A harsher winter than Cleveland is used to has taken a toll on the Bermuda grass at Waterville Golf Course.
The grass was chosen for the municipal golf course greens last year to try to combat loss of grass due to summer heat.
Bentgrass had been used in the past for the greens, back before the golf course had the extensive irrigation system it has now.
The Waterville Advisory Board met Monday to discuss solutions to the issues.
City manager Janice Casteel said whichever option was chosen, the golf course needs to be open as much as possible.
The advisory board voted to use a special dye designed to make brown grass appear green to keep the entire course open for golf tournaments this summer.
Board member Ray Evans said there are four tournaments scheduled in June and July.
Then, in August, bentgrass will be seeded on the greens nine holes at a time, closing each for one week. This plan would keep the front nine or back nine open for play while the other is closed.
When the bentgrass is planted is important, golf course superintendent Jason Bennett said, noting the seeds couldn’t be planted until closer to fall.
“That’s the best time to do it,” Bennett said.
While the greens are being fixed the price for golf will return to $25, which was charged during the road project on Dalton Pike, which affected the greens.
The project necessitated the greens have new grass. Sodding the Bermuda was chosen in hopes of opening the golf course sooner, according to Casteel.
“It was the wrong time to take that risk,” Casteel said in hindsight.
Bennett said larger golf courses had been switching to Bermuda because it withstood summer heat better than bentgrass. However, he said no one he had spoken to had put it down as sod, as Waterville had done. Most courses also use a higher grade of Bermuda grass than what was used on the local golf course.
The golf course did not close much this winter, and this may have also been a contributing factor to the grass dying.
“If we had a mild winter, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” golf course manager Jimmy Tatum said.
Bermuda grass dies if exposed to below-freezing temperatures for a few days. The golf course used tarps to try to protect the grass. The tarps were removed when it became warm enough to play golf.
Board member and Vice Mayor Avery Johnson said he would like someone who has a lot of experience with golf course greens to come out to Waterville “to make sure that we are making the right decision” in terms of seeding bentgrass for greens.
“We need to make sure we have the right information, enough information. Someone that is really an expert in this area that can tell us what to do,” Johnson said.
“If we go back to bentgrass, we don’t need a consultant because that’s what we had before,” Tatum said.
He said that with the irrigation system now in place, bentgrass should be fine.
Bennett said Waterville had pushed the opening after the Bermuda grass was put down, and may have opened too soon.
Casteel said the golf course had money left from the installation of the irrigation system that could be used to pay for the new grass.
A letter will be sent to golf course members explaining the situation.
Waterville Golf Course is a community golf course maintained by the city and available to the pubic. Casteel said it with an affordable recreational option the city provides for golfers.