Nickell’s to bring fairways up to par

Thursday, October 30, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:55 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 7, 2008

The grass is always greener on the other side — especially when it’s got a brand new irrigation system.

L.A. Nickell Golf Course, a public course run by the Parks and Recreation Department, will get such a system soon. The Columbia City Council on Oct. 20 approved a plan to spend $700,000 to irrigate the course and convert its fairway turf to zoysia.

The project will be “virtually the same” as what was recently done at Lake of the Woods Golf Course, another city-owned golf course, said Mike Hood, Parks and Recreation director. Improvements to both parks had been pursued since the late 1990s.

“(At the time) we received money to do one, and moved on Lake of the Woods,” Hood said.

No new expenses for golfers

Some money for the L.A. Nickell project will come from that portion of green fees that is set aside for capital improvements. Golfers will see no increase in fees but will have to expect inconveniences while the irrigation system is installed.

“It might cause us to have a hole shut down,” said Jim McClelland, who is in charge of maintenance for both the L.A. Nickell and Lake of the Woods courses. Clubhouse Manager David Stone suggested Lake of the Woods may see more people teeing off there while work is being done at L.A. Nickell.

No timetable is in place for the project, though park officials hope the irrigation system will be installed by spring. The project must first be put out to bid, a process that usually takes 30 to 60 days, Hood said. From there, it “depends primarily on weather conditions.”

Zoysia to replace turf

Once the irrigation system is complete, workers can begin planting zoysia on the fairway turf. Spring months are crucial to the success of the grass, as is proper irrigation.

Zoysia, a type of grass whose condition peaks in summer, will slowly spread to replace the existing bluegrass turf. McClelland expects that will take about three years.

Meanwhile, out on the course, golfers were enthusiastic. Some believe the zoysia fairways and irrigation will help L.A. Nickell compete with other courses. Chuck Crews, a regular at L.A. Nickell, said the changes would be more than worth the minor inconveniences anticipated.

“It’ll be a mess for a while,” he said, “but it is a good thing.” He added that during construction at Lake of the Woods, many golfers just went to L.A. Nickell. “It wasn’t a big deal.”

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