Feature Interview with Scott Anderson, Part II
Scott Anderson, GCSAA, is the head superintendent at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pa. While many courses in the district closed orare severely stressed due to the difficult weather conditions over the past few years, the 27-holes at Huntingdon Valley continue to play ideally for its architecture; that is firm and fast through the green with firm greens that only lightly dent with lofted approach shots. The course is kept ‘very’ dry when nature allows. Thus course conditions do change considerably with the weather. One day you’ll be playing a bump and run type game, the next day following a rain you might play the aerial game. The goal is always firm and fast. The course dries out quickly because it is not wettobegin with. Balls bound down and across the fairways guided by the skill of the golfer and the effects of topography and gravity setting the stage for a supreme test of decision-making and ball striking.
Scott has a unique way of looking at the maintenance and playability of his golf course. His water bill pleases the club, he aerates far less than most; the rate of application of fertilizer, pesticides and chemicals is dramatically lower than is common practice. Scott uses some unusual minerals and top-dressing mixtures. His is an integrated process that simply works; it is a tremendous bonus that it also saves money – a lot of it. Given the state of golf today, a revolution in golf maintenance practices is in order and Scott is surely one candidate to lead a ‘sea change’ where the priority is on playability and turf durability.
Scott has earned the complete support of his membership and works with such visionaries as Lincoln Roden III (see his December 2001 Feature Interview on this site) and Jim Sullivan (his son, Jim Sullivan II posts here regularly and is one of a very long line of championship golfers to come out of HVCC). Communication and education have been key components in getting a unified membership behind these successful practices.
1. You mentioned the Quality Standards document that was prepared for Huntingdon Valley Country Club. Would you allow us to see what this document entails?
Yes, below is our 2005 Quality Standards and Objectives Report. I think the readers might find this of interest.
Revised April 20, 2005
Golf Course Quality Standards and Objectives
Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Golf Course Superintendent: Scott Anderson Asst. Golf Course Superintendent: Gabe Wochley, Lindsey Baker Greens Committee Members: Michael Dougherty, Green Chairmen, Harry Lonsdale III, Nancy Michener, Dan Kelley, John Luviano Jr., Robert O’Connor, Dr. John Carabello, and Doug Gregor Mission: To prepare and preserve the golf course as Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s major asset and as its best opportunity to provide enjoyment to its members. To understand and fulfill the architect’s goals for a firm, fast and fairchallenge for all levels of players. To plan and execute a program that maintains a superior golf experience at Huntingdon Valley, as well as enhances and protects the view and aesthetics of our valley. Overall Objectives: The course will be maintained such that excellent playing conditions exist for both the championship and the average golfer. The golf course should play near championship standards, within weather limitations, on a continued basis and at championship standards for certain events. These events will be determined annually by the Golf and Green Committees. The goal of maintenance is the least amount of interference and inconsistent factors possible. Environmental stewardship and resource management will impact selecting and applying products to the golf course. The course will be developed to handle increasing cart use and availability any time the course is open and safe for cart use. These objectives will be met within an overall annual capital and maintenance budget prepared by the Greens Superintendent and approved by the Board of Governors of Huntingdon Valley Country Club. GREENS: The objective is a putting surface with smoothness, firmness, limited grain and with an overall uniformity. The greens will be closely mowed with good to excellent speed. Green Standards: – Greens will be mowed daily during the growing season. Spring and late fall heights of cut will be 9/64′ with smooth rollers. The heights will be lowered on or about Memorial Day to 1/8′. Health conditions permitting, the height will be lowered to 7/64′ and will remain throughout July and August with a separate band cut at 1/8.’ – Greens will be hand mowed weekdays and after heavy rainfall. They will be triplex mowed on weekends and as a second cut to maintain relative speed objectives. Grooming and/or verticutting will be used periodically to control grain and keep it at acceptable levels. – Greens will be rolled on Saturdays, if needed, to maintain minimum speed objectives. – Greens speed will be measured Wednesday and Friday via the stimpmeter in order to maintain minimum speed objectives. These readings will be included into the Superintendent’s monthly quality report. – Growth regulator will be applied as an aid to increase green speed – Relative Green Speed Minimums (weather permitting): Regular Play: 110′ minimum Weekend Play: 115′ minimum Tournament Play: 120′ minimum – Greens will be topdressed in early spring for smoothness and growth. Additional topdressing may be needed for preparation of tournament conditions. – Greens will be aerated as follows: All twenty-seven holes will be aerated in the spring using Ã‚¼’ tines and will be completed within a three day period (weather permitting). Late fall aeration will consist of Ã‚½’ x 10′ deep drill tines covering all twenty-seven holes over a three day period (weather permitting). Axis (soil amendment) will be gradually incorporated into the root zone. – Greens will be irrigated as little as possible to promote deep rooting, drought tolerance, and minimal disease problems. Greens will be firm and the soil dry whenever possible. – Greens