Perfect storm of fantastic golf on the horizon at Aspen Lakes

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Already in excellent condition, fall rates are now on the horizon

Within each Aspen Lakes golf season comes a sweet spot. A time when peak golf conditions, smaller crowds, fantastically mild weather, and budget-friendly fall rates come together to create a perfect storm of great golf.

By the fall, Aspen Lakes’ peak conditions have been around for months. But now the summer tourist season is a memory. And sunny, pleasant weather is the norm. Beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 12, fall rates kick in, too, creating a narrow window that lasts until the weather turns.

“There really is no better time of the year to come out and play than right now,” said Rob Malone, director of golf for Aspen Lakes. “This is the time of year when we see a lot of local players, because they know well just how good this part of the season can be for golf.”

One of the values of fall golf comes with the adjustment of what constitutes prime time. In the summer, the mornings are the most desirable tee times, obviously as a way to beat the summer heat.

The fall is different though. With cooler overnight temperatures, the afternoons become more prized with highs that average in the high 60s this time of year.

That syncs well with our rates, which drop by $10 at 1 p.m. and another $16 after 3 p.m.

“I love playing in the afternoons in fall,” Malone said. “The weather is typically great, and the course is at its most beautiful as evening begins to approach. It is a really peaceful time to be out here.”

Aerification, a process that is critical to the long-term health of the turf, of Aspen Lakes greens begins on Oct. 17. Despite its importance to the golf course, the term “aerification” can send chills up the spine of a fall golfer.

But golfers can rest assured that the aerification process at Aspen Lakes is far less obtrusive than it once was.

The Aspen Lakes maintenance staff punches much smaller holes, making the holes less noticeable and more playable when the greens reopen. Plus, the staff now uses a drag brush, which allows the maintenance crew to use less sand to top dress the greens and apply it more evenly than a more conventional metal drag.

Finally, the staff will roll the greens and irrigate well to get the sand into the punched holes and smooth the surfaces.

“Our aerification process is about as nonintrusive as you can get,” said Josh Knapp, superintendent at Aspen Lakes Golf Course. “We always try hard to balance the needs of the turf with the playability of the golf course.”

Aspen Lakes will remain on summer rates through Oct. 11. Beginning Oct. 12, primetime green fees will drop to $48 per round, which is a $30 discount off of Aspen Lakes’ prime summer rates. Nine holes can be played for $28. (Prices do not include cart or GolfBoard rentals.)

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

 

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An introduction to Aspen Lakes for the uninitiated

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Sisters golf course to host the Lithia Pacific Amateur Golf Classic this week

Aspen Lakes is in prime shape to challenge hundreds of golfers from around the country and beyond who will be taking part in the 2016 Pacific Amateur Golf Classic.

Being a Pac Am host course is always a fun adventure for Aspen Lakes, and the annual tournament gives us a chance to challenge a varied group of golfers, some of whom have never played the course before. For them, we want to offer a little introduction.

Central Oregon certainly has more than its fair share of heralded golf courses, some of which are hosts to the Pac Am. And Aspen Lakes tends to hold its own with the elite courses of the area. Not only is Aspen Lakes considered one of this country’s Hidden Gems, it is also considered one of the best in Oregon by both national golf magazines AND locals.

Aspen Lakes’ beauty is often cited as among Aspen Lakes’ top attributes, and with good reason. With incomprehensibly gorgeous views of the surrounding Cascade Range from most any point on the golf course and frequent visits from wildlife, the scenery is impossible to forget.

But architect Bill Overdorf designed a beauty, too, and it’s not quite like any other golf course in Central Oregon. So before you tee it up, we would like to share a little knowledge about Aspen Lakes Golf Course.

Here are some things to think about:

  • There is little doubt to what is Aspen Lakes’ signature feature. Our red-sand bunkers are as unique as they are beautiful. They are also nothing to be weary of. The texture of Aspen Lakes’ bunkers is a bit different, especially for the uninitiated. But playing from them is not unlike playing out of more conventional sand. And the sand won’t do any harm to your wedge, either.
  • Aspen Lakes offers a wonderfully fair challenge that most any golfer will enjoy. But that does not make the course easy. In fact, Aspen Lakes provides one of the stiffest challenges in Oregon. Choose your spots to be aggressive, and be careful not to attempt too much. In particular, use sound strategy on Aspen Lakes’ two toughest holes, the par-4 fifth hole and the par-4 14th hole.
  • All four par 5s at Aspen Lakes have teeth, but each provides a unique challenge. From the back tees, the holes stretch from 554 yards (No. 10) to 606 yards (No. 2). Water dictates the second shots on both the second and sixth holes. The approach on No. 10 into a shallow green, which is guarded by water in front and wetlands in back, is among the most difficult shots on the course. The finishing 583-yard 18th hole, was designed to separate two closely matched players.
  • The mountain views from the par-3 eighth hole are pretty spectacular. Make sure to take an extra second to take it all in:

