Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Starting out Slowly

The anticipation brought on by the arrival of spring and Masters week is always subdued when you are located on the shores of a Great Lake.  As excited as we all are to get the season going, it has been and will continue to be a slow start to the year.  The long term forecast doesn't contain much to be excited about just yet, so patient we will remain.

This post will give details about some forthcoming changes to the golf course this season.  With the numerous changes made to the employment standards act over the past few months, golf course operators across the province have been forced to make changes in the manner with which they maintain their properties.  To give one such example, all GolfNorth properties - 30 in Ontario - are instituting a Rake, Clean and Place rule for this golf season as they halt all bunker raking.  A significant change to how golf courses are cared for, but necessary in today's golf climate.

Although I would argue that we are not taking such a drastic change to the operation of Sawmill Creek, some changes have been required to ensure that we can provide the best possible playing conditions on a daily basis.  The mandate set out for this department has not changed, and as such we will put forth the best product that we possibly can.  The following is a list of changes that you will notice this season:

  • Ball Washers have been removed - If we don't putt with a dirty ball, I will ask the question as to how a ball becomes dirty between the green and tee?  With the age of our ball washers, and the surprising amount of time it takes annually to care for and maintain a ball washer, this was an easy decision to cut out of the turf program
  • 1 tee block as opposed to 2 - New tee blocks have been constructed for this season which are taller for visibility purposes, these new blocks will serve a few functions.  By only placing one block on the deck, it will allow for players to expand the possibility of teeing area on a daily manner, but will also cut down on the number of times staff have to handle each block.  With 4 different teeing grounds per hole at Sawmill Creek, the amount of time spent entering and exiting a mower can add up significantly; this decision will save time during maintenance practices
  • New Garbage Stations - With the removal of the ball washers, we have also removed the garbage bins located from every hole.  There will now be 4 stations located on the golf course to place garbage into, at spots designed to capture as many hole intersections as possible,  We will have two bins in each station with one being for garbage and the other for beer cans only.  Jim has done a marvelous job at turning these former fruit bins into beautiful rustic containers!
  • Hole Changing - Hole changing was always done on an "as-needed" basis; generally around the 150-200 golfer range.  Although this will remain the goal going forward, inevitably it may be stretched at times.  Weekends will especially become tough to change positions as frequently as years' past.  
  • Bunker Raking - We will still be maintaining bunkers and aiming to fully rake a couple of times per week.  The difference you may notice is our inability to rake following weather events.  A part of the new labour laws do not allow for schedule changes without notice (although we are exempt from some of these laws in weather extreme events).  As an example, we know that Friday's through Sunday are short staffed days in the Turf Department this season and should we experience torrential rain event over these days, it will not be possible to put everything back together immediately.  You may be notified occasionally of a local rule taking place on days such as this where we do implement a Rake, Clean and Place
  • Vergeer Golf Returns - By the end of May we should welcome back Derrick Vergeer and his team to complete the fairway bunkers on #6, as well as complete the seeding of all filled bunkers.  This should wrap up the project we started a year and a half ago.
  • Increased Garden Presence - We have given Shelley some much needed help for the 2018 season, as she will be joined by a full-time helper to enhance and beautify our property.  Stay tuned on this one for some exciting eye-popping changes!
There will be a learning curve for everyone; staff and members alike, but with an open-mind I am confident that we can all become accustomed to the new way of operating this golf course.  With our entire turf staff returning in some capacity for 2018 (yay!) we have a skilled bunch of eager and motivated individuals who are just as committed as ever to provide you with a great experience.  

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at jamie.downton@sawmill-creek.com


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