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In full swing at Des Moines G&CC

By |  June 9, 2020 1 Comments
Des Moines G&CC has seen about 10,000 rounds of golf through early May 2020, more than double what’s typical. (Photo: Gary Keller, Dimpled Rock)

Des Moines G&CC has seen about 10,000 rounds of golf through early May 2020, more than double what’s typical. (Photo: Gary Keller, Dimpled Rock)

By early May, Des Moines G&CC typically sees between 3,500 and 4,000 rounds of golf played on its two Pete Dye-designed courses. This year, however, that number has been upped to more than 10,000 rounds of golf by mid- May— with no signs of slowing.

“We opened March 7 this year, a little early for us, but we have experienced a tremendous amount of golf play because, in Iowa, we’ve been able to play (despite the COVID-19 pandemic). So, our members are using the place,” says Rick Tegtmeier, CGCS, director of grounds for Des Moines G&CC.

“It’s been good for us, but there’s been a lot more challenges trying to maintain the golf course and keep it healthy and to the members’ standards when we’re having that much play.”

Maintaining top-notch conditions at the 475-acre property wouldn’t be possible without the diligent efforts of the course’s 44 employees, including North and South Course Superintendents Nate Tegtmeier and Mitchell Meyers, and an extra boost from PBI-Gordon’s fungicide lineup.

The faces that run the place

Rick Tegtmeier started in the golf industry at the age of 13 after a visit to the bank with his father yielded him a position on a local grounds crew, thanks to a job offer from the banker who doubled as a grounds chairman.

Now in his 48th year in the industry, Rick Tegtmeier holds a CGCS certification and a Master Greenkeeper certificate under his belt, with a 2019 induction into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame to boot.

“Being inducted into the Iowa Golf Hall of Fame was a big milestone in my career,” he says. “You work hard all your life, and when others in golf think you’ve done something for them or for the game, that means a lot.”

His career spanned stretches as superintendent at various golf courses in Illinois and Iowa, including Urbandale (Iowa) CC, Hinsdale GC in Clarendon Hills, Ill., Des Moines G&CC and Elmcrest CC in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before he finally landed back at Des Moines G&CC as director of grounds in 2006.

“He’s been at it for so long and seen so many things that he’s a wealth of knowledge,” says Meyers, who has served as South Course’s superintendent for six years. “He’s always willing to teach yo something new and share the information he has, and he’s always trying to keep people bettering themselves.”

Maintaining the 475-acre property requires the help of about 44 employees. (Photo: Gary Keller, Dimpled Rock)

Maintaining the 475-acre property requires the help of about 44 employees. (Photo: Gary Keller, Dimpled Rock)

During all these years maintaining golf courses in Iowa and Illinois, Tegtmeier has kept the same 1973 silver dollar in his pocket. Given to him by his grandfather the year he started in the industry, the coin is unrecognizable today, completely worn from Tegtmeier’s years of walking up and down fairways, tees and greens.

“I’ve carried it as a good luck charm all my life,” Rick Tegtmeier says. “I’ve lost it a few times on the golf course, but it’s always been found.”

What isn’t left to luck is how Rick Tegtmeier runs the facility. “I’m a stickler for the little things,” Rick Tegtmeier says. “There’s a place for everything, and everything should be in its place.”

That mentality — coupled with a powerful team dynamic — applies to both courses at Des Moines G&CC.

“Rick tells us at the end of the day, we all represent Des Moines Golf. We have our own people and equipment assigned to each course, but when we have big projects, we can pool people together to get them done,” Meyers says. “If you have that many people that can all work together to get to a common goal, it makes life easier for everyone.”

Nate Tegtmeier — who started working his way through the ranks at Des Moines G&CC in 2007 after many weekends spent as a child helping out at the golf course with his father, Rick Tegtmeier — agrees.

“It’s nice knowing there’s another superintendent on property. There’s definitely a competitive aspect between the two staffs, more of a pride. It’s fun to be able to look to each other … you always have something to go off of,” he says.

He adds that while working for his father took a while to get used to, the pair have managed to separate their work and personal lives.

“We joke about it,” Rick Tegtmeier says. “He’s not my son here; he’s our superintendent. We have a little saying that we never talk about work at home, and we never talk about home at work.”

A closer look at the course

Set in the heart of West Des Moines, Iowa, the parkland-style, private country club is comprised of The North Course and The South Course, both par 72. Bentgrass greens, tees and fairways sprawl across the property, nearly 4,800 trees dot the courses and the facility’s 11 lakes and ponds add to the visual appeal
— and difficulty of play.

In addition to accommodating about 50,000 rounds yearly, the facility hashosted the 1999 U.S. Senior Open and the 2017 Solheim Cup.

“The Solheim Cup was a big highlight,” Meyers says. “There are a lot of new things that I learned there, especially being fresh out of school. The whole setup and preparation for the Solheim Cup and even the work afterward is something that a lot of people don’t get to experience, and I got it all out of the gate.”

To prepare for the Solheim Cup, the facility underwent a four-phase renovation — headed up by Pete Dye — between 2013 and 2016.

The $8 million renovation consisted of 127 new bunkers, 83 new tees, 12 new greens, four miles of cart path, two new bulkhead walls, two dredged ponds, one reconstructed pond, a mainline irrigation install and extensive drainage work.

“It was really rewarding to get it done, reveal each of the nine holes to the members for play and hear their feedback. The best part of a renovation is that it’s new and fresh, and it’s just going to get better because it takes time to grow it in,” says Nate Tegtmeier.

Nothing left to chance

While Rick Tegtmeier’s foray into the golf industry may have happened by chance, when it comes to maintaining Des Moines’ pristine conditions, he leaves nothing up to fate.

To keep its bentgrass a championship-colored green, Des Moines G&CC has implemented PBI-Gordon’s Segway fungicide to combat Pythium root dysfunction for about three years.

“I had a fellow superintendent in Chicago tell me about it. He’s like, ‘You’ve got to try this stuff. It’s really good,’” Rick Tegtmeier says. “It’s one of those go-to products. In the late spring/early summer, we put it down, and we know that it’s going to control the disease and take care of anything that may become a problem for us down the road.”

Additionally, almost every fungicide spray that the course puts down contains PBI-Gordon’s Ferromec AC, a sprayable formulation of iron, nitrogen and sulfur designed to produce rapid turf green-up without encouraging excessive growth.

“It just produces a very nice green turf that I can bank on,” Rick Tegtmeier says. “I know every two weeks when we do a spray, we put a little bit of Ferromec in the tank, whether it’s greens, tees, or fairways, and it’s going to produce championship color.”

Overall, Tegtmeier says it’s all about the fine details when it comes to maintaining the course.

“My whole goal is when a member drives in the gate of Des Moines Golf, they have a smile on their face because it is beautiful … And then when they leave Des Moines Golf, I want them to still have that same smile on their face. That’s what we strive for,” he says.

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1 Comment on "In full swing at Des Moines G&CC"

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  1. Jill B says:

    You do an amazing job Rick, Nate and Mitch. I feel so lucky and proud to be able to enjoy this gorgeous golf course. Your work and expertise does not go unnoticed. JB

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