Greens improving at Lions Club Municipal Golf Course

Improvements are coming along for the putting greens at Lions Club Municipal Golf Course, months after members of the El Dorado Parks and Playgrounds Commission reportedly hearing complaints about the condition of the facilities.

Danny Carelock, manager of LCMGC, told commissioners on Sept. 26 that he and staff members "work on them daily."

"They're getting better day by day. We're trying to get them in shape for the winter and they're pretty healthy. We've been spraying them quite a bit and we spent some money on some chemicals that was well spent," Carelock said.

Earlier this year, parks and playgrounds commissioners said that several players had complained about the condition of the greens.

In March, Carelock told commissioners that a cold snap hit the area shortly after the greens were aerified, causing the greens to frost over.

Admitting at the time that the greens were "not as in good shape," Goudy further explained that heavy rainfall and cooler temperatures in early spring inhibited the Bermuda grass from growing and thriving.

Further, Goudy and Carelock said the aerification process was performed earlier than usual this year -- in March instead of early April -- because the contractor who performs the work could fit LCMGC into his schedule only in March.

"We had to aerify early this time because there's a guy in Mississippi that we hire -- he travels all over and does this -- and we have to take him when we can get him," Goudy said at the time.

Goudy noted that Bermuda grass thrives with plenty of rain and warm weather.

Carelock said the greens are regularly fertilized and herbicide is applied each year.

He told commissioners that the grass was "coming up pretty good" immediately following the aerification in March "but then we had the frost on it, which knocked it back down again."

He pointed out that other local golf courses use protective tarps to guard their turf against freezing temperatures.

LCMGC does not have the protective tarps, Carelock said. adding that the material is costly.

On Sept. 26, Ken Goudy, chairman of the EPPC, touted Robert Edmonds, director of public works, and Scott Kuhn, former golf course superintendent for Mystic Creek, for their assistance and guidance with efforts to address the matter.

"I think (Kuhn) has come out and gotten some soil samples for us and sent them to the University of Arkansas to find out what some of the issues were," said Goudy.

The primary problem was a fungus that infected the greens, Carelock later told the News-Times.

"We had fungus get in there and because of all of the rain and the cool weather we had in the spring, it was a conglomerate of things," Carelock explained.

After trial and error and recommendations from Kuhn, Carelock said a combination of four fungicides seems to be working.

"We're using four different kinds of fungicide to make sure we can eradicate this thing and we've been going double barrel trying to get it fixed," he said.

"It's starting to grow but we're running out of growing season. But it's made a dramatic comeback," he continued. "So, we're trying to make it as healthy as we can so it'll last through the winter and we want to make sure they're ready for spring."

Like Goudy, Carelock touted Edmonds and Kuhn for their help.

"Scoot comes through with the know-how and Robert Edmonds was nice enough to let us buy the chemicals from through the city. They're expensive but not wasting the city's money. We're putting it to good use," Carelock said.

"It's a lot easier to spend $5,000, $10,000 on chemicals than to have to look at rebuilding the greens," added Goudy. "Now, I think we've got a program that'll take us into next spring and get us back into the growing season.

Commissioner Greg Harrison, who serves as chairman of the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex, said Kuhn has also lent his expertise to the soccer fields and baseball and softball outfields at the complex on Champagnolle Road.

Harrison said Kuhn provides materials at cost, along with recommendations.

"He's not just selling us stuff to be selling us stuff. He's helped us quite a bit ... He's been a lot of help and I appreciate him. I really do," said Carelock.

Earlier, Harrison had inquired about expenditures and Goudy explained that expenditures for the golf course flow through the Department of Public Works.

Harrison asked if there had been any increase green fees, noting rapid inflation and rising costs for equipment and other materials.

"We haven't. That's going to be y'all's decision," Carelock said.

Goudy said green fees have not been increased in more than a decade at LCMGC.

He said he had considered broaching the topic earlier this year after the city agreed to lease a new fleet of golf carts but he decided to hold off on the matter because of the poor condition of the putting greens.

"Now we know what the problems are and I think we've got them fixed and we shouldn't have any more trouble," he said, adding that the EPPC may revisit the matter early next spring.

"Obviously, the golf course isn't going to make a profit but you just want to make sure you have enough revenue coming in to close the (profit-loss) gap," Harrison said.

In 2022, the golf course took in $312,174, its highest annual revenue ever. Expenditures for the year totaled $429,850.

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