Bridges' greens recovered from damage


In the game of golf, patience is key.

The practice green at The Bridges Golf Club in Abbottstown is shown after its recent recovery from a damaging batch of fungicide last year.

That saying also holds true for maintaining a golf course. Especially when faced with potential disaster.

When trouble struck The Bridges Golf Club in Abbottstown, the willingness to endure would be put to the test for both grounds crew and patrons alike.

Trouble: Last year, a contaminated fungicide caused an estimated 65 percent loss of turf on the course’s greens, collars and surrounding approaches, according to general manager Doug Altland.

The fungicide also plagued numerous courses throughout the Northeast, including Royal Manchester Golf Links in Manchester. The problem was the fungicide contained trace amounts of herbicide. When the two were combined, the result was a deadly chemical for the greens.

Royal Manchester Golf Links working to rebound from damaged greens

The damage was extensive enough that Altland estimates the course saw an 80% decrease in play outside of previously scheduled leagues and outings.

However, Altland’s crew wasn’t the only group willing to exert some tolerance while things got better. League play was still held during the recovery process and by Altland’s account players were understanding of the circumstances.

As for the total financial damage caused, Altland said that was a tough sum to figure.

“That’s a tough question to answer,” Altland said when asked how much business was lost. “How many of those (players who avoided the course) would have had lunch or dinner, bought beer, maybe even stayed in the hotel. It was really tough coming up with a number to give (the fungicide company’s) insurance company.

The practice green at The Bridges Golf Club is shown before a recent recovery process. A bad batch of fungicide caused extensive damage to a number of the courses greens last year.

“We did get something from them. Believe me, if we could have had the season just be normal we would have just done that. They did make an effort to at least make up for some of our lost income.”

Recovery process:

Altland says the course consulted with a firm from Baltimore for a period of three weeks to develop the best course of action to recover the damaged areas.

During that time, new sod was hauled in from as far as North Carolina for the greens and the Eastern Shore area for the collars and approaches. Damaged areas were stripped bare and all involved laid the new sod by hand.

The rest, according to Altland, was up to The Bridges.

“Once they left, it was up to our maintanence guys to keep everything alive at absolutely the worst time of year you could want for that type of a project,” Altland said. “Middle of the summer is not when you want to be trying to get grass growing by any means.

“It was a real project for our grounds crew and they did a real nice job” Altland said, noting their job was made even more difficult because The Bridges didn’t shut down completely during the process. “The single biggest thing was having a grounds crew that was as experienced as ours. They just did an awesome job; I can’t thank them enough.”

Back to normal: The Bridges’ patient approach has already paid off nicely, the course having already played host to some of the area’s top players with no complaints.

On April 17, the course hosted the York County Amateur Golf Association’s Spring Better Ball event. That was followed a week later by the NCAA Division III Centennial Conference Championships, held April 22-24.

The course is also set to host a York County Junior Golf Association event on July 11.

All things considered, Altland is pleased with the way the course is recovering. He notes that greens are back to the cutting heights normally used this time of year and the track is once again receiving its normal acclaim from golfers.

“We’re rolling along very nicely. We have a solid summer booked and a nice fall coming up, too,” Altland said. “Things are definitely back to where we’re used to them being. And it’s a lot happier a place to be at this year than it was last year.”

— Reach Elijah Armold at