Last Update :9/15/2016

"It's Not Been Easy Keeping Green" - Richmond BizSense Article

Local golf courses: It’s not been easy keeping green

Birkdale Golf Club. (Courtesy Acumen Golf)

Birkdale Golf Club. (Courtesy Acumen Golf)

“I’m fed up with summer.”

So says Mike Hatch, the owner and general manager of Birkdale Golf Club and Brandermill Country Club, relaying what seems to be the consensus among his fellow local golf course operators in recent weeks.

This week’s 90-degrees-plus temperatures and ample humidity continued to give Hatch and his peers extra reason to sweat in what has been an endless summer for an industry that lives and dies with the weather.

Not only did the extended steamy blanket that hovered over Richmond for much of the last two months make it tough to convince golfers to come out play a round under the sun, it also put the grounds of many local golf courses at risk, particularly for damage to their greens.

The heat, humidity and few, but fast moving summer rain storms have forced more than a handful of area courses to take measures both drastic and creative over the last several weeks to prevent damage on greens that are still healthy and to minimize it on those that have been hard hit.

Their tactics have included minimizing foot traffic by limiting play, shutting down individual holes and in some cases shutting entire courses down for days at a time to give the turf a breather.

“It’s just one of those summers that you have to try to get through,” said Jimmy Gable, superintendent at Jefferson Lakeside Country Club, near the botanical gardens in Henrico County.

Gable and Jefferson Lakeside general manager Bob Foster have had to make tough calls in recent weeks as a precautionary measure to keep the course in good shape. The club has fared better than many of its local competitors, some of which are still dealing with damage to their greens.

The Jefferson Lakeside golf club is located at 1700 Lakeside Ave.

The Jefferson Lakeside golf club is located at 1700 Lakeside Ave.

Jefferson Lakeside limited tee times during the hottest parts of the day in late August. That included limiting hours over Labor Day weekend, which is usually a busy golfing time. It gave Gabel and his crews time to hand water the greens and give the precious turf time to cool off and rest.

“The part that people don’t really think about is the amount of stress that foot traffic puts on greens,” Foster said.

Foster cited nearly 40 days of sustained daytime temperatures over 90 degrees, which he said is unusual, even for Richmond.

But perhaps more worrisome were recent night time temperatures that some evenings didn’t dip below the 80s – the days, Foster said, “When you wake up and its 89 degrees at 6 in the morning.”

“Bent grass, which is what almost all of us have on our greens, doesn’t get a chance to recuperate if it doesn’t get a chance to cool down,” Foster said.

Gabel and his crew got creative, doing maintenance by hand, rather than bringing heavy equipment out on the course, and raising the height of grass in certain areas.

“I’ve been a superintendent for over 10 years managing bent grass in the Deep South in Atlanta,” Gabel said. “This is kind of normal to me. You build a strong plant and prepare for the absolute worst and hope for the best.”

Across the river, Willow Oaks Country Club restricted play for a couple weeks last month to help heal some of its greens and maintain the health of others.

Willow Oaks General Manager Chris Welles said a few of the club’s greens were hit hard by the heat.

“Like a number of courses in town we struggled with a tough bout of heat stress,” he said. “The worst was about a month ago.

The Federal Club.

The Federal Club in Glen Allen restricted play at points in recent weeks, as well as several other courses.

“We restricted traffic for two weeks completely and then reduced it by closing some of the holes.”

Willow Oaks, which is now back open for full play as usual, wasn’t alone in making such a move. The Federal Club in Glen Allen, the Dominion Club and Salisbury Country Club in Midlothian all restricted play at points in recent weeks.

Chris Gilman, owner of the Federal Club, said his course shut down completely for nine days in August, but reopened fully at the end of the month. The closure allowed his crew to aerate and condition the course and let it rest.

Officials at Dominion Club and Salisbury couldn’t be reached for comment.

The decisions show the balance that course keepers have to juggle to keep members happy. It’s a fine line between maintaining a healthy course and being open for members to play when they want to play.

Clubs like Willow Oaks and Jefferson Lakeside have sent out regular detailed explanations about the conditions and explaining their decisions and strategies.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Foster said of his members. “They understand the decisions we’ve made are in the best interest of the course.”

Mike Hatch said this summer has been noteworthy because the conditions have affected both high-end private courses and lower end public courses.

“I’ve lost greens many times (in past years) when it gets extremely hot because my budgets are lean and mean,” Hatch said of his mid-tier clubs. “This year what surprised everyone is it has hit the high-end courses.”

He said the few strong rain storms that swept quickly through the area this summer added fuel to the risks caused by the heat.

“It’s not always the heat. It’s the rain that does the most damage,” Hatch said. “Those heavy storms when it was 100-plus degrees just wiped out so many golf courses.”

