Let’s get right to the point: When do we get to play golf and how are the golf courses doing? While I don’t have the answer as to when we will play normal golf and have competitive events, I can confidently inform you on the health of your golf courses.
With all that is happening to mankind, the golf courses are living breathing organisms as well, but are not affected by the virus. Therefore, the turfgrass areas, mainly greens, tees and fairways are in need of their normal care, which involves water, oxygen, food, mowing and different plant protectant products being applied in moderation. We are working pretty much every day, with a limited size team, to try and be personally healthy, but provide the correct care to the playing surfaces.
Normal course opening dates are usually around April 5th – 10th. This year, we were way ahead of the normal schedule and were on a great pace for course preparation for spring. As you can guess, the virus quickly brought all of the great progress to a snail crawl. With staff reduction and deciding who and when we could work, we finally got through the red tape and figured out a working plan.
The team has been able to keep up on the mowing of the main playing surfaces so far, cooler weather has helped immensely, and we have also applied growth regulators to help reduce plant growth. Several of the bunkers had been edged and sand redistributed within the bunker; several sticks and leaves have been collected to haul away or mulch with many areas still needing attention. We were able to start verticutting fairways and tee tops when the drier type of weather was in our favor.
The greens on the Ridge course have been verticut and topdressed to help firm them and allow for smooth ball roll. We did have a hydraulic line burst on the machine that was doing the verticutting. This happened on the No. 9 green of the Ridge course. Unfortunately, the area has yellowed out and will be dead. We will have to repair the area, but please stay away from it and don’t walk over the yellow turf. The Valley greens have been aerified this past week and are in the recovery mode. We wanted to continue on to the Ridge course and have the greens aerified as well so they would not have to be disturbed in August when golf is being played, but with all the shut downs, sand cannot be delivered as needed to fill the aeration holes.
If we open before the “stay-at-home order” is lifted, please give our staff a nice wave and thanks for working, certainly from a distance. These are very interesting times and we only have about seven people working at this time. It’s a good time for you as a golfer to police yourself and your group for course repair. Make sure to fix your divots and ball marks, level the bunker with your foot best as possible. The first two should always be done by the golfer and we certainly don’t have anyone to put on those tasks. We are already in over our heads when it comes to having enough staff.
When looking for golf balls, don’t throw balls out onto the shorter rough. If no one takes them, which they normally don’t, we end up having to pick them up. We don’t want to mow over them with our equipment. If you don’t want the balls, more than likely, no one else does either. Please remember to leave with your trash at this time, also. The courses came through the winter in great shape and we have been able to accomplish some key work, so they are only going to getting better.
Let’s make the best of these trying times and take a deep breath and realize how lucky we really are on a day to day basis.
Jeff Holmes, CGCS
Golf Course Manager