It’s tough to look at a golf season in the rearview mirror and not talk a little about the weather. We had some major swings throughout the year. The, spring was wet, especially on the weekends. The summer was dry with only 1.5” of rain from July 4th through the end of August. Then we ended the season with a short, cool fall.
2018 seemed to be the year of drainage. We installed approximately 150 yards of drain tile at the bottom of 6 fairway, allowing us to significantly reduce ropes after a rain. Another area we had good success with is the left of 1 green. This area had many embedded balls after a rain event. This season we will continue to other areas that drain poorly. Fourteen and 18 fairways will be high priority on our list.
During this past season we also healed from our bentgrass removal from our fairways. It was a great undertaking that will pay dividends in the future. Removing the heavy thatch producer will allow the fairways to play more uniform and provide us a healthy longevity. The playability of the golf course is our upmost priority and need to have great plant health to accomplish that.
With the rollercoaster weather we have received this winter many golfers have been asking how this may be impacting the golf course. It isn’t a secret that ice is one of the archenemies of northern climate golf course superintendents and the rainstorm we received on December 27th gave us just that. Much of the golf course was covered in sheets of ice, especially low areas. It was apparent with our “guess the opening day” Facebook post, most didn’t expect this sudden warm up. As I write this, all of the greens are exposed as well as the vast majority of the golf course and everything looks great! I think I can speak for the majority of the golf courses who had ice from the rainstorm and everyone would be glad we didn’t have the cold spring we had last year with the April blizzard.
2018 Pioneer Creek Collegiate
This past year was the first year of the Pioneer Creek Collegiate. Formerly the Gopher Individual, the University of St. Thomas wanted to co-host with the University of Minnesota more than doubling the field. It proved to be a great event for everyone that showcased great golf. The tournament featured Oklahoma’s Patrick Welch who was a member of the 2016 Junior Ryder Cup team as well as Quade Cummins who went on to win the Marathon Sun Bowl All-America Classic. It was Michigan State’s Devin Deogun who shot a final round 67 and birdied 3 of the last 4 holes to win by 3. Also, congratulations to the Tommies who edged Gustavus by 2 shot to win the team title. We would like to thank Gopher Coaches John Carlson and Justin Smith and Tommies Coach Scott Proshek for organizing a great field.
Dave Axland and Rodney Cole Consulting
We are honored to announce the partnership with the distinguished architects. Dave and Rodney have been out to the golf course many times. While there aren’t any large-scale projects in the immediate future, we are utilizing their guidance to ensure that as the golf course matures and ages it is doing so in a fashion conducive to the best golf possible. In the upcoming season, you will see us continue to experiment with mow lines.
In the coming year we are also going to experiment with the length of the 9th hole. It is almost unanimous that 9 is our most challenging hole. Players have the opportunity to cross the creek in two shots have a much more enjoyable experience than those who are forced to “lay-up”. If we can move the tees forward, to get players who are currently landing in the red area (on the diagram) to advance the ball to the black area, then they should be able to navigate the creek and the remaining portion of the hole more effectively. We are going to begin the year with the Gold tees up with the Red tees and the White tees on the Gold tee box. The Black and Blue tees will remain the same. We look forward to hearing your feedback!
We are in the early stages of discussions with Pheasants Forever to convert some areas on the golf course into pheasant and pollinator habitat. We have mapped out areas on the property, approximately 20 acres well out of play or out of bounds, which could be more productive for wildlife. Currently the protocol is to treat these areas with herbicide for weeds. By implementing a blend of CRP grasses and wildflowers we will effectively eliminate the need for this while providing pheasants and pollinators with exactly what they need. It would be a win-win for the golf course and a wide variety of wildlife.