BELLA VISTA — The Bella Vista Property Owners Association’s Joint Golf Advisory Committee has voted unanimously to mandate the January and February closings of two of its golf courses beginning in 2023.
The Scotsdale and Brittany courses, which feature warm-season Bermuda grass greens, have been hit hard by alternating spells of cold and hot weather in the first two months of 2022, forcing maintenance crews to scramble to cover and uncover the greens on these courses. The ups and downs of Arkansas have also taken their toll on officials’ efforts to schedule tee times on those courses.
Even though the weather may have been clear and warm one day, crews still needed to cover the greens that day as the forecast called for bad weather.
“The most important thing [canceling] will do is help golf operations and the aggravation of our members with what we’re going through now where we plan them and then have to move them and all that,” Scotsdale Superintendent Kyle Soller told the committee March 9 at the Bella Vista Country Club conference room “I think there will be a lot less fuss if we just put them somewhere else during those times.”
Soller will have the option to cancel the closure if a good period of time appears, but that would mean 10 days or more not requiring minimum covers.
Officials would naturally prefer the courses to be open for play, but Arkansas’ erratic winter weather makes it difficult to determine how long greens can remain uncovered and also makes scheduling tee times a haphazard proposition.
In Scotsdale, covering all the greens with tarps planted in the ground takes 10 to 12 people and between five and eight hours depending on weather conditions. The discovery takes about a day and a half.
At Brittany, which is a nine-hole course with smaller greens, it takes about six people, nearly two hours to cover the greens and as much time to discover them.
The closure will not only prevent crews from having to scramble when the weather turns at the last minute, but also give them time to deal with maintenance issues on the greens, Soller said.
“Closing in January and February will allow us to take our time and not be in such a rush to discover the greens,” Soller said, “or be in an awkward position to feel like we’re a bit out of the limit of where we might get cold weather injuries when that happens, and we didn’t expect it.And we can take off some of the blankets during the day to do some maintenance and then put them back on the same day. we can do this for all the greens instead of rushing to remove (covers) all of them and then two days later rushing to put them all back on.”
Keith Ihms, golf maintenance manager for the POA, said covering Bermuda greens “can be a hassle for golfers and workers alike”, adding: “It can take up to eight hours and a lot of efforts to put on covers to be sure they will stay put in windy conditions.It also takes a full day to uncover them properly and store them properly in their protective bag.It is frustrating to see them covered when the conditions are nice to play in, but the protection they provide is essential to protect the surface of the greens.The covers protect the crown of the plant from severe frost damage and help maintain soil temperature at the growing point of the plant .
Officials need only look at how the weather pattern started in 2022 to prove their point, with temperatures fluctuating from the 70s to the 30s in the space of a day or two.
“The problem we have is that in Arkansas the weather changes very quickly,” Soller told the committee at its February meeting. “If we can close in January and February, we can uncover two greens, see what needs to be done for spring maintenance, and then cover them, which will help us maintain the greens.”