Healthy turf allowing Aspen Lakes to bump up green speeds when necessary

The turf at Aspen Lakes continues to respond well to superintendent Josh Knapp's new maintenance program.
The 11th green at Aspen Lakes is in near-peak condition as the calendar flips to August. The golf course continues to respond well to superintendent Josh Knapp’s new maintenance program.

Golf course continuing to respond well to superintendent’s new maintenance program

Aspen Lakes Golf Course knows that speedy greens are not for everybody. But it is always nice for a superintendent to have the option to quicken the pace should the need arise.

Josh Knapp, who is in his first full season as Aspen Lakes superintendent after spending nearly eight years as an assistant, now knows he has that option.

The putting surfaces at Aspen Lakes are is in such pristine shape right now that when the course hosted a pair of tournaments last week, an OGA Tour Partner Series event and a private Parr Lumber tournament, Knapp was able to push the greens to a speedy 12.5 on the Stimpmeter.

This even as Central Oregon experienced some of the hottest conditions of the summer.

“The greens have never been that fast since I have been here,” says Knapp, who has worked for Aspen Lakes for more than eight years. “I think for the Oregon Open (in 2008) we had them at around 11.”

Speedy greens a sign of healthy turf

For those who would just as soon avoid greens that speed, fear not. Aspen Lakes understands. Such speeds were only temporary, sped up to challenge competitive players for specific tournaments. For everyday play, the green speeds are set at a more manageable speed of around 11, Knapp says.

The importance of the tournament green speeds is more in the big picture: Only healthy turf can survive such dialed up putting surfaces.

Knapp has spent the year implementing a new maintenance program. One change he has made is a deep and infrequent watering schedule. Earlier in the season and under the old watering regimen, the water content percentage in the putting surfaces was at a too-high 45 to 50 percent, Knapp says. Such conditions slow the putting surfaces.

Now, that has been vastly improved.

“We’re still trying to get a feel for it,” Knapp says. ‘The greens are really good. I have a moisture meter that shows that we’re finally in that water percentage zone (around 25 to 30 percent) that we’re supposed to be in.”

Less really is more

The soaring temperatures of summer have not been an issue so far, either. Knapp’s program of deep and infrequent watering has helped Aspen Lakes save water, something that is a goal for nearly every golf course in the West.

“We’re not using nearly as much water as we have in the past, which is a good thing,” Knapp says.

For Knapp, seeing the turf thrive even under high temperatures, which hovered around 100 degrees before the cool down this week, is affirmation that his updated practices are indeed effective.

On Saturday, Knapp did not even need to water the fairways even though it was among the hottest days of the year.

“That has a lot to do with how healthy we got the turf this year,” Knapp says. “We’re still trying to figure out the perfect balance since this is our first year of the deep and infrequent watering, but that is a very good sign.”

All told, now that we have officially hit the dog days of summer, Aspen Lakes continues to thrive. And for a young superintendent in his first year, that is most certainly a relief.

“Golfers are still loving it,” Knapp says. “Our annual pass players are still loving it and how different it’s playing as far as the green speeds, taking care of the tee boxes, and the finer details being taken care of.”

To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

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