will be checked daily with cups being changed as needed. – Greens will be monitored throughout the winter months (November to March) to determine if they can remain open for play. All efforts will be taken to ensure a minimum of nine holes will be open for play during the winter months (weather permitting). The general rule is that the Cut-In-Nine greens will remain open whenever possible. Alternate greens will be required when weather conditions dictate that severe damage will occur if greens are played on. – Greens apron and collars will be maintained with adequate and consistent cushion of rough from collar to bunker. Collars will be mowed at 7/16′ during the spring and will be lowered to 3/8′ on or about Memorial Day. The collars will generally be 30′ wide. TEES: The objective is a teeing surface that is smooth, firm, level and without weeds. Tees will be closely mowed and consist of predominately bentgrass. Ryegrass will be introduced in high wear areas. A conscientious effort will be taken to maintain our tees to look like greens only cut slightly higher. Tee Standards: – Tees will be mowed at 7/16′ during the spring and lowered to 3/8′ on or about Memorial Day. Tees will be mowed two to four days a week depending on growth. – The turfgrass quality will take priority over competition from tree roots, shade and restricted air circulation. Trees will be thinned and pruned on an as needed basis to ensure the highest quality of turf. – Divots will be attended to daily, accessories will be checked daily for service as divots are done. – Biostimulants will be incorporated to promote deep rooting. – Tees will be aggressively aerated in the fall using a John Deere 1500 Aerator with Ã‚¾’ tines. Axis will be incorporated during aeration. – Tee blocks will be checked daily and changed as needed to utilize the greatest amount of teeing space. – Tees will be topdressed and/or aerated in the spring to promote health and aesthetics. Course Setup: The objective is to use various pin and tee block placements that challenge the golfers thinking, maintains quality of turf, by spreading wear and reducing stress over various cupping and tee block areas. Course setup: – Greens will be checked daily with cups being changed as needed. The course will be setup with an overall balance between the cups and tee position (6-6-6). On weekends and during member-guest tournaments, tee blocks will be located at the monuments. – Tournament setup: Tournament Coordinator will be given the option of choosing pin placements utilizing a form type pin sheet or leaving it up to the Green Dept. pin placements should be selected well in advance of the event (5-10 days) to avoid these areas leading up to the tournament. Note: no paint shall be used on the putting surface! – Tee blocks will be checked daily and changed as needed to utilize the greatest amount of teeing space. A balance between the tee blocks and pin positions will be maintained (6-6-6). FAIRWAYS: The objective is fairway turf predominately bentgrass with good density, uniformity, smoothness and firmness with a minimum of thatch while exhibiting good drought tolerance. The goal is to play ‘summer rules’ at all times excluding the immediate scheduled aeration repair periods. Fairway Standards: – Fairways will mowed at 7/16′ during the spring months and will be lowered to 3/8′ on or about Memorial Day. – Clippings will be collected during June, July and August. – Fairways will be aerated aggressively in the late fall with the John Deere 1500 Aerator at a 3′ depth. – Growth regulators will be used in the summer and fall months to enhance bentgrass density and to reduce irrigation and clippings. Biostimulant hormones will be used on fairways during the growing season to promote root density. – Fairways will be irrigated for turfgrass health only, not for color. Fairways may be dormant throughout the summer months. – Fairway divots will be maintained throughout the season from 200 yards and in. All carts will be fitted with divot mix provided by the Pro Shop. – Biological Products will be applied to fairways to aid in thatch reduction. – All necessary chemical applications will be applied as early as possible so as to cause as little interference with play as possible. – All chemical applications will be applied under the direction of licensed Pennsylvania applicators. – Efforts will be made to incorporate as many as possible, safe, organic products into the disease suppression and control program. Some of these products may have an offensive odor. ROUGH: The main objective of the rough is to maintain at minimal levels while not compromising the aesthetics, severity of penalty, and speed of play. Rough Standards: – The rough will be maintained at a height between 2 1/4′ and 2 Ã‚½’ with rotary mowers. The primary cut of rough (area roughly 15′ around fairway) will be maintained at 1 3/4′ and be mowed two times a week. – The rough bordering fairway bunkers will be checked regularly to maintain proper cushion between the bunker and fairway. – The rough will be mowed once a week when actively growing with perimeters of fairways cut a second time if needed. Growth regulators will be used in the spring and fall, to slow the growth rate of the grass around the fairway perimeter. – Large remote areas of rough will be cut monthly. Some of these areas, which slow play, may be converted to standard rough. Broadleaf weeds will be controlled annually to promote aesthetic grassy areas. – Edges of course will be mowed monthly: these areas include wooded areas with turf, split rail fence edges, and out of the way grassy areas. BUNKERS: The objective is to have bunkers with the proper amount of sand and be well distributed without rocks or other loose impediments. The bunkers should aesthetically complement the architect’s original intent. Bunker Standards:
– The bunkers will be checked daily for smoothness. Raking will consist of hand raking when needed depending on amount of play. Mechanical raking machine will be used periodically (weekly) to loosen compacted sand and to control weeds.
