Chris Jones, G.M.
Well, it's been a little over a month since we reopened the golf course, and I'd like to thank everyone for cooperating with the guildelines set forth by the NM Dept of Health. It's been a challenge for everyone but overall everyone has been great, and we are excited that the golf course is back open and busy.
A few notes and updates:
Beginning Wednesday, July 1st, the first tee time will move to 7:00 a.m. daily (except Mondays). We realize that the tee time situation since we reopened has been a problem, but we were bound by the rules set forth by the State of NM. As things continue to get better in our area, we'll be able to make positive changes in our daily operations. The pro shop and phones will be open at 6:00 a.m. for the month of July as long as we're allowed to do so.
As you will read below, we have a new golf course superintendent, Mark Omell. Mark's first day with the City of Farmington was orientation on Monday, March 23rd, and unfortunately, the golf course shut down the following day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation really turned into a positive as we all joined Mark's crew and helped aerify/topdress the greens and tees, as well as give the bunkers some attention, and keep the grass mowed while closed. It really was a positive experience for our staff to learn about each other and the golf course. We're happy to have Mark here with us and we can already see major changes, most notibly in the golf course playability.
More to come soon - CJ
Mark OMell, Golf Course Superintendent
Greetings Pinon Hills golfers! My name is Mark Omell and I am the new golf course superintendent for the City of Farmington. I will be managing both Pinon Hills and Civitan, but with the majority of my time spent at Pinon Hills. I wanted to take this time to introduce myself and let you all know about some of the projects we are doing to improve the aesthetics and playability of the courses.
My initial impressions of the course when I visited in February was it was a beautiful and well maintained facility that just needed a little facelift and TLC. Plans were made to renovate bunkers and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the course was closed. With a limited staff and help from the Pro Shop we still managed to remove over 100 yards of grass that had encroached into the bunkers over the years and regain much of their original edges. We then sifted the sod/sand mixture and returned the sand to the bunkers. This process was almost three weeks long from start to finish. With the edges restored we are now on a mission to improve playability by removing stones from bunkers. You may see some of our staff out there with these tools that catch rocks but allow sand to pass through them. We now will have periodic bunker edging in our maintenance plan.
We also did quite a bit of work on tee tops. Because of our irrigation shortfalls here, much of the turf on the edges of the tee tops was this or bare. We decided to shrink the tees to the point of were playable turf was able to be maintained. The loss of tee space is negligible and the benefit is quality turf for playing. We also eliminated two tees; one on hole 7 and one on hole 9. We used the sod from those tees to repair and large areas of tee surfaces that were bare. We will now begin to fill those areas where we removed sod and reseed them to use as bentgrass nurseries.
Bare spots on a few of the greens were a huge eyesore, and the small putting green was in rough shape so I decided to use sod cutter on small putting green and take that sod to properly fix the bad areas on the large putting green, hole 1, hole 5, hole 12 and hole 16. They are nearly playable now and we are just waiting on a large roller from parks to have them as smooth as rest of greens.
My philosophy moving forward with regards to turf management is simple: Firm, Fast, Fun. I am not bothered by a little off color on turf as long as the playability is there. We will be on an extremely aggressive sand topdressing program for tees and greens. This will include more solid tine aerification with very small tines. This was done this week and after one day you could not see holes anymore. To achieve this plan we will rely on more hand watering of green surfaces. We have acquired a soil moisture meter that we use daily to determine watering needs. Our goal is to have consistent smooth surfaces from day to day. You will also notice we have acquired a dedicated greens roller that is going to be used in conjunction with mowers to provide best surfaces we can provide.
You all may have noticed, but there are not any course accessories presently out on property. Some of it had to do with restrictions placed on us by the COVID-19 outbreak and some were my choice. My choice was to remove all ropes, stakes, rocks, and wood that was previously used to direct traffic. The course looks cleaner without them and my goal is to not put them back out, but I need your help. Please keep carts away from greens and tees and utilize cart paths as much as possible. This will improve the course for everyone and keep me from having to put the traffic control back out.
More information will be coming as I work to include pictures and more updates of our work out here. Thank you for welcoming me to the area and I look forward to seeing you out playing.- MAO
Luke Tanner, Head Golf Professional
Hello everyone. As we all know, 2020 has brought some unique challenges. After a 2 month closure things at the golf course are progressing towards a new normal. The course is in great shape and extremely busy. Our new superintendent Mark Omell has done an awesome job since he started in March. The greens in particular are just about as good as I’ve seen them.
We have a handful of things to look forward to for the summer. Junior golf programs are set to start the first week of July. This includes PGA Junior League, which is a terrific way for junior golfers to begin playing competitive golf. The format for this league is a two person, match play scramble. Courses around the area have teams of golfers that compete against one another at various courses each week. My team for this year is full, but if there is anyone that would still like to get involved there are spots available at other golf courses. Please contact me if you are interested
Our First Tee Junior Golf Program is also set to begin on July 13th. First Tee is a great way to introduce kids to golf and life skills in a fun environment. Kids between the ages of 6 and 13 are welcome. We have signup sheets and registration forms available in the shop, as well as printable forms on our website. I am also hoping to organize a second First Tee session for the end of summer or early fall, so please keep an eye out for that information.
I am also available for private and individual instruction. Golf lessons combine with regular practice is the best way to improve your game. Every golfer, from beginner to professional, can benefit from golf instruction. Please contact me to schedule your golf lesson.
Thankfully, we will be able to have the Pinon Hills Classic golf tournament this year on July 25th and 26th. The Classic is a flighted stroke play event with payouts for both net and gross scores. This is a great event to test your game in a competitive environment. Everyone with an active GHIN handicap should consider competing. Also coming up is the annual Boys and Girls Club Benefit Golf Tournament, which is a great event for an even greater cause. Please contact the Boys and Girls Club of Farmington to sign up and for more information.
We will be following CDC and state guidelines for all of the events and classes discussed above. Golf is a great way to get exercise, relieve stress, and enjoy the outdoors, especially this year. I hope to see you all soon. I’m looking forward to a great summer out here!