We offer nature walks guided by our Certified Golf Course Superintendent, Rick Kerins. A walk in nature can give you the small dose of wilderness you need to refresh your spirit. Nature walks present rare opportunities for first-hand learning and can be thrilling for adults and kids. 1 hour walk: $5 per person. Contact us for more information!
Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System
Putting the Environment First, by Mark Leslie, Golf Course News
Richard Kerins, Co-owner & Certified Golf Course Superintendent, has qualified Tam O’ Shanter for membership in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System. This establishes our commitment to preserving the quality of our environment through projects such as enhancing wildlife habitats, conducting wildlife surveys, and mounting and monitory nest boxes. We also use integrated pest management (IPM) which employs natural pest management techniques to reduce the amount of pesticides used. Nature Trail signs are located on each tee, and describe the natural environment that surrounds you as you enjoy your round of golf. We hope these signs help you to become more aware of the environment of our part of northwestern Pennsylvania.
Take a Tour of the Tam O’Shanter Nature Trail
~The Front Nine ~
Hole #1 The Pond
On the right side of the fairway is a pond with shrubs and high grass surrounding it to preserve the natural environment and provide a buffer zone between the wetland and the golf course. The number and variety of aquatic and shoreline plants make this pond attractive to wildlife. Birds and mammals rely on ponds to drink, bathe and cool off, while numerous species of salamanders, frogs and aquatic insects live in or near the water. Note the bird nesting boxes in the pond area which provide additional habitat.
Hole #2 The Gully
This gully has been left in its natural state to provide habitat for wildlife. This has been enhanced by the use of Jamestown fescue on the slope for the cart path. This fescue is an excellent naturalizing grass which provides habitat for chipmunks and mice, which are the prey of Great Horned Owls who inhabit the very large beech and walnut trees.
Hole #3 Rye Grass Fairway
Rye grass, in this case Palmer Prelude Perennial rye, has been used on these fairways not only because it is a fine quality turf. This particular grass is hardy and drought-resistant, requiring less water than conventional grasses. This grass is much more economical to use and it saves a considerable amount of water.
Hole #4 The Woodlands
Notice the natural woodlands to the left of the fairway. They provide a 400-foot-wide buffer strip with the adjoining farmland, making excellent cover for wildlife. It is not unusual to see turkey, deer and especially gray squirrels in this area. Look overhead in the tree branches for leafy squirrel nests.
Hole #5 Buffer Zone
The natural grass to the left of this fairway serves as a buffer zone and provides further wildlife habitat. In the hollow on this hole, Jamestown fescue is the grass used to prevent erosion. This tightly woven ground cover also handles foot traffic well. It is much better to use this grass, because it is so durable, and it is low on maintenance.
Hole #6 Woodland Habitat
In the hollow to the left of the tree is an area that has been left in its natural state. The dead trees here provide habitat for woodpeckers and songbirds in the form of nest sites and insects, a valuable food resource. In addition, leaf litter, twigs and downed limbs remain on the woodland floor to return nutrients to and build the soil. This is a natural way to provide homes for the wildlife.
Hole #7 Restored Pond, Wildflowers
The restored pond to the right of the tee has been returned to its natural state. High in the trees in this area are wood duck boxes to encourage nesting. You may also see Canadian geese, mallards or a Great Blue Heron in the pond. To the left of the tee is a wildflower area which appeals to birds and butterflies, as well as golfers. Watch for a succession of blooms which occur throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Hole #8 Irrigation
The fairways at Tam O’ Shanter are irrigated by a fully automated system. The 680 Toto Irrigation Heads help conserve water by giving maximum coverage with a minimal volume of water. This system uses less water than conventional methods when syringing (light watering) is employed during hot summer days. This preserves the turf and this benefits golfers. It also benefits the land in that fewer chemicals are used. This is an asset to neighbors who live near the golf course rather than in a neighborhood where many subscribe to a chemical lawn service. Watch for a succession of blooms which occur throughout the spring, summer and fall on the golf course.
