Minnesota has more golfers per capita than any other state in the country! So we definitely want to make our golf courses look nice. Phalen Golf Course is no exception. As a course being in the middle of such a important and beautiful city, Phalen Golf Course provides a unique challenge in our mission to restore St.Paul. We can't add many trees, they would get in the way. We also can't remove some grass or paths, it would be hard to get to your ball. One solution that we did come up with however is to improve the three main bodies of water that most of us try to aim away from. In a collaborative effort between the natural resources team, the Phalen Golf Course maintenance crew and the Youth Job Corps we are in the process of "naturalizing" the ponds. Doing so helps integrate nature into what is generally looked at as an urban setting. As we complete the project and the sites develop, the newly created shoreline and wetland areas will provide habitat for insects, frogs and other creatures, help clarify the water and prevent erosion around the banks as well as create more natural barriers and boundaries.
Our first step was to remove the standard grass that was around the edges. This was the easy part because we were able to use a basic herbicide to create a definitive line. This may not look the prettiest right now but we just have to give it time. For the next step, which is where we are now, we enlisted the help of the Youth Job Corps to assist us in planting around 1600 per pond. Thats more than 6000 plants! The plants themselves are divided into two groupings; the transitional plants which stay in or near the water and the upland plants, which require dry soil! The plants are diverse mixture of native sedges, wildflowers and grasses. Over the winter, with the ground frozen, a backhoe will be contracted to help dredge or dig out the water basins to remove some of the muck and make the depths more uniform.
With a couple years of hard work, dedication and a little luck, your tee shot on Hole 12 of Phalen Golf Course with fly over a beatiful shoreline of flowing grasses, vibrant wildflowers and maybe even a turtle on a log!