PASO ROBLES, Calif. - Hunter Ranch Golf Course recently made major renovations to its fairways that will not only improve playing conditions, but also save water and electrical costs. Recently, management decided to move away from its original cool season turf that was having trouble in the prolonged dry weather condition.
"You like to have nice fairways and they were really getting kind of burned out because of the drought," said Bruce Miller, a Hunter Ranch employee who also plays the course regularly.
In an effort to improve the fairways and also reduce water usage, a new variety of grass was installed in early June. "The new turf we put in is a hybrid Bermuda," said Jason Pouch, Hunter Ranch superintendent. "It is much more aggressive growing, much more salt tolerant, much more wear tolerant, requires less water, less fertilizer."
Pouch notes the Bermuda hybrid will result in considerable savings for the course in terms of water usage. "We're looking at probably 20 to 30 percent reduction in the amount of water we have to use to maintain our fairways."
The newly seeded grass is said to be "drought tolerant" due to many features that make it a much more attractive playing surface than its predecessor. "The physiology of this turf grass, it requires much less water, it will put up with much higher salts in the soils and it will also put up with much more traffic," said Pouch. He adds, "It's just a more vigorous root system, more vigorous plant, so it's able to withstand those stresses much better than the cool season grasses that we currently have."
Players who frequent the course that runs adjacent to Highway 46 just outside Paso Robles are happy with the change. "I think we're definitely going in the right direction. I'm enthusiastic about this and I think it's going to be really nice when it all takes root," said Bill Kneeland, a regular player from Templeton.
Miller, who lives in Paso Robles, is also happy with the turf and is excited about the water savings as well. "I'm very conservation minded and to do this, it will cut down their water usage and every little bit helps."
Pouch says it will take 2 to 3 growing seasons for the Bermuda hybrid to provide full coverage in the fairways. That time frame covers more than a year, so the turf will still be in transition into late 2015.