Agronomy By the Season

By:
Stu Rowland, Director of Agronomy

There’s a feeling that you get after you’ve been through something physically challenging or mentally draining, and you finally get to shower and sit down and take a deep breath. The feeling of being relaxed and refreshed yet on the edge of readiness for the next thing — that is fall for the Agronomy team. Despite the long hard summer of heat and drought, fall has arrived and yes, it really does have that feeling as if we just emerged from a brisk shower and are readied for the next game.

This summer no doubt had challenges with exceptional drought conditions. Albeit a couple of rogue showers hit Cordillera Ranch in August, we are still 32 inches of rain behind for the year. That posed several challenges for the team as our resources were limited more than usual. It’s a completely ironic state; when we need rain, our resources are drying up and when our resources are full, it means it probably has been raining. We did make use of as much technology as possible in using products that help the soil retain moisture and dialing in our irrigation controls to make sure we were as efficient as possible with every irrigation cycle. We were “all hands-on deck” this summer as nearly every team member found themselves with a hose watering selective spots to make sure we protected as much turf as possible. Moving into the fall we are still ever focused, as the drought continues, to growing good turf into the dormant season of winter. The better the stand of turf in the fall always translates into good conditions in the spring. 

The crisp mornings of the fall months do lend to the excitement of being outdoors each day but we also have excitement for each winter season as we prepare to undertake new projects and prepare for the next season of golf. We’ve talked before about the current season impacting the next. This excites us as we prepare now for an exceptional spring. The agronomy team will be focused as always on ways to improve and make the experience better. This winter is no different as we aim to renovate more landscaped areas around tees and comfort stations; clear areas of native as we’ve practiced before near and in our dry creeks and water features; and continue our root pruning practices as well as trimming trees that interfere with play and irrigation. We also spend much time and effort on areas of improvement that not everyone sees yet still impacts our conditions. In October we completed a new nursery project near the Agronomy facility. This new zoysia nursery will allow us to make repairs and replace turf where needed immediately without the need to purchase turf from offsite. We will maintain it the same as a tee or fairway so that any repairs on the course are seamless and instant. It also gives us a place to test and experiment practices that we can replicate on the course.  

In any operation, there are many moving parts that not everyone sees. This spring we are excited as we plan to host a “Behind-the-Scenes Tour.” We will be taking groups of members to tour the Agronomy facility and all that goes into providing exceptional turf conditions for daily play. There you will see the various and precise technologies that go into applying irrigation efficiently, sharpening mowers that mow below 1/10th of an inch, the organization and scheduling of an Agronomy team and much more. Look for the announcement after the new year.

Yes, fall and the holiday season have given us a bit of a respite from the grueling summer and have energized us to dive right back into making it better. We hope you enjoy the fall golf season as much as we do and we wish you and your families a very blessed holiday season.

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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