One of the tasks of a superintendent is to face the challenges of Mother Nature. So it was no surprise that just hours after the remains of Hurricane Ida flooded his golf course, Cliff moors was unimpressed.
“We just have to see where we are,” he said. “The greens are good, the tees are good, but you have the (grass) areas that we have. After that we just have to step back and see what we have to do. “
Moore is the superintendent of Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, New Jersey, about 45 minutes northwest of New York City.
The golf course is one of the most famous in the state. It’s a design by Donald Ross that was completed in 1929 and features bentgrass tees, bentgrass / poa fairways, and poa greens.
Moore has been with Mountain Ridge since 2003. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland. The Michigan native completed the two-year program at Michigan State University. He also has a degree in finance from Western Michigan University.
He is preparing to host the LPGA’s Cognizant Founders Cup, due to take place the week of October 4th. The tournament pays homage to the 13 women who founded the LPGA in 1950. It will be the first time the event has taken place outside of Phoenix since its inception in 2011. (It wasn’t played last year because of the pandemic.)
The imminent arrival of some of the best players in the world hasn’t affected Moore’s maintenance practices or the ventilation schedule – it will be ventilated in late October as usual.
“We just do our normal maintenance schedule for our members and guests,” he said, “to give them the best possible playing conditions. Somehow that has always been the motto. If we can do that and Mother Nature cooperates, it should take care of itself and run smoothly.
“There is no difference in cultural practices or mowing routines or anything like that.”
Weather conditions have made Moore’s job tougher this summer. The course received 23 inches of rain in June and July. Ida brought more than six and a half centimeters more. In just eight weeks, the area absorbed half of what normally rained for a full year (about 50 inches). Parts of the golf course have been flooded on several occasions.
The summer also brought longer periods of hot and humid weather in large parts of the Central Atlantic region with high temperatures of almost 100 degrees and night temperatures often above 70 degrees.
“Basically we have a program,” said Moore. “We stuck with it. When it got wet and flooded, we had to take a step back and put down what we normally wouldn’t have to protect the lawn preventively.
“You just go back when it runs out and try to reclaim the weed as best you can. We do something like that. “
The warm, wet conditions had an impact on Moore’s spraying program. “I would say the biggest challenge was being able to spray through the rain,” he said. “Cutting fairways first and getting a good, clean bet down, that was a challenge. Could you get to the heart of your applications and do everything else on the golf course with ease before a flood and high temperature rain event occurs? That was the biggest challenge, especially for fairways. “
In the summer, Moore also had to deal with army worms.
“We have never had to do with armyworms,” he said. “This has been a topic of interest lately in Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey with the last hurricane to hit the coast (Fred) and may have driven them in that direction, so it’s not a defensive program, it’s a preventive one .
“If it had been a normal year, we would be sailing now. This year it was a little more challenging. And once again, once that water recedes from the entire golf course, we’ll see what we are up against and what we need to do to prepare. Whether that means sowing some areas, desolating some areas, unfortunately that happens. “
There is no time for Moore and his team to roll out in the coming weeks. The golf course is open to members until October 3, the Sunday before the start of the Founders Cup. He works with only 18 employees, fewer than the usual 24. (With the help of volunteers, he expects a team of around 30 for the tournament). And there is always the possibility of more rain.
“I had flood rain in late October,” said Moore. “We have to endure it from day to day.”
Rick Woelfel is a Philadelphia-based writer and a frequent GCI writer.