The grass is greener

Published 7:37 pm Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tito Perez works on Wednesday to prepare the Suffolk Golf Course’s 14th green for the sprigs of Champion Bermuda that will be deposited on June 26 by the Champion Turf Farm.

Tito Perez works on Wednesday to prepare the Suffolk Golf Course’s 14th green for the sprigs of Champion Bermuda that will be deposited on June 26 by the Champion Turf Farm.

Suffolk Golf Course makes upgrades

The Suffolk Golf Course is in the process of replacing and improving all 18 greens. The course has instituted temporary greens at a discount to current golfers while the regular greens undergo this course-wide process for the first time.

“The main reason is because every single summer it gets to 95, 100 degrees, and we lose greens or they get stressed out,” said Eddie Luke, who owns the lease on the course.

By mid-June, the greens start to die, because they cannot withstand the heat and are susceptible to all kinds of diseases.


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“Last summer, it’s 95 degrees and three or four of them are dead, and you’ve got to let the other ones grow up so high, they’re hard to putt on,” Luke said. “People just quit coming out there to play in the summertime because it’s so bad.”

The new Champion Bermudagrass will help the greens remain consistent year-round, because “the hotter it gets, the better it is,” Luke said.

Course general manager John Bonds said, “The only thing you have to worry about during the wintertime is when it stays freezing, you have to cover them up, but that really doesn’t affect too many people. Not very many people are playing when it’s 32 (degrees outside).”

Luke said the Bermudagrass’ application has to happen now, because “it requires the soil temperatures to be right at 80 degrees.”

The new turf will also create a much better surface to putt on.

“Overall, the greens will be a lot faster year-round,” Luke said. “We’ll be able maintain the speeds that the players like.”

He said that the new hybrid Bermudas can create playing surfaces “identical to what you’re going to see on TV. They’ll be that good.”

“It’s probably going to be the wave of the future in this area,” Bonds said. “Sewells Point (Golf Course in Norfolk) did theirs two years ago. Oceana (Golf Course in Virginia Beach) did it last year. It’s just a much more heat-tolerant grass for this area.”

Architect Lester George, who has worked on about 2,000 different courses, made redesigned the greens, as well.

The new greens will be ready for play Aug. 17.

The process began recently when the temporary greens were cut out, fertilized and top-dressed. In the first week of June, Roundup was applied to the regular greens and then again a couple of weeks later.

Currently, greens superintendent Joseph Riddick and his staff are preparing the surface for the sprigs of Bermudagrass that will be laid down on June 26 by Champion Turf Farms, a company out of Bay City, Texas.

“They’ll sprig all the greens, get everything set up for Joseph, and then Joseph pretty much takes over about a week or two after they sprig them,” Bonds said.

Riddick will add sand, fertilizer and water for about six weeks.

Pro Shop supervisor Joe Kitchen said that after Aug. 17, “We will have to go up a little bit on the price, but they’re going to wind up with a better product in the end.”

“We’re not going to go up much, just a couple dollars, in hopes of getting more play,” Luke said. “Because the experience when people come out there, they’re going to be like, ‘Golly, this play is perfect.’”

Until the new greens are ready, however, the cost for 18 holes and cart on a weekday has been reduced from $29 to $15, and the on weekend it moves from $35 to $20.