Spring Update

The golf season has begun, and there’s a few things I’d like to update everyone on:

  • The golf course is very wet from over 2″ of rain last week. This, combined with acres and acres of sod, and seeded areas, creates quite the challenge. We won’t pin areas of green expansion until they dry out, firm up, so they can handle foot traffic. If you’ve played, then you realize that we’ve done major surgery on almost all areas of the course. These surgeries will take time, and patience, to heal, and mature. The process cannot be rushed, or pushed, or injury will occur, extending recovery even longer. As I’ve written before, we’ll have to play defense for some time, before we can play offense. The back 9 is not ready for play, and this cold weather is not helping. The recovery process won’t start until air temperatures rise, and our soil temperatures get above 55 degrees F. We’re a ways from that, but our current weather is seasonably normal. Thanks for educating others that won’t read this, and helping them understand the process of recovery. We’re all in this together, so let’s keep the “village” mentality going, and help one another!

 

  • If you have to retrieve your ball from a planted Fescue area (they are currently GUR), please be careful! They are very slick, and slippery. The Fescue areas were planted with varieties that provide the thinnest stand, and planted at such a light rate to assist with that presentation. They take time to mature. Lots of time. Some varieties will take several more week, even months to even germinate. This decision was made for the long-term product. There will be weeds, voids, bare areas. They are all part of the maturation process to get the intended look and playability. Full maturity of Fescue will be achieved in year 3. That’s not a typo. So know that it will take patience, and lot of weed control from our staff, in the meantime. Some areas of conversion were exposed to wind, lost their snow cover this winter, and the young, vulnerable, plants perished in the sub-zero temperatures. You’ll see our staff reseeding these areas over the next several weeks, once we’ve determined what survived. Good things come to those that wait, and the Fescue conversion areas are a perfect example of that journey.

 

  • Topdressing of Fairways. I’ve written in the past that 2021 will be the first year in which we sand topdress all of the fairways. This is a monumental task, and takes time, equipment, and a lot of labor, to apply the sand, brush it in, and blow it off areas we don’t want it. The proven benefits of topdressing fairways has been proven over the past 10 years, and the results speak for themselves. The leadership of the BOD to elevate the member experience with this investment will have an impressive ROI. But we’re only currently making that application to less than 10 acres, and after the Master Plan implementation, now have 30 acres of fairways. We will take an aggressive approach to expedite the benefits to the current membership experience. But in order to do that, we need to split up the application of sand 3 times per year. We simply cannot make one large application of sand, as it would suffocate the turf canopy, you’d be hitting off nothing but sand for weeks, and mowing turf would be impossible.

 

    • Some simple math. Our intended rate of sand for the season will be 45 tons per acre. With 30 acres of fairways, we’ll apply 1,350 tons of sand. For a mental visual, one semi load of sand is 25 tons. So 54 semi loads will be needed in the season to accomplish the goal. After several years, this rate will be reduced, once a base of sand is built into the profile.
    • Starting April 12th, we will start the process on the front 9. We’ll try to get a few holes done per day, to minimize disruption to play. Once we get to the back 9, we both won’t need to worry about one another.
    • Our intended rate will be 15 tons per acre, and for reference, our fairway topdressing machine can hold 7 tons per load.
    • We’re starting the process now for several reasons. The weather isn’t great so the demand for play is lower. The Spring flush will occur once the soil temperatures rise, and will quickly grow through the sand. We also don’t want to interfere with the core golf season. Those of you who play at clubs in the South, don’t experience any of it, because they accomplish this task during the summer months when no one is around. We don’t have that luxury, so we need to be crafty and creative.
    • Our next application of topdressing to fairways will be Fall aerification in August, then in early October, both times aiming for 15 tons per acre.

 

  • We will also be topdressing tees, and green expansions, lightly, over the next several months, several times. This will help with the heal-in process, recapturing the smoothness, and firmness of the property, everyone is used to. It will push recovery, and the maturation process, bringing us back to strong rooting, and the ability to dry the property down, promoting firm, and bouncy conditions you’re used to. The more reps of these cultural practices we accomplish, the faster we get back to that firm environment. We have to train the turf back into form slowly, it won’t happen on its own. Think of it as a positive instead of a negative when you see sand. It’s training, in-session, to become better tomorrow, than we are today.

