An Early April Round At Washtenaw Golf Club
Autumn in Michigan is my favorite time to play golf, but spring is a close second. I love the cool air, the beauty of the leaves beginning to emerge and grass coming out of hibernation.
There’s also a palpable sense of hope in the Spring. After a winter’s golf layoff (although I never really stop playing), Michigan golfers are excited for the new season and hopeful that this will be the season that it all comes together.
I just hope that this is a season where I don’t lose yet another couple of yards of distance.
I saw all the signs of spring on my recent round at Washtenaw Golf Club in Ypsilanti. It was a gloriously sunny 70 degrees; shorts were the dress of the day. Smiles were seen on pale, but unmasked faces. Leaves were out. Fairways were lushing up. Only the recently aerated greens still had that winter brown — and that was from the sand.
A note about aerated greens: I think that if the job is properly done, with good sand top dressing and the plugs cleared away, aeration is not an issue. The course supervisor at Washtenaw, Mark, knows what he’s doing. In spite of just being aerated a few hours earlier, my putts rolled smoothly.
For what it’s worth, Tom Watson once shot his home course record on aerated greens.
The wildlife too is beginning to emerge. A painted turtle was sunning himself on the third green. Then, apparently annoyed by the people putting around, he headed north toward Paint Creek.
As I noted before, Washtenaw is in the early stages of executing a long term plan by noted architect Ray Hearn to restore the course to its early glory. This past winter, the club removed trees that were interfering with lines of play.
Nowhere is this more welcome than on the par four fifteenth. Removal of trees along the right side has opened the landing zones, making a draw off the tee a legitimate shot selection. Tee shots that land on the right side of the fairway also now have an unrestricted angle to the green.
Tree removal here, and in other locations also will improve the growth of grass in the fairways and in the rough. For optimal health, greens, fairways and tee boxes need eight to ten hours of direct sunlight during the growing season. Some of the more shady areas of Washtenaw were just not getting that much.
I am really looking forward to seeing how the master plan improves the course over the next few years.