Waukewan Golf Club News
2022 Season Newsletter
Ahhh, back to a full season of golf this year with no holdbacks on opening dates, no bleach on our clothing from wiping down and sanitizing any and everything in sight, generally no masks to block facial expressions so we knew where we stood in conversation with members and guests, vaccines in arms to give us a more confident feeling about our contact with others that we were unfamiliar with. With minimum tee time restrictions lifted, we set our tee time interval at ten minutes down from the twelve of last season, but up from our historical nine minute gap. Although all that was true, there was still a bit of caution within the workforce that kept us wondering throughout the season. Were we really safer? Are the vaccines effective? Were all the people that claim to be vaccinated, really vaccinated? There are reports of Covid outbreaks at other golf courses, should we be wearing masks and requesting others to do the same? Should we be hosting tournament banquets indoors or out of doors? Wedding Receptions? Those, and many more, questions continued to surface throughout the course of the season and lingered right up to the closing date. Jill, I, all our employees hope that you felt comfortable with your surroundings at the Golf Club, and it looks as though with the current Covid trends heading into the holiday months, next season could bring about the same concerns. These feelings may be the new normal in our lives but let’s all do our best to stay protected and enjoy all that this earth has to offer in light of some of these uncertainties.
You may recall our mention of the purchase of a new spray rig in last year’s newsletter. We did take delivery of the new unit late last year and grounds spent some time over the winter months learning about the capabilities of the machine. Tom, with his extensive knowledge in turf maintenance, put our new spray rig to work early on this season and the greens this year were for the most part impeccable. The new unit is programmable, and the application is metered based on parameters set by the operator such as ground speed and product flow, which provided for greater efficiency and cost savings to the application process. In essence, we were able to do more with the same amount of product purchased year over year.
We try not to focus on the season’s weather but being such a big part of how we are able to operate, I must throw some words in each newsletter as a recap. Last winter was quite unusual and unknowingly set the stage for an unusual season of weather for golf. Things were quite soggy throughout the month of May, which is nothing out of the ordinary for Waukewan, but started drying out nicely as we moved through the month of June. Then, IT HIT (I feel like Burl Ives in Rudolph calling out the blizzard). But this was no blizzard, it was a monsoon of proportions that we would all like to forget. We recorded upwards of seventeen inches of rain at the golf club during the month of July, a bit north of that at just over twenty inches at home in Alton. A bunch of that rainwater ran off into streams and ponds, but much of it also soaked deeply into the ground and saturated the soil to the point that it never really was able to dry up for the rest of the season. Even though that was the reality, amazingly golfers continued to book tee times and take the course. Heading into August, the news reports continued to mention the word drought and instead of driving down to WMUR (drama 9 as some refer it) to shake things up, I took the news as being fact and remained calm. Rains came and went in the months that followed and there were some nice dry times leading up to a season ending three plus inch soaker at the end of October.
This past season presented some significant challenges regarding the minimum staffing necessary for the golf club to perform at peak efficiency from open to close. We generally begin to seek prospects to fill positions for the new season in March and look to have all positions filled by mid-April. As part of our ad campaigns for Pro Shop, Food and Beverage, and Grounds, we usually receive about thirty inquiries per year. Obviously, a bunch of those are not viable candidates and we can cut that number in half to get to a good list to work with. Well, this year we received three inquiries as a result of our campaign, and it didn’t get much better attracting new candidates throughout the year. To complicate matters, one of our long term, full-time grounds crew members passed away mid-season and left a huge hole in our hearts. One of our members stepped up to fill the void cutting grass and we are very thankful for their efforts. We at times struggled through the daily course maintenance workload and would like to thank you for your patience as we completed the construction and reopening of some tee boxes. Three of our long-term part-time employees will no longer be with us at the start of next season. Bob Ashton and Larry Nicol retired at the end of this season. Bob has been with Waukewan for about twenty years based on his best guess, and Larry has been on staff for so long I don’t think we can put a number on it. Larry will remain as a starter for the upcoming season, and we thank him for his continued commitment to us. Kim Hale has taken a full-time job that requires her full attention and Kathy Baker is fulfilling the role that Kim had occupied of Event Coordinator for Waukewan. Bob, Larry and Kim have been a pleasure to have as employees and friends at Waukewan and we will most certainly see them from time to time at the club.
