Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Best of the Best

We are very excited to announce that Wakonda Grounds Foreman, Beto Ramirez, was given the award of 'Employee of the Year 2013.'  Beto is a highly valued member of the Wakonda Family.  He is crucial to the daily operations of the Grounds Maintenance Department.  He assists with the direction of seasonal maintenance staff through his ability to translate daily tasks and patiently train new employees.

Beto fully embodies Wakonda's 'Nine Guiding Principals' for all employees.  He treats others with respect and greets everyone with a friendly smile.  Beto is a diligent worker and can often be found assisting employees from other departments.

The Employee of the Year is selected from a pool of twelve other staff who were awarded with 'Employee of the Cycle' from various departments and periods throughout the year.  Beto is truly the best of the best.

The award comes with additional time off work and a monetary stipend which is intended to afford Wakonda's best employee the opportunity to enjoy a bit of the relaxation and hospitality that all employees strive to provide our membership.  Beto is planning to take his family home to Guanajuato, Mexico for Christmas, which he has not been able to do for twelve years.

Congratulations Beto!  We are proud of you!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

First Tee Drain Project

  We recently installed a new catch basin near the first tee.  The old culvert had eroded to the point where it was no longer safe and was causing sink holes to form.

While we had an excavator we decided to replace several sections of old clay drain tile which were failing and also causing sink holes.

In total, we combined three different pipes into the main which flows beneath the first fairway.  

Finally, we built a dam behind the drain to divert water into the catch basin.  This should help the first fairway dry more quickly following rain events.

We left the catch high so we could evaluate our dam and identify the point of low elevation.  Today we pumped out the pond which had formed and cut the drain pipe lower to allow water into the pipe rather than over the dam.  Once we have sodded the area we will set the basin at ground level to prevent future ponding.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fairway Update

 Why do the fairways look spotty?
  • In previous seasons ryegrass had contaminated some of our fairways.
  • Rye is undesirable as a fairway grass both aesthetically (dark green color) and agronomically (is less tolerant of environmental extremes).
  • We have continually tried to minimize the ryegrass contamination, however elimination of the ryegrass through chemical control has been ineffective.
  • The ryegrass was unable to withstand the extreme low temperatures this past winter which has resulted in some turf loss. The bent grass withstood the winter weather and remains healthy.
What is the next step?
  • While turf loss is always undesirable this actually presents an opportunity to improve the appearance of our fairways.
  • We will be seeding bent grass the week of April 14 and will consider sod in select areas.
  • When soil temperatures rise to promote germination, the spots will begin to fill in.
  • Our goal is to have the fairways fully recovered by early May.
With patience and warmer weather, we are excited to take this opportunity to improve the playing conditions at Wakonda.
John Temme and Green Committee

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Volunteer for the 2014 Principal Charity Classic

   Wakonda Club will again be hosting the Principal Charity Classic, May 26 – June 1, and we need your help! We need volunteers to make this event a success for the players, spectators, and (most importantly) the children that benefit from this great event.

   Volunteers are welcome any day of the week for morning and evening shifts, but we would greatly benefit from skilled individuals who could commit to multiple shifts. We will provide meals, shirts, and hats for our volunteers.

   This event has had a successful track record in central Iowa for over ten years. Proceeds in years past have totaled more than $5 million. Last year’s Principal Charity Classic donated a record $1,032,500, earning the Champions Tour’s “Charity of the Year” award for 2013. This event supports numerous charities benefiting children and families of Iowa. We are excited to be able to keep this event in Iowa and see this as an opportunity to showcase the generosity of Iowa Golf Course Superintendents and central Iowans on a national stage.

   Volunteers will play a vital role in the success of the 2014 Principal Charity Classic. The Wakonda Grounds Team is committed to making this year’s event a success and we hope that you will consider offering your time and expertise to ensure we achieve that goal.

   Please contact us via email at if you can offer your support.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Safety First!

