Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day!

"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." - Elmer Davis

Thursday, October 8, 2015

IGM Superintendent to Run NYC Marathon

Todd Hugill, Superintendent at IGM-maintained Widow’s Walk Golf Course, will be running the New York City Marathon on November 1, 2015. He will run with Team Hole in the Wall, which benefits the Paul Newman camps for seriously ill children. IGM strives to be active in the communities in which they have contracts and supports employees in their pursuits.
Most days, Todd Hugill can be found walking Widow’s Walk Golf Course in Scituate, MA, looking for problem areas and ensuring optimal turf conditions.  As a course superintendent with IGM for the past 14 years, Hugill is responsible for all aspects of the course’s daily maintenance needs. But on November 1, 2015, he will be running. As a member of Team Hole in the Wall, he will be running the New York City Marathon, partly as a personal challenge and partly to benefit a worthy cause.
“My wife has always been a runner, and she inspired me. Running the NYC Marathon was something ‘out there’ that challenged me,” said Hugill, who began training 18 weeks before race day. “A friend has done some work with Camp Hole in the Wall, and she knew they had some bibs available on their team. It’s a really good cause, so I was glad to join.”
Camp Hole in the Wall was established by actor Paul Newman to provide “a different kind of healing to more than 30,000 children and families battling serious illness each year, free of charge,” according to their website. Hugill has fond memories of his own summer camp experiences, so he is pleased that donations to his run will make those experiences possible for these families.
IGM Regional Manager Tyler Minamyer said, “IGM has always been proud of the fact that we become a part of the community when we take on a course. Todd has been with Widow’s Walk Golf Course since joining IGM, and we’re happy to support him in doing this.”  IGM has been involved with projects for Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, and United Way, among others in the communities in which they maintain golf courses.
Hugill concurs that Minamyer and Steve Gano, IGM Vice-President of Operations, have provided moral support throughout his training. In addition, his wife will continue to inspire him, as she is also running in NYC, having received a running bib through the marathon’s lottery system. “Our kids are excited,” said Hugill. For more information or to donate on Hugill’s behalf, visit:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

IGM Helps Caesar’s Improve Top 100 Ranking

IGM is proud to work with Caesar’s Entertainment to maintain its two Las Vegas golf courses, Rio Secco and Cascata. Both are high-end courses designed by renowned architect Rees Jones. Over the past year, the collaboration between IGM and Caesar’s has helped Cascata Golf Club move from a ranking of 53 to 46 in Golf Digest’s, America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses.

Golfers visiting Las Vegas are drawn to two beautiful Rees Jones-designed golf courses that promise high-end performance: Rio Secco and Cascata Golf Clubs, owned by Caesar’s Entertainment. Each course brings challenges and renown to the golfing experience, and IGM is proud to be the maintenance contractor for both.

Eric Dutt, vice-president for golf operations for Caesar’s Entertainment, selected IGM to take over maintenance responsibilities for the courses in February 2014. “I’m very pleased with the relationship,” said Dutt. Greg Plotner and Steve Gano (IGM’s Executive VP and VP of Operations) visit regularly, so I get the value of their expertise and insight, in addition to the director of maintenance, Jon Dodds, who oversees the courses on a daily basis.”

Cascata Golf Club in Boulder City, Nevada is now ranked 46th among top golf courses in the country, up from 53rd in 2014, according to Golf Digest’s, America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses. Dutt noted that Cascata is a 15-year-old course and maintaining a ranking at that level, more so improving it, “is a testament to the quality of IGM’s work, particularly with no capital outlay at this point.”

Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, Nevada is home to a teaching facility run by Butch Harmon, often referred to as "the best golf instructor in the world."  Harmon’s students have included Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, and he regularly brings top touring professionals to the club. “Expectations for superior performance at the course are very high,” said Dutt.
Without yet making capital improvements, one of the major priorities at the courses has been improving water utilization. “We have dramatically increased water savings by basing irrigation on the principle of evapotranspiration, or factoring in the different watering needs created by sun, wind, humidity and other conditions,” said Steve Gano, VP of Operations for IGM. “We’re also using the latest technology in wetting agents, products that break surface tension and allow more water to be absorbed.  In addition, we have raised and leveled sprinklers to improve distribution uniformity.”

