Birds and wildflowers on Berksdale Golf Course

Recognition for Resilience

Berksdale has undergone numerous transformations over the last decade, but our dedication to stewardship has been unwavering. Our commitment to pursuing the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf provides an independent assessment of our efforts.

We are pleased to announce that Berksdale has been certified in all categories required to qualify for full status in this global partnership. After a year of data collection and assessing site parameters, we were awarded recognition for Environmental Planning in September of 2016.

Devastating floods led Berksdale to transition from an 18 to a 9-hole course, yet we persevered to receive certifications for an Environmental Case Study and our Wildlife and Habitat Management in May of 2018. With sampling and testing assistance from the POA’s Lakes Department, we were recognized for Water Quality Management and for Water Conservation April 2019. March 27th of this year, we were informed that our Chemical Use Reduction and Safety and Outreach and Education efforts meet all of Audubon International’s criteria.

A site visit will be conducted when travel constraints ease, hopefully this fall. Berksdale will then become only the second course in Arkansas and one of the few in the region to be receive this prestigious Cooperative Sanctuary designation.

A microscopic view of the virus COVID-19

Golf Course Maintenance During COVID-19

What You Can Expect to Experience

With the onset of COVID-19 and the restrictions associated with it, golf maintenance has been changing how we will operate for the foreseeable future. Two of the leading golf associations, The Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA) and The United States Golf Association (USGA) have put together some minimum Maintenance Guidelines for courses during the Covid-19 outbreak. These guidelines are included in this article.

These guidelines address all phases of golf maintenance from mowing frequencies to bunker maintenance. The mowing guidelines reduce the time and number of employees needed to maintain a healthy stand of turf by cutting back on times selected areas are mowed, increasing mowing heights to allow for longer intervals between mowing and using plant growth regulators to manage growth rate and clipping yields. We will also decrease fertility applications along with limiting irrigation and plant protectants to minimize excessive growth while still maintaining a healthy turf. What this translates to for the golfing public is longer roughs, shaggy fairways and potentially slower green speeds. Once the pandemic has passed, we will be able to quickly bring all areas back to the standard of maintenance you are accustomed to.

Since we have removed bunker rakes (remember a bunker is a hazard) the necessity to rake bunkers on a regular basis have diminished. We will only do what is necessary to prevent weed encroachment and protect the integrity of our Better Billy Bunker liner systems in place on four of our courses.

We have been asked to delay hiring of our seasonal workers through at least April, so these practices are necessary from a labor shortage perspective as well. We usually have from 8 to 10 employees per course starting in April and we currently are operating with 5 to 6 per course.

The golf maintenance teams along with the golf operations group are working hard to follow all the required guidelines so your courses can remain open now and going forward. We thank you for your understanding during these difficult times and hope you will safely continue to enjoy the golfing experience at the Bella Vista POA.

Berksdale is Growing!

With 70 inches of rain (so far), it’s been a great year for growing grass! Now that we’re experiencing regular frosts, it is planting season. All our additions are selected in accordance with our Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary standards for wildlife benefit and promoting native species, as well as consideration for flood plain management and aesthetics. Our experiments with growing our own trees and perennials were very fruitful this year and we were delighted to be able to invite volunteers to help get them in the ground. Switch grass, milkweed, and purple coneflowers were inserted in old fairway bunkers on our south end with help from members of the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists. Scout Troop 525 aided in planting sycamore trees, also on the south end, along the highway and corkscrew willows in a persistent wet zone. The Berksdale crew added red twig dogwood shrubs along old 18 creek bank and black willows along old 13 for stabilization. Corkscrew willows have been spaced throughout the grounds to help alleviate standing water issues. For more information, see,, and>plantfinder.


Wendy Barnes, Assistant Superintendent, Berksdale


Golf Course Weather Closure Standards

The golf course superintendents shall have the authority to delay opening or closing their golf courses at any time. However, it will be a requirement that if delays or closings are necessary, the superintendent must notify the Pro Shop and golf maintenance coordinator.

