Course Notes, 4/21/2020

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Good morning everyone, and I hope that all of you are staying safe during these unprecedented times for our country.  While we all wait on some return to what will define normal going forward, it has been nice to see so many of you enjoying the beauty of spring at Elcona and playing golf.  I hope that Elcona continues to be a safe haven for you and your family to get some sunshine, fresh air, and to get away from all the stressors that grace our lives today.

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Tom Thome meticulously mowing 15 green

During these last few weeks, we have been operating at lower staff levels, like many of you and your businesses have.  While it has been a challenge, it also is an opportunity to assess current operations and find ways to make them more efficient.  One of the capital purchases the club made this year was a newer triplex mower.  These mowers are much improved on lower heights of cut and allow a higher quality of cut than our older unit, allowing us to better mimic the quality of a walk mower.  I also wanted to take a moment to thank Tom Thome for helping out our operation.  Tom has helped mow greens and fairways for the last month, allowing our staff to work on other needed jobs.  He is a pro’s pro, and a tremendous asset to Elcona, and a friend to all of us.  Please thank him the next time you see him for his love for and all he does for Elcona.

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Ducks enjoying 3 pond

The Grounds Department has not been immune to implementing extra safety measures for the well-being of our staff and to you, the member.  The last 15 minutes of each day has always been dedicated to cleaning our shop and surrounds, but extra sanitizing measures of high contact areas have been taken daily.   Along with flipping cups upside down, bunker rakes and trash cans will continue to be absent from the golf course until it is safe to put them out.  The Practice Facility will continue to operate under reduced hours (Tuesday-Sunday, 8am-5pm, weather dependent).  Our staff has been working hard to get the golf course in shape for the 2020 season, and I could not be more proud of them and their efforts.  Please be patient as we work together through these challenging times to get your golf course into peak conditioning.

Mornings like the one pictured at the start of this article are very pretty to stand and admire, and one of the many reasons why I love caring for and enjoying my 319 acre office. However, we have also experienced many frosty mornings, causing delays in the start of your round. I wrote an article explaining why we delay for frost, which you can read here.  The USGA also has a great video explaining frost delays, which you can watch here.

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Hole 18, under April snow cover

These mornings (and those late April days that the highs stay in the 30’s with snow showers, like the scene we saw on 18 pictured above) are also not the best growing conditions for turf here in Northern Indiana. This is the reason why many areas are thinner and lacking typical summer color, like fairways and green surrounds. It is also the main reason why we have not mowed fine playing surfaces as often as the meat of our season. Rolling greens has been a great tool for us to maintain putting surfaces while limiting traffic and wear on the turf. When weather finally returns to a more average Indiana spring, the growth and vigor of the turfgrass will return as well and conditions will improve.

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Solid tine holes, 18 fairway

Aerification has been completed on greens, tees, fairways, and practice facility. This year, given our reduced staff, all areas were solid tined to provide relief against compaction and let fresh oxygen into the rootzone, while saving our staff many hours of clean up.  This coming Monday we will be performing a deep tine aerification on select green and fairway areas, as we do each year at this time with one change.  In the past, a contractor has been paid to do these services.  Thanks to you and the Board of Directors, the club has purchased a deep tine aerifier that will allow us to do these in-house, at our schedule.  It will also allow us to deep tine fairways and other areas that were cost-prohibitive in the past.  Thank you very much and I will be posting more information on this process in my next blog article.

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New Sugar Maple tree, left side of 16

We have also been busy planting trees in accordance with our tree maintenance plan, as well as some that were donated by members.  We continue to look for areas to move the many trees we have in our tree nursery before they become too big to move.  The new sugar maple on 16 pictured above takes the place of several White Pine trees that were severely damaged by a few ice storms and had become unsightly.  Most of the surrounding area will become grass and improve the playability of this area in due time.

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New butterfly garden footprint, 13 green/14 tee

Finally, a few of you have asked what we are doing at the corner of 13 green and 14 tee.  This area has been prone to standing water and barren since the removal of many blue spruce trees a few years ago.  Thanks to the contributions of a few members and the keen design eye of Greg Stump, we are installing a butterfly garden that will instantly add much needed color and visual appeal to this area.  I will post its progress in my next blog article as well.

Thank you again for your understanding as we work as best we can on getting the golf course up to prime conditioning.  If you have any questions, please reach out to me at ryan@elconacc.com.  Please stay safe and continue to come out and support your club.  I look forward to seeing you all soon out on the golf course!

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Ryan