Is the course getting bigger?

The general premise of this post deals with maintenance. For years I have thought about the subtle changes to the property and how they impact the overall program. This is my 17th winter on the vineyard and over the years we have made many changes to the course small and large. Adding to the total number of greens, think 15 or the nursery are not the type of examples I am thinking of although they do add to the impact.

Will between road and 9 fairway

The areas that I have always remembered having a direct impact deal mostly with leaves. The picture above shows one of these sections. When I arrived the area between the ninth hole and golf club road was woods. Unmaintained, low bush blueberry, scrub oak, poison ivy woods. To clean the course off we would simply blow the leaves off the course and into the woods. To combat the poison ivy I decided to convert the woods to fescue. As we chip away at the trees this becomes easier and our views of the pond and sound beyond improve. We also now cannot simply blow the leaves into this area to clean the course but need to clean this area, at some point (see picture above),  as well. As part of this area the current handicap parking and sidewalk was also woods which made cleaning the lawn a lot easier. Another spot in this area is where the current putting green is located. Originally woods with a path through it from Mitchell rd. Cleaning the leaves from behind the ninth green or the range tee was simple: blow it in the woods. Now we have the chipping green, putting green and bunker in that spot.

Kevin right of 1 tees by Turf Maint. buildings

compost pile behind 5 tee
Add to this area the right side of 1 tees behind the cart barn down the first hole (see picture of Kev above). Three examples right around the clubhouse. So as the property becomes more manicured or landscaped essentially it is getting bigger. This adds the dynamic of what to do with all the stuff we used to blow or lose into the woods? We try to mulch as many of the leaves as we can but there always seems to be plenty to pick up. We have a clean fill dump, for lack of a better term, or compost area to the right of six (see picture above). We store all of our topsoil spoils from projects to be screened and re-used later. We also dump chips from tree projects although we do not have any chip beds anymore so the pile is composting into mulch and soon topsoil. We have a small rock pile which we save for future use and then the rest of our debris: leaves, sticks, branches, sand build up from bunkers or bunker edging all goes into this area. The area is getting full and at some point we will have it hauled off to John Keene's pit. John runs the only stump dump on the island and really the only place to bring organic debris. He has a lot of equipment to deal with this stuff and has many nice products for sale that is made from these such as: compost, topsoil, mulch. He also separates rocks and gravel to make hardener, fill and field stones for walls. Add to that all the imported materials: stones, gravel, shells etc and it is a one stop shop for most landscape materials. Without the services provided by John Keene's operation we would all have to haul this stuff off-island in dumpsters or handle them on-site. We do haul many loads to Keene's throughout the year but mostly when dealing with full trees or stumps. Even the leaves would be cumbersome to drive to West Tisbury for every load. On a good day if we have the area prepped we can fill the truck 3-4 times. It is a lot quicker to stay on property with each load, not to mention cheaper with fuel and labor costs.
Getting back to subtle changes around the course. Here are a few more to tax your memory and see if you can remember them from a few years back. Some of you may remember them through many stages of landscaping as these things have a tendency to change as priorities or money to maintain them change. The right side of the first green was a patch of woods. As the leaves fell you could see the water beyond and so I worked to improve this view year round. The scrub trees were cut, some pruning and removal on the neighbors properties and we left this area as a wood chip bed for years. Eventually the mounds were created with topsoil purchased from, then new land owner, now president, Joe Fitzgerald. I assumed the mounds would be enough to keep cars out and they were for a few years. One fateful night a few winters ago they proved me wrong when they tore up the first green, so now we have the fence. The left of the first green was a material storage area. Many piles spread willy nilly taking up a huge area. I consolidated this into bins by the second tee and converted the area into a fescue patch and cedar nursery. The right and left of the 3rd green as well as the back of the 4th were woods. Ten yards off a green and you were in low bush blueberry woods. Lucky to find your ball never mind play out of them. Behind 5 green, now that I think of it, was the same. These were not major events that were planned for, budgeted, thought about and then implemented. It was more of a gradual subtle change to make minor improvements year after year. The overall impact was to make the property, that we maintain at least, bigger. I assume for the better. With the change in technology and the ball flying father we do still hear complaints about the place not being big enough. I often wish I could produce a visual image right then and there to show 'you should have seen it before'. I am a little more conscious of the impact landscaping has to the bottom line before undertaking any projects but again they are usually small in nature and only in the big picture do they add up. Add to this story the increased landscaping of the landowners and the property certainly seems to be getting bigger. certainly a lot less natural or un-maintained.

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