Caring for Our Courses
By Holly Houser, Ocean Reef Press Manager
Ocean Reef’s regularly scheduled summer aeration began May 3, and if you’ve wondered over the past few days why the Dolphin Course has been closed, this is the reason why! Like years past, the Club’s two golf courses will alternately close through mid-October so the Golf Course Maintenance Team can perform much-needed cultural practices.
While aeration is typically their largest project of the year, nurturing the playing surfaces is a year-round responsibility for the Golf Course Maintenance team. This powerhouse team of 51 Associates work day in and day out to keep the Dolphin and Hammock courses in the best possible condition, doing everything from raking sand traps and refilling divots, to maintaining grass health and proper chemical balances.
Interns Add Helping Hands
With 30,000-plus rounds of golf played each year, the Golf Course Maintenance Team has their work cut out for them, but their active intern program provides eight extra sets of helping hands each year. The Club currently has four interns for the summer season. Come winter, a new set of four, two per course, will begin.
In addition to the added assistance these interns provide, the internship program also expands the field for potential new hires. In fact, Ocean Reef’s own Bailey Sehnert started his agronomy career at Ocean Reef seven years ago as an intern and has since climbed the ladder to Dolphin Course Superintendent. Sehnert said internships like Ocean Reef’s provide invaluable in-field experience that can’t be gained from classes alone.
“An Ocean Reef intern will typically try their hand at everything related to the golf course throughout their time with us,” said Sehnert. “That starts with mowing, learning how to properly regulate bunkers, and changing cups and tees. Eventually we get them involved in the chemical side of the business, dealing with fertilizers, when and what to spray, and identifying plant diseases.”
A Scientific Mindset
This niche knowledge of grass science is an expertise that requires years of schooling and post-graduate certifications. To work in the field of agronomy as a Superintendent or above, a degree in landscape operations, horticulture or the like is required.
“There’s a real science to what our Team does every day,” said Director of Agronomy Eric Bennett. “We study nitrogen applications, we’re constantly looking at temperature or ITI rates to project growth, and we put out growth inhibitors to try and slow that growth down.”
Covid Challenges the Courses
Bennett said the Coronavirus posed a new challenge for his Team this past year, while also presenting them an opportunity to further implement their vast turfgrass knowledge: “When Members were required to ride in individual carts for social distancing purposes, the courses were experiencing two, three or four times the amount of cart traffic than usual. This caused more stress and wear throughout the course. In response, we’ve combatted the extra plant stress by putting out potassium and fertilizers.”
Like this, much of the work of our expert Golf Course Maintenance Team is done behind the scenes, but the end result is apparent in the first class course conditions that have become synonymous with golf at Ocean Reef.
Whether you’re an avid golfer or prefer to watch from the sidelines, the value and beauty The Reef’s golf courses bring to the Ocean Reef community is undeniable, and the Club’s Golf Course Maintenance Team is in large part responsible for preserving this beauty.
See below for a complete schedule of summer course closures.
GOLF COURSE MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE
Summer maintenance commenced this month.
Here are the dates the Hammock and Dolphin Courses,
and the Croquet Lawn are closed for aeration.
Dolphin Course, Short Game Area & Croquet Lawn Closed
May 3 – June 6
June 28 – July 18
August 9 – August 22
September 6 – September 26
Hammock Course & Hammock Putting Green Closed:
June 7 – June 27
July 19 – August 8
August 23 – September 5
September 27 – October 17