Over Seed, Is It Really Necessary?

It’s just not fair! All summer long golfers in Southern Nevada play in the heat. Just when the temperatures start to dip below 100 degrees, local golf courses close for three to four weeks. Is this really necessary? In a word… absolutely!

Maintaining a golf course in the desert seems almost as difficult as maintaining one on the moon. Special efforts are needed to keep a golf course lush and green including over seed. As for Chimera Golf Club, the day after Labor Day the course closed for over seed. On select days, the Bar and Grill and the driving range will remain open

Golfers expect to play on great grass year round. In the winter, warm-season grass like Bermuda goes dormant, giving it an unsightly brownish “dead” look. To bring back the beautiful green that golfers expect, Rye seed is added when the weather is best for growing grass. The ideal weather is when the nighttime temperature is in the 60’s and daytime temperatures are in the 90’s. These are conditions that occur at the end of summer and early fall in Southern Nevada.

Before the Rye seed is placed on the golf course, the existing grass needs to be “scalped”. The scalping process begins before the course closes. It starts by cutting the rough down an extra ¼ inch each week. The fairways are also cut closer – all the time reducing the amount of irrigation water. Scalping is extremely important to help the grass seed take root. When the seed is placed, it needs to be in contact with the wet soil so it stays moist. Under these conditions, the seed should germinate and sprout roots after seven days. Without scalping, the seeds could get suspended in the grass, above the moist soil, dry out and die.

On the day the course closed, the scalping got intense. Blades on the mowers were replaced with knife-like blades that operate in a vertical motion, opening up the canopy. Following behind the mowers is a large machine called a sweeper, which picks up all the loose material.

After four to five days, the scalping is finished and a generous amount of Rye grass seed is placed on the tees, fairways and rough. Now a precise regimen of watering begins using reclaimed water. It is important to use the right amount of water to keep the soil moist. The irrigation system is programmed to water each part of the course three minutes at a time and every 60 to 90 minutes. Too little water and the seed won’t germinate, too much and the seed can be washed away.

Chimera Golf Club will use this time to work on other projects on the property to take advantage of not having to work around golfers. Extra staff have been hired to do the needed landscaping in the native areas. The drip irrigation will get some extra attention and more sand will be added to the bunkers.

Now the scalping is complete, the seed is down, the irrigation is set, and it is time for the grass to grow. Hopefully, the weather will co-operate with mild temperatures and low humidity. If the temperatures and humidity stay high, there is a chance of the course catching a disease in the form of fungus, which is deadly for the Rye grass. Chimera is in an area that makes it more susceptible than other courses. It is in a lower part of the valley and located close to the Las Vegas Wash, which brings up the humidity. If the temperatures and humidity do become a concern, chemicals can be added to the irrigation water to prevent fungus. This is effective but adds another cost to over seed.

Over seed is a complicated, expensive and a necessary process for any golf course to go through. At Chimera, this process is over seen by the professionals at Turf Tech Inc. from Boulder City, Nevada who manages all of the course maintenance and the irrigation systems.

In a few weeks, the grass will have grown and the golf course will again be lush and green. Chimera Golf Club will be ready to reopen. Come mid-October, everything will be back to normal. The weather will be comfortable and the Chimera Golf Club’s course will be beautiful again.

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