Firm, fast conditions at Sisters golf course have been received well
Aspen Lakes Golf Course Superintendent Josh Knapp likes to say course maintenance comes with a certain truth: “What can happen, will happen.” That is doubly so in Central Oregon’s High Desert climate where high temperatures can soar to near 100 degrees, and just a few days later fall back to low temperatures that nearly touch freezing. (Don’t worry, though. The days remain beautiful!)
Turf reacts differently to all those conditions, obviously, always keeping a maintenance team on its collective toes.
“Last week we had that little hot spell, which is stressful on the golf course,” said Knapp. “For us, that was our first real hot stretch of the summer, which means it was the turf’s first real test. And the course came through well. The fairways are good. The greens are rolling well. We are right on par with where we should be this time of year.”
A superintendent’s job is never easy. If last season was about improving the maintenance practices of Aspen Lakes for the maintenance crew, this season the focus has turned to playability.
To that end, Knapp and his staff have worked hard on firming up the fairways and keeping the greens up to speed.
“The response to that has been really good so far this year,” Knapp said. “We might get a few more of those Central Oregon brown spots by firming the fairways, but overall it appears golfers have really enjoyed the conditions.”
The greens are rolling briskly, too. Knapp typically shoots for green speeds of around 10.5 feet to 11 feet on the Stimpmeter. But with an OGA Tour event over the weekend, Knapp pushed the green speeds to a range of between 12 and 12.5 feet.
To the layman, that might not sound like much difference from Aspen Lakes’ typical green speeds. But the combination of summer heat and shortened green heights can be troublesome.
“You definitely want to be careful,” Knapp said. “When you speed up the greens you have to double-cut them and/or roll them, and that can be stressful to the turf. So can extreme heat. So we give the greens a bit more water and try to be careful with them.”
Healthy turf is the key. Without it, greens are far more susceptible to changing conditions.
In practice, that means the staff must keep the greens well fed with fertilizer. In addition, the staff regularly verticuts the greens, top-dresses the turf regularly, and uses a drag brush weekly to control thatch.
“That definitely gives us more leeway in being able to move the green speeds up and down,” Knapp said.
It all adds up to another great summer at Aspen Lakes.