Hatch said overheated greens that get dumped on by heavy rains aren’t always able to absorb all the water, particularly at courses where members like their greens cut short for speed. The rain either runs off or can pool up.

“There’s so much pressure for fast greens,” Hatch said. “So the superintendent has to mow them short, but when it rains the water has nowhere to go.”

The putting green and driving range at Independence Golf Club.

The putting green and driving range at Independence Golf Club.

In defense of those that have charred greens this season, Hatch said the damage can happen in a matter of hours.

“I’ve never seen Brandermill and Birkdale as good. That could all change tomorrow,” Hatch said.

Perhaps the only local course owner who’s not cursing the summer is Giff Breed. He owns Independence Golf Club in Midlothian, the only course in the Richmond market that has champion Bermuda grass on its greens, which can withstand the heat.

“Giff has picked up quite a bit of play,” from some of the harder hit courses, Hatch said.

Breed said on a recent Saturday during the heatwave Independence had a packed tee sheet of 170 golfers.

“It’s because of this champion Bermuda grass,” Breed said. “The flip side is in the winter we have to put blankets on all the greens if it gets below 25 degrees. Our bet was that a lot less people will play when it’s cold.”

Carl Filipowicz is tasked with managing three courses in the eastern part of the Richmond region: Brickshire, StoneHouse and Royal New Kent golf clubs.

He said he didn’t have to shut down any holes, but did see some damage to a few greens at Stone House and Royal New Kent.

And while slightly cooler temperatures are expected in the latter part of this week, Filipowicz said courses aren’t out of the woods yet.

He said these recent conditions are hardest on superintendents, who in today’s golf industry have to work with tight budgets and often without a lot of manpower.

“For superintendents this time of year, some of them are working seven days a week, early in the morning and late at night.” Filipowicz said. “I just try to stay out of their way and keep them happy.”

[ More News ]

Join NGCOA Mid-Atlantic - Great Membership Benefits!

Going to the PGA Show?

Read Mid-Atlantic Golf Business Winter Newsletter - click here

Tax Setback not Final - interview with Steve Mona of World Golf Foundation

George Golf Design Renovation Breathes Life into Blacksburg's "The Hill"

TopGolf making headway in Henrico County

Virginia Golf Has it All

Dec Golf Weather Impact

National Golf Day Set for April 25 in D.C.

Golf's Middle Class, Golf Course Extinction, Conservation Easements & More

Suppliers, grow your business in 2018 - become a NGCOA MA Partner!

Fore! The biggest local golf news from 2017

Investment Properties in Virginia Offered by Hilda Allen - click here

NGCOA Announces Annual Award Winners

December Perspective, USGA Reality Check?

Topgolf eyes site near Scott's Addition

PowerFilm Solar - New Blog Post

Make your facility a rainmaker at GBC

A Virginia Beach Golf Course Could Become a Manufacturing Facility

Virginia Golf Hall of Fame Announces Four-Member 2018 Class

NGCOA Announces LPGA as it's Recipient of the 2018 Award of Merit

CIB: Are Clubs Poised for a Surge of Younger Members?

Magnolia Green Caps off $11M in Improvements

Hilda Allen's Newest Listing - Cypress Creek Golfers' Club

NGCOA MA is a proud member of the Mid-Atlantic Golf Council - click for info

MAAGCS Completes BMP Study - Click for Info

2018 VSGA-VIP Scholarship Foundation Application Available

Donation Opportunities

WE ARE GOLF supporter, PGA Jr. League Championship Starts TODAY

Hunt Valley Golf Course Renovation Earns National Award

Wild Quail GCC in DE Offered for Sale by GPA

EZLinks Golf Named a 2017 Top 100 Tech Company

Lester George Recognized for work on Alabama Course

Oct Golf Weather Impact: It's not nice when Mother Nature fools us

Oct OtR XS: Golf, Tennis & Skiing: Common Challenges, Common Cures

New VA Course on the Market!

Belle Haven CC Wins Mid-Atlantic Sustainability Leader Award

Wayne Nooe Wins Mid-Atlantic Golf Leader Award

Top Teachers of NGCOA Mid-Atlantic, as ranked by Golf Digest

1757 Golf Club Wins Mid-Atlantic Public Golf Leader Award - Honoring the Best in Golf

Farmington Country Club Wins Mid-Atlantic Private Golf Leader Award

California Golf Courses Scorched by Fires

Club boosts play, creates buzz via deals

NCA's Washington Weekly Update 10-16-17

October Perspective, NGCOA & ORCA ally on Benchmarking 2.0

Beware of Clause in Acushnet/Titleist Agreements

Golf News: Canadian "pipeline" delivers golfers

Pellucid’s Golf Weather Impact Report

Pumpkin Spice Golf!

