Mining Consistency

Texas superintendent maintains two distinctly different landscapes while remaining consistent

The Quarry Golf Club At-A-Glance

Year Opened: 1993
Superintendent: Bruce Burger, CGCS
Number of Holes: 18
Turf: Tifdwarf on the greens, Tifway 419 on the fairways, Tifgreen 328 on the tees and Cheyenne in the roughs
Equipment: Jacobsen Greens King IV riding greens mowers (5), Jacobsen Tri-King small area reel mowers (2), Jacobsen LF570 fairway mowers (2), Jacobsen Verticut 214 (1)
Superintendent Bruce Burger, CGCA of The Quarry Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas

Superintendent Bruce Burger, CGCS of The Quarry Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas

When you visit The Quarry Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas, you almost feel as though you’re visiting two golf courses in one. After finishing the first nine links-style holes, players eagerly make their way through a tunnel, and once on the other side, are immediately faced with a dramatic, 100-year-old 84-acre limestone quarry.

“Building a golf course on a quarry is not an entirely new concept,” said Superintendent Bruce Burger, CGCS. “Since there are not many options for building on old quarries, constructing a golf course is a great industrial reclamation project.”

Geology to Geography

Burger has held his role at The Quarry since the course opened in 1993. After working all through high school and college at a country club, Burger graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Stephen F. Austin State University with every intention of becoming a petroleum geologist. When the job market declined shortly before his graduation, Burger simply just kept doing what he had loved since high school and his new career path began to form in front of him.

After completing the first nine holes, players make their way through a tunnel and are faced with an expansive, 84-acre limestone quarry.

After completing the first nine holes, players make their way through a tunnel and are faced with an expansive, 84-acre limestone quarry.

The fact that half of the course is built on a quarry is a huge draw for players. “Many people will get to the 8th and 9th hole and start getting very anxious to move on and see what’s on the other side of the tunnel,” said Burger. “It’s a very impressive sight, especially the first time you see it.”

One significant benefit of having nine holes built on a quarry is that since the back nine irrigation lines were cut into solid rock, the chances of a leak are very slim. Burger said, “Only about 5% of our irrigation breaks happen in the back nine. This would be much more frequent if all 18 holes were cut into clay like the front nine.”

Burger’s crew is made up of eleven people including eight operators, an irrigation tech, a mechanic and an assistant. He said, “I have a very efficient crew and together we are able to get the job done.”

The Quarry is a daily fee course open 363 days per year, only closing on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. With 40,000 rounds total, 10,000 of which are tournament rounds, Burger’s crew certainly has their work cut out for them.

Hole 12 at The Quarry, shown above, is named "Alcatraz" due to the water that will surround the green after a heavy rainfall. Ironically, Hole 13 is named "Escape from Alcatraz."

Hole 12 at The Quarry, shown above, is named “Alcatraz” due to the water that will surround the green after a heavy rainfall. Appropriately, Hole 13 is named “Escape from Alcatraz.”

While their location often has its benefits, including its proximity to the airport and downtown San Antonio, there are also challenges. “We are sometimes hit with up to 13 inches of rain at one time without much notice. This will often cause the lake on the course to overflow and put the fairways under water,” explained Burger.

“We’ve named Hole 12 ‘Alcatraz’ because when it rains, the green is almost completely surrounded by water,” said Burger. Appropriately, Hole 13 is named “Escape from Alcatraz.”

Keeping Things Fresh

“We are looking into new projects to give the course a fresher feel,” explained Burger. “We are planning to improve our green and tee complexes. I’d like to make the green surfaces more interesting, but not too fast to where we take the fun out of the game for our players.”

Burger wants players to enjoy the course and have fun. With this goal, comes one of Burger’s biggest challenges.

“With the amount of play the course gets, the hardest part is finding time to get the necessary work done. I want to deliver a solid product while staying out of sight and not interrupting a player’s experience on the course.”

Burger explained that another one of his top priorities is consistency of the course throughout the year. “There shouldn’t be peaks and valleys in the condition of the course. Golfers should have a similar playing experience every time they visit.”

A Legacy of Orange

One way that Burger maintains consistency on the course is with Jacobsen LF570® fairway mowers. “One of the best features of the LF570, besides the great quality-of-cut, is the ability to lock-in mow speed. I know that I’m getting a consistent cut every time, regardless of the operator.”

Burger has been operating Jacobsen Greens King IV riding greens mowers for over 20 years because of their superior quality-of-cut and dependability.

Burger has been operating Jacobsen Greens King IV riding greens mowers for over 20 years because of their superior quality-of-cut and dependability.

Consistency on the course is also obtained through Burger’s 20 years of operating Jacobsen Greens King IV riding greens mowers. “I consider the Greens Kings to be my most dependable machines. They give a consistent quality-of-cut and have great maneuverability. They’re just good and have been good for a long time.”

