May Newsletter


Well, it took a little longer than normal, but we finally opened for the season on May 11th.  I would say the weather was pretty darn good for opening weekend (I am sure the fisherman enjoyed it as well).  Had a little bit of frost the first two days but was pretty nice for early May.  Looking back based on my own memories, opening weekends haven’t always been greatest.   Looking ahead, the extended forecast looks pretty good with some possible rain a couple days but temperatures staying pretty comfortable so if making your way up north, stop in for a round or bite to eat.  It’s ok to get some fishing in as well!

The biggest question we get at the start of every season is how well did the golf course survive the winter.  Of course that is a subjective question as each person has their own idea of how a golf course should be at the beginning of the year.  No matter what we do to prepare the course for winter, and we do take multiple steps, Mother Nature is the ultimate decision maker on how well the course fairs.  As we all know winters in northern Minnesota aren’t always the friendliest.  You prepare the best as you can, roll the dice and patiently wait.   
Vince, our Superintendent, has done a nice job explaining how we wintered this year and what actions he has taken to get us into shape.  I am very confident the course will grow through is inconvenience and get into the shape that you expect at The Wilderness.  Don’t be scared of those pictures.  The course is still very much playable and continues to get better every day.
Check out these upcoming events:
Ladies Golf Day – Monday, June 4th: 9 am shotgun start
Demo Day with Cobra, Callaway & Srixon/Cleveland – Friday, June 8th:  2 pm-6 pm
9 & Stein Event Thursday, June 14th: 5:30 pm shotgun start
For more information on the above events or to sign up call the golf shop at 218-753-8917!
Happy Golfing and hope to see you at The Wilderness soon!

Ryan T. Peterson
PGA Golf Professional


I always wondered when we would get challenged by a nasty dose of winterkill on the golf course.  We never really have had it before on a widespread basis.  I had a funny feeling around the end of March that this might be the year when the winter, which started a month early, showed no signs of breaking.  I was aware that we had some ice sheets underneath the abundant snowfall that formed in the beginning of December.  Not the first time for sure but normally our bentgrass surfaces will tolerate ice cover for 120 days or more.  This year the time under ice was closer to 160 days.  When we finally did pull covers on April 25 (close to a month later than usual), we found the following:

7 Green 4-25-2018

Seven was the worst of the group though several other greens took a beating.  Cannot say that I was really surprised-in fact, in March I had picked up some specialized equipment for overseeding just this kind of damage.  They are called Job Saver tines.  The name is apt because they probably have saved many Superintendents’ jobs over the years.  These units allow us to overseed putting greens with minimal surface disruption.

The procedure for recovery on putting greens is/was as follows:

  • Fertilize with an ammonium sulfate fertilizer (performs better in cool temperatures) on April 30.  We did this before we had irrigation available as both the ground and our irrigation lake were still frozen.  We timed this around forecast rainfall.  A little risky but a risk worth taking-we had to get greens charging for a quicker recovery.
  • Run over damaged greens with Job Saver tines.  Done on May 7.
  • Overseed damaged greens with bentgrass seed from a drop seeder.  We chose to introduce a bentgrass variety at this time on some greens that should be better suited for our growing environment.  Done on May 7.
  • Topdress greens with sand and drag in.  Done on May 7
  • Roll greens thoroughly.  Done on May 7.
  • Apply a wetting agent to greens to help retain moisture to assist in seedling germination.  Done on May 8.
  • Apply a turf pigment to darken the putting surface to better collect heat from the sun and thus help in raising soil temperatures.  Done on May 10.
  • Apply a starter fertilizer.  Plan to do on May 14.
  • Fertilize during the month of May and June on a weekly basis with a water soluble fertilizer mix that is applied through a sprayer.  These rates are much lighter than a granular fertilizer but are readily available to the plant.
  • Irrigate as needed to keep seedlings alive.
  • Touch up areas with more seed as needed.

Needless to say, we will be fertilizing greens more than we usually do during this time of the year.  Normally I do not like to drive excessive growth as this creates thatch.  Thatch makes us have to aerify more.  Aerifying makes people angry.  I do not like to make people angry but in this case we will have no choice.  I predict that after this process we will likely have to core aerify greens in spring of 2019.  Another symptom of this recovery process is that greens will likely be running slower than usual for the early part of the year.  No way around it but as we proceed through the recovery, we will back off on our fertility program and get greens dialed in to where they need to be.  My thoughts are that we should be getting close to normal right around June 20 or so but it really is hard to say-so much depends on the weather-particularly temperatures.

