Golf courses start process of winterizing but keep season going
The golf season in Steamboat Springs is short. Haymaker Superintendent Adam Sando said just as he starts to get the greens in great shape, it’s time to start closing down.
Two of the four area golf courses have already shut their gates, but Haymaker and Steamboat Golf Club are extending the season as long as possible. While doing so, both courses have started the process of closing down the course and not only preparing it for winter but next spring.
“At the end of the day, when you’ve completed aerification, when you’ve applied applications to prevent snow mold on the greens, when you’ve blown out the irrigation system, that helps you sleep during those winter nights knowing that you’ve done everything you can to prepare the golf course for the following year,” Sando said.
Before the recent snow, grounds workers applied a chemical to the greens to prevent snow mold, which is a fungus that can attack the grass and create gray or brown patches of dead grass.
The courses also have been aerated, and at Steamboat Golf Club, General Manager Tom Taylor has “top-dressed” the greens with sand, keeping the greens even and filling the holes.
“That sand and poking the holes, it relieves compaction of the greens,” Taylor said. “If you didn’t do that on a regular basis, your greens, the turf would get pretty compacted, and the roots wouldn’t grow as deep.”
They’ve also applied fertilizer. In the spring, the weeds will be thwarted, and grass will be fueled by the fertilizer applied in the fall. That’s how golf courses get so green so early in the year.
Steamboat Golf Club is open but looking pretty bare right now since benches and signs with hole lengths and tee locations have been removed, as have the 150-yard markers. The course has already had its water pump winterized, too.
The only steps remaining to shut down the course on the west side of Steamboat are blowing out the irrigation system, which will take place around the end of October, pulling the cups and pins and filling the old holes with sand.
Getting all the necessary maintenance in while keeping golfers on the course as late into the season as possible gets tricky for Haymaker Head Pro Cody Hasten.
“The hardest thing for us is managing the tee sheet so maintenance can get what they need done, done before the snow flies,” Hasten said. “Our goal at Haymaker is to stay open for residents as long as we possibly can until the snow shuts us down.”
Once Haymaker closes, Hasten and Sando go around and mark the future Nordic trails.
“We’ll mark the trails on the golf course,” Hasten said. “We try to stay as close to the cart paths as we can for some of those trails because that compaction damages the grass, so we don’t want those trails going right down the middle of the fairway.”
As for the clubhouse, it varies for each golf course. Steamboat Golf Course has no winter operations, so the clubhouse stays as is. Taylor said they try to buy their inventory in a way that everything will be just about sold by the time the season concludes. They try to plan accordingly with food and drinks, as well.
Upon closing the course, Haymaker keeps the pro shop open for a week or so to allow people to use up their shop credits they’ve earned throughout the year. Then, they clear everything out, and a private contractor comes in and fills the shelves with skis, poles, snowshoes and other gear to supply patrons at the Haymaker Nordic Center all winter.
“It’s a big conversion,” Hasten said. “It’s a couple weeks to move everything down and bring everything over for skiing.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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