Deteriorating grass at the Chattahoochee Golf Club may be driving golfers away in the summer, but the Gainesville City Council members said they aren’t sure if they can swing the cost right now.
Over the past few years, the grass has started to deteriorate around the course’s busiest months of June, July and August because of the heat, said Rodger Hogan, director of golf. The cost to replace the grass is estimated at around $178,500 to $196,500.
“It’s something that the advisory committee and the staff at the golf course are looking at,” Councilman Bob Hamrick said.
Council members held their retreat on Jan. 18 and heard a presentation from Hogan on the state of greens. At the retreat, the golf pro recommended that the Chattahoochee switch from bent grass to a hybrid Bermuda variety, which thrives in hot temperatures.
“Over the last three summers, the bent grass has started to deteriorate around the first of July,” Hogan said.
Numbers from the golf course show that rounds of golf are down from 2009.
People may be playing less golf at the course because of the undesirable grass situation, Hogan said.
The 2012 number of rounds played in July and August was down slightly more than 1,000, compared with 2009 numbers from the same period. The club’s biggest competitor, Chicopee Woods Golf Course, is scheduled to convert this year, the presentation said.
However, Hogan also said it may be better financially for the city to wait until 2015 when it refinances the golf course debt.
Mayor Danny Dunagan said he thinks the golf course needs it, but it’s not the best timing financially.
Chattahoochee has bent grass, which is a cool-weather grass that has no grain and provides a smooth, fast putting surface compared to the Bermuda grass used in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Hogan recommended installing Champion or Mini Verde grass, Bermuda hybrids that are more tolerant of cooler temperatures and have the texture of bent grass.
In his PowerPoint presentation, he cited several benefits in addition to heat tolerance, including no ball marks, fewer fungicide applications during summer months and elimination of the need to watch for wilt. The golf course would close for six to eight weeks to make the switch.
“I’m just looking out for the best interests of the golf course,” Hogan said.
Councilman George Wangemann said he’s in favor of the change, but doing it in 2015 would probably be the best option.
“I’m for the proposal, but I’m not for spending the money this year or next year,” Wangemann said.