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Skunks Eating Grubs Destroy Golf Courses

As fall approaches, course operators must keep an watch for June Bug larva.

As fall approaches and the golf season winds down, skunks feast on the June Bug larva! 

With the kids “finally” back in school, the rag tag group of golf junkies, who play a certain Twin Cities’ muni, made their annual pilgrimage up-north for their fall golf trip.  They discovered the all inclusive deal (golf, lodging, food and beer) at Breezy Point the year earlier.  Michael, known to his golf pals as Mickie, the self elected leader of the of the 8-some, coined the Breezy Point experience a “Golf Orgy”.  Over the winter and through the summer golf league days the name became the Breezy Point Orgy.  Breezy Point Orgy – 2015 was the heading on the agenda, created by Mickie with room mates, tee times and 4-somes listed.

On their second trip around the White Birch Course, Mickie noticed damage to the turf in two different places on the fairway.  Small patches of turf were ripped up, no a better term would be peeled back.  These spots looked something like oversized divots had not been replaced.

During the lunch break, while Larry (not really his name, but he looks so much like Larry from the Three Stooges that the name stuck) was figuring who won the skins, Mickie asked, “did any of you guys notice those holes in the turf on #8 and #15?”

Mouse, the jockey sized golfer who was the longest hitter in the group, joked, “I did not see those places, but on that par-5 where I outdrove you guys by 30 yards, there was a big patch of sod that was shredded.  Wonder what caused that damage?  Looks like something just tore up chunks of sod.”

As the burgers and fries were being wolfed down, Mickie Googled “turf damage on golf courses.”  With a few more clicks he had the answer.  “That turf damage was more than likely done by skunks or maybe raccoons.  They are searching for an easy meal of beetle larva, we call them grubs.  Those big white grubs eat the roots of the grass until frost drives them deeper into the soil.  In the spring they morph into June Bugs.  Even crows have been known to eat those grubs.  They are different type of beetle, buy most likely June Bugs.”

After lunch with the 4-somes shuffled, our now better educated, muni players noticed several more areas of skunk damage to the turf.  Mickie informed his group that turf can withstand a population of 4 to 6 grubs per square foot and do fine, but more than that can cause the turf or lawns to show stress or even die.  Female June Bugs lay 20 to 40 eggs in their life cycle.  In wet years the population seems to prosper.  

On the final morning of the Orgy, our muni players paid the small up charge and experienced wilderness golf at its finest.  They were going to bring that Arnold Palmer beauty, Deacon’s Lodge to its knees.  With new 4-somes and the skins pot doubled for the final day, our over served golfers started slowly.  On the tough first hole, tee shots were topped and sliced into the marshes that seem to eat balls.  More balls were eaten by the cat tails that guard the front of the elevated green.  Mouse got a skin with a bogie 5 despite a three putt.  Their round seemed to be getting into a rhythm with several pars on 2, 3 and 4.  Then Larry, with a perfect tee shot, topped his approach shot to the spectacular 5th green below.  The shot rolled to the bottom of the steep hill where Larry’s ball came to rest in the largest area of skunk damage they had encountered.  An area about 15’ in diameter was shredded into irregular channels of ripped up sod.  After a rules committee meeting, Larry was allowed to drop his ball out of the skunk damaged turf.  With a great chip and a curling 12’ putt, Larry tied Mouse with a par.

Golfed out and over served with both food and alcohol, our team of muni players survived another Breezy Point Orgy.  Who won the skins will be quickly forgotten, but the vivid picture of perfect turf shredded by skunks will be recognized for a lifetime of golf.

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