Golf Course Management

OCT 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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30 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 10.18 Josh Loy has become something of a celeb- rity in the Pacific Northwest's pollinator scene. Since Loy — Class A superintendent and a three-year GCSAA member — installed five monarch butterfly waystations at Stewart Meadows Golf Course in Medford, Ore., he and his course have been the subject of news - paper articles, TV spots and a podcast. rough it all, Loy has stressed one thought: It's all about the butterflies. "It's not for the notoriety," Loy says. "It's not about advertising for the golf course. We're not trying to brag. It's about being an advocate for the monarchs." ere's no dispute that pollinators — bees, butterflies and the like — have had a rough go. Some say the western monarchs have had it worst of all. Arguably among the most picturesque of pollinators, monarchs in the United States are divided by the Rocky Mountains into eastern and western branches. e eastern monarchs migrate to overwinter in Mexico. Out west, monarchs generally overwinter in coastal Cal - ifornia, then lay eggs on milkweed in spring from Arizona through Washington. e overwinter population in central Mex - ico is said to have declined a staggering 80 per- cent since the 1990s; according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, western monarchs have declined by over 95 percent since the 1980s. ose numbers simply quantify what Loy had experienced. He recalls growing up in southern Oregon. In the summer, Loy would look on milkweed plants in a field near his parents' home for monarch caterpillars, which he'd collect and "raise" in Mason jars. ey'd hatch, and he'd release them to continue the cycle. "It was something I took for granted," Loy says, "and it made me think about my son." Tristyn was 13 at the time, and father asked son if he'd ever seen a monarch in the wild. "He said, 'Yeah,'" Josh Loy recalls. "I said, 'Are you sure?' e way he said it, I took it that maybe he'd never seen a monarch in per - son. It made me think I wanted to do some- thing to give kids a chance to experience what I had experienced as a child." Loy said plans began in March. He visited with Isaac Breuer, superintendent at Gustin Golf Course in Columbia, Mo., and subject of a 2016 GCM article. Loy also consulted with Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates, primarily Robert Coffan and Suzie Savoie, about where to place his waystations and what to put in them. He ended up with about 240 plants, a mix of showy and narrowleaf milkweeds, for the butterflies to lay their eggs on (milkweed is the only plant monarch caterpillars eat; when the milkweed is gone, so are monarchs), and various nectar-bearing flowers that bloom throughout the season — black-eyed Susans and columbines and lilies and irises and the like — upon which adults can feed. "What convinced me was, we put color on the course," Loy says. "ere's a lot of green out here. We don't get a lot of color until fall, when half the trees start to turn color. But by implementing these waystations around tee boxes and places that are not nec - essarily in golfers' play area, we added some color they can see but that doesn't really im - pede the track of golf." e waystations are spread throughout the nine-hole course. ey measure between 3,000 and 3,500 square feet combined and were a relative breeze to install. "It was a simple process," Loy says. "We had the means and the equipment." Loy said he had budgeted around $2,000 for the plants and went over by around $500. "e labor part … I didn't really fac - tor that," he said. "We're here. If we're not Advocating for the western monarchs (environment) Andrew Hartsock Twitter: @GCM_Magazine Stewart Meadows Golf Course in Medford, Ore., has installed five monarch butterfly waystations throughout its nine holes, including this one just off the fifth tee box. They're believed to be the only Monarch Watch-certified waystations on a golf course in Oregon — and among the very few in the Pacific Northwest. Photo by Josh Loy doing this, we're doing something else on the course." From the start, Loy wanted to make sure his waystations didn't become burdensome. Milkweed, after all, is a weed and grows like one. "One thing we were concerned with, milk - weed does spread rather rapidly by seed and rhizome," Loy said. "Robert (Coffan) made us aware it will shoot up in grass where you don't want it." e Stewart Meadows waystations are the only Monarch Watch-certified waystations on a golf course in Oregon. ere are nearly 21,000 certified sites across North America, but certified waystations on golf courses are sparse to non-existent throughout the Pa - cific Northwest. eir novelty drew a crowd to an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 10. Among the 30 or so attendees were golfers, represen - tatives from monarch organizations, Alexis Wenker — executive director of the Oregon Golf Course Superintendents Association — and representatives of media organizations. "Golf courses are given a bad name when it comes to these things because of the chemi - cals used," Loy said. "A lot of people who are bee-friendly or monarch-friendly look down on golf courses. is is a good way to get a handshake between the two." ere was at least one other remarkable guest of honor at the waystations' ribbon- cutting. "at morning, my mom found a cat - erpillar on one of the milkweeds," Loy says. "Everybody was surprised we already had a caterpillar. at Monday, the 13th, one of our grounds crew guys found a monarch, and Robert went out to check and found she had laid some eggs. It's doing what we had hoped it would do for monarchs." Andrew Hartsock is GCM 's managing editor.

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