Golf Course Management

FEB 2019

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

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40 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.19 Washington statement Todd Lupkes, CGCS, has made presentations to Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs and oth- ers about the virtues of Palouse Ridge Golf Club in Pullman, Wash., which is among 35 golf courses operated by CourseCo. At times, though, his words are met with vehement re - sistance. "Sometimes, we, as general managers and superintendents, have to get up and crusade for the positive benefits that golf courses bring to the country," says Lupkes, a 28-year GCSAA member and the former superintendent and current general manager at Palouse Ridge, which opened just more than a decade ago on the campus of Washington State University. Conservationists and environmental groups were among those opposed to Palouse Ridge over water rights in an area with a declining aquifer. Now, every irrigation head is moni - tored from the office of GCSAA Class A superintendent Michael Bednar. Palouse Ridge is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. City officials are involved in the recertification process, and an ongoing goal of CourseCo is to ensure all of its properties are Audubon- certified. The course houses the university's men's and women's golf teams and hosts First Green events. Corridors on the golf course that never had wetlands do now. Bee pollination areas are planned this spring, as is the addition of more birdhouses. Misconceptions about Palouse Ridge have also placed one club proponent, Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson, in the spotlight. His case — the benefits that Palouse Ridge brings to the table — should be heard before making judgment. "One of the things people accuse me of is going out and playing golf all the time. I don't play golf," Johnson says. "I've met a number of golfers who've come into our city to play here. It has become a really great attraction and a fantastic amenity for our city, and it is using water so much more efficiently than the old course (a nine-hole course existed before Palouse Ridge was built). Palouse Ridge is a wonderful addition, and it has proven that, yes, you can have a great golf course and have it be great for the environment." Bednar, a 12-year association member, was on-site when Palouse Ridge was just a nine- hole course. He knew when CourseCo arrived to oversee the new course that it had a fo - cused plan. "You could tell right off the bat that environmental concerns were top priority and that everything is done right. It isn't just, 'Talk the talk.' They definitely walk the walk," Bednar says. "We have the job of producing good playing conditions and doing it as safely for the environment as possible. Seems like common sense to me." Lupkes says Isaak and company President/CEO Michael Sharp "treat superintendents like peers and allow them to do their jobs," which is in agreement with CourseCo's phi - losophy of "detailed corporate supervision of site operations coupled with entrepreneurial motivation and freedom for site managers." Lupkes says, "Usually, a business is from the top down, here's what you need to do. CourseCo is from the bottom up." Rolling in Rohnert Brandon Coulter fits right in at Foxtail Golf Club in Rohnert Park, Calif. The inclusion of young students and teaching them about the environment is integral and encouraged at CourseCo, including events such as this at Los Lagos Golf Course in San Jose, Calif. Photo courtesy of Jay Neunsinger Family matters A friendly family type of competition exists at CourseCo. "The environment is one of their core values. It's ingrained companywide in our culture," says Carl D. Thompson, CGCS, who oversees CourseCo property Colum - bia Point Golf Course in Richland, Wash. "We believe in it. It becomes something of a competition for each of their courses. We're all trying to push the needle." CourseCo's vision includes: Facilities. CourseCo courses use integrated pest management (IPM) and chemical application management plans (CHAMP). Each plan describes the cultural and non-chemical control measures that will be taken to reduce the use of pesticides. The plans emphasize an understanding of the microenvironments throughout a course to allow for the effi - cient employment of cultural practices that will decrease pest populations by strength - ening turfgrass's natural defenses. Prioritizing a healthy wildlife habitat. The company maintains memberships in both the Wildlife Habitiat Council and Audubon International. Research support. Crystal Springs Golf Course in Burlingame, Calif., collaborated with the University of California on a five- year USGA project that identified bentgrass cultivars with lower input requirements. Outreach. All properties do some com - munity outreach, including cross-country races for high schools and colleges. Several courses host students through First Green or similar programs, includ - ing the Oakland Turfgrass Educational Initiative (OTEI). When CourseCo took over Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland, Calif., in 2001, the city asked the course to provide job training. Ray Davies, CGCS Retired, created a program that introduces kids to the green industry. The program welcomes youths who may be in danger of not graduating and introduces them to a career path they may not have otherwise considered. OTEI exposes a more diverse population to golf by targeting Oakland's inner-city youth. "There is some competition between (CourseCo) courses, but there's also col - laboration. We collaborate on outreach. We had a First Green event at Boundary Oak (Walnut Creek, Calif.)," says Gary Ingram, CGCS, director of agronomy at Metro - politan Golf Links. "We all compete at the ELGA (Environmental Leaders in Golf Award) level. We all send stuff in. Some win. Some don't. But in retrospect, we all win. It's a win-win situation." — H.R.

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