February 25, 2020
This is the first newsletter that I have done since starting the new position at Nemadji and so an introduction seems to be appropriate. My name is Vincent Dodge and I have been a superintendent at four different facilities over the past 27 years. Three courses in suburban Chicago and most recently at the Wilderness at Fortune Bay in Tower, MN. After 17 years at the Wilderness, the time was right for a change and so I decided to take on the challenge of managing the grounds at Nemadji Golf Course. One thing that I have noticed since I started in December is the great interest that the community has in Nemadji and that the overwhelming feeling I get is that everyone wants to see the golf course do well. There is a commitment from the City of Superior to move forward with improvements-initially in the form of much needed new equipment this spring and with plans for even more improvements particularly in the irrigation system. I am very excited to be a part of these changes. Change can be tough sometimes. I cannot say enough good things about Steve Flagstad and the phenomenal job that he and his staff did in maintaining the golf course over the years. The commitment and dedication to the property shown by Steve and the crew at Nemadji has been obvious to me since I began-indeed I have been talking with Steve and hope to be able to draw upon his extensive knowledge of the golf course in the future. This sort of goodwill is important to me. This cooperation amongst superintendents is something about the golf industry that makes it such a cool profession and what attracted me to it in the first place. Regarding staffing for 2020, Brian Wallin is now the assistant superintendent and will begin on March 2. Brad Little will return as mechanic and starts on March 2 as well. Most of the seasonal staff are returning for the 2020 season and we will be adding some new faces for the coming season as well. Crew building and development is one of the more enjoyable parts of what I do, and I look forward to getting on with it. We just need for winter to go away. Winter is the biggest challenge to golf courses as far north as we are and Nemadji in particular is susceptible to winter damage in the form of winterkill caused by ice. Freeze thaw cycles, winter rain, substantial annual bluegrass populations, and the poor drainage inherent with this site can often result in observable turf loss once the snow melts in the spring. I took the time last week to dig through the snow on a couple of greens to see what was going on. I asked Steve for a couple of historically problematic greens on the golf course and he mentioned N/S greens 9 and 10.
9 N/S 2-12-2020
Very encouraging results here in that there was no ice-just a couple of feet of snow over ground that was not frozen. This has me feeling optimistic that we should be okay here-assuming that the winter does not linger on overly long.
10 N/S 2-12-2020
The news here was not as good as on the previous green as there was a thin (about ¼’) thick layer of ice on the low part of the green that I checked. The ground underneath was not frozen. While not optimal, a layer of ice this thin over unfrozen ground is not as concerning as it could have been-though it is something to keep an eye on. We may consider removing snow on a few problematic greens in the latter part of March depending on conditions. Winter damage is an uncertain science. I have had years where I thought we would be fine and we were not and other years where I dreaded spring and we were fine. I have also noted that removing snow too early can result in more damage than if we were to do nothing at all-particularly if there is a late season cold snap. Can be a tricky decision to make. Either way, the most important thing to have is a plan for recovery in the event of turf loss. On an unrelated note, I was very proud yesterday as we were walking on the golf course golf course dog Boomer dug up and killed a vole. Looks like a fat mouse with a shorter tail. They sometimes dig tunnels under the snow and can cause minor damage to turf-particularly bentgrass. I know that Boomer is looking forward to learning a new golf course and helping with the goose issues-particularly on the West Course.
I look forward to seeing everyone on the golf course this spring.