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.”