4-5-2020

Good Morning,
We have finished our first week of opening at the golf course under COVID 19 provisions.  It has gone fairly well with most of our golfers understanding it is necessary to follow the set provisions or there will be no opportunity to golf.  It’s a day by day process that staff and golfers are all adjusting to and making necessary changes.
On Monday, we mowed greens, tees, and collars for the first time of the season.  They look very nice coming out of the winter offseason.  There is no turf loss and very minimal damage from snow mold fungus.  I would say this is the best condition the golf course has been in at the opening date for several years.  No winter damage is a huge bonus when spring time rolls around.
In preparation for the opening, the cups were changed on each green and left over an inch above the putting surface.  The flagstick was placed in the hole in a normal fashion.  Simply hit the cup with your golf ball and it is considered “in the hole.”  There are no other amenity items on the course.  Tee markers, yardage stakes, scorecard holders, benches, ball washers, water coolers, etc. have all been removed.  There are no items for golfers to come into contact with while playing.
Our sanitization practices consist of letting a rental cart sit for a short time after use then it is sanitized and returned to the rotation.  Clubhouse surfaces and contact points are cleaned over and over again during the day.  Portable toilets are sterilized periodically during the day.  We are doing our best to constantly sanitize every contact point in the clubhouse.  COVID 19 definitely brings a person’s mind into confusion between sanity and sanitary.
The irrigation pumphouse has been a large focal point this past week.  Every fall we winterize this building and take everything into the shop for inspection and repair.  It also eliminates the possibility of freezing.  In the springtime we put it all back together.  Screens, intakes, pumps, clay valves, copper lines, fittings, piping, etc.  As of Saturday, the pumphouse is ready for operation.
It is essential to get the system prepared and operational early each season.  The weather conditions have been perfect as far as starting irrigation systems.  With warm temperatures, minimal precipitation, and windy conditions the greens can dry out rapidly and turf can be lost.  This coming week I will begin filling the system to begin adding water to the greens.
Recapping the week, the driving range has been getting a lot of use and tee times have been pretty decent on the golf course.  There are quite a few tee times booked for today and the coming week looks to be busy as well.  Golf course staff will continue to operate day by day in a safe and sanitary manner.  Enjoy your day!

4-2-2020

We have been open since Monday with provisions for COVID 19:

 

 

 

Our staff has been doing a great job staying on top of sanitization and following the set provisions.  We have experienced a couple of individuals violating the cart policy but everyone has been receptive for the most part.  It’s a tall task and the staff and golfers are all aware this is a privilege that can be removed on a daily basis.
Golf events and league meetings have been cancelled for the month of April.  There will be no meetings in the clubhouse.  The two tournaments on the calendar are cancelled.  We will continue to monitor COVID 19 on a daily basis and keep in communication with elected officials, the city manager, and key employees throughout the community.
Golf has been an opportunity for folks to get outside, grab some fresh air, and remain safe.  The only items on the golf course are the cups and flagsticks on each green.  The cups are raised 2″ above the green level so nobody has to reach in the cup or touch the flagstick.  All other items have been removed from the course.  We are sanitizing the portable toilets throughout the day and encourage anyone on the course to not use restroom facilities on the course.
Please contact me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.  Also know we are doing our part to exercise social distancing and keep a sanitary environment.  Be safe and enjoy the day.


3-29-2020

Good Morning,
This past week I spent a lot of time working in the maintenance facility.  I finished the reel sharpening and almost all repair work on equipment.  All the golf course amenity items were cleaned and painted.  It almost felt like a normal spring work week at the muni.
Enough of the small talk for the week.  The moment all golf fans have been waiting for is going to happen tomorrow.  The Spencer Municipal Golf Course will be open for the 2020 season.  There are provisions in place with the opening and we are not asking you to do your part.  We are telling you to do your part and follow the provisions.  It is imperative we all continue to follow social distancing, wash our hands for 20 seconds, and keep our space from one another.
The golf course will open at 11:00 AM tomorrow morning.  Please call ahead for a tee time.  You must check in prior to playing.  The provisions are for the safety of all staff and our golfing customers.  We will remain open under these guidelines unless something changes with the Governor, our City Manager, or elected officials.  Be safe and remember six feet.
Enjoy the remainder of your weekend. Please contact me with any questions or comments.  See ya soon!
Brian

