Wawenock Golf Club

"I wanted a partner, not a sales rep."

—Paul Richmond, Wawenock Golf Club

Paul Richmond is superintendent and general manager at Wawenock Golf club…located a far piece North of Portland, Maine and up the inlet from Christmas Cove. His annual budget is $250,000…for everything from maintaining the Vesper Velvet greens, to mowing the Colonial Rye fairways, to painting the 1850-era farmhouse that serves as a clubhouse.

Holes #2 and #9, Wawenock Golf Club

Running a 9-hole public course can be a lonely job. Richmond is a guy with his hands full. “Members put a lot of faith in me and Mike DeForge, my sales rep from Tom Irwin.” Nickels and dimes count at Wawenock and Richmond is quite aware he could shop around for price. “What I can’t get is a guy to come out here and spend the time needed to learn what we’re all about.” he says. 

Richmond had never dealt with Velvet greens before coming to Wawenock. In Mike Deforge he found a person willing to make insightful recommendations, properly position product, and then return a week or so later to see how the turf responded and evaluate the results. 

Wawenock had its problems 10 years ago. “It was not a destination course – unless you were looking at the layout,” Richmond says. It was one of several 9-hole courses built along the Atlantic seaboard 80 years ago. While there are alternate tees for those playing 18 holes, Richmond needed to bring the course, which he charitably rated a D-course, to the level where people would drive 45 minutes or more to play there.

Wawenock had a good inch and a half of thatch on the greens when Richmond started. Root depth was horrible. Nutsedge and dandelions ruled the fairways. “If you played a yellow ball in the spring, it was lost,” he chuckled.

What Richmond liked best about his visits from Tom Irwin, Inc.’s Mike DeForge was Mike’s willingness to sit down, prioritize practices that would have the greatest impact for the investment, then work together to set up a program.

Most members at Wawenock come North just for the summer. The course sees 15,000 rounds a season and the small greens – averaging 3000 square feet – get worked.  Richmond needed agronomic advice as much as he needed product. “I wanted a partner, not a sales rep,” he says.

Richmond and DeForge tackled the thatch right away with a program of 5-4-5 organics from EarthWorks. They began aggressive verticutting, removing plugs and replacing them with sand. “Now, five years in, our thatch is about a half-inch,” Richmond says proudly. Average root depth is down below six inches in the push-up clay based greens and the playability is greatly improved.

Wawenock Golf Clubhouse

Today, most members would put Wawenock as a B+ or Acourse. The greens don’t burn out and there are no dandelion fairways. Richmond credits the Tom Irwin, Inc. planner for helping keep him on track. “The new on-line planner is genius,” Richmond says. “I’m an on-line guy. On-line, it’s all live. I can print out spray sheets, usage reports, budget reports, everything. My records are constantly up to date and accurate. It’s great.

He sees Mike two or three times a month to tour the course and go over his plan.  Richmond notes with a bit of wonder in his voice. “I get the same care as the guy they do $100,000 a year with.” 

Why does DeForge drive to the middle of nowhere? “He does it because he cares,” Richmond concludes.

Paul welcomes you to contact him if you have any questions about his experience with Tom Irwin: paulrichmond@roadrunner.com

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