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Monett golf course director speaks to local Kiwanis Club

Monday, January 23, 2012

History and operations at the Monett Municipal Golf Course were presented to the Monett Kiwanis Club by Mike Knight, director of golf for the course, at last week's Kiwanis meeting.

Located on the southwest portion of town, Monett's golf course began in the 1920s on the Meador family farm, said Knight. It was started by attorney Dan Meador and Dr. Lewis Ferguson. The original course had nine holes and sand greens.

The course was purchased in 1944 by the City of Monett for $14,000. The Monett Jaycees spearheaded the acquisition. Bonds were used to cover the cost.

The current clubhouse was built in 1963 when V.B. Hall was serving his last term as mayor. The sand greens were replaced in 1965 and 1966.

"I'm sure a few of you remember playing on those sand greens," Knight said. "A golfer would hit on the green and then roll the green with a roller. Then you placed your ball on this rolled area equidistant from where you landed and then you putted. It was quite a bit slower than putting on today's greens."

The city rebuilt the greens in the 1990s. Knight said the greens were reshaped and Crenshaw Bentgrass, developed in Texas for heat resistance and drought tolerance, was planted. About the same time, the city installed an irrigation system, using treated water from the waste treatment plant.

"Before this time, the fairways were at the mercy of the weather, if we got rain or not," Knight said. "A person could hit really long drives off the tee, because the fairways were dirt and hard as a rock The balls seemed to roll forever."

Cart paths were also installed around the same time to protect the fairways in times of heavy moisture. Knight said carts can still damage the course by leaving ruts.

In 2000, the Monett City Council spent $1 million to add a second nine holes on the east side of Highway 37. The addition opened in November 2002. Knight said the second nine holes provided a big boost to the course, attracting daily league play and around a dozen tournaments each year.

Upgrading has continued at the course. Knight said cart paths on holes 1, 13 and 14 on the west side of the course were replaced last year with concrete paths. Two more are due to be finished in the coming year. Plans are advancing for a new clubhouse, which will be located south of the new YMCA building.

Knight said the new clubhouse will have many new features, including an outside deck overlooking the practice green and a parking area for 30 cars. Groundbreaking may take place in the spring and the opening in the late summer.

In Knight's eight years at the course, several grass-related problems have occurred. Some problems can be traced to putting fairways on a growing bed of clay dirt, where Bermudagrass had a hard time taking hold. A fungus commonly known as spring dead spot has surfaced on the new fairways, killing grass in the late fall.

The water supply for the course switched from a chlorination treatment around 2005 to an ultraviolet sanitation. While the newmethod killed bacteria, it no longer stopped algae from growing. Knight described how the algae has plugged pumps and screens. Building a screen over the water source took away the sunlight and provided a more effective solution.

Knight explained how consultant Mike Vogt from the McMahon Group in St. Louis was hired last fall to find ways around grass loss during severe summer heat. Vogt has made several valuable suggestions, which Knight plans to implement.

Knight hopes to stimulate deeper growth of grass on the course. Knight said a new bentgrass, L-93, which is being used to reseed the greens, may hold up better than the Crenshaw grass.

"All your putts will start going in the hole. We can only hope," Knight said. "The golf course is a very nice facility that the town can be proud of, and we hope to keep improving it and make a better golfing experience for everyone."

Dayton Mackey was the program chairman. President Eric Kean presided.

In club news, it was announced the club will host a pancake dinner from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 at the American Legion Home.

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