WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
 GOLF OPERATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING

Date:  October 9, 2010   Place: Golf Course Clubhouse

Time:   8:00 am

Attendance: 
Commissioners:  Crowley, Graham, Brault
Absent:  Commissioner Wolff
Staff:   Bowen, Matchen, Wilson
Visitors:  See Attached

Topics of Discussion
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
3) Communications and Correspondence
4) Managers Reports
5) Golf Users Meeting
6) Old Business
7) New Business
8) Adjournment

Discussion/Decisions:

1) The meeting was called to order at 8:30 am.

2) The Committee approved the minutes of the August 21, 2010 Committee meeting by General Consent.

3) Under Communications and Correspondence, Committee Chair Crowley stated Fred Watson had sent a note on identifying players on the course as Wilmette residents and staff has since responded to the note.

4) Under Managers Reports, Mike Matchen stated the meeting will include discussion on the Golf Master Plan and to hear from Greg Martin, the golf course architect. Mike added that everyone is well aware of the issues the course has had with flooding and hot weather, etc. but everything at this point seems to be bouncing back. Staff will continue to work during the fall on both small and large drainage which will be our focus going into the fall besides working on the leaves. After Greg ha finished speaking, Mike stated he will be available for questions.

 Jamie Locke reported total rounds as of October 8th yesterday were 38,429 total rounds and the fee rounds for the month of October totaled 823. There was also a total of 410 Unlimited rounds. Superintendent Bowen added that during the month of September, fee paid rounds are down 30% and unlimited rounds are up 71%. For the 2010 season, total rounds are at 37,196 which is up 1,278 or 3.6% from 2009 with fee paid rounds up 3.6% for the year.

5) Committee Chair Crowley began the Golf Users portion of the meeting and Greg Martin, the golf course architect, is present with slide show presentation and to talk about our golf course and some additional ideas.

 Greg Martin addressed the Committee, staff and golfers stating it is a credit to Mike Matchen and his staff that the place looks as good as it does. He has seen a lot of courses this year and many them are hurting financially but Wilmette seems to be doing very well which is most likely due to the facility having a lot of different types of golfers. In the future, the course needs to make sure it continues to appeal to a lot of different types of golfers.

 Mr. Martin explained that this meeting today will consist of delving deeper into the “meat” of the matter such as what are the strengths and weaknesses of the course and then to solicit comments from the audience. The master plan process will include development of all plans to improve the overall golf experience and to make improvements in order to save on maintenance costs. The plan will be used by the Park District as a guide for future improvements and the goal is to make it appealing to golfers of all ages and experience. When he starts on a master plan, the first step is to develop a mission statement which has already been completed by the Park District. His job now is to provide a road map to make sure all those items are addressed.

 Mr. Martin stated he has been doing these types of projects for 25 years and has had his own business since 1991. He is an advocate for the golfer but that does not mean that golf courses need to be easy to play. They must also be fun so that golfers return to play. Some courses have been made too difficult to play for many golfers. He tends to take a different tack which is to appeal to the fun of the game. He has done both private and public courses and is a member of the American Society of Golf Courses. He has also done more 10 new golf courses and dozens of renovations locally and around the Midwest.

 Mr. Martin feels that landscape integrity is very important. He then presented a series of slides showing different types of landscaping that he has done. Part of what he does is to recognize what is unique to a given site and then expose it to make sure the golf course fits that site. The course should benefit the entire community and be open space for recreation and storm water management, particularly a public golf course. Finally, it has to be maintenance friendly. He further explained that this past year was a good one in which to study where things went wrong with the drainage issues and turf conditions due to extreme heat. The infrastructure of the course is the most important part to make sure if functions well. But Wilmette has a strong customer base and 39,000 rounds going into October is phenomenal. The golfers have high expectations for the course and staff wants this place to be something special. Mr. Martin will do whatever we need to do to meet those expectations. 

 Right now Mr. Martin is in the data collection and data analysis stage and attempting to get as much feedback as possible from the golfers and staff. He would then filter through the comments and suggestions to see if these comments would be appropriate. He would then begin concept planning and make refinements within the next month or two, establish the budgets and cost estimates, consider the phases for implementation and then completion of the plan.

