What it Feels Like... To Keep Championship-Class Turf Putter Friendly
August 5, 2008
Since the Rawls Course is one of the most exacting courses in West Texas, it makes
sense that it would also be one of the most difficult to maintain. Windburn, bad water
… course superintendent Eric Johnson dishes on the difficulty in keeping one of the
nation’s top courses putter friendly.
Written by Cory Chandler
A good rule of thumb: If a golf course is challenging to the player it’s typically
challenging to the superintendent. Since the Rawls Course is one of the most exacting
courses in West Texas, it makes sense that it would also be one of the most difficult
to maintain. Windburn, bad water … course superintendent Eric Johnson dishes on the
difficulty in keeping one of the nation’s top courses putter friendly.
Our number one priority: the greens -- always the greens. During the summer, that
means keeping an eye out for hotspots.
The problem’s the wind. Everyone knows about the wind in Lubbock. During the summer,
if we get a good wind blowing, we could lose a green in 24 hours if a sprinkler head
goes down. Could be something as simple as a fuse blowing or a sprinkler head failing
to rotate – gone. Windburn sets in.
The way these greens are designed, they’ve got so many more undulations than the
other golf courses around here. The entire course: undulations. A course with flat
greens? The wind won’t affect it as much – get into it and cause windburn. Our greens
sit up and say, “Hit me with the wind.”
Then there’s the size: I’d say they’re, what, maybe 30 percent bigger than the typical
green around here. That doesn’t help. The fairways, too: it’s the same story.
You won’t have even percolation rates. Something that’s flat, you’ll get the even
percolation. With the curves, you’re naturally going to get wet areas and dry areas.
That wind, it doesn’t help. Gets so bad we actually have a special program to deal
with the south winds, to get water where we need it.
It’s a constant check, recheck. Every square foot of this golf course for 265 acres
is irrigated. There are 3,000 sprinkler heads to maintain.
So, yeah, the design of the course is a pretty huge factor.
Fertility, now that is definitely
huge: The soil reports, the mixing of the fertilizer – trying to maximize them as
much as we can.
We blend our own fertilizers so we can get the ratio we want. We use a lot of organics
on the course itself so we have low nitrogen levels.
What's your story? Contact Cory Chandler
Photo by Artie Limmer.