– Fairway bunkers will be hand-raked at all times to ensure sand firmness. – The bunker edges facing the green will be maintained with a crisp edge with a two to three inch lip. The rear edges will be maintained with the sand flush with the turf. – Stone and debris removal will be tended to daily with regular maintenance. – The sand depth will be maintained at no less than four inches. A report of sand distribution, which includes regular depth measurements, will be included in the Superintendents monthly quality report. – The bunkers will have adequate rakes around them. Large bunkers will have at least two rakes and small bunkers will have one. – The edges of bunkers will be overseeded annually with drought tolerant turf or resodded as needed in the fall. – The edges of bunkers will be regularly fertilized with organic products in addition to the regular rough fertilization program.
– A preventive insecticide will be used along with fairway spray
TREES: – Trees in high traffic areas (Club House, walk paths, etc.) will be checked regularly for wood, weak limbs, and hanging limbs and maintained as necessary.
– Key trees will be fertilized and or mulched annually. Poison ivy and vines will be controlled as needed. – Evergreen trees in play shall be gradually eliminated.
– Evergreen trees will be limbed up one to two feet for aesthetics, maintenance, and ease of finding lost golf balls. – Trees will be pruned as time permits. – Large areas of woods will be thinned to enhance turf quality, aesthetics and the overall health of the other trees in the area. – Most tree work will occur in the winter months. – Gypsy moths will be controlled via aerial spray on an as needed basis. – Deer repellant will be applied to young trees and shrubs as needed. PRACTICE AREA: – The practice tee will be mowed twice a week at 5/8.’ – The Greens Department will not be responsible for distributing traffic or the safe separation of the golfers. – The short iron practice area will be maintained to the same standards as the golf course. EQUIPMENT TRAINING AND SAFETY: – The department will comply with OSHA regulations pertaining to the operation. – Equipment will be maintained in safe operating condition. – The department will have monthly safety meetings concerning first aid procedures, safety, etc. Accurate records of topics and signatures of attendees will be kept. – Safety glasses will be required for all tasks where eyes may be exposed to thrown debris. – Steel-toed shoes will be required for specific tasks: especially rotary mowing and chainsaw operation. – New employees will be instructed on safe operation of all equipment. – No individual without a valid driver’s license (or of age) will operate any equipment they would be required to sit on to operate. – Pesticide applications will be performed under the direction of a licensed Pennsylvania applicator. – Hard hats will be worn at all times when working in or near play. – No employee with points on his or her license associated with alcohol will operate vehicles off the property. – The Superintendent will provide regular reviews of each employee (at least every six months) and will include the review schedule in his monthly report to the Committee. CARTS: – The course will be developed to handle increased cart usage. – Wet condition tracks will be developed in out of way areas to make it possible to provide minimal cart restrictions because of weather conditions. – Carts will be expected to use paths wherever possible. – Rope and signage will be used to direct cart traffic wherever necessary. – Cart traffic will be allowed to roam (except under extreme wet conditions). During July and August carts may be restricted to the rough on a day to day basis decision made by the Superintendent. CLUB HOUSE GROUNDS: – Flowerbeds will be maintained, edged and mulched as needed. – Grass areas will be mowed as needed. – Entire area will be checked daily for trash and other unsightly debris. – Annuals will be planted in the courtyard, ladies locker room and behind the first tee area. Also, an assortment of other planters will be located throughout the area. – We will have an ornamentalist on staff with a landscaping background. TENNIS COURTS: – Turf areas will be maintained as needed. – Flowerbeds will be maintained as needed. Annuals will be planted as needed. – Fences, gates and other hardware will be kept in proper working condition. MISCELLANEOUS: – Members will be informed of maintenance activities through bulletin board postings and periodic articles in the Valley Views. – The golf course will be closed according to the stated weather policy (See policy). – Erosion around bridges will be tended to, especially from a safety standpoint. – Integrated Pest Management (utilizing many options for pest control) will be a continued goal. – Attempts to control the indigenous deer population may be performed through carefully controlled bow hunting done by a specialized archery group, White Tail Associates. – Staffing: we will continue to develop a well-organized and efficient team-oriented staff, conscious of the cost/benefit aspects of our operation. The staff will be compensated for consistent and or above local industry standards consistent with their work ethic, dedication and efficiency. – Bathrooms in the shop will be cleaned weekly. REPORTING RESPONSIBILITIES: *Green Chairman submits a written report regarding this Greens Program to the Membership at the Annual Member Meeting. *Green Chairman submits a monthly written report to the Board of Governors. *Green Chairman and Superintendent present annual budgets: Capital and Operating, to the Board of Governors through the Finance Committee. *Greens Superintendent presents a report to the Green Committee at their monthly meeting which includes Safety, Quality, Financial, Staffing and Project updates.
Thank you, Scott. We appreciate your willingness to share your ideas. It is our sincere belief that the direction you are leading is one that many others should consider following. It keeps costs down and increases ground game playability returning courses to their ideal integration of architecture and maintenance practices.