GPA’s Tips on Tax Assessments

Update From Hilda Allen

Pellucid "Outside the Ropes" Newsletter 10.3.17

GPA Chip Shots Newsletter

Wild Quail GCC in DE For Sale

Tagmarshal and ForeUP Form Partnership

Golf 2.0 Notes - September 2017 Meeting - click here

Pellucid "Clear Solutions" eLetter September 2017

Save up to 50% on Performance & Benchmarking Reports that can Help Make Better Business Decisions

Virginia Golf Vacations - Virginia Beach Spotlight

GPA Insights - The Aftermath of Harvey and Irma

Meadows Golf Course Rezoning to allow for homes on struggling property

NGCOA Announces Presenting Sponsors for TechCon

Pellucid Corp - August Golf Weather Impact

Kingsmill Championship Extended Through 2020

Pellucid "Outside the Ropes" Newsletter 8.31.17

Tradition Courses Under Contract

Topgolf Zeroes in on Richmond

GPA Offers Wild Quail GCC in Wyoming, DE

PowerFilm Solar - see how panels are made

Golf Spectating Benefits Health, New Study Shows


Ashley Plantation golf course to get new owner

Virginia Golf Vacations - Fall Golf Specials

Pellucid Corp: July National Weather Up! How about you?

The Future of Golf Club Memberships

Golf Property Analysts - Chip Shots August 2017

Four Mid-Atlantic Clubs Among 11 Wealthiest in US


KemperSports to Manage Golden Horseshoe

Mid-Atlantic Golf Business July newsletter now available - click here

Play9 - a Great Program for your Club

Hunt Valley CC in MD Renovates and Brings in New Member Services

"Fixing Malcolm Gladwell's Shank" - special article by Jay Karen

The Meadows Golf Club in Christiansburg, VA to be auctioned

Syngenta Presents: Unlocking Golf's True Potential

Pellucid "Clear Solutions" July eLetter

Bulle Rock GC & Residential Development Offered

PowerFilm Solar Newsletter 

Scholarships Available for Golf Professionals to Attend Golf Business TechCon

Virginia Golf Vacations July Newsletter

Stonehenge CC in Richmond Among Clubs Affected by Massive Buyout of Club Corp

New GM for The Dominion Club in Richmond Area

Drive Shack Rezoning Request Approved in Richmond Market

Golf Property Analysts July Newsletter

PowerFilm Solar Blog

UVA Hires Davis Love to Build New Course at Birdwood Site

Virginia Golf Vacations - The Golden Horseshoe is Back!

GolfStyles Magazine Honored by ING

Virginia Sports Invites You to Host the Symetra Tour

Golf Property Analysts - June Newsletter

Drive Shack Update - Goochland Planning Commission Approves

What's going on in Europe?  Check out the EGCOA newsletter

Congratulations Giff Breed of Independence GC, one of Golf Inc.’s “Most Innovative People in Golf”!

Virginia Golf Vacations - Current Offers

Pellucid "Clear Solutions" May eLetter

Pellucid "Outside the Ropes" eLetter May 2017

Golf Property Analysts - Do you have an exit strategy?

PowerFilm Solar is NGCOA MA's Newest Partner - learn more!

WE ARE GOLF Celebrates National Golf Day's 10th Anniversary on Capitol Hill

Bulle Rock GC and Residential Property Offered

Magnolia Green a Part of the World's Largest Golf Outing

Update from Virginia Golf Vacations

Virginia Golf 2.0 "Millennials" - Click Here to Read the Notes from our April Meeting

Modern makeover: Courses renovate to stay ahead of game - by Adam Schupak

Pellucid Perspective - What's Next for Underperforming Golf Courses?

Mid-Atlantic Golf Business Newsletter - Spring Issue now available - click here

Access the NGCOA Mid-Atlantic Webinar Library - click here

VSGA Supports NGCOA Mid-Atlantic again this year!

Primland Selected As A Member Of Prestigious Great Golf Resorts Of The World

Golf Property Analysts News - "Chip Shots"

DIRECTV deal for NGCOA Members - Exclusive Masters Coverage

Billy Casper Golf Announces Award Winners

Escalante acquires Kingsmill Resort for $30.7M

New GM for Keswick

Kingsmill Resort sold to luxury golf operator

Mid-Atlantic Golf Business spring newsletter now available - click here

Your Virginia Golf Trip Awaits - A Virginia Golf Vacations promotion

Pellucid Outside the Ropes - "2017 Industry Challenge: Delight Boomers, Entice "Gen Next"

GPA presentation: "The Evolution of the Golf Course & Club Industry - How to Compete to Win"

E-Z-Go® Launches Innovative ELiTE™ Series Vehicles To Industry Lithium-powered golf fleet vehicles developed in partnership with Samsung SDI

Waynesboro CC Purchased at Auction

VSGA Showcases Collaboration with NGCOA MA with video featuring Mike Bennett - click to view

Virginia Golf Vacations Features Packages in Williamsburg and VA Beach

Norman Honored by VSGA with Service to Golf Award

BrandShield is newest Smart Buy Partner

King Carter GC Listed by Hilda Allen

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan Named World Golf Foundation Chairman for 2017

GolfBook to Launch in 2017 - Partnership of Golf Pipeline & CBS Sports

Fore! A year’s worth of Richmond golf news

Thank you donors and bidders!  2016 Holiday Auction a big success!

