The Evansville Country Club is meticulous when it comes to caring for its tees, fairways, and greens. But every summer, the grounds also are home to 11,000 flowers, creating the perfect, colorful backdrop.
Jeff Sexton has been the golf course superintendent at ECC for two years now — with 14 years of superintendent experience prior — and takes pride in his job and the flower production on the grounds.
“They (the flowers) add value. The one thing I take pride in is I look at my job here at the club as a stress reliever for the everyday working folk,” says Sexton. “I not only focus on perfection and turf, but I take pride in my job in the fact that everybody that comes to this facility has the opportunity to set aside their daily stresses and enjoy the grounds of Evansville Country Club. And I’ve always felt that way.”
This year, Sexton and his team grew 11,000 annuals in the 3,000-square-foot greenhouse on the east end of the golf course maintenance building. Twenty-five percent of the annuals start off as seeds while the other 75 percent are plugs — little plants that are about the size of a pinkie finger.
While most people are shielding themselves from the ice and cold in January, Sexton and his team are taking care of the newly planted seeds and plugs in the greenhouse. When the first week of May comes around and it is no longer freezing outside, the flowers are planted all around the ECC grounds.
“We’re usually done (planting) by the middle of June. The beds are fertilized and tilled, and the flowers are installed with mulch applied around them,” says Sexton of the planting process. “We’ve began using compost (from St. Louis), which is an organic type of fertilizer, to try to be a little more environment friendly.”
From the moment golfers enter the parking lot to the 18th green, the various types of annuals cover the club with color. Blues, reds, pinks, whites, and yellows, Sexton acknowledges that color is a major factor in picking the types of annuals to plant for the grounds.
“We stick to themes; it is just very clean and neat and tidy looking,” says Sexton. “I try every year to change my colors. I don’t change my plants necessarily, but the colors that the plants provide. I just keep it fresh for the members, so that they notice that it’s not the same thing every single year.”
All the annual plants — including vinca, salvia, lantana, Chilly Chili Pepper, and others — don’t come without upkeep or challenges. Sexton and his team fertilize, keep the weeds pulled, water the plants three to four times a week depending on weather conditions, and find ways to keep the deer from eating the plants.
In October, after the first frost of the season, Sexton removes the annuals from the ECC grounds. The flowerbeds are cleaned out and left bare during the winter months. This time allows Sexton to take a much-needed break after a busy season of growing and planting his annuals. In January, it starts all over again in the greenhouse.
For more information about Evansville Country Club, call 812-425-2243 or visit evansvillecountryclub.org.