Yampa Valley Golf Course looks to keep links in shape for late season play
CRAIG — Though the early season was a rough one for the Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig, staff efforts at the area links throughout the summer have improved conditions at the course.
When YVGC golf pro Scott Ballif began in June, he could tell course conditions needed some work based on the damage done by late winter weather earlier this year.
Ballif worked at golf clubs in Nevada and Utah — including Conestoga Golf Club, Oasis Golf Club and St. George’s Red Hills — so the climate of Northwest Colorado was quite the change from some of the desert surroundings he’s used to.
“We don’t have the snow down there, so it’s definitely been a different kind of challenge,” he said. “It’s all about budget and being able to combat any issues.”
The spring ground’s conditions didn’t go unnoticed by regular golfers, who weren’t thrilled with patchy greens.
“We had members who weren’t playing here the whole summer because of it, and our play from Steamboat basically just stopped,” Ballif said.
The biggest obstacle was thatch, a common issue for golf courses, which is the buildup of plant matter that isn’t fully decomposed, affecting greens especially.
“It gets worse and worse as aerification practices don’t happen,” Ballif said. “It’s a problem that’s been progressing over the past four or five years.”
During the summer, YVGC has been working to combat the issue and has also been irrigating sections of the course.
“We aggressively aerified the greens a couple times, top-dressed, fertilized, herbicides, just a lot of plugging the greens and re-seeding,” Ballif said. “Thatch happens everywhere, so it’s just a matter of the maintenance practices.”
Though work started as soon as possible, it was awhile before it started having an impact.
“We didn’t really see the effects of it until about the end of July,” Ballif said.
YVGC nonetheless had a busy summer for players, with a full schedule of tournaments. New management of the course restaurant, Yampa Valley Bar & Grill, by Cherissee Smith, also had an impact, Ballif said.
Players have been commenting on the improved course conditions.
“The ones that hadn’t played here for several months were pleasantly surprised because they weren’t expecting things to change that much until next year,” Ballif said. “It’s an ongoing process, and it’s not where we want it to be, but we’re hoping by the spring it will be even better than it is now.”
Workers also will be preparing for snow, which will accumulate moisture and with that, the potential for multiple types of mold.
“We’ll be applying fungicide this fall. You usually put it down just before a big storm happens, so that will protect it through the winter,” Ballif said. “If we can get the timing right, we should have a good chance of being in good shape by April.”
YVGC personnel plan to keep the course open to players as late as early November if weather allows.
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