 Drainage is currently the number one issue at the course. He is also looking at the greens where there is a wide inconsistency in terms of the features such as the bunkers. Tree management is also important and some may need to go and some need to be added in other areas. The cart paths, water features, etc. will also be part of the plan. The golf course has really “good bones” and some unique features – they just need to be tweaked a bit. There are some weaknesses such as the drainage issues, bringing some clarity to the teeing system such as more tee length opportunities, studying the bunkers, and a wider fairway corridor for a higher handicap. Also to be considered will be lower profile features since the greens and tees are kicked up high. The landscaping also needs to be treated a bit more simply with smaller bunkering, cart path extensions, etc.

 At this point, the 2010 golf users meeting was called to order and questions from those in attendance were answered.

5) Comments/Questions for Mr. Martin included:

• Leila Winton asked if he would consider a continuous cart path system on the course. Mr. Martin answered that at this point everything is still on the table.

• Frank Charhut stated he has seen many courses in the Chicago area and has some comments he would like to summarize for future planning. He believes that Wilmette’s course is one of the best sites he has seen that can be developed into a prime jewel of a golf course. Trees are its greatest asset and in the long run some of our tees could be stretched 100 yards or more which would provide more length for its future. What the course lacks at this time is refinement, deepness and landscape integrity as well as proper drainage. Cart damage to the course is a problem especially in the tee areas. Also the tees themselves could be better managed by bringing up entrances to the tees so that the yardages can be used for a golf course that has 40,000 rounds per year. Cart paths sooner or later pay off including the maintenance of the course and could be “melted” into the USGA rating system without affecting play. Also the difficulty of a sand trap is rated by a lot of the height of the shot. Many of our traps are different from one another.

• Bill Lemieux asked Mr. Martin what his “big picture” goals are for the course. Mr. Martin answered that drainage is definitely a high priority and it is going to be tricky on knowing how to handle it.

• Tim Terchek asked if Mr. Martin could provide examples of what he would recommend for green elevations on the course. Mr. Martin replied that hole #18 is at or just above grade and hole #10 is 5-6 feet above grade. He believes there is a happy medium and that hole #18 is a far better example of how to set a green into this landscape.

• Bill Biderbost asked Mr. Martin to discuss hole #’s 6 and 13. Mr. Martin stated those final ideas and concepts have yet to be flushed out and he knows there are many types of greens and they are all different. What we need to do is come up with something that fits at this site and landscaping.

• Ray Pritchard asked what was wrong with having different types of greens. Mr. Martin explained it doesn’t mean that all the greens will be the same shape or have the same characteristics or length. The strategy is to make sure it fits into the site and makes sense. It then has to be maintained and be consistent in terms of playability which has different characteristics and aesthetics.

• Steve Klauson asked about tree management and the possible removal of trees as well as how the phases of the project will affect play on the course. Mr. Martin answered that he hasn’t reached that tree management point yet. Also, in regard to the phases of the project, there never is an easy way to do the work and it’s hard to play golf when construction is ongoing. The plan right now is to do the work correctly, quickly, and efficiently.

• Fred Watson asked what the timetable was for getting permission work completed as well as the assessment and capital item recommendations related to the Park District budgeting process. Mr. Martin answered that the hope is to have the plan done by the spring of 2011 and by that time we should have a road map outlined. It would then go to the golfers. Commissioner Crowley added that the budgeting process will be done next year and will be reviewed to see if it’s a five- or ten-year project.

• Tom Burk stated he has concerns with the project in respect to the evergreens and would like to see them trimmed. Secondly, #6 green needs to be fixed. Mr. Martin agreed and stated that #6 is a primary item on the docket.

• Pat McCann asked if Mr. Martin could elaborate on the comment made earlier about smaller traps and additional trap strategy and if there are any specific things he saw on the bunkers that need to be addressed right away. Mr. Martin replied that there is a bunker on #4 which is pretty “nasty” and that could be cut down to half the size and maybe have two of them. Also there is bunkering that is to the right of the greens where a better job of providing stronger bunkering on one side could be done. Mr. McCann also asked how much do you think pace of play is an issue and Mr. Martin replied that he would like to think that everything we’ll be doing will address the pace of play issues. It would be great to have a course that is challenging but still playable for the average golfer.

