Sunday, July 23, 2017

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings - Grounds, Board, Eco

The spring and early summer have been keeping us plenty busy.  Dealing with the challenging weather, tuning up the course for our busy season, moving our pilot projects forward, and of course, meetings.  Our apologies for the lack of updates, but we have been busy with progress.

First, a housekeeping item.  Both the Board and Grounds Committee monthly meeting times have changed.  Board meetings are now held on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm at the Legion.  Grounds Committee meetings are now held on the second Saturday of each month at 8:00am.  The standard location for the meeting is the Pro Shop, but we have been holding some meetings at various spots around the course.  Immediately following the Grounds meeting, there is now a work session.  All are welcome at both the Board and Grounds meetings, and we appreciate the support of our work session volunteers.

May 2017 - Board & Grounds

The Grounds committee continues to move forward with neighborhood outreach and volunteerism.  Steve Neumann has successfully recruited several neighborhood Captains to assist us with communication and organizing.  Ecological planning work with Planning Resources, Inc. also moved forward steadily.  Click here for more details in the May Grounds Update.

Our Superintendent Tony Frandria and his crew admirably battled the elements throughout one of the wettest springs on record.  Click here to read Tony's full Superintendent's Report.

The Board meeting was very productive in May, with two key topics covered:

  • As a follow-up to April's First Tee presentation by Lisa Quinn, the Board authorized members of the development team to formally engage the First Tee of Greater Chicago in negotiations to create a youth golf partnership, including a dedicated area for youth practice and play at Canal Shores.
  • Discussions are well underway to formalize the approach to planning for the golf renovation, with a focus on stakeholder outreach.  The Board is resolute, and committed to being methodical and thorough to achieve the best possible outcome for all stakeholders.

June 2017 - Board & Grounds

It was rainy and wet, and then it got sunny and dry.  Tony and his team had a chance to finally catch up on mowing and begin to implement our ideas on grassing lines.  Click here to read Tony's June Superintendent's Report.

At the June meeting, the Board took an important formal step toward renovating the golf course.  A resolution was passed committing to pursuing a Golf Component to our Master Plan, to integrate with the Eco Component that is already in process.  Click here to read the full resolution.  A Golf Planning Committee will be formed and work through formally engaging a golf course architect.

July 2017 - Board & Grounds

With our spring projects largely complete thanks to our staff, neighbors, and volunteers, Tony and his team continue to dial the course in.  The greens have never looked better, and in spite of the challenging weather, the course is shining.  Click here to read Tony's July Superintendent's Report.

The Board meeting focused on plans to take our fundraising efforts to the next level in support of Operations, the Master Planning process, and ultimately, the golf and ecological renovation of the facility.  Near and long term sustainability of Canal Shores is top of mind for our Board, and they are taking action to ensure a solid future for the land and our finances.

The spring and early summer have been filled with progress from a Greens & Grounds perspective, and the future looks very bright.  Stay tuned for updates on or work on grass lines, the Eco plan, the improvements to the 15th hole, and more.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 2017 Meetings - Grounds & Board

April has been a highly productive month for us, both in our meetings and around the Canal Shores grounds.

The April Grounds Committee meeting focused on two main topics:
  1. A report from our Superintendent Tony Frandria on the course infrastructure issues that need to be addressed, specifically drainage, irrigation, agronomy, and equipment.  Tony shared with us his initial impressions, as well as his belief that the optimal path to solving our problems is through a renovation, rather than incremental improvements over time. 
  2. Tony's report segued into a discussion about possible approaches to the renovation and the pros and cons of each.  Many questions were raised and will need to be addressed in the planning process, but the majority opinion in our Committee is that renovation is the only viable path to long term sustainability for the facility. 
We also got great news from Tony that he worked with the rep from John Deere to get us a proposal for the lease of a new rough mower and a new sprayer, within our budget.  These are pieces of equipment that we have greatly needed to improve the playability of the course.  Tony's equipment proposal was approved at the Board Meeting.

As always, we welcome guests to attend our meetings to participate and stay informed.  Click here to read the meeting minutes prepared by Steve Neumann.

From a Greens & Grounds perspective, several important topics were covered at the April Board meeting:
  • In addition to the new equipment lease, Tony updated the Board on both his overall equipment plan and the assembly of his new team.  Tony has hired John Lee as his Assistant Superintendent, and several solid team members.  We are now in great shape to be able to provide quality conditions for our players going into the season.  Click to here read the Superintendent's report.
  • We were joined by Lisa Quinn, the Executive Director of The First Tee of Greater Chicago.  Lisa shared an overview of the great work that her organization is doing for youth golfers in Chicagoland, and also expressed her desire to partner with Canal Shores.  Click to view Lisa's powerpoint
  • A resolution to go forward into a formal planning process for a renovation was discussed, and passed.  Although this is just an initial step, it is a very important step in committing to pursuing a brighter future for this course that we love.  Click here to view the Board Resolution that was passed. 

Outside of the April meetings, we also held several volunteer sessions.  Stay tuned for upcoming posts on the continuous improvement efforts of our army of volunteers.  For future volunteer dates, check in regularly on our Volunteer Page.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Outreach & Organizing

One of the most popular and iconic golf courses in the world is closed on Sundays, for golfers.  In St. Andrews, Scotland, the community is welcome to come out to The Old Course every Sunday and enjoy the famed links for picnics, walking, running, frisbee or whatever outdoor recreation they prefer.

