Shaun Osborne changed plenty about his daily routine when he moved earlier this year from Boyne Golf, where he had worked 18 years, to Wequetonsing Golf Club. He handles far more projects now, working on the private course side of the industry, and he drives a little less — Boyne and Wequetonsing are located less than seven miles from each other near the northern tip of the Michigan mitten, with the latter a little closer to home for Osborne — a welcome change with the record prices at the pump.
One thing that has remained the same for the longtime superintendent and new dad? The presence and variety of SePRO products in his maintenance arsenal.
“It’s a new property but I’m using pretty much all the same products, because I know they work,” Osborne says. “I worked on five different golf courses (at Boyne) over the years, so just through trial and error you find out what works for you and you keep the great ones.”
Osborne has relied on Cutless plant growth regulator for more than a decade and uses Legacy plant growth regulator as well. The only difference between last season and this season? He started at lower rates, “just to see how the turf reacts,” he says. “You want to make sure it works the same.” New turf, same regulated response, which afforded Osborne the opportunity to send crew members to different projects — a good thing at a course that opened this year during the fourth week of June. Month after month after month, from February forward, there was no shortage of projects.
“We did a full-scale new pump house,” Osborne says, “an entire new irrigation system with new pipe heads and everything, new tee boxes, a new putting green, a new caddy shack — we have a big caddy program here — new parking areas that are going to be grass, a new road. I started in the winter and until the snow melted, I really couldn’t get eyes on anything.
“Especially up here in the northern part of Michigan, we don’t really have a lot of heat. A lot of times, we might have that one week in the mid-70s and then right away it cools back down. We had some frost into June, but you’re hopeful you’ll have that good weather. … With the colder spring we had, there was just waiting and getting things set. It’s been fun, just learning the course.”
Osborne was born and raised in neighboring Wisconsin — he is both a fan of and a shareholder in the Green Bay Packers — and studied turf in Florida at Florida Gateway College, formerly called Lake City Community College. But after interning in Michigan, he fell in love with the state and has hardly left since. He and his wife did move to Maine, where he worked at Sugarloaf Golf Club for five seasons, but they returned to her native northern Michigan shortly before the birth of their first child. He moved from one side of Little Traverse Bay to the other because Wequetonsing “is an 1896 course, and it’s a place I’ve always had on my radar,” he says. “When that opportunity came up, it really piqued my interest, and I thought we could make a difference and make it better each year. I kind of knew what to expect coming in. It wasn’t going to be a shock. It certainly wasn’t overwhelming. I knew what I was getting into.”
The biggest difference, perhaps, is the relative lank of ponds at Wequetonsing compared to Boyne. “Clearcast was a big winner for us there,” Osborne says. “We had big success with that. It was mostly cattails there over 20 seasons. The course was designed without those in play and removing them opens up the view to all those holes. Boyne had a ton of water. We did two applications on that pond. It wasn’t something that has been so neglected that it was ridiculous. Remarkable difference.”
But at Wequetonsing, he says, “Funny enough, therSe really is only a retention pond and some rivers,” and because of that lack of aquatic maintenance, there is “unfortunately, definitely going to be almost no use,” of Clearcast herbicide or SeClear aquatic algacide.
And now that the season has finally arrived for Osborne, the rest of his days will resemble one another once again ... like so many Packers victories. ?