3-22-2020

Good Morning,
This past week has been a week of adjustment for everyone in the City of Spencer.  I want to thank our elected officials, City Manager, Department Directors, and members of our community.  The teamwork and communication has been amazing.  It’s definitely a period of time to think before you take a step.
It’s been a week of planning ahead and thinking in advance.  The greatest gift we could be granted is if nothing ever happens with the COVID 19 in our beautiful town.  It’s been an ongoing discussion for days on end.  Everyone is doing their part to keep everyone as safe as possible.
The past week I have done a lot of research on golf course operations across the State of Iowa.  I have talked to quite a few courses and been involved in a lot of online discussion with people across the Nation.  I will continue to monitor other golf courses on a daily basis and have conversations with people at golf courses that are open to the public.  Everything changes hour to hour and day by day with these uncharted waters.
This coming week the clubhouse will be cleaned thoroughly during the time of closure.  Equipment maintenance will be completed and the remainder of our amenity items will be painted and prepped for the season.  Education will continue to be at the top of the list.
Please stay safe and think about the health of others in our community, not just yourself.

3-19-2020

Good Morning,
The Mayor, elected officials, City Manager,  Department Directors, and key figures throughout the community have met at length multiple times a day to prepare and protect our community from the COVID 19 pandemic.  The amount of shared information and educational sessions has been overwhelming for everyone involved.  None of the decisions made to date have been done without extensive conversation.
Our City officials and City Manager continue to prepare for this virus by planning ahead two weeks instead of dealing with what happens when it hits us, because it will “hit” us.  It is projected that all 99 counties will be infected within two weeks.
With a two week in advance planning strategy it was agreed at the special city council meeting on Wednesday, March 18, to close all city buildings.  These closures will allow our officials and city staff to gather more information, become more educated, and continue to protect our community.
As of Thursday, March 19, the Spencer Municipal Golf Course clubhouse will be closed to the public.  2020 season payments can be made online at www.spencermunigolf.com.  We will continue to gather information and decide how to safely serve our customer base in a safe manner.  To begin with we will provide range balls, free of charge, available on the driving range tees weather permitting.
The biggest fear of the unknown is simply it is unknown.  If nobody in our community ever loses their life to this virus than everything that has been done was successful.  Please be patient.  Please be smart and considerate of those who might have a susceptible immune system.  Please stay home.  Please follow these five points to remember:

Again, these safety measures are to protect us now and let us evaluate so we can make educated decisions moving forward.  

 

3-8-2020

Good Morning,
The warm weather has been a welcome change this early in March.  The driving range opened yesterday which was actually the earliest that has happened.  We greeted quite a few golfers with open arms as they hit the driving range throughout the day.  Several individuals also paid their season passes and cart storage fees for 2020.
I went around the golf course this morning and everything is looking very nice.  The majority of the snow has melted.  There is some saturated areas but overall it is as good as one could hope for coming out of Winter.
It doesn’t appear the extended forecast is going to provide us with these warmer temperatures.  I guess a person learns to take what they can get in the golf course business.  I’m hopeful we will be able to open the golf course sooner than later.
Our golf simulator was reserved a couple of sessions this past week.  I had a group in on Thursday night and another one on Saturday afternoon.  The simulator has not received a lot of use this off season but the people that have stopped in have enjoyed themselves.
The upcoming week will consist of final equipment inspections and the completion of the reel sharpening.

