Michael S. Williams

Pomona, California 91767
(818) 425-6142

Acacia Country Club

 
Golf Course Superintendent 1997 - 1998
Assistant Golf Course Superintendent 1991 - 1997
26899 Cedar Road
Lyndhurst, Ohio 44122
(440) 442 - 3100

Golf Course architect Donald Ross has been credited to building over 400 golf courses all over the world. Many of his creations are well known to the public as masterpieces. Courses such as Pinehurst #2, Oakland Hills, Oak Hill and Inverness have all held PGA Major tournaments. In 1920's when golf course construction was at an all time high Mr. Ross completed Acacia Country Club in 1925. Set in the greater Cleveland area the golf course was carved out from some 200 acres of farmland.

Assistant Superintendent

I came to Acacia as an Assistant in the winter of 1991. This was my first management position at a private golf course. Quickly I learned new techniques and methods to manage high quality turf. With the exception of roughs and surrounds the entire golf course was a bentgrass/poa annua mix. Part of my responsibilities was pesticide applications, with around 35 acres of playable turf I applied many different pesticides for diseases, insects and weeds. I soon realized that different diseases were more common on bentgrass and required a higher level of prevention. Shortly into the summer our irrigator left for another position and I took over his responsibilities maintaining the irrigation system. The main issue was repairing old heads that were no longer available and tracing broken wires.

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#6 Fairway from the green
#13 Green and fairway

 

In addition to the responsibilities mentioned, the golf course was in the beginning of a complete bunker renovation program. All bunkers were to be rebulit in house within four years. Our goal was to complete 1 1/2 bunkers a week. This included removal of old sand/drainage, reshaping of bunker faces/adding soil to low areas, installing new drain lines, sodding of bunker faces and lastly adding new sand. The staff's first priority was to maintain the golf course to tournament conditions but to continue on the bunker project. With a seasonal staff of 15, long days were common. Over the next four years the project was completed and the condition of the golf course never suffered from lack of attention. With the funds that was saved other projects were scheduled such as cart path renovation, new irrigation controllers and pumphouse renovation.

Upon my arrival I worked with Superintendent Joe Baidy, CGCS who was in his second year at Acacia. In addition to his responsibilities at the golf course he was serving on the board of directors for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). At certain times of the year Mr. Baidy would travel away from the golf course to serve his duties as director. It was my responsibility to make sure that the golf course was maintained correctly and keep all projects running smoothly. In 1994 Mr. Baidy was elected President of the GCSAA. During this year he was away from the golf course on and off for six months. Through conversations, phone calls and direction from the Greens Chairman I maintained the golf course and projects to Mr. Baidy's expectations in his absence. With the time spent learning from Mr. Baidy prior to his GCSAA duties I felt more confident to carry out his programs when he was away from the golf course.

Golf Course Management with Joe Baidy- March 1994

Golf Course Superintendent

From the time after Mr. Baidy's responsibilities were completed with the GCSAA (January 1996) until late 1997, the golf course remained project free. In the winter of 1997 Mr. Baidy left Acacia Country Club for an undisclosed reason. At that time I was appointed Superintendent by the Club President and to continue the conditioning of the course for the membership. From that moment I began to organize my programs for the coming golfing season and work on existing projects/programs that Mr. Baidy left behind. As spring approached my first task was to use our capital budget to purchase $250K worth of new equipment for the new season. During green committee meetings it was mentioned that our drainage system in low areas needed to be improved. One area in particular constantly drained slow and would leave the cart path useless after a heavy rain. An issue to complete this problem was to install drainage underneath the existing 8' wide cart path and connect into a larger drain line. A series of 6" drain lines tied into a larger 10" line moved water from this low area.

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Once completed this area no longer created an issue to cart path traffic

Clubhouse Flowers

Our clubhouse gardener had the responsibility to maintain the entire clubhouse area plus the flower beds on the golf course. With only another part time worker and herself it was a tough chore especially in the spring and through out the summer. To get ready for the upcoming season I suggested that we add more flowers, redesign beds and hire additional labor. The plan was to make the clubs entrance and carport area more colorful and add beds on the golf course. With additional funds in place two additional full time workers were hired to help on these projects.

The main bed in the carport area always had issues with shade, poor irrigation and poorly drained soils. The flowers planted never maintained their color or they would die prematurely due to wet soils from the rainy spring months. To prevent these issues from happening again the entire bed was dug out to a depth of 8", branches/trees were removed, new irrigation components and drainage lines added with new soil/peat mix to replace the old soil base for healthier flowers. Other areas around the clubhouse were renovated in this fashion as well. Once the entire clubhouse flower beds were complete our members noticed the difference in appearance and how more fragrant the clubhouse seemed.

As the clubhouse project was nearing completion, work began on the beds on the golf course. In the past the main focus was to plant more annuals then perennials. Our goal was to provide more perennials which bloomed are different times of the year for continuous color versus one color base for extended times of the year. This would require more work in the beginning but in the time that followed only a limited amount of time would be required for plantings and general care. Perennial selection was key for it was important to have bold, strong colors that blended in with surrounding areas around the golf course as well as the time of the year. For example, Spring time flowers/perennials should be tulips, daffodils, crocuses and forsythias which signal the start of growth and a new year after a long cold winter.

The addition of the new flower program through out the clubhouse and golf course was an rewarding experience for our staff but more so for our membership. Our ladies club was very happy to have someone pay attention to an area that was never really maintained for so many years. At one point during the summer the President of the ladies golf club invited our gardeners to attend a luncheon to say "thank you" for all the hard work that was done.

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#18 tee
Carport/entrance

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Maintenance Building

Normal maintenance continued through the year while following Mr. Baidy's programs that were in place. Being a new superintendent I was visited time to time by the greens chairman to see how things were going. On one of his visits he noticed that some of the newly purchased equipment remained outside. I mentioned to that there was not enough covered areas in our shop to accommodate the new equipment. After meetings with my greens committee I was instructed to come up with a master plan for a new maintenance building to house equipment and supplies. In addition to this building, a 6' high fence was to be installed along the perimeter of our maintenance road and #6 fairway to keep down the noise and view from the members. Roughly a month after I submitted the bids for the entire project I was notified that this project would begin a short time later. First to be completed was the fence adjacent to the maintenance road.

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While the posts were being drilled a large amount of soil was removed to allow space for the new building. Below is the installation of drain lines from the areas around the building and from the golf course. These were needed due to the wet weather through out the year.

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After drain lines was complete stone was brought in to make a solid foundation for the cement based floor of the new building.

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Once all the drainage was installed the entire area was graded in preparation for the gravel for the base of the lot and building.

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In Conclusion

When I left Acacia for other opportunities I had a solid understanding of how a successful golf course operation should be run. To have the chance to learn under an experienced Superintendent, coordinate large projects, understand the philosophy of maintaining a private golf course and being able to use my own ideas and programs for the first time was the backbone of my career.