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Local Golf Courses Struggle to Stay in Front of Weather

Posted: Friday, August 13th, 2010 at 5:59 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS Sports-Eric Gotschall

Three days of heavy rains early this week, coupled with scorching daytime high temperatures, are just the latest in a series of weather systems that have punished area golf courses. Scott Reuter, owner and manager at Bos Landen Golf Resort in Pella says the latest round of rains made it impossible to mow certain areas of the course for a few days, which he says makes it even harder to maintain the course to the level that golfers have come to expect.

Reuter says some areas of the course got so long that there was no choice but to cut them with a push mower. Other problems associated with the heavy rains have included bunkers full of water that must be pumped and re-groomed and washouts in areas of the course that have never been flooded before.

At Pine Knolls Country Club in Knoxville, course manager Joel Arkema says the continued heavy rains this summer have led to a shallow root structure in the turf, which means the grass begins to wilt just days after a rain. Arkema adds that during any other week of the year, they might have closed the course to allow things to dry out and get caught up on maintenance, but with thousands of guests in town for the Knoxville Nationals, they’ve done everything they can to make the course playable for their guests.

The frequent rains have also prevented maintenance crews from applying fungicides and fertilizer. Dan Dursky, course supervisor at the Pella Golf and Country Club, says they have to be conscious of fertilizer applications, not only from a cost perspective, but also on the potential impact on the environment of having it washed away into streams and creeks. Dursky says much of the summer has had them playing catch-up on the application of chemicals, as well as mowing.

All three courses are also feeling the financial impact of a severely reduced number of days suitable for golf. Reuter says hardly any good golfing days existing in June – a period that is supposed to be the prime month for golf in Iowa. He says at Bos Landen, there were 23 days of wet course conditions, and of the remaining seven days in the month, five had a heat index above 90 degrees, meaning only two days were considered to have good weather for golf. In the first three days of this week, Dursky said a total of ten rounds of golf were played at the Pella Golf and Country Club.

The one constant theme expressed by all three men is that every course in the area is going through the same thing, and there’s not much that can be done but to keep working hard and do whatever can be done to keep the courses playable.