Watering Alert: Change in Process

Battling the Summer Heat on Bentgrass Putting Greens

By Rob Dreesen, BVCC Golf Superintendent


As the temperatures continue to rise, you will notice our attention to greens rising as well. You will often run into “greens checkers” as you play your round. Contrary to popular belief, we are not trying to get in your way and ruin your round! We are simply just protecting the plant from dying. It is a complex process that is much more complicated than just watering the greens at night. We have to maintain adequate moisture throughout the day and also cool the plant when necessary.

Some of the courses throughout the POA use moisture meters to help determine what amount of water the plant needs. You will see the greens checkers carrying devices that look similar to a pogo stick. Other courses have different techniques that they use to determine what needs to be watered and what doesn’t. But we all have a common goal in that we strive to keep the greens as dry as possible without causing stress to the plant.

Another similar technique is “syringing” the greens. Syringing can also be called, misting. When we mist the greens we are simply keeping the plant cool. Research has shown that when you disperse a very light layer of water over the surface, it cools the plant by 10-15 degrees! Think of a misting fan or machine at outdoor restaurants or on the sidelines of a football game. These are there to keep people cool. This is the same approach we are taking on the greens, which can have a huge effect on the health of the plant.

By spot watering and misting greens throughout the day, we prevent the greens from being overwatered. If we only used our irrigation heads at night, we would be overwatering the plant which would lead to the following effects:

  • Plant Health
    • Roots shrink, causing the plant to be stressed
    • Areas with excessive water are warmer than areas with adequate water, causing the plant to be stressed
    • Greens are soft causing the mower to scalp, causing the plant to be stressed
  • Golf Playability
    • Greens are soft, causing more ball marks
    • Greens are soft, causing slower and inconsistent speeds

As you can see, hand watering and syringing throughout the course of the day is necessary for all of us to achieve our goals of having firm, healthy, and smooth putting surfaces. Please keep that in mind on the next round that you run into a greens checker. It is our goal to have the healthiest and best putting surfaces than we can, while also staying out of your way and letting you enjoy your round. However, time is critical, and sometimes we will need to get the green watered before you hit your shot into the green. We try our best to not disrupt the same group over the course of your round, but in the case this does happen, we apologize and it is certainly in the best interest of keeping our turf healthy. Thank you for your patience during these hot and very critical days.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to talk to us while on the golf course. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Thank you!

Species Profile: Lepomis microlophus – Redear Sunfish

Scientific Name: Lepomis microlophus

Common Name(s): Redear Sunfish, Stumpknocker, Shellcracker, Bream, Cherry Gill, Sun Perch


The redear sunfish, Lepomis microlophus, is easily distinguished from all other sunfish by the spot of red on the “ear flap” and the long, pointed fins on its sides. Redear sunfish are olive-green on the back with silvery sides mottled with greenish brown spots. The sides may have dark vertical bars, especially in younger fish. The ear flap is short with a crescent-shaped red or orange spot on the border. The belly is yellowish and their mouth is small in comparison to their large body. The dorsal fin has 9-11 sharp spines and no dark blotch at the end (like in bluegill). Redear sunfish are Arkansas’ largest species of sunfish, often ranging from 8-10inches in length and around 1lb in weight in farm ponds and reservoirs.  Although, 1-1.5lbs is not uncommon. When caught in streams and rivers they are usually much smaller.  The current state record is 2lbs 14oz and 15 inches long from Bois D’Arc Lake.



Lepomis microlophus is native to the southeastern United States and has been stocked in water bodies all over North America for its popularity as a sport fish.  In Arkansas, it is native to all major water bodies, and is stocked extensively in ponds and lakes all over the state.


The redear sunfish is considered to be a warm water fish, preferring water temperatures around 73-77°F.  They prefer clear, calm water with plenty of logs, stumps, brush, and aquatic vegetation.  Its attraction to submerged timber is what inspired its nickname “stumpknocker.” They are normally found in calm water that has a mud bottom, but can sometimes be found in pools of streams.  The redear sunfish is a popular game fish although its bottom feeding habits sometimes make it harder to catch than other sunfish species.

