Golf Course Management

OCT 2014

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

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64 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 10.14 Saving a giant Biological predators of the hemlock woolly adelgid are saving hemlocks at Grandfather Golf & Country Club in Linville, N.C. It's a slightly overcast day on the greens of Grandfather Golf & Country Club in the high- lands of North Carolina. Dramatic silver-tinged clouds frame iconic Grandfather Mountain as a backdrop to the scene. In the lush forest surrounding the club property, there's no sign of the devastation left in the wake of a notorious insect pest that's wreaking havoc on hemlock stands up and down the East Coast—and for good reason. From the vantage point of the seventh hole on the club's Championship Course, Grandfather G&CC superintendent Peter Gerdon spins his tale of "saving a giant." "We have a tremendous number of hemlocks on this property, and literally thousands of them are comparable in size to these on either side of the seventh hole," Gerdon says, gesturing toward two magnifcent specimens of one of the region's keystone tree species, each towering nearly 70 feet high. "Hemlocks contribute so much to our environment at Grandfather Golf & Country Club. If we were to lose this tree species, what else might we lose? What kind of trickle-down effect would such a loss have on the biology of the creeks and wildlife? What would such a loss do to the forest? These are important questions to consider when dealing with the problem." The problem the 32-year GCSAA Class A member is referring to is the threat posed to hemlocks in the eastern United States by an aphid-like insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae or HWA). Its common name refers to the insect's resemblance to tiny tufts of cot - ton clinging to hemlock needles. The adelgid weakens and, unless interrupted and controlled, Kate Cahow AT THE TURN (tree management) Grandfather G&CC has succeeded in protecting its 1,100 forested acres from the dreaded hemlock woolly adelgid. Success is evident in the abundance of hemlocks thriving on the property, such as these giants lining the fairway. Photos by Kate Cahow If we were to lose this tree species, what else might we lose? What kind of trickle-down effect would such a loss have on the biology of the creeks and wildlife? What would such a loss do to the forest? — Peter Gerdon

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