LaCorte Equipment Helps Golf Courses Recover From Hurricane Sandy Damage
Golf course superintendents are weather watchers by nature, so they expected Hurricane Sandy to cause flooding, down trees and disrupt power when it slammed into the East Coast on October 29. What they didn't expect were channel markers on bunkers, boats on fairways and docks on greens. The storm surge from Hurricane Sandy was unlike any in recent history.
“Our initial reaction was that it would hit us, but it was going to be a hurricane like we have weathered before," says Eric Berg, territory manager for LaCorte Equipment, in Calverton, NY. The Long Island dealership serves New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The golf courses in the area have recent storm experience with Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Gloria in 1985, but according to Berg, “this was something on a scale we've never seen before. No one expected the storm surge to be as dramatic as it was."
Hit By Hurricane Sandy's Storm Surge
Five of LaCorte's customers along the south shore of Long Island were hit especially hard by superstorm Sandy: Middle Bay Country Club, The Woodmere Club, Seawane Golf and Country Club, Inwood Country Club and the Village of Lawrence Golf Course.
“Middle Bay's superintendent called and asked for help,” Berg says. “They had about 6 ft. of water over the entire facility.”
In addition to Middle Bay’s entire maintenance area and fleet being destroyed by salt water, a wall of water washed through the back of its clubhouse and blasted out of the front windows. Berg says the receptionist desk was found nine holes away from the clubhouse.
LaCorte provided John Deere ProGators and Gators, as well as bunker rakes to assist with Middle Bay's cleanup efforts and remove sand from the fairways. Even after suffering $3.5 million worth of damage, the club re-opened after Thanksgiving. Insurance covered about two-thirds of the repair costs, but the club's members — many of whom had homes and businesses damaged by the storm — weren't able to continue to support it. Middle Bay was forced to close and file for bankruptcy in January.
Though also hit hard by the storm surge that left a boat on Seawane's course, all of Inwood’s and the Village of Lawrence’s equipment ruined, and Woodmere's maintenance facility damaged, they are looking forward to next season.
LaCorte’s 3-acre site has 18,000 sq. ft. of building space filled with demo and used equipment that it provided to affected courses on an emergency rental basis.
“For example, I brought over some fairway and greens units to Inwood so they could get in a final cut and clean up the course before winter,” Berg says.
LaCorte is also able to quickly get new equipment to the courses that need it.
“I've just completed a package to replace the equipment on The Village of Lawrence’s municipal golf course,” he says. “From the time of order to delivery will be about four weeks. Some of the stuff, I couldn't believe how fast John Deere was able to deliver it."
Hurricane Recovery Efforts Continue
All of the hardest hit golf courses in Berg’s territory still have a lot of cleanup work to do. Hundreds of trees were downed, irrigation systems were destroyed and the turf was submerged under 5 to 6 ft. of seawater.
“The biggest concern is turf quality,” Berg says. “The more precipitation the better to push the salt out of the turf. It's going to be a long process to rectify the soils.”
Still, it could have been worse. The golf course superintendent of Seawane, Brian Benedict, told Berg a harrowing story of being trapped as water rose about 8 ft. in 45 minutes. Equipment was lost and buildings were washed away, but advanced warning and experience kept the courses’ employees safe.
“We're lucky it didn't happen in mid-season,” says Berg. “And we're fortunate we have the equipment to help out. We're more than happy to do it.”
Prepare for Tier 4 Regulations
Final Tier 4 is the last of 5 tiers of regulations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created in response to the Clean Air Act of 1990. These regulations set standards for particulate matter (PM), nitrous oxide (NOx), and hydrocarbon emissions for diesel engines, as well as sulfur levels allowable in diesel fuel.
Beginning in 2013, Final Tier 4 regulations apply to 25-74 hp golf, commercial mowing, compact tractors, skid steer loaders and other outdoor power equipment. But because of the diversity of Off-Road Equipment types, the EPA has allowed manufacturers some limited ability to stagger the introduction of compliant products using an equipment dependant flex credit system. Additionally, engine manufacturers like John Deere who have performed better than the minimum standards for PM and NOx can earn credits that can be used with their transition plans. John Deere has earned both these kinds of credits and will shift the implementation of the Final Tier 4 regulation later in the year for its 25 to 74 hp golf products.
“At John Deere, we continue to offer the right combination of technologies at the right time to meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations and customer needs,” says John Piasecki, director of worldwide marketing, sales and customer support for John Deere Power Systems.
That combination consists of combustion and aftertreatment technologies working together. On the combustion side, high-pressure injection atomizes the fuel into finer particles to reduce particulate matter, while Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation reduces nitrous oxide levels. An Electronic Control Unit controls engine and aftertreatment functions. The aftertreatment technology consists of a Smart Exhaust Filter that captures and eliminates particulate matter, and a continuous process that oxidizes the remaining particulate matter.
With John Deere's unequalled emissions experience, we will ensure regulatory requirements will be met without sacrificing power, reliability or impacting the low cost of ownership.
As Rachelle Thibert, Manager Marketing Planning at John Deere says, “Customers care about this technology only in two ways – does it impact my ability to get my work done; and if there is an issue, can my dealer handle it and get me back going again. Essentially, that means we need to ensure that emissions control is a non-event. John Deere engine and vehicle engineers have challenged themselves to find ways to make sure we are in compliance…but more importantly to ensure that we do things in such a way that the performance of the vehicle isn’t impacted. It is key that the technology be fully integrated, automatic, and seamless to the operator. We’ve done that in the transition to Interim Tier 4 regulations, and we will do that again when Final Tier 4 rolls around.”
Turf Bowl Winners Headed to TPC Sawgrass
You may attend the Golf Industry Show to see the latest equipment and learn the latest techniques, but each year students from across the country come to compete in the Collegiate Turf Bowl.
The competition consists of a challenging written exam developed and graded by superintendents, as well as a written essay. This year, students from more than 35 universities and colleges took part for a chance to win cash prizes and bragging rights for their school's turf program.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst team, which consisted of Peter White, Evan Bradstreet, Kevin Shewmaker and Sean Raposa, won first place in this year's challenge. The UM team had come close to the top prize in past Turf Bowls, coming in second, third and second in the last three years, respectively. The winners attribute extra classwork devoted to specifically to the exam and many hours of studying to pushing them over the top this year.
As the Turf Bowl sponsor, John Deere and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) awarded the team the traveling trophy and a $4,000 first-place prize.
John Deere, the Official Golf Course Equipment Supplier, Landscape Product Supplier and Golf Course Equipment Leasing Company of the PGA TOUR, is also providing the winning team with the opportunity to volunteer at TPC Sawgrass. The world-famous venue is home to two PGA TOUR championship courses designed by Pete Dye. The students will get a first-hand experience in preparing a course for a PGA TOUR tournament.
The student's professor, Patricia Vittum, Ph.D., calls the win “life-changing” for the students in a GCSAA video covering the Turf Bowl winners.
*Offer available through April 30, 2014. 4% Lease Rate for up to 60 Months on Operating Lease or Lease Purchase. Subject to approved lease credit with John Deere Financial. Offers available on new equipment only. See your John Deere Golf distributor for complete details and other financing options.