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Golfers give local course high marks
Smooth greens make Chattahoochee Golf Course popular in regional survey
David Silcox drives a tractor with a rear-mounted blower keeping leaves and pine needles blown off the fairways Friday at Chattahoochee Golf Course as mild weather brings crowds of golfers to the course.

The Chattahoochee Golf Course is No. 1 for more than 100 men who regularly play the greens of northern Georgia.

The Northeast Georgia Senior Men's Golf Association recently polled its members about the 30 courses they play around the top end of the state, and Chattahoochee repeatedly showed up at the top of the list.

"By rating the courses 1-10, Chattahoochee came out to 8.5, and I was pretty surprised," said Dave Gleason, founder and executive director of the group, who calculated the results. "I thought it would do well, but I didn't know if it would go to No. 1. We play some pretty prestigious courses."

The group, composed of 132 men over age 50, play about 18 different courses each year from Brasstown Bald to southern Gwinnett County. When Gleason started making the schedule for 2011, he decided to ask the guys which courses they like best.

"They didn't list the reasons because I wanted to keep it simple and make sure I got back responses, but I think the main reason is because the greens are so well kept," he said. "There are some courses that we had to put off until later in the year because they were put on temporary, and dirt was where grass should have been."

With the association entering its sixth playing season, the men listed Chattahoochee as the top pick to play again and again. Gleason named Chateau Elan Golf Course in Braselton, Legacy on Lanier Golf Course in Buford, Chicopee Woods Golf Course in Gainesville, Chestatee Golf Course in Dawsonville and Achasta Golf Club in Dahlonega as other hot picks.

"The guys enjoy playing all these courses, and we like picking up a couple of new courses each year, but the greens keepers over at Chattahoochee foresaw summer heat problems and corrected it, and the guys really appreciate that," Gleason said. "It turns out a quarter of our membership are from the Gainesville area, so a large number of us play on courses within an hour of Gainesville and like those greens."

When notified of the honor, Chattahoochee Golf Course Director Rodger Hogan shared the credit.

"We have a fantastic crew who kept the greens in great shape when other people were struggling. We had our share of struggles as golf courses all over the East had heat problems, but we take pride in the way we treat our customers," he said. "The recognition is a great thing to hear."

Sheldon Foote, superintendent of the greens, noted the process as "an art and a science."

"It's a lot more than just mowing and fertilizing. We have to have correct timing of several things from fungicide to top dressings, fertilization, cultivation and aerification," he said. "One of the most challenging parts is dealing with Mother Nature. She can throw all kinds of things at you."

When maintaining grass at an eighth of an inch, balance is essential.

"You'd think when growing grass that rain is great, but wind and rain can be devastating at certain times of the year, and this summer wasn't a really good one for lots of courses in the south," Foote said. "Then you've got geese and other complications. It just comes down to the correct applications."

Foote also passed credit on to his assistants.

"The main thing is having a dedicated staff," he said. "There are several very nice golf courses locally, so it's nice for the association to say that. It's our job and we try to do the best we can with what we have."

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