“Players are often drawn to The Quarry for its unique landscape and the distinctive experience that comes with it. I think that as we continue to make upgrades while keep the game fun and consistent, both first time visitors and veterans to the course will continue to see the value in what our course has to offer,” said Burger.

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Significant growth in South Africa

STM-logoThe rise of
Southern Turf Management


Southern Turf Management is based at Kleinmond in the Western Cape, some 80 kilometres southeast of Cape Town in South Africa. The senior management team consists of Derick Bolton, his wife Ellen and Kosie Mentz.  Founded in 2003, the company has grown significantly in the past 11 years and has an impressive client list including some of the most prestigious golf courses in the Western Cape.

The Management Team

STM 093

Derick Bolton

Derick Bolton has worked in the industry for 19 years including a 10-year spell with Peter Matkovich at Bloemfontein Golf Club and the Prince’s Grant Golf Estate; and for the last 13 years at Arabella Country Estate.

His wife Ellen controls the administrative side of the business and has been instrumental in driving the systems and procedures that form the backbone of STM.

Kosie Mentz

Kosie Mentz

Kosie Mentz is an 18-year veteran of golf course construction and maintenance. He has built golf courses internationally for the Gary Player Group and DMK Golf Design in Asia, Middle East, US, Pacific Islands and South Africa. He was Resort Superintendent at Fancourt for six years, responsible for the four golf courses including the remodeling of the Montagu course in 2004-5.

Company philosophy

I met Derick Bolton and Kosie Mentz at the De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate, home of the De Zalze Golf Club, which has hosted the World Amateur Team Championships as well as the largest ever South African Amateur Championships, back in 2006. Over lunch at the thatched clubhouse overlooking the Blaauwklippen River and the majestic Stellenbosch mountains, I asked them to explain the philosophy behind their business.

View from De Zalze clubhouse

View from De Zalze clubhouse

“Our company strongly believes that our hands-on approach, and by that I mean the three directors, ensures that the highest standards are met at all times,” Derick Bolton said, “We visit our contracted golf courses regularly and this ensures a consistent approach to the management at each course.

“We have a holistic approach to the management of our clients’ golf courses which includes well-established administrative systems and training programmes for all our staff. In fact we are passionate about training in our business. We have two-year internships for mechanics and greenkeeping staff; these positions are for the less privileged as it is vitally important that we provide access to career opportunities for everyone.

“Early on, we identified that there was a need for consistently well-maintained golf courses, not only for our golfers, but also for the clubs’ management. If the owners and management know their course is in pristine condition, it leaves them free to focus on their core business and that’s maximising their revenue by ensuring that members, guests and corporate clients return to the facility.

Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch

“Our business model is based on an agreed fee that sees us takeover the existing golf course maintenance staff, together with the operational, management and administration costs associated with this. We have a huge pool of resources to draw from. Not only the experience of the senior staff within the business, but also from the systems and procedures that have been implemented and enhanced over the past 11 years.”

 

Kosie Mentz joined the conversation saying,

“The South African golf market is no different from that in Europe; the impact of the recession has been felt here and capital expenditure budgets have been reduced. That has a direct effect on machinery and irrigation related purchases. For example, where you might previously have had a budget of between ZAR 500,000 – 700,000, that’s now been reduced to around ZAR 350,000 or, put another way, that equates to a reduction in purchasing power of two new replacement machines a year.

Business partnerships

CSE office in Capetown

CSE office in Capetown

“Having the right tools for the job is a fundamental prerequisite of what we do, so back in 2009, we signed a preferred supplier agreement with CSE Equipment Company, the South African distributor of Ransomes and Jacobsen products. Peter Askew, their sales director back then and the Ransomes Jacobsen territory manager Klasie Baard were instrumental in forging this relationship. This partnership has proved critical to the success of our business, because we share the same values; we provide first-class service 365 days a year and CSE have responded likewise.

“We re-signed the agreement again this year, with CSE and the manufacturer including a value added package to the contract, which enhances the overall performance of the equipment at no extra cost. We didn’t have to ask or demand this; it was their way of demonstrating that they valued the partnership, which has been mutually beneficial to both parties.

Staff training is the core of the business

Staff training is an integral part of the business

Staff training is an integral part of the business

“Referring back to our support for our staff, we run an exemplary training programme which is reviewed on an annual basis and includes training from the superintendent down to the youngest member of staff. We are an inclusive business. Every month we have a meeting with all the superintendents present; we review our management of each venue, exchange best practices and identify those staff who are performing above expectation and who may be candidates to progress through the business. We can also look at any issues that have arisen and can normally resolve most things due to the experience around the table!”

Successs of the business

I asked Derick Bolton what he thought was the main reason behind the success of the business.

“I think by taking full responsibility for the maintenance operation and all the risks involved, club owners can concentrate on the other aspects of their business. They know exactly what their monthly or annual costs for our services are and that there will be no sudden surprises, if a machine needs to be replaced or major repairs are required. Also with a growing number of contracts, we can use our collective buying power to the benefit of individual courses.

