By Ken MacLeod
The Canyons at Blackjack Ridge will close 15 of its greens on June 14 to be repaired after suffering heavy winter kill during the deep freeze in February that affected golf courses throughout Oklahoma and Texas.
The course will remain open with temporary greens and a reduced green fee ($15). The affected greens will be sprigged again with Champion ultradwarf Bermuda, as the six-month-old greens were under warranty by Champion.
The Canyons at Blackjack Ridge was closed for nearly 18 months for a $2 million renovation that included new green complexes and bunkers designed by Conor Cummings of Heckenkemper Golf, extensive work to the clubhouse, tree removal and other turf grass improvements. The new greens reopened last October to rave reviews, but in their first winter were subjected to temperatures exceeding 13 below zero. Even though they were properly covered they suffered winter kill.
The greens will be sprigged in June and should reopen for play in late July or early August.
Other courses in Oklahoma are doing the same. Quail Creek Country Club in Oklahoma City which also recently installed Bermuda greens is playing on numerous temporary greens while it repairs the greens that were damaged.
The City of Tulsa began to sod some of its damaged greens at the Page Belcher complex in West Tulsa on June 15. While many of the Champion Bermuda greens on Stone Creek and Olde Page are slowly growing in and others are fine, there are several on each course requiring sod or sprigs.
The Club at Indian Springs in Broken Arrow has Champion greens on its Lakes Course and practice putting green. Superintendent David Jones said he had put down 8,000 square feet of sod repairing the entire putting green and many areas on the course greens.
The Tif-Eagle greens on the par-3 course at LaFortune Park were damaged, losing from 5 percent to 25 percent on various greens. Work has begin to repair the damaged areas with plugs and sod.
Brian Talley, director of golf at The Canyons, said he was told by Champion that the greens with over 50 percent death to the existing grass would not fill in until September at the earliest and potentially not before the first frost ends their growth until the following spring.
He waited for several weeks of true Bermuda growing weather before making the decision after it became apparent there was no chance of the greens filling in on their own before the end of summer.
“Two weeks ago we were only going to go for six greens, but I made the call to go ahead and do 15,” Talley said. “I did not want to be the guy in August answering the questions about why the other greens had not filled in. This is very disappointing to have to do this after all the work and just reopening, but what happened was out of our control and we made the decision to bite the bullet and get them fixed. I took it to the Park Board and the City Council and they were very supportive. My boss was supportive. They all felt like it was in our best interest not to lose the traction that we have.”
Talley said the course will lose two thirds of its projected revenue for June and July but that golfers would start to flee the course anyway if conditions went unattended. The Canyons is also sodding collars, tee boxes and some fairway areas affected by the freeze.
“It’s terrible,” Talley said. “My superintendent Nick (Neal) and I have looked at the damage at a lot of courses around town and it’s been tough on everyone. It just so happens ours is on the greens.”