Breaking News - Judge Issues Injunction on Overtime Rule

Golf Property Analysts - Golf Course Values, Renovations, Blog Posts, The Practice Tee & More!

Overtime Rule FAQs - click here

Topgolf Coming to Montgomery Co.

River Bend Golf Course in Chester Under Contract

Dominion Charity Classic a Success at CCV!

Richmond First Tee Practice

Facility,Re-Designed By Lester George Opening in November

Royal Virginian Golf Course Under Contract

Golf Course Owners descend on Richmond

Wronowski, The Pines GC, The CC of Virginia and Golden Horseshoe GC Honored with NGCOA Mid-Atlantic Innovation Awards

NGCOA MA Annual Meeting a Big Hit at Independence GC!

Golf & Health Project Launches To Highlight How Golf Can Benefit All

Golf Property Analysts Pays Tribute to Arnold Palmer

Hunting Hawk Joins Independence in Richmond Market to Offer Fling Golf

Read the NGCOA Impact Report

"It's Not Been Easy Keeping Green" - Richmond BizSense Article

New Book - "Golf Property Analysis and Valuation - A Modern Approach"

Virginia Golf Vacations - Great Golf, Great Weather, Oceanfront Lodging!

Noted GCA Bob Cupp Passes

Golf Property Analysts - check out the new website!

GPA Article - Why Successful Clubs Thrive

NGCOA MA Partner Virginia Golf Vacations Offers Williamsburg Package

The Ascendance of‭ ‬Independence - Golf Business Article

River's Bend GC in central VA is now closed

Golf Inc Article - Topgolf's Secrets to Reaching Millenials, Women

Buffalo Agency Formed - A Full Service, Integrated Marketing Solution

Golf Property Analysts Chip Shots - CNN, PHIT, Legal Corner and more!

Golf Course Tax Assesment - Information Articles

Overtime Legislation to Affect the Golf Industry and Small Business

WE ARE GOLF Hosts Ninth Annual National Golf Day on Capitol Hill

Golf Property Analysts Market Survey

Virginia Golf Hall of Fame Inaugural Class Inducted at The Omni Homestead 

Webinar Reply - "What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Lawsuit Protection, Tax Reduction & Estate Planning" 

Golf Property Analysts - Experience Matters

Webinar Playback - "How to Think Like a Social Marketer"

TopGolf Considering Richmond Market

EZ Links Acquires Richmond-Based IBS

Golf Property Analysts Wrote the Book on Golf Club Tax Assessment

Lester George hired to create masterplan for new course in Virginia

NGCOA MA Partner Virginia Golf Vacations Promotes Golf in Virginia

Buffalo Brand Invigoration Group - A Division of Billy Casper Golf Promotes Glenn Gray To Vice President

Independence Leases Halfway House to Upscale Cafe

Hilda Allen - Busiest Woman in Golf

World's Largest Golf Outing - Supporting the Wounded Warrior Project

Successful Meetings Magazine Endorses Golf Courses as Event Venues

Major Win for Golf on Conservation Easement Tax Incentive

Golf Property Analysts News - SWOT Analysis can benefit clubs

Barry Ryder Appointed Director Of Golf At The Omni Homestead

A Stay on WOTUS Nationwide

CCV Excels In Getting Girls Involved In Team Golf

NGCOA MA Partner Performance Food Group now listed on NYSE

Five Things Every Course Owner Needs to Know to be in ACA Compliance

Golf Industry Raises $1 Millon-Plus for Wounded Warrior Project

Check out NGCOA Webinar Recordings - Third Party Guidelines & Overtime Wage Impacts

GPA Celebrates 35 Years in Business

Montgomery Co, MD Pesticide Bill Halted - For Now

E-Z-GO® Unveils Next-Generation RXV® Golf Car

NGCOA Releases Comprehensive Guidelines For Online Tee Time Distribution

NGCOA MA Forum - a Webinar featuring Mike Hatch & Damon DeVito - click to access the recording

Billy Casper Golf Manages 24 Courses on Golfweek's "Best you can play" List

Accelerate has Replaced Listserve - great new member service!

Billy Casper Golf Announces new website and logo

Partner News - Cybergolf Offers Non-Barter Tee Time System






Join Our Email List