“Also the high level administrative support from Ellen and her team ensures that all accounts, legalities and communications are done at a professional level. We can, and often do, assist club management in capital expenditure forecasting that pertains to a particular golf course.”

Derick Bolton, Rory Taylor, Kosie Mentz, Garry Pneumatiticos of CSE and Scott Forrest. Ransomes Jacobsen's International Business Manager

Derick Bolton, Rory Taylor, Kosie Mentz, Garry Pneumatiticos of CSE and Scott Forrest of Ransomes Jacobsen

Partway through lunch we were joined by Rory Taylor, De Zalze’s course superintendent, who apologised for his late arrival having just completed a course tour with his irrigation supplier. I asked him about his career and what benefits he thought STM had brought to the club since taking over the management of the course in July 2012.

“I was employed here back in 1998 and 1999 during construction and grow in. Then in 2000 I went to Arabella, where I was an assistant to Derick, who was superintendent at the time. I then had a spell at Princes Grant Golf Club on the Dolphin Coast northeast of Durban before departing for the UK, where I worked at The Wisley Golf Club, a 30 minute drive from central London.

“In 2003 I left the UK to take the first assistants post at Pennant Hills Golf Club in Australia, a private members club, 20 kilometres outside Sydney. Then in 2008 I returned to South Africa as superintendent at Steenberg and finally in November 2012, I was appointed as superintendent here.

“You asked me what benefits I thought STM had brought to De Zalze; well you should probably ask Dave Hansen, the CEO of De Zalze Golf; I’ve seen his endorsement of STM!

“In 2006 the management here called in Derick Bolton as course consultant. They were able to witness first-hand the value of having him in an advisory capacity on their team, especially with regard to the management of their major asset.

“They had seen the effect that Derick and Kosie had on the quality of the playing surfaces at the three other Peter Matkovich-designed courses in the Western Cape and have been rewarded with similar results here. The quality, definition and presentation of the course is improving all the time.”

The STM Portfolio

Arabella 3474AThe course at Arabella Golf Club is rated number 4 in South Africa by Golf Digest magazine and number 2 by Compleat Golfer. It hosted the Nelson Mandela Invitational from 2003 to 2006 and is the only golf course in the country ISO 14001 accredited, the international standard for environmental management.

The Atlantic Beach Golf Course is an 18 hole Links-style course, situated just 700 metres from the ocean. It features spectacular views of the sea and Table Mountain and winds its way through the undulating dunes, peppered with islands of fynbos, the natural vegetation of South Africa.

De Zalze Golf Course is situated within the De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate and was designed by Peter Matkovich, the course architect responsible for Leopard Rock, Arabella and Pinnacle Point amongst others. At 6,369 metres from the championship tees, it’s a course with a mix of parkland holes, water features and the Blaauwklippen River which comes into play at various intervals.

Located just 5 minutes outside Stellenbosch and surrounded by rolling vineyards and majestic mountains, Devonvale Golf Club’s magnificent 6,136 metre, 18-hole is situated on the north-facing slopes of the Devon Valley. The course has hosted the South African Ladies Open, Sunshine Tour events plus many Provincial Opens and Inter-provincial tournaments.

Durbanville Golf Course is situated in Cape Town’s northern suburbs and has, in recent years, seen considerable improvements. The golf course nowadays has excellent fairways and good-putting surfaces, while manicuring and the introduction of newly shaped greens have served to enhance the club’s reputation. At 6,045 metres it has a reputation for being less demanding than the other Cape courses.

HermanusThe Hermanus Golf Club, situated in the small fishing village on the coast of Walker Bay, has become one of the most popular golf courses in South Africa. It is also one of the oldest established courses, with a history dating back to the early 1900s. In 2007, the start of STM’s contract, the course was extended by the addition of a further nine holes by Peter Matkovich and is now a 27-hole golf destination offering privacy to its members, yet accessibility to the public.

Highland Gate is situated in the rolling hills outside South Africa’s fly-fishing capital, Dullstroom and is a two and a half hour drive from Johannesburg. Dullstroom is arguably the premier trout fishing destination in South Africa and is an easy 2 hour drive from Johannesburg. It features an Ernie Els Signature 18-hole championship golf course and driving range and has been maintained by STM since 2010.

Founded in 1956 as a golf and country club, King David Golf Course was designed by Bob Grimsdel, the leading course architect of his day. In the 1950s there was a large Jewish community living in the Parow/Bellville area of Cape Town that made up the bulk of King David Country Club’s membership. Today it is a thriving multi-cultural golf club and in 2009 was voted the most improved course in South Africa by Golf Digest magazine.

Mowbray Golf Club is located about 15 minutes from the Waterfront and Cape Town’s International Airport. The 18-hole parkland course is 6,029 metres from the back tees with a par of 72. As with any coastal course, a significant feature is the wind. STM took responsibility for the course in 2010.