Efficiency with irrigation is a big deal in the desert; water is a precious, expensive commodity,” noted Dutt. “We have regular discussions about getting better performance at less cost.” With a combined 56,000 rounds of golf played at the two courses each year, daily maintenance is a priority.
Gano added that maintenance director Dodds’ crew includes a designated detail crew. “They don’t ride the mowers. Their job is to take care of the flowers, keep things pruned, and ensure the course looks beautiful.”

Dutt is particularly happy from a business standpoint that he is provided an accurate forecast of his annual maintenance expenses. “That’s especially important with the way the golf industry has been hit. I operate two high-end golf courses, and I need them maintained in a way that allows us to charge the greens fees we do,” said Dutt. “We serve some well-known clients who expect a certain level of performance and experience.”
Dutt added, “The outsourcing model is out of the box, but it’s a model course operators need to look at. Owners with multiple facilities get the opportunity for economies of scale in such things as overseeding. The team at IGM are agronomists as well as business people who can help look at savings.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

IGM to Restore Cypress Greens Golf Course

IGM recently partnered with Sun Communities to take over responsibilities for Cypress Greens golf course in Lake Alfred, FL. IGM Executive Vice-President Greg Plotner and course superintendent Glenn Esposito have plans to restore the course’s fairways and greens to optimal playing conditions.

IGM is proud to announce a new partnership with Sun Communities for the maintenance of the Cypress Greens golf course in Lake Alfred, FL. “It’s a great opportunity to restore this course to its former beauty and playing performance,” said IGM Executive Vice-President Greg Plotner.

When Sun Communities purchased the Cypress Greens property, it was apparent the retirement community’s golf course needed restoration. “The greens, tees, and bunkers were in bad shape,” said Michael Machikas, Divisional VP of Operations and Sales for Sun Communities. The company had successfully outsourced their golf course maintenance services in other communities, so they put the contract out for bid and subsequently hired IGM in May 2015. Machikas said, “I was impressed with Greg and his hands-on approach. He was knowledgeable and made recommendations for course improvements right away.”

Those immediate recommendations included a focus on fertilization, weed control, and updating the irrigation system and the maintenance facility. Plotner said, “A lot of maintenance had been deferred. We needed to get a sound agronomic program in place and ensure that the property was being maintained consistently.”

IGM brought in experienced superintendent Glenn Esposito to oversee the course restoration and daily maintenance.  A previous Cypress Greens maintenance employee remained on the crew. While the contractual relationship is new, IGM is already in process of renovating the bunkers, leveling tees and enlarging the teeing areas. 
Machikas noted, “Cost was not our number one concern, but IGM was less expensive than other bidders. More significantly, they were willing to do things the others weren’t.  It’s clear they want to build a partnership.  In business, you want to work with someone willing to walk with you for the long-term.”

Monday, June 22, 2015

Golf Course Upgrade at Brays Island Plantation

Brays Island Plantation is in the midst of a greens regrassing project led by their maintenance partner IGM, Inc. Brays Island General Manager Kevin Rhatigan and IGM Regional Manager Tyler Minamyer discuss the process they followed to protect the Plantation’s assets and minimize disruption to players.

The Owners at Brays Island Plantation in Sheldon, SC, are members of some of the finest golf courses in the country. Naturally, they expect their course in this exclusive hunting and golfing community to be of competitive quality. However, as the course aged, the original irrigation system and greens from the 1980’s deteriorated, and playing conditions became an issue for the golf course ownership.

IGM, Inc. was contracted in 2008 to manage complete maintenance of the Plantation’s Ron Garl-designed course and practice facility. In collaboration with Brays Island Plantation’s general manager, IGM Regional Manager Tyler Minamyer and course superintendent Jeff Miller began a thorough evaluation of the course’s condition and needs.  From the outset, IGM knew the original TifDwarf Bermuda grass had deteriorated and mutations had occurred throughout the greens.  “This led to inferior playing conditions compared to other courses in the area and fell well below the Owners’ expectations. Also, the irrigation system was original and had to be replaced before addressing the turfgrass,” explained Minamyer.

