Golf course management—When is it just part of the job?

July 1, 1993

Golf course management—When is it just part of the job?

By Ken Giesler, Sandy Hollow Golf Course Superintendent

Sandy Hollow Golf Course, has been through a recent war of vandalism. It was designed by architect Charles Dudley Wagstaff and opened in 1929. Among the many courses Wagstaff also designed are the Twin Orchards Country Club in the Chicago area and two golf courses at the University of Illinois.

Sandy Hollow is one of the Rockford Park District’s busiest courses, serving approximately 60,000 golfers each year. It has been given a three-star rating from Golf Digest; is Audubon certified, rated number “One” in the Rockford Register Star “What Rocks in the Rock River Valley” poll; and received first place in the City of Gardens Rockford in Bloom landscaping and beautification for public space, receiving all perfect scores, the first time this occurred in the history of the awards program.

The 74-year-old course is situated on 124 acres of pastoral green space in a residential area with several wildflower areas. It is located at a busy southeast Rockford intersection, making it particularly vulnerable to vandalism. It is wide open, has no fencing and has a wooded area with trails in the back, giving easy access for all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, quad runners, and motorcycles to cut across, damaging greens, tees, and fairways. It’s an easy target because the property is difficult to patrol, and most of the damage is done during the night. It leaves one with a helpless feeling.

Sandy Hollow has endured vandalism for many years, and it has been increasing in frequency and severity in recent years. Last year was one of the worst years, with nearly $13,000 of estimated damage. These off-road vehicles are not only cutting across the course, they are making sharp turns, spinning their tires, peeling up turf, and turning it into hamburger.

The Park District Police have increased patrols, set up stake-outs and are walking door-to-door in the neighborhood attempting to gather information about the vandals. However, all of their efforts produced little effect; it seems the vandals know when and where the police are present.

Neighbors have been attempting to join forces, calling in when they see these vandals, but by the time authorities arrive at the scene, the vandals are long gone. Without catching them in the act, these vandals are getting away with the crime and have you wondering when they will strike again. They have now stepped up to taking baseball bats and destroying the bird houses and nesting boxes built to draw in the natural wildlife.

The clubhouse’s huge plate glass windows have been shattered, pop machines trashed, and bathroom toilets broken off the wall What are the solutions? The Rockford Park District has been backed into a corner to try to do what is right; that is, install a six-foot cyclone fence around the entire golf course at an estimated cost of more than $200,000.

Do you spend $200,000 for the fence, or golf course repairs and replacement of an outdated irrigation system?

We have developed a strong team to address anything that comes our way, even vandalism. The greens are aged and not as easy to repair. A nursery green lends itself to quite a bit of turf “borrowing” to repair many areas and at other times, we must reseed and baby the greens along.

As dedicated professionals, we will continue to do whatever is necessary to maintain the high standards that are expected by our golfing public and maybe someday, we won’t be saying, “When is it just part of the job?

Ken Giesler started working for the Rockford Park District on a seasonal basis in 1973 at $1.65 an hour before coming aboard in 1976 full time. He’s been superintendent at the Sinnissippi, Ingersoll, and Aldeen courses before taking over at Sandy Hollow in 1995. He loves to bowl, play softball, and fish.

By Ken Giesler

Sandy Hollow Golf Course Superintendent

Sandy Hollow Golf Course, has been through a recent war of vandalism. It was designed by architect Charles Dudley Wagstaff and opened in 1929. Among the many courses Wagstaff also designed are the Twin Orchards Country Club in the Chicago area and two golf courses at the University of Illinois.

Sandy Hollow is one of the Rockford Park District’s busiest courses, serving approximately 60,000 golfers each year. It has been given a three-star rating from Golf Digest; is Audubon certified, rated number “One” in the Rockford Register Star “What Rocks in the Rock River Valley” poll; and received first place in the City of Gardens Rockford in Bloom landscaping and beautification for public space, receiving all perfect scores, the first time this occurred in the history of the awards program.

The 74-year-old course is situated on 124 acres of pastoral green space in a residential area with several wildflower areas. It is located at a busy southeast Rockford intersection, making it particularly vulnerable to vandalism. It is wide open, has no fencing and has a wooded area with trails in the back, giving easy access for all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, quad runners, and motorcycles to cut across, damaging greens, tees, and fairways. It’s an easy target because the property is difficult to patrol, and most of the damage is done during the night. It leaves one with a helpless feeling.

Sandy Hollow has endured vandalism for many years, and it has been increasing in frequency and severity in recent years. Last year was one of the worst years, with nearly $13,000 of estimated damage. These off-road vehicles are not only cutting across the course, they are making sharp turns, spinning their tires, peeling up turf, and turning it into hamburger.

The Park District Police have increased patrols, set up stake-outs and are walking door-to-door in the neighborhood attempting to gather information about the vandals. However, all of their efforts produced little effect; it seems the vandals know when and where the police are present.

Neighbors have been attempting to join forces, calling in when they see these vandals, but by the time authorities arrive at the scene, the vandals are long gone. Without catching them in the act, these vandals are getting away with the crime and have you wondering when they will strike again. They have now stepped up to taking baseball bats and destroying the bird houses and nesting boxes built to draw in the natural wildlife.

The clubhouse’s huge plate glass windows have been shattered, pop machines trashed, and bathroom toilets broken off the wall What are the solutions? The Rockford Park District has been backed into a corner to try to do what is right; that is, install a six-foot cyclone fence around the entire golf course at an estimated cost of more than $200,000.

Do you spend $200,000 for the fence, or golf course repairs and replacement of an outdated irrigation system?

We have developed a strong team to address anything that comes our way, even vandalism. The greens are aged and not as easy to repair. A nursery green lends itself to quite a bit of turf “borrowing” to repair many areas and at other times, we must reseed and baby the greens along.

As dedicated professionals, we will continue to do whatever is necessary to maintain the high standards that are expected by our golfing public and maybe someday, we won’t be saying, “When is it just part of the job?

Ken Giesler started working for the Rockford Park District on a seasonal basis in 1973 at $1.65 an hour before coming aboard in 1976 full time. He’s been superintendent at the Sinnissippi, Ingersoll, and Aldeen courses before taking over at Sandy Hollow in 1995. He loves to bowl, play softball, and fish.

Other Damage

n Clubhouse windows broken out twice in two years with a cost of $5,000.

n Pop machines destroyed and broken into several times.

n Golf course restrooms have had toilets broken off the walls and doors damaged.

n Golf cart fleets have had carts stolen and damaged, requiring a fence around the carts to solve this chronic problem.

n Hardware on the course flags, ball washers, tee plates, tee signs, benches, and water coolers are consistently stolen.

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