GOLF COURSE CONDITIONS PARTNERSHIP GUIDE
by Dave Fountaine
Imagine this – you have worked hard to have a nice lawn. The first thing you do every day is make sure it is looking nice for your neighbors. They compliment you, and seem to enjoy your lawn, until someone, or some ones, begin to drop trash, deposit cigarette and cigar butts, leave dog poop behind, and let their dog dig up your lawn and landscaping. You decide to post on Nextdoor, asking your neighbors, in general, to please stop littering and to repair the damage their dogs have done to your lawn, and you even offer to provide the lawn repair mix and a rake to use if needed, but no one will own up to being the culprit. After a while, the grass is almost in need of total replacement despite your best efforts.
To add insult to injury, one day as you are outside working on your lawn, you hear several neighbors complaining that your lawn looks terrible, and you should be doing something to make it look better!
Sounds crazy doesn’t it! Welcome to some of the challenges of maintaining golf courses in the Villages! This article may be controversial to some, but I hope that it is educational for others, and serves as a reminder of what we can do to help maintain our golf courses. As they sometimes say, “It Takes A Village”, and this is especially true in regards to maintaining our many beautiful golf courses. It does take all of us!
Yes, there is a certain level of responsibility for the District Executive Golf Maintenance Department to properly maintain our golf courses, but it is not possible to maintain golf courses like ours (with the amount of play they have, the weather they face, and water restrictions they must follow) without the golfers doing their part to properly maintain the courses.
Along with general maintenance, it is necessary to renovate the courses following many years of sustained use. Your District Executive Golf Maintenance Director just briefed both the Amenity Authority Committee and the Project Wide Advisory Committee, as part of the Budget Workshop process, that we are increasing the cycle of full golf course renovation from the industry standard of 20 years to 10-13 years, which will ensure that our courses receive the full renovations required well in advance of the typical scheduled renovation cycle on a rotating basis amongst all of our 36 Executive courses. As part of the Capital Improvement Planning process, Executive Golf schedules full renovations, including new greens, tees, fairways and improved bunkers, as part of a long-term schedule to keep the courses sustainable. Smaller projects such as bunker sand replenishment, re-grassing tee tops, and drainage additions, extend the life span between full scale renovations. Currently, Churchill Greens and Belmont are under renovation with Hilltop and Briarwood on schedule to start shortly.
As some of the executive golf courses age, extended maintenance closures are scheduled for rest and recovery. With all the rounds played in The Villages, older courses need time to recover and give the maintenance teams time to execute vital tasks. It is amazing to see how courses recover just by taking a rest, something we can all relate to.
For those who have been golfing for a while and/or have golfed outside the Villages, you will often be reminded of player etiquette rules from the starters at the courses. These are uniform rules for golf courses everywhere:
- Repair your divots.
- Repair your ball marks on the green.
- Pick up your cigar and cigarette butts.
- Rake sand traps when you use them.
- Drive your golf carts only in designated areas.
When you’re playing, please try to do your part to help maintain our courses. Maybe even fill in other divots that have been neglected and repair extra ball marks you find on the green if you have time. Try to stay in the rough as often as possible with your golf cart without slowing down the pace of play to help maintain the fairways.
The Good Golf Guide is an excellent resource for those of you who may be new to golf and are unsure of what you can do to really enjoy the game while also helping to maintain the courses in as best shape as possible. You can get your own copy at www.GolftheVillages.com. It lists 7 key considerations for Good Golf. One of the seven considerations is “Condition”: “I will strive to leave the course in better condition than I found it”.
If we all try to do our part, using proper golf etiquette, it can go a long way to helping maintain our wonderful golf courses so everyone can enjoy them even more!