A Year In Agronomy

Stu Rowland, Director of Agronomy

My how time flies! Exactly one year ago on my first day at Cordillera Ranch, we aerified greens. From that day to now, it has been a very productive year and as the old parenting saying goes, “The days were long, but the year was short.”   The Agronomy team has much to be proud of as we’ve made great progress on the course, in the maintenance facility and with the staff.  Sometimes it’s important to look at where we have been, how we’ve been successful and where we are headed.

Last spring, we emerged from the winter storm well with minimal damage and quickly readied the course for April and May’s tournament season. Getting the entire course back to 100 percent turf coverage was handled smoothly by the team and in the process, we were able to accomplish a small project of regrading and turfing all the fairway drains that had steep edges. Before, a ball would collect in the drain and now with the contoured edges balls are more likely to roll through these areas. These types of projects sometimes seemingly go unnoticed albeit the impact to play can be significant. And that has been our thought process: “What impacts play and where can we enhance the player experience?” 

So, where have we impacted play? Several areas are of meaningful mention but none more impactful than our putting surfaces. Always a labor of love, our bent greens are doing great today. We always have ups and downs with our Texas weather but we have been diligent in our cultural practices with the new surfaces. 2021 saw the usage of new tools and aerification practices. By consistently venting the surfaces with frequent topdressings, we are beginning to see the results with a firmer, truer green surface. Waiting, as they say, is the hardest part, but as each season passes, we see the fruits of the one before. Our fall practices give way to good spring conditions and taking advantage of spring weather gives way to successful summer conditions. Again, the days can be long, but the year flies along quickly and we soon see the benefits of each practice.

Zoysia. We all love the Zoysia surfaces and they have been another area of our focus. From May through August, we worked diligently to groom, verticut and lower heights on all the Zoysia surfaces. We finally arrived at the lowest mowing height we’ve experienced in a long time — .350 inches. Getting to that height on all Zoysia aided in better lies and ball roll on the fairways. The process also aided in better turf conditions as we vertical-mowed(sliced), aerified and topdressed nearly all Zoysia surfaces. Sand topdressing continued and still continues as we look to firm up fairways and, more specifically, the entries to the greens where the ball will bounce more and “bump & run” plays can be made. This spring we will already be at the lower heights and thus five months ahead of where we were at the same time last year: a continued example of today’s efforts in tomorrow’s fruit.

In previous articles, you may remember our desire not to only have good turf, but an enjoyable and aesthetic experience as well. This winter we have been busy re-establishing all our mulch bed perimeters and installing fresh cedar mulch. As the course comes out of dormancy this March, the nice edges and color contrast of the mulch to the turf will give us a great view peering down each fairway. Likewise, we have been restoring all landscaped areas around the tees. This project will take us in to March just ahead of tournament season. Not all of us hit every fairway but we all start at the tee and finish at the green, so restoring all these areas gives us a fresh look every time we tee it up and putt out.  

We saw lots of change in 2021 on the course but we also took care of our home at the Agronomy facility. We work hard to take care of our members but we also work hard to take care of those who take care of you — our Agronomy Team. In 2021 we gave the team office and breakroom a makeover with new floors, fresh paint, new furniture and staff amenities. Our desire is for members to come and enjoy Cordillera Ranch but we also desire for our team to want to come and work here as well. Coming in each day to a well maintained and inviting space makes it easy to start each day well. Our team works hard through the coldest of days and the muggiest of days and thus deserves the best experience, too.  

Yes indeed, some days were long, but that year flew by! We are excited to be in 2022 and even more so for this next growing season to start. We look forward to keep building on each project and accomplishment, making each season better than the previous. Our motto is “Make It Better” and we’ll continue to do just that each day, season and year!  

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say thank you. So… Thank You! Cordillera’s members, management, residents and even your guests have been a pleasure to be around. Thank you for all of your questions, feedback and appreciation. It really is better out here! 

Stu Rowland is the Director of Agronomy at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at srowland@cordilleraranch.com and 830.336.3710.


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