January 30, 2009
The cold wet weather and the economic recession haven’t completely dampened the spirits of the Cape Region’s golf course superintendents.
In recent interviews, all of the greenskeepers were ready to chat about their wintertime projects.
The off-season gives the superintendents and their crews the best opportunity to handle the more involved repairs and reconstructions they just can’t deal with when their courses are overrun with golfers. Much of this work can go unnoticed by many players, but it’s a necessary requirement all the same.
Some of this work may attract attention, such as the new traps to be built at The Rookery Golf Course near Milton. Superintendent Chris Adkins explained that his crew will be adding bunkers on the left side of the greens on the fourth and twelfth holes.
“That should make those holes a bit more difficult for those who bail out left on their approaches,” Adkins said. “We’re also going to add some more irrigation to some of the rough areas that dry out in the summer. And we’ll be dealing with some trees,” he added.
Jamie Palokas is the golf course superintendent for Baywood Greens. The Long Neck course is adding nine more holes to the complex, but there’s also a lot of work to do on the existing eighteen holes.
One part of the winter work is visible along Route 24, where a par 5’s fairway bunkers run parallel to the highway. The maintenance crew installed silt fences at the bunker edges. Palokas explained, “We blow out the irrigation system before the freeze comes, and we use the silt fences to keep the sand from blowing out onto the fairways.” With no irrigation in operation, there’s no ready means to rinse the fairways from all that unwanted sand, so the fences block the sand instead.
Palokas said, “We’re also going to be cutting a lot of trees down, such as on hole number five, to increase the air flow and light. Several holes are in treed areas, and others are out in the open, and we want to increase the consistency between our greens, especially on holes one through twelve. So far we’ve cut down about a hundred trees.”
The Baywood bunch’s winter work also includes verticutting the turf and topdressing the fairways with sand, which should help firm up the bentgrass for a bit more roll. In addition, they have a sod project near the first hole, and also plan to re-build the tee complex for the ninth hole.
The Cape Region’s private clubs are also busy with off-season projects.
At Sussex Pines Country Club, for example, the members are awaiting the results of their major green rebuilding project, made necessary by root rot. Tom Love, the club’s membership committee chairman, said that in the meantime the maintenance crews will be top dressing the fairways, overseeding the rough, refurbishing bunkers, and cutting down dead and excess trees on the course.
Mike Maney, the golf course superintendent at Rehoboth Beach Country Club, said they’re nearing completion on a major rehabilitation of the par-5 twelfth hole. “We raised the fairway six inches and added new drainage underneath it, to help with the flooding problems we had there,” he explained. The work also included building a new forward tee for the hole, and rebuilding the bunkers.
Maney said they also redid the fairway and greenside bunkers on the fourteenth and fifteenth holes, and “cut down a lot of dead trees.”
Steve Zeveney, the longtime superintendent at Shawnee Country Club, plans to work on some nagging drainage problems on the thirteenth and fifteenth holes. “On the thirteenth, there’s some bad stuff under the turf, as well as clay seams. Some of the drains were damaged during some new irrigation installations. That also happened on the fifteenth, to the right of the greens. If we can, we’ll install some corrugated pipe in a herringbone pattern to help fix them.”
If the area has a mild winter over the next two months, these talented professionals will have a good opportunity to make some real improvements in their courses, as the new season approaches.