Superintendents must report course conditions/closures to golf course maintenance coordinator and Pro Shop no later than one hour before first regular tee time. He or she must also stay in contact with Pro Shop on a regular basis throughout this same timeframe to keep them updated on course conditions.
During the winter months, we will continue to use the temperature as a guide, however, there are situations other than temperature that may dictate course delays or closures. The target temperature for automatic course closure is 35 degrees.

If the Weather Channel forecast for zip code 72714 is forecasted to be a high of 35 degrees or less for the entire day, then courses will close for that day. If it is forecasted to be above 35 degrees, then it becomes the golf course superintendent’s decision as to whether course opening will be delayed, or course closure is necessary.
It is extremely important that each superintendent take into consideration the importance of serving our members.

Scotsdale GCM Update 8/22

Scotsdale GCM Update

Recently at Scotsdale we have been working to improve the quality of our practice area, specifically the short game area and chipping tee. We have added two new irrigation heads to the tee area that previously was not irrigated. This will improve the quality of the chipping tee in several ways: the ability to effectively fertilizer it more frequently; better weed control; the tee will not have the tendency to get too hard when it dries out; and divots will recover more rapidly. These heads cover a lot of ground and in addition to the existing ones already near the target greens, provide a much better look to the area. It is just one small way we continue to strive in improving the quality of Scotsdale. I ask everyone to treat it like any other tee on the course and not drive or park your carts on the tee box.

In addition, we will be making an adjustment to the approach and fairway cut on #11. Due to how narrow it gets leading into the green, we experience some issues with the mowers used to cut the fairway. Our goal is to create a mid-section of rough in that area that will highlight the green more predominantly and prevent some of the mower issues that occur in this spot. We are making this change now since the weather will still allow for Bermuda growth and we can create this look before dormancy.

Future lines of where fairway ends, and approach/collar cut will begin for 11.

Thank you to everyone for your support and we hope that you have been enjoying the course!

-Kyle Soller
Scotsdale Golf Course Superintendent

Cicada Killers

Cicada killers are very large wasps, up to 1 5/8” long, that resemble gigantic hornets or yellow jackets.

Each summer we receive complaints of them menacing golfers and digging holes into the greens and bunkers. While they look formidable, they are in fact not a threat. The male wasp is territorial and will buzz around you trying to chase you away but lacks a stinger, so he is completely harmless.

The female wasp is non-aggressive but can sting if handled or stepped on with bare feet. She prefers to spend her time burrowing into the ground and hunting annual cicadas.  After digging an extensive burrow up to a foot in depth, the female will find a cicada, paralyze it with her stinger and carry it back to her burrow. After placing the cicada in a chamber, she will lay an egg on it and bury the cicada where it becomes food for her young. She will repeat this process nonstop for a couple of weeks.


This is a picture of a cicada burrow on a green. Each morning the golf course crew will look for these mounds and will inject an insecticide into the hole to stop the cicada killer from causing further damage.  Although the mounds are cleaned up every day, a cicada killer can complete a new burrow in less than an hour. There is no insecticide that will prevent the cicada killers from digging into a green, so all control must be done post damage. Failing to control the cicada killers causes later damage to the greens when coyotes, foxes, and crows dig up the buried cicadas for food. Therefore, when the wasps are active, crew members will watch for recent activity during the day and treat the new burrows that appear.

Scotsdale GCM Update

The last of the 3 scheduled aerations on our greens will take place Monday, August 5th.  As with the previous aerations this year we will again utilize smaller hollow coring tines to remove more material and allow for a quicker healing process. This process will continue to create a more uniform soil profile and eliminate any layering issues caused during last summer’s renovation to the greens.  In addition, the final granular soil fertilizers and amendments will be applied enhancing both the healing process and providing needed nutrients going into fall and dormancy.  This has proven to be very beneficial and will continue to make the greens healthier.

Following the greens aeration, we plan on doing work to the collars as well.  We will be doing a vertical mowing, core aeration and sand top dress and drag. This process will be a longer process due to being done around play but should have minimum impact on your round.  The vertical mowing will be noticeable so if you see or play on them mid process or shortly after work is completed the collars may be off color and rougher than usually.  The aeration and top dress program are done for many reasons including better water utilization, gas exchange, nutrient uptake and to create a tighter turf.  This will also help us to have a better quality of cut on these key play areas through the reduction in thatch buildup from the summer growth period.