3-1-2020

Good Morning,
The warm weather definitely has given us all some Spring Fever.  The snow is slowly melting around the golf course which has limited the amount of ice in the poor drainage areas.  The areas of concern fall into the front of #3 green, #8 green, #10 green, #17 green, and #18 green.  These holes have low spots and/or receive heavy winds that cause havoc on the grass.  Right now they all look pretty good.
The new tile area north of #16 green has been working very well all winter long.  The ground is frozen but has not retained very much moisture.  This area will be leveled, graded, and sodded early in the Spring.  It will be a huge improvement from the swamp we have experienced the past several years.  Overall the golf course is coming through the off season in pretty good shape so far.
This past week I completed an inventory of the Safety Data Sheets for the clubhouse and maintenance facility.  I eliminated SDS’s for products no longer in use and collected new ones for any products not on file.  In the past we have only had a hard copy of these sheets.  The City of Spencer has moved in the direction of hiring a company to provide all our SDS’s on a website for easier updating and access.
I have started the hiring process for our part time staff for the upcoming 2020 golf season.  We have several clubhouse employees that will not be returning and a couple new ones coming on board.  The grounds staff will be the same as it was last year.  Most of the paperwork has been completed and these employees are starting to take their drug screening.  This will equate to all employees being ready to go when the weather decides it’s time to golf.  I am still looking for a couple part time clubhouse staff members to help on a limited basis.
Equipment maintenance continues to be one of the main priorities.  I still have a couple mowers to finish going through and completing repairs.  The majority of the mowers have been addressed this off season.  Reel sharpening should wrap up in the next week or so as well.  It’s getting close to golf season.
Each year The Spencer Daily Reporter completes our tournament schedules, information sheets, and punch cards.  The event schedules are mailed to other courses and available for customers.  The information sheets are tri folds with all the course rules, events, etc. also available for the public.  These sheets will all be complete prior to the March 28 Season Pass Drive.
The Season Pass Drive is scheduled for Saturday, March 28 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM.  The clubhouse will be open all day and golfers will be available to pay for their fees in advance to become eligible for the raffle drawings.  I completed a video with SMU that will start airing next week that promotes the golf course as well as the “Drive” night.  Other advertising options will start this coming week.
It’s becoming a busy time of the year at the golf course.  I’m hopeful we can have an early Spring and the golf season can get started during the month of March.  It’s been several years in a row with very late starts to the golf season.  I think everyone is anxious for an early Spring whether you golf or not!

2-23-20

Good Morning,
We are nearing the end of February and the warmer temperatures are starting to tease us with a sense of Spring around the corner.  This time of the year we see snow melting and water puddling throughout the golf course.  This process can expose turfgrass on the greens and also cause turf decay underneath the freezing water puddles.  We have experienced both of these issues the past several years.  It’s not a time of worry for me but a time of monitoring the golf course regularly.
I toured the golf course yesterday and everything is in pretty good condition as we continue through the winter months.  The snow cover on the greens has remained to give us some insulation and protection from the elements.  Some deer damage is present amongst the smaller trees on the south end of the golf course.  Points of interest will be how rapidly the snow begins to melt and making sure the greens have moisture over the next several weeks.
If the snow amount is too heavy on the greens in can lead to “snow mold” appearing underneath the snow cover on the turf.  This is a fungus that thrives in the warm temperatures produced by snow cover when the air temperatures rise.  In the past, this snow has been removed with our equipment.  If there is no snow cover it could be necessary to hand water some of the greens to keep the crown of the plant protected from the high winds.  As of right now everything looks very good.
I have been going through the inventory in the maintenance facility trying to organize and clean.  The inventory records have been updated and recorded onto a spreadsheet.  This information documents our equipment records including hours recorded on each machine for the past year.  The irrigation inventory, small assets, clubhouse items, and other areas have all been documented and recorded for insurance purposes.
The maintenance program has continued at the golf course as well.  This past week I have continued to work on equipment repairs and ready the machines for another season on the grounds.  This process also includes organizing the shop area and cleaning.  I still have some equipment to finish and part of the reel sharpening process as well.
I would like to thank the Street Division for removing our brush pile near the maintenance facility.  These were 16 large trees removed from the golf course in 2019.  This is a process that continues on an annual basis as our pine trees continue to die each year.  It will only continue to grow as we see the Emerald Ash Borer enter our area.  Tree maintenance and monitoring is a process that is under constant watch.

Below is the attachment for the 2020 Season Pass Drive scheduled for March 28.  Please share this information with anyone you think might be interested.

