Local courses overcome early green challenges
By: By Nicole Starker
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 04, 2012 06:00 am
Local courses may have started the season in the rough, but the golf season is now in full swing.
Rain, coupled with a cycle of freezing and thawing early in the year wreaked havoc on greens at some area golf courses this winter. The rain and cool temperatures early in the season resulted in a bit of a slow start but course officials say tee times are picking up and they’re looking forward to a strong season.
Mark Beckwith, general manager at the Sturgeon Valley Golf and Country Club, said they had some spring challenges because of the winter weather. A consistently cold winter along with snow is best for the greens.
“The formation of ice on the greens is a killer.”
Sandpiper Golf and Country Club professional manager Kevin Easthope agrees. “The year before we had roughly five feet of snow and that’s the best scenario that we could have for greens,” he said. “It’s basically a natural insulator so lots of snow is a good thing.”
The greens at Sandpiper suffered to the point that for the first time in at least 20 years, they decided to completely replace some of them. Replacing 11 greens meant the course opened a week to 10 days later than other area courses, “but in the end it was worth it because now they’re really good,“ said Easthope.
Sturgeon Valley also experienced some early season challenges with the condition of their greens, but a combination of aerating, verticutting and reseeding helped them to recover.
The situation was much the same at the Cardiff Golf and Country Club in Morinville where general manager/executive professional Trevor Commet said the winter weather damaged the greens there as well.
“We got off to a little slower start than we have the last couple of years because of it but they’ve recovered.”
“So long as the (nice) weather continues we expect a very good golf season,” said Commet. “The weather is always going to be the biggest challenge that we face because we have absolutely no control over it.”
He said that though there has been a fair amount of rain again this year, “it’s come either in the early morning or late evening or overnight so it hasn’t had the same impact on play as it did last year.” As a result, the traffic at Cardiff is up over last year.
Even if it doesn’t come during the day, precipitation can still affect play for golfers. Beckwith says “with the way the weather has been, the rough is getting very lush which makes it harder to hit out of.”
The seemingly constant rain and mosquitoes kept some golfers away last season. Easthope said that last year, golfers who play three or four times a year stayed away for the most part. “They’re not necessarily the avid golfer who would battle through mosquitoes.”
With the winter damage repaired, the rain cooperating and the mosquitoes at bay, all three courses are set to have an excellent season this year.
Beckwith said that at Sturgeon Valley, membership numbers are really solid and “things are looking very optimistic this year.”
And over at Sandpiper, Easthope said, “June has been very strong.”
Looking forward to the rest of the season Commet said, “We like to think that maybe coming off of last year Mother Nature owes us one a little bit.”