Black Butte Ranch’s new superintendent has courses rounding into peak condition

Jeff Knutzen has been getting a crash-course in turf management at Black Butte Ranch since arriving earlier this year as the new superintendent at both Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow.

“I’ve been running around like crazy,” said Knutzen, a 42-year-old veteran superintendent who is in his first season at Black Butte Ranch.

The learning curve for Knutzen is hardly steep. After earning his degree in turf management from Oregon State University, interning at Bend Golf and Country Club, and then spending the bulk of his career in the Denver area — which has a High Desert climate not unlike Central Oregon — Knutzen is uniquely qualified to shephard Black Butte Ranch into the future.

Still, there is nothing quite like being on course each day during the spring to really get to know a place. And inching toward peak condition, Knutzen has seen enough to be impressed.

“They are just awesome golf courses,” said Knutzen, who is also married and a father to two young daughters. “The location and scenery are amazing. Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow are very different, but both really good golf courses.”

In a lot of ways, winter and spring have cooperated with Knutzen. A relatively mild beginning to the year has put both courses on the fast track to summer conditioning.

That is particularly true at Big Meadow, which opened earlier in the season than Glaze Meadow.

“Big Meadow is right where we want it to be,” Knutzen said. “Mowing heights and green speeds are a little tick away from being where they will be the rest of the season.”

At Glaze Meadow, which opened earlier this month, the rigorous spring work it takes to get a golf course ready for the season is just about complete. That includes last week’s spring fertilization and beautification projects, such as the planting of flowers around the course.

Winter damage at Glaze Meadow was contained to just two greens, No. 14 and No. 16, and both have bounced back well this spring, Knutzen said.

“Things are really good out there right now,” Knutzen said. “Most of our seasonal stuff is done and we are right on track.”

Of course, with a new superintendent comes new perspective. And Knutzen has his own ideas on how to make Black Butte Ranch’s two championship golf courses even better.

For one, the maintenance staff will be redoing the entry and exit points of the cart paths — where pavement gives way to turf — to make for a smoother ride.

In addition, the maintenance staff will be refining its agronomic practices to make subtle improvements, particularly around the tee boxes and approach areas. Most will be subtle tweaks to agronomic practices that will be aimed at improving the playability of the golf courses.

“The courses are in great condition, but we think we can improve on a few areas,” Knutzen said.

Such tweaks are to be expected with a new superintendent, Knutzen said. Mostly, he is looking forward to putting a stamp on what are already two of Oregon’s top courses.

Said Knutzen: “I am definitely excited to be here.”

The rates are favorable for those who want to see Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow for themselves.

Through June 14, Black Butte Ranch’s regular green fees at either Big Meadow or Glaze Meadow are $69. The rate drops to $59 after noon, and after 3 p.m., the rate falls to just $44. Golfers who want to play nine, can play for just $39 after noon.

Guests from out of town can take advantage of some fantastic golf unlimited stay-and-play packages that begin at just $99 per person, per night. And single round packages begin at just $119 per person, per night, all summer long.

Book a tee time online, or call 855-210-5305 or the Golf Shop at 541-595-1545.


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