The severe storm that hit Chicagoland this past Friday took a hard toll on Hilldale’s grounds. Rain totals ended up around 1.5″, but winds in excess of 70 mph were definitely the big news. As usual, willow trees took the brunt of the damage because of their weak structure. Anyone who played the golf course this weekend, I’m sure noticed the large willow tree on #5 that was blown over. Unfortunately, the tree fell almost directly on a smaller willow tree that had been planted just five years ago. The small tree is still standing, but suffered a lot of damage. Willows are a very attractive tree and do well near water (the reasoning for 5th hole location), but are only attractive if a great deal of care and upkeep are performed. The tree that fell was right at the dogleg on #5, so you could definitely say it was in an important location. With a large portion of the fallen tree being in the lake, we’ll have our work cut out for us trying to remove it without damaging the fairway (turf) in the process. I hope to complete this removal in the coming days, but with more rain in the forecast that will be iffy.
Course conditions on Father’s Day were affected somewhat by timing of the storms, but overall I was pretty pleased with the amount of work completed in the two days following. Some cleanup work remains on several holes including #5, but most of the remaining debris is smaller and in out-of-way locations. As you might imagine, turf areas are growing at a considerable rate with all the rain and warmer weather we’re having. Fairways were mowed five times this week with primary rough areas cut three times. Obviously this rate of maintenance will continue with the current weather pattern. Green speeds were right around 10 ft. the past two days, and though I would prefer another foot or so of speed on weekends, we had to limit the maintenance intensity due to the “soft” nature of the putting surface. As it is, the grounds staff double-cut and double-rolled greens both days. Bunker conditions are a little less than desirable right now. We will continue bunker maintenance this week (sand addition, edging, weeding etc…), but please be patient as storm cleanup, mowing of primary areas, divot repair, and additional greens maintenance practices are performed.
In closing this week, just a note regarding noise (distractions) out on the course. All members of the grounds maintenance staff are instructed constantly on the importance of golfer (customer) respect when performing their duties. This is “peak” season for the amount and intensity of golf course maintenance practices, but at no time is it permissable to perform their duties in a way that is rude or bothersome to our customers. Please notify the pro shop or myself should you have an issue with worker conduct. Thanks for keeping abreast with the Hilldale grounds department happenings. Another update will be coming soon.
Bryan Widmer, CGCS