By Bill Brotherton
The downright tropical weather of February had golfers and North Shore course superintendents smiling widely.
And then the harsh snow, rain and wind storms of March delivered an unexpected punch.
Nearly every area superintendent, including such veterans as Salem CC’s Kip Tyler, now in his 37th year at the Peabody club, Tedesco’s Peter Hasak, and Jeff Gudaitis, a 30-year vet and head man at Black Swan in Georgetown since 2001, said they’ve never had to deal with such damage.
It’s unlikely any course super faced challenges equal to those of Anthony De Dominicis at Nahant Golf Club, which is mere steps from the Atlantic Ocean.
Toby Ahern, head PGA pro at Nahant Golf Club, who along with managing partners John Moore and De Dominicis are excited about year 2 at the former Kelley Greens, said “That first night in March, we survived pretty good. I learned about tides very quickly. It was the third day, when the effects of the storm hit us pretty hard. Ninety percent of the putting green was covered with rocks. Seventy percent of the ninth fairway had rocks. There was water in the pro shop, and five feet of water covered the patio. It was devastation.”
But all is well now, thanks to the efforts of Nahant staff and an assist from seven men from the state’s Community Service Program. “Those guys did a great job,” said Ahern. “They worked hard and helped us with the cleanup and to get going again.”
All of Nahant’s nine holes officially opened on March 29. Its well-regarded restaurant Seasons has been busy as well. “We’re up and running and really looking forward to year 2,” said Ahern.
Tyler, too, said he was “in great shape until that first n’oreaster (March 2) with all that rain and high winds. We had 17 trees in play come down. Debris was everywhere. It’s been constant clean-up duty ever since. Every tree, it seems, dropped something of substance. We’ve never been involved with this much cleanup this late.”
Players at Wenham Golf Club will notice that that menacing red cedar tree lurking in front of Wenham’s fourth green is no more.
But it’s demise had nothing to do with the March weather. A windstorm a few days before Halloween felled the 40-footer.
Wenham general manager Norm Tarr snapped a photo of a group of golfers standing in front of the tree the day before it fell. “The next day, it was down.”
Tarr said the tree was at least 80 years old. “Years ago, we moved the green to where it is now. It used to be right near the tree and the rock wall. We’re not quite sure what we’ll do there. If we plant another tree, it’ll be at least 30 years before it grows tall. There is ledge there; a trap is a possibility but it’s a distance from the green and might prove to be a difficult up-and-down for many players,” said Tarr. “We’re looking at options now.”
By the way, Wenham is in great shape, thanks to Eric Still and his hardworking grounds crew.
Indeed, most courses have dried out and the storm damage debris has been cleared away.
Time to tee it up!
Gary Larrabee contributed to this article.