First and foremost, I would like to wish a very happy new year to everybody. We look forward to continued improvement at Nemadji in 2024 and in that spirit would like to show to you some of the improvements that we worked on in the latter part of 2023.

Renovation 15W October 12, 2023

As you all know, there used to exist an ornamental landscaped area on the left side of what is the landing area for some on 15W. While I am a big fan of these sorts of areas when placed properly, this one was not. The number of golf balls we found in this planting was stunning, indicating lost balls, a negative effect on pace of play, and an overall negative factor for the players’ experience. Not to mention the additional maintenance this area required for weed control. We chose to remove this planting, bring in more soil to build up the area, grade, and seed the area so that it will be conventional golf course rough from now on. Please be patient as this project establishes in 2024. Another ongoing project at Nemadji (something that we have been working on since I have been here) is drainage-particularly bunker drainage.

Bunker Drainage 14W November 14, 2023

Bunker/Approach Drainage 12W November 14, 2023


We chose to focus our drainage attention in 2023 on the West Golf Course-specifically on the 12W greenside bunker and the large greenside bunker on 14W. With the wet fall that we had, this work was particularly messy and labor intensive. I have sincere appreciation for the entire staff that slogged through this work throughout the month of November and look forward to these areas recovering in 2024 and becoming much more playable long into the future. Nemadji is, inherently, the worst draining site I have had the pleasure of working at due to its overall flat nature, clayey soils, and lack of proper internal drainage in the form of drainage lines. We could, honestly, perform this work every fall for the next 20 years and still not be done but we do what we can with the staff and supply that we have to work with. Keep in mind that all of this work is being done in-house much like other smaller projects like landscaping around our tee complexes.

12S Tee November 17, 2023

Upon initial installation, we used a hardwood mulch to cover the ground in areas around our new tee signs. This was a low cost and quick way of finishing off these areas and while mulch looks good when first installed, it is subject to washing out during rain events, fades with time, and is more subject to weed invasion. Mulched areas require more periodic maintenance than does the ornamental stone shown above. Over the next season or so, we plan to do to all tee sign areas what is pictured. This technique, while more costly to perform in labor and material initially, will ultimately lead to less inputs in the future and cost savings.
We were fortunate in 2023 in that the unseasonably warm temperatures allowed us to work outside productively late into the year which allowed us to also get a handle on the many dead trees at Nemadji.

Typical Dead Ash Tree at Nemadji-Emerald Ash Borer Insect Damage December 6, 2023

Emerald Ash Borer is a species of insect, not indigenous to our area, which was a big deal about fifteen or so years ago when it swept through the area. Similar to Dutch Elm disease which took out American Elms a few decades before that for those of you who may remember. The picture above shows damage caused to the tree by the feeding larvae of the insect which killed this tree and many more like it. The sad thing about this at Nemadji is that it seems like ash trees were the main if not exclusive type of tree planted during a tree planting program decades ago. The lesson learned from this is that when planting trees, it is extremely important to diversify species utilized in order to avoid potential heavy losses in the future.

We were able to remove 61 dead trees-almost entirely ash-in the month of December. Most of these were done by golf course staff with a valuable assist from the City of Superior on a handful of trees by 10S and 11S. This is in addition to the scores of others that we have removed over the past four years. We also, over the past four years, have aggressively trimmed hundreds of trees on the property. Also of note are the 39 stumps we ground/removed in 2023 in addition to the 39 we ground out the previous year. This work is ongoing, but I am starting to feel like we are finally getting a handle on this chore though there is still some work to be done. All this work generates a great deal of debris that requires disposal. We do this with an end of season fire after permitting from the fire department. This year, in fact, we had the time to have two fires to eliminate the excessive amounts of landscape waste we generated with this work.

Burning Tree Debris at Nemadji December 13, 2023

The latter part of 2023 was one of the most productive time periods that we have had at Nemadji due to the workable weather, a capable staff, and money to fund the work. Which brings me to the mission statement of Nemadji crafted by the golf committee:
“To provide value-based recreation to citizens on a cost-effective foundation sufficient to ensure that operations, debt and capital improvements are self- sustaining without assistance from the general fund, if possible.”
All of these necessary improvements are funded by revenues generated by the golf course as are all other routine golf course expenses requiring labor, equipment leases, utilities, and supplies. The prices on all these items, particularly labor, have been increasing substantially of late. All one has to do is look at the McDonalds sign on Tower Avenue and see a starting wage of $17 an hour for entry level positions. A year ago, this number was $15 per hour. The bottom line is that if it costs more for us to present an acceptable (and competitive) product for our customers, we must find ways to generate more revenue. It is as simple as that. I mention this because I know that our 2024 rates have driven some lively conversation on this topic though upon comparison to other facilities in the area, our prices are comparable and, in many cases, less expensive. Our pricing is where it needs to be in order for the golf course to be sustainable in 2024 and beyond. I can say, with over 30 years of experience as a superintendent at five different facilities in three states, that Nemadji offers the best value of them all.
On a final note, I will be losing who is to me the most effective golf course general manager I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. Tom did a phenomenal job in providing the leadership, vision, structure, business savvy, and community service necessary to move Nemadji into the world of modern golf course management. I am very happy for him in that the new position is “home” for Tom and I am certain that he will find much success there. I am going to miss him. I look forward to working with Danny Walker to ensure that we continue to build on the success already achieved.
See you on the golf course soon.