Most area golf courses are in the same rain-besieged boat, leaving their operators with a big decision to make.
Aerify their greens this spring, per the norm, and absorb another financial blow? Or skip the recommended maintenance practice and save the estimated $30,000 in labor, material costs and lost revenue?
At Castle Oaks, Mike Lahmann will not aerify this spring for the first time in 20 years as the course’s superintendent. He joins an increasing number of superintendents being asked to aerify once a year and find ways to maintain agronomic health that doesn’t drive away business.
I’ll tell you, it’s green. You might want to add lush.
Phil Sponseller, La Contenta pro
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“I don’t think anybody thinks (not aerifying is) good for their greens,” Lahmann said. “It’s just the bottom line.”
As frustrating as one of the wettest winters in Sacramento history has been to golfers, it’s been a financial disaster for course operators.
At Cordova, pro Jim Marta estimated 70 percent of the 59 days in January-February went without a round being played. Some diehards were willing, Marta said, but he couldn’t justify charging them since the course was too mucky to mow.
“It wasn’t right to ask people for $12,” he said.
Cordova’s greens are not being punched this spring.
At Auburn Valley, where 55 inches of rain has fallen since Oct. 1 and there have been 25 days since Jan. 1 that no rounds were played, director of golf Kyle Metzler took a glass-half-full approach.
“It’s going to be a great spring,” he predicted.
Auburn Valley is not punching.
A week of good sun and conditions should be ideal at area courses.
“I’ll tell you, it’s green,” said La Contenta pro Phil Sponseller. “You might want to add lush.”
La Contenta is punching.
Of the 34 18-hole courses listed in the accompanying aerification schedule, 15 are not punching this spring. Several that are will not punch in the fall.
Lasting positives to the winter deluge will be minimal, even after the sun comes out to stay, superintendents said.
It’s going to be a great spring.
Kyle Metzler, Auburn Valley director of golf
“Areas that get beat up, where the grass gets thin or weak because of high traffic, like cart path edges, a lot of those areas we have back,” said Scott McCullough, superintendent at The Ridge.
“And we’re not watering. I guess that’s always a positive.”
Castle Oaks’ Lahmann was asked if drought or deluge was tougher to handle as a superintendent. During drought, he said, an irrigation pipe breaks and a green can be lost in a matter of hours. During a deluge, he said, it’s a mess everywhere. Pumping water is no fun and neither is cleaning up fallen trees and debris.
“I’ve thought a lot about that question this winter,” he said. “Both are equally bad.”