The golf industry has been always been a challenging industry to be a part of. There are so many factors that can influence the success or failure of a golf property that it is no surprise that many courses have had to close down in recent years.
Golfers all expect our courses to be in perfect condition every time they tee it up. But very few golfers realize just how much work is involved in maintaining a golf course.
I recently sat down with Paul Snider who is the Head Greens Superintendent at Batteaux Creek Golf Club in Collingwood. We talked about the many challenges that he and his staff face every summer and how this season in particular is even more difficult with the current COVID pandemic.
Paul, like many other superintendents, puts in some long hours. They are at the course almost every day when the sun rises and sometimes are still there late at night when the sun is going down. He is responsible for maintaining the 220 acres of property, which is almost double that of most standard golf courses.
Every day Paul and his staff mow fairways, cut greens, tees, and roughs. He has only three full-time staff, along with a half-dozen part-time attendants and about four volunteers that help with gardening and property maintenance. Greens staff work in some pretty adverse weather conditions. Cold weather, wet weather, heat, humidity, and even insects can make daily tasks difficult.
To ensure that the course is in top condition, superintendents must monitor rainfall, control weeds, and apply different products to the course to help prevent and combat plant diseases that can destroy the turf in just days. To ensure healthy root growth, fairways, tees, and greens need to be regularly aerated. This is often difficult to do as golfers always want to play on perfect surfaces. Weather conditions such as heat, humidity, and rain also affect scheduling of these necessary jobs.
During our recent heat wave in Collingwood, Paul and his staff pumped about 1.2 million gallons of water on the course over a five-day period. Thank goodness that the course has that kind of capacity as some courses in our area had to limit their watering due to the severe and prolonged drought.
Paul’s favourite part of his job is “seeing the beauty of the sunrise” every day. He says that all of his staff are great and they all love to work hard to ensure that the course is in top condition every day for all golfers.
He mentioned that he felt bad about some of the services that could not be offered this season because of the COVID virus. Washrooms, ball washers, benches, and rake bunkers have all been removed from the course to ensure public safety. We can only hope that all of these amenities will be back in 2021, he said.
I asked him what three things golfers could all do to help him and his staff maintain the course. Repair ball marks on the greens, replacing divots on the fairway, and being mindful where power carts are being driven were his three main wishes. So the next time you are out for a round of golf on your local course, take a minute to say hi to your greens staff and thank them for all the hard work they do to ensure that the course in in top condition every day of the season.
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