The Grand Hotel grounds crew does so much more than just plant flowers and mow the lawn. Recently, our Superintendent of Golf and Grounds, Drew Butterfield answered a few questions about Grand Gardens Management for Turf Magazine. We thought we would share some of the interesting facts he provided with you.
The Grand Hotel grounds crew is made up of roughly 20 people during the season. This season we have a Superintendent of Golf and Grounds, Drew Butterfield, a Head Gardner, Matt Williams, and Assistant Golf Course Superintendent, William Surdock, and an Assistant Gardner, Arturo Rodriguez. The remainder of the crew is made up of approximately 9 staff members on the golf course and 8 others on the gardens crew. Our management team all have a background in horticulture with degrees in Turfgrass Management and Horticulture from Ohio State University and Michigan State University.
All staff members, whether new or returning, go through a day long training program each spring. This helps to ensure all employees have the knowledge to safely and effectively operate any equipment they may be using during the season. Predominately used in grounds maintenance are hand tools, as well as string trimmers, backpack blowers, hedge trimmers, a few push mowers and a New Holland 1510 tractor that was purchased 2 years ago.
The crew has many types of turf to manage throughout the season including Kentucky Bluegrass and perennial ryegrass in the Tea Garden. The Tea Garden is mowed twice a week, alternating cutting directions to give it a beautiful diamond pattern when viewed from the Front Porch. Gardens planted on each side of the fountain in 2013 will consist of a mixture of Dahlias, Marigolds, Alyssum, Petunias, Rudbeckia, Ornamental Peppers, Snapdragons, Dianthus, Zinnia, Celosia and Amaranthus Crimson.
The TeaGarden is home to many events during a season including the 4th of July cookout and children’s carnival, private conference parties, weddings small and large, daily lawn games, and of course the Labor Day Jazz Festival. This season we have added a Grand Garden Show Weekend featuring Proven Winners that will take part mostly in the Tea Garden with planting ideas and hands on activities with our staff as well as garden guru P. Allen Smith.
The grounds department has adopted a few new “green” practices over the past five seasons, including the elimination of phosphorous from all fertilizers used. The Jewel golf course has been using herbicides and fungicides on an as needed basis, with a complete elimination of all insecticides over the past 3 seasons. They maintain a composting area where all plant material from the gardens as well as coffee grounds from the hotel are piled. There are 3 separate piles with the first being 2 years old and ready for use during the current season, the second pile is from the previous season and is turned 5 times to aid in the composting process. The last pile is created from waste during the current season.
The Jewel golf course has a front and back 9 that are separated by 1.25 miles. For those playing 18 holes, we transport players via horse-drawn carriage between the Grand Nine (front) and Woods Nine (back). The Grand Nine was built in 1904, and then redesigned by golf course architect Jerry Matthews in 1987. Woods Nine was also designed by Mr. Matthews, and opened for play in 1994.
The Grand Nine includes one of the best views from a golf course in the entire state of Michigan. Hole number 7 is a 245 yard, severely downhill, par 3 overlooking Lake Huron, with the green being surrounded by water on 3 sides. Between holes 4 and 5 is a natural area filled with color throughout the season by wildflowers growing there and behind green number 3 is a waterfall that is fed by the stream that comes into play between holes 2-5. Woods Nine has Bentgrass greens, tees, and fairways and consists of 2 par 3 holes that are over 200 yards and a dog leg par 5 that is out of reach for any above average golfer in 2 shots, at 552 yards. Our golf course crew consists of Superintendent Drew Butterfield, Assistant William Surdock and a crew of 9 or 10 others. With the front and back nine being such a distance apart, the crew is split in half for most of the season coming together in the spring and fall when only the front nine is open.
The entire Grounds Crew work very hard to ensure our guests and passers by enjoy the view. We have thousands of flowers and plants over the acres of land owned by Grand Hotel. We hope you take the time to stop and enjoy their work next time you are on Mackinac.