Task Force Begins Work on McLuen Estate Gift

Brandon Waddle, Panorama West course superintendent, led three Iowa State University turfgrass specialists on a tour of the course September 27. They were asked to evaluate the current course conditions and offer suggestions on ways to improve it using funds from the McLuen estate gift. Shown in the golf cart with Waddle is Nick Christians, University Professor in Horticulture. Standing are Isaac Mertz, graduate research assistant, and Adam Thoms, assistant horticulture professor. Three turfgrass specialists from Iowa State University toured the Panorama West golf course in late September. Pictured left to right inspecting the #8 green are Brandon Waddle, Panorama West grounds superintendent; Nick Christians, University Professor in Horticulture; Isaac Mertz, graduate research assistant; and Adam Thoms, assistant horticulture professor. The trio praised the quality of all the greens on the course.

By Susan Thompson

The process is underway to determine how the Jim and Joyce McLuen estate gift of $473,000 will be used. Twenty percent of their estate was given to Friends of Lake Panorama for the “upkeep, beautification or expansion” of the Panorama West golf course. 

On September 27, three Iowa State University turfgrass specialists toured the course, led by Brandon Waddle, Panorama West course superintendent. The three members of the ISU Department of Horticulture were Nick Christians, University Professor; Adam Thoms, assistant professor; and Isaac Mertz, a graduate research assistant working on a doctorate with an emphasis on turfgrass science.

All three said they were impressed with the quality of the putting greens on the golf course. “Considering the weather this past summer, and in comparison with the greens we’ve seen at similar courses, you should be very happy with the putting surface,” said Thoms in a follow-up letter. “The course superintendent should be recognized for the quality of the putting greens.”

Christians has been on the Iowa State horticulture faculty since 1979. He’s involved in both teaching and research with an emphasis on turfgrass science, and was Waddle’s academic advisor at Iowa State in the 1990s.

“The McLuens must have loved this golf course,” Christians said. “In my 39 years of doing this, I’ve never come across any golf course that has received this kind of gift.”

The trio said there are many options to use the generous estate gift to improve the quality of the Panorama West golf course. They discussed irrigation, improving the turf condition on tee boxes and fairways, tee box and directional signage, bunker renovations, and concrete cart paths in selected locations. They also offered ongoing support as needed. 

A task force made up of three representatives each from the Friends of Lake Panorama board of directors and the Lake Panorama National board of managers held its first meeting later that day. Task force members also toured the course with Waddle and reviewed a list of ideas presented at the September 11 input meeting, and submitted via email and a suggestion box.

Task force members discussed the observations made by the ISU turfgrass specialists. There was agreement many of the projects they mentioned also were identified by Panorama West members.

The task force members next prioritized potential projects, and are working with staff to gather project cost estimates. A formal report with recommendations will be presented to the Lake Panorama Association board of directors at its November meeting. For now, the McLuen funds are invested in short-term CDs.

More information is available on the Friends of Lake Panorama website at www.friendsoflakepanorama.org/mcluen-estate-gift-1.

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