Golf Course Management

JAN 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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92 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.18 especially for that time. When Carlson left in 1997 to undertake some construction and grow-in consulting, most of the practices he developed were abandoned by his successors, never to be revived. That was a disappointment, the 33-year GCSAA member says, but that's the way of the golfing world: Superintendents leave, and their replacements invariably bring a different approach. Of course, that wouldn't happen at The Vineyard Club, where the organic mandate had been baked into the permitting process. There was just one problem. "At some point, the club president comes up to me, and I'm paraphrasing here, but he says, 'You're getting old and you could die, and we don't have anyone who really knows how do to this job.' And that was pretty much true," Carlson says. "The club hired me because of my connection to Widow's Walk, but today you can count on one hand the guys who deal with the sort of restrictions we have at The Vineyard Club — and you'd probably have some fingers left over. From a business standpoint, they couldn't just run an ad for this job." Carlson's solution was to form a small hiring committee whose members (Jim Skorulski from the USGA Green Section, Lessons from The Vineyard In his own words, here are Kevin Banks' three most important takeaways for any super who is considering going organic. Disease control. "Synthetic pesticides are no longer stored in my storage con - tainer. The products I use now are all bio- logical fungicides or OMRI (Organic Materi- als Review Institute)-listed products. These products are all new to me, and not all are 100 percent curative. Some products need a one-month advancement, or even six-month advancement. Scheduling and staying organized are very important when tracking inventory and spray schedules." Weed management. "There are some products that will control some dande - lion and clover. However, there are some weeds like crabgrass and goosegrass we struggle to control. The best way to fight off weeds is to have healthy turf, so we often spray our rough more than traditional golf courses. We have tried different forms of control, but sometimes our only option is to re-sod when thresholds reach a certain level. When it comes to weeds in bunkers and weeds in mulch around our clubhouse, we hire a local landscaper and their crew to handpick weeds almost every other week depending on the severity of weed growth — which costs money. So, our budget for that is bigger than most." Rolling. "Before my time here, I had a different thought process. For me, roll - ing's primary role was to help with ball roll, speed and firmness. My secondary thought would have been disease control. Today, here, my primary thought with rolling is disease control. There is a lot of great research out there regarding rolling and golf course turf. Studies have even expanded out to rolling on fairway areas. We don't have the tools in our shed yet to roll fairways, but we do drag the fairways in the summer to remove dew — not just for disease suppression, but for a better cut, which we hope will lead to a healthier plant." — H.P. Rossi, The Vineyard Club's general manager, Scott Anderson, golf course architect Gil Hanse and Carlson himself) would reach out to their various networks to compile a list of candidates. One round of phone interviews cut the list to 12; another pared it to three. Those candidates were presented to the board with the understanding that any new hire would have Carlson as an on-site resource. Banks' tenure at Nantucket GC turned out to be pretty important in his getting the offer, despite the traditional turf care techniques deployed there. "Island living is not for everyone," Carlson explains. "We've had lots of candidates for different positions here — general manager, chefs, assistant supers — and they seem real interested until they bring their families out. Their wives are like, 'You're kidding, right?' It can be very isolating out here, especially in the winter. "We could tell when we met Kevin's wife, Sarah, that they had already adapted to island life," he continues. "In fact, moving to Martha's Vineyard from Nantucket is a bit like going to Manhattan." Though tiny (just 87 square miles) in the grand scheme of things, Martha's Vineyard is indeed a lot bigger than Nantucket. It's also closer to the mainland, so the ferry Carlson has counseled Banks on many aspects of organic turf management, but one of his key pieces of advice is also one of his most simple — "Don't have a heart attack. ... A little bit of disease out on a fairway in some remote corner of the golf course is not the end of the world." Shown here is the first hole at The Vineyard GC. Photo by Larry Lambrecht

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