By STEVE WILLIAMS
Despite a rain-drenched summer, the new greens project at Bryan Park’s Champions Course is right on target for a late-August re-opening.
“We were so lucky at the very beginning of the process that we managed some way or another to miss the really torrential downpours that would have caused those sprigs to wash away,” said Kyle Kolls, general manager and director of golf at Bryan Park. “We got a lot of rain but nothing washed away.”
The Champions Course closed June 17 to begin the process of replacing bentgrass greens with MiniVerde bermudagrass.
Kolls said that the rain helped the new grass take hold and the heat wave in mid-July came just in time to spur the growth.
“We’ve had some nice warm sunshine that is really allowing that grass to grow and fill in,” he said. “At this point, we are right on schedule and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the way they are progressing.”
The Players Course at the 36-hole complex just north of Greensboro has remained open with bentgrass greens and play – weather permitting – has been strong.
“Unfortunately we’ve had so many rainy days that our rounds are down a little bit more than we expected,” Kolls said. “But when the days are nice, the play’s been there.
“Kudos to our maintenance staff for all the hard work they are doing – going through the conversion and at the same time maintaining that course in really high condition.”
Mill Creek goes with MiniVerde
There’s been an ongoing battle with bentgrass greens and summer heat at Mill Creek Golf Club for several years.
But that’s now in the past as the Mebane course is converting to MiniVerde bermudagrass. Sprigging with the new grass was done July 17-18 in anticipation of ready-to-play putting surfaces in mid-September.
“We’ve been fighting this battle for a long time,” said director of golf Mike Long. “It just makes sense. Bermudagrass is good year-round and bentgrass is good only about five months a year. The particular strain we had was not very heat tolerant.”
Now the staff at Mill Creek is hoping for some cooperation from the weatherman.
“Given good conditions, hot weather and sunshine, we should re-open about the middle of September,” Long said.
Long said he didn’t see a lot of difference in the varied versions of the bermudagrass.
“MiniVerde just seemed like a better fit for us. Ultradwarf is about as close to putting on carpet as anything you’d want. There are some good products out there.”
The Rick Robbins-designed course opened in 1995 and has been the host to numerous major events over the years.
Country Hills converts to Champion
Country Hills Golf Course is nearing its 20th anniversary and owner Chris Bryant figured it was time to replace the greens.
“Greens get a lot of thatch buildup and other problems after a while,” he said. “At some point you need to start over to have a good product for the people.”
He chose Champion dwarf bermudagrass after seeing successful transitions by other courses in the Greensboro area.
Sprigging began on July 9 at the 18-hole public course located on Hicone Road between Greensboro and Gibsonville.
“We’re only about nine days now and it’s already turned green,” Bryant said. “We’ve got a ways to go but we think we’ll get there by the first of September especially if we keep these 90-degree days going.”
Unlike a lot of other courses, Country Hills won’t shut down during the transition period.
Preparation of temporary greens began a couple months ago.
“We’ve been mowing out or temporaries and top-dressing,” he said. “They’re better than your normal temporaries. We’ve got some pretty good putting greens.”
Green fees have been reduced during the transition period, reverting back to the rates used when the course first opened in 1994.
“We’ve got some loyal customers who have stayed with us and hopefully things will really take off in September.”
Zoysia at Sapona Ridge
The greens project at Sapona Ridge Country Club in Lexington only took about five weeks to complete.
The club, which changed its name to add “Ridge” when Richard Childress of NASCAR fame purchased it in 2012, opted for Diamond Zoysia greens after examining completed projects at Reynolds Park in Winston-Salem and Pilot Knob in Pilot Mountain.
“We closed down May 20 and opened up June 26,” said Sapona Ridge general manager Bob Esworthy. “Due to weather it was pushed back a little.”
Esworthy said the relentless rainfall actually helped fill in a small space around the greens from where the sod was laid.
“But it (rain) helped and hurt. We couldn’t top-dress and roll as often as we would have liked. But they look great. We’re very happy.”
Esworthy said the Diamond Zoysia is more shade tolerant than the hybrid bermudagrass and has smaller maintenance costs.
“There’s a lot of plusses to this grass,” Esworthy added. “It goes dormant after (bermuda) and comes back earlier. It’s a very resilient grass.”