24 Winters and Saying Good-bye

Where do you even begin? After 24 Winters my time on Martha's Vineyard has come to an end. I have accepted an offer on Cape Cod and will be moving into our home in the town of Sandwich. In some ways it was the hardest decision to make. In others, the easiest. We have never had clear long term plans choosing to live life as it came. When I achieved Certification in 1999 many of you were saddened because you assumed it meant I was leaving. When we purchased our home it was the same. For 10 years we fielded questions about where we lived from relatives, members, peers, you name it. Seems no one could grasp the concept of needing to own a home and choosing one in the general area. I always said it would have been easier if we bought in Florida or some other "retirement" location. I do not have to explain to most of you reading this the difficulties of having a property you do not live in full time. For most it is a second home and seasonal. You spend months at a time or seasons in each location. For us it was hours and days. There are many reasons for our decision to leave but one of the main ones is to simply live in our own home. That is a concept many of you have not had the misfortune to experience. We are over 50 and have never lived in our own home. We had several apartments starting with our first which was 30 years ago now. None will have as many cherished memories as the one above the clubhouse.

Jobs can be special. I cannot tell you how many people tell me how much they loved their summer job working on a golf course all those many years ago. Properties can be special, especially when your job is to be the steward and you spend most of your time on it. What makes life memorable and complete is the people. We have such fond memories of life on Martha's Vineyard and Mink Meadows but it is through the experiences with all of the people that make them special. There are so many that have touched our lives it would be impossible to ramble on without forgetting someone. Many have passed away which is to be expected after 24 winters. Others have moved away. As it is our time to do just that.

It is impossible to sum up in a few words what it has been like being at Mink Meadows. We moved there in our 20's with a 4 year old. Many of you not only watched him grow but played a part in his upbringing helping us make him into the wonderful man he is today. Whether it was simply stopping to toss the ball with him and his friends as the played on the lawn or asking him how his school work was going and offering kind words. We were not only treated like family by the Mink Meadows landowners but also the members of the club. For that we will be forever grateful. We will miss you all very much but are only a boat ride away.

Part of our family life included two amazing dogs. I am especially grateful to everyone who allowed that to happen. There is still a hole in my life not having a furry friend by my side. I also want to thank you all for tolerating my unconventional methods of green keeping. I was certainly trained in conventional methods and why I chose to be as environmentally conscience is still a mystery, even to me. I chose a wait and see approach when it came to insecticide use. We suffer through some damage as the predators tear up the grass looking for grubs but you all have been tolerant buying into the thought that it is worth it over wide spread chemical use. The use of the Bioject where we brewed a natural bacteria to suppress fungi on fairways was another example. The 21 straight seasons is as much your accomplishment as mine. I will tell you I had decided to abandon that for this upcoming season. My plan was to spray the fairways conventionally and see if they performed better. This was my decision alone just as it was to try the Bioject in the first place. Part of the beauty of this business is that you can never rest on your laurels and you have to be willing to change and grow. This is made easier when you have an understanding membership, board, ownership. I would not be half the Superintendent I am without all the support and willingness to allow me to grow and learn over the years. I know you will do the same for my successor.

I hope everyone has had a great Winter and continues to have a healthy and wonderful season.




Winter's first snow

It was bound to happen. It is winter after all and it has been cold. Eventually one of the storms hitting New England was going to give us snow instead of rain. Of course I never said it had to last. We received about 2-3 inches starting around 1 PM. The new heater in the apartment stopped working so while the repair guy was making the trek down and up the stairs to his van for supplies and tools I kept the stairs swept off for safety. During one of these forays I noticed the snow had changed to a heavy wet "snowman" consistency. Feeling the childish impulse I decided to oblige myself (a rarity for anyone who knows me) and put a "Frosty" on the bench on the 10th tee. As I did this I could feel the precipitation changing to frozen grains. The heat was repaired and normal life resumed until the kitchen sink decided it would stop draining....

Why so glum chum? 


frozen grains on deck about 5 PM
Next morning no "Frosty"

Just another saturated winter day

And just like that it was all gone. My hope is the 1.03" and high temperature of 52 maybe broke the frost but based on the short walk to work I have my doubts. I will walk the course to check and more then likely close the greens once again. It is down to 42 already and night time temps are predicted for 20's so the cycle continues. Saturate - freeze -thaw- freeze. Fingers crossed for the hearty souls who are still playing but my gut tells me we are in for a mushy stretch which will require the greens to remain closed until they drain and firm up.

Winter and the 4 F's

The roller coaster continues. This is our second spell of single digit temperatures this winter season. It has been wet with over 7" of rain in January and fairly mild temps but these deep freezes remind us that is is truly winter. We continued our light and air enhancement of the third green. The unexpected bonus of this tree removal was the improved sight lines to the fourth hole. The stunted cherry on the edge of this tree cluster was saved, for now, and should make a nice specimen tree in the area.

3 green corner thinned out

nice view of 4
This should really help get some much needed morning sun onto the 3rd green. It will also allow for errant shots to the left be found and played easier which will speed up play.

These roller coaster temps with rain have created some issues when it comes to the ability to stay on the greens. When they are completely frozen damage is not an issue. Nor is it a big deal if they are firm when not frozen. It is when there is frost in the ground and the temps get above freezing the surface can become mushy with the ground underneath frozen. A simple way to think about when the greens are playable is the 4 F's: Frost Free or Fully Frozen. It may not be a perfect axiom but it is close.
Foot prints in soft wet greens while frozen underneath

Here is a deep dive from the USGA on the principles of winter play: USGA winter play article

ice puddle on the road



Great sunset the other night