Willow Creek has completed the transition from bent grass greens to new Tif Eagle Bermuda greens.
“We are excited to be back playing the course the way it was designed,” offered PGA Professional Steve Goforth.
While the greens were being converted, the course was open, but golfers played on temporary greens and as an added twist, played the course backwards from green to tee.
“We had the perfect weather for this conversion. We had the right amount of heat and sun. We also got rain when we needed it and especially at night which really helped with the grow in,” said Goforth.
The bent grass putting surface had been in place since the club opened in 1995. Since the original opening both the climate and the development of better Bermuda turf has made more courses move away from bent greens.
“Summers have gotten a lot hotter and the maintenance of bent grass greens was a 24 hour a day job for our crew. The new Tif Eagle greens are much better in the kind of temperatures we are now experiencing,” said Goforth.
Bermuda grass in the fairway and fringe around the green was starting to “sneak” into the bent grass surfaces making for a less desirable look to the greens.
“Bermuda is a more aggressive grass and over the years some of the greens looked a little patchy because it is hard to remove the Bermuda. The greens always putted well, but we wanted the look to be as consistent as the way the greens would roll,” said the club professional.
Goforth and course superintendent Kyle Traynham expected the grow in process to take from six to eight weeks.
While the majority of greens were completed as scheduled a few holes needed just a little extra grow in time.
“We could have opened a week or so earlier, but we wanted to make sure all the greens were in good shape and the playing surfaces were consistent all the way around the course,” said Traynham.
The course reopened for play on Friday, August 30th. The tee sheet was full as many members and daily fee players wanted to be among the first golfers to try the new greens.
“We only had a few open tee times the first day back. The comments have all been very positive,” said Goforth.
Because of the advances in the science involved in the development of the Tif Eagle turf, Goforth does not think golfers will see a significant difference in the speed of the greens.
“The greens will keep getting quicker and we expect later this fall and through the winter they will play pretty fast,” he said.
Goforth has been impressed with the new greens ability to hold shots and not leave as many ball marks.
“There are fewer ball marks on the new green’s. The bent grass greens were always marked up and now there are not as many,” said the pro.
To encourage golfers to repair ball marks the club gave free ball mark repair tools to golfers on the first day.
“We are very happy with the way the transition worked out and we look forward to welcoming golfers back to Willow Creek to have them experience our new greens,” concluded Goforth.