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Rapid changes for Teugega CC

By |  April 1, 2020 0 Comments

For Ian Daniels, superintendent of Teugega Country Club, in Rome, N.Y., things have been changing rapidly. Last week the state started with a mandate of a 50 percent reduction in the overall workforce. That quickly changed to 75 percent to 100 percent of nonessential workers. While Daniels says there was a bit of confusion as to what each reduction meant, now he and his local chapter board of directors are trying to understand where golf and golf courses fit in.

“There’s no clarification about who can work,” he says. “We all have quite a huge asset that we need to take care of. Golf courses can rapidly decline if you’re not doing the minimum maintenance.”

Daniels says, though, that the “stay in place” order comes at a decent time in the early spring season, noting his crew wasn’t scheduled to return to work until the first Monday in April. He’s rolled greens once and the course hasn’t been mowed yet and still has its “winter shagginess.” Mother Nature has also played a hand in everything.

“We had favorable weather last week,” he said. “Monday (March 23) we got a shot of snow — we got four inches of snow.”

Daniels Tweeted out a photo of the snow on the course that simply said: “that puts everything on ‘PAUSE’ for a little while…”

He says he and local association members are advocating for golf courses to be open for play, or at least get some clarity as to what N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stay at home orders mean for golf courses and superintendents in the state.

“Right now, none of us are sure what’s going on,” he says. “All we can do is come up with a written plan – if we have staff how that would look. The members want to be outside. There’s not many things they can do for recreation anymore. We’re trying to say golf is a safe place.”

He says they’ve communicated with members that the expectations of course conditions should be altered, based on the pandemic.

“Our turf is much more resilient and it needs us less than we think,” he says. “We’ve communicated to our members that all we want to do is provide you a place to play golf. Right now, we just don’t know how much staff we’ll have to maintain it.”

He says a bright spot is that with reduced staff and maintenance, it’s going to give golfers a chance to play the game as it was created.

“My golf course is 100 years old,” he says. “It wasn’t designed with current technology in mind. For classic golf courses, you get a chance to see what it’s like. It’s going to be different, but it takes you back to a much simpler game, with no frills. You’re out there hitting the ball and enjoying the experience.”

He does note that for now, his facility is in good financial shape.

“We’ve already collected two-thirds of our dues. We feel like we’re sitting on a little security and we can ride this out.”

But, with four weddings on the books and tournaments and events scheduled for later in the season, things could soon get more complicated.

“We’re OK but it all depends on how (long) it lasts,” he says. “I feel for those courses that don’t have that luxury . … We have to try to be supportive of each other.”

Daniels is optimistic that the industry can withstand this uncertainty.

“One thing that our superintendent field is good at is adapting and adjusting. Every season is a different challenge. Last season, I didn’t see green grass until April 16. I had severely damaged greens and greens shut down until May 28. I dealt with a hard spring last year and winter damage from ice. As hard as this is, we’re all really good at overcoming. This is one that nobody has ever heard of. We’ll be fine and adjust and overcome.”

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