Happy New Year to each and everyone!
The golf course is quiet and peaceful this time of year, with exception to the 12 deer that we have observed in our walks and drives. Bowser and I walk the property many occasions to check turf (and the new bunkers this year) and I am happy to say all turf is doing well. There is a fair amount of porous ice on playing surfaces, but nothing that concerns me at this point in time. Seeing all the new bunkers gets me quite excited for the 2021 season, as I am sure all of you are as well. In the meantime, below is a video I created from the best pictures and videos I captured in 2020. Elcona is such a wonderful canvas to capture, I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed compiling it.
This winter so far has been about the same as 2020, weather wise. Warmer and drier than normal, with one large icy exception on New Year’s Day. As you can imagine, clean up from this has taken the majority of our time in the past 2 weeks, but if you look at it from a positive angle, we have gained about 4 loads of mulch that I was not expecting to have, and we will utilize it later this spring in beds on the course that could use freshening up.
Along with this clean up, our annual tree maintenance and removal has been going at full steam the last 2 weeks. Each fall, the Golf/Greens Committee, Tom Thome, and myself review trees that are considered safety hazards to members, impede proper playability of the golf course, detract from the natural beauty of the course, or impede proper turf growing conditions. The GG Committee then approves these trees for our staff to remove. Above are some pictures of this week’s work, where we removed two additional Sugar Maple trees between 10 and 18. One of these maple trees was hit by lightning a couple years ago, while the other had a severe ant infestation. Both were becoming severely rotten, had much falling debris, and were a safety hazard to anyone close to them on a windy day. In their place, 4 maple trees will be planted in a line between 10 and 18, one of which was planted in November.
While each year we remove a fair amount of trees as part of our annual tree maintenance, we plant our fair share too, in the right places. We were fortunate to have forward thinking staff members years ago plant a significant tree nursery north of the short game area. Many of these trees have been transplanted on the course over the years, and in 2021 we will be transplanting 15 additional maples onto the golf course from this nursery. Unfortunately most of them are too big for our digger, so Dogwood Hills will be visiting Elcona to perform this work. Their spade can move 7″ diameter trees, which these maples have grown to be.
The staff and I also have much work over the winter to do inside to prepare for the 2021 season. All equipment is serviced, blades are sharpened, plaques and signs are cleaned and painted, and the shop is deep cleaned for our benefit. Our equipment manager, Steve Ott, is doing his usual magic on our large fleet and we are quite fortunate to have him at Elcona, as he is beginning his 43rd year of service here.
We also have welcomed Austin Dance to the Elcona team, as a new assistant superintendent. Austin and his wife are South Bend natives, and Austin graduated from Purdue with a degree in Turf Science. He has worked previously at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland. We are quite happy to have Austin on our team and he is excited to be here too. When you see Austin out on the course this spring, please say hi and welcome him. Along with our other assistant Adam Morr, our team continues to grow and learn together.
Finally, in cleaning out some older items from the shop, we came across many of the older wooden informational signs that were on property years ago, and they are pictured above. Since we do not have any use for them any longer, I would like to offer them to anyone interested in one or multiple, free of charge. Most need some paint and TLC but they are in rather good shape for anyone’s Man Cave or She Shed. They will be available first come, first serve, so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with which signs you would like.
I hope everyone has a great, and safe January. Lots of exciting things happening at your club this winter, all in preparation for an AWESOME 2021 season of golf, food, and fellowship! As always, if you have course questions, please let me know at email@example.com.