Lake Tahoe golf: Courses shoot for May openings as they dig out from winter
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – After an epic winter – is it even over yet? – that saw near-record snowfall throughout the Sierra and Lake Tahoe Basin, regional golf course officials are beginning to eye opening days.
But before locals can tee off for their first 18 holes this year, crews figure to be busy with above-average maintenance work as the snow slowly melts and they begin to assess grass conditions.
“We’ve got some major issues with water that has to subside,” said South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department maintenance supervisor Greg Ross, who oversees Bijou Golf Course. “I’ve been here 31 years and I’ve never seen this.”
Snowmelt flooded from the mountains through the meadow, forming a temporary river onto the course, pooling where Fairway Drive crosses the northern edge of the course. Broken tree branches, some a foot or more thick, littered the course. The moving water scattered gravel on and around greens.
Some of the tee boxes are underwater and some of the bridges have washed out. But the big concern, Ross said, is the grass.
“Most grass can withstand this kind of stuff, but if bluegrass is under water too long, it’ll die.”
Staff will try to have the course open between May 1 and May 15, Ross said.
“We’ll fix it one way or another,” he said. “It might just take a little longer.”
While conditions are tough at Bijou, things are looking a bit better at other regional courses.
Lake Tahoe Golf Course is shooting to open early to mid May, said general manager Carlos Leyva.
At Edgewood Golf Course, the snow has melted off much of it, but maintenance staff is still using blankets to keep the greens warm.
“All things considered, we’re not bad,” said marketing director Bryan Davis.
A few big branches fell on the fairways, but mostly staff is just waiting for the grass to grow, Davis said.
“If we can get some days in the 60s, that grass can get going,” he said. “It’s ready.”
Tahoe Paradise Golf Course in Meyers is still under 2 to 7 feet of snow, said general manager Colby Gunsch.
“The greens are looking pretty good,” he said. “That’s the only part of the course we’ve been able to dig down to.”
Tahoe Paradise will open Memorial Day weekend at the latest, Gunsch said. Last year, because of the cold, snowy spring, the course was barely open by then, he said.
Few changes to the area courses are in store for this year. Bijou will raise resident prices from $15 to $19, while Tahoe Paradise is lowering prices $5. Edgewood installed a new irrigation system that’s already sprinkling the course. Lake Tahoe Golf Course isn’t expecting any changes, Leyva said.