• Bob McCue asked if the ranger issue was going to be reviewed or if his interest in the pace of play only had to do with the landscaping and development of the property. Mr. Martin replied the ranger issue is really not part of what he looks at and therefore could not really comment. His job is to provide the facilities for better management which he believes may help to alleviate some of the choke areas.

• Bob McCue asked about player safety specifically on #6 which is a safely liability. Mr. Martin replied that safety also concerns us and there are a number of areas we need to look at.

• Frank Charhut stated the problem with drainage is directly related to money and he knows the course has addressed the problem by using artificial retention areas or ponds. Mr. Martin replied that there are places where we can move the water but there are certain realities about a flat site like this. We’ll be doing creative thinking on many smaller areas for storing water for a short period of time.  Smaller is better especially for this course.

• John Rice stated that this is a great long-term project. When looking at some capital improvements, is there anything short-term between now and next spring that can be improved such as some of the traps, greens and tees? Or is everything going to be tabled until next year? Commissioner Crowley stated that he didn’t see any major projects starting at this point but certainly the normal maintenance will continue to take place.

• Bill Lemieux asked what would be reasonable in terms of capital improvements that can be accommodated within an annual budget. Commissioner Crowley replied that at this point he is thinking the master plan is going to be big and encompass a lot of issues. Mike Matchen added that maybe $100,000 might be spent on #6 green. Commissioner Crowley stated that we would need to budget for that and look for capital funding that will probably need to be done in phases. The target date would be the 100-year anniversary of the course. Mike further explained that we will continue putting about 100 tons of sand in the traps and we will do the same things as part of our operating budget over the winter. We will also continue to work short-term solutions for drainage. However, there will be no major construction projects next year.

• Paul Fisher stated that in the long run it appears that money will dictate what happens. He does have concerns about that we might get carried away and do things we can’t afford. Commissioner Crowley replied that as this process moves forward and the study is completed it will be an open forum for all golfers to become involved and see everything that is going on. Everyone will be able to comment and participate. Mr. Martin added that time and money are the two dimensions of the project and It can get complicated but he’s sensitive to that.

• Dick Ciccione asked if Mr. Martin could take a hole like #3 and provide a vision of that hole in terms of the rating problem that exists there; specifically the buckering up of  the tee. Mr. Martin stated that hold #3 is a good one. It’s defined by the trees and the dog leg left but he thinks it does need better definition where to hit it and where the ball goes from the tee. There is some room around that green to do something interesting and it could be tightened and freshened up.

• Dee Lindmark stated she and Mike Matchen have talked about #16 which is a short par 3. After several years the green was reconstructed but now it has a very unfriendly angle. She asked if that would be part of the consideration. Mr. Martin agreed it’s a hard shot for most anybody and that hole would need some review. It is a beautiful setting there so that probably won’t change.

• Fred Watson asked if there was going to be an assessment of the practice areas. Mr. Martin replied that it will certainly be part of the study. Right now everything there is great although it could use some tweaking

Commissioner Crowley thanked Greg Martin and asked for general comments from the users.

• Frank Charhut complimented Mike Matchen and everyone else involved with scheduling for the first time in Wilmette the US Women’s Amateur Links Qualifier in 2011. He would also like to submit the sheet for consideration of booking another one of their events in 2010.

In addition, Mr. Charhut stated that while talking about the problems at the course, there is another forum that some may choose to attend which is the CDGA Public Golf Forum to be held on Thursday, October 21. He hopes that the Wilmette Golf Course is strongly represented at the forum.
 
Commissioner Crowley thanked everyone in attendance for their participation and wanted everyone to know we appreciate all of our golfers.

6) No Old Business was discussed.

7) No New Business was discussed.

8) There being no additional business, the Committee was adjourned at 9:28 am.

Minutes taken by J. Bowen.

MINUTES APPROVED ON NOVEMBER 6, 2010