Black Butte Ranch shaping up early

Sure, Big Meadow is open far earlier than anyone could expect. But what kind of shape is the course actually in after so many long winter months?  As it turns out, Big Meadow is looking pretty good for being so early in the season.

Credit an unseasonably warm, dry stretch that hit Central Oregon in January and February for  setting a stage that already has Big Meadow showing its greener side. Good news for golfers beyond just an early opening. Black Butte Ranch’s maintenance staff, led by head superintendent Phil Lagao, has already begun the work of getting Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow in peak shape weeks ahead of what would be considered normal.

“If the warm weather sticks like it has, we should be well ahead of schedule,” Lagao says.

With the green of the turf beginning to show, Black Butte Ranch’s award-winning superintendent is liking what he sees. Both courses came through the colder months void of any ice damage on the greens. And the courses are strewn with less winter debris than is typical, Lagao says. The turf at Big Meadow will even start to get some water soon as the staff prepares to crank up the course’s irrigation system.

Lagao is as surprised as anybody to be so far ahead of schedule. For weeks he expected a significant snowstorm to blanket the golf courses with the white stuff, something that seems to be a February ritual around these parts. But the snow never really came.

Now instead of waiting out the end of winter, Lagao is going about the business of ramping up his seasonal staff, which should help the crew clean up the tree branches and pine needles that have gathered over the winter months. Lagao describes the early start to the season as “unchartered territory for us.”

Regardless, Lagao obviously welcomes such a start.

“This time of year I would rather be busy sweeping and mowing versus shoveling snow and ice, that’s for sure,” Lagao says with a laugh.

As an experienced superintendent, he knows well that the weather in Central Oregon could yet still a curve ball. But right now it’s mostly sunshine on the horizon.

That can only mean one thing: “As of right now we’re moving forward with the golf season,” Lagao declares.

Sounds like sage advice for all of us.

This weekend the public can play all 18 holes at Big Meadow for a mere $25, while Black Butte Ranch homeowners pay just $20. Nine holes can be played for $15. To book a tee time call 855-210-5305 or the Golf Shop at 541-595-1545.