Edinburg officials are moving fast and behind closed doors to address the issue of deteriorating greens at Los Lagos Golf Course.
Less than a month after members of the Edinburg Golf Advisory Board first outlined the condition of the course to the city council at a special workshop on May 5, officials say they are taking emergency measures to safeguard the city’s investment in a “quality of life facility.”
To date there hasn’t been a specific item on the city council agenda to repair damage on the course. Rather City Manager JJ Rodriguez said the opinion of the city council was such that work needed to get started so the golfing community can enjoy the course “the way it ought to be.”
Large bare areas caused by a build up of high levels of sodium in the soil have made holes one, 10, and 11 at the course virtually unplayable.
“At this point I think the directive was to get the golf board involved, whatever their recommendation is, (and) let’s see what that is,” Rodriguez said. “In checking with the council in terms of their feelings based on what they heard at the work session, their indication was to go ahead and proceed and get that work underway.”
Numerous emergency actions to repair the damaged greens on the course began last week. The city has decided to uphold the golf board’s recommendation to repair the damaged holes without closing the course, and have them up and running within six weeks.
Los Lagos experienced a decline in revenue of more than $72,000 in 2009 from October to April, over 2008, according to numbers released by the city. More than half of that amount, about $35,000, were in green fees. Total revenue for the course in 2009 came in at $601,276.
“I don’t know if it can all be traced to the economy or to the golfers not deciding to play at Los Lagos, my impression is that it’s a combination of factors, which are the status of the greens up to now and perhaps the economy that had an impact in driving those numbers down,” Rodriguez said.
“I think we have invested to ensuring that in the future we can recognize these things and hopefully avoid any issues of this nature,” Rodriguez said.
Along with asking for increased manpower, the golf board recommended adding fresh water to the greens. The previous use of effluent water was considered a major reason for the deterioration of the greens in the first place, due to its high volume of salt.
The city will be tying in to Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 2 for freshwater, which will cut about 50 percent of the salt off the greens, according to golf board members.
Another part of the board’s recommendation included fixing the sod using a procedure called “drill and fill aerification,” which through holes bored into the surface allows for the removal of sodium on the greens. Estimated cost of the procedure is between $15,000 and $20,000.
The city estimates that the total cost to repair the course could cost about $60,000.
“At this point, I imagine that the golf board will be pretty satisfied after they hopefully see some improvement,” Rodriguez said.
At the May 5 meeting, Edinburg director of golf John Haley, along with golf course superintendent Bill Freeman, emphasized that the greens were impossible to maintain if a change did not happen quickly.
At the workshop on May 5, the board, along with those on the city council, considered either shutting down the three holes most impacted (1,10,11), setting up temporary holes or closing Los Lagos altogether. The board upheld the first two suggestions but decided against closing the course.
“The (golf) board and city council all recognized the issue we were having so they are definitely falling behind us and getting the support we need,” Haley said. “This is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the best designed golf course south of San Antonio and it behooves the city to go ahead and invest the funds to bring it back to where it needs to be.”