Prince's GrantSince opening in 1994, the Prince’s Grant Golf Course, located 80 kilometers northeast of Durban on the Dolphin Coast has earned a reputation for excellence, including the Compleat Golfer 5-Star Golf Experience Award, and being named Best Golf Development in South Africa by the World Property Awards. With large greens and impressive fairways, the Peter Matkovich-designed course is ranked amongst the best in South Africa.

Situated in the Constantia Valley, just outside of Cape Town, the Steenberg Golf Estate features a picturesque Peter Matkovich-designed course, with the longest par 5 in the country at 564 metres. The Steenberg golf course is rated as one of the top three courses to visit and works its way through the vineyards of the country’s oldest wine farm. It is renowned for its greens, particularly the 14th hole and has the largest green in Africa. It has been in STM’s portfolio since 2005.

Stellenbosch 107Stellenbosch Golf Club celebrated its centenary in 2004, but it was only in 1953 that it grew from a 9-hole course into 18 holes. It is situated in the centre of the fertile and scenic winegrowing area of the Cape, less than an hour’s drive out of Cape Town. The 18-hole, par 72 course has hosted the South African Open and South African Masters and, compared to courses in Cape Town and on the Cape Peninsula, is protected from the wind. The relatively narrow fairways are lined with trees and straight driving is required in order to avoid the hazard of the nearby vines. STM took over the course maintenance in August 2010.

In 2012, STM were awarded the grounds maintenance contract at Arabella Country Estate, one of Cape Town’s most luxurious golf estates, situated approximately 28 kilometres from Hermanus and 7 kilometres from Kleinmond. It spans a total area of 113 hectares and is located within the transitional zone of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve and the adjacent Bot River Lagoon. The management of this property must conform to the objectives of the Biosphere Reserve, which includes the protection of the natural environment on, and surrounding, the property.

Reddam House is a co-educational, non-denominational, independent school 
encouraging students to learn in a relaxed, self-disciplined academic environment. Cradled by the majestic mountains in the beautiful Constantia valley, overlooking the Steenberg vineyards and Steenberg golf estate it provides an holistic education where the three pillars of Academia, Sport and Culture are tackled with equal passion and energy. In September 2011, STM were contracted to maintain the school’s cricket, rugby and athletic fields.

 

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Racing the Bar

Grounds crew at Daytona International Speedway creates visual wow factor for race fans

Daytona International Speedway At-A-Glance

Capacity: 150,000
Year Opened: 1959
Grounds Supervisor: Sam Newpher
Turf: Gulf Annual Ryegrass, Trilogy Perennial Ryegrass, Tifway 419 Bermuda, St. Augustine, Bahiagrass
Equipment: Jacobsen SLF-1880 large area reel mower, Jacobsen R311T large area rotary mower, a Jacobsen Tri-King small area reel mower and a Cushman SprayTek DS-175 sprayer
Sam Newpher (left), Grounds Supervisor and Chris Hanson (right), Irrigation Supervisor of Daytona International Speedway

Sam Newpher (left), Grounds Supervisor and Chris Hanson (right), Irrigation Supervisor of Daytona International Speedway

Daytona International Speedway (DIS) is most well known as the host of NASCAR’s Daytona 500, regarded as the most important and prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar. The famous track also hosts races of ARCA, AMA Pro Racing, IMSA, SCCA, Supercross and various other events throughout the year.

The Daytona 500 is an historic event that kicks off the NASCAR season and is considered to be the sport’s Super Bowl. Fans travel from all over the world to watch drivers compete for the season’s biggest purse.

The Daytona 500 is also the year’s biggest event for DIS Grounds Supervisor Sam Newpher, who is charged with creating a visual centerpiece on the track’s infield grass. Known as the football field by DIS employees (Bethune-Cookman University once played home football games on the spot,) the infield grass is four acres of meticulously maintained grass that showcases a massive Daytona 500 logo in bold colors and ornate mowing patterns – the design changing considerably each year.

“Coming to the Daytona 500 is a very special event for NASCAR fans,” said Newpher. “We want to create a visual wow factor for fans when they walk into the speedway.”

Turf preparation actually begins four months prior to the Daytona 500, which is typically held in late February. In mid-November, a template of the race logo is laid onto the four-acre field of 419 Bermuda. The team then overseeds the template with two different varieties of ryegrass that are dramatically different in color.

“Using two different grasses is more dramatic than striping and it looks the same no matter what angle you view it,” said Newpher. “We use Gulf Annual Ryegrass, which is the lighter shade, and Trilogy Perennial Ryegrass for a striking contrast.”

The 2013 Daytona 500 infield design featured a checkerboard pattern and was unceremoniously ruined the day before the big race on the last lap of the NASCAR Nationwide race.

The 2013 Daytona 500 infield design featured a checkerboard pattern and was unceremoniously ruined the day before the big race on the last lap of the NASCAR Nationwide race.

