Thursday, June 14, 2018

Property/Forest Management

I have had several conversations of interest in regards to a Property/Forest Management plan we are going to undertake here at the club.  Below is a summary of that plan and our goals going into it.  I want to make it clear that we do not hate trees, trees are a part of our environment; when trees are selected properly, managed properly and are growing in the correct location they indeed enhance the MGC property.  92 years of golf with very limited/poor tree management put MGC in this situation and the time is now to take corrective action.  The easy thing to do is ignore it and do nothing..... but I've never been known to go in that direction.  

Property/Forest Management

Property management of the MGC grounds has primarily been limited to the turfgrass surfaces; but the 350 acres owned by the club includes many wooded areas that can not be ignored.  We have been removing 20-60 trees a year in-house that have fallen from weather, suffered perimeter exposure dieback or have fallen victim to disease/insect issues; our effort are lagging behind the pace that needs to occur.  Twelve years ago the grounds department started the evaluation process of the wooded acreage and the need for Forest management was identified.  Years of discussion and brainstorming brings us to our current situation where forest management must happen. 

The goals of our forest management plan are simple:
1)      Reclaim the vistas, shot values and options lost on several holes from excessive tree growth plus remove trees that were planted in poor locations. 
2)      Long range plan of creating a better/stronger/attractive internal/perimeter forest.  Remove first growth trees (birch, poplar) plus diseased/damaged trees all with limited value.  Select cut other tree species to create room for horizontal growth on the trees left behind. 

These goals obviously can not be accomplished in-house and must be out sourced to professionals.  We formed a relationship with Holli Forest Products to accomplish these goals.  Five field meetings with their foresters and several table meetings has created a mutual understanding of our forest goals here at the Marquette Golf Club.  They have a clear understanding of our terrain and the sensitive nature of this property; the comfort level on both sides is good.

The outlined work will have the following property protective guidelines:
1)      The work will take place in the winter months so there is no disruption to the golf season and surface impacts are minimal. 
2)      Temporary roads will be clearly marked out in the fall prior to snowfall and all fairway crossings will be crane matted. 
3)      Roads will be rubber plowed in early winter so the ground can freeze to handle traffic.
4)      Brush and Slash will be chipped where feasible so the areas (especially the visible edges) are not littered with branches

The work will be divided into 2 phases.  Phase 1 will take place the winter of 2018/2019 and phase 2 will take place the winter of 2019/2020. 

Phase 1:
-Gully on the Heritage (Holes 5/6/7) – clearing the gully will restore all shot options off the teeing surfaces, open up lost vistas and eliminate the dangers that the trees growing in that gully currently possess. *All hand cutting and cable work*
-Removal of the many dead and diseased spruce trees on the Heritage (North side of Grove) These trees are all in major decline: a factor of age plus Needlecast/tip blight/canker diseases and Spruce Gall adelgids insect damage has left them dead or on the verge of death.  
-Select cut the SE wooded corner of the property behind the Greywalls Maintenance shop and number 12 green and extend into the back 9 internal wooded pockets if time allows. 
-Clear cut an area North of 18 green Greywalls to open up a location for a turf nursery that could double as a large putting green. 
-Select cut the wooded area to the right of number 1 fairway Greywalls

Phase 2:
-Select cut the largest wooded area on property located between the two golf courses extending into the internal wooded pockets on the Greywalls front 9 and down the back nine on the Heritage course.  *Extra care must be taken around the Orianna, cart barns and our pond fill line for the Heritage course. 

Both Phases are estimated to take several weeks to complete and we will see some pay back for the lumber.  The extra work involved in this project (because of our sensitive site and required chipping) cuts into our profits but must take place; protecting and enhancing the golf courses is the priority during the project.  Staff will be on site during the lumber process to make sure our objectives are met.  We will have cleanup and stump grinding to complete in-house after snowmelt; some degree of turf damage isolated to the rough will be expected. 

Spring into Summer

Spring was very late to arrive as we had snow cover for 180 plus days in many locations.  Both golf courses handled the winter well with the exception of the teeing surfaces on Greywalls.  We had significant snowmold damage on those surfaces but we were able to enhance recovery quickly.  Vertical mowing, fertilization and an additional fungicide application gave the tees what they needed to recover in only two short weeks.

Tees like this are now looking mid-season form.  

Irrigation systems were put back together and pressurized for the season.  We had 3 pipe failures on Greywalls from frost heave and 6 broken head on the Heritage course.  

Quick coupler on Greywalls #5 green releasing air/water as we fill the lines.  

A main line pipe failure discovered on the Heritage course.  The cause is a tent stake from an outing we hosted last season.  A clamp is on order to make the repair..... never wise to cut asbestos pipes if you don’t have to.

The new bathrooms on Greywalls and the clubhouse deck were given a fresh coat of stain/sealer to extend the life of the wood and enhance the look of the structures.  

Irrigation audits are in place to check the performance of the irrigation heads.  

We are now into our summer grooming season.  Putting surface management is our top priority as we complete vertical mowing and sand Topdressing every 3-weeks to keep the surfaces smooth and true.  

Sand Topdressing on Greywalls before a spike unit is run over the surface and we drag the sand into the canopy.  

After we drag the sand into the canopy new cups are cut and brush reels are run over the  turf to collect any large sand particles.  

Sand on the Heritage greens awaiting further work.  

7 green on the Heritage course with perfect sand coverage.

Mowing schedules, proper course inputs  and performing regular cultural practices will keep our surfaces in fantastic condition now and into the future.

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