Redear sunfish spawn multiple times from April to August when water temperatures range from 66-70°F.  Males build nests by fanning their tail fins, making a circular indention in the substrate.  The males gather and create nests close together in colonies, and the females visit to lay eggs.  A female 9-10inches in length can lay 35,500-64,000 eggs.  Males guard the nests after spawning until the young start to swim off.  Sexual maturity is usually reached around 2 years and maximum life span is 6-7 years.

Redear sunfish consume mainly snails and other small mollusks and crustaceans.  They have broad, flat teeth in the back of the mouth (pharyngeal teeth) that are excellent at crushing shells, which inspired their nickname “shellcracker.” There propensity for eating aquatic snails limits the spread of fish parasites that use snails as intermediate hosts.  They are also know to feed on insect larvae and other material taken near the bottom.  The best angling success is with natural baits fished near the bottom.

Special Notes: 

Here in Bella Vista, redear sunfish can be found in all of the lakes and Little Sugar Creek.  Fishermen hoping to catch a redear sunfish should use natural bait like earthworms, crickets, grubs, maggots, catalpa worms, or freshwater shrimp, because redear rarely take artificial bait.  Fishing near the bottom around logs, stumps, and other submerged timber or vegetation would be helpful.  Known gravel beds at 15 to 20 feet in depth can also productive.  Our lakes grow redear sunfish to trophy size especially on lakes Windsor and Lomond.  The redear sunfish is our most likely candidate for a state record of all species here in Bella Vista.

State of the POA

Ruth Hatcher, Chair, POA Board of Directors

As I embark on my 33 years of visiting Bella Vista, 18 years of which I’ve lived here and my 12 years of serving in a volunteer capacity for the POA, I now move into the role as Chair of the POA Board of Directors. It is a role that I’ve seen include tremendous accomplishments, gut-wrenching decisions, hours of commitment and a test of character. So, why do it? Because I believe in Bella Vista more every year.
This past year brought us floods, record-breaking winter temperatures and changes that were not (and still not) easy to accept. First, we hired a nationally-recognized engineering company to study the past and future impacts of flooding on the golf courses that have experienced year-over-year extensive damage. The results led to closing Berksdale Golf Course at the end of 2018. In case you missed the numerous meetings covering this study, it is available on the POA website (bellavistapoa.com/valley-flood-study/)
While the closing of Berksdale as a golf course is difficult, we need to look forward to what the future can bring. Next steps regarding this area include working with partners, such as the NWA Trailblazers, on ideas for future development. Rest assured, it remains the board’s goal to maintain the beauty and enjoyment of our “front yard”, which is the Little Sugar Creek Valley. And, for those who are interested, the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary project will continue at Berksdale; staff and volunteers have made great impacts by achieving three of the seven steps required to achieve sanctuary status.
The recent closing of Scotsdale for repairs is another pill that was hard to swallow. Golf courses in our weather zone have experienced the same winter kill damage due to the record-setting winter temperatures from December through April. It’s unfortunate and the timing is never good, but we will get the repairs done as rapidly as possible and look forward to the re-opening.
I look forward to working with the newly elected board members: Mary Sinkus and Jerry Hover. They have experience and skills that will lend well to the Joint Advisory Committees and to a well-rounded board. Thank you to the 23% who voted in this past election.
I encourage everyone to understand communication is a two-way street. The POA staff offers numerous ways for you to stay updated and involved. The POA website (bellavistapoa.com) has an updated calendar of all board meetings and various events; Facebook posts, responses and events are available on the POA’s FB page; Tom has an “In the Know” segment that is posted on YouTube and Facebook; weekly and monthly e-newsletters are available (sign-up here: bellavistapoa.com/signup/). The list goes on and I hope you know efforts are constantly being made to inform, educate and listen. Please take advantage of these opportunities. Come to a board meeting or any other public meeting where we can openly discuss ideas and opinions. We may not always agree but at least let’s give each other a chance to respect each other in person.

