This is Justin “Broby” Shannon’s first year as Fossil Island Golf Course superintendent and he had a rough start. He started in April not knowing what to expect.
One thing he knew he had to work toward this year was that the golf course would host the 2A state tournament this year.
“We have a challenging course because of the island holes,” golf coach Zem Hopkins said.
The course may be challenging for the high school state championship, but it held at least three challenges for the new supervisor. Winter damage, watering and the growing season were the three main challenges for Shannon.
“We had a lot of winter kill this year,” Shannon said. “Waiting to see what was going to come back or not just took time.”
The winter damage to most of the greens was significant, but most of them came back on their own with little encouragement from the maintenance staff.
“Hole 8 was bad because it was missing half of its cover,” Shannon said. “Holes four and six were the worst. I had to plug the putting green to salvage them.”
Shannon knew that it is a short growing season and it would be tough to grow after that much winter damage.
“I thought we would be further along, but had some other difficulties,” Shannon said.
Part of his job is learning the grounds and how each one functions and according to Shannon each green has its own personality.
The other problem for maintaining the course was the lack of power to the pumps.
“When I turned on the pumps, we had no power.” Shannon said. “I was using a water truck to keep the greens alive.”
Over the winter the main power box blew up. Because the course uses two large pumps, a specialty built power box was needed. It took over a month and half to have the box built and installed.
According to Shannon, the course was only using one pump for the last two seasons. The course needs two separate pumps that run 480 transformers. The new box is up to date and both pumps are now running.
Each section of the course only gets 15 minutes of water time. With one pump, some sections were watered during the day.
The greens have come back nicely and Shannon had to use parts of the putting green to repair the dead patches on holes four and six. He also punched or a aerated the greens.
With all these challenges this summer fixed and healing, the course will be in great shape for the state tournament. One of the things Shannon will do for the tournament is to change the placement of the cups each day.
He has kept the fairway at 5/8’ year round and the rough is 2” depending on the mowing schedule. The maintenance crew has a regular mowing schedule to keep the fairway at the right level and will be mowing all week.
“I lowered the greens this week to make the greens faster,” Shannon said. “I was keeping them longer to get them to grow, but the players from around the state are used to faster greens.”
Shannon usually looks for the cleanest part of the green when he relocates a cup. But her will place the cups in a general location for the state competition.
The only thing that could delay the tournament now is the weather.
“We can’ let the golfers out with frost on the greens,” Shannon said. “A frost won’t stop the play, only delay it.”