1-26-20

The past couple of weeks have involved me taking some time off work to deal with some personal items.  I’m very happy to see things are moving in a very positive direction with all family members.  Sometimes you don’t know what you have until life is almost taken away from you and your family.  I have experienced some life changing moments already in the great year 2020.
Our daily fee bag tags have arrived at the golf course.  Again, these tags will be given to the golfing public upon check in prior to their round.  The tag will be applied to the correct side of the golf cart and visible to employees and others on the course.  The tags are numbered, will be dated, signed, and colors changed on a daily basis.  This will help us control individuals who fail to check in and pay their daily fees.
The season pass bag tags are still in the preliminary stages.  The company should have a proof sent early this coming week.  These tags will be granted to all season pass holders and will be displayed on their golf bags and be visible to staff at all times.  We will also be issuing cart stickers upon payment of storage fees for the 2020 season.
This past week I renewed our water permit with the Iowa DNR.  This water permit allows us to irrigate our golf course April 1 through the month of October.  The water permit is not a free for all water an unlimited amount every day.  We are allowed to pump 81 acre feet of water out of our well and 121.5 acre feet of water out of our pond during this time.  An acre foot = 326,00 gallons of water which is less than one night of full irrigation.  The past three years we have not been close to hitting our water limit due to above normal rainfall.
There are a lot of things to consider when we have above normal rainfall at the golf course.  The areas of the golf course that are not irrigated require mowing multiple times each week.  A dry season will amount to 450 hours on a rough mower and the past few seasons have averaged 750 hours on a rough mower.  More man hours, more equipment hours, more fuel, more maintenance repairs, and less golfers.  It makes for a difficult situation.
The golf board has approved the first annual 2020 “Membership” Drive at the muni.  This event will be held on March 28 at the clubhouse.  There will be raffle drawings for gift certificates to the SMGC for individuals purchasing season passes for the 2020 season.  The season pass must be paid in full by this date or you have it automatically withdrawn from your checking account.  Junior passes are not eligible for the drawing.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.  Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

1-11-2020

Good Morning,
The past three years I have worked way too many hours on these repairs.  Troubleshooting is the most time consuming part of the repair process.  Over the last two weeks I have explored options to eliminate the electrical issues with our irrigation system.  There have been conversations with the contractor as well as the sales branch in Kansas City.
During these conversations we have all agreed the piping, valves, and irrigation heads are all in working order.  The main issue is electrical.  The system is 20 years old whether it be decoder issues, tubing issues, splicing issues, or lightning, these components can fail after that length of time.  All of these issues are time consuming to diagnose and repair and create situations where the system will not work until the repairs are completed.
Rainbird will be sending me a cost estimate for materials to replace our decoders with the IC System.  The IC System will continue to function even if there is an electrical issue or lightning strike.  It consists of a unit at every valve location, lightning protection, and a new interface in the office.  This option will give us the opportunity to have some very good discussions moving forward with the system.
The new daily fee bag tags have been ordered.  These tags will be used for daily fees and cart rentals paid.  Tags will be attached to the roof bar and remain visible to golf course staff.  The color will change on a daily basis and each tag is numbered.  The customer name, date, and fees paid will be written in Sharpie.  This will allow us to easily track daily customers.
Season pass bag tags have also been ordered.  These tags will have a picture of the golf course on one side with the year and name also written in Sharpie.  These tags will be attached to the golf bag and remain visible to golf course staff.  Both of these new systems will make it easier to monitor our golfers and stop all individuals not having the proper credentials following check in at the clubhouse.
Spencer Municipal Golf Course board members have developed a “Membership Drive” for the golf course.  This event will be held on March 28.  I have attached the flyer below.  If golf board members see any corrections or information that needs to be included please let me know.
Street Division staff was also on site to help with a couple of projects.  The light poles surrounding the clubhouse were repaired and are back doing what they are supposed to be doing.  They also addressed the new tile area around #16 green.  Some of the material was leveled but most of it was frozen and unable to be moved.  This project will be completed in the Spring.
Please get in touch with me if you have questions, comments, or concerns.