This is the fourth year Newpher has planted the two-species field, which started by accident.

“One year we had a car rip up the field and the only seed I had left for repairs was Gulf Annual,” said Newpher. “I noticed how different that streak was and it got me thinking. The next year, we planted the two varieties side-by-side for a striping effect and it looked fantastic. We’ve been doing it ever since, pushing the design a little more every year.”

The Daytona International Speedway grounds crew plants a template for the Daytona 500 logo using two different varieties of ryegrass for a dramatic contrast. The design for the 2014 Daytona 500, seen here, was inspired by the Thunderbirds fighter jets. The logo was painted on the grass several days before the February 23rd race.

The Daytona International Speedway grounds crew plants a template for the Daytona 500 logo using two different varieties of ryegrass for a dramatic contrast. The design for the 2014 Daytona 500, seen here, was inspired by the Thunderbirds fighter jets. The logo was painted on the grass several days before the February 23rd race.

This year’s design, a series of five streaking stars, was inspired by the flight pattern of the Thunderbirds fighter jets that perform the Daytona 500′s pre-race flyover.

In the week leading up to the Daytona 500 and the races that precede it, Newpher and his crew put in extremely long hours, mostly at night because there’s too much going on inside the track during the day.

“We’ll work 12-13 hour shifts in the weeks leading up to the Daytona 500,” said Newpher.

The field is mowed with a Jacobsen SLF-1880 large area reel mower, which is relatively new to Daytona Speedway.

Chris Hanson, Irrigation Supervisor, mows Daytona's "football field" with a Jacobsen SLF-1880 large area reel mower.

Chris Hanson, Irrigation Supervisor, mows Daytona’s “football field” with a Jacobsen SLF-1880 large area reel mower.

“With the SLF-1880, we can get the whole football field mowed in about two hours and 15 minutes,” said Chris Hanson, Irrigation Supervisor and Newpher’s right-hand man. “It’s a pleasure to mow with, provides a very comfortable ride and is so light it does not leave any footprint behind. And the quality-of-cut is far superior to other machines we’ve had out here.”

As a twenty-year veteran of the Speedway, Newpher knows all his team’s hard work can be ruined with one wrong turn. On the last lap of the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at DIS, which falls on the eve of the Daytona 500, a twelve-car wreck decimated the infield in a matter of seconds.

“It was the toughest night of my career,” said Newpher. “Here we are, the night before the biggest race of the year and the infield was untouched until the very last lap. After the wreck and emergency vehicles left the infield, it looked like a war zone. We used colorant, green sand and even grass clippings to help fill in the ruts. Somehow, we got it looking decent for the big race the next day.”

Newpher’s crew, which includes Chris Hanson, Bobby Pearson, Randy Heishman, Perry Horton and Emory Renfroe, manages a total of 22 acres of Bermuda, 27 acres of St. Augustine and 150 acres of Bahiagrass. To handle the areas outside the football field, the DIS team uses a Jacobsen R311T large area rotary mower, a Jacobsen Tri-King small area reel mower and a Cushman SprayTek DS-175 sprayer.

“It’s the first year we’ve had a full fleet of new, high-quality equipment,” said Hanson. “It’s made a world of difference on the football field and the other surrounding areas.”

Daytona International Speedway uses a remote-controlled mower called a Dvorak Spider on grass banks that are as severe as 40-degrees in some areas. The grade is so steep that mowing with traditional methods is impossible.

Daytona International Speedway uses a remote-controlled mower called a Dvorak Spider on grass banks that are as severe as 40-degrees in some areas. The grade is so steep that mowing with traditional methods is impossible.

Probably the most challenging turf to maintain at Daytona International Speedway lies outside the track on grass banks that are as severe as 40-degrees in some areas. The grade is so steep that mowing with traditional methods is impossible. For those areas, Newpher uses a remote-control mower called the Dvorak Spider. An operator stands at the top of the bank and guides the four-blade Spider up and down the slopes. Even with the help of the state-of-the-art mower, it still takes four days to mow all the banks.

“Even after 20 years here, I still try to raise the bar each year,” said Newpher. “Whether it’s mixing two varieties of grass or trying new technology like the Spider, we’ll always try to improve the experience of the race fan.”

This year’s Daytona 500 revved up on February 23rd with Dale Earnhardt Jr. taking the checkered flag.

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Heartland Heritage

ArborLinks in Nebraska keeps history alive with ties to the past

ArborLinks At-A-Glance

Year Opened: 2002
Location: Nebraska City, Nebraska
Superintendent: Curt Grieser
Turf: Penn A2 bentgrass on the greens; mix of bentgrasses in the fairways; and blue ryegrass in the rough
Turf Equipment: Jacobsen ECLIPSE 322 riding greens mowers (2); Jacobsen LF550 fairway mowers; Cushman Turf-Truckster (1); Cushman SprayTek (1); Jacobsen AR-522 contour rotary mower (1)

 

Steve Merkel (left), CGCS, Director, Agronomy and Maintenance for Landscapes Unlimited and Curt Grieser (right), Superintendent at ArborLinks.

Steve Merkel (left), CGCS, Director, Agronomy and Maintenance for Landscapes Unlimited and Curt Grieser (right), Superintendent at ArborLinks.

Built in partnership with Landscapes Unlimited, The National Arbor Day Foundation and Arnold Palmer Design, ArborLinks is an exclusive private destination golf club that consistently ranks as one of the top courses in Nebraska.

Spread over 330 acres of rolling hills surrounded by lush cornfields, ArborLinks was carefully sculpted into the native landscape.

Superintendent Curt Grieser points out that ArborLinks was constructed without moving much of the original topography.  Grieser has a keen eye for golf course construction as he spent many years on that side of the business working for Landscapes Unlimited.

“We have three different green constructions out here,” said Grieser.  “Six are USGA, six are California and six are modified California.  We have A4 bentgrass on all of them.”

Course designers left an historic barn structure on the property right off the 18th green.  A wall of club champions is posted on one side.

Course designers left an historic barn structure on the property right off the 18th green. A wall of club champions is posted on one side.

“The California greens are hardest to manage because they’re almost pure sand,” said Grieser.  “They dry out very fast and are prone to hot spots.  It’s also hard to get the greens growing because the sand will not hold the moisture like the other greens.”

To make matters worse, ArborLinks is water-challenged, with just a limited supply of well water on the site.

“We’ll capture about 60-70% of drainage in one holding pond, another pond will capture some, but we’re very limited on our water supply,” said Grieser.  “We’ve done a lot of native planting to help us hold some of that water.”

Course designers wanted ArborLinks to continue the heritage of the local farmland, so they left an historic barn structure on the property right off the 18th green.  A wall of club champions is posted on one side, but the rest is kept in its original state.

As a top course in Nebraska, ArborLinks hosts a bevy of tournaments, from two US Open Qualifiers in 2009 and 2012 to PGA Tour Q School Pre-Qualifiers the last three years.  As a result, Grieser has become an excellent logo painter, doing much of the work by hand.

Superintendent Curt Grieser paints tournament logos by hand, starting with a paper template and an architect scale to work out the sizing.

Superintendent Curt Grieser paints tournament logos by hand, starting with a paper template and an architect scale to work out the sizing.

“I start with a logo on a sheet of letter paper and use an architect scale to figure out the sizing scale of everything,” said Grieser.  “I measure where the letters go, but most of the time I end up eyeballing most of the logo.  An average-sized logo like the BMW one will take about two and a half hours.  I use turf paint, which will last between seven and ten days.”

Grieser has a crew of ten who call on a fleet of orange equipment to maintain ArborLinks.

“We brought a Jacobsen ECLIPSE 322 riding greens mower in here for a demo last year,” said Grieser.  “We mowed that morning at around .115-.120″ with another brand of greens mower.  Two hours later, we mowed at .130″ with the ECLIPSE 322 and filled the baskets.  I had never seen anything like it.  There’s just such a huge difference in the quality-of-cut with the Jacobsen mowers; I was sold on the spot.”

“Where the ECLIPSE mowers really shine is during tournaments.  We’ll mow at .105″ with an FOC setting of .01 we’ll be rolling at least 11.5 feet and sometimes even 12 feet.”

ArborLinks switched to a fleet of Jacobsen mowers in 2012.  Grieser especially likes his ECLIPSE 322 riding greens mowers, which he says give his greens a superior quality-of-cut.

ArborLinks switched to a fleet of Jacobsen mowers in 2012. Grieser especially likes his ECLIPSE 322 riding greens mowers, which he says give his greens a superior quality-of-cut.

“We like the Jacobsen fairway mowers as well and used to run the LF-3400s.  We bought the new LF550s last year as well and love that you can lock the mow speed, which keeps our operators from mowing too fast.”

Grieser and his crew of operators have been very busy in the last five years, working on numerous construction projects including new tees and bunkers.

“We’re really looking to get a USGA event down the road,” said Grieser.  “We started the interview process and we’ll keep making improvements along the way so we can stay in contention.”

“We’re really looking to get a USGA event down the road.  We started the interview process and we’ll keep making improvements along the way so we can stay in contention.”- Curt Grieser, Superintendent of ArborLinks

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No Walk in the Park

Buffalo superintendent manages two golf courses and a whole lot more. 

