Maintaining Black Butte Ranch’s greens can be a delicate dance for a superintendent. Putting surfaces that roll too slowly can frustrate golfers. But set the greens too fast and two putts easily become four, especially for average players.
Getting the greens at Glaze Meadow, which were completely rebuilt in 2012 during the $3.75 million renovation, into ideal condition has expectedly been a work in progress for superintendent Phil Lagao and his staff.
This year it appears Glaze Meadow’s greens are the closest yet to optimal condition. That can be seen most easily with the early season mowing heights on all 18 greens, which are on par with the heights seen last year in June.
“We are WAY ahead, and we’ve been down there for a couple of weeks now,” Lagao says of the mowing heights. “The greens this year they’re so much better. The greens are a lot healthier than they were this time last year.”
That is excellent news for any golfer.
Many who played Glaze Meadow last year probably felt that the greens rolled a touch slower than ideal. The reasons for this varied. For one, the greens did not come out of a tough winter in prime shape, and the Oregon Open Invitational played at Glaze Meadow in early June meant Lagao and his staff had to be cautious in order to prepare for the tournament.
The youth of the greens exasperated those issues because newer greens tend to be more fragile than more mature surfaces.
“They can handle more stress,” Lagao says of Glaze Meadow’s maturing greens. “They can handle dropping heights and verticutting more. The aggressive things you need to do for speed, rolling and those sort of things, last year they just didn’t respond the way we wanted them to. So when we tried to get a little speed out of them we actually took a step backwards.
“This year with them starting healthy, another year of maturity, they are able to handle things a little bit better,” he adds. “With every year it is going to get a little bit easier. But now that they are more mature we can be a bit more aggressive.”
So what is the ideal speed?
Lagao says he shoots for around 10 on the Stimpmeter during the peak golf season. That strikes a balance that is slow enough that average golfers can keep their putting under control and fast enough that Black Butte Ranch can “easily bump them up for tournaments if we have to,” he says.
Besides, Lagao adds, “Speed is relative. We are trying for smoothness.”
The greens at Glaze Meadow have also softened a touch as thatch naturally builds. This is also welcome news and a sign that Glaze Meadow’s greens are indeed maturing.
“Every year they get better,” Lagao says. “All around it is just a better year than last year.”
For golfers this means the best possible setup as we approach the peak of the golf season, which traditionally begins on Memorial Day Weekend at Black Butte Ranch.
And that is not limited to Glaze Meadow. Big Meadow is also in terrific shape.
“I am excited for the season,” Lagao says. “And so far the weather has been pretty good. … Memorial Day is the start of our really busy season, and I think we’re going to be in good shape for next weekend. If they haven’t played yet this spring, I think people are going to be very pleased with the condition of both courses.”
Through May 22, golfers can play 18 holes at either Big Meadow or Glaze Meadow for $47. After 1 p.m. that rate drops to $42. Golfers with a bit less time on their hands can play nine holes after 2 p.m. for $27.
Book a tee time online, or call 855-210-5305 or the Golf Shop at 541-595-1545.