November 26, 2004
Cape Region golf courses usually see far less use by their players right now. On the other hand, the late fall and winter give area golf course superintendents a chance to make some significant improvements on their layouts.
Chris Adkins at The Rookery is concentrating on trees and drainage. He and his crew are making plans to redo the drain systems at the first, second, and twelfth holes.
In addition, he’s going to plant new trees to help separate and define some of the fairways, and refurbish several bunkers.
For example, Adkins says he’ll put white pines between the driving range and the left side of the first hole. Once the trees mature, they will help block errant shots. He also said they will plant loblolly pines between the fifth and sixth hole fairways, and between the sixth and twelfth fairways.
The loblollies drop their lower branches as they grow, but they should still inhibit golfers trying to cut the doglegs.
Harry Wanner, the new greens superintendent at Sussex Pines Country Club, is also focused on drainage and bunker work for his winter projects. “I’m going to refurbish all of the bunkers—give them a real makeover,” he said. This includes edging all sides with spades, re-sodding the bare spots of nearby turf, and adding sand where needed.
Wanner also said some of the bunkers may need underdrain work, which he’ll be better able to determine when he removes the existing sand from the traps.
As for drainage, a continuing problem at Sussex Pines, Wanner says he plans to start with the fairways for the fifth, eleventh, and thirteenth holes, as well as the teebox for the twelfth hole.
Ed Brown is the longtime superintendent at Rehoboth Beach Country Club. His winter work involves 3,000 feet of new drainage pipe, to be installed as needed on the seventh, twelfth, sixteenth, and seventeenth holes. The steps include digging trenches for French drains, adding pea gravel, laying the pipe over the gravel, and covering over the new systems. Brown also said he’ll replenish the bunkers with new sand.
The new superintendent at Old Landing Golf Course expects to improve water quality at the public layout this winter. Scot Anderson plans to install an Otterbine aeration system in the irrigation pond, which is between the eleventh and seventeenth holes. He also intends to put in another aerator in the pond in front of the eighteenth green.
Anderson said he and owner Rob Marshall will also continue their “tree management” efforts in the wooded section of the course. Thinning the trees should bring more light and air to the turf for the fourth, fifth, thirteenth, and fourteenth holes. Anderson said, “The overseeded rye I put in those places this fall didn’t take quite as good as I’d like. Some more sunlight should help.”
Steve Zeveney, Shawnee Country Club’s greens superintendent, has already made several improvements for next year. He and his crew removed an old hedge along the left side of the club’s signature eleventh hole, a 424-yard par 4 (5 for the ladies). With the hedge gone, they placed new out-of-bounds pipes along the property line, and planted several new oaks and maples.
It looks very different to long-time members, who might also appreciate the chance to recover from an overcooked draw or pull to the left.
“Weather and staffing permitting,” Zeveney said they’ll also complete the planned bunker restoration for the tenth and eighteenth holes.
If it was up to me, I’d also have Zeveney thin out some of the trees between those two holes, as well as between the first and eighteenth fairways. Thanks to some recent bad shotmaking, I have personally observed how thin the turf is at these locations.
Equipment repair and restoration along with other indoor chores will fill the days that these men and their crews won’t be able to work outside over the next few months. Thanks to their efforts in the off-season, however, the rest of us should enjoy playing our Cape Region courses next spring.