Fairways and greens have been stressed more than usual, but the lack of moisture has also meant early openings.
The dry conditions of the recent winter have been both a blessing and a curse for courses in the Lake Tahoe region of California and Nevada, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reports.
On one hand, the lack of precipitation combined with bitter cold was tough on the courses’ sensitive grasses. But it also meant many courses could open for an earlier start than in most seasons.
At Bijou Golf Course, owned and operated by the City of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., the fairways in mid-April were a mishmash of yellow and brown patches mixed with swathes of fresh green stems, the Daily Tribune reported.
“It’s typical of grass coming right out of dormancy,” said Greg Ross, a city Parks Supervisor. “The grass hasn’t really woken up yet.”
Though the holes still needed to be set and the tees needed to be marked, the course was set to open to the public on April 21 with new lower fees approved earlier in the week by the City Council. A round at Bijou will now cost $15 for residents (down from $19) and $17 for non-residents (down from $22).
As other area courses were planning to open, they also acknowledged that it’s been a tougher winter season.
“We’re really positive about the way our course is going to come out of this winter,” said Bryan Davis, Marketing Manager for Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, Nev.
Because of the dry winter, course maintenance crews had to turn on the irrigation in January, Davis said. Though some of the grass was still brown in mid-April, warmer weather was expected to soon spur growth, he added.
The greens were uncovered in mid-April at Tahoe Paradise Golf Course in South Lake Tahoe, but staff was still waiting for some of the snow to melt off the course. The course was shooting for an May 1 opening, about a month earlier than it was able to open last year, said Golf Director Abram Robinson.
“The front nine is looking pretty good,” Robinson said. “The back nine still has some snow on it.”
Back in South Lake Tahoe, across Highway 50 and to the north, Lake Tahoe Golf Course was planning to open its range and pro shop on April 21. The course isn’t quite ready, but the grass is greening up quickly, said new General Manager Kevin Sommerfeld.
“The difference from yesterday to today is very noticeable,” he said on April 19.
Maintenance workers still have some aerating, seeding and top dressing to do, but the course should be open by May 1 as long as there aren’t any big storms between now and then, Sommerfeld added. The early winter dry spell was pretty rough on the grass, he noted.
“We have some areas that are coming out pretty good and some areas that are going to need over-seeding and some work,” Sommerfeld said. “[But] the grass is getting greener by the minute.”