Players might notice their drives go farther this year
By McKenna Brown
Members and resort guests who head out to the course this month will be relieved to find that it’s more or less exactly how they left it in the fall.
“The golf course is in the same condition as it was when they left it,” says Golf Course Superintendent Chris Condon. “There’s nothing new, no surprises, everything’s normal.”
Condon and his crew spent most of March readying the course for the March 31 opening. They laid out a layer of gypsum fertilizer over the course and are working on fully incorporating it into the grass. “We’re trying to get that to disappear,” Condon says. He said players might notice a fine layer of what looks like sand during the first week or so of play, but after that the course will be looking like normal again.
His team will also receive a truckload of sand from Florence, Oregon to help fill in the bunkers and certain low areas on the course, but that shouldn’t disrupt play.
One of the biggest changes that players might notice is that Condon’s crew will be mowing the fairways less, instead relying on large rollers.
Typically course maintenance staff will mow the greens 4-5 times per week during the season, depending on the week, and the fairways and tees once or twice per week.
This season, though, Condon is doing something a little different: He’s going to roll the fairways using a giant roller to press down the grass instead.
“We’re going to roll our fairways more often (this season) so that way we won’t have to mow them very often,” Condon said. “If we roll on a consistent basis we won’t have to mow as much. My goal is to get it down to once every 10 days or so that we mow the fairways.”
“It’ll be a nice feature I think going forward because we’ve never done this before,” he said. “It’ll make (the fairways) firmer, it’ll make it faster, which is always a plus.” Drives will go farther on a rolled fairways than they would on a mowed one. “We want our fairways to be even more firm than they have been in the past.”
“The only drawback to rolling the fairways is players will experience a tighter lie, so it won’t be as fluffy, and people won’t be able to scoop the ball off the fairway, but it’s always been that way here so it won’t be very different,” he said.
The greens will be maintained the same way they always have — “they’re pretty firm already,” Condon says.
Weather-wise, Condon and his crew have to be prepared for pretty much anything for the first month of the season.
“Right now it’s pretty much everything: There’s clouds, there’s rain, there’s snow, there’s sun, and there’s wind. And they’re all happening at the same time,” he said. “April is generally a crapshoot when it comes to weather. The one thing we do that’s not so normal in the middle of April is we might water our bunkers in the middle of the day” to keep the sand in place when wind picks up. “That might be something golfers will see every now and then.”
Another thing golfers will notice is that golf carts are not allowed on the course just yet — they need to stay on the cart paths. There’s an important reason for that.
“The ground is still really soft,” Condon said. “We’re predominantly fescue, and fescue doesn’t have a very high wear tolerance. If golfers can give us two months out of the year — April and October — then we’re ahead of the game in terms of the quality of the turfgrass heading into the season.”