After spending nearly a week in Las Vegas at the Golf Industry Show, we are aggressively beginning the 2012 golf season. Temperatures here in Massachusetts are almost 15 degrees above average right now and it is quickly bringing excitement to the golf community. As a maintenance team, we have never been this busy this early in March, but it is definitely refreshing. Vegas got the mind thinking, and now this immediate need for course opening is putting those long 8 hour seminars to good use quickly. Believe it or not, we had about 2 inches of snow still on the ground in some spots this time last week. So in only a couple of days, we have managed to clean and make 36 holes playable for golf.
The South course right now has all 18 greens opens with only a few “wet” areas to be concerned about. The North course has 15 greens open and 3 temporary greens (4, 9, 15). The frost layer in these greens has not completely thawed causing the surface to stay fairly saturated and unplayable. Monitoring these conditions daily is the only thing we can do. We are beginning to mow this week as well. The South course fairways, approaches, and collars are being cut today and the North course tomorrow. The greens on both courses will be rolled Friday, and potentially cut next week. Bunkers are being cleaned out and raked completely and will be finished for weekend play. We are finishing the install of some isolation valves for the North irrigation system and then we will be charging the system as soon as those valves are complete. As a maintenance team, we call the start of the season official when the irrigation system is in operation. Once the course is prepared for everyday play, we will begin to clean each bunker with our sand cleaner and add a fresh coat of sand to all 103 sand traps, 3 traps were already renovated on 18 North in November 2011 (http://stowacresturf.com/2012/01/02/bunker-renovation-complete-and-post-christmas-work/). We will also be attacking many other minor spring projects as we ready for the MA Four-ball in May.
The valuable information learned in Tuesday’s 8 hour seminar with Dr. Milligan was instrumental in getting only 9 staff members to prepare 300 acres for play in a short amount of time. The title of his seminar was “Developing a High-Performance, People-Oriented Golf Course Maintenance Staff”. We covered hiring, firing, and everything in between. Although it was 8 hours, it didn’t seem that long. Dr. Milligan made it fun and engaging creating role-playing and group discussion. At the end we even evaluated ourselves and what our leadership style was like. I have been able to take what I learned from him and apply that here at Stow Acres in ways that work for us. The Golf Industry Show each year has such great information that can provide golf course employees with new tools, concepts, and ideas to help develop their departments. As one person put it on the show floor, “It’s no longer a trade show for just looking at new tractors.” For more information on the seminar or spring golf course work, feel free to email. Otherwise, I’ll see you on the course!
-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent