Crane Creek Country Club At-A-Glance
|Year Opened: 1963
Locations: Boise, Idaho
Superintendent: Adam Bagwell
Turf: 007 bentgrass on the greens; bentgrass fairways; back nine tees are a bent poa mix and the front nine tees are ryegrass; the rough areas are a little bit of everything
Equipment: Jacobsen® all-electric ECLIPSE® 322 riding greens mowers (2); Jacobsen hybrid ECLIPSE 322 (1); Jacobsen ECLIPSE2 walking greens mowers (4), Jacobsen ECLIPSE 122F walking greens mowers (4); Jacobsen LF550 fairway mowers (3); Jacobsen TR-3 trim mower (1); Cushman® Turf Truckster® utility vehicles (3)
In an age where communication is easier and faster than ever, it can be a struggle to distinguish valuable information from all the noise. Superintendent Adam Bagwell of Crane Creek Country Club has struck an impeccable balance with his staff and members by delivering valuable data to create a unique understanding amongst the community.
After growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania, Bagwell attended college at Penn State with the intention of becoming an engineer. After just one year, Bagwell quickly realized that he wanted to pursue a career that would mirror his outdoor upbringing. This realization led him into Penn State’s turf management program where Bagwell completed his undergraduate degree and then later went on to receive his Masters of Professional Studies in Turf Management.
Although Bagwell was beginning his new career in the turf industry, he didn’t stray far from his farming roots.
“In 1999, my grandfather passed away and my grandmother offered me the ability to run the operation of the farm in Pennsylvania. Shortly after, I ended up growing the farm from 200 to 1500 acres,” says Bagwell. “That same year, I obtained my first superintendent position where I completed a full grow-in.”
During this time, Bagwell was working about 100 hours per week between the farm and the golf course. This overwhelming work load continued up until 2007, when he moved to Idaho and became the superintendent at Crane Creek Country Club.
Crane Creek Country Club is a private 18-hole golf course outside of Boise, Idaho. The course gets approximately 27,000 rounds of golf per year, only closing an average of three weeks (depending on snowfall).
“I have 15 full-time staff on my crew, but we get up to about 35 in the summer months,” says Bagwell. “They’re a really great group to work with. My biggest goal for my team is to teach them to be more detail-oriented around the course.”
Although his work week had become more manageable since his days of farming, Bagwell’s new endeavor did not come without its own set of challenges.
“My biggest initial challenge when I first started here was irrigation,” says Bagwell. “There was no satellite communication within the system and we had a well that was failing. In the first year alone there were 41 lateral breaks.”
In addition to challenges with irrigation, Bagwell also faced a massive course construction project that began last September.
“Last fall, we closed the front 9 holes in order to kill the greens and begin new construction,” explains Bagwell. “The mandate was to maintain the general character of the greens, but soften the slope to help with obtaining desired green speed.”
Working at an incredibly fast pace, the greens were cored, restored and sodded within one month in addition to rebuilding all the surrounding bunkers. Following the completion, Bagwell went on to finish renovation on the tees by the first week in November.
“After seeding in November, we blanketed everything and, despite a cold spell, it all survived through the winter,” says Bagwell. “In the spring, we came back to a lot of bare dirt, but miraculously, after a lot of hard work, we opened May 15th.”
In addition to the improvements made on the course, Crane Creek Country Club also went through major renovations to their tennis courts, patio area, parking lots and landscaping.
“Overall we have an incredibly supportive membership here, but after so much construction around the club and on the course, they were ready for it to be over,” says Bagwell. “It’s been difficult to get to the smaller details on the course with the staff numbers I have and the larger projects going on. I’m trying to help the members understand our prioritization when it comes to things like weeding when we’re still trying to finish the grow-in.”
While Bagwell and his crew continue to finish the first half of course renovations, they are also beginning to plan the back nine construction.
Bagwell has found communication with his members to not only be effective when renovations are happening at the club, but also for sharing quantifiable data that can show members what goes into keeping the course at ideal conditions.
“When I first arrived here, green speed was a huge issue with our members,” explains Bagwell. “I thought the best way to educate our members on green speed was to make it scientific, because our members understand data.”
Putting his Masters degree to good use, Bagwell used the technology he had on hand, Google Forms on his phone, to begin a green speed log. Each day, Bagwell and his crew will record the green speed and firmness on each green and compare it with the maintenance done on the green that day. Bagwell also gathers data through wireless in-ground sensors that send more detailed information on moisture and firmness.
“We distributed a survey to our members to try and figure out what they wanted in green speed,” says Bagwell. “We classified speeds as slow, medium or fast to understand member expectations and try to work toward them.”
A large part of his green speed project was based on the performance of his all-electric Jacobsen ECLIPSE 322 riding greens mower. Bagwell was also a test pilot for the ECLIPSE mowers before they debuted in 2007.
“We have two all-electric ECLIPSE 322s, four ECLIPSE 122Fs, and four ECLIPSE2s at Crane Creek,” says Bagwell. “We actually had two of the first all-electric ECLIPSE 322s that came off the manufacturing line at Jacobsen.”
In addition to the ECLIPSE mowers, Bagwell also has three LF550 large area reel mowers for the fairways, TR-3 trim mowers and Cushman Turf Trucksters. For some of the harder to reach areas of the course, every couple of years Bagwell will rent 500 goats and fence them into the natural grass areas to let them eat.
Bagwell takes the data he collects throughout the year and sends it out to the membership in a report. The report includes data surrounding what different maintenance practices occur such as mowing, rolling and FOC and how that data corresponds to green speed on any given day.
“By sending all of this data to our membership it legitimizes what we do,” says Bagwell. “It also takes some pressure off of me because when I present people with scientific facts, it promotes better understanding of the challenges we face.”