Between the Trees Blog

December 2011

With the cold winter temperatures, work on the golf course has moved inside to the area of golf course equipment maintenance and facility cleaning and organization. The hectic summer months leave little time to implement changes in our maintenance facility but the winter season gives us time to evaluate our operation and determine where changes are necessary. This season we have focused on our mechanic’s maintenance area-we are finding ways to maximize our utilization of limited space and create a much more effective way of organizing our parts inventory. This will lead to greater efficiency once we get going in the spring.

For your reading pleasure this month, I have attached an article by the Golf Course Superintendents’ Association of America about the many positive things that golf courses offer to the environment. Golf courses take some heat with the press as being water wasting environmental polluters-something that is simply untrue when one stops to consider the facts. As with any other sensitive issue these days, we all must be careful to not let emotions cloud the reality. Have a happy and safe holiday season.


Golf courses and the environment

The use of pesticides, the impact on water and soil quality, and irrigation water usage are often cited as public concerns about the golf industry. GCSAA is leading the golf community in working to correct public misconceptions through a comprehensive effort combining research, education and communication. These inaccuracies, if not corrected, could pose a serious threat to the vitality and integrity of the game of golf.

Sound environmental practices are implemented on golf courses.

  • University and government studies indicate that, when properly applied, pesticides and fertilizers do not leach into groundwater in any appreciable amounts.
  • Modern turfgrass management practices greatly reduce the potential for leaching or runoff into water supplies.
  • Pesticides and fertilizers are used only on certain portions of the golf course. The rest of the property often consists of natural areas not maintained with turf care products. These areas can provide a home for wildlife and include a diverse variety of native plants and trees.
  • Golf course superintendents are among the best-educated and most conscientious users of chemical management tools. Today, most superintendents have two- or four-year university degrees in agronomy, horticulture or other related fields.
  • Many superintendents enter the profession because of a love of nature and the outdoors, and are strongly committed to conservation. A recent survey shows superintendents give extremely high priority to maintenance practices that do not have a negative impact on the environment.
  • Most golf courses compost grass clippings and leaves, which reduces the amount of waste in landfills. Composting is a growing and recommended practice for golf course operations.

Turf-related benefits of golf courses

The water used on golf courses can be an excellent investment in both economic and environmental terms. Irrigated golf courses generate millions of tourist and property tax dollars for state economies. Many courses now use recycled water as part of their irrigation practices.

When effectively irrigated, healthy turf provides numerous environmental benefits. Properly maintained turfgrass:

  • Produces oxygen (carbon dioxide exchange) and cools the atmosphere
  • Prevents soil erosion
  • Filters natural and synthetic contaminants from rainfall and irrigation
  • Recharges critical groundwater supplies
  • Provides crucial "greenspace" in urban settings

As a result of computerized irrigation systems and improved turfgrass varieties, courses can now use less water more efficiently to achieve the same level of conditioning. Continuing research will provide even more low-water turfgrass varieties in the future.

Ecological and community benefits of golf courses

In addition to turf-related benefits, courses provide other important ecological and community assets. Golf courses are:

  • Key sanctuaries for birds and other wildlife
  • Disposal and treatment sites for (effluent) wastewater
  • Attractive and environmentally sound "covers" for closed landfills and other ecologically damaged sites
  • Recreational places for nongolf activities, such as jogging, walking and bird-watching
  • Businesses that provide hundreds of thousands of skilled and semi-skilled jobs
  • Places for social interaction and community events
  • Civic benefactors that give major contributions to charities
  • Community improvements that add value to land, thus increasing local tax bases
  • Wetlands preservation areas

Moving ahead

On golf's behalf, GCSAA has built strong and cooperative relationships with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other major regulatory groups. Through governmental affairs, professional education and public information, the association strives to make environmental responsibility a basic precept for its members.

The golf community has the willingness, the resources and the motivation to address the environmental issues that exist on the golf courses of today. It is hoped that through these efforts golf will be perceived as a model environmental industry for the future.


November 2011

The first snows of the season appear to be on the way and with them a slow down in much of the work being performed outside. We are very pleased with the amount of work performed this fall. Everything is properly prepared for the long winter-all winter chemical applications are done and covers are in place. In addition to routine winter preparations, we have performed numerous projects in the past month. These projects included:

  • Drainage work on 8 and 9 fairway. These holes are often some of the softest parts of the golf course after rain events. The addition of about 750 linear feet of drainage tile should help improve the playability of these holes.
  • Repair bridge on 9-should be a much smoother ride now.
  • New chipping area by practice green that will better mirror what we have on the golf course.
  • New tees on 3 and 7. Rough grading is complete. The next step is to let the new tees settle over the winter and spring and then perform the finish grading and grassing in the spring. The tee on 7 will likely be open sometime in June.       The tee on 3 will hopefully open sometime in August.
  • Replace broken curbs on 10 tee and 12 tee.

We are confident that these improvements will provide a better experience for everyone in years to come. Hope to see you in 2012.

September 2011

This summer seems to be hanging on this year and I for one am not complaining. I truly enjoy when we have warm and dry summers like this one has been. While it does mean more work for us on golf course in the form of hand watering it also means that the good working conditions allow us to more handily perform our more disruptive maintenance operations. Many of you may have noted that over the past few weeks we have been performing aerification and topdressing functions on fairways and approaches. As of today all fairways are done with the exception of number eleven which we hope to complete tomorrow morning weather permitting. Performing this operation ensures better conditions for years to come and helps to alleviate the compaction from excessive traffic that this year has seen. Seems like this golf course is always busy and that is a good thing.

