Conditions report: Crew into summer maintenance program

Golf course maintenance has a certain ebb and flow to the season.

Each year the crew springs into action as the courses wake from the winter slumber, then it spends the subsequent months pouring over the fine details of both Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow in an all-out effort to get Black Butte Ranch’s two championship golf course in prime condition by the peak of the golf season.

Then, suddenly, the focus shifts. As the heat of summer takes hold the crew’s efforts turn to maintaining those conditions rather than constantly trying to improve them.

“We are now starting to get into that daily maintenance routine,” said Phil Lagao, Black Butte Ranch’s superintendent. “Everything is in great shape. It’s just a matter of keeping it that way. But we have a full staff, and the new guys now have some experience. That makes it easier to get things done.”

Because the job simplifies in the summer months does not make it easy.

A key to summer maintenance is always managing the summer weather. In Central Oregon, high temperatures can soar into the 90s on the hottest of days. The dry heat of the High Desert can quickly dry out turf if not properly watered. And turf growth slows to near nothing in higher temperatures, meaning the course does not recover as quickly from wear and tear as it would in spring.

“There are not a lot of big projects this time of year,” Lagao said. “Instead irrigation and sodding becomes the focus.”

Black Butte Ranch received a little luck recently, too. Over the weekend, a rainy cooldown hit all of Central Oregon. With a touch of unexpected precipitation and temperatures that only reached into the 60s, both Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow got a reprieve from summer’s warmth.

Such a cool down can have long-term benefits for the turf, too.

“Natural rain is always better than man-made irrigation,” Lagao said. “A nice dose of precipitation gives the turf a near-perfect even watering, including in spots that might be blind spots for the irrigation system. Just that little bit of rain helps set us up for a great rest of the season.”

It all adds up to a wonderful time to play at Black Butte Ranch.

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