07/22/05 — Southern Wayne Country Club renovations near completion

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Southern Wayne Country Club renovations near completion

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 22, 2005 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Tree-lined Bermuda grass fairways and small Bermuda greens make Southern Wayne Country Club's picturesque golf course unique.

But the 6,200-yard course drew the ire of competitors during the final round of this year's Wayne County Men's Amateur. Golfers lamented the once-luscious greens provided a poor putting surface mainly due to bare spots.

Southern Wayne golf pro Howard Hunt had heard the complaints many times. He also knew that to remain competitive with in-county courses Walnut Creek and Lane Tree, renovations were desperately needed.

Hunt and course superintendent Scott Heath, a native of Mount Olive, discussed tearing up the greens and re-sprigging them with a better Bermuda grass.

Once that phase ended, Heath employed the assistance of Coastal Turf, a Texas-based company.

"Scott is doing a great job with this project," said Hunt. "He and his crew did all the prep work. They aerated the greens, cut them heavily and sprayed them with Round-up to kill them.

"We didn't have to go through much tearing up of the course."

Coastal Turf brought in its own crew that hand-sprigged the new Champion Tifdwarf Bermuda grass onto the green. Heath covered the greens with a top dresser -- a thin layer of sand and kept them wet with the sprinkler system, set to run each hour.

The new Bermuda grass should provide a much-better and faster putting surface. Heath and his crew can also cut the greens lower. The grass can adapt to heat and is effective for year-round play, but tends to recover slower due to traffic and wear tolerance.

Tifdwarf is used for golf course greens more than any of the other hybrid bermuda grasses. It's also used in bowling greens and tennis courts.

"We've had some bare spots and some greens have not performed as well as others," said Hunt. "This (renovation) will totally eliminate all that since it's always been a struggle for us to compete with Walnut Creek and Lane Tree."

Coastal Turf put the first sprig down June 16 -- nearly five weeks ago. Hunt said he hopes the course, which currently has temporary greens, will be ready by July 29. Coastal Turf estimated the greens needed six to eight weeks to be completely playable.

The club's board of directors plans to inspect the 18-hole facility on July 25. Hunt speculates the board may approve opening the course later in the week or the following week.

"If we open, we'd be on the short end of the time frame they gave us," Hunt said. "I think they'll be ready, but I'm kind of impartial."

The renovations to the par-71 course left a hefty price tag, but Hunt said green fees will not change.

"We're just trying to offer a better product through the golfing membership at Southern Wayne as well as area golfers who would like to come play," said Hunt. "This renovation should allow us to have a really nice facility over the next few years. Our fairways, roughs and tees are perfect; they really couldn't get much better."

Verticutting and topdressing are needed to balance the aggressiveness of Tifdwarf, but its mat is the perfect base for overseeded winter grasses. There is less competition for the Bermuda grass to come out and establish itself in early spring.

The club serves as the home course for Southern Wayne and North Duplin High Schools. It's also the site for the annual Tinker Best Golf Classic, named in honor of James "Tinker" Best, who owned Best Used Cars and served on the board of Southern Bank & Trust.