   As we stated in our previous post, we have been spending sufficient time this off-season on our administrative duties.  A very important aspect of our administrative duties includes employee training and safety. This winter, we are dedicating ample time to ensure our staff is properly trained and ready for emergency events.

   Our first step to improving employee safety was to update our Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).  Each chemical manufacturer or distributor provides SDSs to communicate important safety information regarding their specific hazardous product.  

   We began updating our SDSs by creating a list of every single chemical or fertilizer that is applied on our golf course, or currently being housed in our Haz-Stor storage unit. We also compiled a list of every potentially hazardous product or material located inside our maintenance facility; products ranging from household cleaners to gasoline and oils used in our equipment.  Once we were satisfied with this list, we scowered the Internet searching each chemical manufacturer’s website for our specific product or material and their accompanying SDSs. Each product’s SDS was printed, stapled, and placed in a new three-ring binder in an easy-to-locate location inside our facility for any of our employees to view.

   A great addition we’ve made to our safety training this fall has been the purchase of an AppleTV. This easy-to-use product allows us to wirelessly stream any video content of our choosing to our TV, as well as numerous other functions. How, specifically, is this beneficial to us here in the ground’s department? Well, we utilize various websites that contain safety videos and content and then broadcast these videos to our TV using AppleTV to show to our entire staff. For example, we subscribe to McCord Golf Services and Safety (, which produces numerous safety videos specifically aimed for golf course maintenance employees. Stihl ( also contains many videos that help us properly train our employees on string trimmer, blower, and chainsaw use.

   Finally, every winter we inventory all of our first aid and safety supplies. It is very important that we have sufficient first aid supplies to support any issues that can arise during a long, work season. At this time, we also order gloves, safety glasses, ear protection, and many other supplies, which are necessary for our staff to work in a safe manner at all times. 

   It is our goal to create a safe workplace every year. Hopefully our commitment to preparedness and training will result in yet another safe and successful season!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Because Bad Things Happen

 So, what do you do all winter?  Every full- time golf course employee is posed with this question again and again, year after year.  Golf maintenance is, by nature, an occupation which is largely intended to be appreciated while being unseen.  It is understandable that one might assume that little golf maintenance is accomplished during the winter months- after all we're certainly not on the golf course when we have eight inches of snow and sub- zero temperatures.  This assumption could not be further from the truth. 

To put it simply, we utilize the winter months for preparedness.  We are preparing for the hustle and bustle of the golf season in all facets of our operation.  We've outlined various winter activities in the past which included the tangible stuff our membership has likely experienced at one point or another.

Today we are taking the time to outline preparedness of a different type, which we address each off- season.  We have administrative and compliance requirements just as any other organization or workplace.  This year we have spent time preparing for disaster- because bad things do happen.  Proper preparation can reduce the impact of catastrophic events such as fires, thefts, inclement weather, and employee injuries.

We recently performed an inventory of our entire maintenance facility.  A thorough, well documented inventory is intended to protect the club in the event our maintenance facility is destroyed or falls victim to criminal activity.  We already knew how expensive our golf course equipment was- $1.1 million in mowers, tractors, and vehicles used to keep the course pristine.  Throughout the past few days we have cataloged everything else in our maintenance facility- approximately $375,000 in total- from inspirational artwork to tools and toilet scrubbers.  These materials are in place to support our staff, machinery, and the golf course.  This process had not been completed this thoroughly in some time and was an eye- opening experience.         

 We collected serial numbers, took over 275 photographs, and made a video tour of our shop and everything in it.  We paid special attention to high value items which would likely be targeted by thieves, such as hand tools.

 We also utilized various internet shopping outlets to put a value to that which we had cataloged to ensure that our facility is properly insured in the event that we have a catastrophic event which results in a total loss of our shop and everything in it.  We were shocked when we researched replacement costs- especially for items which have been around for a very long time.  For example, the bench top vise in the photo above would cost approximately $4,000 to replace!  Hopefully Wakonda Club never falls victim to the unthinkable and we can forget about this documentation until next winter.  It does give us peace of mind knowing that we have taken steps to prepare for disaster.