The business of golf: the management

By Alan Prescott
November 9, 2021

Nematode Wikipedia

It’s been some time since I have written a golf article for the Fernandina Observer. During that time, I have researched many golf articles by various writers across the golf landscape around the world. In fact, there has been an influx of writings specifically dealing with municipal golf courses. After sifting through dozens of articles, I am happy to be able to provide some insight that will, at least in part, provide your readers with a comprehensive report as to the trends in the operation of municipal golf courses as well as the different approaches (and resultant effects) as a direct result of the three principal parts (in my opinion) of this type of golf course, i.e., the City Commissioners, the Golf Course Management and Staff, and the Local Public (of both golfers and non-golfers). Not in order, I will begin with the Golf Course Management.

Most golfers look at a golf course like they look at their front lawn. They assume that the golf staff throws some fertilizer on the ground, water it in, and cut the grass when it grows. Nice thought, but it’s far more involved and complicated than just doing it that way. In analyzing the good and the bad at the Fernandina Municipal Golf Course, as with other golf courses, there are more issues to be considered. Getting back to your lawn at home, what happens if your lawn doesn’t grow well after planting? Why are there bare spots? Did I use too much fertilizer or water or too little of both. Did that rain storm wash away either the seed or the fertilizer, or both? How about the birds? Did they eat the seed? Obviously, there are many other considerations in your attempt to grow your front lawn. When your efforts pale by comparison to your surrounding neighbors, your embarrassment sets in. So you do the next step by hiring a lawncare company to “pay away” your embarrassment.

So, I ask you, “What makes those lawncare companies capable of growing and maintaining your new lawn?” You’re right, training and effort. But, that takes money also. Have you forgotten the cost of lawncare equipment, supplies, and fuel? How about payroll, insurance, licenses to be able to apply restricted chemicals so that the family doesn’t get sick when they drink the water or play in the yard, and more? The point is, why pay an outside company far more money than it would cost you to do it yourself? I know, there are any number of reasons.

To continue, the Fernandina Beach Municipal Golf Course has gone through that “Hire another Company” stage, which is a great thing to DISCONTINUE. For a time now, there has been a new golf course management team in place. Your new Golf Course Manager is Michael Cooney. As I mentioned in a previous writing, Mike Cooney would have been my first choice if I was the hiring decision maker. No one can run a golf course of this magnitude alone. However, when it comes to someone who is the best at his trade in this application, Mike is that person. The following is just a small example of his many capabilities: In a recent conversation with Mike, while discussing the problems on the South course, our discussion turned to the bare spots on many of the holes. None of the bare spots were in shaded areas. In many of the areas, water was NOT a concern.

Mike mentioned that it was more than lack of water. He suspected that it was insects, for example, one named NEMATODES. If you Google that word, you find out that Nematodes have been around for about 550 million years. They get their nourishment from piercing their prey and by sucking out the nutrients out of the plant. Grass is one of their favorite targets. So, as Mike mentioned, the bare spots might have been the cause of the bare spots due to lack of proper maintenance and lack of water, especially during a dry season.

In my next article, it’s a team effort to maintain a golf course in pristine condition. When you have to repair a neglected golf course, it’s many times more difficult. Your next step is to hire your Golf Course Superintendent. Without a qualified Superintendent, you will NOT succeed. Welcome your best man for the job, Mr. Blaine Ellerbe.

I am Alan Prescott. Your golf course is looking better everyday. My story continues and it’s all about Mr. Blaine Ellerbe. For any comments or suggestions, I can be reached at [email protected]

Please be safe and stay healthy.


Editor’s Note: Alan Prescott reached out to us after reading a recent article on the Fernandina Beach Golf Course. His articles are being well received by golfers and non-golfers. We thank Alan for his contribution to the Fernandina Observer.

Share this story!