How Ken Lallier and His Team Helped Bring the Quechee Greens Back to Life After the Flood
The Quechee Club is very fortunate to have a team of agronomists with the skills tocare for the Quechee golf courses and the village green. Both the golf courses and the Quechee Green were decimated by this past summer’s “Great Vermont Flood.”
Agronomists are educated in the science of soil and crop production. Specialists in agronomy are college-trained in programs including those atThe University of Mass,PennState, and Ohio State,to name a few.
The Quechee Club agronomists team is led by Ken Lallier, a certified golf course superintendent. Ken is assisted by head superintendent Brett Bailey and assistants Nick Couceiro, Jake Conroy, and Ryan Caughey, all of whom possess agronomy skills. This talented team has led the rest of the Quechee golf maintenance crew in the recovery effort. When did this team start?The day after the flooding!
Some readers may beasking “What in the world is agronomy?” Agronomy is the science of soil and crop production. Quechee Club agronomists use their scientific backgrounds to produce “crops” of grass that are appropriate for golf greens and fairways. Some of the techniques agronomists use may be helpful to home gardeners, especially those attempting to grow a new grassto create a yard!
One of the most important first steps in repairing golf courses after floods is to remove most of the silt off of theturf.Any turfgrass areas that were covered withsignificant amountsof silt were basically suffocated, killing the grass. Silt is not a good turfgrass growing medium because it will compact soil. Compacting does not allow the soil to drain properly. Then this creates an inhospitable environment for grass.
Most of the silt was removed mechanically using tracked Skid steers. The final clean-up is doneby sweeping with power brooms. This produces the finalsurface, which is then seeded and thenew surface grows grass.
Every effort was taken to use the silt and debris on the property during the restoration efforts, creating and enhancing mounds and berms throughout the course where possible.
Fortunately,most of the tees and all the greens were spared any erosion and were just silt-covered. Once again, the QLLA staff got right on the greens and tees starting the day after the flood and hand shoveled any silt off the surfaces.This was followed by utilizing the undamaged irrigation system to wash off the remaining undesirable materials, sparing any major damage to the greens and most of the tee surfaces.
Cleaning the fairways and roughs along with repairing any major erosion areas was a monumental task, much of it being completed by QLLA staff with some rented equipment.
QLLA was fortunate to be able to secure the golf construction contractor, Agri-Scapes, to do the major renovation work that followed.They brought lots of people and equipment to the recovery efforts, which could not have been done without their assistance.
The restoration at the Village Green followeda slightly different path;in this case, the silt was not removed but rather graded off and seeded. There was also some drainage work completed to facilitate water draining from the playground area. The green is now growing back in with some finishing touches, which will be done in the spring of 2024.
In addition to the agronomists, the many other members of the QLLAGolf Maintenanceteam contributed to the restorations, and all should be thanked and congratulated. They truly represent the definition of teamwork that is a big part of what makes Quechee a special place filled with special people.
Special thanks to Ken Lallier for his many contributions to this article. He is one of those special people Quechee is lucky to have.