From 2009-2011, IGM and Brays Island worked together to plan the renovation and obtain funding approval for the irrigation replacement. During the slower summer months of 2011, the replacement process began one hole at a time to reduce disruptions to the golfers. Goals of the irrigation project were to maintain the integrity and value of Brays Island’s asset, as well as to install an efficient system with the longest useful life possible.

With the successful completion of the irrigation project, the grass upgrade began.  Minamyer explained that the existing TifDwarf Bermuda grass “affected how we over-seeded the greens. New seed would not establish well in mutated areas, and those areas transitioned poorly back to Bermuda grass in the spring.” After evaluating all grasses on the market, IGM and Brays Island chose TifEagle Bermuda grass as best suiting the needs of the Plantation. “The owners wanted faster, more consistent greens that were comparable to competition. And TifEagle grass won’t require over-seeding, which means less disruption to play and better performance during spring and fall when the Plantation is busiest,” said Minamyer.  

To accomplish the grassing renovation, the course closed on June 1, 2015 and is expected to reopen on September 5, 2015. As part of the process, two greens were redesigned to reduce severity of the slope and better accommodate a new type of grass. Overall goals of the grassing project are to continue maintaining the integrity and value of Brays Island’s asset, eliminate the risk of catastrophic failure due to over-seeding and transition, improve playability of the greens during peak and shoulder periods, allow for more consistency in playing conditions throughout the entire year, remain competitive with area golf courses, and improve owners’ enjoyment of the golf amenity.

Kevin Rhatigan, General Manager of Brays Island Plantation, detailed the intense up-front education required for the renovation, from educating the golf committee and explaining the relationship between benefits and costs to educating the Board, then presenting recommendations for a vote of the Owners (425 property owners). “There was a lot of scrutiny. Our relationship with IGM is a great partnership,” said Rhatigan. “It’s not just having a comfort level with a really good superintendent in Jeff Miller for day-to-day operations but more like having on-site consultants to manage a major project like this. Tyler Minamyer and Steve Gano (Vice President of Operations, IGM) visit regularly, so we have the benefit of their years of experience. They’ve done a great job for us.”

Minamyer noted, “We have methodically worked to maintain and improve quality of the owners’ asset and meet their goals. Everything has to be replaced at some point, but we’ll do everything we can to extend the useful life of the course and recommend investments in the course that will have the greatest potential for return. .”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Winter Thaw at The Ledges Golf Club: IGM Restores Greens to Tournament Conditions

While most of New England was still recovering from harsh winter storms, the IGM team at The Ledges Golf Club in South Hadley, Massachusetts was preparing the 18-hole course for a major tournament.
The Ledges hosted its first Connecticut Section PGA championship May 14 - 15, with an opening day temperature of 30 degrees. Superintendent Mike Fontaine with IGM, said his crew had roughly three weeks to ensure the course was in playing condition for the tournament’s golfers.
“The local pros were awesome. Everyone in the area knows about the damage, and I think they were very surprised at how well the course came together,” said Fontaine.
The Ledges is typically closed from Thanksgiving to April, with snowfall expected in the town west of Boston. “What was odd this year was a heavy rainstorm in early January. Before it could run off the course, it froze. That was followed by snow storms that just kept coming. We had 7-foot snow drifts on the greens,” Fontaine explained. “When we scouted the course in early March, we realized we had about two inches of ice under the snow.”
Fontaine and his four-person winter crew implemented a plan to restore the grass as quickly as possible. A snow-blower helped clear the snow, and a layer of sand was spread to melt the ice faster. By the end of March, the crew was able to double-spike and over-seed the greens, which were then top-dressed and fertilized. “When it finally warmed up about two weeks before the tournament, Mother Nature went to work on the seed and fertilizer to get the greens in shape.”
“Mike and his team worked from the main play areas outward, prioritizing their time based on course knowledge. With so much to accomplish, Mike placed a priority on greens, fairways and tees. Once these areas were completed, the team focused on bringing the entire property up to expectations,” said Steve Gano, IGM’s Vice President of Operations.
While the course was closed an extra week this winter, Fontaine maintained close communications with the General Manager, golf agronomists, and the community about what they were doing and why. “We know the town needs the course open to bring in revenue. Our goal is for everyone to have a good experience every time they come out here,” said Fontaine.
The result was an outstanding playing surface to host the Connecticut Section PGA championship, in an environment that represented South Hadley admirably. TheMassLive blog quoted Kevin Shea, from Great Neck Country Club, as saying, “Conditions were perfect. It was Augusta out there.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

