’s about 80% completed right now,” he said. “We started last winter with putting in a new pump station. Starting in September we began installation of the new pipes and sprinklers.” This winter’s work, combined with the pump station and some new bulkheading, should bring the total project expense to nearly a million dollars.
“It was time,” Collins said. “This new system will allow us to irrigate the course much more efficiently.”
As for other work, Collins described it as “A lot of little stuff.” For example, his staff is cutting some of the trees that have grown out since the club opened over a decade ago. “They were cut mainly for playability reasons,” Collins explained.
At The Rookery Golf Course, course superintendent and co-owner Chris Adkins is nearly finished with a brand-new comfort station, between the 6th tee and the 12th hole. “It’s in a good spot, because people can easily reach it when they’re on either the front or the back nine,” Adkins said.
Considering how open much of the golf course is, the new facility should also be a welcome aesthetic improvement on the common alternative used by the male golfers.
Adkins said that drainage work will take up most of their time over the next few months. “With the record-setting rainfall we had last season, we found that there’s a lot more we need to do in the low areas,” Adkins explained. “There’s been some settling since the course opened, and several of the fairways and greens need to have some additional drainage.”
At some places they will install new 4-inch drain lines with catch basins and grates, with the new lines going to the nearest pond or simply joining the existing drain system.
Scot Anderson, the course superintendent at Sussex Pines, is also keeping drainage as the focus of his crew’s efforts over the winter. “We have some extensive drainage work to do. We’ll be dealing with the fairways at the first, sixteenth, and fifth holes for starters.”
Anderson noted that the work on his course will require a mix of surface and subsurface improvements. “At some locations we’ll be doing cuts and fills, and installing some new piping at other places. There’s no one solution that will work everywhere.”
To help restore light and air and therefore better turf health, the Sussex Pines crews also removed some of the trees near the 12th and 14th greens. Anderson used a variety of other techniques on the troubled 14th green, including deep tine aerification and overseeding. Thus far he’s pleased with how the area is responding to all the attention.
At Shawnee Country Club, Steve Zeveney and his staff are continuing a long-running project to rebuild some of the old greens complexes. “We’ll be working on the 18th hole’s greenside bunkers this winter,” Zeveney said. “There’ll be new drainage, new sand, more grass space along the faces, and new sod around the edges.”
If their work matches the refurbished greenside bunkers completed at the ninth and seventh holes, the Shawnee crew will have reason to take pride in their accomplishment.
And when Cape Region golfers return to their favorite golf courses, it would be a good thing if they thanked the superintendents and the maintenance staffs for their work on these wintertime projects.