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  • The par-4 11th hole, is pretty gorgeous, too:

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  • The view from the 15th tee box, a 222-yard par 3 played over water and massive bunkers, can be intimidating. The hole also presents a chance for golfers to shake free of their competition.
  • Few golfers walk off of Aspen Lakes disappointed. Something about the combination of beauty, design, top conditioning, and great service tends to endear itself to golfers.

Aspen Lakes is family-owned and operated, and we are proud of our heritage. That includes the naming of our Brand 33 restaurant, which is named after the Cyrus families’ brand that dates back to the 19th century.

We want every golfer to have a great visit to Aspen Lakes. Enjoy the course!

Of course, you don’t have to be a participant in the Pac Am to enjoy Aspen Lakes. To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

 

Conditions report: Aspen Lakes expected to be in peak golf shape at least through September

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Greens at Aspen Lakes won’t be aerified until Oct. 17,
leaving smooth surfaces for weeks to come

With less than two weeks before summer officially ends, the march to fall is upon us here in Central Oregon. But you might not notice it by gazing at Aspen Lakes Golf Course.

At Aspen Lakes, the turf is emerald green and the firm and fast conditions are optimal for golf. And the best news is that the course will be that way for the foreseeable future.

“It is in pretty great condition,” said Josh Knapp, the superintendent for Aspen Lakes Golf Course. “We are at the point that we can safely say that we will make it through the season really well. We are in the last month of play and I expect us to be in peak condition through September and beyond.”

The conditions are so good that the Aspen Lakes maintenance crew has decided to hold off on aerating the greens until Oct. 17, allowing the bulk of the season play out with smooth putting surfaces.

“Right now we are not going to think of putting anything to bed,” Knapp said. “After the Pacific Amateur Golf Classic next week we will start thinking about winterizing more. But until then, overall, we will be in really good condition.”

That is not to say that the seasonably mild weather has not changed the maintenance practices.  Chief among those changes is that the staff has cut back water usage by a significant amount. In fact, Thursday marked the first course watering in nine days.

That made a noticeable impact on the playability of the golf course.

“It really firmed up the golf course and gave it those firm and fast conditions that every golfer seems to want,” Knapp said. “It made the course more playable.”

Of course, firm and fast applies to the greens, too. In fact, at one point last week the greens were so quick that they were nearly rolling at a speedy 13 on the Stimpmeter. Since, the greens have been throttled down a touch, Knapp said.

The pace of the greens are a sign of health and an inevitable result of the maintenance staff’s ongoing program to improve turf condition, especially on the putting surfaces. That program include tighter mowing, rolling the greens every day during the summer months, and the regular use of a drag brush.

“The greens certainly create a lasting impression,” Knapp said. “Really, we have been getting a lot of compliments.”

The uninformed may think the golf season ends after Labor Day, but the savviest among us know that September really is the best month of the year to play Aspen Lakes. And we have the peak conditioning to prove it.

Don’t let the finale of the golf season pass by without a trip to Aspen Lakes. To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

 

Aspen Lakes having a summer to remember

GO-01162Feedback from golfers has been immensely positive so far this year

Rob Malone, the director of golf at Aspen Lakes, fondly recalls a couple from Ann Arbor, Michigan, strolling into the clubhouse. The couple was pleasant, and eager to talk golf.

They were at Aspen Lakes as part of a West Coast golf trip of a lifetime. A requisite trip to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (we love it there, too!) was already cross off their to-play list, as were some of the other big names in Oregon golf.

But the couple had a message for Malone: “He told me, ‘I play a lot of golf, and I had never heard of Aspen Lakes. But the beauty and the design are just fantastic. I put it in my top 5 all-time.’”

Such words are music to our collective ears at Aspen Lakes.

This has been quite a season for Aspen Lakes so far. It had quite a start, with best-in-Oregon recognition from the state’s largest newspaper as well as Golfweek magazine.