You may have noticed, if you’ve played Scotsdale in the last week, that slits have been made in the fairways.  This process along with applications of a plant growth regulator and fertilizer, is done to help tighten up the common Bermuda.  The slicing process causes the plant to produce new leaves and additional runners from the stolons enhancing filling of bare areas and producing an overall tighter turf and improved surface from which to play.  My hope is that the denser I can get the common now, that the better success we will have going through winter and coming out in the spring.  This is an application we plan on doing twice more in August.

This type work is very noticeable, labor intensive, time consuming and sometimes can impact play but will result in better conditions over time. As I once was told by someone wiser than I “Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to bake a cake.”

My staff and I hope everyone have been enjoying the beautiful weather and the golf course!  Thank you for your support!

-Kyle Soller
Scotsdale Golf Course Superintendent

Watering Alert (Watch Out For The Greens Checkers)

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!

Summer Weed Control

Weed cleanup on golf courses is continually a work-in-progress. It is especially a problem on golf courses that were previously overseeded. When courses are overseeded, pre-emerging for weeds can be very difficult since pre-emergents keep not only weeds from germinating but grass seed as well. So often, pre-emergents are not applied at all. This proposes a major problem for golf courses in future years and that is what we are now dealing with.

I am relatively certain that most of you remember how “weedy” BVCC was last summer. The crabgrass was out of control on many holes. We decided this spring to switch herbicides for our spring pre-emergent to a chemical that would better keep the crabgrass from germinating and encroaching our fairways. The good news is, our plan has worked so far. There are very few crabgrass plants on the course where we sprayed our pre-emergent. There are, of course, crabgrass plants that are in areas where we did not pre-emerge. On the other side of the cart path, opposite the fairway, are good examples of where we do not pre-emerge. We do not typically pre-emerge these areas as we try to spend most of our chemical budget on areas that are played more often (around greens, tees, and fairways).

The bad news about our change in pre-emergent herbicides, is that while the crabgrass is under control, the goose grass has gotten a little out of control in some areas. Did you know that a single goose grass plant can produce 50,000 seeds!? When a plant produces that many seeds, it can be very difficult to control once it is established. Therefore, as turf managers when we see goose grass we will make every attempt to kill it before it spreads, particularly to greens. We have made some attempts to kill the goose grass without discoloring the Bermuda, but so far, the goose grass has refused to die.

In recent years, the EPA has outlawed many herbicides, most notably is Illoxan which was the best goose grass herbicide on the market. Since we are “handcuffed”, so to speak, on what we can spray to kill the goose grass, we are forced to take measures that will discolor Bermuda grass. You will notice several areas around BVCC that will be an unsightly yellow or brown color. This happens when we spray the goose grass that is intermingled within the Bermuda grass. This chemical will only kill the goosegrass. Although it may appear that the Bermuda grass is dying, rest assured, the chemical only discolors the Bermuda temporarily.

As turf managers, we are continually striving to provide better playing conditions. Unfortunately, at times we must take a step back (discolor Bermuda) to take two steps forward (kill the weeds). This is part of the process to clean up the course so that our pre-emergent herbicides will work better for us in the future. We thank you for understanding and hope that you continue to enjoy your rounds even if every blade of grass is not always green!


Rob Dreesen

Golf Course Superintendent

Bella Vista Country Club

Scotsdale GCM Update

I want to remind everyone that on July 8 we will aerate greens for the second time this season at Scotsdale. We are doing this again to increase the quality of our greens and the soils ability to exchanges oxygen and reduce the thatch developed as the Bermuda grows during the summer months. This will be followed by applying nutrients and sand top dressing. We will roll several times afterwards to smooth the surface for better ball roll. If mother nature works with us and gives us some warm weather, recovery will be quick, with a full recovery in about 7 days. This process is much needed for the longevity health of the greens going forward and I thank everyone for their understanding.


-Kyle Soller, Scotsdale Golf Course Superintendent