Hyland Back in Play
Hyland Golf Club took a gamble and lost both its grass and golfers. But the grass is rapidly coming back now, and if general manager Doug Thompson is right, the golfers soon will be too.
“We’re not going to whine about it,” Thompson said during a golf cart tour of the once popular Tom Jackson design, “but we were on the receiving end of a perfect storm. We had overseeded with rye grass because we wanted to create a nice surface for our tourists, and our watering system went out at the exact time that the Bermuda was supposed to come out of its dormancy. The pumps were out for 26 days. It was tough.”
The water problem, created by an electrical short that kept blowing up the pumps, came on the heels of a killer winter season, and Hyland was caught with its fairways browned out.
The pumps have been working for weeks now, though, and much of the damaged areas have been regrassed.
“We brought in four truckloads of sod,” Thompson said, “and we’ve solved a lot of tree problems that created winter kill in some areas.”
Hyland, once one of the most played courses in the area with more than 43,000 rounds per year, had hoped to lure golfers back last spring after the course had been purchased by Bill Burnette and Paul Daniel. Things were looking up, with several package groups and tournaments scheduled for the spring and summer. But when the “disaster” struck, plans had to be changed.
“What we did was to deter play,” Thompson said. “May and June were a disaster. Our fairways were awful; they looked like Fort Bragg had messed up its firing range coordinates.
“But deception is not part of our style. We called the people involved and explained that the course wasn’t in shape to host them. We either canceled or rescheduled them.”
The course looks good now. The fairways still have some spots that were in shaded areas that haven’t completely grown out, but the grass is making headway even in those areas.
“We’ve used sod and we’ve used seed,” Thompson said, pointing out the new grass that was peeping up in some of the bad spots. “We’ll be mowing this in a couple of weeks. When we get into August, this course is going to be awesome.
“The problems we’ve incurred this year won’t happen again. We’re spending some serious resources to make sure of that.”
One thing that hasn’t been a problem is the greens. The course had been closed for almost a year when the new owners took over, and part of their gamble was to change the greens from bentgrass to champion Bermuda, a resilient, heat-resistant grass that provides a smooth, fast surface and limits problems with long recuperations from aerating.
“We’re the first course in the area to go to champion Bermuda,” Thompson said, “and our greens are perfect. People aren’t used to seeing fast greens in the summer, but I’m going to defy that. Our greens are going to be so fast that you’ll have to make sure you have new spikes in your shoes so you can stand on them.
“Nobody likes playing on slow greens, and they sure won’t be here. You won’t know if that sweat on their brow is from the heat or because of that 10-foot putt they’re standing over.”
All the new owners ask for is that golfers give the course a look.
“We still have a few issues,” Thompson said, “and our worst fairway is the ninth, which is right beside the highway. What kind of luck is that?
“But for years, thousands of people said yes to this property. When it’s been let go for a year, it takes more than a year to have them saying yes again. We were so urgently trying to get back to that level that we had some growing pains. But you can’t overrate the focus these owners have. They’re not going to back off.
“And we aren’t going to overprice it either. The rates that our golfers were used to are still going to be the rates. If you can give them an $80 course for $40, you’ve got a winner. It’s going to start paying off in August.”
Persons interested in tee times or just reacquainting themselves with the Hyland course can call (910) 699-6400. Doug will show you what he’s talking about.
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