After summer full of tough grounds work, Yampa Valley Golf Course looks to keep links in shape for late season, 2020
Though the early season was a rough one for Yampa Valley Golf Course, the efforts of staff at the area links throughout the summer have changed around the conditions of the course as they looks to finish its final months of 2019.
When YVGC pro Scott Ballif officially began at the course in June, and before being hired in May, he could tell the Yampa Valley conditions needed some work based on the damage done by late winter weather earlier this year.
Ballif was with Conestoga Golf Club from 2009 to 2018 and at Oasis Golf Club — both in Mesquite, Nevada — for five years prior, as well as 10 years with St. George’s Red Hills.
However, the climate of Northwest Colorado is quite the change from some of the desert surroundings he’s seen.
“We don’t have the snow down there, so it’s definitely been a different kind of challenge,” he said. “It’s all about budget and being able to combat any issues.”
The spring grounds conditions didn’t go unnoticed by regular golfers, who weren’t thrilled with particularly patchy greens.
“We had members who weren’t playing here the whole summer who weren’t playing here because of it, and our play from Steamboat basically just stopped,” Ballif said.
The biggest obstacle was thatch, a common issue for golf courses, which is the buildup of plant matter that isn’t fully decomposed, affecting greens especially.
“It gets worse and worse as aerification practices don’t happen,” Ballif said. “It’s a problem that’s been progressing over the past four or five years.”
During the summer, YVGC has been working to combat the issue, as well as irrigation in sections of the course.
“We aggressively aerified the greens a couple times, top-dressed, fertilized, herbicides, just a lot of plugging the greens and re-seeding,” Ballif said. “Thatch happens everywhere, so it’s just a matter of the maintenance practices.”
Though work started as soon as possible with consistent maintenance, it was a while before it started having an impact.
“We didn’t really see the effects of it until about the end of July,” Ballif said.
YVGC nonetheless had a busy summer for players, with a full schedule of tournaments helping raise about $100,000 for causes ranging from Memorial Regional Health Foundation to Bear River Young Life to the Victory Motors Cancer Drive to the Yahoo Ball Drop for Boys & Girls Club and Kiwanis Club.
New management of the course restaurant, Yampa Valley Bar & Grill, by Cherissee Smith, also had an impact, Ballif said.
By the time the efforts took effect, players were commenting on the turnaround.
“The ones that hadn’t played here for several months were pleasantly surprised because they weren’t expecting things to change that much until next year,” Ballif said. “It’s an ongoing process, and it’s not where we want it to be, but we’re hoping by the spring it will be even better than it is now.”
The board for YVGC was also impressed with the efforts.
“I thought it’d take us a whole year to get back to this,” said board President Joel Sheridan.
Workers will also be working to keep the property prepared for the snow of the off-season, which will accumulate moisture and with that, the potential for multiple types of mold.
“We’ll be applying fungicide this fall. You usually put it down just before a big storm happens, so that will protect it through the winter,” Ballif said. “If we can get the timing right, we should have a good chance of being in good shape by April.”
YVGC personnel plan to keep the course open to players as late as early November if weather allows.
The course will also be offering special deals for its late season, including a golf and lunch combination that’s $35 per person complete with food, cart and 18 holes.
Another offer is a two-for-one — a full round for two players for $54.
YVGC is currently working on the membership and visitor rates for the 2020 season, including adding a member-guest option to encourage members to bring friends to the course.
“We want to invite people back to give us a try through the end of the season,” Ballif said.
Ballif added that even with the struggles, he plans to be back in full swing for the spring.
“It’s been a big adventure for me, but I like living in Craig, and I definitely plan to be back,” he said.
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The Lower and Central Yampa River Basin, which include Craig, Hayde, Rangely, Dinosaur and Meeker, will be under a winter storm warning from the National Weather Service starting at 6 a.m. Thursday.