Spring is in the air in central Ohio. The days are getting longer, the grass is getting greener, flowers are blooming and trees are budding as Mother Nature prepares for a welcome change in seasons.
As we leave winter behind, our attention shifts towards May 30 – June 5 for the 41st playing of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. However, preparations for the prestigious invitational hosted by golf legend Jack Nicklaus are a year-round endeavor. From the dedicated Tournament staff... to the Muirfield Village Golf Club team, to our volunteers and beyond, preparing for the Memorial is truly a labor of love.
One of the most visible examples of this preparation can be found in the countless hours spent each year maintaining one of the most finely conditioned golf courses on the PGA TOUR. Meticulously manicured fairways, tees and greens, complemented by thousands of spectacular and colorful flowers, trees and plant life all take careful planning and precise coordination to bring to life in the spring.
There are a number of processes that require completion throughout the year in order to ensure a successful transition from season to season. These critical tasks are the responsibility of the talented course maintenance crew at Muirfield Village Golf Club. And those efforts don’t take a break during the winter. In fact, the maintenance crew is as busy as ever.
This winter was no exception.
A reasonably mild central Ohio winter afforded the crew the chance to complete several drainage projects, remove and rebuild three large drive bridges, update the course pump house, continue an important tree management program, complete equipment maintenance and further staff education.
Drainage projects were a priority in several areas to improve surface water removal and sub-surface drainage. The wet weather experienced last summer helped staff identify several areas that were in need of attention to reduce saturation time and minimize the down time before maintenance and playability standards could be resumed. In total, 3,219 feet of drainage were added during the off season.
Three bridges received an overhaul during the winter months. The bridge located at No. 3 green, the bridge player left of No. 6 tee leading to the fairway, and the bridge player right of No. 7 tee were all stripped down to steel “I” beams and rebuilt with all new lumber. The chief difference in the new bridges is the use of pressure-treated lumber, which will help protect the structure and ultimately provide a stronger, more durable bridge.
A new filtration system and controller was installed in the pump house. The new system includes technology that requires significantly less maintenance to work properly, allowing better protection for both the pumps and irrigation system for Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Consistent with the past few years, more ash trees were removed as a result of the Emerald Ash Borer.
However, this year the crew was able to counter the removal of trees around the property with the planting of several varieties of new trees around the practice facility. These new additions continue the maturation of the practice facility. There were 33 trees planted in all, including species such as kousa dogwoods, sycamores, oaks, maples, and tree lilacs.
Winter is a very busy time for the mechanics that care for the equipment used by the course maintenance crew. Intensive maintenance is performed on the entire fleet to ensure peak performance. Mower blades are not the only things that receive sharpening, however. Maintenance staff members have the opportunity through the winter months to sharpen their skills by attending educational seminars, participating in ‘in-house’ safety training, and catching up on industry best practices and the latest discoveries from university research.