Cold weather, hard reality: the greens aren’t grassy enough

If there’s one sign no golfer wants to see when they walk into the pro shop, it’s “Cart Paths Only.” Nobody ever says “All right! We get to stay on the paths all day, never have any idea what club to hit and get to walk as far as possible!”

But a close second is the notification that there is a temporary green on the course. Course officials will shave down an area by the actual green and try to make it a manageable putting surface, but it’s not anywhere close to the same. The fairway is the fairway; the green is the green. No amount of close cropping is going to change that.

So if finding out that one hole has a temporary green is something of a nuisance, how would you feel about 36 of them? Because that’s what local golfers are about to get.

Dates haven’t been officially announced, but here’s what’s about to happen: The Club at Huntington Park will be closing down its regular greens in the first week of June and will begin using temps. A few weeks later (probably at the beginning of July), Querbes Park will do the same.

Can you say “automatic two-putt”?

There is someone to blame, of course, and it is someone golfers are quite familiar with – Mother Nature.

Remember those six-degree nights we had during the winter? Then a few weeks later, those 11-degree nights? In the middle of April, the temperature got down to 42. In each of the next two weekends, it was as low as 51 degrees.

“It was terrible,” says Querbes pro Nathan Barrow. “At Huntington, the poa annua (grass) had become resistant to any kind of chemical. It just wouldn’t go away. The cold temperatures didn’t allow the Bermuda (grass) to grow.”

The simple formula is this – you need about 150 degrees to grow grass. When the daytime and the nighttime temperatures add up to 150, you’re in business. This region didn’t even come close to that in April, which is why it should be no surprise that the city courses are in this spot.

“This is something everybody throughout the South is dealing with,” Barrow says. “But I’m excited that we are actually doing something about it.”

And let’s be honest. If you’ve been to Querbes, for example, there are only three greens that are worth putting on. The rest are just mounds of some combination of dirt and sand. Strange as it may sound, temporary greens are actually a better alternative.

Huntington will be fumigating the greens this weekend and begin cutting in the temporary greens while the course is closed. (Do you really want to be anywhere near greens that are being fumigated?) Then, those greens will have grass sprigs installed on June 8-9. Querbes will repeat that process.

So what does it mean for Joe MuniGolfer?

“We will be open,” Barrow says. “What we will do is have something like a twilight fee all day. We will have other reduced prices. But we want people to still be able to get their exercise, play golf and work on their games while the greens grow in.”

Which leads us to the question everyone with a 5-iron wants to know: How long is this going to take?

“We estimate 6 to 8 weeks of growing time,” Barrow says. “So at Huntington, that’s an estimated re-opening around July 20 or early August.”

Also, the greens are not just being re-done. There is an entirely new type of grass that will be installed. It’s a hybrid Bermuda named Calcutta. “It’s a newer strain and a healthier grass,” Barrow says. “We’ve got a great story to tell with Querbes celebrating its 100th year next year. We have a record number of rounds and we are going to keep them coming with new greens by Labor Day.”

Might even ease the pain when it’s Cart Paths Only.

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