I truly appreciated the feedback received from last month’s newsletter-and have noted how it seems as though our players are doing a better job of taking care of the golf course-at least on fairways. That being said, I do have a picture from the 7th tee after a Saturday of golf in August. As I see it, it looks like about 25% or less of players actually used the seed boxes located next to the tee markers. The box was full of unused seed mix.

Vince 81

Respecting the golf course is everyone’s responsibility and seeing improvement in this area has been very encouraging but can be improved. I would like to say thank you to everyone for their efforts to date and hope that we can continue to improve.

Our closing date is scheduled for October 9th. Many may think why we close so soon compared to other places in the area. The reason for this is that our winter preparations are as follows:

  • Deep tine aerify all greens-we use solid tines that go down 10 inches.       This helps to alleviate compaction on putting greens. We will roll greens after this process to firm them up.
  • We also plan on rebuilding some of the damaged curbs on the golf course as well as repairing the cart path adjacent to the bridge on 9.
  • Spray greens and approaches with a preventative application for snow mold diseases.
  • Begin to topdress with sand and then cover greens. We cover all putting greens at the Wilderness with a permeable cover that we have found to be beneficial-especially in years with little snow cover. It is a kind of insurance policy for a dry winter season.
  • Begin preventative applications for snow mold on tees and fairways.       This process takes about a week.       At this time we will also add a thick layer of sand i.e. topdress our tees.
  • Begin to perform drainage work throughout the golf course. The focus this fall will be on 2, 8, and 9.       This work can be very disruptive to play and so is best left for after we close.
  • Install the hundreds of yards of snow fence to protect the golf course from snowmobile traffic.
  • Winterize golf course buildings on 5 and 14.
  • Perform final course cleanup-ensuring all drainage basins are clear so that drainage in the spring functions properly.
  • Brush clearing on 8, 11, and 15 to facilitate better visibility for the player.

All of this is in addition to all the other work involved with closing a golf course such as bringing in all accessories and equipment. We will work until there is too much snow on the ground to continue or the temperatures become too cold to be effective. Typically, we are busy outside until November 10th.

On a final note, on August 19th Anita Lynn was voted by her peers as the employee of the month for August. We all appreciate her willingness to work extra to make the golf course the best that it can be. Congratulations Anita.

Vince 82

Anita Lynn

See you on the golf course,

Vincent Dodge

August 2011

Fall is fast approaching and first and foremost we would like to thank all of you who have taken the time to play at our facility this summer. Looking back at the season so far, I am very pleased with how the golf course has performed during these summer months. Rainfall amounts on the golf course have been minimal-we are the only part of the state that has been spared the excessive rainfall that has plagued much of Minnesota. This has been a good thing for the golf course and its playability-contrary to what many think most superintendents would take drought-like conditions over excessively wet ones. While dry conditions can require more work, attention, and skill to keep turf alive, having this kind of control over the golf course’s playability is something that we value.

Starting the week of August 22, we will begin the methodical process of aerifying our fairways. This is not a cause for alarm as we only do one fairway at a time and have the areas cleaned up and playable by the time our players arrive. We perform this work both first thing in the morning and in evenings to avoid disturbing our customers. This process has worked very well in the past and I am confident that we will be able to perform this necessary process without any effect on how the golf course plays.

On a final note, I would like to thank those golfers who take the time to replace their divots and utilize the sand mix on the carts. Sadly, while we were seeding divots on 5 fairway last week we must have removed over 70 perfectly usable divots that were never replaced. Not only do the divots lying on the ground interfere with the playability of the golf course for other players but if they had been replaced promptly they would have had a chance to knit themselves in and result in a better playing surface for everyone. Remember that golf is a game of courtesy and that by respecting the golf course you are respecting those around you as well. Having worked on the golf course now for over 27 years, I have noticed that this part of golf etiquette-along with repairing ballmarks-has been lost somewhere along the way for many players.

Hope to see you out there.

June 2011



Things are finally settling down after the hectic work that goes with spring. The month of May and the first half of June were drier than usual which led to very good playing conditions even if it does put a little more strain on our staff. A common misconception by many is that rain is what makes a golf course the best it can be. This may be true with golf courses with little to no irrigation system but for us dry conditions are ideal. Control over the playability of the golf course is much more possible when rain does not interfere with our plans. While an occasional rain event might be helpful in relieving stress, I would very much prefer dry conditions over wet conditions any day. Most superintendents would say the same thing. At the moment we are dealing with some heavy rains on the golf course but I am confident that the golf course will be able to soak up most of this excessive water considering how dry we have been keeping the golf course in the month leading up to these rains.

Moving on to the staff, I would like to offer a sincere thank you to the entire group that we have working on the crew this season. Nothing is possible without them and I often think that they are overlooked by our players because they are less visible than the outside service and pro shop staff. This is by design since we know that most players do not want to be disturbed during their round and so we try to complete most of our work before the golfers even arrive. That being said, I hope that our players understand and appreciate the amount of work that goes into making a golf course enjoyable.

This month’s winner of the employee peer evaluation was Lorna Winger-a golf course veteran who has been working with us close to eight years. Lorna continues to be a steadying influence for both experienced and new staff members and it is great to see how much her efforts are appreciated by her peers.

Vince 46

Lorna Winger 6-22-2011

On a final note, I would like to include a picture of something we often see in the summer months-turf damage from insect repellent. In the picture you can see where the golfer’s footprints were as they sprayed their legs with bug spray. The material that hit the turf resulted in a burning of the turf. As a consideration for other players it would be much appreciated if we took the time to spray ourselves on a cart path instead of turf to avoid this problem in the future.

Vince 47

Footprints on Putting Green 2011

Caused by insect repellent

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