Area summer fashion: new Bermudas

Area summer fashion: new Bermudas

June 20th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Outdoors

Scott Hughes, top center, tends as John Shull, bottom center, prepares to putt at No. 3 green Tuesday at Brainerd Golf Course. Play will begin on temporary greens starting next week.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Chip Ward turned off a sprinkler that sprayed short grass in the middle of the sixth fairway at Brainerd Golf Course.

It's an area that normally doesn't need an extra drink on a Tuesday afternoon, but it will be a temporary green beginning June 29.

Brainerd will replace its 21-year-old bentgrass greens with MiniVerde ultra-dwarf Bermuda, which has to grow for a few weeks before being played on.

"The work has been in the preparation of temporary greens because we want them as good as they can be," said Ward, the course superintendent. "They'll come in July second and sprig the greens; then all I have to do is water and fertilize them."

Bill Vandergriff, who has been playing about three times per week at Brainerd for at least 15 years, said he has no plans to take his game on the road. He'll play in morning low-ball competitions on the temporary greens.

"I'll play and I'll have to suffer for a few weeks, but then it will all work out," Vandergriff said. "These new greens will be a lot better when they come in, because the summer weather won't hurt them as much."

Three other Chattanooga-area courses will have new Bermuda greens by the end of summer. Many area courses have made the switch to ultra-dwarf Bermuda -- either MiniVerde or Champion -- because those strains of grass handle summer heat much better than bentgrass.

The Farm Golf Club is in the process now. Council Fire will close on Monday, and Creeks Bend will replace the greens on its back nine on July 1 after replacing the first nine greens last summer.

"If these grasses were around 30 years ago, we would never have seen bentgrass," said Council Fire director of golf Hunt Gilliland. "A lot of courses are going to new Bermuda, and we felt it was a good fit for us."

Deck Cheatham, director of golf at The Farm, said it's quiet at his course this week and will remain that way for a few more. Then he'll be hopping and preparing for the Carpet Capital Collegiate.

"The immediate effect that you'll get is having good greens during the golf season, primarily in July and August," Cheatham said. "The other aspect will be the firmness and how the ball will bounce. That will create challenge, and the course will take on a different character than it had before."

The Farm and Council Fire will close their courses as the grass grows. Creeks Bend and Brainerd will remain open.

Brainerd will slash all of its greens fees in half -- except its $5 dollar junior rate -- until the new greens are ready for play.

"The industrial league, the morning low ball and the Brainerd women's association will all continue to play here," said Eddie Taylor, director of golf courses for the city of Chattanooga. "There's no way to move all of the Brainerd activities to Brown Acres, so that's why we came up with a good reduced rate."

Taylor said the contract with Modern Turf is for about $800,000 to replace 19 greens, including the practice green.

"The funds for this specific project are coming from a capital account," Taylor said. "It is not appropriated tax dollars."

Weather will play a critical role in whether the course is ready in the six-to-eight-week time frame. Brainerd replaced the putting green closest to the parking lot last summer. Taylor said he putted on it six or seven weeks later.

"The feedback that we're getting is that it will be an inconvenience, but we're excited about the new greens," Taylor said. "The change means our greens will be fantastic through the summer."