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Man's best friend deals with geese.

Byline: Bill Doyle


A black Labrador retriever and an Alaskan husky have ended a problem that has dogged Pine Ridge Country Club in North Oxford for many years.

The black lab named Tank and the Alaskan husky named Luka are chasing away the geese who used to litter the 12th and 14th fairways with their droppings.

Mike Dunn, a Pine Ridge golfer who lives near the course, offered in April to have Tank, one of his dogs, scare the geese away each day. Tank did a good job, even jumping into ponds to disperse the geese. Pine Ridge general manager Ken Duquette, who took over ownership, brings him to the course each day. The members enjoy Tank so much that they bring him treats.

"The members said, `Ken, of all the ideas you've ever had, this is the best one,'" Duquette said.

This is Duquette's eighth year as general manager at Pine Ridge.

Tank soon taught Luka, owned by assistant superintendent Brad Allen, how to get rid of the geese, too. Luka rids the course of geese early in the morning, and Tank keeps it goose free for the rest of the day.

Pine Ridge has been busy this season. Duquette said 400 golfers have signed up as associate members, who pay a two-year fee of $249 to play weekdays or $399 to play any day, but after 11 a.m. on weekends. Each time they play, they also pay a $20 cart fee. The club's 58 full members pay $1,200 for unlimited play. Full members can book tee times 10 days in advance, the general public seven days in advance and associate members five days in advance.

Duquette said more golfers ages 17-25 are playing Pine Ridge. They pay a discounted greens fee. Pine Ridge hosted a U.S. Kids tournament on April 27. When Pine Ridge hosted a U.S. Kids Golf tournament last summer, Bruins president Cam Neely brought his son.

Irrigation work was conducted on the fifth hole this spring after trees were removed between the fifth and the 17th holes last year. Trees were also removed from near the 16th green to allow more sunlight.

Indian Meadows open

Indian Meadows remains open for golf this season after plans to open a baseball facility on the property fell through.

Johnson Golf signed a three-year deal with Indian Meadows owner Art Billingham to lease the course, according to Joe Eckstrom, director of operations for Johnson Golf. Johnson Golf also manages Pakachoag Golf Course in Auburn and Whaling City Golf Course, an 18-hole Donald Ross course in New Bedford.

Eckstrom said Billingham is trying to sell the course.

Tony Eckstrom has taken over as superintendent at Indian Meadows after filling that role at Pakachoag last year. His daughter Brooke Eckstrom works in the pro shop. Brandee Viens, who has been general manager at Pakachoag the past six years, fills that role for Indian Meadows as well.

During the week, golfers 62 and older can play nine holes for $16 or 18 holes for $29. That's $4 off the regular nine-hole rate and $4 off the 18-hole rate.

Chris Hanlon has been promoted to superintendent to replace Eckstrom at Pakachoag.

Golfers can walk nine holes for $13 before 1 p.m. weekdays or for $19 after 1 p.m. weekends at Pakachoag.

Grant a full-time golfer

Jim Grant retired as Nipmuc Regional boys' basketball coach last winter after 40 years on the job, so he's turning his full attention to golf.

Grant has worked in the Hopedale CC pro shop since he retired as Nipmuc's athletic director and social studies teacher in 2007. Grant played at Hopedale when he was a child, but quit the sport to play baseball when he was 13. Grant coached baseball at Nipmuc for 25 years.

In 2007, he took up golf again, and he plays to a 10 handicap. He hopes to get it back down to the 7.5 he had last summer.

Hopedale cut its greens fees this year to try to bring in more business. Greens fees for 18 holes are $30 Monday through Thursday and $40 Friday-Sunday compared to $37 and $50 last year. The number of Hopedale members dropped from 345 in 2011 to 265 last year so the board of directors hopes to create more revenue through greens fees.

Joe Potty is in his seventh year as head pro.

Scholarship at Quaboag

Gary Donlin wanted to give back to the Quaboag Regional High golf team for playing its home matches at his Quail Hollow Golf & CC in Oakham, and he found an appropriate way to do it.

Donlin decided to use the $500 that the Quaboag team pays each year to play at Quail Hollow to form a college scholarship for a Quaboag team member in the name of longtime employees Bev and Lynn Windgate. Tyler Paul Mucha, who will study aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., in the fall, received the first scholarship at his graduation last month.

The Windgates have worked at Quail Hollow since it opened in 1991, but this fall will retire to Vero Beach, Fla. They selected Mucha. Quaboag golfers can apply for future scholarships through their coach, Cliff Lanier.

Donlon reported that Quail Hollow experienced frost each morning until two weeks ago and not long afterward the temperature reached into the 90s.

"The weather's been crazy," Donlon said. "It's either too cold to play or too hot to play. I've never seen a year like this."

The weather hasn't stopped the Pits Crew League from playing on Tuesday nights. Members of that league have already carded two holes-in-one this year. Donlon said the league had no aces for at least the previous five years.

At Quail Hollow, golfers can play 18 holes with a cart all day on Mondays or mornings Wednesday through Friday for $27. Couples can play nine holes with a cart after 3 p.m. Fridays for $15 each and hang around for live music in the clubhouse afterward.

The Oakham course has added a new seniors tee on 14 and a new women's tee on 16.

Club hopping...

Monoosnock CC in Leominster did not have a full-time superintendent last year, but Thomas Sylwestrzak was hired to fill that role this season. Sylwestrzak spent the past two years as an assistant superintendent at Oak Hill CC in Fitchburg after working on the grounds crew at Gardner Municipal the previous 14 years.

Sylwestrzak has hand-cut the greens and plans to groom the bunkers and widen some fairways.

This is John Novak's 15th year as head pro.

Dunroamin CC in Gilbertville is still awaiting word on when a solar project will take over its range before carrying out any plans to reroute holes. Last year, a new first tee opened in the woods to the right of the original first tee. The new first tee has the blue tee markers, and the old first tee has the white tee markers.

On Tuesdays, golfers can walk nine holes for $10 or 18 holes for $20. On the other weekdays, it costs $16 to walk nine holes and $30 to walk 18.

Grand View CC in Leominster has developed a web site, Women of all ages and seniors aged 65 and older can ride nine holes for $20 on Tuesdays.

Jeff and Justyne Smith are in their 24th year as owners of Bay Path, a nine-hole course in East Brookfield.

Trees that were hanging over the tee on the par-3 fifth hole have been removed.

On weekdays, golfers can walk 18 holes for $20 or ride for $33 weekdays at Templewood Golf Course. When you're there, you'll notice a wider ninth fairway now that the left side has been cleared out.

Hemlock Ridge GC in Fiskdale has a new fleet of gas carts. The clubhouse has new siding and windows.

Golfers can purchase 10 half-cart vouchers for a discount and can call the club at (508) 347-9935 to register for men's, women's and couples leagues.

Dave Hall, in his 15th season as head pro at Raceway Golf Club in Thompson, Conn., estimated that Worcester County golfers account for 30 percent of the club's business. A big draw is Raceway's all-day weekday special of 18 holes, cart and lunch for $41.27, including tax.

Hall said Donald Hoenig Sr. has retired, and his son, D.R., has assumed ownership. D.R.'s son, Donald, is the superintendent.

Contact Bill Doyle at

Follow him on Twitter @BillDoyle15.


CUTLINE: Geese have long been a problem for golf course superintendents.

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 9, 2013
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