Record-setting Cold Weather Causes Extensive Repairs

The 2017 winter and 2018 spring have been very extreme and have led to winterkill issues in our warm season Bermudagrass turf areas such as tees, collars, fairways and roughs. To date, we have replaced 20,000 sq.ft. with an additional 20,000 sq. ft. remaining to be replaced in these areas. The early hard frost in late October, extreme cold in December and January, and the record-setting cold April has also done extensive damage to our new Ultradwarf Bermuda grass greens at Scotsdale.

Our first hard frost of 25 degrees occurred on October 25 instead of the typical freeze closer to Thanksgiving. This was followed up by average lows 15-20 degrees below normal during January and February. We experienced five days of 10 degrees or lower, 3 days of 0 degrees, 13 additional days in the mid-teens, numerous mid-20-degree days and two occasions of temperatures staying below freezing for 12 days and 6 days respectfully. Then April came with the coldest temps in recorded history for NW Arkansas.

Initial damage to the Scotsdale greens was done with both direct cold temperatures in January along with the extended periods of below freezing. As the 1-year old greens tried to come out in late March and early April, the final stretch of cold (24 degree and 29 degrees) along with the overall averages at 20 degrees below normal, was too much for the immature greens.

Fourteen of the 18 greens at Scotsdale have 50-80% loss of turf, and would not be able to fill in naturally before summers end. Therefore, it is necessary to re-establish these greens. The process will be similar to the initial establishment in the summer of 2016. This process involves removal of cores through aeration, dragging in material, hand planting and cutting in Champions Ultradwarf Bermuda sprigs, rolling, top dressing and non-stop watering for 10-14 days. In addition, an aggressive pre-plant and establishment regiment of fertility recommended by the turf supplier will be utilized. Once the sprigs have been watered the first time, and with optimal hot weather conditions, it requires 8 to 10 weeks to bring greens to playing condition.

Scotsdale will officially close Saturday, May 12th at 2 PM.  This closure will allow our staff to prepare the greens for sprigging, get the sprigs delivered, and get the contractor mobilized and pre-positioned. Our goal is to reopen for play on September 1st.

Since the golf course will be closed, we will take this opportunity to fix the 12th green at Scotsdale.  The plan is to eliminate the extreme slope on the green and make a much more playable putting surface with more quality cup locations.  The work on the 12th green will involve a golf course architect and contractor to establish slope, contours and to do the final shaping work. We will be able to save most of the Latitude 36 collar grass installed during initial establishment for reuse on new collar area.

The more mature greens at Brittany, which are also Champion Ultradwarf Bermuda, sustained only a modest amount of winter kill.  As an added precaution, in case we have two extreme winters in a row, we plan on purchasing new covers for the greens which are designed for harsh conditions.

We apologize for any inconvenience the closure of Scotsdale may cause, unfortunately it is impossible to debate with Mother Nature.

Did You Know? May 2018

At Bella Vista Country Club you are now allowed to drive your golf cart from the clubhouse to Tanyard Creek Practice Facility to warm up before your tee time.  We ask all golfers to be considerate of other golfers who are already playing on holes #6 through #9 while they drive to and from Tanyard Creek. Take advantage of a good warm up session and be back 15 minutes before your allotted tee time.

Play where you are comfortable!

With most of Bella Vista’s golf courses having 5 tee boxes now, make sure you are playing the correct Tee box. Hitting long irons or fairway wood into par 4’s & 3’s makes for a long and frustrating round. There are many different thoughts about this topic out there today. Suggestions include making sure you are using no longer that a 7 iron in to most Par 4’s on average. However, with new equipment and clubs like hybrids, that throws that suggestion out the window. The PGA and USGA came up with this table and it goes according to your average driving distance. This chart is a guideline to help golfers tee it up from the correct tee box.