Photo by Kieran Dodds for the New York Times

This age-old practice (read more about it here) encourages integration between the golf course and the broader community, and mutual respect between golfers and non-golfers.  The course is a central recreational resource for the community, and the entire community benefits from it.  This is the ethos that we wish to bring to Canal Shores, and this is why we continue to spend our personal volunteer time on community outreach and organizing.

Through our year-end survey, we learned that only 46% percent of respondents know that we are a volunteer-driven non-profit organization.

Without the work hours and donations from dedicated members of the community, Canal Shores would likely cease to exist.

This past weekend, a small event was held that represents just the type of community engagement that keeps Canal Shores moving forward.  Board and Grounds Committee member Frank Candioto hosted a gathering of folks from his neighborhood at his home.  Grounds Committee Chairman Steve Neumann, Board President Chris Carey, and Business Manager Dan Bulf gave a presentation on our progress in transforming Canal Shores, as well as a proposed pilot project on the 5th hole.

The Canal Shores property suffers from significant drainage issues that would ideally be fixed through a renovation.  In the meantime, we are attempting to address "hot spots", and one of those spots is west of the 5th tee, near Frank's home.

The landscape architecture firm Ecology+Vision generously donated a native area design with plants specifically chosen to thrive in a wet area, and keep it drier.  

Unfortunately our operating budget is too tight to include funds for implementing this design, but happily, Frank and his neighbors are going to try and make it happen.  Nancy Pavkovic signed on to be a Neighborhood Captain for this area of the course to help us inform the neighborhood and recruit more involvement.  Many thanks to Frank, Nancy, and all who attended the meeting.  With productive engagement like this, we are hopeful that this pilot project can be completed sooner rather than later.

We welcome more of this kind of involvement.  If you are willing to host a gathering or be a Neighborhood Captain, please contact Steve Neumann at  

Although we welcome any and all assistance, our top priority at this time is to complete the Master Plan, which requires more funding.  Please donate to the Master Planning fund HERE, so that we can prepare Canal Shores to be sustainable and thrive for the next 100 years.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Cleaning Time Has Arrived

The weather is warming up and the course is waking up.  Soon enough, we'll be teeing it up.

But first, another round of clean-up and clearing is in order.  Between now and Memorial Day, our gang of volunteers will be pitching in to help Superintendent Tony Frandria and his crew get the course tuned up for the season.

The first order of business is clean-up.  The winter weather downs trees and branches across the course and these need to be gathered up before fairway rough mowing can begin.

Our practice is to break down this material, pile it in a designated area on each hole and have it chipped.  The chips are used for mulching, hugelkultur and path building.  We also blow and rake debris into the treeline to suppress regrowth of invasives.

Once the clean-up is complete, we will resume our battle against buckthorn and other invasives.  Removal of these weed species improves the ecology of the property, and also increases sunlight exposure and air movement, which leads to healthier turf.

There are several hot spots on the course that will receive our clearing attention, including the 15th and 16th holes as part of our Metra Corner Makeover.

We will be working on Saturdays between 9:00 and 11:00, unless it is raining.  Many hands make light work - all are welcome to come pitch in.  Bring loppers, rakes, or chainsaws if you have them.

To stay up to date on all of our upcoming volunteer activities, we created a VOLUNTEER PAGE HERE.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Farewell Tom, Welcome Tony

We suffered a loss at Canal Shores.  Tom Tully, our friend and Superintendent, has moved on, and moved.  Tom accepted an offer from the City of Aurora, CO Parks Department and he has relocated.  Those who know Tom are aware of his love of outdoor adventuring, and in that light, his decision to move to the foot of the Rockies makes perfect sense.  We wish Tom success in his new job, and joy in his adventures.

In a thank you note that Tom sent to the Board, he shared, "It was a blessing to have so many passionate and dedicated people who could help..."  Passion and dedication certainly help to encourage progress, but those traits don't make the grass grow.

For those who might not be aware of how far we have come, the turf tells the story.  Before Tom, our greens were unputtable, and many of the tees were bare.  With very limited resources, Tom brought the turf back and made the course playable.

6th Green Before

6th Green After

We are grateful to Tom for his expertise and service, and we are indebted to him for helping save the course from the abyss, and for moving it a big step forward.  Without his steady leadership, we would not be in a position to be contemplating even bigger next steps.  Farewell Tom!

As is often the case, one door closes and another opens.  In that spirit, we welcome our new Superintendent Tony Frandria.  Tony is a veteran Super, most recently overseeing Glen View Club for the past 13 seasons.  He brings a renewed energy and enthusiasm for progress to Canal Shores.  

Tony shared his thoughts on what excites him about the Canal Shores opportunity:

"Playing an integral role in the master plan process that will transform the already unique piece of property into a facility unlike any other perhaps in the entire country.  The commitment to a vision and Master Plan for the future that was communicated to me throughout the interview process was what made me really want to become a part of the Canal Shores team. 

I'm also very intrigued by having basically an open canvas to develop the Grounds & Greens Department from the bottom up - hiring qualified and enthusiastic staff, developing and implementing sound agronomic programs in both the short and long terms. 

Developing both operational and capital equipment budgets all while working closely with the Grounds Committee, Board of Directors, and the community to enhance the overall Canal Shores experience now and well into the future."

Learn more about Tony, and his extensive experience and expertise, visit his website here.

Welcome aboard Tony!  We look forward to tackling the next phase of Canal Shores's evolution with you.