IGM in the News

Area golf courses bouncing back from winter whiteout
By Michael Whitmer Boston Globe Staff 
Aside from a chance of rain on Monday, it appears to be a glorious Memorial Day weekend forecast, the perfect kind of weather to go out and play some golf.
Just don’t expect the golf course to be in perfect shape.

The record-setting snow that blanketed Boston for much of the year’s first four months delayed the opening of nearly every golf course in the state. When the snow finally did melt away, course superintendents discovered that the challenges winter brought would extend well into spring, maybe longer. Some have it worse than others — there are still temporary greens being used — but almost every course is dealing with the after-effects of more than 100 inches of snow from a mean, unforgiving winter.
“I can tell you, in the Western Mass. area, there’s still a large group of boys still recovering. Mother Nature was pretty vicious,” said Mike Fontaine, superintendent at The Ledges Golf Club, a daily-fee facility in South Hadley. “Even still, now that the snow is gone, her weather pattern has not been all that great. Guys are chasing, getting all aspects of their golf courses ready to go.”
In the golf industry, especially here in the Northeast, Memorial Day is a key weekend; it’s when course operators and superintendents want their place to shine. It signals a start to the golf season, the unofficial start to summer, and draws eager golfers who are ready to play more after a long, forced break.
With the snow long gone and recent temperatures in the 70s, those golfers might expect area courses to be in midseason form. This year, those expectations aren’t reasonable, and likely won’t be met, at least not yet.
The issue at many courses is damage from winter kill: grass that has died, either from a layer of ice, or a combination of other factors that can lead to the plant suffocating. This time, though, there was one main culprit.
“It was the weather this year,” said Jim Skorulski, the US Golf Association’s agronomist for the Northeast region. “We can deal with weather, just not the extremes, like heavy rain or strong winds. The winter this year was extreme, there’s no doubt.”
It’s interesting, because some courses had more damage than others, and some courses experienced damage on certain parts of their course, but not others. Growing grass — and keeping it alive — in these kinds of conditions isn’t easy.
“A lot of the things that we’ve done, and a lot of the things a lot of my colleagues have done over the years, is improve the growing sites that greens and golf courses are on. They’re doing work on drainage, they’re working on tree removal to get more sunlight in. I think a lot of what’s happening in the winter has more to do with drainage and shade and environmental factors that we can control,” said Mike Luccini, the superintendent at Franklin Country Club and president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of New England. “What you see coming out of the winter is very course-specific, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent. What happens over here might not be the same thing people are experiencing 5, 10, 20 miles away.”
There have been a few positive course stories this spring. George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park and the William J. Devine course at Franklin Park were the hosts of the Massachusetts Four-Ball Championship on May 12-13. With the courses opening two weeks later this year (April 17) than last, it didn’t leave much time for the course maintenance staffs preparing them to welcome and challenge the best amateur players in the state.
“We were very concerned. We know the reputation that George Wright has, so we were more concerned for Franklin Park,” said Dennis Roache, who manages both city-owned courses. “The Four-Ball gave us an opportunity to showcase Franklin Park, and for those who had never been here, we didn’t want them to have a bad experience.
“We were very concerned about the conditions, but they got both courses looking phenomenal. Up to 10 days before we were worried that we’d be in April conditions for a May tournament.”
It will take much longer for most area courses to hit their peak condition, and that is no guarantee. A lot will depend on the weather we get going forward. Seasonal weather will help: Heat, warm nights, precipitation.
“Everybody is still nicked up, I would say,” said Fontaine, who had The Ledges ready to open April 24, the latest start date he can remember in nearly 30 years in the profession. “Superintendents are very proud of what they do, nobody wants a golf course to grow in faster than we do.”
Until then, a little patience and understanding is recommended. Winter set everybody back, reflected in most courses not opening until late April, some in early May. It will take time for the bluegrass and bentgrass greens used on the majority of area courses to get completely healthy.
“They might look healed, but they’re not. They might look recovered, but they’re not,” said Skorulski. “It’s so true in this case: Be patient. Everyone’s working hard to get them back. I would guess, based on historical principles, we’re probably looking at mid-June, maybe early July for really damaged courses to get back to normal.”