Sheridan Park & Brighton Park Golf Courses

Year Opened: 1933 & 1962
Location: Buffalo, New York
Superintendent: Scott Boivin
Number of Holes: 36
Turf:
Bentgrass and Poa on the greens; mix of ryegrass and Poa in the fairways and roughs.
Turf Equipment: Jacobsen Greens King IV riding greens mowers (10), Jacobsen R311T wide-area mowers (2), Jacobsen HR-9016 wide-area mowers (2), Cushman Turf-Truckster utility vehicles (7)

Scott Boivin headed off to college as a hockey player and left as a turfgrass manager. During school, Boivin ditched the ice skates and found a new passion on more terra firma. After completing a turfgrass certificate at Cornell University, Boivin found himself in the right place at the right time and was hired as Superintendent of Sheridan Park Golf Course.

boivin

Scott Boivin, Superintendent of Sheridan Park & Brighton Park Golf Courses in Buffalo, NY.

Over the course of 20 years, Boivin’s area of responsibility widened to include another 18-hole course and multiple sports fields including baseball, soccer, football and rugby.

Incredibly, Boivin manages 200 acres of golf turf and has set up a fertilization, aerification and herbicide program for the additional 400 acres of athletic fields and parklands with just eight full-time employees, two assistants and 20 seasonal part-time workers.

“As you would guess, manpower is our biggest issue,” said Boivin. “We used to have another superintendent that managed Brighton Park Golf Course, but there were too many inconsistencies between courses. I’ve been managing both now for three years.”

Boivin has consistently made improvements to both courses during his tenure and as a result, the pair continue to be two of Buffalo’s most popular public courses and each see about 25,000 rounds every year.

“We bought greens rollers a few years ago, which have made a big improvement,” said Boivin. “We’ll roll three times a week and skip cutting two to three times a week which keeps everything healthier. We’ll cut the greens at .160″ and roll 9.5′ on the Stimpmeter. Because of the amount of play we get, I can’t go much lower than .160″.”

To help save money, Boivin and his team built this entire bridge from scratch during a winter break.

To help save money, Boivin and his team built this entire bridge from scratch during a winter break.

When he first began lending his skills to the athletic fields, Boivin was surprised how much work soccer fields can be.

“For the soccer fields to look and play right, they really need to be overseeded regularly and topdressed all the time,” said Boivin. “I need to pull a couple guys from each course to get it done, which is a delicate balancing act.”

In addition to being creative with manpower, Boivin also has found ways to save money with a DIY approach to expensive projects.

“We took the entire winter break to build a bridge on the Sheridan Park course,” said Boivin. “We saved the town thousands of dollars that we can use for other things. But it was a fun project and the final product turned out really well.”

Another cost-savings measure Boivin implemented is a regularly-scheduled equipment purchasing process.

Boivin, seen here mowing a tee with a Jacobsen Greens King IV, is on a regular buying schedule that allows him to rotate mowers from greens to tees every year.

Boivin, seen here mowing a tee with a Jacobsen Greens King IV, is on a regular buying schedule that allows him to rotate mowers from greens to tees every year.

“Because of our regular buying habits, our budgets remain pretty consistent. We’ll buy one or two Jacobsen Greens King IV riding greens mowers each year and rotate a couple to tee mowers,” said Boivin. “We’ve been using the Greens Kings here for decades. Everyone knows them, they’re easy to maintain and good for our budget. And, of course, you get the Jacobsen quality-of-cut that keeps our greens looking and playing fantastic.”

“We also use the Jacobsen R311T wide-area rotary as well because it’s faster than the Toro machine,” said Boivin. “We run the Jacobsen HR-9016 wide-area rotary on our large flat areas and we run several Cushmans to get everything else done.”

Boivin and his team are served by Jacobsen dealer MTE Turf Equipment Solutions in Rochester, New York.

Boivin prefers the Jacobsen R311T rough mower over Toro's machine because he says the Jacobsen machine is faster, allowing him to get more done.

Boivin prefers the Jacobsen R311T rough mower over Toro’s machine because he says the Jacobsen machine is faster, allowing him to get more done.

“We get good service from the guys at MTE. Our machines are pretty reliable, but when we do need something, the MTE guys are out here pretty quickly,” said Boivin.

“There’s basically more work than people, so we’ll do as much as we can. We’ll spray, fertilize, aerate the sports fields and even handle tree management, but we can’t do everything all the time,” said Boivin. “In the end, you just have to get as much done as you can with the resources you have. We put a quality product out there and I think the community really appreciates what we do.”

“In the end, you just have to get as much done as you can with the resources you have. We put a quality product out there and I think the community really appreciates what we do.” – Scott Boivin, Superintendent of Sheridan Park and Brighton Park Golf Courses

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A Nebraska Jewel

Omaha superintendent keeps Heartland gem shining

The Players Club at Deer Creek At-A-Glance

Year Opened: 2000
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Superintendent: Ahren Wonderlich
Number of Holes: 27
Turf:
Penn A4 bentgrass on the greens; mix of L-93, PennEagle and Southshore bentgrass in the fairways; bluegrass in the roughs.
Turf Equipment: Jacobsen ECLIPSE 322 riding greens mowers (3), Jacobsen LF550 fairway mowers (2), Jacobsen AR-522 contour rotary mower (1), Jacobsen R311T rough mower (1), Cushman Turf-Truckster utility vehicles (2), Jacobsen Groom Master II bunker rakes (3)
Steve Merkel (left), CGCS, Director, Agronomy and Maintenance for Landscapes Unlimited and Ahren Wonderlich (right), Superintendent at The Players Club at Deer Creek.

Steve Merkel (left), CGCS, Director, Agronomy and Maintenance for Landscapes Unlimited and Ahren Wonderlich (right), Superintendent at The Players Club at Deer Creek.

It is no surprise that Arnold Palmer dubbed The Players Club at Deer Creek “a Nebraska Jewel” upon its opening in 2000.  Designed by the living legend, The Players Club is a magnificent 27-hole links-style course in Omaha.

The Players Club has been recognized several times by Golf Digest magazine as one of “The Best Golf Courses in Nebraska.”

The course also has the distinction of being managed and owned by Landscapes Unlimited, a golf and recreation management company with a portfolio of nearly 25 golf courses across the United States.

By offering a truly unique family experience, The Players Club has kept its membership base consistently over 700.

The Player's Club's USGA greens are topped with Penn A4 bentgrass.  Although Ahren likes the breed's Poa resistance, he finds it recovers very slowly from ball marks and aeration.

The Players Club’s USGA greens are topped with Penn A4 bentgrass. Although Ahren likes the breed’s Poa resistance, he finds it recovers very slowly from ball marks and aeration.

“The membership stays high because we have a beautiful golf course that appeals to a wide range of players,” said Steve Merkel, Director of Agronomy and Maintenance for Landscapes Unlimited.  “The club also has a great pool, fitness center and other amenities that make it very attractive to families.  Full golf memberships for families are actually less than $300 per month.”

Opportunities and Challenges

Superintendent Ahren Wonderlich jumped at the chance to take over at The Players Club in June of 2011.

Of course, the job didn’t come without challenges.  A five-inch rainstorm during his first year took six full days to repair and a serious drought in 2012 forced Ahren to make some creative irrigation solutions.

“We can only pull 650 gallons per minute from our creek and during the drought, that wasn’t enough for everything,” said Ahren.  “So we stopped watering the native areas and used the water for greens, tees and fairways.  The native grass went 80 days without water.”

The course’s USGA greens are topped with Penn A4 bentgrass, which Ahren has mixed feelings about.

“Although it’s done a great job holding off Poa encroachment, the recovery rate from ball marks and aeration is the slowest I’ve ever seen.”

One of the largest of the 130 bunkers at The Players Club.  Ahren and his team are working to reduce the number of traps - which have become a maintenance burden.

One of the largest of the 130 bunkers at The Players Club. Ahren and his team are working to reduce the number of traps – which have become a maintenance burden.

Unpredicatble weather and slow greens recovery time aside, Ahren’s biggest challenge is granular.

“We have 130 bunkers on this course and we’re working hard to get that number down,” said Ahren.  “When I first got here, we had two bunkers that took a half hour each to rake.  We just had to bulldoze them.  Even with three bunker rakes out at the same time, we’ll still run into play.  But we’re getting rid of the frivolous bunkers one at a time.  We’ve already seen a reduction in bunker maintenance since we started remodeling a year ago.”

Keeping Things Tight

Ahren Wonderlich maintains good relationships with club staff and will typically play the course once a week with the pro and the director of food and beverage.

“We’ll play the course on Wednesday afternoons together,” said Ahren.  “It’s an opportunity for us to connect out on the course.  One of the benefits of regular communication is that the pro shop understands our daily routine and is always good about giving us an hour to stay ahead of play.”

Ahren runs a full fleet of Jacobsen equipment at The Player's Club, including LF550 fairway mowers.

Ahren runs a full fleet of Jacobsen equipment at The Players Club, including LF550 fairway mowers.

In addition to the the three Jacobsen Groom Master II bunker rakes, Ahren will dispatch three Jacobsen ECLIPSE 322 riding greens mowers each morning.

“Compared to our previous greens mowers, we’ve been able to actually raise the mowing height and speed up the greens.  Our typical mowing height is between .115-.120″ with a frequency-of-clip setting of .120″ and we’ll roll about 10′ from there.  We don’t have the manpower to walk the greens, but the quality-of-cut we get from the ECLIPSE 322 is the same as walking.”

“Also, if I need anything, our local Jacobsen dealer TurfWerks, is out here right away.  The service has been excellent.”

Ahren is a firm believer in taking care of the customer.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the course,” said Ahren.  “Our next project is a short game center with a 10,000 ft. green and a couple of bunkers.  It’s just one more way we can add value for our members and enhance their experience.”

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the course.  Our next project is a short game center with a 10,000 ft. green and a couple of bunkers.  It’s just one more way we can add value for our members and enhance their experience.” -Ahren Wonderlich, Superintendent, The Players Club at Deer Creek

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