“With the exception of No. 18 which has been replanted a couple of times, we can’t find any documentation they’ve ever been changed,” Griffin City pro Charlie King said of the greens on the Bobby Jones-era style course which opened in 1932. “The USGA, in its greens section, recommends changing them out every 20-30 years.”
The Griffin Board of Commissioners approved the $81,000 project from the Golf Course Escrow account four months ago by a 5-2 vote.
Champion Turf Farms out of Texas, which has been overseeing the project, will plant the sprigs of Champion Dwarf Bermuda. It’s the latest step in a process which started the first week of May and has included gassing No. 1, 3, 8, 9, 11, 13, 17 and 18 for nematodes in addition to regrading No. 1, 3, 8, 9, 13, 17 and 18.
“They are real particular about run-off and slope,” Griffin City Golf Course Superintendent Josh Pettit said of Champion Turf Farms. “A lot of these greens need to be changed up because the slopes were too severe on them.”
No. 9 and 18 also had to be re-tilled all together.
“A couple of our greens had different sand-soil mixtures, so we needed to go in there and get a little more organic matter in it,” Pettit said of No. 9 and 18. “We basically tilled these up and added some of the soil they recommended to make all 18 more consistent.”
If all goes as scheduled, establishing the green to the point where they can be used again by the public should take 6-8 weeks.
“We’re shooting for an August 1 play date,” said King.
Between here and there Pettit and his staff of four full-timers, two part-timers and three inmates will be busy.
It’ll begin with top dressing the greens with sand on Saturday to specifications set forth by Champion Turf Farms. Thereafter, the watering begins.
“Our biggest concern will be just keeping water on it,” said Pettit. “You’re running water on it — the way they have it set up — every 30 minutes or hour. Basically, the green almost look like a rice field.”
That continues for several weeks before gradually easing off once they are well established, added Pettit.
“There will be a lot of strain on our pumps,” said Pettit. “It’s really going to put our irrigation system to the test.”
Pettit said the Aug. 1 target date is realistic if there are no major setbacks.
“We’re definitely shooting for that mark,” he said. “But, then again, you never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you. As long as no curve balls are thrown at us, we should be good the very first of August.”
King said the course will hold a, “customer appreciation,” day once the course is back up and running to full capacity, a date he tentatively estimates being Aug. 11 but that he will solidify as the date nears.
“I’m sure we’ll get a lot of people coming out to play who are just curious to see what’s going on,” he said.
The project is being funded in its entirety from the Golf Course Escrow account created in 1992. The account, which sat at $163, 986 prior to the approval for this project, was created expressly for capital improvements to the golf course. The two Commissioners, Dick Morrow and Ryan McLemore, who voted against the upgrades cited budgetary concerns for a course scheduled to lose $320,000 in the current budget year.
King and his staff are hoping the new and improved greens will draw more golfers to the course in the long run.