Delaware golf course superintendents develop best management practices for facilities

September 27, 2019

Course superintendent Greg Thomas is usually seen riding in a small utility cart at Rookery South, tending to some nagging turf management problem of the moment.

He has also made his presence known as part of a steering committee helping to produce a best management practices manual for Delaware golf courses. 

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America created a BMP Planning Guide and Template, which was partially funded by the Environmental Institute for Golf with additional support from the United States Golf Association. The Delaware and Eastern Shore superintendents used that template in creating their version. Jamie Palokas, superintendent for Baywood Greens, was also one of the greenskeepers on the steering committee.

The BMP document addresses a wide range of issues that superintendents must handle, including pesticide management, water-quality monitoring, nutrient management, and maintenance operations.

“Part of this was to show our awareness of the issues and to share our knowledge with the government agencies that regulate us, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, DNREC and the Department of Agriculture,” Thomas said recently. “We had help from the University of Delaware’s horticultural people to review and comment on the draft, to cover all the bases.”

The BMP is not a quick read, with more than 150 pages of material. On the other hand, reviewing just a few sample pages of the document gives an immediate impression of its quality and depth of analysis. It is available online at

“Some of these BMPs can be pretty expensive to implement fully,” Thomas said. “That’s why several of them are recommendations. Some courses can’t afford to do everything that’s suggested, but they can try to come as close as the budget and other constraints will allow.”

Thomas and I also talked about this past summer’s challenges to course maintenance. For example, every Cape Region golf course I played showed evidence of the strain of the hot weather, rain and goose grass.

Goose grass is a weed that seems to like golf courses, especially in lightly turfed and compacted soil areas. It spreads easily and is a challenge to remove. It’s also not the best grass on which to hit a golf ball, because of its tough, wiry texture. The spiky ends can help create some really annoying mishits.

“This year it’s been bad for everybody,” Thomas said. “It’s different from crabgrass, although a lot of people think that’s what it is when they see it. The big problem is there are pesticide limitations for treatment. One type of pesticide will kill the goose grass but also hurt Bermuda, and another pesticide will work on goose grass but also hurt bent grass. It’s at least as aggressive as crabgrass, especially in thin areas. Pre-emergent treatment is expensive, and we’ve also learned that the label rate [for application] is sometimes not enough.”

Thomas experimented with wholesale removal and replacement of turf in some parts of Rookery South, for example near the back greenside bunker on the 13th hole. Unfortunately, the nasty stuff came right back, so he and the other course superintendents will continue to fight the weed as best they can.

Lydic playing PGA Tour Champions event

Fans of Cape Region player Hannah Lydic will be setting their DVRs to record the PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee, taking place Sept. 27-29 at Pebble Beach, Calif. Lydic, a student-athlete at Sussex Academy and leader of its golf team, is paired with PGA Tour Champions golfer Jerry Smith.

Playing spots remain for Oct. 5 Epworth UMC Tournament

As noted in my June 14 column, the Simpson Men’s Group of Epworth United Methodist Church in Rehoboth will hold its seventh annual golf fundraiser tournament Saturday, Oct. 5, at American Classic Golf Club in Midway. Proceeds benefit the Immanuel Shelter, the Community Resource Center, and the Epworth UMC food programs.

Playing spots are still available for the event, which offers a choice of a morning or afternoon scramble. The $50 entry fee ($60 with cart) covers the golf, lunch and prizes, including a hole-in-one contest for a car provided by the Auto Gallery in Lewes.

For more information, contact Evans Shearon at 302-841-3072 ( or Stu Bruce at 302-519-1889 (

Local club competition results

The Kings Creek Ladies 9-Hole league played a Best Ball of Three game Sept. 25, won by Deb Chase, Sandy Neverett and Kathy Nave (blind draw). Noreen Buzerak, Hope Lavachia and Judy Rayner took second, with third place going to Shirley Maloney, Rita Gorman and Judy Rayner (blind draw).

The Kings Creek CC Ladies 18 Hole group played their Tee to Green game Sept. 19. Winnie Sewell won the first flight, with Jean Chlastawa in second and Marilyn Hewitt in third. 

Martha Jaxheimer took first in the second flight, with Faye Slatcher in second and Nancy Froome in third. Arlyce Dubbin won the third flight, with Yona Zucker in second and Susan Griesemer in third.

  • Fritz Schranck has been writing about the Cape Region's golf community since 1999. Snippets, stories and anecdotes from his columns are included in his new book, "Hole By Hole: Golf Stories from Delaware's Cape Region and Beyond," which is available at the Cape Gazette offices, Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Biblion Books in Lewes, and local golf courses. His columns and book reviews are available at

    Contact Fritz by emailing

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