A couple expenditures were committed during the latter stages of the 2021 season regarding facilities maintenance and equipment purchases that are notable. We had to re-roof the parking lot side of the Almagra Barn as the four layers of old roofing was literally sliding downwards due to gravity. The other side will be done as funds become available. We are also paving the parking lot area that is adjacent to the flagpole as the existing pavement and underlayment in this area was deteriorating. The paving should be completed in late April/early May. Major equipment purchases at the end of season included a new bunker groomer, a new Cushman Truckster XD with a larger capicity dump body, and a new leased fleet of Yamaha golf cars. Our old bunker groomer was a unit from the 1980’s and had reached the end of its service life some years ago. Several members had noticed that the new unit enhanced the consistency of our bunkers after only one or two uses, and it was nice to hear the positive feedback. With the enhanced grooming capabilities, it looks like we will need to add a bit more sand to our bunkers in 2022. We sold our full-size dump truck as it was cumbersome to operate on the golf course due to its shear size and went with a new Cushman to fill the void. The new Cushman is smaller yet can transport and dump the same weight as our full-size dump. A new fleet of Yamaha golf cars SHOULD be arriving in the spring. I say “should” because no one knows what the status or availability of these large orders will be. We hope to have good luck with the new equipment and hope that you will notice enhancements in various areas as a result of these upgrades. Again, we hope to continue to consider these types of purchases and improvements to provide you with better playing conditions and experiences year after year.
We are still firming up our Calendar of Events and the Men’s league signup forms. We have been successful in booking a healthy number of Wedding Receptions on Saturdays throughout September and October, and we will have to work with our tournaments that have historically occupied those dates which will take some time. Some tournament events have been booked, but many have not committed yet. Bob and I have discussed the state of our leagues and at this early stage, it looks as though the only change to league operations is that we may have to go with a shotgun start for the Thursday Late Leaguers as it is difficult to get the last groups in before dark when utilizing tee times. Monday Couples, Tuesday Ladies, and Wednesday Early Birds will most likely continue as they did this past season. More discussion will take place over the next month or so and we will make updates as necessary. As we move through the winter months, as more events are scheduled, we will post them on our website, so please remember to check our calendar on-line as additions and changes to scheduled events will be posted as we progress throughout the winter months. We will also update our calendar and send that along with our springtime welcome letter to the members that have signed on by that mailing date.
We would like to again thank all our members who commit to join early. This is important to all of us at Waukewan as much of the course improvement, maintenance, and planning is done for the year to come in the off season. These early memberships provide us with the capability to follow through and complete many maintenance projects in the off season. As a reminder, if you do wish to join as a member for the 2022 season, please take note of the discounts available to you for early signup by January 16th and February 20th. After February 20th the discounts will no longer be available to you and pricing will revert to full list price for the remainder of the year. A couple of changes to be aware of before signing on for the 2022 season:
- Please take note of the mailing address at the bottom of the membership form. To eliminate the errors that occur throughout mail forwarding, we are requesting that the form and payment be sent directly to our winter address.
- Twilight members playing before 1pm will be required to pay full rate less five dollars for the earlier tee time.
- Per Diem cart fees are increasing from $12/$17 to $15/$20 for 9/18 holes respectively. Purchase of a season cart membership may net a savings depending on your number of rounds played.
If you choose to continue your membership over the coming years, we hope that you observe and enjoy the playing conditions and improvements that are being provided for you. As always, we are committed to making Waukewan Golf Club the best golfing experience possible! Have a Merry Christmas and a safe, Happy New Year to follow. Looking forward to seeing you all next year.
Tim and Jill
Tim, Jill and the Entire Waukewan Staff