Parks officials hope the results are up to par and worth the wait when the Jaycee Golf Course re-opens in June after closing for renovations in May.
Jaycee Golf Course Superintendent Mike Wilson said the city-owned, nine-hole course will close April 30 and the target date to re-open is June 4, depending on the weather. Wilson said the course — located in Martin Luther King Jr. Park and operated by the Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Department — will undergo some much-needed work to the greens, tee boxes, cart paths and pro-shop.
“It’s a big challenge, but we’re excited about the challenge and what it will look like when it’s through,” Wilson said. “People deserve a reasonably priced course, but a course that looks good and is a good course too — that’s what our goal is.”
A group of businesses, agencies and individuals are chipping in to make the project possible, Wilson said. Workers from the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Regional Maintenance program will provide much of the labor, without which, Wilson said the project would not be possible for his three-man crew.
State Reps. Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV, James Word and Efrem Elliott used their General Improvement Fund monies to allocate $4,000 to the project. Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel is donating sand and other materials, and Taylor Field Executive Director Jim Hill is loaning some of the equipment.
Abel White, a commissioner for the Parks and Recreation Commission and a daily user of the golf course, said that things have already been greatly improved at the course and said he is looking forward to even more improvements.
“They have really made a tremendous difference, not only in the golf course itself, but the appearance of it as well,” White said. “[The work] is going to affect play for awhile, but it’s something that’s long been needed and will improve things tremendously.”
Wilson said the last time the greens were re-done was in 1996. They were planted with TifDwarf Bermuda grass, which is usually replaced after 10 to 12 years. If left for much longer, the specially bred grass begins to mutate back to regular Bermuda grass and loses some of the qualities that makes it great for golf course greens.
As part of the renovation, Wilson said they will be removing the old TifDwarf grass and transplanting it to other parts of the course grounds where it can be put to better use. The greens will be replanted with a fresh batch of the TifDwarf grass variety.
Other goals for the project include:
• Covering hardpan areas of exposed dirt with grass and trimming some of the large, shady trees that are preventing better grass growth beneath.
• Resurfacing and replanting areas where erosion has occurred.
• Running underground watering lines to some of the areas newly covered in grass.
• Redefining the tee boxes so that they are more uniformly shaped and re-sodding them with transplant grass from the greens.
• Transplanting sod to the right side of the No. 3 fairway.
• Modifying the undulation of the No. 2 green.
• Repairing the cart paths from root damage.
• Completing minor renovations to the inside and the outside of the pro-shop, such as resurfacing the floor, painting the paneling and fixing the women’s restroom.
• And fixing general ruts, holes and other non-uniform parts of the green.
“We really plan on this being something that is really immediate to the eye — redoing the tee boxes and getting rid of the hard pan — I think people are really going to be able to see the difference,” Wilson said, adding that the changes should also be welcoming to golfers new to the course as well. “We see a lot of play already, but we could always use more.”