It might not feel like it, but golf season isn’t far off. The official opening for The Captains is April 3, and golf course superintendent Colin Walsh and his crew have been hard at work preparing the Port and Starboard courses for what figures to be another busy season.
Last year, The Captains broke records with more than 80,000 rounds played, including an astounding average of 500 per day in the month of August. Obviously, that kind of popularity is fabulous for business, but it places a great deal of stress on the golf courses. Throughout winter, Walsh’s crew has been making sure that both courses are in the kind of premium shape this spring that golfers have come to expect.
A major part of preparing for the 2021 season has been renovating bunkers on both courses, a project that began last fall. “We’ve been doing sod work to get the faces of the bunkers back in shape and cleaning the edges,” Walsh said.
Golfers will notice a couple of significant changes this season on the 13th hole at the Starboard and on the 8th hole at the Port, where 150 tons of material and sod were brought in to flatten out sink holes. “They played like hazards, especially the one on 13,” Walsh said. “It will certainly change the way those holes play.”
Cape Cod saw snow this winter for the first time in a few years. Although snow cover is obviously not conducive to golfing, it actually benefits the golf course by acting as an insulated barrier against the wind, which can suck the moisture from the turf, possible causing long term damage. “Snow is fantastic for a golf course, up to 90 days. After that, we can run into issues like snow mold and ice damage,” Walsh said.
Snow also gives the golf course a much-needed rest, which it hasn’t had much of this winter. On Feb. 6, one day before a snowstorm, there were 180 golfers playing, something that has rarely happened in the past at that time of year. “I’ve never seen anything like it, the amount of play is incredible,” Walsh said.
Once the snow is gone and the temperatures are consistently in the 50s, the mowers will come out for the first time of the season, probably around late March. “As soon as the weather allows it, we will be going full throttle,” Walsh said.
In early April, the tees, fairways and greens will all be aerated. “We did a deep tine aeration of the greens in December to about an eight inch depth,” Walsh said. “This breaks up the soil under the greens and allows for more air exchange, and for the water to infiltrate more efficiently. Beginning April 5, we’ll be doing our standard core aeration beginning, with a sand top dressing. The sand fills the aeration holes and firms up the surface, resulting in a truer ball roll and increased green speed.”
In the meantime, crew will remove dead tree branches, leaves and other debris, and open up some of the tree lines on a number of holes. Tee box markers and cups will be painted, and flagsticks will be replaced. “There is always something to do,” Walsh said.
It’s all weather dependent, of course, but Walsh expects both golf courses to be in peak condition by early May, just in time for what figures to be another booming golf season.