Hole #9 Natural Ravine/History
This natural ravine contains oak trees that are 150 to 200 years old. The majority of the land in this county (Mercer) was a Revolutionary Land Grant to soldiers, most of whom sold off their shares, and the land was logged and then used for farming. This golf course was originally built in 1929-30 by T. Wade Walker, who sold it to Dan Sawhill in 1944. Jack and Mary Lou Kerins bought the course in 1947, and the Kerins family has operated it since then.
~The Back Nine~
Hole #10 Wood Ducks
Nesting Wood Ducks, one of the most striking of American ducks, have been found in previous seasons to the right of the short tee. With the loss of much of the ancient forest with its big, hollow tree trunks used by these ducks for nesting, the wood duck nearly became extinct. Able to survive close to human settlements, the survival of the wood duck has been greatly helped by a widespread program of nest box building and placement. Although wood ducks spend most of their time in or near water, they have been known to nest as far as a mile away from the nearest body of water. In the past the young from this nest have been transported by the Game Commission to a larger wetland area to mature.
Hole #11 Bluebirds
The symbol of spring, hope and happiness, the bluebird has declined dramatically in number over the past 50 years., primarily due to pesticides and to the loss of nesting sites (in cavities of old, decaying trees). To the left of #11 green is a bluebird area designed to enhance their population by providing suitable habitat. These delightful birds feed on a large number of insects, including snails, cutworms and grasshoppers. Tam O’Shanter has been a member of the National Bluebird Association since 1991.
Hole #12 Maintenance Shop
The Maintenance Shop to the right of the tee is kept neat and clean, and recycling is a priority. Natural greases and oils are used and recycled. Our Certified Golf Course Superintendent, Rick Kearns, utilizes integrated pest management (IPM) which employs biological control strategies and thus limits the need for chemical controls of pests and turf diseases. He has passed a rigorous testing program to obtain the Pennsylvania Pesticides Applicator’s License and was honored with the Environmental Stewardship Award in 1996 by the National Golf Course Superintendent’s Association.
Hole #13 The View
The naturalized area surrounding the tee is designed to attract birds. As you view the distant rolling hills, you can see that the golf course is part of the greater environment. In 1985 a tornado cut a path of destruction up the length of this fairway. Since then over 1,000 trees have been planted on the golf course and the trees gradually been reestablished, leaving little evidence of the natural disaster.
Hole #14 New Wetland
In the ravine to the right of the tee is a newly established wetland. This is a replacement wetland area for the one that was destroyed by the highway construction. We now know that wetlands play an integral role in providing wildlife habitat and ensuring water quality for essential ground water supplies and down stream water resources.
Hole #15 Wildflowers
In the area of the well site to the right of the short tee is a grassland wildflower area to attract butterflies. These beautiful creatures are essential to plant pollination and enhance the environment with their colorful flight. There are also butterfly boxes on the course, which are usually busy with action.
Hole #16 Red-Tailed Hawk
Watch the skies or treetops in this area for red-tailed hawks. These large, soaring hawks nest in woodlands and hunt in open country, which make golf courses an ideal habitat. The red-tails prey on mice, chipmunks, rabbits and other rodents. Their call is a high, faint scream.
Hole #17 Sound Barrier
Noise pollution can be a problem when in proximity to a major highway. Therefore, the mounds behind the green of this hole were included in its design to function partly as a sound barrier, and partly to stop golf balls from straying onto the roadway.
Hole #18 Pine Trees/Imp Techniques
The pine trees lining this hole are valuable for wildlife. These trees provide year-round cover and seeds of the white pine. One integrated pest management (IPM) technique used in the clubhouse area is the use of garlic spray to repel mosquitoes and other insects.
1. Consider getting involved in local and national conservation efforts. National Wildlife Federation has a Backyard Habitat Program which provides information on planting for wildlife and a certification process for your own backyard.
2. When you play a round at Tam O’Shanter you help the environment because part of your green fees goes to support turf research and some conservation groups. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read these markers . . . we hope you enjoy your game!