December 2, 2005
Winter’s arrival usually gives Cape Region golf course superintendents a chance to catch their breath from all that grass-cutting, but it’s not really a time for relaxing.
With fewer golfers on the courses, the greenskeepers can address a few necessary maintenance projects that just can’t be worked on during the busy season. On the other hand, a warm spell usually bring the golfers back out in no time, which produces its own challenges.
Steve Zeveney at Shawnee Country Club in Milford plans some serious improvements. “We’ll be upgrading our irrigation pump stations. That includes replacing piping, and working on the pressure tanks. Otherwise, we’ll continue with our regular winter stuff, like trap renovation and that sort of work.”
At Rehoboth Beach Country Club, superintendent Ed Brown said they’ll be working on improvements at the short par-3 fifth hole. “We’re going to laser-level the 5th tee and re-sod it. First, we cut the sod that’s there now, and use it on some of the fairways elsewhere on the course. Then we flatten the tee box area, using the laser-level. Then it’s re-sodded and top-dressed.”
Brown also said they’ll do some more drainage work on the low-lying course, which is sometimes subject to high water problems during the winter nor’easters.
Rob Marshall, the owner/operator of Old Landing Golf Course, said he had “no big plans” for this winter. “I’m just going to try to grow some grass,” he said.
Marshall explained that during a hot dry spell in the summer, the salts in the soil from the fertilizers came to the top of the surface, damaging the turf. “I hadn’t put down the calcium” that would have neutralized the fertilizer salts, Marshall said. “I can definitely say you’d better put your calcium on.”
At The Rookery Golf Course near Milton, course superintendent (and part owner) Chris Adkins had several plans for the winter, with the course now in its fifth year of operation.
“We’ll be doing some sand trap renovation. That includes redoing some of the drains, adding new sand, and redefining the edges. We also are going to add some irrigation to some spots that suffered last summer, such as the 13th and 3rd holes. The rough between the third and fourth fairways was burned out, and so was the right hand side of the 13th fairway. And, again, we’ll be working on a few trees,” Adkins said.
Jim Prucnal of Kings Creek Country Club said that he and his staff will be doing several small-scale tasks, while awaiting word from the Club’s board of directors on a master plan for the course that’s been two years in the making.
“The plan deals with several major issues, including irrigation, but the board needs to hear the details and make a decision.”
We also discussed how the new par-3 12th hole has grown in during its first year. Prucnal said that it was well-received, but that the turf on the green has “a little bit of growing in to do.” He also said that the members are enthusiastic about their new practice range, on the site of the former ninth hole.
In addition, Prucnal mentioned that Kings Creek is shut down completely on every Monday until April. That gives him and his crew a chance to bring in contractors for specialized work, knowing that they’ll be freed from worrying about accommodating golfers.
A maintenance set-aside during winter could help many Cape Region golf courses. For example, at clubs like Shawnee or Sussex Pines, a scheduled one-week shutdown could give the greenskeepers the block of time needed to tackle larger projects, such as tree-thinning. While necessary, these jobs are difficult to plan for, especially when the staff is suddenly confronted by an crowd of golfers on an unexpectedly sunny day in the low 60s.
The members might not be so keen about a scheduled weeklong closure, but it would really help improve their golf courses for the next season and beyond.