Tuesday, August 18, 2009

PGA at Hazeltine

My family and friends all find it quite amusing to watch the PGA on television with me. As they sit back and enjoy the best golfers in the world I sit back and marvel at the wonderful conditions of most tour courses.

"Did you see that shot?" they ask me.
My answer is usually "no, but did you see how straight those lines on the fairway are?".

That's what nearly 20 years in the golf course maintenance industry will do to you.

Hazeltine was in great condition (as usual) but what I really appreciated the care taken to protect the water bodies on the golf course. When I say this to people they say "the grass has been cut right down to the water, just like you say is bad for the ponds." If you thought to take a close look at the pond banks you could see that the turf on the banks was being cut at about 3". It has been proven that turf cut at 3" is capable of preventing runoff carrying contaminants from entering into water bodies.

I applaud Hazeltine Superintendent Jim Nichol for providing a course with a wall to wall maintenance type look but with the care to protect the water features from environmental damage.

Superintendents and golf course managers who are faced with a membership who wants Augusta type maintenance from pond edge to forest should consider raising mowing heights around ponds to 3". The look is there without harming natural habitats provided by water features.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Congratulations go out to Superintendent Jim Dafoe and Assistant Superintendent Rod Siddons of Fairwinds Golf Club located in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island for attaining full certification in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses.

Attaining full certification means that Fairwinds is recognized as an Audubon Sanctuary. In order to gain Audubon Sanctuary status a golf course must demonstrate environmental accountability in 6 different categories: Site Assessment and Environmental Planning, Wildlife and Habitat Management, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, Water QualityManagement and Outreach and Education.

Becoming fully certified is a difficult task reserved for those who are truly demonstrating environmental responsibility.

Fairwinds Golf Club becomes only the 8th golf course in BC to attain Audubon Sanctuary status. The other 7 are: Chateau Whistler Golf Club, Point Grey Golf and Country Club, Fraserview Golf Course, Capilano Golf and Country Club, McLeery Golf Course, Langara Golf Course and Cordova Bay Golf Club.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Water Woes

I don't know about the rest of you but I am getting tired of the oppressive heat that we have been having on the Island. It seems as though it has cooled off now but not until we have suffered through a few weeks of temperatures in the 30's.

I can tell by the condition of the golf courses I drive past or visit on my travels that Superintendents must be getting tired of the heat as well. With irrigation ponds reaching lows that don't usually come until the end of August it is difficult to keep turf alive, much less green.

If this is going to be the way summers are to be from now on, golfers are going to have to get used to the fact that golf courses are going to have a fair amount of brown in them for much of the golf season. I don't think this is a bad thing, in fact it is probably a good reminder that golf can be played on any type or colour of turf.

In reality, what we used to see near the end of summer was home lawns and parks looking terribly parched while the golf courses were remarkably green. Those days are behind us now as Superintendents have learned to deal with less and less water and hotter, drier summers. The only solution really is to let out-of-play areas and rough dry out and turn brown. The turf is not dead, it's sleeping (dormant).

Golfers, be thankful that you have a superintendent who is wise enough and cares enough about the environment to swallow his pride and risk criticism by letting his (her) golf course look less than spectacular. This is a very difficult time of year for Superintendents and they should be commended for the long hours they have put in, so golfers can enjoy the sunshine and the game they love.