Michael Whitmer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chicopee Country Club to Celebrate 50th Anniversary

So you're Chicopee Country Club and what do you do to celebrate your 50th anniversary? You do what you do best.

The club will run a first-class outing, at a reasonable rate  . . . and on a terrific golf course.
"Chicopee has always been a great deal,'' current head golf professional Mike O'Neill said. "With its price point, the location, conditions. And, from the back tees, it's a helluva challenge for the best players.''

The 50th anniversary event takes place Saturday, May 30, with a short dedication ceremony at 8:45 a.m. The four-person scramble starts with a 9 a.m. shotgun, with a lunch buffet to follow.
Cost for golf, cart, lunch and prizes is $50, and $30 for the season pass holders at the municipal course on Burnett Road.

"It's going to be a great day,'' O'Neill said. "We've invited everyone . . . past commissioners, city councilors. It's all about Chicopee Country Club.''
Chicopee CC has long had a reputation of being a well-conditioned, challenging golf course and very affordable.

"Since the early days, Chicopee had pretty good acclaim because of its reasonable rates . . . and that has never changed,'' said Jim Low, a longtime golf committee chairman who has played golf there since its opening. "The course was built during that boom (early 1960s) and that lent itself to competitive rates.
"And it was a home run for a public golf course.''

It all started in 1965, when city resident Bob Leitch hit the ceremonial first shot off No. 1.
"The mayor and his group didn't show up on time and the starter was getting nervous,'' said Leitch, now retired from a longtime career at Channel 22. "The media was in the next foursome and he said 'Who wants to go?' I got ticket No. 1 and (the late) Rollie Jacobs took No. 2.

"I held the course record, I think 78, until the fourth foursome came in.''
Low and longtime Chicopee CC golfer Tom Robak said improvements and maintenance on the club's facilities and grounds have always been done on minimal budgets.

"So many people and businesses have volunteered to help with anything,'' Low said. "It's a special place. I even proposed to my wife (Linda) on the 18th tee 41 years ago.''
There have also been only six superintendents, with Mike Bach being the most recent. Dick Lussier, Sammy Theroux, Max Mierzwa, Donald Nunes and Ray St. Peter have also held the post.

In recent years, the city has contracted with International Golf Maintenance, Inc. to handle its maintenance. Their efforts have helped improve and maintain a Geoffrey Cornish design that has both its challenges and quirks.
"He wanted to do things like extend the ninth hole, pushing the tees back another 60 or 70 yards,'' Low said of Cornish. "And he put three pines, which had grown pretty tall, in the middle of the fairway on 7. Over time, there's only one left.''

The course is bordered by Chicopee Memorial State Park and Westover Air Base, with parts of the fourth and fifth holes in Ludlow.
Chicopee's layout has undergone a few changes over the years, most notably a shortening of the fifth and 12th holes due to safety issues of bordering residential properties.

And the eighth green, once too severe in its slope and undulations, was re-constructed 30 years ago.
Chicopee has hosted its share of state and regional championships and qualifiers, and the course record is "shared'' by amateur Steve Bys and Elmcrest CC head pro Dan Lapierre.

