Probably the biggest story this past month or so has been the continuation of drought conditions on the golf course.  Normally, given an average or better irrigation system and water source, I would welcome these sorts of dry spells as dry conditions give us the ability to actually control the conditions on the golf course.  At Nemadji, however, occurrences like the one pictured below are all too common-particularly on the West golf course.

Chipping Green/10 West August 2021

The system is so bad due to obsolescence in the pump station, piping, and controls that every time we have to use it, the adventure begins.  Things break, stuff doesn’t come on, some stuff comes on when it should not, and some stuff even refuses to turn off when it should.  To date, we have made well over 80 repairs to the system.  Hours spent so far this year amount to well over 500 man-hours and counting.  Hours could be spent doing other things to make the golf course better.  Just as concerning to me environmentally is the way this system wastes so much water-which we pay for-due to leaks and poor control systems that make it pretty much impossible to properly distribute water.  The result is dry areas, wet areas, and an overall decline in conditioning when things get dry.

All that being said, luckily we have such a great group of irrigation technicians -Gabe Anderson, George Bibeau, and Dalton Derosia-who along with myself and Brian Wallin are able to grind our way through these challenges and still provide a golf course with reasonable playability.  I cannot say enough how much I appreciate their dedication, initiative, skill, and teamwork in helping Nemadji to get through a tough time.

Switching gears a bit, the picture below is pretty typical here at Nemadji and really most other golf courses that I have worked at.

9 East August 2021

Here is a smaller bunker at Nemadji with a single rake where-at the top of the picture you can see that someone actually made the effort to rake up after themselves.  The rest of the bunker is untouched by players no matter how close the rake is to the footprints.  The solution to getting players to rake up after themselves is not more rakes (we did add a few more rakes to a few larger bunkers)-the solution is a fundamental change in how many players treat the golf course.  Somehow along the way, golf has forgotten somewhat the rules of etiquette that were once a part of the game.  Things like raking bunkers after themselves, fixing ball marks, and not driving close to putting greens seem to be something many players do not really think about doing as much these days.  Many do not seem to really care about the next group coming up to play behind them.  I have tried everything over the years-signage, issuing ball mark tools, and added more rakes and really have seen little to no improvement other than more clutter on the golf course and more golf course accessories to be bought, run over, broken, repaired, and stored over the winter months.  I think we all need to, as players, take the time to explain to others exactly what golf course etiquette is and to teach those who we observe not following these rules.  I think in many instances, people may be simply unaware of what their responsibilities on the golf course are and if they are aware and still choose to ignore the etiquette, well, then I think no matter what we do they will continue with this behavior such as the recent picture below illustrates.  You cannot force someone to actually care.

Bunker 14 West August 2021

Overall, we are pleased with course conditions this season so far.  The programs we have implemented in the areas of fertility, aerification, weed control, and growth regulation-as well as modern mowers-have made a big difference in conditions and these changes will only become more pronounced with time.  One weakness in our regimen, however, is the usage of old and tired rough mowers that are a source of frustration for the staff.

Rough Mower Damage 10 West August 2021

This damaged rough was caused by worn-out decks on one of the three rough mowers that we use at Nemadji.  All three of these units have been problematic throughout the season due to their being well past their useful life spans.  Hydraulic leaks, warped and worn-out decks, electronic issues, and overall tiredness of these units leads to a finished product that shows these kinds of symptoms more often than not.  It’s a tough life at Nemadji for a rough mower.  Lots of acreages to keep up on.  One of the upsides of a droughty year is that dormant rough does not require as much mowing and so we can lay off on the usage of these units for a bit.

Thank you for your patronage and hope to see you on the golf course.