Turf avoids any major winter damage, putting golf course ahead of schedule this spring
This is always an exciting time of year for Josh Knapp, Aspen Lakes’ golf course superintendent. Golfers at Aspen Lakes are just beginning to tee it up again after a long winter, and the turf is springing back to life.
Now is also the time when Knapp takes inventory of how the golf course managed through the winter. This year has brought good news on that front.
Aspen Lakes is starting the golf season in nearly ideal shape for this time of year.
“It came out of winter pretty well, especially considering the kind of winter we had this year,” Knapp said.
Central Oregon’s winters can be hard on a golf course. Freezing-thawing cycles can wreak havoc on sensitive putting greens, gathered ice and snow can foster snow mold, while dry, cold and breezy conditions can cause desiccation.
Aspen Lakes was able to avoid much of those issues, in part because of the way winter played out.
Late last year, winter greeted Central Oregon with a deep blanket of snow. That insulates the turf from wind and extreme cold. Plus, icy temperatures in December and well into January kept the snow blanket in tact and helped Aspen Lakes avoid freezing-thawing cycles.
Finally, the melt off in February was quick enough that damaging ice mostly stayed away, and gradual enough that there was no significant flooding. Even the breezy conditions of late have helped, drying much of the turf off from lingering moisture.
Add it all together and Aspen Lakes is off to a nearly ideal start to the season.
“So far we are on track to be every bit as good as last year, if not better,” Knapp said. “The greens are pretty healthy. They didn’t really get hit with snow mold at all, and neither did the fairways.”
Of course, during the winter wind will often blow pine needles and cones onto the turf. That is to be expected, and cleaning it up is typically among the main focuses of Knapp and his staff so early in the season.
However, Aspen Lakes did avoid any significant wind damage to its many trees.
“For the most part, the course actually held up well to everything,” said Knapp, adding that the top of a tree on No. 13 fairway snapped off, but otherwise the pines fared well. “We just have the typical pine cones and pine needles on the turf.”
Of course, conditions at Aspen Lakes are very much in the early season. That means greens play a touch slower than during the peak of the season, and the turf has yet to shed its winter dormancy to reveal the vibrant emerald green of the peak season.
That will return in due time, no doubt.
Golfers can play Aspen Lakes, recently ranked by Golfweek magazine as among the top 10 golf courses in Oregon, for the lowest price of the season. Walk 18 holes at Aspen Lakes for $25 or play nine holes for $20. (Carts are an additional $17 per person for 18 holes; GolfBoards cost $25 per person.)