Golf courses aren’t easy to maintain. The grooming, maintenance and general upkeep begins with the golf course superintendent.
Monday at The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa, a group of more than 30 golf course superintendents and another 25 associates gathered for a meeting of the Western Rocky Mountain Golf Course Superintendents Association.
“A lot of us can be stuck in our own world, and don’t try to get out and see what everyone else is doing,” Redlands Mesa superintendent Andy Nikkari said. “This is a really good way for everyone to get together and get some education.”
Nikkari has been the course superintendent at Redlands Mesa for the past seven years, and said an important part of the meetings is to share ideas.
“It’s not a competitive thing,” Nikkari said. “We’ll talk to each other and say ‘What are you doing with this situation?’ “
The group of superintendents are friendly because they’re all facing the same challenges. Golf courses on the Western Slope are open for roughly eight months a year, and every month creates a different trial.
Fred Soller is an agronomist for the United States Golf Association who lives in Grand Junction. Soller works with the USGA Green Section, and consults with courses around the northwestern United States about their conditions.
“Golf courses are big properties and it takes years to learn how to take care of it,” Soller said. “I’m on 80 to a 100 courses a year and (all superintendents) are tremendously passionate about their property and know it intimately. It’s amazing, they know where the hot spots are, they know the disease areas, and know where the critters live.”
After the morning meeting, the group got a first-hand look at the conditions at Redlands Mesa by playing a round of golf.
John Hoffnagle, the golf course superintendent at Bookcliff Country Club, said the meetings allow an opportunity to play a different course.
“It’s easier to play another course than the course you work at,” Hoffnagle said. “It’s hard to relax when you play your own course because you’re looking at things that need attention. Maybe a mower’s not cutting right, a sprinkler isn’t functioning properly, so you’re thinking about a problem here and there.”
The group also meets in the fall, a time a lot of courses begin preparing for the cold months.
“It takes a lot of hard work for the mountain courses,” Soller said. “They could be under snow for 160 to 180 days, and when the snow melts there is water damage, ice damage and animal damage.
“It’s amazing the things people don’t know what it takes just to play golf.”