Of course, lofty rankings are fun. But rankings would not matter much if golfers themselves disagreed. Well, if growth in play is any indication, it looks like golfers are pretty fond of Aspen Lakes, too.

July was filled with golfers, many traveling to Central Oregon on vacation with family. The Fourth of July weekend was among the busiest anyone can recall at Aspen Lakes, and July golf rounds appear to be headed toward a 10 percent uptick through July.

The verbal feedback from golfers has been stellar, too.

“We always get good feedback, but this year it seems like it has been at another level,” Malone said.

Malone offers two main reasons for the excitement around Aspen Lakes. First, the conditioning at Aspen Lakes has steadily improved over the last two years.

“I think play has definitely grown on the coattails of our conditioning,” Malone said. “Our superintendent, Josh Knapp, and his team have done such a wonderful job. And golfers are noticing.”

Malone added that Aspen Lakes’ customer service could be a factor, too. It’s true, the staff at Aspen Lakes has always made a point of making golfers feel comfortable before and after their rounds.

“The bottom line is that we try to make Aspen Lakes feel like everybody’s home course,” Malone said.

Indeed. Come see why so many golfers are raving about their rounds at Aspen Lakes. Peak-season rates are as low as $43.

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

Conditions report: Evolving maintenance program at Aspen Lakes continues to pay dividends

GO-0609Crew shifts its focus over the summer to maintaining peak conditioning

Just as the warm, dry Central Oregon summer weather appears, Josh Knapp’s life becomes a little simpler.

It’s not that the work of Aspen Lakes’ superintendent gets easy. Far from. Instead the maintenance work this time becomes more routine and predictable.

That might not sound like much. But for Josh Knapp, who changed many of Aspen Lakes’ maintenance practices two years ago when he was promoted to superintendent, it is a reflection of the hard work he and his staff have put in.

“We finally have the golf course right where we want to keep it, and that is a pretty good feeling,” Knapp said. “We are in our usual summer maintenance program, which is sort of like auto-pilot. And hopefully it will be that way until the end of the golf season.”

Yes, with July now in full bloom, Aspen Lakes is showing its true red-sand and emerald-green colors.

For golfers that means greens rolling at between 10.5 and 11 feet on the Stimpmeter, a perfect speed for greens to instill confidence in most average players while challenging the better golfers.

The fairways are immaculate, too. The tee boxes are well-manicured.

About the only immediate item on the Aspen Lakes maintenance staff’s to-do list is a round of fertilizer, something that has not happened since early spring.

One of the maintenance practices that has really taken hold at Aspen Lakes is the deep and infrequent irrigation program. Instituted by Knapp, the program calls for longer but fewer waterings each week.

The infrequent watering program helps turfgrass grow deeper roots and overall fosters a healthier plant. And Knapp can see clear signs that the program is working.

“The turf does need quite as much water and the water we use is draining better, which tells me that the roots are indeed taking a deeper hold,” Knapp said.

Of course, this is Central Oregon so the weather can’t always be predictable, even in the summer.

The temperatures have already soared near 100 degrees at times. And this weekend, Sisters is expected to enjoy a relatively significant cool down (that might just be perfect for golf!).

Despite the unseasonably cool weather, and perhaps even a touch of rain, Knapp said the turf is healthy enough that it needs no adjustment.

“It has been a really up-and-down year so far in regard to weather,” Knapp said. “But no matter what Mother Nature has thrown at the course, the turf has handled the challenge beautifully.”

Come enjoy the conditions. Aspen Lakes’ peak-season rates are as low as $43.

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

 

Conditions update: Peak conditioning at Aspen Lakes comes well ahead of summer

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Summer maintenance program begins as Aspen Lakes
enjoys near-pristine shape

Working a golf course into pristine shape is always a delicate dance each spring. Central Oregon’s winters can be harsh. The spring weather can be unpredictable.

So the Aspen Lakes Golf Course maintenance staff never wants to push the turf too far, too fast, which might make fragile greens susceptible to damage. On the other hand, Aspen Lakes always wants to offer the very best possible conditions.

Aspen Lakes’ staff performs this dance right up until those peak conditions are reached.

With this in mind, do not be surprised if you notice a look of satisfaction on the face of a member of the maintenance staff.

“The greens are right there where we want them for the year,” said Josh Knapp, Aspen Lakes’ superintendent. “The greens are smooth. They are quick. They are in excellent condition.”

Just a week into June and Aspen Lakes is on the cusp of peak condition, which means firm, fast greens in an emerald green setting.