Driver Distance Recommended 18-Hole Yardages
275 6,700-6,900
250 6,200-6,400
225 5,800-6,000
200 5,200-5,400
175 4,400-4,600
150 3,500-3,700
125 2,800-3,000
100 2,100-2,300

Tee it up and “enjoy the summer playing golf and scoring well”

Paddleboard Fitness Classes at The Beach at Lake Avalon

Get your Fitness kicked up a notch this summer with a unique program that involves lots of core and balance work and some paddling techniques. SUP Fitness Class: You’ll be on a StandUp Paddle board –sometimes kneeling, standing or even laying down. The board is tethered to a base where the instructor is standing to lead you through the class. A Tuesday evening, 45-minute class will be taught in the water and involves the fun possibility of ending up in the water while learning the techniques. You’ll experience traditional fitness moves in a new way to challenge your muscles. Wear comfortable swim or fitness clothing like tights. You will need to wade out in the water to get to your board.

SUP Yoga/Pilates: This Saturday morning class combines the stretch and strengthening of Yoga and Pilates with the relaxation of water on a StandUp Paddle board. In this 45-minute class, your balance and core will be dually challenged.

We are offering two, 6-week sessions in conjunction with SUP NWA -Adventurous Fitness.

Fees for the 6-week session are $48 per POA Member ($8 per class) and $60 per guest ($10 per class) No other fees are required.

Session One

SUP Fitness Class: Meets Tuesday, June 5- July 10, 6:15 – 7 p.m.
SUP Yoga/Pilates: Meets Saturday, June 2 – July 7, 9 – 9:45 a.m.

Session Two

SUP Fitness Class: Meets Tuesday, July 17 – Aug 21, 6:15 – 7 p.m.
SUP Yoga/Pilates: Meets Saturday, July 14 – Aug 18, 9 – 9:45 a.m.

Classes are open to those who are comfortable in the water, ages 16 and up. No prior paddleboard experience is required. To register and pay, stop by Riordan Hall or call 479-855-8170.  There are 10 spots per class and we anticipate this program will fill quickly.

Winterkill Repairs To Begin

As we slowly move into spring in Northwest Arkansas, we are beginning to see some of the damage to dormant warm season turf areas caused by the colder than normal winter. Most of the “winterkill” damage which we can identify so far is on short cut turf such as tees, collars and approach areas. For more information about winterkill you can reference the February article, “What is Winterkill”, found on this site.

The first areas to be addressed during the next several weeks will be at Bella Vista Country Club. Red tee boxes 1, 3 and 4 and some collar repair around number 17 green will be repaired. In addition, Reed Holly and his staff at Kingswood will be working on the following tee boxes: White numbers 8 and 18 and Red numbers 8, 9, 14 and 15. In addition, areas on collars around 10 and 17 greens will also be repaired.

The work involves removal of the dead sod, incorporation of organic matter into the existing soil, surface releveled and new Latitude 36 sod installed. While the repaired areas are establishing they will be played as Ground Under Repair with tee blocks located either on another tee if available or in the fairway near the tee being repaired.

We had a very chilly winter and now a late spring, so we appreciate your understanding as we correct the damaged areas. We anticipate having additional areas on other courses and once these areas are identified, we will keep everyone informed of any additional work required.

UPDATE: We will also be replacing several collar areas at Highlands and some tee box areas at Scotsdale next week. The first load of sod will be delivered and placed staring Tuesday, May 8th, weather permitting.

Real Men Love Butterflies

Berksdale continues to reap recognition for environmental stewardship. We recently received a placard announcing our partnership with “Monarchs in the Rough”, an outreach of Audubon International. For several years, Superintendent Reed Holly has been establishing wildflowers and native grasses in our out-of-play areas. His efforts to encourage milkweed for the threatened monarch have paid off, with a significant population increase noted last year (see “Golf Maintenance Updates”, 9/14/17). Our new placard has been placed at the dry pond adjacent to Berksdale’s #3 green, where numerous milkweed plants are marked with red stakes. Also of note at #3 is the bat house directly behind the green and bluebird houses to the right.  For more information, visit monarchsintherough.org, batcon.org, bvbluebirds.com, or wendyb@bvvpoa.com.


