By EDDIE HUFFMAN
After summer heat that did a number on a lot of North Carolina golf courses, a couple of Alamance County courses, Indian Valley and Mill Creek, are looking to the future with brand new greens.
“Like everybody else we were totally burnt,” said Derek Cobb, director of golf at Indian Valley Golf Club north of Burlington. “That’s pretty common this year.”
Indian Valley closed in July. The course is scheduled to reopen Nov. 22, with greens installed by Spence Golf out of Greensboro.
“We dug down and built them back to USGA specs,” Cobb said. “We put L-93 bentgrass on them.”
The public course doesn’t plan any great fanfare for the reopening.
“We can’t open just to members like a lot of clubs do,” Cobb said. “We’re just gonna open up this winter and try to get something in the cash register.”
The Club at Mill Creek, north of Mebane, unveiled its new greens on Nov. 13 and also showcased improvements all around.
“We had to go in and move and thin a bunch of trees to get air flow to the new greens,” said PGA Professional Ron Lambert, general manager at Mill Creek. “We’ve put all new grass around the collars, and the greens were redone to the original architecture. The tee boxes – we resodded a lot of the ones that had given us a little trouble. Our take on it is we’re pretty good at what we’ve done over the 15 years, but now we’re armed with a new golf course.”
Lambert and his colleagues first started noticing the problems with the greens in July and August, when a hot, dry summer followed a wet spring. A treatment for root rot ended up being a cure that was worse than the disease, and Mill Creek, like Indian Valley, found itself with dead greens.
“With them being 15 years old and noticing a little bit of deterioration the last few years, we went ahead and bit the bullet and redid the greens,” Lambert said.
They called in course architect Rick Robbins for advice, and he in turn suggested they enlist a team of experts. “Rick recommended we get a panel of agronomists to guide us as we were deciding what we were doing here,” Lambert said. The panel included George Thompson, the first career superintendent elected to the Carolinas Golf Association Hall of Fame, and CGA agronomist Leon Lucas.
The end result was a shift to a new variety of bentgrass called T-1. “According to the manufacturers, we’re the only club in North Carolina that has this type of grass,” Lambert said.
It’s heartier than the Cato/Crenshaw grass on the old greens, Lambert said, with a beefier blade. It resists bruises and ball dents, and looks good doing it, he said.
“A lot of the blend-type grasses are a little blotchy – lighter green and darker green here and there,” Lamber said. T-1, on the other hand, is “the greenest of all the bentgrasses. It’s very uniform. It’s beautiful. The greens look great.”
As work on the new greens progressed, Mill Creek used temporary greens to keep the course going through the transition period. Lambert and his colleagues kept club members and other golfers informed about the progress on the new greens with a series of video updates posted to the Mill Creek website.
“It’s amazing how many people emailed me and said, ‘When’s the next one coming?’” Lambert said.