Fall weather a boon for conditions at Black Butte Ranch

Mild weather has stretched the golf season and helped the maintenance staff prepare both golf courses for next season

The seeds of great conditioning are almost always planted the fall before.

So far the weather has cooperated with Black Butte Ranch Superintendent Jeff Knutzen and his staff, allowing the maintenance crew to get extra conditioning work in before the weather turns, setting up a graceful entrance into the offseason, and hopefully a quick start to next spring.

If you haven’t been to Central Oregon recently, then you probably missed the endless run of warm, sunny days at the end of September that felt more like a summer.

Combined with a schedule that calls for fall aerification for Big Meadow on Oct. 15 and Glaze Meadow on Oct. 22 — annually two of the latest aerification dates in Central Oregon — such stretches of warm fall weather are always wonderful for golfers, stretching the season a bit longer than some might have planned.

“It definitely prolongs the window of opportunity for golfers,” said Knutzen, who is completing his first full season as Black Butte Ranch’s superintendent. “With the weather being mild, both courses are in great condition. Green speeds at Glaze Meadow we’ll have to slow down a bit. But things are really good.”

The benefits of such pleasant weather for the golf course will be felt for months to come, too.

Black Butte Ranch’s staff had a full plate last week. The Fall Tour, an annual pro-am featuring some of the top club pros from the Pacific Northwest, teed off followed by the 91st OGA Men’s Team Championship.

While they prepared Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow for championship play, the staff also had an eye on next season. The staff has been overseeding the turf, top-dressing, and are in the process of applying its fall fertilizer program.

“It’s was a really busy week,” Knutzen said.

The work is meant to strengthen the turf ahead of a turn in the seasons. In addition, the weather has helped foster turf generation, allowing the staff to repair stressed out turf on Glaze Meadow that was a result of a pump issue in August.

“Weather has been great because we’ve been aggressively overseeding and top-dressing,” Knutzen said. “Those areas on Glaze Meadow have really bounced back and responded well. I’d say we’ve hit 90 percent recovery, and if not, 100 percent in some areas.”

Additionally, if the mild, dry weather continues, it will also help contractors get a jump on the $1.3 million project to replace the irrigation system at Big Meadow, which will remain open through the work. That project began on Oct. 1, and will continue until the weather makes work no longer possible.

The rest of the work at Big Meadow will then be completed next spring. So the more that can be completed this fall, the less that will have to be performed next season.

“We are really looking to get a good jump on it, and we are definitely excited about the project,” Knutzen said. “The impact on the golfers should be minimal because of the routing of the mainlines. But the weather should help us get going on the project.”

Important work to prepare Black Butte Ranch for winter remains, of course. For the maintenance staff, a job done well now will mean two well-conditioned championship courses next year.

And the staff is beginning to implement a plan that will achieve those goals for Black Butte Ranch golfers.

“We have a good game plan going into winter,” Knutzen said. “I have an extensive list of projects and things I want to work on at maintenance facility and equipment. I’m looking forward to the work.”

Until then, there is still much to look forward to this season.

Black Butte Ranch has dropped to its lowest rates of the season: $54 during primetime, $49 after 1 p.m., and just $29 for nine holes after noon. And this time of year, afternoons really tend to be prime time.

For the best rates available, book a tee time online, or call 855-210-5305 or the Golf Shop at 541-595-1545. For more information on how to take a lesson from any of our Black Butte Ranch instructors, call 541-595-1294 to sign up.