Upon writing this I still find it surreal as to what has happened in the last six weeks. What started out looking like an early spring has ground to a halt with COVID-19 and the cold weather returning.
If you have taken the opportunity to walk the course this season, you will likely have noticed that it overwintered very well. With the completion of our successful cultural practices last fall, the turf was set up for a successful winter. I know this may come as small consolation given the current pandemic; however, we can be positive with the knowledge that when we can begin play the course will be ready.
After the rain event in mid-January it became apparent that the damage was mostly constrained to the riverbank as opposed to in-play areas. All silt that was deposited by the river has been removed, allowing the turf to begin the growing season successfully. There are a few areas that were sodded in the fall and some of this sod floated away with the river. We will replace the sod in these areas as soon as it becomes available. All contaminated sand has been removed from the bunkers and will be replaced.
The area of damage in front of 10 yellow tee deck was quite significant. It has been stabilized again and will be seeded this spring to further deter the likelihood of erosion.
The wall repair work on 9 began on March 9 and was moving along smoothly prior to a work stoppage with the current health situation. The disturbed portion of the wall has been returned to its original line and the blocks have been secured using a geotextile cloth for anchoring. Once work resumes, there is a section to repair closer to the 6th hole and some work remaining on 9.
Through the winter and early part of spring work has been ongoing with the inclinator. Although we have had some minor setbacks with machine and part availability, we continue to see progress. The cab is in place with the cables installed, while the motor is mounted. We are expecting the installation of the controller shortly, which will allow the setup of all safety interlocks and switches.
The clock base upon which the unit will sit is nearing completion. We are in the late stages of finishing the flagstone base around the clock pier. This will be followed by the establishment of a garden around the base and the clock being installed. The clock is something that Ian would certainly be pleased with as well as our Club’s contributions to see it through.
COVID-19 has had a great impact on all our lives, both personally and in our workplaces. The Greens department is no different. We are currently operating with a staff of seven. This is the same group of individuals that maintain employment through the winter and are the backbone of grounds maintenance for Credit Valley. With our current staff we can perform required tasks while maintaining proper distance and health protocols as outlined by health officials.
With the current pandemic, we are limited to performing essential tasks only. This was an exception which golf courses and their management teams lobbied for. It is imperative that we maintain the turf through: mowing, irrigation, required product applications, and the upkeep of the asset that is Credit Valley. Currently, our time is predominantly spent mowing areas as they have broken dormancy from the winter. Other tasks we are working through include irrigation start up for the season, clearing all debris from bunkers and adding new sand where required.
With changes to the 2020 season for Credit Valley we have very quickly implemented various cost saving measures to ensure financial success for the Club, without sacrificing the golf course. We have reduced our fertility inputs this year and will be using a different formulation. This will allow us to reduce the rate of growth until play begins while also reducing the costs associated with mowing.
We will still be aerifying this spring, an important practice; however, it will be in a reduced format. Our turf health is in a position right now to modify the intensity of our practices, which will save costs on labour and supplies. With the reduction in course use to begin the season and the reduction in stress, we will be lowering our use and the costs of pest control product applications. While using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to closely monitor course conditions, we will continue to ensure turf health and survival is a priority.
As restrictions are removed and play returns to the Club it is important to note although there will be some changes, the course will still be an enjoyable experience for all. We will be operating with a reduced number of staff members throughout the season to maintain a healthy distance for our staff members. We will continue to maintain all areas of the course as we have in the past, but with potentially less frequency with the reduction in labour. None of these changes will have any long-term effects on the course and when our staff levels and health and safety can return to normal, we will have Credit Valley back to our accustomed conditioning.
If you haven’t gotten the chance to enjoy walking the property yet, at a safe distance from fellow members, I encourage you to do so. I hope this pandemic and the grip it has on us does not last much longer and we can return to playing golf soon. Please know that when the time comes, the Greens department and the course will be ready!