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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Windmill Ridge golf course set for busy season

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Taking advantage of a beautiful day. Monett's Windmill Ridge has seen increased play over the last few months with golfers taking advantage of mild weather conditions. The course has already booked more tournaments than last year and returns every league that regularly played. [Times Photo by Jared Lankford]
Monett's Windmill Ridge golf course has been through a lot over the last 36 months.

Three years ago, over 13,000 rounds were played on the par-72 course, over the last two seasons the course has suffered a 10 to 12 percent drop in the rounds played. Windmill Ridge even closed certain holes due to the greens being unplayable because the grass died.

"The last two seasons (overall rounds played) were down," said course manager Mike Knight. "I think we have identified some problem areas and are working to correct the situation and return Windmill Ridge to a quality course."

The City of Monett has taken steps to ensure that the course remains a focal point for golfing enthusiasts in the area. The last two years, the city cut the price for season pass renewals and offered other discounts. The most aggressive move by the city was the hiring of Mike Vogt, a golf course consultant to solve the problem of turf loss.

"Mike has been wonderful to work with," said Knight. "He has helped us develop and implement a seeding and fertilizing program in order to help the grass roots on the greens grow deeper to help during the rigors of summer play."

Knight also explained that Vogt helped solve a major problem with the way the greens were watered.

Sodic soil

According to Knight, the city switched from using a chlorine base chemical to treat its water supply to using ultra-violet light two years ago.

The chlorine absorbed and eliminated excess sodium from the city's tap water, while the water treated with ultra-violet light had no effect on the sodium content.

An ideal soil structure is comprised of 50 percent organic and inorganic material, 25 percent water and 25 percent air.

A soil that contains a high level of sodium is called a "sodic" soil, while a soil high in salt content is known as a "saline" soil. The sodium begins to fill in the air pockets in the soil structure and compact the soil, hobbling plants' roots from absorbing nutrients and slowly killing the turf.

"We kept watering the greens and watering the greens," said Knight, "and all we were doing was putting more water that was high in sodium on our grass and killing it. We caught the problem, and now we are working to solve the issue."

Currently, the course is replacing damaged sod on greens and has already witnessed noticeable improvement in green quality.

Windmill Ridge, under the leadership of Knight, the support of the city and the advice of Vogt, is poised for a breakout golf season.

"We had a very good winter at the course," said Knight. "The mild weather conditions allowed for many area players to play rounds during a slow period of the year. Already more rounds have been played this year than at this stage last year."

The course has booked 12 tournaments (two more than last year) for the summer months as well as five golf leagues, which have committed to play at the course.

"Windmill Ridge will also host the Big 8 Conference tournament," said Knight. "Steve Snider will conduct a Thursday morning youth league during the summer. Things are definitely looking up."

New clubhouse

Completion of a new clubhouse is expected in August or September.

"Our new club house will be roughly the same size of the current facility," said Knight. "The new building will be a two-story unit that will house all our carts on the bottom level."

Knight said that the current carts are kept outside in the elements all year long. The cart fleet is beginning to show weather wear and the seats are cracking, despite the majority of the carts being only three years old "Because the new clubhouse will be located next to the new YMCA, we will be renumbering our holes," said Knight. "We will be unique in the fact that our ninth and 18th holes will both be a par three."

With the new hole-numbering system, eight new cart paths are under construction. The city's road crew is building the paths.

"We are looking forward to an exciting year," said Knight. "We want to invite everyone to come out and play a round."

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