Certainly is a great feeling knowing that winter is almost over and that we can now move into the growing season here at Nemadji. I was able, over the past few weeks, to get onto the golf course and get an idea as to how the golf course over-wintered. An often problematic green has been 1 North with its terrible surface drainage and clayey soils. These factors combine to present standing water that often endures for days and results in weak and sometimes dead turf-especially after the winter months.


                                                                                                  1 North 3-21-2022                                                                1 North 3-28-2022

Some of you may have noted how we removed small strips of sod around various greens on the golf course last fall where surface drainage is poor. The pictures above show just how helpful this practice can be in that as of yesterday the standing water on 1 North is gone. Note how topdressing sand from the previous fall has accumulated around and within the shallow channel-testament to just how much water was removed from the surface with this technique. Another key factor in removing much of this surface water from putting surfaces throughout the property has been our newly introduced practice of deep tine aerifying greens (we did this last fall) which has been instrumental in breaking through the long present layering/compaction problem on these old greens. I am confident that a continuation of this practice will go a long way in promoting better overall turf health, playability, and winter survivability.

I feel good about where we are right now and while we are not out of the woods yet-we could still get heavy rains and warm temperatures followed by frigid cold that could result in some crown hydration issues similar to what we ran into last year. My hope is that this will not happen as there is little we can do to prevent this issue short of blowing up these old greens and starting over with modern putting greens with superior design and construction. We make do with what we have.

Continuing on my walk, I noted something that seems to happen on every golf course with extended periods of snow cover:

Vole Damage 8 East 3-28-2022

As the snow recedes, we find these tunnel networks created by voles over the winter months. Boomer actually dug one up from under the snow a year or so ago and killed one. A proud moment for me. Turf provides a productive tunneling medium apparently. This damage, while unsightly right now, goes away quickly once we get into the growing season.

One thing that has followed me around throughout my career has been the need to improve every facility that I have been to. This can be accomplished in numerous ways. Implementing solid, fundamental turf management principles is one. It can be in the form of obtaining the proper equipment for contemporary turf maintenance. It can also be accomplished by the addition of drainage projects and/or the construction of improved teeing surfaces. Both of the latter items come to mind with the next photos.

Enbridge Dig 9 East Black Tee 3-28-2022

Exploratory/repair digs on the pipeline that runs under the golf course is a recurring practice at Nemadji and shortly after closing last year we had one that, while ugly, will have a minimal impact on golf course playability. These digs can be an opportunity for long-term improvement. Our plan here on 9 East is to enlarge the size of the black tee on 9 East and channel this growth toward the tee complex on 18 West. In effect, to create a double tee for the black markers on 9 East and 18 West. This would make for an interesting tee shot on 18 West to be sure. The goal will be to complete this work by mid-June and grow the area in from seed to be useable in the 2023 season.

This past fall, we installed some extensive drainage systems on 2 North, 7 North, 11 South, 13 West, and 15 South. All told about 1680 linear feet of 6” drainage tile was installed with ten 18” drainage basins installed in 2021. Work of this scale creates spoils that need to be put somewhere. In addition to the ongoing creation of a berm to shield visibility of the maintenance area from the golf course, we used most of the spoils generated from this work to perform work on the tee on 9 North.

9 North 3-29-2022 Side View

This project is similar to the one that we performed on 10 South last year-only this project is a little more involved. Gone now is the crumbling block wall on the front of the tee. Consuming the spoils in this way allows us to create a tee with more usable area and a more maintenance friendly layout.

    9 North 3-29-2022 From Green

As a part of this project, we also removed the “cart path to nowhere” which we will grade and seed to either turf or a naturalized area to cut back on maintenance inputs. This project, much like the one on 9 East, will be seeded this year and depending on speed of establishment opened late in the season or, more likely, for the 2023 season. Exciting stuff.

With the Masters tournament in Augusta soon to come, I thought that a flash from the past picture of the young me shown with the former superintendent of the Augusta Par 3 Course might be appropriate. At the time, we were both students at turf school though following two separate paths. I was only 22 years old and making an entrance into the management part of the industry while Steve was an established superintendent going back to school. I was able to help him through the academic mumbo jumbo of the program (more mature people sometimes struggled with this) while he passed on more practical knowledge in the art of turf management. The one thing that I remember most is that whether managing Augusta National or Nemadji, the challenges of the job and principles of golf course management are similar no matter where you are and that helping each other out is a hallmark of the golf course industry.

                                  Vince Dodge with Steve Collins around 1991

State College, PA

See you on the golf course.