Warmer weather has picked up activity at the Windmind Ridge municipal golf course in Monett. After problems in course maintenance last summer, steps have been taken to bring back regular customers though golfers are not impressed with the course at the present time.
The casual observer glancing over the course would see large stretches of fairways without greenery at this time of year. That's fairly typical, said Mike Knight, Windmill Ridge director of golf, since the warm season Bermudagrass on the fairways does not spring up until after several days of 70-degree weather. Knight expected the fairways would not require mowing for another two or three weeks.
More serious problems at the course are on the greens, where maintenance problems last summer caused significant problems for the Bentgrass. The west side of the course was closed for several months at the end of last season.
The Monett City Council took the unprecedented step of offering a discount for play this year because of last season's problems. The 2011 season pass has been reduced to $525 from the regular $600 price.
"We understand that the condition of the greens affected play last year, and we hope to have the course in excellent condition for 2011," stated a letter signed by council members distributed at the course. "This discount is only for those that paid $600 in 2010 and does not include passes that are already discounted."
"Heat always affects greens," Knight said. "You always lose part of them in the summer. It's the nature of a golf course. It always comes back. The greens are not bad now."
The Bentgrass on the greens now has a significant mixture of another kind of grass, Poa-Annua, mixed into it. According to a group of golfers in the noon group that played the course last week, the Poa-Annua has created a problem of its own.
Don Holt, one of the group, explained that Poa-Annua grows at a different rate than main Bentgrass on the greens. Even if mowed in the morning, by the afternoon the Poa-Annua may grow a 16th of an inch faster by the end of the day, creating an uneven surface for putting.
"Ninety percent of the courses around here have Poa-Annua in their greens," Knight said. "They had it in the course I played in Nevada (state). It's just an annual bluegrass, a thing of the spring. As soon as it's hot, it will go away."
The golfers had more issues with course maintenance. They complained about the purple flowers growing in the sandtraps and that the sandtraps were not "fluffy."
"There's a lot of work to do," said "Swede" Johnson.
Knight agreed. He explained the course drops to a skeleton crew over the winter and that his additional two staffers don't return to work until April 1. He expected to see quite a bit of activity in the coming weeks.
Last week, the staff was aerating and top dressing the course, putting sand on the greens and installing sections of nursery sod into parts of the greens that would not recover on their own. Knight said the weather of late had not been good for course work. He expected golfers would see improved conditions as the grass greens up.
"Patrons should experience significant improvement in the greens by June or July after warmer temperatures have become the norm and the Bentgrass has recovered," stated a letter from the Windmill Ridge staff being distributed at the course clubhouse.