The most common question I hear each year is, “What do you do with all your time during a Michigan Winter?”
The typical Michigan golf season begins to wind down in the beginning of October. If the weather remains mild, October can be a great revenue generator as we prepare for the onset of November. Good weather will lead to decent sales but typically the best November will only be 15% of our normal peak season months. November is all about preparations for the severe winter ahead.
It is November 10th and our crews have completed a majority of our course maintenance with the aeration of greens, tees and fairways. The tall native grasses have be cut and our fall projects have been completed. The irrigation system of over 1,800 heads & 110 valves have been winterized. Mowing is ongoing in order to mulch the remaining leaves and crews will continue to maintain a clean property. Tree removal and pruning is a perfect task in the fall and winter. Today we will be spraying a fungicide to all tees, greens and fairways. This is done to prevent dollar spot and snow mold on these surfaces (it is also a sign that some pretty cold temperatures are on their way). The course superintendent will soon begin his hibernation to the maintenance facility in which all equipment is rebuilt, repainted and re-sharpened to prepare for the spring.
On the golf operations side, we have begun the annual reduction of shop inventories and started our plans for the spring merchandise show in Novi which will kick off the first weekend in March. Our golf cart fleet of 94 vehicles will now undergo a complete detailing and winterizing program that will assure an immaculate fleet when the doors are open to accept spring play. Staff levels which begin to decline in September are now down to the bare bones to wrap up the season. Closing the golf course will all depend upon Mother Nature. We have remained open as late as December 15th and if we do not see a turn around with next week’s temperatures it could be very soon this year. The best indicator on when to shut down the City’s facility will be when the putting surfaces are frozen solid. Some courses will remain open all year, but Fieldstone must maintain our premier conditions. It is important not to continually damage the turf once it goes dormant.
Golf play is our largest revenue producer for each season. Fieldstone is host to over 35 weekly golf leagues (over 700 league players), over 200 hundred golf outings and a tournament schedule that is larger than any golf course in Michigan. This amount of golf play requires months of planning and preparations to ready ourselves and our patrons to one of the finest golf experiences in Metropolitan Detroit. Approximately 40% of our seasonal business is secured during the months of November through March.
The winter is also an exciting time to meet with merchandise vendors for 2015 buying programs, evaluate all upcoming budgets, modify our marketing plans and improve upon policies and procedures. Winter in Michigan is a time for all golf professionals and golf superintendents to get reacquainted with our families and enjoy some weekends off. So in Michigan, we just have to give it a little time and spring will be right around the corner. Besides, it’s the only place you can experience all four seasons in one day.
Gordon Marmion, Manager and PGA Pro