Willow Creek changing greens
The Willow Creek Golf Club golfers have come to know the past 25 years will look and play a tad different in August.
The Farragut-based golf course, beginning June 24, will begin its conversion from Bentgrass greens to Championship Ultra Dwarf Bermuda grass.
The move will allow Willow Creek's greens to survive the winter months easier and also be stronger during the peak-play months of June, July and August - when heat, humidity and moisture proved taxing on Bentgrass greens and their root systems.
Willow Creek general manager Bill Roach said the club started thinking about switching to Championship Bermuda grass last summer.
Research was done. Questions were asked. Visits were made.
"You're hearing about more and more clubs that are converting in the Southeast from Bent to one of the two Bermudas (Championship or MiniVerde)," said Roach. "The more we looked at it, the more it seemed to be a good idea - and at an appropriate time for us.
"Our golf course is 25 years old, so our greens are 25 years old. We've never rebuilt them."
But the conversion to Bermuda won't require the greens at Willow Creek to be rebuilt or even tilled up, Roach added.
The Bentgrass will have to be killed. The surface must be Verticut 4-8 times and then have a seedbed prepared for the new sprigs of Championship Bermuda. The sprigs are expected to be installed by Champion Turf Farms (Bay City, Texas) on Wednesday, June 26.
"We're hoping to be open in early August," said Roach. "It's about a five-week process."
Willow Creek will remain open during the five-week window and will still be playable thanks to temporary greens.
Green fees will be reduced during that time, Roach said. The range and practice facilities will remain open, as well.
River Islands Golf Course, located in Kodak changed its greens to MiniVerde Bermuda last year. The Honors Course in Ooltewah will undergo the same transformation as Willow Creek and at the same time, Roach said.
The process will cost between $300,000-$500,000. Roach estimated the cost to rebuild Bentgrass greens at $1 million or more.
"It's not cheap," he said of the move to Bermuda, "but it's probably, expense-wise, the best alternative.
"It's the best grass."
Hughes Takes Title: University of Tennessee signee Teleri Hughes won the Ashworth Elite Series event at Bluegrass Yacht and Country Club in Hendersonville on April 27-28, shooting rounds of 73 and 74 to win the girls' competition by three shots. Hughes is a senior at Farragut High School.
Knoxville's Joey Woods finished in a three-way tie for second place in the boys' competition.
His 145 total finished nine shots off the winning pace set by Ole Miss signee Ben Wolcott (Dickson).
Quality Qualifying: Holston Hills Country Club will host a U.S. Open local qualifier Wednesday.
Those who qualify for one of the few spots up for grabs will advance to one of 11 sectional qualifying sites June 3.
Money Saver: Three Ridges will once again host a local qualifier that will give the winner a spot in the NGA Tour (formerly Hooters Tour) event at Three Ridges on May 23-26.
Cost is $100.
Holston Hills assistant Braxton Hunter won the qualifier last year. The entry fee into a NGA Tour event for a non-tour member was $1,250 last year, so Braxton saved $1,150 by winning the local qualifier.
To find more information on how to register for the NGA Tour local qualifier, call 865-687-4797.
Testing Time: The Super Demo Day at Fairways & Greens Golf Center in West Knoxville will be from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
Some of golf's biggest equipment industry leaders will be on site to allow golfers to try their latest products.
Pro-Am Opportunities: The NGA Tour stop in Knoxville will feature two pro-am opportunities: one May 21 at Beverly Park and May 22 at Three Ridges.
The first will allow for juniors to be involved with the adult golfers and professional golfers. Visit KnoxvilleGolf.Org for more information.
Help Needed: Volunteers are still needed for the Aug. 12-18 News Sentinel Open, the longest-standing event on the Web.com Tour.
Visit KNSOpen.com to register.