Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mid-Winter Update

At this stage of the winter, there really isn't much to update other than that there hasn't been much of a winter, at least as far as very cold temperatures and snowfall is concerned.  We, the grounds department, have been very busy finishing our planned tree work, rebuilding equipment, refurbishing course supplies and putting our agronomic plans together for the upcoming season. Greg Stump and I are working on a plan to continue promoting our certification with the Audubon Society and hope to have some big news to announce in the spring. In my opinion, it could actually be argued that the winter is the most important time of the year for us because it lays the foundation for what we hope will be a very successful season.

Some other quick updates on what else has been happening:

The construction of the cell tower continues to move forward.  A completion date has not been determined, but, from the looks of things, it isn't too far away.

Fencing is now around the lease space

Some of you have asked how Mulligan is doing.  Rest assured, he has the shop protected from any unwanted intruders.  That is if he feels like getting up.

One last note:  For those of you that like to come out and cross-country ski when the snow is on the ground, we would prefer that you stick to the Audubon trails on the eastern part of the property.  Trail maps are available in the Main Office.  If you feel the need to ski on the course, PLEASE stay off of all greens, tees and fairways.  This will lessen the potential for damage to our fine turf areas.  Thank you.

That's it for now.  Keep checking back for more updates and have a great rest of the winter.
(FYI: Long term forecasts are  predicting a big drop in temperatures and an increase in precipitation, so we will continue to watch closely).

Monday, January 9, 2012

It Was Only a Matter of Time

Ash tree by #1 tee
If you have kept up to date with Elcona's monthly newsletter, it should not come as a surprise that a majority of our Ash trees are now showing signs of poor health as a result of the Emerald Ash Borer.  For many golf courses and homeowners throughout the Midwest, this spells disaster.  Fortunately for us, we do not have a significant number of Ash trees on our property and the ones that we do have, are not vital to the layout of a particular hole.

Click for larger view
Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is an exotic, invasive woodboring insect that infests and kills native North American ash trees (Fraxinus spp.), both in forests and landscape plantings. Just like chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease before it, EAB is capable of eliminating an entire tree species from forests and cities throughout the land. This makes it one of the most serious environmental threats now facing North American forests.

Emerald ash borer was unknown in North America until June 2002, when it was discovered killing ash trees in southeast Michigan and neighboring Windsor, Ontario. It was probably imported into Michigan via infested ash crating or pallets at least 15–20 years ago. Since its accidental importation, EAB has infested and killed millions of trees in southeast Michigan, northern Indiana and northwest Ohio.

Adults emerge from late May through early August, with emergence peaking in early July. As adults emerge, they leave small, distinctly D-shaped exit holes (see photos) in the trunk and main branches, which is a sure sign of infestation. EAB larvae are white with a long (about one inch when mature) narrow, segmented abdomen that is also flattened, which gives them the appearance of small tapeworms. 

D-shaped exit hole
Adults are elongate, half inch-long beetles with striking, metallic green coloration. Females produce about 50 to 100 eggs, which are laid individually on the bark surface or within bark cracks and crevices. Observations indicate that higher branches and upper portions of the trunk are colonized initially, making it difficult to detect early infestations.As larvae hatch, they tunnel into the tree, where they feed through the summer and early fall on the phloem and outer sapwood, excavating S-shaped, serpentine galleries just under the bark. The larva is the damaging stage, girdling the tree as it tunnels under the bark where it feeds primarily on phloem and xylem tissue. This disrupts the flow of carbohydrates and water between the canopy and roots, which results in canopy thinning, branch dieback, and finally tree death, typically within two to four years of initial infestation.

The end result of  Emerald Ash Borer damage.

All photos were taken of Ash trees on Elcona's property.  Many of the facts in this post came from a fact sheet published by Ohio State University.  A link to the sheet is below:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Secret Ingredient

In the six years I have been employed at Elcona Country Club, I am continually amazed at what makes this club such a special place.  It would be easy for me to say that the reputation that the club possesses throughout the region is what makes it special, but is that the only reason? Is it the golf course, pro shop, dining facilities, pool and membership that make it special? The short answer is yes, but there is also something else. Something that most of you will never get a chance to see.

I have never been employed by a club that has had such camaraderie among the staff.  To me, this is the link that helps us provide you, the member, with a club that can be enjoyed with every visit. This probably comes as a surprise to many of you, but not to the staff.  Much of what adds to the value of your membership and to the cohesiveness of the departments happens out of your view.  

Allow me to give you an example. For the last 4-5 years, after the Member Holiday Party, Angie Pippinger and her cohorts from the wait staff have cleverly rearranged the holiday decorations in a predetermined area of the club with a chosen theme.  For Horticulturist / Holiday Decorator, Greg Stump or myself, there isn't anything we can do about it. We know precisely when it is going to happen and we look forward to it. We just don't know what to expect.  This year was no different.  Below you will see some photos of the handy work that Angie and Jill came up with for the lobby display. Call me crazy, but little things like this, even though nobody will ever see it in person, are what help keep all of us going at the end of a long year when our schedules continue to remain busy here at the club.  I hope you enjoy the photos and this little peek 'behind the scenes' of what I feel helps to make Elcona such a special place. Have a wonderful New Year.

Click photos for a larger view

Normal lobby display
Side view of normal lobby display. Snowman, presents
and reindeer are still in place.
The beginning of the crime scene.  See if you can put the
pieces together on what happened here.

I'm not going near this reindeer.
He has a gun!

Happy New Year to all of you!