Waukewan Golf Club News
2021 Season Newsletter
Alrighty. So, we at Waukewan thought that the 2019 season was the most challenging to date due to the recovery from an extreme winter, and it was, but the 2020 season trumped 2019 for different reasons as we all experienced together. Returning from Florida in April to a “Safer at Home” order coupled with the golf industry deemed non-essential and shut down for an undetermined period was something that left butterflies in our stomachs. Our strategy after learning those roadblocks had been put in place was to hire back all employees on a pace that was customary and usual for any given year and block out any thought that we would not be allowed to operate long term. Well, that strategy paid off as the state eased some of the restrictions imposed on the golf industry and allowed us to open about ten days after our scheduled opening date. Our business was impacted by many facets of the Safer at Home orders that pertain to Golf, Merchandising, Food and Beverage Service, and Events such as Weddings, which complicated our opening strategy, but as the Month of May gave way to June, easing of certain restrictions began to give us more breathing room to operate with a little more normalcy. While the Golf business did recover and surpass prior years’ benchmarks, it did take some time for patrons to become comfortable enough to enter the Pro Shop and eventually place food and beverage orders, though the F&B and Event shortfalls never did recover during the year.
Just a quick word on the COVID pandemic. We would like to thank you, our members, for your understanding and for taking individual steps in keeping our employees and fellow members and guests safe through the season. We would also like to thank you for being patient with increased levels of play throughout the season beyond what has been experienced in the past. We hope you found it helpful that we kept 12 minute tee times all season while most if not all other courses in the area reverted to the minimum 10 minute intervals. We ran the gamut of initially only allowing member and New Hampshire resident play with remote check-in during May which transitioned to allowing patrons from other states to take the course as restrictions were lifted. It was difficult for us to turn patrons away because of their lack of NH residency, even feeling discriminatory at times, but we had to respect the Governor’s Task Force recommendations, and everything worked out in the end. My perspective on the summer months was that we were in a safe zone, a bubble so to speak, in the central New Hampshire region, and it was evident that most members and visitors had the same feelings. For what was going on, it truly was a relaxed atmosphere, as relaxed as it could be. Of course, the guidelines for increased sanitation placed a burden on our starters and Pro Shop personnel, but never once did any of these employees question or push back on support of these guidelines. Jill and I cannot thank them enough as it made the operation of the business that much better. Toward the end of the season, a few courses were closed by the State due to COVID outbreaks, which made the gravity and reality of what we experienced during the 2020 golf season that much more real.
An excerpt from last year’s Newsletter: “Let’s see if we can catch a break in 2020 with some great weather and conditions.” It appears our plea to the golf Gods of catching a break on weather conditions over the dismal 2019 season was answered in full. Maybe too much so for the fact that it was one of the driest summer seasons since Jill and I took ownership, which the course actually loves. Golfers from outside the daily circles of Waukewan that visited with us would enter the Pro Shop with bowling ball sized eyes trying to get words out of their mouths. When asked is there something that was an issue, they would respond with “Your grass (turf) is green!” Apparently, many other courses were powder dry as some could only keep greens and tees irrigated at best. I don’t know how we managed, but our water sources used for irrigation remained at or near capacity for the better part of the season. There was a bit of a dip in the resources toward the end of August but quickly recovered after a couple of rain events. The grounds crew really did a spectacular job at managing our resources and keeping the course in the best possible playing conditions and as always, poured their heart and souls into their season long dedication to the task.
This season, much of our attention was diverted from performing course improvements due to our efforts in keeping the course green during the drought, the greens rolling true, and the course as a whole in great playing condition, but the guys did spend some time trimming up the tree line between holes 10 and 13 and we hope that you enjoy the peek-a-boo views between these two holes. As a matter of fact, you can now stand in areas of the first and ninth fairways and take in views all the way to the 13th tee boxes. In addition to esthetics and playability, this process helps promote additional airflow to help wick moisture from the 10th and 13th greens.