Bys posted a 10-under-par 62 on the "old course,'' when the 12th hole played as a par 4, in June 1991. He made 10 birdies, lost a stroke for an unplayable lie and carded 31s on each side.
Lapierre's 62 was a 9-under effort from the blue tees, with a pair of 31s in April 2003.

"There have been so many great players here . . . Bys, Mike Lempart, the Lapierres, the Wightmans, the DiRicos, the Grochmals, the O'Neills,'' Low said.
O'Neill is one of only six head professionals at the course, the first being his uncle Roy O'Neill. Others to follow were Ed Rubis, Paul Ryiz, Mark Jamrog and Tom DiRico. "And you go to any clubhouse, the name Ed Rubis is on a plaque somewhere,'' Mike O'Neill said.

League play has helped the club thrive, a loyalty that Mike O'Neill said is the club's "bread and butter'' along with its outings. Uniroyal, Tigers A.C. and Chicopee Elks are among longtime leagues at the course.
And with most any businesses, location has played a big role in the club's success.

"Our location is super,'' O'Neill said. "We're right off the Mass. Turnpike (Exit 6), 30 to 40 minutes from Worcester and 20 to 30 minutes from Hartford and Connecticut.''
DiRico has the honor of being the only golfer to make a "2'' at the par-5 seventh hole, a feat he accomplished in 2005.

The par-4 ninth hole is driveable for longer hitters and has yielded holes-in-one to Chicopee residents Adam Demarsh, Jeff Cyboron and John Glynn of Holbrook.

Monday, April 27, 2015

AMI Kids Croquet Tournament Set for May 15th

For the past 24 years, Owners at Brays Island Plantation in Sheldon, SC have invited individuals and businesses throughout the county to support the AMI Kids Beaufort formerly called Beaufort Marine Institute. Teams from all over the county come to compete in the spirit of having fun and raising funds for this terrific cause.
Since IGM began maintaining the Brays Island Plantation Golf Course in 2008, our team has been responsible for laying out and preparing the courts for this event. At the conclusion of the club’s Member/Guest, the driving range tee is closed and intensive maintenance practices begin. From a range tee that shows the traffic of a busy golf season to a top quality croquet surface in just two weeks.
About AMI Kids
AMI Kids which has "campuses" throughout the country, is the last hope for third strike delinquent boys. AMI saves these kids and makes them productive citizens in today's society. The local chapter has a 78 % success rate, while state and county centers can claim around 15 %. With the decrease in funding over the years, this fundraiser is even more important. In the past 24 years, the money raised has purchased a boat, a van, and an outdoor teaching center, to name just a few items. For more information visit

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

National Golf Day

The eighth annual National Golf Day will be held today on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. A diverse cross-section of industry professionals will meet with members of Congress to share details about golf’s economic and charitable impact, diversity of small businesses, tax revenue creation, fitness benefits and environmental leadership. Golf Course Superintendents Association of America's delegation will include CEO Rhett Evans and GCSAA President John J. O'Keefe, CGCS.

The 2014 event featured industry leaders from the Club Managers Association of America, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), National Golf Course Owners Association, PGA TOUR, U.S. Golf Manufacturers Council, the PGA of America, United States Golf Association, WGF and others were in attendance to discuss golf’s economic, environmental, charitable and fitness benefits to Congressional, executive branch and agency leaders.

Find out more at

Friday, March 20, 2015

IGM in the News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Use of Technology - Ground Penetrating Radar

IGM's Jeff Miller & Andrew Gerstner utilize ground penetrating radar (GPR) to locate drainage lines in a green at Brays Island Plantation. Subsurface targets are marked with each pass made across the green. After several passes, a pattern matching the as-built starts to become visible.

The ultimate goal is to located lost clean-outs. Once found, a vented cap will be installed in order to improve drainage performance and allow better access to keep drains clean.

The team is preparing for a no-till regrassing of greens from TifDwarf Bermudagrass to TifEagle later this summer.