Minimalist Maintenance At Duncan Meadows Produces Maximum Value

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by Rick Munro

On June 29 I had the pleasure of attending the media golf day for the BC Amateur Golf Championships to be held at Duncan Meadows Golf Course in Duncan, BC from July 12-17. 

As a part of the media day I had the opportunity to golf with course Superintendent Dave Brummitt.  Dave has been the Superintendent at Duncan Meadows for 13 years and in the golf maintenance business for 27. 

Prior to this day I had not played or even visited Duncan Meadows and what I saw truly impressed me. As I drove into the property the first thing I noticed was the number of beautiful gardens that were placed throughout the parking lot and around the clubhouse.

Upon closer inspection I found many native varieties of plants such as salal, Oregon grape and lavender. It was apparent that the people running this facility have a firm understanding of what it takes to produce an environmentally friendly golf facility. 

As I walked behind the clubhouse I saw an environmental oasis of freshly cut greens, tees and fairways surrounded by ponds that were supported by large buffer zones of un-maintained turf and aquatic emergent plants such as bulrushes and cattails.

Once Dave and I got out on the course and had a chance to talk he was telling me about some of the animals that frequent Duncan Meadows. Much to his chagrin a herd of Roosevelt elk spend time at the property albeit destroying newly planted trees and marking up the playing surfaces, particularly in the winter. 

Other mammals such as deer and river otter are also regular visitors to Duncan Meadows. There is certainly no shortage of habitat or native areas for animals to feel welcome.

We started our round on the 5th hole which meant the first shot of the day played over the irrigation pond, which at this time of the year was still quite full. Dave explained to me that what you see is what you get when it comes to irrigation water.

There are no underground wells or unlimited water sources feeding the pond. The water that was on the golf course that day was all he had to keep the course alive for the season.

As we made our way around the property I could see pumps with hoses running from one pond to the next, with all water eventually making it to the irrigation pond. In total there are 16 ponds on the property containing water that will likely be used for irrigation or dried up by the season’s end.

Given the dry weather we have been experiencing it was obvious that Brummitt did not have a lot to work with for an irrigation system. With many golf courses having the luxury of wall-to-wall irrigation, Brummitt has been charged with keeping the turf alive using a single row system.

This means that there is one row of sprinkler heads down the middle of each fairway with no sprinklers for the rough or periphery areas of the golf course.

Throughout the golf course are naturalized areas that are not touched by the maintenance crew leaving the property a wildlife haven for animals to live and golfers to appreciate. The contrast of the green fairways against the rugged look of the native areas is truly impressive.

I had the unfortunate opportunity to get a close look at many of the ponds on the course as I searched for my golf balls. All of the ponds seemed to be in great condition with very little if any algae buildup and clear water that was obviously suited for animals to drink while resting on the property.

Ponds that are full of algae are indicators of nutrient loading caused by inefficient or poor fertilizing practices. It was clear to me that Brummitt knows exactly what he is doing when it comes to harmonizing the golf course with the environment.

In a time of million dollar maintenance budgets and perfectly manicured golf courses a la Augusta National, credit must be given to the BCGA for choosing a wildlife sanctuary like Duncan Meadows to host one of the biggest tournaments of the year. 

The British Open style of maintenance employed by Superintendent Dave Brummitt and his staff is a wonderful demonstration of the beauty that can be accomplished using limited resources and extensive creativity. 

Duncan Meadows owner Ming Hui has a product he can certainly be proud of. Dave Brummitt is an environmental champion and a true credit to the golf Superintendent profession.

About The Writer:
Rick Munro has been working in the golf course maintenance and construction industry for the past 20 years and has professional certificates in Turfgrass Management, Environmental Management of the golf course as well as Golf Course Construction and Design from the University of Guelph.

Rick is the principal of an Environmental Consulting business called GREENSIDE Environmental Services set to start operations in April specializing in Audubon certification aid for golf courses.

He can be contacted at rickcliffs@hotmail.com


           
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