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Keeping the Greens Green

Frequently touted as one of the best amenities that North Shore Towers has to offer, the golf course is well known among residents. What people may not know is all that goes into keeping it pristine and the challenges harsh weather can cause.
The upkeep of the course is overseen by North Shore Towers Grounds and Golf Course Superintendent Eric O’Neill, who has been with the Country Club for five seasons now. O’Neill has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, has performed internships all over the United States and previously worked as an assistant at a golf course in Scarsdale.
“I played a lot of golf when I was a young kid, especially with my grandfather,” O’Neill said of how he got interested in this line of work.
O’Neill works with a staff of 12, which includes two assistants, one mechanic, and nine crew members. The staff’s typical work day starts around 6 a.m., at which point there are certain challenges they face. For instance, because of the hour they can’t make too much noise by the buildings or local residences and follow the city noise ordinance.
“If we get in front of the golfers we can get a lot more done,” O’Neill said, adding starting early also ensures that they are not disturbing the players.
There is a typical maintenance schedule that the crew follows that O’Neill described as being very detail-oriented. Some of their regular tasks include mowing the fairways, mowing the greens, and rolling the course. However, weather can have a huge impact on the work that they do.
“You’ve got to know that you can’t beat Mother Nature,” O’Neill said. He continued, “I watch the weather twice a day at least. It’s all about the weather.”
In the case of the extreme heat that some of this summer’s days have brought, O’Neill said that they do as much as possible to keep the grass alive. Some of the measures they take are hand watering, cooling the grass and not mowing it as frequently so there is less stress on it. They also make sure the proper fungicides have been used to make sure there are no turf diseases.
O’Neill also said that while many people might think that he and his staff are off in the winter, that is hardly the case. First, in order to prepare for the winter season, they blow out the irrigation system, spray to protect the course from snow mold, and put a blanket of sand over the greens to prevent desecration.
During the winter, the crew assists with snow removal and also continually cleans things off of the golf course such as fallen branches. O’Neill said that the wintertime is also when they would do projects like remove dead trees or do irrigation improvements.
Along with the work the staff does on the golf course, they also handle the irrigation around the buildings, front entrance and courtyard.
When O’Neill first came to the North Shore Towers Country Club, he said that the biggest challenge was getting the greens into better shape by removing excess thatch and adding more sand. He said that play is better now on the golf course and that people frequently compliment the condition of the course.
“The golf course in general in the last four years has dramatically improved just because of the proper cultural management,” O’Neill said.

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