 

  • Bunker rakes. We invested in new bunker rakes. They are beautifully handmade wooden rakes, that not only function better with our new sand, but also are a classic look, and feel, to match the golf course. However, like most things in the golf industry (and others), the demand is high, and production can’t keep up. We have yet to receive the rakes, and won’t for another few weeks, so we will continue to rake bunkers each morning. Please use your foot to smooth out your shots as you exit the bunker (on the low side!), and try not to kick sand onto the bunker faces, as it will alter its shape, and balls won’t roll into the sand. Thanks for your cooperation until we get the rakes. Once we’ve received the rakes, it will be noticeable that you won’t be able to “pull” piles of sand. You’ll need to push sand on your way out of the bunker. I’ll send more communication out on the preferred raking technique once we put them out, so the players behind you will get the same good lies as you had.

 

  • Water coolers. Covid has changed many things, and eliminating the water coolers was an easy decision for the Board of Directors, given the risk of handling the coolers, the difficulty of sanitizing them, and everyone’s fingers touching the spigots to operate.  Safety for members, and staff, is paramount. We will be installing touch-less bottle filler machines at both bathroom buildings, on 7 and 14. There is also the cup/bottle filler machine behind the clubhouse. The current water cooler houses will be removed in time. Again, the demand for these new machines is very high, so it will be a few weeks until they are installed. As soon as we take shipment, we will install them as quickly as possible. The machine’s water will be filtered and refrigerated, but note, that there will not be cups provided at them. You will need to bring a refillable bottle or cup. You’ll be able to get water before you play, after 4 green, after 6 green, before 10 tee, after 14 green, and again after 18 green. Thanks for your patience until we get the machines installed.

We’ve never been more excited to see everyone back on the golf course. 2021 is full of positives. Now hope for warm weather and sunshine!

If you have questions about your golf course, please contact me at any time.

Mike Manthey

8 Replies to “Spring Update”

  1. Tim Nagle says:

    Mike – you and your staff should be commended. The work you all did to implement the Master Plan was significant and has taken what was already a great course and put it over the top. It really has turned out fantastic. I got the chance to play the front 9 for the first time yesterday and I was utterly impressed and I am looking forward to playing the back when it is ready. Thank you!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks Tim for the shout out. The staff really worked their tails off last year, they went above and beyond, and the results show. What they accomplished in that short amount of time was impressive. Glad you enjoyed the front. I can confirm the back 9 is great as well!
      M.

  2. Scott Korzenowski says:

    Thanks Mike. How will top dressing improve the fairways? And by that I don’t mean the science or necessity, I mean, how will they be different from the fairways right now?

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Scott,
      Midland was built on heavy soils, it was literally a farm at inception. The heavy soils don’t drain well, hold water, and compact, creating environments for Poa. Integrating sand into the profile will help keep the surfaces drier, which is where you hit the ball. Where we have topdressed over the past 10 years, we have a good 3-4″ of sand built up. These areas don’t compact, are pure Bentgrass, and dry out much quicker. Poa is our biggest liability because of winter-kill. One of our biggest challenges on fairways is worm casts. Worms enjoy the moist, fertile soil, and the casts leave the fairways a complete mess, and are no fun to play off of. We cannot legally control the worms, but once we have a sandy profile, the worms tend to stay away. They don’t like the abrasive sand on their skin, so they migrate into the rough. This will take several years of topdressing, but areas where we have that sand canopy, there are no worms.
      The results won’t be immediate, it will take a lot of hard work to get as much sand built up, in a quick amount of time, so you can enjoy the benefits.
      Next time I see you out there, I’ll point out where we’ve had a topdressing program in place, so you see the difference.
      M.

      1. Jay Nelson says:

        Thanks for the updates Mike! You and the team are doing an amazing job. I was out yesterday for the first time and love it. Do you know from a point of play perspective is there a lift clean and place after the top dressing is done? With all the moisture the golf ball attracted a lot of sand!

      2. Mike Manthey says:

        Thanks for the kind words Jay.
        Yes, pick the ball up, clean off an area and place it back down. We got the worst weather we could have gotten with the topdressing. Good news is, the front nine is complete and we’ll have it brushed in by the end of the week (hopefully) Fungers crossed for sun.
        M.

  3. Norm Chervany says:

    Well done … it is vey useful to understand the “what”, “why” and “when” of the work your team has done and continue to do.

    Playing the course for the first time tomorrow … looking forward to it.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thanks Norm. See you out there tomorrow!
      M.

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