“As hard as we pushed the conditions ahead of the Central Oregon Shootout, I am not surprised that we are in this kind of shape,” Knapp said. “But the course is in peak shape a little earlier than normal.”

More than that, though, the shape of the turf now allows the staff to adjust the conditions as needed. For instance, when Aspen Lakes hosted the annual Golfing for the Guard Tournament recently, Knapp and his crew dialed down the green to about 10.5 on the Stimpmeter for the laid-back scramble. For a best ball the following day, Knapp and his staff were able to quicken the pace to better than 11.

On most days, golfers should expect Aspen Lakes’ putting surfaces to roll at around 11, or even quicker, on the Stimpmeter.

Of course, a superintendent’s job is never done. To prepare for the warm summer weather, Knapp and his staff have already stepped up their watering program.

In the spring, it is typical to water the greens just once in a given week. But as the temperatures rise, so does the need for water, upping to watering twice per week.

Most importantly, Knapp and the crew must slow the growth of the bentgrass greens to protect the root structure.

“You don’t want to push bentgrass to grow in the summer,” Knapp said. “Too much growth can mean root damage.”

Otherwise, the staff is beginning to settle into its summer maintenance program. For them, that means concentrating on the beauty and playability of the golf course.

That includes things like precisely edging the bunkers, and focusing on the mowing heights of the fairways, approach areas and greens.

“So far our golfers have really loved the golf course,” Knapp said. “It has been fun for me to watch the whole crew take pride in the results so far this year.”

Come enjoy summer conditions while Aspen Lakes is still offering spring rates. Through June 9, 18-hole rates are as low as $33. Aspen Lakes’ peak-season rates are as low as $43.

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

Conditions update: Aspen Lakes rounding into peak shape well ahead of summer

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Aspen Lakes in full bloom early; maintenance staff continues to make progress on new conditioning program

The maintenance staff at Aspen Lakes always gets a surge of energy when a member of the crew hears praise from a golfer about the condition of the golf course.

For this small group, it is affirmation that the hard work they have been putting in is paying off. And it seems they have had plenty of affirmation lately.

“Especially this year, we are really starting to see the benefits of all the work we have put in,” said Josh Knapp, who took over as superintendent of Aspen Lakes in 2014. “The six guys on the staff last year worked their tail off. It is fun to see now that we are reaping those rewards.

“When golfers compliment them, it really fuels them.”

The conditioning of Aspen Lakes continually improves. And with the peak of the golf season just weeks away, it appears that the golf course is in the best shape in years.

The first real test came more than two weeks ago during the Central Oregon Shootout.

The greens were rolling quick. The fairways were smooth and well-manicured. And it was indeed noticed by the field of more than 350 golfers.

“The golfers at the Central Oregon Shootout seemed pretty impressed by it,” Knapp said. “I don’t think they’ve ever seen Aspen Lakes in summer-like condition so early in the season before.”

What has spurred all the raves?

Well, like Rome, Aspen Lakes’ course conditioning was not built in a day. Instead, Knapp has made incremental changes aimed at improving the health of the soil under the turf.

The greens have been consistently worked. The nutrients that feed the turfgrass in the fairways have slowly been replenished.

The pH level of the soil, which was at 7.8 when Knapp too over two years ago, has improved to 6.8 today.

The less acidic pH is important on several levels. For one, the lower pH fosters a stronger growing environment for bentgrass, while being less conducive for poa annua. One can see this on the more uniformly shaded greens. In addition, the lower pH strengthens the root systems of the plant.

“We just try to manage the soil instead of the plant,” Knapp said. “Healthy soil generally means a healthy plant, and I think golfers are seeing that at Aspen Lakes.”

In practice the healthier turf means greens are more enjoyable to putt, and fairways are less spongy. Well-struck shots are more likely to roll out, better rewarding strong play.

Today the greens are rolling at between 10.5 and 11 on the Stimpmeter, a touch slower than the 11-to-12 range Knapp expects during the summer.

In other words, the firm and fast conditions golfers crave are already here at Aspen Lakes. And with summer weather ahead, that should only get better.

“I think golfers are really enjoying where we are at right now,” Knapp said. “Right now the course is a test for better players but not so fast that regular amateur players are punished. I think that’s what golfers want.”

Come enjoy summer conditions while Aspen Lakes is still offering spring rates. Through June 9, 18-hole rates are as low as $33.

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