This fall, during Thanksgiving week, the Philadelphia Association of Golf Course Superintendents held what has become their annual volunteer event at Walnut Lane Golf Club. Walnut Lane Golf Club is an Arthur Findlay design that is owned by the City of Philadelphia and leased to The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia [TFTOGP].
A few years ago, the PAGCS began helping with the fall aerification, providing a volunteer force made up of a members. Now, under first year superintendent, Ben Davies, the staff at Walnut Lane has been able to complete aeration in house. So, this year, when Ben was approached about what would help the facility the most, he came up with some projects that could make a big difference in his continuing efforts to improve the turf quality.
First up was the 7th hole, which is next to the maintenance facility. There has been a drainage issue causing water to collect on the front of the green and to the left of the approach after any rainfall.
The second and main project was trying to create more airflow by the 10th and 3rd greens. The 10th green is the most difficult on the golf course to maintain. It has all the characteristics of the worst scenarios when trying to grow turf, including minimal sunlight, airflow restriction from trees, and a low-lying area that does not drain well. Thirdly, there was a significant need of stump grinding on the property.
As a request went out to the PAGCS membership, the first person to volunteer was Bill Brown, CGCS (20-year GCSAA Member) of Aqua-Aid. Bill offered the services of their Imants Root Pruner, a process that the golf course was in dire need of! Next to chip in were Shreiner Tree Care and Arader Tree Service, offering large commercial stump grinding services. To fill out the volunteer list were members from Lehigh CC, The Ace Club, Philadelphia CC, Huntingdon Valley CC, and Bala CC. Also donating their time were Mike Janzer (17-year GCSAA Member) from Plantfood Co., Jeff Hass from Golf Cart Services, Sumner Cross (31-year GCSAA Member) and Matt Brown from Lawn & Golf Supply Company and Andy Barone from Ventrac.
At the end of the day, the entire course was root pruned, all the old stumps on the course had been ground, and the 3rd & 10th Greens had significant tree removal from their surrounds. Also, the area around the 7th green had a new drainage system installed. Finally, there was also significant brush removal completed throughout the course using two Ventrac mowers.
All of this was topped off with a traditional Philly Cheesesteak lunch and a talk from special guest Mike Quick, a hometown favorite and Philadelphia Eagles Great, who currently serves as a TFTGP Board Member and works as the color analyst for the Philadelphia Eagles radio broadcasts. The PAGCS, TFTOGP, and Walnut Lane Golf Course are pretty sure the day could not have been more successful.
Bill Hyndman, Executive Director of The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia had this to say:
“The Walnut Lane Golf Club and The First Tee are grateful to the Philadelphia Association of Golf Course Superintendents. The course would not be in the shape it is today without the support and dedication of the many superintendents, crewmembers, and vendors who have helped us for a number of years. These individuals, who all have difficult jobs themselves, selflessly take time each year to help us, and we can see that they have made a tremendous difference. Thank you for helping us make a difference for our kids and for golf.“
To say that the course has gone through a revitalization, might be an understatement. In the last 3 years, the course has received a much-needed reinvestment. There has been over a $500,000 in TFTGP investments and kind services donated! The involvement of people like Frank Shuman (GCSAA 45 Year Member) TFTGP Board Member and longtime PAGCS member and PAGCS Past President & TFTGP past board member, Jay Parisian (25-year GCSAA Member) have been key in the current momentum at Walnut Lane Golf Club, home of The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia!
About the author:
Bill Corcoran is a 20-year GCSAA Member, Board Member of the TFTGP and a Commercial Representative on the Board of the PAGCS