Species Profile: Yellow Grub & Black Spot

Scientific Name:               Clinostomum marginatum & Neascus spp. (Genus)
Common Name(s):         Yellow Grub & Black Spot

Left: Yellow Grub; Right: Black Spot
Source: Michigan.gov

Yellow grub Clinostomum marginatum is a parasitic flatworm, known as a fluke. It appears yellow when buried in flesh and can develop up to 0.25 inches in the flesh or on the fins of freshwater fish. In its second stage of life, the parasite has 3 eyespots located on the middle of the back in a triangle pattern.  They can look different depending on what type of habitat. Some yellow grub found in herons appeared to be smooth and thick.

Black spot is caused by another flatworm larvae in the Genus Neascus that develops in freshwater fish.  It develops a black cyst around 0.04 inches in diameter on the skin, fins, or flesh of the fish.

Yellow grub and black spot are both found in many freshwater fish, snails, and birds all across North America.

Parasites feed on the host by draining nutrients from blood and fluids or attacking specific organs or body parts for nutrients. These parasites are no exception. No fish are known to be resistant to these parasites, although fish generally tolerate them without issue.

The life cycles of yellow grub and black spot are very similar. The life cycle involves two transitional hosts (snail and fish) and a final host (bird). Eggs are first released by mature parasites living in birds by the mouth of the bird (yellow grub) or by bird droppings (black spot). The eggs hatch and free-swimming larvae pierce the foot of snails for further development. If they cannot find a snail host, death occurs in a few hours. Once they have further developed in the snail, they exit and become free-swimming again in search of a fish host. Once burrowed inside the fish, the parasite grows into yellow grubs, or form a black cyst in black spot. The parasites can live inside the fish for several years until the fish is eaten by a bird. The parasites mature in the final bird host, and the cycle repeats.

In general, infestations of these parasites do slight damage to adult fish, although, heavy infestations around the eyes can cause blindness. Juvenile fish are more susceptible to these parasites. Stress can lead to secondary infections causing death in a small percentage of individuals. These parasites are unable to infect humans and infected fish can be consumed without issue, so control is normally not necessary.

Special Notes:
In Bella Vista, both yellow grub and black spot can be found in fish, but they are relatively rare. Fish taken out of Tanyard Creek were found with black spot, and both parasites have been witnessed in our reservoirs. Many people find an infested fish unappealing to eat, but these parasites are not harmful to humans, and cooking an infested fish will kill any parasites. It is also easy to pick out yellow grub with tweezers or the point of a knife while cleaning.

Snail eating fish effectively break the life cycle of these parasites. Our large and abundant redear sunfish, or “shellcrackers” as they are commonly called, consume our snails and limit these parasites.

Covering the Greens – Scotsdale

Covering the Bermuda greens can be a hassle for both golfers and workers. It can take up to 8 hours and much effort to put covers on to be sure they will stay in place during windy conditions. It also takes a full day to uncover them correctly and properly store them in their protective bag. It is frustrating to see them covered when conditions are nice to play, but, the protection they provide is well worth the effort and wait. Covers protect the crown from severe frost and help keep soil temperatures up on the sand base which is very beneficial.

As spring approaches, we will see some rapid and dramatic changes in weather. As we all know, the weather in Arkansas can be very different from one day to the next. During the spring, as the greens at Scotsdale begin to break dormancy, covering becomes very important and necessary.  Even in the spring we can catch some hard freezes that will bring a heavy frost. A severe frost can slow down the green-up process of the Bermuda greens and lead to the plant being more vulnerable to drying out from sun and wind. It becomes very important to keep the greening-up leaf blades covered and free from hard frost to protect the crowns and live plant cells in the leaf blades. Covers will also keep from overly shocking the green turf further delaying the greening-up process.

As we move into the spring, our covering guidelines will have to be adjusted to protect the health of the greens. When temperatures are forecasted for below 30 degrees with a prolonged cold stretch, (into the next day or more) greens will need to be covered for protection. We will be monitoring the weather closely and providing updates as soon as possible.

Kyle Soller
Scotsdale Superintendent