After the season wound down, and we approached our closing date of November 1st, all of a sudden, the forecast took a turn from early November, to mid-September with temps returning to the upper 70’s and sunny skies for the week. Tom Noble saw no need to cover greens with these forecast highs so the decision was made to keep the course open to play until this blessing passed. Soon after, our spray applications were put down and the greens covered and put to bed for the winter. If you can believe it, we are still getting phone requests for tee times into December! Work on the course has continued through the time of this writing. Seasonably mild temperatures and a lack of early season snow have allowed us to rent an excavator for a month’s time to continue our eradication of rocks and stumps around the course and cart paths, and replacement of some failing culverts. Our ditch lines have become filled with siltation and growth on holes #10, 13, 14, and 15 and have been returned to their original depths to efficiently move water around these holes. Drainage has been added around the #4 black tee box and a new white tee is under construction on #4 that will be placed in front of the current blue tee box. We have widened the #5 white tee box which will hopefully allow for better placement of tee markers in order to allow damaged turf time to recover between tee marker movements, and added to our #5 fairway irrigation. We are raising the white tee box on #11 to provide for drier conditions during wet times as we all know how sloppy that box can get when it is wet. We are widening and flattening the #16 blue/black tee boxes as well. It is our intention to sod these tee boxes in the spring to provide for a quicker recovery time to become playable. It will take some time in the spring for all these areas in addition to the rocks removed from the fairways and roughs to heal and become playable so we ask that you work with us to see these improvements to maturity.
We made a decision late in the season to purchase a new spray rig for our course. Our previous spray rig was put in service in the mid 1990’s and though it has performed its job well, it did give us a few worries this past season. This is one of the most important pieces of equipment in terms of turf treatment for the entire course and we decided that to roll the dice with the existing unit for another year may not be a wise choice. The chemical applications for some of our treatments are sometimes more than $400 per gallon which gets mixed with a quantity of water and sprayed on greens, tees, and sometimes fairways and roughs. With our existing unit, the treatments are applied by a “seat of the pants” process where the operator senses what has been done historically, and tries to mirror the application process from year to year by sight, sound, and tank levels. The new unit is computer controlled and the application is metered based on parameters set by the operator such as ground speed and product flow, which will provide for greater efficiency and cost savings to the application process. We hope to continue to consider these types of purchases and improvements to provide you with better playing conditions and experiences year after year.
A couple things you may notice that are missing from this mailing are the Calendar of Events and the Men’s league signup forms. Honestly, we don’t know what the shape of our 2021 Events and Men’s league will be at this time. Some tournament events have been booked, but many have not committed as of yet, and we are unsure whether Men’s league will be scheduled shotguns for both leagues on Thursdays as in 2019, or tee times split between Wednesdays and Thursdays as in 2020. It seems hopeful that given the news of vaccines that will be become available, we will be able to begin to return to a traditional Men’s league schedule as in the past and work on the event dates as more information becomes available this spring. 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 Web Site’s calendar on-line as additions and changes to scheduled events will be posted there as we progress throughout the year.
Interest in club events has been flat or on a downward trend from year to year. Bob Santos and I spend a reasonable amount of time meeting and discussing each club event that we would like to offer, but the returns just have not been there. We would like to continue to offer the Senior Club Championship, Member Guest, and possibly replace the Club Championship with an all Net Championship for Men and Women requiring a GHIN handicap to enter, but time will tell. We especially enjoy hosting your Member Guest as it gives you the opportunity to treat your guest to a day of golf at Waukewan. Another pleasure for us is to see you all at the customer appreciation day. Jill, I, and the Waukewan staff hope to continue this tradition.
We do have some unsettling news regarding one of our respected and involved long term staffers. Bill Perham has passed earlier this month. It is difficult to come up with the words to express how sad Jill, I, and the rest of the Waukewan crew are in the wake of Bill’s passing. Bill worked closely with Jill and I to ensure the success of Waukewan and was always there to jump in when needed at a moment’s notice. At this time, it is equally difficult to picture what the days at Waukewan will be like without Bill’s impromptu visits (nearly daily), his dedication to your home course, and seamless way of dealing with all personalities, good and bad. Bill. Thank you from depths of our hearts.
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 membership’s 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 2021 season, please take note of the discounts available to you for early signup by January 17th and February 20th. After February 21st the discounts will no longer be available to you and pricing will revert to full list price for the remainder of the year. You will note that we have had some price increases to memberships this year as well as a change to our twilight hours of play. The twilight change was instituted to get us closer to a true “twilight” (generally considered 3pm) membership and the price increases overall were to try to keep pace with our rising overhead costs which we had fallen behind on. Twilight members playing before 1pm will be required to pay a fee for the earlier tee time. We are also considering a jump in greens fee and/or cart fee pricing for 2021 as well. 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.
Tim and Jill
Tim, Jill and the Entire Waukewan Staff