As all of Surface Creek works to recover from the 2018 drought, the Cedaredge Golf Course is implementing an aggressive recovery program to regrow the turf.
Thankfully a long winter of snow cover (Dec. 1 - March 12) and a dormant feed of fertilizer helped minimize turf loss. Just looking at the course it appears lush and green. Up close the patchiness becomes more evident but some reseeding will help thicken any thin areas.
"This year I will vary from my usual fertility program and take a more aggressive approach as we try to rebuild from last year," said golf course supervisor Adam Conway. "I have built a recovery program within our budget that should meet our needs and ensure a successful grow in."
Part of the process is already underway, as Conway began watering in early April. Throughout the summer he'll be fertilizing and wetting agent applications more often than usual. Once Conway has a few more crew members he will also use several turf blankets loaned from the Dos Rios Golf Club in Gunnison to accelerate the germination process around some of the tee boxes.
Previously the golf course planned to close the back nine for a few months but the course is looking greener than expected. Since this area is south facing it received the heaviest amount of sun last year. Essentially, Conway said they planned for the worst case scenario, especially if there wasn't enough spring rain.
"Timing of the spring fertilizers was perfect so there's a lot of new growth," he said. "Everything hinged on how much water we would have available but I'm confident now we can re-seed as needed and keep it wet while still having the course open."
The front nine is mostly spotty, so while a few parts may be roped off at the beginning of the summer the course will still be playable. "The front nine greens came back much better than I expected," said operations director Erik Hanson.
Part of the challenge, both last year and this, is working with a primitive irrigation system.
Being gravity fed, it doesn't cost money to run but isn't efficient. A master plan was created last year with an irrigation consultant to prioritize what can be done with the current system and improve efficiency over several years. Conway also is working on a grant to pipe the ditch supplying water to minimize loss.
Handling a drought on a golf course is tough, but Hanson and Conway are optimistic. This summer the course already met its goal for pass holders, and tournament registrations are filling up quickly. Codi Nelson is revitalizing the restaurant with high-end sandwiches, a thorough Italian menu and fine wines.
This summer Hanson is also focusing on building player development by offering free clinics and developing the youth programs.
Contributions, like the turf blankets and volunteered maintenance, from other golf courses are helping mitigate costs. New hole signs are being built, which will be metal and easier to maintain. Come August the hope is to not even tell that last year was a historic drought on the course.
"I'm hopeful for a much better season this year," said Conway.