Fairways were also damaged somewhat by the glacial conditions this past winter.  Some fairways, such as four, came through unscathed.  Others, like 11, looked like this today:

11 Fairway May 11, 2018

As on greens, ice developed in low areas on fairways and killed grass.  Much of this damage will recover with warmer temperatures.  The procedure here is to wait for consistent growth to resume on fairways and observe.  Once we determine a surface is truly dead and it becomes firm enough to work on, we will then drive growth with seed/fertilizer as needed to facilitate recovery.  Pretty fun stuff. 

One thing that I got a kick out of during this process is the effect that the pigments have on the appearance of some putting greens:


                                                                                   10 green 5-11-2018                    5 green 5-11-2018

The difference is really remarkable.  I left the 10th green alone in this process because I wanted to have a non-treated control area to determine whether the use of the pigment does indeed assist in the recovery process.  Useful knowledge for the future.  From a visual standpoint, there really is quite a difference.  I mentioned to my wife yesterday that I applied pigments to turf yesterday and the only thing she said was that I was a cheater.  Cheating or not, I kind of think that it looks pretty cool and seems to mask some of the damage and hopefully will continue to do so until we grow out of this.

No doubt about it-winterkill sucks.  The one thing I am enjoying, though, is that this kind of challenge brings out the best-or worst-in the ability of a superintendent to do their job.  Kind of like a grow-in with golfers around. 

On an unrelated note, my Dad passed away on May 4 and I would be remiss to not share the best picture in this article. 

Gordon Dodge USMC circa 1953

I pretty much talked to him every day and helped him to get a nice cushy golf course job mowing intermediate rough down in Chicago.  That man had the strongest work ethic I have ever been around and made everyone around him better with his generosity and sense of humor.  Even now I can imagine him looking at the golf course right now and saying, “What the hell is going on out there!”

I am going to miss him greatly.

Thank you all in advance for your patience and I hope to see you on the golf course.

See you soon.
Vince Dodge


The last newsletter I wrote, I was sitting here watching the snow fall!  Today I am sitting here looking out my window and I see Vince Dodge, our Course Superintendent attending to our Number 10 Fairway, it is green and the sun is shining!

If you have not done so, please check out our 2018 Menu at  I am sure you are going to enjoy it!  We had 2 nights of server training, and we were able to sample most of the items on this year’s menu…….YUMMY!  Executive Chef Doug and his team did an amazing job.  Yes, I already have some, no - several favorites!   I would tell you my favorite appetizer, but there are too many…Smoked Walleye Artichoke Dip,  Bacon Wrapped Shrimp (the Dijon Dipping Sauce is crazy good), our Hand Dipped Onion Rings, the Carne Asada Quesadilla….you are just going to have to stop and try them all and let us know your favorite!  After your morning round of golf, or before you tee it up in the afternoon stop in for lunch and try one of our tasty sandwiches or burgers, the Wilderness Club, our Wilderness Chicken Sandwich with a 2 Gingers Sauce, and our House Roasted Porchetta Sandwich or the Black and Bleu Burger.  I would bet we could find a tap beer or a cocktail that would pair well with your choice.  For dinner, House Smoked Ribs, Venison Meatloaf or one of our pastas, Shrimp Linguini or Butternut Squash Ravioli are sure to satiate any appetite. 

Night on the Patio is set for the season.  Our first night is June 6th.  Our feature will be Smoked Brisket, Mac and Cheese and Calico Beans.  Come early if you would like to be seated on the patio.  We are not taking reservations for patio seating, but you can always make reservations for inside. 

All of us here, at The Wilderness, will keep our True Service standards front and center in everything we do to make your experience here one that you will remember. 

I look forward to seeing everyone.  

Darlene Simonson 


The last month has just flown by! It always amazes me how fast winter can turn to spring in Minnesota. We have been busy developing menus, tweaking recipes and training staff for the 2018 season.  We hope you are all as excited about this year as we are. I really feel we have a great team in place and are looking forward to sharing our talents with all our guests.

Our menus are now available on our website! In addition to our menus, we will feature: daily specials, house made soups and special culinary events. Join us June 6th for our first installment of Night on the Patio with live music. Clarence, our resident pit master, will be pairing Smoked Brisket with a 4 Cheese Burnt Ends Mac and Cheese and Calico Beans. Pat Surface will be our featured performer for the evening.

After dinner, be sure to try one of our featured desserts. Our Bananas Mazatlán is a scoop of deep fried Mexican ice cream served atop a crisp Belgium Waffle with Kahlua flamed bananas in a caramel sauce.

It has been a pleasure meeting many of you over the past month and I look forward to meeting more.

Doug Sperry

May newsletter